Saturday, January 15, 2022

Not Sure How to Jump Start the Home-Buying Process?

 Finding the right house and getting a good deal can mean the difference between living in your castle  however small your kingdom may be  and dwelling in a home that consumes too much of your paycheck. 

Here are five important questions to ask before you buy.

1. How much house do I qualify for?

Getting prequalified for a mortgage loan tells you the maximum amount you can borrow. It also shows sellers you can afford to close the deal. Don’t automatically decide you’ll borrow the maximum you’re offered. Consider your current and future budgets and then decide how much you actually want to borrow.

2. How much house do I need? 

Buy only much house as you need and can afford. The larger the home, the more you will pay to insure, heat and cool it. Don't forget to plan for the cost of repairs and maintenance, which, depending on the age and condition of the house, could be 1 percent to 3 percent of its value per year.

Think about the future, too. Will you need rooms for children or aging parents in the future? 

3. Is the house worth the asking price?

I’ll show you data from recent sales of comparable homes. We’ll look at what people have paid for properties of similar size and amenities near the home you want to buy. That will help you figure out how much to pay without paying too much.

4. What problems does the house have that could cost me money?

Sellers are supposed to disclose any known problems. But even honest sellers may be unaware of latent flaws in their homes. I’ll help you find a home inspector to examine the home's major systems and its structure from the roof to the foundation. He’ll tell you what needs repair or replacement.

If the home you want to buy has a pool, septic system or well water, we’ll have a professional look at those, too. A pest inspector will check for termites and other insects that cause costly damage.

5. Do I have enough money for closing costs?

I can explain the local closing costs so you know how much money you’ll need to close the sale of your new home. We can go over the Good Faith Estimate from your lender and look at other expenses like property taxes and community association fees.

Thinking of buying a home? Contact me and together we'll find the answers to all five of these questions.


Sunday, September 5, 2021

Tomorrow's Kitchen: What Are the Big Trends?

 Kitchens today are more than just places to cook meals. Families gather and parties are hosted there. People do their jobs or schoolwork from the kitchen. If you're looking for an upgrade, there are some trends you may want to consider. Let's take a look at the five biggest kitchen trends right now:

Mixed metals

Don't worry about trying to match all your fixtures to your stainless-steel appliances. Mixed metals are all the rage. Using multiple metals for appliances, sinks and light fixtures is not only okay but also celebrated. Mixed metals can give your kitchen a high-end look.

Smart appliances

It's not surprising that smart appliances are becoming popular. The Internet of Things is how appliances connect through your smart devices to take daily household tasks to the next level. Consider a smart oven or fridge and even smaller appliances like coffee makers.

Quartz counters

Countertops have evolved a lot over the years. The laminate popular in the '60s and '70s gave way to natural granite that became the gold standard for many kitchen designs. But today, quartz is getting its time in the sun. Quartz comes in countless natural patterns and colors, so there is sure to be an option for your kitchen.

Light wood tones

For a while, dark wood cabinets were all the rage. Then white became the go-to color for cabinets. Today, light wood tones are in style and look great with any kitchen design and color palette. Light wood cabinets give your kitchen an airy, Scandinavian feel.

Textured tiles

Texture tiles are on trend now for floors and backsplashes. Even in designs like subway tiles, handmade pieces with imperfections or uneven edges are becoming very popular. People are looking past perfect lines toward something more natural.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Do You Have a Good Scenario for Selling Your Home?

If you’ve ever wondered what the best strategies are to sell a home, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find tips and strategies used by professionals, average people selling their homes and everyone in between. Some of them may surprise you!

Sell When You Have Equity
Equity, which is the price of the house minus the remaining debt from any loans, is the amount of money you’ll walk away from the sale with. The more equity, the better, as it can help with the real estate and legal costs involved in selling a home, not to mention helping you pay for your next home.

Sell When Interest Rates Are Low
For instance, now. Interest rates on mortgages are as low as they’ve ever been for quite some time, and they’re only going to increase from here. When interest rates are low, it might be time to consider that move you’ve been thinking about.
Sell When You Know People Are Buying
This is where a realtor comes in handy. Selling when there are people looking for new homes in the area is a common-sense decision. The only issue is finding out if/when people are looking at your zone, which is typically where a real estate agency can help.

Sell When the Weather Is Nice
While you can sell during any season, your home will look prettier and more vibrant when the weather is good and when plants are alive and healthy. Try not to sell in the dead of winter when people's moods might be at an all-time low.

Sell When Your House Is Too Big for You
If you find yourself with too many rooms to spare, selling a house that’s too big and buying a smaller one is a sensible decision.

Sell When Your House Is Too Small for You
Perhaps there’s a new baby on the way, or some of your extended family is moving in with you. Now would be a time to sell if you need a few more rooms to fit everyone.

Sell When the Work on the House Is Done
If you have home-improvement projects taking place, make sure they’re finished and the tools put away before listing the house. A house in progress looks like a house unready, and a house that looks like it needs work – even if it’s just something cosmetic – is less likely to sell.

Sell When You Aren’t Panicking
If you’re not in a rush to sell, then don’t act like you are – you will get lower offers if buyers think you’re in a hurry to skedaddle. If you are in a hurry to move, try to be patient and wait for the best offer possible. You don’t want to miss out on equity because you got caught up in a rushed or low-ball sale.
For more information on planning the right time to sell your home, please feel free to contact me today.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tips for a Quicker End to Your Mortgage

If you're serious about paying off your mortgage quickly, realize that every dollar you add to your regular payment each month puts a bigger dent in your principal balance — and you don't have to double-down to make a difference. Adding even one extra payment each year knocks years off your mortgage.
Here are some options for paying extra and how those extra payments affect a 30-year mortgage.
Switch to a biweekly payment
  1. Instead of making one monthly payment, you can make half-sized payments every two weeks.
  2. If your usual mortgage payment is $1,000 a month, pay $500 every other week.
  3. This will have nearly the same impact on your budget as one monthly payment, but because there are 52 weeks in a year, a biweekly payment schedule will result in 13 full-sized payments a year instead of the normal 12.
  4. You'll be making an entire extra payment every year without having to scrounge around for the extra money.
  5. If you have a 30-year, $200,000 mortgage at an interest rate of 5%, making biweekly instead of monthly payments will save you $34,328 in interest and allow you to pay off the loan almost five years earlier.
Make extra principal payments
  1. You can send in an extra payment when you make your monthly payment and mark it principal only.
  2. This payment will go to pay down the principal rather than both the principal and interest on the loan.
  3. Paying down even a little bit of extra principal early on in the loan can save you quite a lot in interest charges AND get you out of the loan several years ahead of schedule.
  4. Consider sending just a little extra to the loan holder every month as an extra principal payment, like if you have an odd payment amount like $1,046 per month, round it up to $1,100 and dedicate the extra bit as a payment on principal.
  5. Even though it's just an extra $50 or so a month, the principal payments will add up faster than you'd believe.
Refinance into a shorter-term loan
  1. If you've got a 30-year mortgage, refinance it as a 15-year loan.
  2. You'll probably get a better interest rate as well — shorter loans often mean lower interest rates.
  3. Thanks to the shorter time frame, you'll pay a lot less in interest.
Of course, paying off a mortgage isn't always necessary. If you have a very low rate, you may think that you get a better financial payoff by putting all your extra money into investments instead. That can be a wise move — put extra cash into retirement accounts or other investments and let the mortgage run out on its own.
As you plan, keep in mind that tax rules, the particular terms of your mortgage, and your overall financial situation can change the equation. Be sure to discuss your plans with a financial professional.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Are You Worried About Overpaying on Your Next Home?

When buying a home, one of the most important considerations in our choice of property and a critical component of the purchase process is the price. With home prices continuing to rise as the market regains traction, it is more important than ever to be informed regarding the financial considerations to avoid paying too much for your next home.

Follow these six important strategies to help keep from overpaying on your next home.

1. Research the comps. To know what the right price should be for a home, you first need to know what similar properties are selling for in that area. You will want to look at homes that are similar in size and condition. The comparable sales data or comps will give you recent sales information. Make sure to find at least three relatively similar properties in the neighborhood that you are interested in - your Realtor will be able to assist you in finding the correct data.

2. What is the right price for you? The right price for each buyer is going to vary. We all have different thresholds for which we are willing to pay and different amenities that are important to us. Sometimes paying a little more will make sure that you don't lose out on your dream home. However, always keep your bottom line in mind.

3. Shop around for your mortgage. Fees and interest rates vary from lender to lender. Take the time to compare before you decide on the lending institution. This could save you considerably each month on your mortgage payments.

3. Research current events. Find out as much as you can about the neighborhood, the town and the city. It will make a significant difference in the price of a home if there are plans for new schools or if there are negotiations in the works to put a highway overpass close by. You will want to make sure that you don't have any surprises. Also, if applicable, look into the Homeowner's Association, its rules and fees.

4. Have an appraisal. If your appraisal comes in lower than the negotiated price, an appraisal contingency will ensure that you aren't overpaying. You may need to renegotiate the price with the seller or you will have to come up with the difference.

5. Always have a Realtor. A professional real estate agent who is representing you as a buyer will have first-hand, expert knowledge of the local housing market. Realtors' expertise in market conditions and knowing what constitutes a fair price and their ability to represent you in a bidding war could be invaluable.

6. Avoid a bidding war! Don't get trapped into a price guessing game with other buyers for the same property. Don't change your bid. Instead, be preapproved for your mortgage and make a strong initial offer.

While buying a home can be an exciting challenge, you don't have to overpay. Contact me today for more information about the home buying search and what your local market is saying.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Replacing Your Windows

Replacing your windows can be an expensive prospect, but there also may be hidden costs to not replacing them. Several signs can point to window replacement as the best solution for a variety of household problems. If you’ve experienced any of these problems, you may want to consider whether your windows are the cause.
Heating or Cooling Is Expensive
Your money could be flying out the window every winter and summer. Take a look at your heating bills in the winter to determine whether you’re spending too much. You also may find a correlation with your air conditioning needs in the summer. Older windows are not designed to keep up with the demands of modern heating and cooling. New energy-efficient windows may be expensive, but you’ll easily make up the difference quickly in energy costs.
Windows Get Stuck
Do you struggle to open your windows? If they are hard to open or get stuck easily, this could also signify they need to be replaced. If you need to use something to prop open your windows so they don’t slide down and break, that’s also a home security issue.
Storms Cause Damage
Big storms can affect a lot of things on your home, including roofing and siding. Windows are not immune from natural disasters, either. After a major storm, inspect windows along with your roof. Overlooking this problem could lead to bigger issues.
Water Gets Inside
Do you have water coming into your home from an unknown the source? Your windows could be the entry point. Older homes often have wood rot around the windows that is not identified in a home inspection. If water is getting inside, you could have much bigger issues like mold. Check this as quickly as possible to prevent any major problems.
Noise Is Too Loud
If you live on a quiet, bucolic street, you are one of the few lucky ones. Not everyone has a silent neighborhood. Cars, people, alarms, and worse can interrupt your sleep. The quality of your windows could contribute to this level of noise. Newer windows are designed to block out more noise and could help you get more rest and serenity inside your home.
Time for a Change
You may not be facing any of these problems, yet you may still want to replace your windows. Perhaps you just don’t like what you have. You can replace your windows to create a uniform style or add a distinctive feature that appeals to you. When you do replace your windows, you will get all the added benefits of energy-efficient windows, which is well worth the investment.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The 2020 Real Estate Market: What You Need to Know


I received the information below about what the 2020 real estate market might look like and why according to real estate expert, Joe Sesso, reporting about what other real estate experts believe.  It came to me by email from my real estate company, Long & Foster Real Estate, via RISMedia, both of which keep us realtors informed on a regular basis.  I thought it was good information and decided to share it with you.  

By Joe Sesso, National Speaker and Author for

While it's most important to know what's happening in your area, it's also a good idea to have a general overview. In the most recent Secrets of Top Selling Agents webinar, Steve Harney shares what experts are saying about this year's real estate market in "2020 Market Predictions for Real Estate."

After being in the industry for over 25 years, Harney is a residential real estate expert who specializes in market trends. He started as an agent and then developed his own 500-agent real estate firm.
Currently, Harney works with producers to help them achieve success. He is often quoted in major news sources and is recognized as one of the most accurate market trends predictors today.

What does the market look like?

The housing market is a solid foundation for the U.S. economy going into 2020. In addition to this, home sales are projected to increase substantially in the coming year. This can be seen in the recent report from Time which showed an increase in buyer traffic, increasing by 12.6 percent nationwide. If you're in the West, you probably saw a good year, with activity jumping 23.1 percent.

When thinking about when to make your next push in the industry, do not to wait until spring when most of the competition will also be out. Instead, he recommends starting now, since buyers are already flooding the market.

What is influencing these changes?

According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates should remain low throughout 2020 and 2021, averaging around 3.8 percent. Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of REALTORS® all also believe rates will remain under 4 percent through 2020. This means the market won't be facing any resistance like what was seen at the end of 2018 when rates increased. Harney refers to this as a "perfect buying environment."

Because there will be a greater influx of buyers and higher demand for homes, CoreLogic predicts that home prices will rise at least 5 percent over the year. Similarly, home value is expected to continue to appreciate. This is due to an inventory shortage and a high demand from buyers. In fact, in 2019, housing inventory dropped overall by 12 percent, while homes available for less than $200,000 dropped by 18 percent. This poses a challenge, especially since millennials and Generation X buyers are flooding the market, looking for low-cost homes. Harney says the best way to avoid issues with this is by listing properties as soon as they become available, especially if they're in the lower price range.

Will there be a recession?

A recession is defined as a temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity decrease. While some experts expect a recession during 2020, others do not.  It's important to keep in mind that a recession does not mean a housing crisis. In fact, a housing slowdown is one of the bottom five possible triggers of a recession.

Will home sales would be affected by the 2020 election? Harney explained that, yes, there may be a slight decrease in home sales during that time. However, it's not due to a lack of buyers. Instead, it's because people are distracted by the election and put off buying. As a result of this, generally, home sales the following year are expected to significantly increase.