Selling

Selling in the Wintertime

Selling in the Wintertime

Traditionally the winter time is not seen as the best time of year to sell your home.  That isn’t as true as it used to be, today we live in a digital age and the internet is open 24/7 allowing people to look for their perfect home any time that they want to.  If you are thinking of selling or you have to sell because of a job move there are some perks to selling in the wintertime.

Buyers are More Serious

If a buyer braves a polar vortex to come and look at your home during an open house then they are definitely serious about buying a home and they aren’t just there for the free cookies.  Everybody checks out open houses during the spring and summer but December and January are about the real buyers.  This is better for you as Mother Nature has weeded out those who aren’t really looking for a home.

The Internet is Always Open for Business

Today  most people shop for homes on the web rather than contacting an agent to show them around to houses.  Sites like Realtor.com or Zillow make is so much easier for buyer’s to shop around the local market and check out the houses that are available.  Something like 42% of all buyers shop the web before ever having a conversation with an agent.  If you are a seller then you also need to recognize the need to have your home properly listed across the web so that a potential buyer sees your home.

Less Inventory on the Market

We have already established that buyers during this time of year are generally serious about finding a house.  On the plus side for you is that there are fewer people selling houses.  Less demand means a better price for your home.  Often houses that are listed in the wintertime close quickly and aren’t on the market for months at a time.

The Drawbacks

Yes this time of year is busy, it’s busy for everyone but so what.  Moving is always stressful no matter when you do it, but you just have to struggle through it.  First work with a realtor so that showing and offers and most of the real estate tasks can be handled by them and not you.  Focus on doing what you need to do, break down your to do list into manageable chunks, you would be surprised at just what you can accomplish when you have to get it done.

Buying

What Should I Look for When Purchasing a New Home

Buying a Home

Purchasing a new home is one of the most major decisions a person can make. A lot of times, it’s hard for people to know what to look out for in home buying, especially first time home buyers. If you find yourself asking the question “What should I look for when purchasing a new home?” then look no further, as this article shines a light onto that very topic.

Check out the Roof

A pretty easy item to inspect before even setting foot into the property is the roof. As a shelter from the elements, the roof is practically one of the most important parts of your home. Check for balding areas or if the shingles are damaged or curling. Definitely avoid homes with roofs that have dips, holes or are caving in.

A roof is a pretty costly repair and a home with an old, damaged roof might be hiding other secrets too. Getting a home with a newer roof is much safer and if it’s well designed, can potentially save you money on insurance bills too.

Sloppy Tiling

When touring a home, take a moment to carefully inspect the work on the tiles in the kitchen and bathroom areas. Do they look professional, or gappy and uneven? If it’s the later, it might mean the house has been subject to a DIY flipping. Flippers can sometimes make old, dubious homes seem pristine and brand-new, while hiding old materials and wear underneath the surface. If you suspect the home’s been flipped, it might be worth looking somewhere else.

Ignore the Paint and Decor

Freshly painted rooms and tastefully chosen decor can do a lot to wow you as a buyer. It’s commonly thought to be one of the best ways to sell a home. Don’t get distracted by the fancy cosmetics though, these are things that are simple present for any home. What you really want to look out for are things like the wiring, how sound the walls are, or how old the appliances are.

Pay Attention to the Foundation

A home with a questionable foundation could be the tiniest tremor from a pile of rubble. Look out for large gaps, cracks above the window frames, and sticking doors or windows. Uneven floors are another major tip-off, which can be easily detected by rolling a small round object like a ball or a marble.

Check Underneath the Sink

Underneath the kitchen and bathroom sink can be a telling area to inspect in a home, so go ahead and have a look there while touring the home. Leaks, water damage and mold are all some important warning signs you shouldn’t ignore. Mold can pose a serious health risk, and the potential for water damage can cost you a lot in the long run.

Insufficient Ventilation

Another problem that mold can be a sign of is inadequate ventilation. Poor ventilation can cause excess moisture to become trapped in the home’s interior, which leads to mold and moisture getting trapped in the drywall. A sure sign of this could also be indicated by bubbling, peeling paint around doors and windows, as well as condensation on windows.

Check out the Surrounding Land

There’s a lot to look out for on the outside of a property too. Make sure that if the property has a creek running through it that it’s not prone to flooding. Understanding if the land is properly irrigated is hugely important in avoiding flood damage which can be devastating. Similarly, in dryer climates one should investigate to make sure the area doesn’t have a history of wildfires.

Look Out for Water Damage

Water damage can sometimes be carefully hidden inside a home, but a weary buyer can always look out for a few signs of what sellers don’t want you to know. Water stains are an obvious sign of a burst pipe or leak in the past, but new paint will usually conceal this. A musty odor is sometimes an indicator of water damage. As well, you can inspect the pipes in the basement and laundry room for more indicators. Rust, water stains or leaking here will tell you pretty much everything you need to know.

See if There’s Enough Insulation

You’d be in for a rotten surprise if you bought a home you thought was perfect, only to get an insane heating or cooling bill once you’re in the more temperate months of the year. Popping inside the attic can be one of the best areas to check for proper insulation, but do also have a good look at the water pipes and heating ducts.

Get a Home Inspector

If the home passes your amateur inspection and provides what you seek in a property, it’s time you call in a professional. As an average home buyer, there’s only so much you can see for yourself, but a Home Inspector can give you the real story on if the property is worth committing your life to. Naturally, this costs money, so only hire a home inspector if the home doesn’t have any of the other more obvious flaws named above.

Real Estate

How A Reverse Mortgage Works

Retirement issues

Ever wonder how a reverse mortgage works? For folks that have lived in their home for a long time, they may very well be sitting on a gold mine. Home prices have increased greatly over the last thirty years, and nationally have nearly doubled in value over the last ten years. This has left a great many homeowners with valuable equity in their homes and many different options to access that equity, home equity loans and mortgage refinances being the most common. For older Americans, there is another, less common option that is growing in popularity as home prices have increased and baby boomers have moved closer to retirement age: the reverse mortgage. Do you know what it is, and do you know how a reverse mortgage works?

What exactly is a reverse mortgage? A reverse mortgage is a loan product that allows homeowners 62 years of age and older to use their equity to generate tax-free income, without having to take or sell the home on a new mortgage payment. In fact the reverse mortgage is exactly what the title states, the reverse of a standard mortgage. With a standard mortgage, the borrower (or homeowner) makes monthly payments to the lender (or bank or mortgage company), in order to pay back the loan that the lender originally lent to for the purchase or refinance of the house. This payment includes interest that the lender charges the borrower for the loan. In a reverse mortgage, the situation is reversed; the lender makes monthly payments to the borrower. In both a reverse and standard mortgage, the lender secures their loan amount by using the house as collateral.

There are a few factors that determine how much money a borrower will receive from a reverse mortgage, such as the value of the home, borrower’s (and co-borrower’s) age, current interest rates and any lending limits that may be standard for your geographic area. As a rule of thumb, the older the borrower and the more valuable the home, the larger the available loan amount. Homeowners can choose how they want to receive their payments, either as a lump sum, monthly payments or as a line of credit. The line of credit is the most popular option, with nearly 60% of reverse mortgage borrowers choosing to the option to draw income or a lump sum off the line at the time of their choosing. And the proceeds from the reverse mortgage can be used for anything, completely at the discretion of the borrower, though most borrowers use the funds for home repairs or modifications, health care expenses, to settle other debts, or for their long-planned vacation! Reverse mortgages are available for nearly all property types with the exception of co-ops, though co-op owners in some metropolitan areas, specifically New York, should have local options. If you are in retirement, or nearing retirement, and think this may be the product for you, I will go into more detail about exactly how a reverse mortgage works.

For reverse mortgage borrowers with an existing mortgage, that mortgage will need to be paid off completely, so that the new reverse mortgage will be the only lien on the house. If the proceeds from the reverse mortgage are not ample to pay off the existing mortgage, the borrower will need to access savings or other sources to pay off the rest of existing mortgage amount. The more common scenario is one in which there is a small or no mortgage on the home and then the borrower is able to access nearly the full amount of the reverse mortgage to use at their discretion.

One very important facet of the reverse mortgage process is the consumer counseling that is required for borrowers contemplating a reverse mortgage. Counselors are obligated by law to review with you all of the implications of the new mortgage, and what your potential options are.

Overall, for older Americans contemplating a stress-free retirement, the reverse mortgage may be just the option! Just make sure that you know your options and goals … and how a reverse mortgage works.

The reverse mortgage is exactly what the title states, the reverse of a standard mortgage. For reverse mortgage borrowers with an existing mortgage, that mortgage will need to be paid off completely, so that the new reverse mortgage will be the only lien on the house. If the proceeds from the reverse mortgage are not ample to pay off the existing mortgage, the borrower will need to access savings or other sources to pay off the rest of existing mortgage amount. The more common scenario is one in which there is a small or no mortgage on the home and then the borrower is able to access nearly the full amount of the reverse mortgage to use at their discretion. One very important facet of the reverse mortgage process is the consumer counseling that is required for borrowers contemplating a reverse mortgage.

Buying

Understanding Deeds When Selling a Home

What is a deed for a house

Understanding deeds when selling a home is one of the most important aspects of the deal. Deeds are an important legal tool that a lot of folks don’t understand as well as they should. It acts as a record of ownership and the transfer of ownership in regards to certain kinds of property, such as real estate. Improperly recorded deeds can cause far ranging legal complications that could be prevented by taking a little time to understand a deed.

A house deed is proof of property ownership. In most provinces they become public records; usually requiring to be filed and notarized. They document both the current owner, as well as future and past owners of a property, and their signatures.

Some deeds provide legal protections for new owners while others do not. A quitclaim deed provides almost no protections for the new owners of the home. It is mainly a document that states that the current owner is foregoing their interest in the property and transferring it to a new individual. These are used frequently in regards to marriages and divorces. Often times a spouse or relative will use these as well to add a new family member, typically a husband or wife, to a deed. Hence, they provide little legal protection since the point of the deed is to declare one party giving the property up. 

Quitclaim deeds are also used in the case that a title company finds a potential claimant to a property. They will generally ask the potential claimant to sing the quitclaim in order to clear up the title for a proper transfer. 

A warranty deed, which is also know as a vesting deed in some jurisdictions, on the other hand provides more protections for problems that may occur with the tittle and more. There are two types of warranty deeds. The main type is a general warranty deed. General warranty deeds guarantee that the property is free of any debts or liens associated with it. They likewise ensure the buyer that the seller will take responsibility for any legal claims made against the house that date back through it’s entire history. Special warranties are deeds that act in the same way as general warranties, but special warranty deeds only cover claims and problems that pertain only to when the seller occupied it. 

To better illustrate the difference, the general warranty would cover a newly discovered lien placed on the house at a point before the seller lived in it. The special warranty however would not make the seller liable for a lien placed on the property before the seller ever occupied it. 

Another type of property deed is an “bargain and sale” deed. These types of deeds are for more common in the United States than Canada, especially in the state of New Jersey. These deeds generally convey a property to a new owner without a sale nor any liabilities to the former owner. These deeds are used in the case that a property owner wants to pass down some property to a family member or friend. It is also common that these sorts of deeds are used when placing a property into a trust. Foreclosure sales tend to use these types of deeds as well. 

Grant deeds are deeds that assure the buyer or new owner that you won’t turn around and sell the property to another person, as well as that there are no liens or restrictions on the property. These sorts of deeds are used mainly when the purchase is made in cash or is given as a gift to a person or trust. 

How does all of that translate to you selling a home? In general, a normal home sale will most likely use a warranty deed of some sort. On your end as a seller, the main thing you should make sure of is that you don’t have any debts like liens outstanding against the home. This can make the sale of the house much easier. 

The bottom line is that deeds are legal proof of who owns or will own a property, and what rights they are afforded by the deed. Before selling or buying a home, carefully study and examine what a deed means and what it legally affords you. In some cases, it is recommended to contact a real estate attorney for questions regarding your deed or potential purchases. Keep in mind that this article isn’t legal advice and the law is constantly changing. You should always talk with an attorney about any legal questions involving your deed that you might have. 

Selling

Improving Your Curb Appeal

Improving Your Curb Appeal

Once you decide to sell your home then the time has come to put in the work to help it sell quickly and for a good price.  There are pricing strategies and staging that need to be done but improving your curb appeal is every bit as important.  As the old saying goes “you only have one chance to make a first impression” so you want the curb appeal of your home make your buyers want to come inside.  So how do you get started to improve the look of your property so that buyers are beating down your door.

Landscaping

Start with your landscaping and you may want to take a look at your property from every possible angle.  Don’t forget the back yard either it is almost as important as the front of your home too.  What is the first thing that people notice?  Is your lawn well-kept and properly mowed?  Have your flower beds been weeded or do you even have any flower beds.  What about the driveway and the walkway, are they in good shape?  Landscaping provides a great return when you are looking to sell.  Book in a landscaping company to assess your property and see what they can do for you.  They are used to people looking to improve the landscaping in order to sell, they will know how to help you in the most economical way possible.

The Home

Now you need to look at the house objectively and see what it needs.  Could it use a good power wash?  You can rent a power washer at home depot and clean the dirt and pollution from the front of the house.  You can give the windows a good clean at the same time.  Do you need to repaint or just do some touch ups.  Lastly, you need to look at your front door, does it need to be replaced.  Replacing your front door with a steel door can make buyers feel secure.  It is a fairly low cost upgrade that gives a great return.

Clean Up the Toys

If you have hockey nets or basketball hoops in the driveway or other toys that your kids use it is time to clean them up and put them away.  The same goes for garbage bins or any other clutter that is in your yard.  Removing clutter isn’t just for inside the house it needs to be done on the outside as well.  You want a clean and tidy yard that looks well maintained.

Never underestimate the power of curb appeal.  A well maintained yard conveys to buyers that you care about your house and put the time in to look after it.

Buying

Finding the Perfect Home for You

Finding the Perfect Home for You

Finding the perfect home for you and your family is going to take a healthy dose of patience and a little time.  You may end up looking at a lot of houses that you hate or can’t afford before you finally find that gem that you are looking for.  Before you go looking for that needle in a haystack take some time to figure out what you really want.  Where do you want to live?  How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need?  Is a yard a must?  What can you compromise on and most importantly what is your price range?  You will also come across some houses that you do like but you need to take a breath and ask yourself a few questions before you jump in with an offer.

The Neighborhood

Don’t fixate on just one neighborhood but you should make sure that it works for your family.  Is it close to schools, transportation and shopping?  Is it in a safe neighborhood?  Is the neighborhood up and coming or on the decline.  How long a commute will you have going back and forth to work?  Location is everything in real estate.  Here are some tips on finding a good neighborhood.

Must Haves

When shopping for a family home some of the things that qualify as “must haves” are things like the number of bedrooms and yard space for the children.  If you have a lot of extended family nearby a big kitchen may also be a must have.  Things you can compromise on may be things like walk in closets or stainless steel appliances.  Understand what you need to have and what you can live without.

Do You Feel at Home There?

Bear in mind that home sellers stage their homes so that you feel at home.  Feeling at home is more than just how the furniture is arranged, do you feel comfortable in the neighborhood and with the house as a whole.

The Costs

The cost of a new home is a huge factor in the house hunt.  You need to factor in not only the mortgage payment but you also need to consider other costs of home ownership.  You will also have to pay taxes, insurance, and utilities and all of these will cost more in a house than they will in an apartment.

When you’re shopping for a new home don’t just rely on your real estate agent you can do some house hunting on your own.  There are plenty of places that you can look at online listings and then get your realtor to book an appointment for you to view them.  Take your time and don’t put in an offer on the first house you see.

Market

Recognizing Market Trends

Recognizing Market Trends

The real estate industry has trends just like any other and these trends can change quickly.  What was a seller’s market today can quickly turn into a buyer’s market tomorrow.  How do you recognize market trends in real estate and make them work for you?  Recognizing market trends means staying up to date with not just housing prices but the volume of inventory on the market along with interest rates and what is happening in the local economy.  If you are looking to buy or sell a home then working with a realtor who understands the local real estate trends is your best bet.  Let’s look at the various things that can affect the market.

Time

You want to sell your house in the shortest time possible for the most amount of money.  Time can make a huge difference in the housing market.  The right time of year can mean a huge difference in the selling price.  The springtime is one of the better times of year to list your home.  There are more buyers looking to break into the market.  If you need to sell in winter because of a job transfer then you may need a more aggressive pricing strategy.

Regional Concerns

How the local economy is performing will drastically affect the housing market.  For instance if your town has a booming economy and people are moving there because of employment opportunities then housing prices rise.  Declining economies affect the housing prices in the reverse.  When buying or selling you need to pay attention to what is happening locally.  The number of houses on the market will also affect pricing, more inventory is a good thing for buyers but not so much for sellers.

The Economy

The biggest factor that will affect real estate market trends are interest rates.  When interest rates climb so do mortgage rates and that in turn means higher monthly payments for the average consumer.  That also makes it harder to qualify for a mortgage.  When the interest rates drop that means there are more buyer’s that qualify for mortgages and it is easy to buy and sell a home.

Type of Housing

Sometimes parts of the overall market perform better than others.  Condos will outsell single family homes or luxury markets are moving faster than mid-range housing.

If you are buying or selling in the near future then it is in your best interest to understand market trends and how to make them work for you.