The Appraisal: What You Need to Know When You Buy a Home

The seller of that home you are about to purchase no doubt thought long and hard about how much to ask for it. She consulted with her real estate agent who spent some time poring over statistics and the prices of recently sold homes in the area to come to a rough estimate of the home’s value.

You made your offer based on what you felt the home was worth (hopefully based on your agent’s research). When all is said and done, however, neither your opinion nor that of the seller matter. The home is worth what the appraiser says it’s worth, at least as far as your lender is concerned.

Who is the appraiser?

A professional appraiser is an unbiased third party that is trained to determine the value of a piece of property. While not all appraisers are state-licensed, federally regulated lenders are required by law to use only those who are. Like many real estate agents that belong to a national association that adheres to strict ethics, so do many appraisers.

Are appraisers always accurate in their evaluation of homes? Usually they are, but not always. It depends on the information available to them at the time.

What affects a home appraisal?

Numerous factors can influence a home’s appraised value. Some of these include:

  • The national and local economies
  • The location of the home
  • Nearby foreclosures
  • The condition of the home
  • The value of other, similar homes that were recently sold in the area
  • The appearance of the home compared to those that have recently sold
  • Upgrades made to the home.

A day in the life of an appraisal

Let’s assume you’ve made a full-price offer on a house that is listed at $300,000. The lender will order an appraisal of the house before giving you the final decision on your loan application.

The appraiser visits the home and looks at every aspect of its exterior, from the roof to the soil. Then, she inspects the interior, from the ceiling to the floors. Finally, most appraisers measure the square footage of both the house and the lot.

Back at her office, the appraiser uses the information she compiled to compare it against comparable sales nearby. She takes other facts into account as well, such as any problems with the house and any upgrades. She may also check local planning departments to ascertain if anything is planned in the nearby community that may impact the home’s future value. Finally, the appraisal is compiled and handed off to the lender.

The best news a buyer can receive is that the house appraised for more than he offered. The next best news, for both buyer and seller, is that it appraised at the offered price.

Then, there’s the worst news

A buyer typically has four choices when an appraisal comes in under the agreed-upon sale price: ask the seller to lower the price, increase the cash down payment, negotiate with the seller to pay half of the shortfall and you pay the other half, dispute the appraisal or walk away from the deal.

Sellers, on the other hand, have several choices as well. These include lowering the price of the house to meet the appraised value.

If you feel the appraisal was too low, work with your agent to find discrepancies in the report. Check that it accurately reflects the square footage, the age of the home (as well as those of comparable homes) and the number of bathrooms and bedrooms. Check the comps the appraiser used for errors regarding the home’s condition.

If you find errors, have your real estate agent contact the lender for a new appraisal. Most experienced real estate listing agents come close to the figure that the appraiser gives. Typically, it’s the homeowner that sets an unreasonably high home price and a buyer that either wants the home so much she is willing to overpay or a buyer that doesn’t do her homework and fails to research the sales prices of nearby homes.

5 Easy ways to Increase Your Property Value Before Selling

It’s funny how a house doesn’t feel like an investment until it comes time to sell it. All of a sudden, after years of living there, the thought of its value hits you upside the head. Hopefully, you’ve practiced good home maintenance over the years and can now focus on cosmetic changes to increase value. And these won’t cost a fortune because many are typical do-it-yourself projects.

Lipstick on a pig

All the cosmetics in the world won’t make a pig look any prettier. Sure, if you choose those fixes carefully you can realize a tidy sum at the close of escrow. But, if the house has major problems, such as with the roof or heating system, you may end up giving that money back to the buyer for repairs.

If you suspect there may be problems with the house, hire a home inspector to come in a do a thorough check. It’s worth the fee because it may allow you to head off a slowdown in the future transaction with a buyer. Home repairs that buyers expect to be made and that increase value the most include:

  • Plumbing repairs
  • Updating electrical system
  • Repairing damaged floors
  • Don’t forget the little things: the dripping faucet, torn window screens and damaged countertops. You may have been able to live with these details but a buyer will notice them.

Larger projects, such as roof problems, are sometimes better dealt with by disclosing them to potential buyers and letting it be known that the price of the home reflects the need for the repair.

Clean

It’s a fact: clean houses sell faster and for more money than dirty ones. Buyers like houses that have been well cared for and a clean house looks like a maintained house.

They also place a higher value on houses that appear to be ready to move right into. Nobody wants to have to clean a house before settling in. Some sellers think they’ll get around this chore by offering to have the house professionally cleaned before moving out. There’s no value added in that plan. The time to clean is before it hits the market.

Paint

Painting the walls creates an instant transformation in a number of ways. Paint adds color to a room and makes it look and smell cleaner. Keep to the neutral colors on the color wheel, as they appeal to a broader segment of buyers.

Update the kitchen

In general, kitchens are usually most important in terms of enhancing the return on your home investment. Bathrooms are a close second. Attention to some of these little kitchen details can add to the home’s value.

  • Replace the lighting fixtures.
  • Put in new cabinets or, at the very least, replace the existing hardware.
  • Replace old appliances. New appliances make a good impression on prospective buyers.
  • Upgrade the faucet
  • Buy new curtains and throw rugs
  • Remove everything from the countertops with the exception of a few decorative items. Check decorating magazines for ideas.

Fix up the bathrooms

Nothing kills a real estate deal quicker than a nasty bathroom. Thoroughly cleaning it and painting the walls provides an instant transformation, but there’s more you can do that will add value to the entire home:

  • Install new lighting. New fixtures can create a statement with minimal effort.
  • Replace old sink, shower and bath faucets and handles with new decorative faucets.
  • Install new towel racks.
  • Replace shower doors.
  • Re-caulk the tub and sink to freshen their appearance.
  • Replace mirrors and medicine cabinets.
  • Hang new towels and add throw rugs that compliment the wall color.

That oh-so-important curb appeal

It doesn’t do you any good to invest in home improvements and updating if the exterior of the home doesn’t invite potential buyers inside. Plus, updated landscaping adds around 10 percent more to the home’s value. Here are some general considerations:

  • Clean up the yard. Remove toys, trash, leaves and dead plants.
  • Clean the front porch by removing cobwebs from the light fixture, sweeping and applying a fresh coat of paint to the front door.
  • Mow the lawn. If it’s discolored, de-thatch and fertilize.
  • Trim trees and prune perennials to make them look tidier.
  • Add container plants to the porch or next to the front door.
  • Add surprising pops of color with seasonal flowers.
  • Apply fresh mulch to the beds.
  • Plant trees. According to the U.S. Forestry Service, trees increase property values by as much as 10 percent.

Keeping a perspective on all the work that you do in, on or around your home is important. Specifically, focus on the kinds of improvements that will enhance your return on investment. And bear in mind that improvements should be appropriate for the immediate neighborhood. While your aim should be to have the most attractive home on the block, don’t over-improve for the neighborhood.

What’s with all the different types of insurance I have to buy when I purchase a home?

Affectionate couple showing paper question mark and looking at c

Ok, so, you didn’t set out to become an insurance expert – all you wanted to do was buy a house, after all. Yet, in the process, you ran up against at least four different types of insurance – and these are just the mandatory policies.

We are willing to bet that you never dreamed you would learn so much about insurance as you have during the home-buying process. From PMI to hazard insurance EVERYONE has their hand out, wanting to make sure their interests are covered.

Think title insurance is frivolous?

A Utah couple put their home on the market and quickly found a buyer. Escrow was opened and the title search was ordered. During the process, the title company discovered a lien against the property, which happens frequently. What happened in this case is when the homeowners originally bought the home, the sellers lent them some money for the purchase. This loan created a lien against the property.

The escrow company contacted the original homeowners (the originators of the loan) and informed them that the folks they lent the money to were selling the home and, thus, paying off the loan. The lien could be removed, right?

When dealing with reasonable people the answer would be yes. Unfortunately, the original homeowners turned out to be quite disagreeable and refused to take the payment in full for the money they lent. They offered no explanation.

The sellers worked overtime, trying to get the uncooperative former owner to accept the loan repayment. When the closing date came and went, the buyers for their home ― a family of five ― were forced to move into a weekly apartment because they’d already given notice to their landlord.

Finally, the original homeowner came forward and demanded more money than what was owed. To get their buyers out of the weekly rental and to move on with their own lives, the sellers paid the former owner more than what they owed.

There is a moral to this story, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, let me explain what title insurance is and how it works. When a home goes under contract, the lender demands a search of the home’s title to determine that the homeowner is truly the owner of the property and that nobody else has a full or partial claim to it. The title search will also reveal outstanding judgments or liens against the property, information about unpaid taxes and many other issues.

After the title search, the title company will release a summary of its findings, typically called an abstract of title or a preliminary title report, and an opinion about the validity of the property’s title.

If the lender sees anything negative it will refuse to issue the funds and the home will not close until the problem is cured. If, on the other hand, the researcher validates the title, the lender will proceed, with the requirement that the buyer purchase an insurance policy to protect it against any claims that weren’t found during the research. This is commonly known as the lender’s title policy, although there is also an optional owner’s policy that protects the new homeowner as well. The lender’s policy only protects the lender, even though it doesn’t pay the premium, the buyer or the seller does.

So, the moral of the original story about the Utah homeowners is that home sellers should order a title report before actually going under contract with a buyer. You never know what might turn up and most clouds on title take time to remedy – time you won’t have once there is a closing date.

Nobody likes PMI

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) has been in the news a lot over the past few years. FHA raised and then lowered the costs of its premiums (which they call the Mortgage Insurance Premium or MIP) and that hit the headlines. Then the advice columns on how to get rid of PMI started making the media rounds. American homeowners try desperately to rid their house payment of the PMI premium.

PMI covers only the lender and will kick in if you default on the loan. It is required for most loans when the buyer pays less than 20 percent of the purchase price for a down payment. This is, in a nutshell, the price borrowers pay for low down-payment loans. Without it, you’d have to come up with 20 percent of the purchase price of the home. So, it’s not entirely “useless” after all. Annoying, yes.

Let’s talk about homeowner’s insurance

Homeowner’s insurance is another lender-requirement but the homeowner also benefits in the case of a claim. Hazard insurance is a part of a homeowner policy.

Homeowner’s insurance coverage varies from the basic theft, weather damage and fire to more- costly coverage including that for earthquake or flood damage. The lender will let you know which basic coverage you will need to purchase.

The whole topic of insurance is confusing to most folks and when you are trying to cover such an expensive investment the only counsel you should obtain is that of an experienced and knowledgeable insurance agent.

Life is tough when your credit score stinks, so let’s fix it

 

Whether it was a foreclosure, short sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, a job loss or just plain irresponsibility, there are some steps you can take to get your credit score back into the range where it is attractive to mortgage lenders and you can finally buy that house.

Where does my credit score come from?

Credit scores range from 300 (the worst) to 850. Although a score of 700 will get you lower rates and more credit opportunities than lower scores, 760 and above is considered prime.

If you’ve ever ordered your credit report you did so from one or all of what are commonly known as “the big three” credit reporting agencies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

These agencies compile massive amounts of financial information obtained from companies from which Americans have obtained credit in the past. From this, they determine each person’s payment history, the length of the person’s credit history, the various types of credit he or she has and the amount of credit debt held.

When the big three agencies turn their information over to Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) or, in some cases, Vantage, it’s fed into a complicated formula and out pops a three-digit number that pretty much rules your financial life. Thankfully, your credit score adjusts, according to how risky you appear.

Pay on time

The best way to repair your credit score is by paying your bills on time, every month. Yes, it sounds simple and it is the responsible thing to do, but it’s also one of the quickest ways to pump your score into a more acceptable range. Don’t believe us? According to a study conducted by Experian,100 percent of super prime consumers and 97 percent of those with prime credit have no late payments on their credit reports.

Furthermore, The Raleigh Area Development Authority says that a person with a 707 credit score can raise it 20 points, just by paying bills on time for one month.

Manage the plastic

Your use of credit cards may be the culprit when your score is at rock bottom.

First, credit scoring agencies look at the age of your credit. New credit, such as opening new credit card or department store accounts, makes them leery. Just what will you do with all this new-found credit? Since they don’t know, you become a higher credit risk and take a 10 point ding on your score.

High balances make you appear risky as well. If your cards are maxed out you may lose up to 70 points on your credit score.

Don’t close your credit card accounts, just pay them on time. Consumers with no credit cards or installment loans look risky (it’s that fear of the unknown again) and tend to be penalized with lower scores. Besides, closed accounts still show up on your credit reports and may still affect your score.

If you have the money in your budget, another quick way to raise your score is to pay down high credit card balances. Try doubling your payments for a few months or at least pay a payment and a half.

If you build it, you can buy it

Many Americans didn’t do anything to deserve a low score other than to have never used credit. To credit scoring agencies, these people are, again, unknown entities. How they will use credit when they receive it is a mystery and therefore makes them a credit risk in the eyes of the agencies.

Unlike the folks that need to slow down on their credit card usage, you need to obtain a card, use it and pay the balance on time. Ensure that you obtain a card from an institution that will report your responsible use of credit.

To make it easy on you, we’ve compiled this handy, fix-your-credit checklist:

  • Order your credit reports from each of the big three agencies to determine where you stand
  • Dispute any errors you find on your credit report. Some shady credit counseling companies may suggest you dispute everything on the reports, which may do way more harm than good. The Federal Trade Commission offers advice on how to file disputes on its website.
  • Pay all your bills on time, every month
  • Pay down your credit card balances. If you can only afford to pay one at a time, pay department store cards first, if you have them, otherwise, pay off the one with the highest balance first. Aim to get the balances within 30 percent of your credit limit.
  • Use old credit cards that you haven’t used lately to keep their histories active. Remember, old credit is worth more than new credit when it comes to your score.
  • Obtain a secured credit card if you have no credit history. Use the card for small purchases and pay the balance on or before the due date.
  • Consider obtaining a small loan if your credit report lacks an installment loan history. Ensure that the lender reports to all three agencies.
  • Ask creditors to re-age your accounts. This might be challenging but if even one creditor agrees to do so your score may improve dramatically.
  • Ask the credit card companies to increase your credit limit

4 Tips To Get That Home Sold ASAP

 

When homeowners ask how to get a home sold, there is typically more to the question. For instance, some really want to know how to get it sold quickly, some are wondering how to sell a home to get more money out of it while others have a home languishing on the market and just want to know how to get the thing sold.

There’s no mystery to getting a home sold; it all starts with basic real estate principles and practices.

Timing

It’s important to know the current trends in your local real estate market before putting your home up for sale. Is it a buyer’s market – where there are more homes available than buyers? Or is it a seller’s market, with few homes available and lots of buyers?

Your local newspaper most likely covers your regional real estate market but this is also information you can obtain by asking your real estate agent.

This information is important for several reasons:

• If you can afford to wait to sell your home, the current market may be the deciding factor as to whether you sell it now or wait.

• It helps you price your home appropriately.

• It gives you an idea of what to expect during the time the home is on the market.
Another aspect of timing the sale of your home is the season. Home sales are seasonal and the ideal time to sell the home is in spring. This doesn’t mean, however, that homes don’t sell at other times during the year, even in the dead of winter.
In fact, although fewer homes are listed and sold in winter than in spring, the likelihood that you’ll sell your home is higher in the former than in the latter.

Price

The number one reason a home sits on the market and doesn’t sell is price. To make matters worse, sellers of overpriced homes typically reject initial offers because they think they are too low, when, in reality, they are most likely close to the market value of the home.

In a buyer’s market, it’s even more important to price your home competitively. If you choose the right real estate agent, your list price should be very close to the home’s true market value. It’s up to you, then, to either lower it a bit to create more interest or to overprice the home and risk eventually having to drop the price.

Condition

It almost sounds trite in today’s real estate market to mention that a home needs to be cleaned and decluttered before putting it on the market. While the advice is common, it’s still very good. A clean home with maximum curb appeal will put your house above the competition.

Make repairs to anything that obviously needs it. This means dripping faucets, loose banisters, cracked windows – anything that a buyer will notice. These little things make it appear that the home hasn’t been maintained – something no buyer wants to take on.

We can discuss larger repairs and whether or not they should be tackled.

Realtor

Your Realtor can make or break the deal. Keep that in mind when determining who to hire to assist you in the sale of your home. This is not the time to hire that friend of a friend or your Aunt Martha.

Choose your agent carefully and then work as a team, following up with one another frequently throughout the process.

Getting your home sold requires, overall, patience. Take your time with each step in the process, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks. Listen to the advice of your real estate agent and you’ll soon be on your way to the next phase of your life.

The 2 Things You Must Do Before Closing On That Home

Once upon a time, in a sleepy little town in Minnesota, a man with big ideas and lots of vacant land decided to build a subdivision. The problem he faced was that his parcel was zoned for commercial development. City leaders, however, were more than accommodating when he asked for a zoning change on enough of the land to build 170 houses. The rest of the parcel retained the commercial zoning designation.

 

The subdivision was developed, homes were built and families moved in. It became one of the more in-demand neighborhoods because of the majestic and natural beauty of the heavily wooded acreage that fronted it.

 

Almost 30 years later, the original landowner’s son, who inherited the vacant parcel when his father died, decided to sell it and a major big-box retailer decided to purchase it. The plan is for a 24-hour, 180,000 square-foot superstore, directly across the street from the sleepy little neighborhood.

 

Environmental impact studies show that traffic in the area will go from 2,000 vehicles per day to a whopping 14,000. The back of the superstore will face the neighborhood. The back of the store is where huge diesel trucks make their deliveries in the middle of the night – big trucks that beep when they back up and idle while they unload.

 

Homeowners are upset, to say the least. Although hundreds attended each city council meeting in which the subject of the new commercial development was discussed, voicing their concerns over the noise, the traffic and the decimation of their home’s value, the city council finally granted the store’s developers their conditional use permit.

 

The Moral of the Story

 

Homes surrounded by open space are attractive to many home buyers. For these people, you just can’t put a price on the seclusion and serenity such a location offers. Vacant land near a residential area, however, should raise a red flag. After all, if it’s vacant, it’s buildable.

 

The only way to find out for certain if anything is planned for the vacant land is to consult with the local city government.

 

Zoning

 

A northern California real estate agent represented Jack, who owned a 5-acre ranchette that he wanted to sell. Situated on a prime piece of Wine Country real estate Jack purchased the property several years ago and paid a hefty price.

 

Because he didn’t bother checking the zoning in the area, Jack lost about half of the value of his home when the property fronting his was purchased by someone who then used the land to slaughter and butcher pigs.

 

Zoning rules also affect how you can use your own property. If you plan on operating a business out of your home, remodel the house or add structures, park a boat or RV in your driveway, or even cut down trees you will need to check your area’s zoning rules.

 

Check the zoning of nearby vacant land or the property you want to purchase by going to your county’s courthouse or planning department. Don’t forget to ask for the long-term plan for the area as well.

 

Taxes

 

It’s hard to think of doing a background check when you’re in love with a house, but it’s critical to do so. One of the checks that most homebuyers fail to run is the property’s tax history. Real estate taxes go up – that’s a given. But knowing how quickly and how high the taxes on the home of your dreams have moved in the past is important information.

 

This is especially pertinent if you’re purchasing in a new development where there is a greater need for services. Excessively high property taxes make a huge impact on your monthly payment.

 

Known as “tax traps” by Bankrate.com’s Marcie Geffner, they include unexpected reassessments and rate hikes, among other unanticipated surprises. She suggests that you check with the local tax assessor to determine the following:

 

  • How the assessor calculates taxes
  • If the home will be reassessed when you purchase it
  • The date of the next reassessment
  • Which exemptions, if any, apply

 

There is much to consider when purchasing a home. Don’t allow your emotions to get the best of you, do your research and that home may just turn out to be one of the best investments you’ll make.

 

4 Reasons To Live In A New Home Before Renovating

It’s no secret that we all love our homes, and buying a new one can be an exciting investment. We put great effort into personalizing that home so that it represents who we are.

Now the big question here is; should you live in a new home before renovation or renovate it before you move in? 

Basically, if it’s lighting or plumbing repairs that you need to make the house habitable before you move, there’s no problem at all. Proceed with those minor renovations. However, if this is a big project it will require a lot of thought, planning, and resources to complete. Therefore, recommend you live in your newly acquired home for some months before knocking down its walls.

In this article, you’ll read four good reasons you should consider living in your home before you dive right into major improvements or renovations.

1. You may change your mind

You may have great ideas for the kind of improvements you would like to make on a new home as soon as you become the owner. However, until you live there for a while, it is difficult to know whether its current condition is right for you and your family.

For instance, you may have immediate plans to expand the available space by demolishing a certain wall. While these plans may seem great at the first, you may not know the benefits of that initial layout to your family without actually living in the house for a few months

Your day-to-day experiences in that new house could make you change your mind about your early ideas for major renovations. So be patient and give it a little time before you do anything major.

2. Immediate renovations can add significant stress

Buying a home is not a straightforward task. It’s a huge undertaking that can require a lot of thought, planning, and dedication. All these can be stressful. However, If you have successfully overcome all these hurdles, carrying out major renovations right away can add unforeseen stress and deny you the happiness that comes with remodeling a home.

Instead of rushing into carrying out major renovations, move in right away and start to experience life in your new home and its immediate surroundings. After you have settled in, you’ll find you’re more relaxed and focused on the task at hand.

3. Give yourself time to carefully plan

Home renovations can not be done without careful planning. No matter the size of the project, they are time-consuming and should be planned well in advance. This means contacting multiple contractors to get their take on what you really want and to give you an estimate. Once you have settled on a contractor, discuss the duration of the project and oversee it carefully with patience.

In some cases, a contractor may not know your desired wants and needs. The only true way to become familiar with these problems yourself is to become well versed with daily life in your new home.

 

4. Waiting allows you to save for your dream project

Waiting for at least a year before you dive into major home improvements and renovations will help you set a budget and save the required amount needed to complete the projects successfully.

The cost of major projects such as bathroom renovation, second-storey addition or kitchen renovation varies considerably depending existing parameters, scope, size, and goals. Your budget will ultimately determine the kind of renovation projects you can carry out right away and what will have to wait.

 

Bottom lines

While you should be open to updating a new home that doesn’t fulfill your needs, don’t feel stressed about getting all that work done right away. Move into that new house and stay there for at least six months. You may be surprised at how your priorities and decisions change once you settle in.

 

6 Signs Your Bathroom Needs An Update

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The bathroom is arguably one of the most important rooms in the house, and among the most frequently used. However, it is easy for homeowners to overlook this space when it’s time to renovate or update. Updating the bathroom is a worthwhile investment which not only adds value to the home but also increases the overall quality of your day to day life. If you are not sure if you really need to make a change, here are the top signs that it is time to update your bathroom.

1. The Bathroom Has Mold

If you happen to notice dark spots sprouting up in the corners, parts of the ceiling, directly above the bathtub, or shower, it’s time to update your bathroom. Keep in mind that not all leaks/drips are visible, so make sure you look for mildew and mold near the edges and corners of your shower and bathtub. Sometimes mildew and mold problems can arise from minor issues like drips, leaks, faulty pipes, or improper ventilation which can be easily fixed by doing some minor repairs. However, in case you have a serious mildew or mold problem even after you have done the minor repairs, chances are that you have a much bigger problem to deal with. Make sure you deal with that problem immediately, before it gets worse. If the water gets into your bathroom floor, it could eventually end up compromising its’ structural integrity.

2. There are Cracked, Chipped, Stained or Broken Glass in the Bathroom

As mentioned earlier, the bathroom is one of the most frequently used rooms in the house. This means that the shower tiles, sink faucets, light fixtures, and ceiling fans are all in frequent use, therefore when they start breaking down, it is time to consider updating your bathroom. If the ceiling starts crumbling, you notice discolored tile grout, the mirror is broken, or there’s cracked linoleum and tile floor, you need to consider how you can repair the damaged materials while updating your bathroom at the same time.

3. It’s No Longer Big Enough

When brushing your teeth or taking a shower, you should feel like you’ve room to move around. Many homes have a standard 8’ by 5’ bathroom; this size does not allow for a variety of layout or design options. If your family has grown and the bathroom feels somewhat cramped, it is time to consider updating the current space with new features that optimize the function and storage.

4. It’s Out of Date

Design trends come and go. If you have a pink bathtub, avocado floors, a brightly colored toilet, or gold fixtures, it might be time to update your bathroom. These are simply out of style and can greatly hurt your chances of resale. Moreover, an outdated bathroom might actually be hiding a number of unseen problems which need to be addressed. You should consider updating by using neutral colors on the bathroom walls, and then accenting with a color. Some other simple tricks can include swapping your outdated flooring, fixtures, lighting, and handles.

5. There are Leaks in Your Bathroom

Leaks are common in many bathrooms. Depending on the particular situation, a leak can be because of a minor problem that’s easy to repair or can be a major problem which has to be addressed immediately. In case the leak is a result of rust or corrosion which has been present for quite some time, it might be causing serious water damage which can weaken the structural elements of your house, and might end up costing you thousands of dollars in repairs. If you notice serious leaks, you should really consider updating your bathroom; not only will it save you on your water bill, it will prevent structural damage.

6. You are Looking to Sell Your House Soon

If you’re contemplating on selling your home in the near future, you should consider updating your bathroom. If your bathroom doesn’t look high class, you need to upgrade it. Also, if you’ve an older house, updating the bathroom is crucial. When the bathroom is updated, it can be a major selling point, and might even position your house for a much quicker sale.

The Summer 2016 Refi Boom – Crunching The Numbers

According to a recent survey from bls.gov, the United States has created over 250,000 new non-farm jobs as of July, 2016. This, in effect, overshadowed the previous prediction of 180,000 that had been speculated by various economic tabloids. While to the average citizen this might sound like great economic news, that’s not necessarily the case for those eyeing fresh mortgages as the rates are now expected to skyrocket. So, does this necessarily mean that the 2016 refi window has already closed?

 

How Rate Markets Work

 

Before we even jump to conclusions, let’s address how the rate markets made their way to where they are now.

 

Keep in mind that individual mortgages are often packaged into separate mortgage bonds – also known as MBS ( Mortgage Backed Securities ). These bonds, in turn, impact rates on a daily basis. If you’re wondering how, then remember that bonds often pay a rate of return to the respective investors every year and that rate in question is always inverse to a specific bond price. (Bonds are often traded on a daily basis.)

 

So, in light of the positive economic news, more bonds will be sold, which as a consequence, makes the prices per bond drop and the rates climb higher. The opposite remains true. And this explains why the rates rose momentarily after the release of a blowout of jobs report at the beginning of August.

 

How the Rates are Expected to Perform in Fall 2016

 

From the analysis in the above paragraph, one may be tempted to believe that the chance to jump on the refinance bandwagon is long and gone. However, this couldn’t be any further from the truth! This is because rate markets are often volatile and throughout the better part of 2016 we have seen the repeated rise of refinancing opportunities albeit, with looming economic uncertainty.

 

Take, for instance, in January and February of this year, the Mortgage rates in the U.S dropped to their all-time lowest level in three years. According to economic gurus and analysts, this could be associated with the concern over the economic instability of other countries outside of the United States.

 

Later in June, around the same time when the U.K voted to exit the larger European Union, the rates dropped even lower, which confirmed the concern of non-U.S territories economic volatility.

 

Now, the coming months usher even more hectic and unpredictable times. There’s a presidential election and, not just one, but three Federal Reserve meetings in the not so distant future. All these will be factors that will influence the rate markets whether we choose to acknowledge them or not.

 

This is coming from an informed perspective that the three remaining fed policy-setting meetings that are scheduled in September, November and December have a high likelihood of introducing or raising the current bank-to-bank lending rates. Which, of course, will, in turn, have an impact on the mortgage rates and bond markets.

 

But before you jump the gun and blame it all on the Fed rate, consider that at times the volatility of the rate markets is affected by the bond market anticipating an impending Fed rate way of ahead of time. A good example is how last year investors dumped their bonds ahead of the annual Fed meeting in December.

 

Far from this, it is general knowledge that the Fed often tries to remain as politically neutral as possible. So this year, the bond market is somewhat split on trying to guess when the next hike is likely to occur. While some think it will be introduced in September, others argue that it will most likely be seen during the December 14th meeting – after the presidential elections.

 

So When is the Best Period To Lock a Refi Rate?

 

Given the unpredictability of the rate market dynamics, it is inevitable that at one time or another you will have to ask yourself this tentative question. One thing is certain, however – rate dips are always coming and going ever so quickly. Therefore, it is always a great idea to keep checking the rates regularly. Remember that as soon as the rates drop, the affected lenders tend to spring into action almost immediately.

It’s still best to inquire about the rate lock. The rate lock is simply the number of days or months when a given rate remains fixed. Normally, the long the rate lock, the higher the rate is likely to be.

Why Overpricing Your House Will Always Be a Bad Idea

Setting your home’s selling price above its actual market value may seem like a great idea…right?

You have room to deal with buyers who like to bargain aggressively. Plus, your agent can comfortably take his or her percentage without compromising what you’ll receive from the sale. Sounds like a win-win situation, right?

Well, the process of property-selling goes deeper than that. A well-maintained house that has been priced competitively from the get-go is more likely to sell within the higher end of its value scale. It is also expected to get off the market in a relatively shorter period of time.

Conversely, an overpriced house is more likely to stay on the market longer than expected. However, the longer it stays on the market, the lower its final selling price ends up. This has been observed in homes that typically lingered on the market for more than two months- they tend to sell for at least five percent less than its initial selling price.
Of course, there are a number of things that contribute to the time a house spends on the market. However, the initial pricing structure has proven the be one of the most influential factors in determing the time to closing.

When it comes to pricing, agents know best. 

As a homeowner, your house is your first and foremost concern. As such, this could result in you having limited knowledge of the world beyond the borders of your own home- which, in this case, is the real estate industry at large. It is because of this limited view of the market that some homeowners have a tendency to overvalue their property- they are just that attached to it. 

There is a common misconception that real estate agents severely undervalue houses to sell and get them off the market as quickly as possible. While unscrupulous agents do exist, the majority of them are more concerned with making sure that your house is accurately priced according to current market conditions.

With this in mind, it’s important to be receptive to your agent’s advice on how to prep up your home for a sale. Potential buyers often respond to a listing within a couple of weeks after posting, so making it attractive right from the start (especially when it comes to pricing) increases your chances of having a favorable sale.

As the popular saying goes, “First impressions, last.” The same rings true for your house listing. 

Take advantage of the early momentum when you first put up your house for sale. An overpriced listing that stays inactive for weeks often ends up having its price reduced eventually until it reaches a price point that is more in tune to what the market perceives its value to be.

Buyers are more likely to strike if the listing reaches around five percent of their desired price. However, if the house takes too long to go down to its ideal price range, potential buyers get disinterested. There is a chance that they would come up with offers that are far below than what one would get had the listing been priced correctly in the first place.
If you have any more questions regarding appropriate pricing feel free to leave your contact info in one of the available forms on the page. Or if you need you can reach out to me directly and I’ll be in touch asap. If you’re looking for more tips tricks and information to help make your buying or selling experience easier check out the rest of my real estate blog! Or if you’re interested in a free home valuation then check out the sellers tab at the top of the page.