Selling Your House? 3 Strange Questions That Potential Buyers Might Ask and How to Answer Them

Selling Your House? 3 Strange Questions That Potential Buyers Might Ask and How to Answer ThemAre you listing your home for sale now, or in the near future? If so, you have probably come to terms with the fact that soon you’ll be having strangers tour through your home asking all kinds of questions about it. In today’s blog post we’ll take a look at three strange questions that buyers might ask and how to approach answering them.

“Has Anyone Died In This House Or Is It Haunted?”

You might have chuckled when you read that, but questions about paranormal activity are more common than you think. Many people have beliefs and superstitions about ghosts, ghouls, demons and other spirits that haunt homes. Learning that someone has died in your house – even if it was long before you owned the place – is enough for some potential buyers to pass and move on to the next listing.

“Is Anything Buried In The Backyard?”

Have you ever owned a pet that has grown old or otherwise perished? Think back to that experience and ask yourself: where did you bury them? Many families bury deceased pets in their backyard, thinking that it is a good final resting place. And that may be true if you own the house for the rest of your life. However, if you decide to sell, then you have passed on a backyard that has a corpse resting in it. That can end up as a startling surprise for the next family to live there, especially if they have a dog that enjoys digging up the turf.

“Have There Been Any Infestations?”

Asking about pest problems is a bit less on the weird side of things, but it is one question that is almost certain to come up. Visitors will want to know if your home has experienced mice, rats, termites, ants, cockroaches and a variety of other plagues. Some of these will make sense for your home or the area you live – termites in a wood-framed house, for example – while others will make no sense at all.

Rest assured that the above are just a handful of the many bizarre and strange questions you might get while showing your house to potential buyers. If you do encounter something that seems a bit funny, aim to be polite and answer thoughtfully. When you are ready to list your home for sale, or for more tips and real estate advice, contact us. Our professional real estate team is here to answer any questions you have.

Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here’s What to Do

Worried That Your Past Student Loan Debt Might Delay Buying a Home? Here's What to DoWhether you are just about to graduate college or you have been out of school for a few years, there’s a good chance you’re carrying some amount of student loan debt. It seems that news headlines are regularly pointing out that the nation’s graduates are suffering from the stress of student debt. Moreover, that pressure can be even worse for those who are looking to buy a home and start putting some roots down in the local community.

Are you worried that past student loan debt will affect your chances of buying a home? Let’s run through a few tips that can help put your debt worries at ease.

Start A Budget And Embrace Using It

The first and most important step anyone with debt can take is to commit to a monthly budget. Managing your debts means living within your means. In turn, that requires careful examination of your income and expenses to ensure your debts are being paid down.

Also, in most cases, interest is being charged on outstanding student loan debt which makes it a high priority for repayment. The faster you can pay your student loan debt off, the less interest you will pay on top of it.

Check In With An Expert Advisor

If all of this seems confusing, you’re not alone. The good news is that there are expert debt and financial advisors that can help you to make sense of it all. They will help you to understand exactly where your money is going each month and what kind of financial discipline you’ll need to clear the path to home ownership. Many are provided by local or state governments at no cost, so be sure to check out your local options.

Reach Out To Friends And Family

Don’t forget that friends, colleagues and family members can be a great source of advice and support. Close family members may also be willing to lend a hand financially to get you out of renting and into your own home. Also, be sure to check in with former college classmates who have gone on to buy homes in the area. They’ll be a great source of information.

While past student loan and other debts can crimp one’s finances, they are no reason to put off home ownership indefinitely. For more information and to view affordable starter home options in the area, contact your local real estate professionals.

Home Builder Sentiment Highest in Five Months

Component readings used for calculating Housing Market Index readings also rose in October. Builder sentiment for current market conditions gained five points for a reading of 75. The index reading for builder perception of market conditions in the next six months also rose five points to an October reading of 78.

Builder sentiment for home buyer traffic in new home developments rose one point to 48. Buyer traffic readings seldom exceed a Home Builder Index reading of 50.

NAHB Chairman Granger Mc Donald said builders were recovering from the initial shock of damage caused by hurricanes, but this was prior to numerous wildfires adding to demand for contractors and home builders.

National Disasters Add to Ongoing Materials and Labor Shortages

Factors contributing to stronger builder sentiment included an industry concentration of building homes for purchase instead of multifamily rental projects. Single-family homes have been in short supply in recent years and building more homes is the only remedy for a market skewed in favor of sellers and rapidly rising home prices fueled by high buyer demand and few choices available to buyers.

Recent hurricane damage is likely to raise materials prices and worsen labor shortages; Widespread damage caused by wildfires in California is expected to increase demand for contractors and skilled laborers as they work to repair and rebuild homes and buildings ruined in storms and fires.

Regional Readings Mixed

Three-month rolling averages of builder sentiment for regions tracked by NAHB were mixed. In the Northeast, builder sentiment rose one point to 50. The South gained two points for a reading of 68. The reading for builder sentiment in the South was unchanged at 63; the reading for the West was also unchanged at 77.

Winter weather and challenges caused by higher demand for services against rising materials costs and ongoing labor shortages can be expected to challenge builders, but the need for new housing caused by multiple national disasters will likely create many new jobs for builders.

Let’s Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home Buyer

Let's Talk Closets: Why a Walk-in Closet Is a Must Have for Any New Home BuyerAre you in the market for a new house or condo? Whether you’re looking for something luxurious or intimate, you’ll want to ensure that you have enough space for all of life’s necessities. Many home buyers focus on bedrooms, bathrooms and living areas as their top priorities. But have you given any thought to your closet space?

In today’s blog post we’ll explore why a spacious walk-in closet should be high on your list of “must-haves” for your new home.

Enough Storage For A Stylish Couple

An upgrade in storage space is the main reason to have a large walk-in closet – and for good reason. Today’s working professional needs a large wardrobe to store suits, work outfits, social attire, shoes, accessories and more. It’s almost impossible to cram everything needed in a small closet with one large hanging rack and a shelf or two. And even if you do decide to fill a smaller closet until it’s bursting at the seams, you’re stuck with having to try to organize it regularly just to be able to find anything. Forget it!

A Showcase For Clothes, Shoes And Accessories

A walk-in closet isn’t just for piling a ton of clothes into. It’s a showcase for your wardrobe and all of the items in it. Most walk-in closets are designed with numerous shelves, racks and other display areas. Take advantage of these to show off the best pieces in your collection. For example, are you particularly proud of that oxblood leather bag that you found while traveling Europe? Or the hat that you wore to last year’s Kentucky Derby? Your walk-in closet is the right place to show it off.

Room For Elegant Touches Like A Dressing Island

Finally, if you have enough space in your walk-in closet, you’ll be able to add some elegant touches. A dressing island with built-in shelves is the perfect feature for storing accessories and shoes. You can also add matching jewelry boxes on top to store frequently-used items. An ottoman is another elegant touch that can help make your walk-in closet feel more roomy and comfortable. And don’t forget to include a couple of mirrors for checking your look from multiple angles before you leave the house.

These are just a few of the (many!) reasons why a walk-in closet is an absolute must-have for any new home. When you’re ready to explore local real estate opportunities – including those with incredible walk-in closets – contact us. Our professional team is happy to assist you.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 16, 2017

Last week’s economic reports included minutes of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting held in September along with releases on inflation and weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

FOMC Meeting Minutes Indicate December Rate Hike is No Sure Thing

According to minutes for the September 19 and 20 meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed has adopted a wait-and-see posture concerning a possible rate hike at December’s meeting. Although analysts previously indicated that additional rate hikes were expected by the end of 2017, the Fed chose not to raise the federal funds rate in September.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Impact Industrial Production

Hurricane damage was expected to slow industrial production in the short term. The impact of hurricane damage in Texas and Fl0rdia are expected to be short term, but the full impact of the two hurricanes had not been fully assessed at the time of the FOMC meeting.

Labor and real GDP readings rose, but the year-over-year reading for inflation was lower than the two percent inflation rate set by the Fed as a positive economic indicator. The Fed’s dual mandate also includes achieving maximum employment as measured by the national unemployment rate. The Fed originally set a goal of 6.50 percent unemployment in the immediate aftermath of the recession, but the national unemployment rate has exceeded expectations and currently hovers near 4.30 percent. Strong labor markets help propel renters into housing markets as they have more confidence in maintaining long-term employment.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims

Mortgage rates rose last week. Freddie Mac reported an average rate of 3.91 percent, which was six basis points higher than for the previous week. Rates for a fifteen-year fixed rate mortgage also rose by six basis points to 3.21 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dipped two basis points to 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rates and 0.40 percent for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage.

New jobless claims fell to 243,000 as compared to expectations of 258,000 claims and the prior week’s reading of 260,000 first-time jobless claims filed.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index, Commerce Department reports on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new unemployment claims will also be released.

4 Home Staging Ideas That Are Heavy on the “Wow” Factor but Light on the Wallet

4 Home Staging Ideas That Are Heavy on the Staging is one of the most important aspects of any home sale. The more attractive your home is to potential buyers, the faster you can finalize the sale and move on. With that in mind, let’s explore four home staging ideas that won’t cost a fortune but are sure to impress your buyers.

#1: Clean The Place Until It Shines

The first and most obvious option is not going to cost much more than your time. Your home needs to be absolutely, positively spotless. The floors should be so clean that you would have no issue with eating off of them. The walls should be clean and free of marks. Windows and mirrors buffed to a sparkling shine. If there’s dirt to be found, rest assured that potential buyers will see it!

#2: Buy New Slip Covers And Sheet Sets

If your furniture is starting to look a little dated, you can spruce it up by investing in new slipcovers. These can be color matched to the rest of the room’s palette so that your furniture fits in. It is also a great idea to ensure that you have new-looking, matching sheet sets on all of the beds. The bedrooms don’t need to look like hotel rooms, but they do need to look good.

#3: Invest In Better Lighting For Important Rooms

When was the last time you replaced the bulbs in your fixtures and lamps? If you are still using dull older incandescent bulbs, it’s time to invest in newer LED or compact fluorescent lighting. It is best to try to match the color temperature of the bulbs to the rest of the room so that the room’s color and ‘feel’ don’t clash with the lighting. If this is a bit above your head, consider having a lighting expert come in to help light the important, high-traffic areas.

#4: Use Plants To Add A Bit Of Warmth And Life

Finally, if your home is lacking a bit of plant life, it might be time to take a quick trip to the local nursery. Adding one or two plants to your common areas adds a touch of life and even helps to keep the air fresh. If you prefer a pop of color, you can always add a flowering plant that’s currently in bloom.

Spending a few hours and a few dollars on staging is an investment that will pay off immensely when you sell your home. If you are thinking about listing your home for sale, or for more staging tips, contact our real estate team. We are happy to share our experience and help get your home sold quickly at a great price.

Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell Trouble

Buying an Older Home? Watch Out for These 3 Key Flaws That Could Spell TroubleAre you a fan of homes with a bit more character than newer, modern designs? Whether in pristine condition or more of a “fixer upper,” older homes are incredibly popular in cities across the country. However, there are some key factors to consider if you’re thinking about buying a home built decades ago before modern standards were enforced.

Let’s take a look at three key design issues that you will need to be aware of if you’re thinking about buying an older house.

Old Electrical Designs Can Be A Significant Fire Hazard

No matter when a home was built, it’s almost guaranteed to have electrical wiring running through walls to supply rooms with lighting and power outlets. However, if the wiring was run in decades past it may be with older cords that are less able to withstand a modern workload. A quick check of the circuit-breaker panel or fuse box and the wires leading from it can give an idea just how old the wiring is. As older designs can be a fire hazard, you will want to ensure the wiring is up to date.

Poor Plumbing Design Can Lead To Rot Or Worse

Plumbing can also be an issue in older houses – especially those in states that experience a cold winter. Water pipes tend to expand and contract due to temperature, which can lead to stress and leaks over time. Moreover, even though older pipes are typically made of metal, they can still wear out. The last thing you need is to wake up to a flooded basement, so be sure to have the plumbing professionally inspected.

Is The Roof And Insulation Strong Enough?

While the roof might look solid from the outside, it may not be as well put together on the inside. Even the smallest of holes or leaks in roof membrane can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the roof. It’s worth spending some time in the attic to inspect the inside of the roof, the condition of the insulation and how well the entire structure is holding up.

While the above list might sound a bit scary, it isn’t meant to turn you away from buying an older character home. If you’re diligent in checking out the home’s history and invest in a professional inspection, you’ll stay safe. When you’re ready to explore character home options in the local area, contact our local real estate professional.

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a Bankruptcy

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a BankruptcyWhile it is sometimes the best option to get your finances repaired, the bankruptcy and following discharge period can be tough. However, while it may delay things for a couple of years, the good news is that even a bankruptcy won’t stop you from borrowing a mortgage to buy a home. In today’s article, we will share some insight into how you can get a mortgage loan after going through bankruptcy.

Step 1: Get A Professional Credit Assessment

Once your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been discharged, you will be required to wait for at least two years before you’re able to take out a mortgage. During this time, it is a good idea to sit down with a credit professional and get an assessment. Individuals and families with a bankruptcy on their credit file are going to go through a bit of extra scrutiny when taking out future loans. So spend a bit of time working on cleaning up your credit.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Monthly Budget

As you move closer to buying a home, you will want to start living off of a monthly budget. This will help to ensure that you are always prepared for your monthly mortgage payments and aren’t left short of cash when payment time comes. A budget can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing your monthly sources of income and expenses. Alternatively, you can use iPhone or Android apps which help to make budget tracking easier.

Step 3: Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

You will also need to start saving for the down payment that you’ll place on your home. The amount that you will need depends on a variety of factors including the city you’re buying in, the size of the home and much more. If you’re unsure about this, contact us and we’ll share some insight.

Step 4: Maintain Your Spending Discipline Until It’s Buying Time

Finally, it’s worth noting that you will need to be very disciplined in the period between your bankruptcy discharge and your mortgage application. Your credit report has to stay clean so that your mortgage lender does not doubt your ability to pay.

Don’t get discouraged if you have some work ahead of you to get your credit repaired. With a little time and effort, you can put your bankruptcy behind you and move on as a happy homeowner. To learn more about the financing process and to discuss your options, contact your local real estate professional.

Buying a New Home? Here’s Why Mortgage Pre-Approval Should Be Your First Step

Buying a New Home? Here's Why Mortgage Pre-Approval Should Be Your First StepAre you thinking about buying a new house, condo or apartment? Whether you are upgrading, downsizing or investing, if you intend on borrowing the funds you’ll need to be pre-approved for a mortgage. In today’s blog post we’ll explore mortgage pre-approval and why this should be one of your first steps in buying a new home.

Pre-Approval Helps To Determine Your Budget

Do you know your budget? Mortgage lenders consider many factors when deciding how much they are willing to lend to a home buyer. While your employment status, salary, assets and credit rating are important, they are all pieces of a larger puzzle that help a lender to determine your risk. So regardless of how spotless your credit rating might be, you’ll want to get pre-approved for a mortgage before trying to figure out your total purchase budget.

The size of your down payment will also be a factor in determining your overall budget. If you still have a bit of time before you’re ready to buy a home, continue to put money aside for your down payment. The more you have, the less you’ll need to borrow.

Once Pre-Approved You Are Ready To Make An Offer

Once you’re pre-approved for your mortgage, you’re ready to submit an offer for the home. Note that you do not need to bid high just because you are approved for a large mortgage. Work with your real estate agent to determine the right asking price for the home. Submitting a bid that’s a bit lower than you’re willing to pay leaves you with a bit of room in case the seller makes a counteroffer.

Many Sellers Will Demand Pre-Approval

Finally, don’t forget that many sellers will require that you are pre-approved for mortgage financing before they’ll accept a bid or offer. Many listings end up receiving multiple offers, especially those in hot real estate markets or popular communities. So if you table an offer without pre-approval, you may find that it is rejected in favor of another buyer who is ready to go.

Once you’ve been pre-qualified for mortgage financing, pre-approval is the final step in the process before you’re ready to make an offer and purchase your new dream home. For more information about the home buying process and to view some amazing listings in the local area, contact us today.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 9, 2017

Fixed mortgage rates rose by two basis points last week as the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points.  Construction spending returned to positive territory, but job growth dropped in public and private sectors. National unemployment was lower.

Construction Spending Rises in August

Builders increased construction spending in August after July’s reading dipped lower than June’s reading. Construction spending rose by 0.50 percent in August, which exceeded expectations of a 0.40 percent increase and July’s reading of -1.20 percent. Higher construction spending in August was driven by higher spending on public sector building projects.

Analysts said that public building projects rose by 0.70 percent, which was boosted by a 3.50 percent increase in building educational facilities. This is a good sign for construction spending as educational renovation and new construction had stagnated for a few years. Construction of new schools could have a positive impact on home sales as schools are typically a major consideration for families with school-age children.

Damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma has not yet impacted construction spending.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported higher average fixed mortgage rates last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.85 percent; the average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was also two basis points higher at 3.15 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to an average of 3.18 percent.

First-time jobless claims were lower by 12,000 claims at 260,000 new claims filed. Analysts had expected 265,000 new jobless claims based on the prior week’s reading of 272,000 new claims.

Private and PublicSector Job Growth Lower in September

ADP payrolls for private-sector jobs fell to 135,000 new jobs from August’s reading of 228,000 new jobs. The federal Non-Farm Payrolls report, which includes public and private sector jobs, dropped by 33,000 jobs as compared to the August reading of 169,000 jobs Analysts had expected 75,000 new jobs in September.

The national unemployment rate fell to 4.20 percent in September from 4.40 percent in August. This suggests that slower growth in payrolls has not led to more layoffs.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on inflation, core inflation and mortgage rates. Weekly jobless claims and retail sales data will also be released.