My Blog

Fall Market Update: Is the Fall a Good Time to Sell?

10/7/2021

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The early spring through the summer are generally the busiest times of the year for home sales, but the fall can be a particularly advantageous time of year for sellers. Housing inventory drops off during the fall months, so sellers have less competition. That means you can expect higher offers, fewer contingencies, and less scrutiny from buyers. You maintain more power over your terms.

Fall buyers are serious buyers! Early in the year you can get lots of lookers who are just thinking about buying at some point, but by fall the buyers still looking are ready to get under contract and often have a deadline. Many fall buyers are anxious to get settled before the holiday season and, if they have children in school, they will want to get them in their new schools before too much of the school year passes.

Employers who pay to relocate employees also like to shop off-season to save on moving costs. If you live near a large hospital, university, technology center, or industrial area, your home may be attractive to relocation services.

Fall is also prime time for buyers who aren’t shopping school districts. Young professionals and empty nesters are two populations more likely to shop in the fall. If you are marketing to these populations, you might want to show off multi-use spaces for exercise rooms, a home office, or game room.

The fall is much more fun for showing a home than the dead of summer. Use the mild weather and a festive atmosphere to enhance your home’s showing potential. As the temperatures cool and we welcome crisp, clear fall days, it becomes easier to maintain your yard and add to your curb appeal. You can use fall colors and foliage in your home décor to create a cozy atmosphere. Don’t forget some pumpkin spice scented candles or warm oatmeal cookies to warm buyers up for a sweet deal.

If you’re thinking about selling but can’t decide between listing now and waiting until after the holidays, now is the time. Give me a call, and let’s tie the whole process up in a pretty red bow long before the new year.

Autumn is Here...Happy Fall

~Deborah

Home Equity

6/27/2021
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Home equity…Everybody wants it, but what exactly is it, and how do you get it?

Equity represents the degree of ownership an individual or entity has in an asset after subtracting any debts against the asset. To say someone shares equity in a company means they would share in any assets remaining after all debts are accounted for.

For example, if your business has sold $500,000 worth of product this year, but you have rent, operating expenses, and a business loan payment totaling $400,000 for the year, you have $100,000 of equity in your business. Equity changes as the value of your assets and debts change.

Home equity works the same way. When you take out a mortgage to purchase a home, your home is collateral on the mortgage loan, so the outstanding mortgage principal must be deducted from the value of the home to determine your home equity.

In most cases, you make a down payment when you purchase your home. That down payment is your initial home equity. If you pay a 20% down payment on a $200,000 home, you have $40,000 equity when you close on your purchase. 

As time goes on and you continue to pay down your mortgage principal, your equity grows. Usually, the longer your own your home, the more equity you gain because you are paying down your mortgage. However, any debts you take on using your home value as collateral, such as a second mortgage or home equity line of credit (HELOC,) decrease your home equity.

The changing real estate market also influences your equity. If you paid $200,000 for your home, and two years later the homes in your neighborhood start selling in the $400,000 range, your theoretical equity increases. (Theoretical because you don’t realize your home equity until you sell your home and pay off all debts against it.) You can also lose equity if the market takes a dive but be patient and it should recover in time. 

Equity also grows if you make improvements on your home that increase its value. Let’s say you add a swimming pool and all new appliances. You have increased the value of the home. Your equity doesn’t increase by the amount you spent on the improvements, but on the value you get upon resale. This is an important point when considering making improvements prior to putting your home on the market, and one that is often misunderstood.

Let’s say Joe spends $50,000 on upgrades to his home. He might tell his neighbor, “I have $50,000 in my home,” but when he goes to sell, the current market dictates how much he will actually get in return. If Joe ends up selling for $40,000 more than he originally paid, his $50,000 investment got him $40,000 in home equity.

Some things you can do to increase your home equity include:

1) Make a large down payment when you purchase your home. The more cash you put down, the more equity you begin with.

2) Make increased or extra payments on your mortgage principal. Adding to the principal portion only on your monthly payments, or making extra payments when you are able, helps chip away at your outstanding debt.

3) Be smart when making home improvements. Not all improvements build equity. Some improvements may be personal preferences that don’t necessarily add value for resale. Improvements such as a new HVAC system, new appliances, or a new roof are usually more reliable investments than a fountain in the front yard or surround sound speakers throughout the house.

4) Don’t borrow against your home equity unless you must. Home equity is often a homeowner’s biggest asset, and can help to build your retirement nest egg, but it can also come in handy if life throws you a curve ball and you need to borrow against it for an unforeseen emergency. Be careful not to borrow against your equity for frivolous purposes, so it will be there if you really need it.

5) Sell when the market is favorable. If you are counting on your home equity to help finance your next home, pay for your children’s education, or add to your retirement funds, try to sell during a seller’s market when inventory is needed in your area.

~Deborah

Buying and Selling

5/6/2021

Buying and Selling...? At the Same Time?


Both buying and selling a home are equally stressful, but what about when you are trying to coordinate both at the same time? There are a lot of moving parts, and the agents involved work together to insure the smoothest possible transactions for our clients. If you are selling your home and want to close on a new home purchase at the same time, here are some things to think about to make your move as smooth as possible.

Truly simultaneous closings are rare these days, especially when financing is involved. Regulations put in place to protect consumers have made simultaneous, or double, closings very difficult to pull off. Concurrent closings occur when a party is selling and buying properties at about the same time, usually within a couple of days of each other. If you wish to close on the sale of your home and the purchase of a new home back-to-back, the best scenario is to work with the same title company and escrow company for both transactions. Usually the sale of your home is closed first, your mortgage is paid off, then the purchase of your new home is closed.

Selling your home ahead of buying is the most risk-free alternative, as neither transaction is contingent on the other. However, this requires your family to make an extra move and have a place to live while you wait to close on a new home, so in terms of convenience and expense, it’s not always the best scenario. If you have the ability to secure a short-term rental, or to put your belongings in storage and stay with family, then you can enjoy the luxury of taking your time to look for and close on your new home. One option that sometimes works out is to rent your home back from your buyers while you wait to close on your purchase. This works well when the buyers are not in a hurry to move in themselves and you can agree on a timeframe for you to remain in the home.

Buying ahead of selling is a dream in terms of convenience. You can take your time moving, and maybe do some renovations or decorating before you move in. But will you qualify for a new mortgage without a contingency on selling your existing home? If you can swing the mortgage, or are paying cash, it may be a great option for you. Remember to realistically consider how long you can afford to maintain two properties– with maintenance costs– in case it should take you longer than expected to find a buyer for your present home. In this scenario, you may want to rent your new purchase back to the sellers, or list it as a short-term rental, while you wait to close on the sale of your existing home.

Consider your buyers and sellers carefully when trying to coordinate a sale and purchase within a short amount of time. The last thing you need is a seller or buyer who is displaying signs of being uncommitted to the deal. While no deal is guaranteed until all the closing documents have been signed, when you need a purchase or sale to coincide with your schedule, you should carefully evaluate who you sign a contract with. A contract with contingencies on other deals going through, a lender expressing doubt about final financing approval, a low good faith deposit, buyers asking for unreasonable repairs or allowances, or sellers whose moving plans are questionable are red flags that your deal could fall apart.

Here's to a successful move!
~Deborah

Preparing to Downsize

4/21/2021
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When I work with clients who are downsizing to a smaller home, one of the hardest chores they face is letting go of sentimental belongings they no longer have room for. Souvenirs collected during travels, family heirlooms, and your children’s keepsakes can be quite stressful to part with. It doesn’t matter whether the items have monetary value or not; in fact, often the most difficult items to let go of are worthless in terms of money, but priceless in sentimental value.  Here are some tips to help you part with belongings you are attached to but no longer want to keep.


1. Remember that our memories reside within us, not within our possessions.
Psychologists say that letting go of sentimental items can be extremely therapeutic. When we keep things, the items occupy both physical and mental space in our lives. It’s healthier to focus on your memories and not the items that represent your memories.

2. Focus on the present. Letting go also helps to bring your focus to the present. Sometimes things are continual reminders of the past and hold us back from living in the present. Dwelling in the past can make one more prone to depression and can affect our ability to deal with stressful situations in our lives. Realize that while we can always cherish our memories, we don’t need the past to be happy in the present.

3. Let go of guilt. People often hold onto an item they don’t want or need because someone special gave it to them or it represents a special person. Learn to let go of the guilt associated with getting rid of gifts you can’t use. Appreciate the thoughtfulness of the giver or the special memory it represents but pass the item on to someone else who can use it or donate it to charity.

4. Don’t save it for your grown children. Times have changed and today more young adults are able to buy their own furnishings. And they aren’t as sentimental about family heirlooms as prior generations were. Talk to your kids now and find out if you are holding onto your china, crystal, and silver tea service for nothing.

5. Compromise with your spouse. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to resent the others’ favorite belongings while holding onto their own special stuff. It’s important to recognize that, while you may not understand your husband’s need to keep a ball cap for every MLB team he’s seen play, he may feel the same way about his hats that you do about keeping every book you have read. Decide together on a reasonable number to keep.

6. Start with the easy stuff. If you have a lot of belongings to sort through, start with the easier decisions and work from there. Often people find that once they get some momentum going it feels good to let go.

7. Write a family memoir. Hold onto your memories with words instead of things by writing your memoir or the story of your family. Writing your story can be very therapeutic and can help you release your hold on tangible items. If you need help, try a service like Storyworth.com.

Here's to new beginnings and new memories,
~Deborah


Top First Time Home Buyer FAQ’s Answered

1/28/2021

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Top First Time Home Buyer FAQ’s Answered

Mortgage-Related

How do I know if it’s time to buy instead of rent?

If you know where you want to live, have a steady and secure income, and are ready for the responsibilities of homeownership, then it’s a great time to invest in property.

How much do I need to save up for a down payment?

A conventional loan down payment is usually 20% of the sales price, but other types of financing require as little as 3.5% to 15%. A mortgage lender can tell you what types of loans you qualify for.

How do I know if I qualify for a loan and how much I can afford?

Contact a mortgage lender to get pre-approval for a loan. The lender will ask you some basic questions about your income and debts and can tell you what amount you can be approved for, and how much your mortgage payments will be.

What does the lender need from me to give me a loan?

Usually, you are asked to provide your last two tax returns to show proof of income. You should also provide recent bank and credit card statements and proof of your current pay rate. You will also be asked for your social security number so they can run a credit check.

What’s the difference between pre-approved and pre-qualified?

While often used interchangeably, these terms don’t mean the same thing. Pre-qualification is an estimate of what you may be approved for based only on the verbal information you provide. Pre-approval means the lender has verified your income and debt information and run a credit check.

How do I know which mortgage option is right for me?

Your mortgage lender is the best person to advise you on this question. Their products and qualifications change from time to time, so they would know best what products are available to meet your needs.

Searching for a Home

What should I do when I see a house online that I like?

Call your buyer’s agent: the agent you are working with to find your home. It’s best that you work with one real estate agent throughout your search because that person learns what you like and dislike and will invest a lot of time vetting properties for you. That person also represents your best interests only. When you call the agent advertising the home, you are dealing with the seller’s agent, so, while they can assist you, they are also trying to get the best price for the seller.

Can you show me a house if it’s not your listing?

Absolutely. As a buyer’s agent, I can show you any house listed in our MLS system, and I will contact FSBO sellers on your behalf. As mentioned above, working with me as your buyer’s agent ensures that your interests are protected.

How do we write an offer?

When you find the property you want to make an offer on, I will run a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) to help you determine a fair offer amount. I will also guide you through the additional terms of the contract, such as the escrow amount, closing date, and any additional terms you want to be added to the offer. I will write the offer on a contract form and submit it to the seller’s agent.

What if I want to back out of a contract?

You always have the right to back out of the purchase, but you may lose your escrow deposit. If the contract is contingent on a property inspection, you usually have the right to cancel for any reason during the inspection period. Once the inspection period has passed, you cannot back out and keep your deposit unless the seller agrees, or an additional term has not been met.

What happens if there are other offers on the house I love?

If a seller receives multiple offers on their home, usually their agent will inform the buyer’s that multiple offers have been received and the buyers have another opportunity to alter their original offer to present their “highest and best” offer. Keep in mind that many factors may influence the seller in addition to the offer price, such as the down payment amount, closing date, and inspection terms.

What happens when my offer gets accepted?

Once both parties have agreed on all terms and signed the contract, your escrow deposit must be made and you should schedule the home inspection. Your lender will receive a copy of the contract and will begin processing your mortgage application.

We’re Under Contract!

What does “under contract” mean?

Under contract means that all parties have agreed on terms, have signed the contract, and the signed contract has been delivered to both buyer and seller. Payment of the escrow deposit is expected but is not a requirement to make a binding contract.

What is escrow?

The escrow money, escrow deposit, or good faith deposit is money that is offered with an offer, or as soon as an offer is accepted, to show the seller that you are serious about moving forward with the purchase of the home. Because you forfeit this deposit if you back out of the purchase for any reason not allowed for in the contract, the larger the escrow deposit, the more seriously your offer is taken.

Do I need an inspection?

We always recommend that you have a home inspection done. In the scheme of things, paying a few hundred dollars to have peace of mind that there are no hidden dangers or problems is well worth the money.

How much are inspections?

The cost of the home inspection depends on the size of the house and additional inspections requested, such as swimming pool, septic tank, termites, insurance four-point (HVAC, plumbing, roof, and electrical,) wind mitigation, and radon. An average home inspection, without additional inspections, is about $300.

What if my loan doesn’t get approved?

If you have gone through the pre-approval process and have been forthcoming with all the information requested by your lender, it’s unlikely you will be turned down, but it does happen. Make sure you do not change jobs, purchase big-ticket items on credit, take out a car or boat loan, or open any other new credit accounts while your mortgage is being processed. If your loan does fall through, talk with your lender about changing to a different loan type.

When can I start moving?

When you have the keys! When you are financing your purchase, it takes four to six weeks for your loan to be processed. Once the lender gives the all-clear, closing is scheduled. You will sign your loan documents and both parties will sign documents transferring ownership to you. Unless other arrangements have been agreed upon by both parties, the sellers should have completely vacated the home when they sign the closing papers. You can have your belongings ready to move, and a moving company scheduled before you go to closing. You will want to schedule the utilities to be transferred into your name(s) for the possession date about a week prior to closing. 

Download my First Time Home Buyer FAQ Sheet to have this information on hand, plus Vocab and more! Email me at deborahdean@therevolution1.com to get your copy…

Here's to buying your first home!

~Deborah

Tips for Investment Property Success

1/23/2021

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The Do’s and Don’ts for Investing in Real Estate

Are you thinking about investing in real estate in 2021? It may be the perfect year to purchase a rental property, a vacation home, or to flip houses. I would be happy to help you find the perfect investment property, and I’ve put together this list of tips to help you get the best return on your investment.

First, consider what type of investment property is best for you and your family. 

If you are thinking about a rental property, such as a vacation condo or rental home, consider how much time will be needed for things like maintenance, managing a website or rental listings, and vetting potential tenants. For rental homes, make sure the areas you are searching are attractive to tenants in terms of proximity to nearby business centers and transportation hubs, and in good school districts for family tenants.

Is a family vacation property more to your liking? Make sure you read any and all rules pertaining to owners and guests, as well as rules on renting your property out when you are not using it, if that is something you plan to do. Also be sure that your vacation property is somewhere you foresee your family wanting to travel to often enough to make it worthwhile.

 For new house flippers, you want to find out what return you can expect to get in your market area and talk to contractors and suppliers to get realistic estimates on renovations, both in terms of price and time to completion. 

Here are some additional Do’s and Don’ts for investing in real estate:

Do aim for at least a 15% return on investment.

Do look for homes priced in the low end of the median price range.

Do look for 3-bedroom, 2-bath single family homes for rentals or flipping.

Do focus on one neighborhood or area.

Do purchase rental properties close to your home if you plan to manage them yourself.

Do use one real estate agent to help with all your buying and selling needs. 

Don’t purchase a second property until the first is earning revenue.

Don’t buy properties that you wouldn’t want to manage, even if you plan to use a property manager.

Don’t buy a home that you cannot afford to carry for several months in case of a slow market.

Don’t buy a home or condo without having inspections performed.

Don’t buy without title insurance.

Don’t buy more properties than you are able to manage.

As I said, I can help you search for investment properties. Sometimes buyers make the mistake of searching on their own and contacting the sellers or listing agents directly. Working with several different people wastes your time and increases the chances that you will miss out on a deal. Also, working with one agent allows that agent to learn your tastes, needs, and parameters, so I can be out looking for the right property while you are busy doing other things.

Here's to spending thoughtfully,
~Deborah

January

1/13/2021

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Fresh Year, Fresh Start: Cleaning Out Your Home for the New Year

Many of us could not wait to close the door on 2020 and usher in the new year– and all the positive karma we hope comes with it! As you look forward to 2021 you may have spent some time thinking about your intentions for the coming year, whether for personal or professional growth, health and fitness, or family goals. Let’s face it, 2020 was stressful, and while many people look to each new year to freshen up their lives, this year more than ever people are looking inward to reexamine what is important to them. But one thing that is just as important as setting intentions for your behaviors or habits is creating a peaceful and joyful place in which to practice your intentions.

If you, like most Americans, spent a record amount of time inside your home last year due to the pandemic, you may have accumulated more stuff than you have in previous years. Many people acquired new hobbies to pass the time at home, started – and maybe even finished – home improvement projects, or simply went a little overboard with boredom-induced online shopping. If this sounds familiar, it may be time for a decluttering session.

Living with too much stuff can cause stress, anxiety, and depression. People with too much clutter in their environment also tend to suffer from relationship issues, sleep problems, and chronic allergies or asthma. 

So, before you pack a suitcase and hop on a flight for that vacation that got cancelled last year, take some time to clean out your home for the new year. Here are a few strategies recommended by professional organizers.

1. One category at a time: This method is used by Marie Kondo, author of the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and TV show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. She advocates for decluttering items by category: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items, in that order. 

2. One room at a time: Another method is to focus on one area at a time. It could be a room, the garage, or the attic. If that amount of space is still overwhelming to you, break it down to one closet, one cabinet, or one drawer at a time. 

3. Arrange keep, sell, and donate spaces. As you progress through your decluttering, it will save time and energy if you have already designated areas to accumulate items that are to be kept, sold, or donated. Then you can deal with each group of items once you have everything separated.

Once you have cleaned out your home, you might adopt some of these habits for preventing clutter from piling up again:

1. Set a rule where you don’t purchase a new piece of clothing, toy, book, or gadget without getting rid of something you are no longer using.

2. Get into the habit of always putting everything back in its place. This will keep you from purchasing items you already have but can’t find or forgot about.

3. To prevent clothes from piling up, try choosing your outfits for the coming week every Sunday, and don’t let clean laundry sit unfolded.

4. Look through your refrigerator and pantry before shopping and shop with a list of needed items.

5. Live by the rule that if you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, chances are you don’t need it.

Here's to a new year!

~Deborah 


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