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Four Reasons to Sell this Fall

Traditional lore says that the best time to list your home for sale is spring and if it
hasn’t sold by the end of summer, you’re out of luck. Along the same lines,
homeowners across the country are often advised not to list in the fall and wait
until after the holidays to list. The truth is that a great home will sell at any time
of year and in fact there are some very good reasons to list in the fall, while
everyone else is busy doing other activities.

4 Reasons to Sell this Fall

1. Less Competition – As mentioned above, most sellers list in spring, so as a
seller fall provides you less competition which increases the opportunity
for buyers to view your home.
2. Serious Buyers – Home buyers in fall often have a timeline to move before
the holidays. They tend to take the home search seriously and move to
write offers faster and avoid wasting time.
3. Curb Appeal – Fall is a beautiful time of year and homes always seem cozier
as the weather turns. Fall colors in the trees and the scent of baking entice
buyers to feel “at home” which encourages offers.
4. Closing is Easier – The pace of home sales slows during the fall; as such
lenders can move faster and the process tends to take less time.

The last and best reason to sell this fall is that it’s the right time for you and your
plans. Regardless of whether you are relocating, moving up or scaling down, if this
is the right time to sell, then this is the best time to sell.

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Should I Consider Selling My Short-Term Rental Property?

The travel industry has changed significantly over the past decade. With the popularity of vacation rentals advertised by such sites as Airbnb, VRBO, and Home Away, travelers have more options than ever for lodging during their vacation. Unfortunately, 2020 has seen a serious decline in travel due to the COVID-19 crisis and many owners of these short-term rental properties are wondering what to do.

If you have a short-term rental property, you might be wondering if this is the right time to sell. Here are a few considerations as you weigh your options:

Long-Term Goals – While travel is down significantly right now, this slump won’t last forever. If this property is part of your overall investment portfolio which makes sense for the long run, consider other strategies to keep the rental. If you have a mortgage, speak to your lender about payment options during this time.
Housing Inventory and Local Home Prices – Housing inventory is down about 20% year over-year according to the National Association of Realtors®. Lower inventory has also prevented home prices from falling in most areas.
Historically Lower Interest Rates – Interest rates have dropped significantly since the beginning of the year. It might be time to refinance the property. In addition, if you do decide to sell, buyers are better positioned to buy.

This is a confusing time for everyone. The robust business of short-term rentals has certainly been affected over the past few months and the travel industry will suffer this summer. If you own a short-term rental, consider all your options as you decide whether it’s the right time to sell your property.

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Your Starter Home vs. Your Forever Home

 

Buying a home is exciting. Most people have visualized their dream home—large,
inviting kitchen; multiple bedrooms for family and guests; perhaps a backyard
with built-in BBQ, pool, and fireplace. Yet this dream is often out of reach
financially for first-time homebuyers. These buyers are ready to find a starter
home and perhaps are wondering if saving for a forever home makes more
financial sense.

Before making this decision, it’s important to consult with a professional financial
advisor about your unique situation; more often than not, getting a starter home
makes the most sense.

Things to Look For in a Starter Home vs. a Forever Home

As we already mentioned, a starter home probably won’t have all the features
you dream about, so it’s important to understand the difference between “want”
features and “need” features. For instance, the number of bedrooms might be
more critical than the huge, eat-in kitchen. Finding a home near a park for the
kids might take precedence over the expansive view of the water.

Focus on affordability and find a home that suits not only your immediate needs
but offers the ability to grow in equity. Your starter home should be viewed as a
financial tool to build wealth and position you to move up to your forever home.
Building wealth through homeownership is a great way to ensure you’ll be able to
buy that dream home when you’re ready.

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Real Estate Home Inspections and Appraisals in the New Normal

Even during the COVID-19 outbreak, real estate transactions go on. Buyers and sellers still need to move, and the industry is looking for new ways to accommodate both the needs of the transaction and, of course, the safety of everyone.

Many traditional real estate activities can be performed virtually. While no one is suggesting that a buyer will be comfortable buying a home they have only seen during a Zoom visit, they can minimize the number of homes they physically visit by pre-screening these homes ahead of time through virtual tours.

There are a few vital pieces of the transaction that require in-person visits, however. Among these are home inspections and appraisals. Both of these professionals need access to the property to properly perform their duties, and it leaves some potential home sellers and buyers wondering if it’s even possible to conclude a real estate transaction right now.

While everyone should cautiously move forward according to their personal sense of comfort, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself, your family, and the professionals while they are in your home. Before setting the appointments, think through the parts of your home the inspector or appraiser will need to access and think through the process.

Contact the home inspector and appraiser and work out a plan together to keep everyone safe:
• Communicate with them about off-limit areas, and what parts of the home they can access.
• Have a notepad in which they can communicate what parts of the home they came in contact with, and offer hand sanitizer and wipes for them to use before and after touching parts of the home.
• Finally, leave the home during the appointments, and clean properly once you return home.

Life does move on – if you are trying to buy or sell a home during this challenging time, it might take extra effort. However, working with your real estate team, you can conclude a successful real estate transaction amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Keeping the Homeownership Dream Alive

Buying and owning your own home is no easy task, and there are moments on everyone’s journey when they feel like it’s impossible. However, there are plenty of resources available to help make your dream of becoming a homeowner a reality.

The first step you should take when you’re ready to consider buying a home is to check your credit score and/or start building your credit. Lenders want to see that you’ve been able to pay back borrowed money on time, and without missing payments or defaulting on the loan.

If you have a poor credit score, you’ll need to spend the next several months, or even years in some cases, improving it by paying off any debt you currently have and making sure to make all payments on time in the future. This is a great time to find a mortgage loan officer that you trust. They will periodically check in on your progress and make any suggestions to further improve your credit score.

Another way to keep your dream of homeownership alive is to start saving NOW, at whatever stage you’re at. Putting aside even a few dollars here and there will be a step toward that dream. When you’re ready to purchase your first home, you’ll need to make a down payment and you’ll be responsible for all the services and expenses required to finalize a mortgage at the time of closing. These typically cost between 2% to 5% of the total loan amount. So, get in the habit of putting some money aside from every paycheck to help fuel your dream of owning a home.

When the time comes for you to start looking at houses, tell your realtor your budget upfront. Contact your mortgage lender to get pre-approved for this amount. Remember to take into consideration your down payment and closing costs. This will make sure your realtor only shows you homes that you can afford, to avoid the stress of trying to figure out how to make payments on a home you love but can’t afford.

In the end, remember not to get discouraged. Even if you’re not able to become a homeowner right now, that doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future. Utilize your trusted loan officer and realtor to help you decide when you’re ready to buy a house and to help you stay within your desired price range.

Your dream of homeownership is closer to coming true than you might think!

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Is Your New Neighborhood Safe?

How to Research Your New Community Before You Buy

Finding the right home for you and your family involves more than the right number of bedrooms and a lovely front yard; the neighborhood in which it’s located can make a huge difference in the quality of your experience in the home. The most important consideration must be the safety of the community. Not only is it a critical component of a healthy lifestyle, but it can also have a drastic effect on resale values. Fortunately, there are some strategies and tools available to help you learn about the safety of your potential new home.

  • Talk to the Neighbors – The first step in researching your new location is to talk with the locals. Start with the neighbors next door if possible, but also spend time in the local shops and ask about the community.
  • Drive through the Neighborhood at Varying Times – One visit on a Saturday morning will never give you a sense of the neighborhood. Drive by on a Friday night and weekday afternoons to learn more about the community. Watch for children playing in the parks and older couples out for a walk.
  • Use Online Tools  – There are a variety of online tools available. Crime research sites such as CrimeReports, SpotCrime, and NeighborhoodScout offer crime statistics. The National Sex Offender Public Website is another good research tool. Each city will also have a published crime blotter report available to review.

The safety and security of your new community should be a top consideration as you search for your new home. Taking the time to research the area will ensure you make the best decision possible for you and your family

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Top Tips When Buying Vacant Land

Building a new home from scratch can be a dream come true. The idea of designing the perfect property with morning sun in the kitchen and evening breezes on the deck can be exhilarating; the first step to a successful project is finding the right piece of land on which to build. This can present challenges if not approached correctly.

Top Tips When Buying Vacant Land

  • Hire Experience – More than most real estate transactions, it’s critical to hire an agent who specializes in vacant land purchases and can guide you through the steps.
  • Expect to Pay Cash – Finding a lender for vacant land can be very difficult. Those who will finance land typically require a 50% or higher down payment and above average interest rates and terms.
  • Get the Neighborhood Comps – Do not neglect to understand home values in the community so you do not over, or under, build your home.
  • Do Your Due Diligence – It is critical to research the property thoroughly. Just a few considerations include:
    o Site Surveys and Environmental Testing
    o Easements and Zoning Restrictions
    o Lot Survey and Boundaries
    o Utilities and Water Rights

Once you’ve completed these preliminary reviews, it’s time to consult with an architect and general contractor who will then begin to develop concept drawings to consider. Even at this stage, you might find that the home you want is not appropriate for the land you’ve chosen. Staying flexible is a key component to searching for land; remember that by following a few tips, you can ensure you find the right lot for your dream home.

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Preparing Your Home for a Virtual Tour

Technology is helpful in so many areas of life, even real estate. Twenty years ago, if someone were moving across the country, they’d have to wait to buy a house until they arrived to start their new life, or they’d have to buy a home without seeing it in person beforehand. Both options would cause extra unwanted stress on top of moving to an unfamiliar place. Luckily, with the rise of technology, virtual tours are here to save the day!

When it comes to creating a virtual tour, don’t panic. Your real estate agent will be there to guide you through the entire process. An agent may help to schedule a videographer to come to your house, or may have their own software to create a virtual tour  that can be added to the listing.

There are a few ways to prepare your home before filming a virtual tour. Start by turning on all the lights in your home and opening the blinds or window coverings. You’ll need optimal lighting to get the best footage, so your realtor will most likely schedule filming in the morning or late afternoon. Take time to clean your house before the virtual tour and remove all clutter and any furniture you don’t want to be seen. Your realtor will help you with a simple staging of your home beforehand so it looks presentable in the video. The great thing about staging for a virtual tour is you’ll only have to keep it that way for a couple of hours before you can put everything back where it belongs.

Once the virtual tour of your house has been edited, it’ll be ready to show potential buyers. Your real estate agent will add it to your listing. Anyone interested in taking a virtual tour can easily watch it online to get a good idea of what to expect in person.

When you’ve decided it’s time to sell your home, a virtual tour can be a great way to get more people to see it and secure a buyer in less time than a traditional open house. Not only does it give potential buyers a first glimpse, but it also ensures that only people who are seriously considering purchasing your home request a tour or show up to the open house.

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Changes in the Mortgage Market Since COVID-19

It’s been difficult to adjust to the new normal during the past few weeks. With many residents being asked to stay at home, there are many who have recently lost their jobs or been asked to work remotely. The mortgage industry has also taken a big hit that has directly affected homeowners, renters, and investors alike.

There are many who are in the final stages of closing on their homes, and the current pandemic has made it difficult to efficiently move forward with the process. To help, desktop and exterior-only appraisals are being accepted as long as there is sufficient property information available online. Potential borrowers can also now submit their verification of employment via email, paystub, or bank statement to help streamline the process.

Significant changes have been made during the recent outbreak of COVID-19 to help homeowners get through this trying time. Those who have lost their jobs may be eligible for reduced or suspended mortgage payments for up to 12 months while they regain their footing and find new employment. All foreclosure sales and evictions have also been suspended for 60 days to give borrowers a chance to catch up on their payments. Homeowners who are behind on their mortgage will also receive help to create a plan to maintain or reduce their monthly payments moving forward.

Renters who are currently unable to make their monthly rent payments are advised to reach out directly to their landlords. Owners of these properties will be given mortgage forbearance by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac if they suspend all evictions for renters that have been directly affected by COVID-19. This plan is directly designed to prevent tenants from being evicted because they are unable to pay their rent due to a recent loss of their job.

One benefit of the recent changes in the mortgage market is that interest rates have been near an all-time low, and it may be an excellent time to buy your first home or refinance your current mortgage. If you’ve had your eye on the market for a while now and want to take advantage of the current interest rates, it’s the perfect time to call your loan officer and start the process of locking in your rate before interest rates start to increase again.

It can be hard to keep track of all the changes. Lenders are working around the clock to answer all your questions and will support you in any way that they can. Give them a call if you need help or have any specific questions regarding your loan.