Posted in Real Estate

How To Tell If A Home Has Been Well-Maintained

How To Tell If A Home Has Been Well-MaintainedAs a homebuyer, your real estate agent will do their best bring you to see homes that meet the criteria you asked for. However, there’s no guarantee that a home will have a history of being properly cared for.

Your real estate agent can choose the homes you see, but they have no control over the property owner’s homeownership habits.

Why Home Maintenance Matters

Home maintenance should matter to you as a homebuyer and later on as a homeowner. A home needs consistent and proper maintenance in order to run efficiently, and that doesn’t only apply to moving parts like the HVAC system. If a home isn’t looked after, it begins to run down and then break down.

Just as a poorly maintained vehicle will eventually strand its owner on the side of the road, a poorly maintained home will eventually fail to properly house its occupants.

How To Tell If A Home Has Been Well-Maintained

A home that hasn’t been cared for will easily give up its secrets to a discerning homebuyer. Conversely, you can tell if a home has been cherished and well-maintained over the years.

  • Home maintenance warranties in place would be a selling feature and indicates the owner understands the power of proactive maintenance.
  • Solid, quality flooring indicates that the owner has shored up the subfloor beneath tile, removed carpet spills expeditiously and replaced cracked, peeling or missing planks or tiles.
  • No signs of basement water damage may signify that owner has installed sufficient sump pump or other drainage solutions, applied basement waterproofing or taken other steps to ensure a dry basement.
  • Finished basement shows that owner has taken care to improve the home where possible and that the owner trusts their basement possessions will be safe from water damage.
  • Straight roof lines mean that there is likely no sagging roof problem that hasn’t already been addressed.
  • Mature, healthy plantings are a sign that the owner has given thought and care to the surrounding landscape over a long period of time.
  • Sound gutters in good condition show that the owner has taken steps to ensure proper roof drainage to water damage.

These are all positive signs for a prospective homebuyer. Of course, you must still pay attention to the home inspection report. But odds are if you see all these signs, you’re probably looking at a new home that will serve your needs for many years to come.

 

Posted in Real Estate

7 Reasons To Buy A Home In The Summer Months

7 Reasons To Buy A Home In The Summer MonthsIf you’ve been putting off your house hunting, it’s time to head out. Summer is the best season to go shopping for a new home, for a variety of reasons. 

1. More Inventory

Homeowners list their homes for sale in the summer more often than any other season. When you shop for a new home during this time, you’ll have a much wider selection of homes to choose from. 

2. Better Prices

More inventory in summer often turns the local real estate scene into a buyer’s market. Home sellers may have to compete with other sellers on the same block or even down the street. This gives buyers a nice position of leverage to possible get a better price on a new home. 

3. More Neighborhood Activity

There’s no better time to get a true sense of the neighborhood than summer. In summer, kids are out playing, homeowners are out tending lawns and friends are gathering for backyard BBQs. These are all activities that can give you an accurate portrayal of the neighborhood culture. Take advantage of summer weekends, too; you’ll find even more neighborhood activity then. 

4. More Visibility

By summer, all the snow, ice and autumn debris has either melted or been cleaned up by homeowners. You’ll have more visibility to view the condition of the roof, siding, deck, lawn, driveway and walkways. Under the cover of snow and ice, you might miss important issues.

5. Evidence Of Any Flooding Problems

Spring rains produce evidence of any flooding issues with water lines along foundation walls. Summer is the best time to go home shopping because this kind of evidence will be fresh and easily identifiable. Flooding isn’t always a reason not to buy a home, but it helps to know what potential issues you could be facing.  

6. More Free Time

Most people have more free time in summer than any other time of year. 

It is more relaxing to go home shopping when you know you aren’t taking valuable time away from work. On your summer vacation, you also don’t have to take unpaid days off to view homes with your real estate agent. 

7. Easier School Transition

When you do go ahead and buy in summer, your kids will have an easier time of transitioning to a new school. Instead of breaking up the school year, your kids can end one grade in one school and start the new year at the new school.

Buying a home in summer just makes good sense. Contact your local real estate agent today so you can hurry and take advantage of the summer real estate market in your area. 

Posted in Real Estate

3 Questions Not To Ask Your Real Estate Agent

3 Questions Not To Ask Your Real Estate AgentIt’s an exciting time when you’re buying or selling your home and your real estate agent is your partner in this real estate endeavor. But there are some questions that your agent can’t or won’t be able to answer for you. These are the top three questions not to ask your real estate agent.

 1. How High Will The Buyers/Sellers Go?

Knowing that your agent is in touch with their agent, you might think your agent knows the highest amount the prospective buyers or sellers will go. This question is problematic for several reasons.

First, would you want your agent to divulge how low of an offer you would be willing to accept? No. Second, the buyers agent would never share that kind of information with your agent anyway. That would violate the ethics code that all quality real estate agents go by. 

2. Can You Please Not Divulge the Mold/Radon/Flooding Issue?

Homeowners and real estate agents are required by law to divulge any known issues such as mold. If you as a homeowner are aware of radon and/or flooding issues and you share it with your real estate agent, they may be required to disclose those issues to prospective buyers.

If you ask your agent to withhold that information or to fib about it, you’re really asking them to risk their license and source of family income. Obviously you wouldn’t want to do that. Instead, abide by the laws and let your real estate agent do the same.

Besides, when your buyer is fully aware there’s a better chance for a successful sale. 

3. Can You Promise Me A Sale Within A Certain Timeframe?

Real estate agents can’t promise that your home will sell in a certain amount of time. They can offer you statistics in your area and give you an average amount of time when your home might sell. Other than that, there are no guarantees. If you want your home to sell fast take as much of your agent’s advice as possible.

Your agent will do everything they can to answer all your reasonable questions. Just don’t ask your agent to violate their ethics or make promises they can’t keep. 

Posted in Real Estate

The Pros And Cons Of Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The Pros And Cons Of Remodeling During COVID-19 PandemicNearly everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way. While many people are getting tired of being cooped up in their homes, the home improvement industry has actually been able to stay afloat. Furthermore, it is actually thriving. Because many people are trapped in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are thinking about carrying out a home remodeling project. For those who are wondering about the prospects of such an undertaking, it is important to weigh the pros and cons. 

The Pros Of Home Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

There are a few benefits that people should note about remodeling during this time. They include:

  • There is more time to plan out the project. With extra time, people can compare costs, take virtual tours of showrooms, and even check out some of the latest designs. 
  • There are even some brick and mortar showrooms that are still open. While many people are nervous about venturing out during the COVID-19 pandemic, these showrooms are still maintaining proper social distancing measures to keep their staff and customers safe.
  • Finally, there are also a handful of discounts available to those who are remodeling during this time. Because they are eager for business, they are often wiling to slash the prices to help someone get their project done.

These are some of the biggest benefits for people to note; however, there are also a few drawbacks as well.

The Cons Of Home Remodeling During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Some of the disadvantages of trying to start a home remodeling project during this time include:

  • There might be a shortage of materials available to carry out the project. It might take time for companies to restock their inventory, delaying the start of the project.
  • While some items are cheaper, others are more expensive because the supply has dried up.
  • For those who might being a challenging financial situation during the pandemic, there is a risk of spending too much money as the project gets going.

For these reasons, it is important for everyone to carefully weigh the pros and cons of starting a home remodeling project during this time. While there are some attractive offers, everyone’s individual situation is different. People need to think about what is right for them.

Posted in Financial Reports

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – June 1, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - June 1, 2020Last week’s economic reports included monthly readings from Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, FHFA home prices, and readings on new and pending home sales. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Case-Shiller Home Price Indices: Home Price Growth Pace Increased In March

National home prices rose at a year-over-year pace of 4.50 percent in March from February’s reading of 4.20 percent. According to the Case-Shiller 20-City Home Price Index, home prices rose by 0.40 percent to a year-over-year growth rate of 3.90 percent.

The three cities reporting the highest rates of home price growth year-over-year were Phoenix, Arizona with 8.20 percent year-over-year growth; Seattle, Washington reported year-over-year home prices growth of 6.90 percent. Charlotte, North Carolina reported 5.80 percent home price growth.

Analysts said that Seattle home prices rose despite the Seattle metro area having a large outbreak of Covid-19 in the first weeks of the pandemic. April readings on home price growth are expected to dip into negative readings reflecting the spread of the coronavirus and its increasing impact.

17 of 19 cities reported in the 20-City Home Price Index for March had higher growth rates than in February; the Detroit metro area did not report data for the March 20-City Home Price Index.

The FHFA Home Price Index reported 5.90 percent year-over-year home price growth for March as compared to its February reading of 6.10 percent home price growth. FHFA reports on home sales connected with properties that have mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

New Home Sales Increase in April as Pending Home Sales Fall

Sales of new homes rose in April although many areas were under stay-at-home orders related to the coronavirus pandemic. 623,000 new home sales were reported on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis as compared to the March reading of 619,000 sales of new homes. Pending home sales were -21.80 percent lower as compared to the March reading of -20.80 percent. Fewer pending home sales reflected impacts of the pandemic as government agencies issued stay-at-home orders and citizens faced financial uncertainty and health concerns.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were nine basis points lower at an average rate of 3.13 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged eight basis points lower at 2.62 percent and rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.13 percent and were four basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.80 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.70 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims were lower at 2.12 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.45 million initial jobless claims filed. While fewer claims filed is good news, readings for initial jobless claims far exceeded typical numbers of new jobless claims filed before the pandemic.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on construction spending and labor sector reports on public and private sector jobs and the national unemployment rate. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Posted in Real Estate

Loan Programs For Lower Income Buyers

Loan Programs For Lower Income BuyersOwning a home may be the American dream, but for many who are in a lower income bracket, finding a loan can become challenging. Thankfully, there are several loan programs that can work well for lower-income people considering homeownership. Here’s a closer look at some of these home loans designed to help people who have a low-to-moderate income find a way to buy a home.

FHA Home Loans

FHA home loans are loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Lenders are more likely to lend to “higher risk” borrowers through the FHA loan program because the loans have the FHA’s backing.

With the FHA loan, a borrower can have a credit rating as low as 500, as long as there is a reasonable explanation for it and a fairly high debt-to-income ratio. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, these loans require only a 3.5% down payment, which can come from gifts, and have less stringent requirements for credit rating or income.

USDA Rural Development Loans

If you are shopping for a home in a small town or suburban area, you may qualify for the USDA rural development loan program. Only those borrowers who make no more than 115% of the average median income in their area qualify for this loan program, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

USDA loans require no down payment and the loan has no debt-to-income ratio maximum. It has a low PMI fee even for a zero-down loan, and fair interest rates. For those who live in areas that qualify, the USDA rural housing loan simply makes sense.

97% Loan-To-Value Purchase Loans

One of the biggest challenges for lower-income borrowers to overcome is the down payment, but the 97% loan-to-value loan makes that less of a concern. This program, which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have offered to help encourage more people to get loans, allows people to buy a home with just 3% as a down payment.

The 97% loan-to-value purchase loan is specifically for first-time buyers. Borrowers must not have owned a home within the last three years to apply.

This loan program offers fair interest rates and does not have stringent credit score requirements. Borrowers can use gift funds to pay for the 3% down payment if necessary.

As you can see, there are many home loans designed for lower-income borrowers. If you are looking to buy a home but worry you can’t afford it, consider one of these options.

Posted in Real Estate

Multigenerational Housing ? Buying A Home For Your Parents To Live With You

Multigenerational Housing ? Buying A Home For Your Parents To Live With YouMultigenerational housing is a growing trend that is propelled by the “graying of America.” This trend is the mirror image of children who become adults still living with their parents. Instead, with multigenerational housing, the adult children invite their parents to live with them. Many are seeking to buy larger homes to accommodate the needs of their young family, while also being able to live together with their parents.

Older Homeowners And Multigenerational Homes Are Increasing

The numbers are staggering. Realtor.com® reports that for the next 20 years, older adults, over the age of 65, will increase from 26% to 34% of total homeowners. The fastest-growing group of homeowners will be those over 80. These are the many millions of baby boomers who are getting older. By 2038, estimates are that there will over 17 million of these older homeowners, up from around 8 million in 2018.

Multigenerational housing, which is where the older adults live with their grown children or grandchildren, is already 20% of the older adult population in America. This represents about 10 million homes now. This number continues to rise. It will more than double in the next decades.

Benefits Of Multigenerational Housing

The main benefit of multigenerational housing is saving money. Assisted living and long-term care are really expensive. The national median cost for assisted living is $4,000 per month. A person can buy a very large home for that amount used for a mortgage payment.

Longtermcare.gov reports that the average cost in America for long-term care in nursing homes is $6,844 per month (semi-private room) and $7,698 per month (private room). These costs can be reduced substantially by hiring in-home nursing care and having older adults stay at home.

Disadvantages Of Multigenerational Housing

The main complaint is that it is very difficult for some children to have their parents live with them. Personality conflicts and control issues arise to cause challenges.

For those worried about these factors, who want to set up a multigenerational home, think deeply about choosing a livable home design and layout. Consider buying a townhouse duplex that has two separate living spaces and then connect them by installing a door in a shared, interior wall.

Non-Related Multigenerational Sharing

A new business opportunity is the matchmaking of multigenerational housing owners who are not related. This is a new home-buying trend that is similar to living with college roommates to share expenses.

Conclusion

Multigenerational housing is a growing trend in America because of its practicality. It will continue to increase. REALTORS® who specialize in this market niche will likely find it to be very rewarding.

If you are thinking about buying a new home and your parents might be able to live with you, ask them how they feel about the idea and have some fun shopping for houses together.

Posted in Real Estate

Qualify For A Larger Mortgage With A Co-Signer

Qualify For A Larger Mortgage With A Co-SignerThere are numerous steps involved in the process of buying a new home. It is important to go through the mortgage qualifying process before looking at dream houses. This gives people an idea of how big a house they can afford. Sometimes, individuals looking for a house might not get a loan that is big enough to cover their dream house. There are ways to qualify for a larger loan; however, one of the fastest methods is to use a co-signer.

What Is A Co-Signer?

A co-signer is someone who signs onto a potential home loan with the homebuyer. Essentially, the co-signer is saying that he or she is willing to be on the hook for the loan in the event that the primary homeowner is unable to make his or her mortgage payments.

This is a big commitment from the co-signer because he or she is exposing himself or herself on behalf of the primary borrower. On the other hand, the co-signer is also providing a vote of confidence on behalf of the primary borrower. Parents often act as co-signers for their children when they purchase their first home.

Vetting The Co-Signer

When someone is going through the home loan process, they are asked to produce tax returns, proof of income, credit reports, bank statements, and more. The co-signer is going to go through the same process. The bank wants to make sure the co-signer is actually adding something of value to the buying process.

The income and debt of the co-signer will be added to the primary borrower. Then, the two will be combined to be approved for a larger home loan. This can help someone purchase the home of his or her dreams.

An Important Note On The Co-Signer

If the co-signer goes to apply for a home loan or car loan in the future, the loan for which they co-signed will show up. This could limit the ability of the co-signer to qualify for a loan down the road. Even though having a co-signer can increase the size of the loan for the primary borrower, this is not without risk to the co-signer. Consider this carefully!

Posted in Financial Reports

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 26th, 2020

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 26th, 2020

Last week’s economic news included readings from the National Association of Home Builders on housing market conditions and reports on housing starts and building permits issued.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress about the impact of Covid-19. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Improves in May

Home-builder confidence rose seven points in May to an index reading of 37; April’s reading of 30 was the lowest reading for the NAHB Housing Market Index since June 2012. Low mortgage rates and expectations that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic had passed contributed to higher readings for builder confidence.

Component readings in the Housing Market Index were higher in May; builder confidence in current market conditions rose six points to 42.

Builder confidence in home sales within the next six months rose ten points to 46, and the reading for buyer traffic in new housing developments rose from 13 to 21. Readings below 50 are historically common for buyer traffic, but mandatory shelter-at-home rules kept more potential buyers away.

NAHB Housing Market Index readings above 50 indicate that most builders surveyed were positive about U.S. housing markets. Readings below 50 indicate that most builders surveyed were pessimistic about housing conditions.

Fed Chair Urges Congress to Help Pandemic Victims

Fed Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress and said that those impacted by Covide-19 should receive as much assistance as possible. While Congress approved Federal Reserve Loans to mid-to-large businesses,  Mr. Powell reminded Congress that they must also do as much as possible to help low to moderate-income families and businesses and cited a Federal Reserve study that reported 40 percent of households making less than $40,000 lost a job within the first month of the pandemic.

Sales of Pre-Owned Homes, Housing Starts, and Building Permits Issued Fall in April

The Commerce reported lower readings for sales of pre-owned homes, housing starts, and building permits issued in April. Sales of previously owned homes fell to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 4.33 million sales as compared to the March reading of 5.27 million sales. 

Housing  Starts fell to an annual pace of  891,000 starts in April as compared to 1.276 million starts reported in March. The Commerce Department reported 1.074 million building permits issued on an annual basis; this reading was also lower than the March reading of 1.356 million permits issued but was higher than the expected reading of 996,000 permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Fall as New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week; the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was four basis points lower at 3.24 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.70 percent and were two basis points lower than for the prior week.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged 3.17 percent and were four basis points lower. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.40 percent f04 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims reported by states fell to 2.44 million claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 2.69 million initial claims filed.  The reading for state and federal jobless claims filed rose from 3.21 million to 3.30 million as applicants applied for additional jobless benefits offered through federal pandemic relief programs.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic readings include Case-Shiller’s Home Price Indices, the FHFA Home Price Index, and data on new home sales. Monthly readings on inflation and consumer sentiment are scheduled along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Posted in Real Estate

How Will Coronavirus Impact Our Real Estate Economy?

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has impacted every part of the economy. This is a dangerous virus and has left many parts of the country on lockdown orders to prevent it from spreading rapidly. The question many people are asking is how much the real estate is going to be impacted by the virus as well.

People Are Not Looking For Houses As Often

One of the biggest impacts of coronavirus is that some people simply aren’t out looking for houses. Stay at home orders and social distancing measures have prevented people from touring homes that they may be interested in buying and sellers postponing the listing of their home for sale.

In some parts of the country, the new listings available for homes have dropped drastically. This includes areas of the country that have been hit the hardest by the virus such as New York and California. Even web traffic to various real estate sites such as Zillow has dropped as well. Without a doubt, the rate of weekly mortgage applications has been impacted as well.

The Impact Of International Trade

In addition, for those who want to move, they might find a slowdown in international shipping and trade challenging. Many of the items that people need to furnish a home such as couches, tables, stoves, washers, dryers, ovens, and more are made overseas. Many home building materials are also manufactured and shipped from abroad. This creates a challenge for home builders and remodelers to effectively source the materials they need. It may take some time for the supply chain to reset and catch up with pent up demand.

The Response Of The Federal Government

Right now, those who currently own homes can find some relief from monthly mortgage payments if they are struggling financially. The government has put a moratorium in place on foreclosures. They have also told mortgage servicers to offer forebearance options for many mortgages.  While these grace measures will expire eventually, they may be helpful for the time being.

Looking Forward

The impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s real estate market is already apparent; however, the real question is how long the market is going to take to recover. The most recent report from National Association of Realtors states that 2020 is forecast for a 15% overall decline in the real estate industry. Many analysts believe that the real estate industry will be one of the fastest segments to recover across the country. Once the market does open up, the demand should increase quickly.