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Home Buyer Loan Prep!

The Ten Commandments of Buying a Home

  • Thou shalt not change jobs, become self-employed or quit your job.
  • Thou shalt not buy a car, truck or van (or you may be living in it!).
  • Thou shalt not use credit cards excessively or let current accounts fall behind.
  • Thou shalt not spend money you have set aside for closing.
  • Thou shalt not omit debts or liabilities from your loan application.
  • Thou shalt not buy furniture on credit.
  • Thou shalt not originate any inquiries into your credit.
  • Thou shalt not make large deposits without checking with your loan officer.
  • Thou shalt not change bank accounts.
  • Thou shalt not co-sign a loan for anyone.
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Save Thousands on Your Mortgage

How To Save Thousands Of Dollars In Interest On Your Mortgage

One of the most common loans you can get to buy a home is a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. If the thought of paying for your home over the course of 30-years seems daunting, here are some easy ways to shorten that term which will actually end up saving you money over the life of your loan.

Any additional payments to the principal amount (the original sum of money borrowed in a loan), helps to cut down the amount of interest that you will pay over the life of your loan and can also help to shave years off the loan as well.

When you make ‘extra’ payments toward your loan, the key is to let your lender/bank know that you want the extra funds to go toward your principal balance as they will not automatically do this for you.

You don’t have to double your mortgage payment to make a big difference either!

If you have a 30-year mortgage on a median-priced home ($250,000) with a 5% interest rate, you’ll be responsible for a $1,342.05 monthly principal and interest payment. Over the course of the loan, if you pay your exact monthly payment, you will have paid $233,133.89 in interest alone!

Paying a Little Extra Can Pay Off Big

1. Pay an additional 1/12th of your mortgage payment every month

Benefit: In the example above, adding $111.84 to your monthly mortgage payment might not seem like a lot, but each year you will have paid one extra month’s worth of payments which will shorten the term of your loan by 4 years and 8 months, all while saving you $42,000 in interest!

2. Pay an additional $50 per month towards your mortgage

Benefit: Fifty dollars might not seem like enough to make a difference on the term of your loan, but that small amount will save you over $21,000 in interest and will take over 2 years off the end of your loan. Twenty-eight years from now, you’ll be happy to pay off your loan that much sooner!

3. Make one-time lump sum payments when you can

Benefit: If you find yourself with a little extra money after a yearly bonus, a tax return, or from investment dividends, paying that money towards the principal can cut your costs. This option, however, is less predictable than the extra monthly payments.

If you have higher interest debts, like credit cards, consider using any extra funds you have to pay those debts down before applying that money towards your mortgage. Also, if you do not plan on staying in your home for more than 10 years, paying extra toward your mortgage might not make sense.

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering what strategies would work best for you to shorten the term of your loan, consult a local real estate professional who can answer your questions or connect you with someone who can.

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How To Make Buyers Fall In Love With Your Home

Stage to Sell: With these tips and tricks, your house will be swoon-worthy in no time.

All the world’s a stage, said the Bard.  That includes your house. Which is for sale. And thus needs to look bee-yoo-tee-ful.

Staging entails hiring experts with a flair for interior design. They reimagine your living space and give your house a makeover (with temporary decor and furnishings) so that it gets “oohs” and “aahs” from the buying masses.

Great staging isn’t an insurance policy — there’s no guarantee it will bring in more money when you sell your home — but it’s an important marketing tool. It presents your house in a flattering light and helps you compete at a favorable price. (In that sense, staging is like dressing your house for the price you want, and not the price you have.)

Staging also leads to eye-catching listing photos, which are especially valuable given that most homebuyers begin their search by scrolling through listings online.

So, are you thinking about hiring stagers for your home? Here’s what to consider.

Staging Really Does Help. Like, a Lot.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. A recent survey from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® revealed that:

  • 77% of buyers’ agents said staging makes it easier for their buyer to visualize the property as their future home. It’s like helping the buyer dream it so they can achieve it — and so you and your agent can make the sale.
  • 39% of sellers’ agents said staging a home greatly decreases the amount of time a house is on the market. For you, time saved could mean moving into yournew house even sooner.
  • 21% of sellers’ agents said staging a home increases its dollar value between 6% and 10%. Simply put, that may lead to more money in your pocket.

Before You Stage, Budget Accordingly

Many listings agents offer staging services to clients as part of their services. If you want to use someone you find yourself, you typically will have to pay out of pocket.

Staging costs vary depending on where you live and how many rooms you’re staging. On average, home sellers pay between $302 and $1,358 for staging, according to HomeAdvisor.com. If your house is empty because you’ve already moved, you might also have additional expenses for renting furniture and other homey decorations to make it look lived-in.

 

Many stagers offer consultations for as low as $150, Fixr.com reports. Using the advice you learn during the consultation to try DIY staging may be your best option if you’re on a tight budget. Listen for tips on how to use the furniture and decor you already have to show off your home’s best assets.

For the Best Results, Declutter

Spoiler alert: No buyer wants to walk into a messy house. 

So, take time to clean and declutter your home. Organize everyday household items into crates and keep them out of sight. Stow away seasonal decorations (that means no Christmas in July). Make time for — or invest in — a whole-house cleaning, including carpet shampooing. Change lightbulbs, finally make those minor repairs, and add a fresh coat of paint to any room that needs it. The Hanger RuleRather than stuffing closets full, pull things out to draw attention to space. The ideal closet will have two closet hangers worth of space between each hanger.Clean out closet spaces — because buyers will want to check out the closets.

Also worth considering? Removing personal items from view, such as copious family photos, artwork, or religious keepsakes. The concern is not that home buyers will be offended by you or your lifestyle. The goal is to neutralize the space and help home buyers imagine themselves living there. (But don’t go overboard. You don’t want rooms to feel sterile, either.)

Yes, we did just tell you to clean out your closets. So where are you supposed to put all this stuff? If you don’t have a discrete place to tuck things away, consider renting a storage unit.

To Find the Right Stager for Your Home, Ask Questions

If your agent doesn’t offer staging services, he or she can likely recommend local stagers for you to work with. Before you hire a stager, it’s best to interview at least three candidates in person. You’ll want to get a sense of how much they charge — and whether they have good taste.

To do your due diligence, here are 10 questions to ask prospective stagers:

  1. On average, how many days were your staged homes on the market last year?Experience is important, but it’s not the only factor to consider when vetting stagers. You want someone who stages homes that sell — ideally within 30 days, because that’s when agents often recommend making a price reduction if your house is still on the market.
  2. What price range do you typically work in?Staging luxury homes is a totally different ball game than staging starter homes. Find someone who specializes in homes near your listing price.
  3. What styles of homes do you usually stage?Staging different types of homes also requires different skill sets (think of a penthouse versus a bungalow, for instance). Look for someone with experience working in homes similar to yours.
  4. What formal training have you received?A number of staging organizations, such as the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) and the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP), offer certification or accreditation. Training from these associations can distinguish professional stagers from beginners.
  5. Do you have insurance?Your home could get damaged when the stager moves furniture in and out. Find someone with business insurance so that you’re protected.
  6. Can I see your portfolio?One of the best ways to judge a stager’s skills is to look at their work. Ask to see photos from the person’s three most recently staged homes.
  7. Do you select the accessories, furniture, and paint for the homes you stage, or do you collaborate with other experts?Some stagers work independently, while others collaborate with other vendors. Make sure you know everyone who will be involved in staging your home, so you don’t have surprise guests rearranging your living room.
  8. What are your rates?Some stagers charge a fee for decorating services, plus a monthly fee for renting furniture, while others charge a flat fee per room for the duration of the listing. Ask about how a stager determines costs before you commit to working with him or her.
  9. What’s your availability?If you’re on a tight timetable, make sure the stager can get your house ready by the date you want to put your house on the market.
  10. Can you provide contacts for past clients?Get in touch with two or three people who have worked with the stager before. Ask how the stager’s services helped with the sale of their homes, and what they might have done differently.

Focus On the Rooms That Count the Most

You don’t have to stage your whole house to make buyers swoon.

Staging the rooms where people tend to spend the most time usually makes the biggest impression on buyers. Start with theBudget Staging Tip: Living RoomGet rid of carpet dents left by furniture you’ve moved by putting ice cubes on the imprints. As the ice melts, it causes the compacted carpet to expand and erase those imprints. living room,followed by the master bedroom and the kitchen.

Keep in mind that you’re not going for an HGTV-worthy overhaul: Even small touches, like putting fluffy towels in the bathroom or replacing shabby throw pillows in the family room, can make your home that much more attractive.

Oh, and BTW: Stage Your Yard, Too

Your house has to look its best — inside and outside. After all, buyers form their first impression when they pull up in front of your home. It’s no surprise, then, that curb appeal — how your home looks from the exterior — can increase your home’s sales value up to 17%, a Texas Tech University study found.

If you’ve never had your yard professionally landscaped, now may be the time to do it. Landscaped homes have a sales price advantage ranging from 5.5% to 12.7%, according to research by Alex Niemiera, a horticulturist at Virginia Tech. That would mean an extra $16,500 to $38,100 in value on a $300,000 home.

Professional landscaping, however, can cost a lot. You’re aiming for polish, not a new garden of Versailles. If budget is a concern, start with these DIY improvements:

  • Plant blooming flowers and fresh greenery. Even if it’s winter, you can add colorful winter blooms and seasonal touches such as garland or lights.
  • Mow the grass.
  • Reseed bare patches of lawn and add fresh sod, as needed.

Then move on to these easy upgrades to your home’s exterior:

  • Wash the front windows.
  • Power wash siding and walkways.
  • Repaint or stain porches and stairs, as needed.
  • Make sure house numbers are easy to see, visible, and pretty.
  • Make sure important outdoor features such as the front door, porch, and sidewalks and paths are well lit. (If not, install new fixtures or lighting.)

Even basic upgrades — like laying fresh mulch, changing porch lights, or installing a new mailbox — can help a buyer fall in love at first sight.

Just wait ’til they come inside and see what else you’ve done with the place.

#Stage2Sell #ColdwellBanker #HomeForSale #RealEstate #SamGerardiRealtor

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Homeowners 65+ Have 48X Net Worth of Renters

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts their Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. Their latest survey data covers responses from 2013-2016.

The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner was $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).

These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.

There are many who see that statistic and point toward how broad the range of respondents are for the Federal Reserve survey. Their study includes all economic and social groups and also includes all age groups. The argument is that older respondents have a higher likelihood of being homeowners, while the homeownership rate among younger survey takers is much lower.

Recently, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University focused on homeowners and renters over the age of 65. Their study revealed that the difference in net worth between homeowners and renters at this age group was actually 47.5 times greater!

Homeowners Aged 65+ Have 48x More Net Worth Than Renters | Keeping Current Matters

Homeowners over the age of 65 are much more financially prepared for retirement and often own their homes outright if they were fortunate enough to purchase their homes before the age of 36. Their 30 years of mortgage payments have paid off as they gained equity through their monthly payments and as home values appreciated.

It is no surprise that lifelong-renters have had a hard time accruing net worth as the latest Censusreport shows that the Median Asking Rent has been climbing consistently over the last 30 years.

Homeowners Aged 65+ Have 48x More Net Worth Than Renters | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

As a homeowner you put your monthly mortgage payment to work for you, building your net worth with every payment.

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14 Questions to Ask Your Contractor

For anyone who has been in the business more than five minutes — and that should be all of you — it becomes clear that there are levels of involvement in the real estate industry. There are, of course, your buyers and sellers, and then there are your real estate professionals who help broker those one-to-one deals. There are levels of commercial real estate agents and finally those who buy and sell their own properties as investors or speculators, often overseeing the construction or renovation of properties themselves.

It’s this last group that we’re talking about here today. Working with contractors can be one of the most stressful — and rewarding — parts of our business. A bad one can make your life a walking nightmare, while the right contractor can make your life infinitely easier and more profitable.

But how to know the difference? Start with the following checklist of questions and resources, and we guarantee your list will be narrowed quickly. After that, trust your recommendations and your gut. It’s gotten you this far.

  1. How long have you been in this business? It may seem like a no brainer, but opening the conversation about your contractor’s experience can give you all sorts of insight into his or her track record. Experience matters in this business.
  2. Would you mind starting on a smaller project? If you’re on the fence but leaning toward the contractor, we suggest giving him or her a smaller project to complete before you ask them to build that new master wing.
  3. Can I see your certificates? This should include everything — licensure, insurance, you name it. If he or she can’t produce those documents at short notice, it’s time to move on.
  4. Have you worked in this county/city/neighborhood before? Not only can code requirements vary from county to county and city to city, but even different neighborhoods have different rules for what can and can’t be done construction-wise. Live in a historic neighborhood? There may be some squawking about that new carport. Make sure your contractor knows how to navigate that.
  5. What are the terms of payment? It’s not the best practice to pay for a job upfront, so make sure the terms are hammered out before you start, and you aren’t surprised by a request for giant check the day construction starts.
  6. What hours do you typically work? This matters especially in neighborhoods, where those living nearby — or even you, if it’s your house — may be inconvenienced by odd-hours hammering and sawing. Make sure the contractor’s hours are appropriate, and that the crew is actually working during them.
  7. What’s your storage plan? Theft at construction sites is not uncommon. Expensive equipment can disappear if left out overnight. Make sure the contractor knows that you expect tools to be locked up or taken home overnight, and help accommodate those requests with a locked room or even a temporary storage shed, if necessary.
  8. What are your warranty terms? Most contractors offer a warranty, in addition to any warranties on materials used. Make sure you get that in writing, and copies of material warranties, before construction begins.
  9. Do you use subcontractors? Most general contractors won’t have a pro plumber on his or her staff, so others will be brought in to take care of specialty pieces of the project. Make sure you know who those are and the budgetary expectations that go along with that so you’re not facing an additional bill from another contractor.
  10. Can I see your references? It’s possible you’ve already gotten good word-of-mouth before you even interview the contractor, but it never hurts to see a list from the contractor. Make some calls and drive by the projects unannounced while they’re working — how the crew is going about its business — are they hard at work or lollygagging? — can give you great insight.
  11. Have you had any disciplinary action filed in the past? This is a tough question, and not one to ask flippantly or unkindly. You’re just trying to find facts. Another route would be to consult your state’s courts archive for lawsuits filed against the company or individual contractor.
  12. How do you communicate with your customers? Setting a reasonable expectation of how often you should be hearing from the contractor will keep you from freaking out if you go a couple of days without an e-mail.
  13. How many projects do you have going right now? No one wants to play second-fiddle, much less fifth or sixth fiddle. If you feel like you’re not going to be a priority, it might pay to find someone who will make you feel like one.
  14. How do we settle disputes? Making sure you know how to properly address problems or concerns is one of the most important steps. You want to make sure you’re following procedures, especially if you think the contractor is not. If nothing else it will make for peace of mind during the stressful process, knowing you have an agreed-to avenue if there is a dispute.
  15. Do you have any questions for ME? Turnabout, as they say, is fair play.
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FSBO Worse Than Foreclosure?

13 Reasons Why For Sale By Owner (FSBO)  Can Be Worse Than Foreclosure

Even though foreclosure is one of the most catastrophic events any home owner can face, a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) can be much worse. With a foreclosure, the potential loss for a family is limited to their home or the amount owed to their lender, whereas an FSBO gone bad can leave a family in even bigger distress.

  1. The liability is often not limited to the value of the home:

In the case of false advertising, the liability is not limited to the value of the product. This is because the buyer can claim an opportunity cost associated with the purchase as well as that he or she was promised a certain return for their purchase. The liability can be as high as 300% of the purchase price. This could become a tremendous liability to someone trying to sell a home by themselves.

  1. You’re not saving money:

While it may seem like you’re pinching pennies by cutting out the Realtor from the selling process, that is not actually the case. Professional agents help in finding the best deal possible.

  1. Scams are more common:

When you are selling a home by yourself, it is hard to spot warning signs of potential scams. Realtors will be able to spot these for you.

  1. You’ll save time:

The process of selling a house takes a lot of time and energy. Hiring an agent will save you a lot of precious time and stress throughout the process.

  1. You may resort to an agent anyway:

Many For Sale By Owner situations turn into agent-seller transactions anyway. FSBO clients more than likely will inevitably realize how difficult the process is and seek out help before they are able to close a deal.

  1. You may not be aware of the details:

It makes sense that people seeking to sell their home may not be aware of all the details that go into it. It is much harder for clients to research the procedure on their own than it would be to simply to hire a trained agent.

  1. Paperwork may be troublesome:

If paperwork is not properly filled out, it may be cause for a potential lawsuit on the seller’s part. With any loopholes at all, a buyer may be able to legally target the FSBO seller.

  1. You may not be well-versed in inspections:

Inspections are an important part of selling a home, and someone trying to sell their home themselves may not be equipped to handle them. There is a lot that goes into home inspection, and only an agent can make sure it is done efficiently.

  1. There isn’t any marketing:

When hiring a Realtor, homes are able to be marketed across various real estate platforms, and thus can be sold faster. FSBO does not allow for any marketing strategies, and thus homes do not get sold as quickly as they would otherwise.

  1. There isn’t any representation.

Many people who are selling homes are drawn to big-name Realtors whom they feel they can trust. With FSBO, home buyers do not have that same security and therefore may be less willing to consider buying the home.

  1. Buyers want the best deal imaginable:

Home buyers are looking for the most affordable option when searching for a home, and chances are FSBO is not the cheapest choice. Only an agent will be able to provide a fair, affordable deal for all parties involved.

  1. Each party will benefit:

Both sellers and agents net more money when selling through a Realtor, than through FSBO. At the end of the day, it is the most obvious choice for that very reason. While it may seem like more sense to cut out the middle man, hiring a trained agent will help save time, money, and energy in the long run – all while helping you gain the best profit for your home, as well.

  1. Agents know what they’re doing:

Agents can not only save sellers time, money, and headaches, but also liability that in many areas can go beyond the property value.

Elizabeth Stone  – July 11, 2017 12:09 pm

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Appraisal & Home Owners Agree!

In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate  by another 5% (or more) over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.
When prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the same neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.
Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth and what an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home is.
March 2015 marked the first month of a three-year gap between what an appraiser and a homeowner believed a home was worth. That gap widened to 2.65% in September 2015 and had consistently hovered between 1.0% and 2.0% through November 2017.
The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last three years:
Home Value and Appraisal
In the latest release, the disparity was the narrowest it has been since March 2015, as the gap between appraisers and homeowners was only -0.33%. This is important for homeowners to note as even a .33% difference in appraisal could equate to thousands of dollars that a buyer or seller has to come up with at closing (depending on the price of the home).
Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges homeowners to find out how their local markets have been impacted by supply and demand: 

“The appraisal is one of the most important, although sometimes least predictable, parts of the mortgage process. The Home Price Perception Index is a way to illustrate the differences of opinion, and these differences affect everything from the type of mortgage a borrower can get to the expectations a seller has about the proceeds available upon sale of their home.”

Bottom Line

Every house on the market must be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then again to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale may be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, meet with an experienced professional who can guide you through this and any other obstacles that may arise.
As reported by Keeping Current Matters, 6/9/18

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5 Smells That Sell Houses

What’s that smell? The sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses to connect buyers to a home. While a bad smell can really deter buyers, a good smell can tempt buyers to a sale. From “green” scents to seasonal scents, discover the right smells for triggering positive emotions and home sales.

Clean Smell
Most of us associate “clean” with strongly scented cleaning products and disinfectants. It can even make buyers nostalgic. But remember, a little goes a long way. You should dilute your cleaning solutions so buyers don’t get overwhelmed.

Citrus
Using actual fruit is one way to get a clean smell without all the cleaning products. Lemon, orange and grapefruit scents are best. One great tip is to grind up lemon or orange rind with a few ice cubes in the garbage disposal. This will freshen up the kitchen, one of the most important rooms in the house.

Natural Smell
Sometimes the best scent is no scent at all. Try using “green” cleaning supplies, baking soda and other non-scented products that neutralize odors. The idea is that simpler is better, so you want to avoid complex, artificial smells from potpourri, sprays and plug-ins, which can actually distract buyers and turn them off.

Baked Goods
Nothing can make a house smell more like home than freshly baked goods, but be sure to stick to simple smells like vanilla, cinnamon and fresh bread. You don’t have to really bake anything. One trick is to boil some water and throw in a few cinnamon sticks an hour before a showing.

Pine
Don’t we all love that fresh pine scent? Especially with the holidays around the corner, it’s a great scent to greet buyers when they walk in the door. If you don’t want to put up a live tree, you can simply hang a wreath of tree trimmings or some fresh garland. You can’t go wrong with setting a holiday mood to inspire a sale.

There’s a lot that goes into the sale of a home. Make sure a great smell is at the top of the list. And to increase its value even more, add an American Home Shield® Home Warranty to every transaction.

For more articles like this, please visit the American Home Shield Blog at ahs.com/home-matters.

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Home Appraisals

What Is a Home Appraisal Based on?

A home appraisal is a complex procedure for determining the value of a home, which is an important number for homeowners and potential buyers alike. Trained and certified appraisers look at several factors to determine a home’s value, including its permanent fixtures and the land it sits on. As homes change hands and values change over time, there’s always a need for new, accurate appraisals.

Physical Factors
Many of a home’s physical features help determine its value in an appraisal. Simple facts such as the age of the home, its square footage and the number of bedrooms or bathrooms can have a major impact on appraisal value. Homes that need significant improvements, such as a new roof, siding or driveway, will appraise for a lower value than those that don’t need as much work. The quality of the construction and the value of fixtures, including floor coverings, plumbing and appliances such as the furnace, air conditioner and water heater, also play into an appraisal.

Location
To an appraiser, a home’s location may be as important as its physical characteristics. Most appraisals include a CMA, or comparative market analysis, which uses the sale price of similar nearby homes to help determine the fair market value of the home being appraised. Homes in more desirable neighborhoods–because of a better public school system, the perception of safety or the level of economic opportunity in the region–are likely to earn a higher appraisal than similar homes elsewhere. Other location features such as the views from a home and the degree of privacy from neighbors also play a role in the appraisal.

Markets
Housing markets are constantly changing as home values rise and fall. This happens because of the law of supply and demand as well as factors such as mortgage interest rates and the general condition of the economy. Appraisers factor economic conditions into their work. This means that a home with a low appraisal value may be a good investment opportunity if the appraisal is low as a result of the housing market and not because of any particular problems with the house itself.

Purpose
Home appraisals have several different purposes. For homeowners looking to sell, they give an indication of what price the owner can expect to sell for, which may determine the entire marketing strategy for the owner and real estate agent. A buyer can use the appraised value of homes to compare the value of different neighborhoods and shop for a house only within a certain price range. Appraisals are also part of the home equity lending process, with lenders appraising homes to determine how much money the owner can borrow against the equity in the home.

Assessments
Assessments are similar to appraisals but have a very different purpose. The process uses similar factors to determine a home’s value. However, whereas an appraisal is performed by a private appraiser for commercial purposes, an assessment is done by an agent of a local government for tax purposes. State and local governments use assessments to levy property taxes based on the value of taxpayers’ homes and real estate holdings.

…OK, a real world example in English please!
Consider a home with 2,000 square feet built 15 years ago, in an wide area of very similar homes in size and age. Average cost for these homes is $120/foot.  Now consider that one home is updated recently and has many upgrades that make it outstanding compared to the other homes in that area.  A kitchen update may cost $7,000, but this homeowner decided on a remodel that cost $25,000. Similarly they spent $12,000 on the master bath and $8,00 on hardwood floors. So we have ~45,000 spent on a home surrounded by homes with an average value of only $240,000.  Does that make this home worth $285,000?  More importantly, can an appraiser give this home a value far beyond the area’s market value. In short, it would be very hard to get this appraisal through underwriting.

This scenario is rather common and the sellers wonder why they cant get much more than their neighbor.  The key ingredient is “location” as it pertains to very similar homes.  The key to building value in updates is to understand the value of the updates WHERE YOU LIVE.  With the right current market information, you can determine what updates are appropriate for your home. Not unlike buying direct from a builder, taking a home remodel company’s word for it may be a little bias. To make the most of your investment, get real world local market data from your professional realtor.

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Location, Location, Location.

Livings County MI Map

Livingston County MI Map

Location, Location, Location. Long held as the three most important words in real estate. And with good reason. The value of a home to the home owner, and the value of the home to others is largely dependent on Location. But, why use these words 3 times to make the point?

“Location” three times for emphasis, or is it really three parts? First, we typically consider the top level concerns such as a state, county & community. Depending on our goals, we may already be living in the state where we wish to focus so we typically turn to surrounding counties to meet our personal needs – financial concerns aligning with top level goals of affordability, proximity to work, environment for raising their family, etc.

“Location” number 2 is the neighborhood of the community. By examining the most important aspect of home we would find what matters most to the home owner – proximity to schools, shopping, transportation, employment, etc. This is what YOU want. That seems fairly straight forward, but adding the next dimension may help dial in with better clarity why the second Location is vital. For some it is a stretch, but it is pretty simple.

“Location” number 3 is for emphasis is what others want. Your home’s ultimate value is often realized when you go to sell it some time later. When selecting a home imagine the drawbacks that you are willing to accept and justify for the cost value of a home to you. But, will others justify this cost value similarly? An example is the high profile destination community where everybody who is anybody lives. Two similar homes in age and quality of the identical floor plan are available where one is on a cul-de-sac in the rear of the community – quiet and backing to the edge of the sub or woods. The other is near the entry of the sub and backs to the busy main road offered at 10-15% less than the former home. Do you take the lower priced home acknowledging that you may be unique and willing to run into trouble selling the home later?

In all three purposes as presented here, the whittling down of what is important to you will ultimately be important to others in the future when reviewing your home for purchase. How will this choice hold up over time, and will others see in this home all that you saw. Sometimes this is simply a value call & a risk that we are willing to take. But there is one way to minimize the risk…can you guess what that way is?

Utilize a local professional Realtor. It is not enough that the agent is licensed for a long time, or even that they are a full-time career agent or part-time. It matters most that they are a local expert. Where do they live, how long have they served the local community, do they have ties to the community, where is their office location. While most agents can write an offer and conduct fiduciary tasks with competency, NOTHING replaces local expertise in assisting a buyer with making a decision about where to call home. Local agent is a key component to choosing the best location.

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2016 Sales Stats

2016 sales stats are in and available for your review. Livingston county continues to experience an inventory shortage and quicker than average sales compared to other markets in Michigan.  Sales are seasonally affected to be highest in the late spring through early fall as shown in the graph below. The shape of this graph is pretty typical. What is different this past year is the impact the low inventory had on the volume. At the peak in 2016, we had an inventory of ~920 single family homes. Today – January 7 – the active inventory has reached a low of 427 listings!  Where low inventory typically helps prices rise, it also has the affect of keeping buyers at home as seeing one home at a time is for motivated buyers only.  This has been a problem for nearly 24 months making pent up demand a huge factor for a great spring in real estate.  So, if you are thinking of making a move it is a good idea to start planning now.

 

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