Posted in Real Estate

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home’s Value

4 Surprising Things That Might Increase Your Home's ValueYou’ve probably heard that living near excellent schools or having curb appeal can boost the value of your home. However, a home’s value is dependent upon a lot of different factors. Some of these things are more obvious than others. Things that might seem insignificant can have an impact on your home’s worth. Here are some surprising things that can affect the existing value of your home or how much a buyer is willing to pay for it.

#1 A Blue Kitchen or Bathroom

Painting your home is an easy and cost-effective way to update your home. Just make sure that you select the right colors. Based on recent research, walls that are painted cool neutral colors like blue are more likely to appeal to buyers. According to a 2017 study by Zillow, homes with blue bathrooms sell for an average of $5,500 more than expected. Houses that had blue kitchens sold for $1,809 more compared to similar homes that had a white kitchen.

#2 How Close You Are To A Supermarket

Being next a well-known supermarket can increase the value of your home. If the supermarket is considered upmarket, then the increase in value is even higher. According to “Zillow Talk, The New Rules of Real Estate,”  homes that are near a Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods grocery store appreciate up to 40 percent faster than other homes. The presence of a popular store like a Trader Joe’s has a positive effect on market values over time.

#3 A Joanna Gaines’ Aesthetic

Joanna Gaines urban farmhouse aesthetic is more than just chic; it can have a surprisingly positive effect on the value of your home. According to a Zillow analysis of home sale descriptions from 2016, houses that had the keywords “farmhouse sink” and “barn door” sold quicker and at a premium compared to similar homes. Listings that had the words “barn door” sold 57 days quicker and for 13.4 percent more than similar homes. For sale listings that included a “farmhouse sink” sold for 8 percent more. So, if you plan to make interior updates in your home, you might want to watch a couple of episodes of “Fixer Upper” for inspiration.

#4 Your Proximity to Starbucks

Do you live within a quarter of a mile from a Starbucks? If so, then you are in luck? A study released by Zillow in 2015 found that homes that were within a quarter of a mile from the Seattle-based coffeehouse increased by 96 percent on average from 1997 to 2014. This number is well above the average of 65 percent of all U.S. homes.

Whether you are in the process of buying a new home or updating your existing home, think about the above factors as they may play a role in the value of your home.

Posted in Market Outlook

Case-Shiller: February Home Prices Gained Before Coronavirus Outbreak

Case-Shiller February Home Prices Gained Before Coronavirus OutbreakHome prices continued to grow in February according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices. National home prices grew at a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 4.20 percent as compared to national home price growth of 3.90 percent in January. Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index showed higher home price growth rates in February with average annual home price growth of 3.50 percent. January home prices grew by 3.10 percent for cities included in the 20-City Index.

The lowest year-over-year home price growth rates were posted by Chicago, Illinois with 0.70 percent; New York City posted 1.50 percent growth, and Dallas, Texas with 2.50 percent home price growth.

Phoenix, Arizona home prices grew by a seasonally-adjusted annual rate e of 7.50 percent; Seattle, Washington home prices grew by 6.00 percent year-over-year. Tampa, Florida’s home price growth was tied with Charlotte, North Carolina’s home price growth rate of 5.20 percent. Analysts said that long-standing market conditions of high buyer demand, low inventories of available homes, and mortgage rates near record lows contributed to February’s home price growth.

Gains Across 20 City Composite

Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said February results “were broad-based with gains in every city in our 20-City Composite; 17 of 20 cities saw accelerating prices.”

February readings were based on home sales completed before the Coronavirus impacted the U.S. economy and government restrictions on all but essential activities reduced buyer traffic and slowed home sales. Areas supported by tourism and recreation were expected to see sharp declines in home prices and sales.

Fed Promises to Use All Remedies as Coronavirus Crisis Grows

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee said it would use all available tools to steady economic conditions destabilized by the Coronavirus pandemic. The FOMC said in its post-meeting statement that “The ongoing public health crisis will weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term, and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook in the medium term.”

Committee members did not change the current federal interest rate range of 0.00 to 0.25 percent and pledged to hold the Fed rate steady until the economy has weathered the public health crisis and was on track to achieve the Fed’s dual mandate of full employment and price stability.

 

Posted in Mortgage

Mortgage Relief Refinance Programs For 2020

Mortgage Relief Refinance Programs For 2020There are lots of people out there who are searching for options for mortgage relief. A quick search will reveal options for programs such as FMERR and HARP; however, many of the articles regarding these programs are a bit outdated. This makes them misleading. Sometimes, people might think they can apply for these programs when, in reality, they cannot. These programs have expired. Fortunately, there is another option for HIRO.

What Is HIRO?

HIRO is the mortgage relief refinance program for 2020. Run by Fannie Mae, this program does have some similarities to its ancestors (HARP and FMERR); however, it also allows homeowners to refinance even if they don’t have any equity. Furthermore, there isn’t a maximum LTV (loan to value) ratio. The biggest difference between HIRO and prior programs is that only people who currently have mortgages through Fannie Mae are able to qualify.

Some of the other conditions of this program include:

  • The loan must have been originated on or after October 1, 2017
  • There is a long history of making payments on-time
  • There cannot have been any more than one late payment in the prior year
  • There cannot be any late payments in the last six months
  • The loan to value ratio is at 97.01 percent or above

If these conditions are met, someone might be able to find mortgage refinance relief through HIRO.

Reasons To Refinance

Of course, if someone is looking to apply for this program, there must be some tangible benefit. Some of the reasons why someone might want to refinance include a lower monthly payment, a loan with an earlier end date, or a transition from a risky adjustable-rate mortgage to a much safer fixed-rate mortgage. These are a few of the common reasons why someone might want to refinance through HIRO.

Options For Government-Backed Loans

If someone has a mortgage through a government program such as USDA, VA, or the FHA, they will need to apply for other mortgage relief programs. This means looking for streamline refinances. These are specific refinance programs that are meant for people with loans backed by the government. These programs often have less paperwork because there is no need to verify income or employment. Furthermore, there is no need to get the home appraised.

Posted in Mortgage

How To Retain Your Sanity While Working From Home

How To Retain Your Sanity While Working From HomeThere are a lot of people who enjoy working from home; however, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who are not used to working from home are forced into this new arrangement. It can be hard for individuals o stay focused when they are stuck in the environment at home. Particularly if the kids are home from school, it is easy to get distracted. Fortunately, there are a few ways people can retain their sanity as they work from home.

Get Into A Routine

One of the first steps people need to follow is to find a routine. It can be tempting to sleep in every day, procrastinate while watching TV, and take long breaks for meals; however, it is critical to remember that there is still a job to do. Try to wake up at the same time every day. Start work at a consistent hour. Take a consistent break for lunch. Finding a routine will make working from home feel more like a job than a vacation.

Take Advantage Of Technology

Even though working from home can feel lonely, it doesn’t have to be this way. With technology, it is easy for people to stay in touch with their partners from work. Use technology to talk to people. Check up on others and see how they are doing. Ask for help when it is needed. Communicate with multiple people at a time. This is incredibly important for those who work in a team. At the same time, those who typically work alone should make sure this doesn’t become a distraction. Talking to others can be a great way to break up the monotony of the day.

Learn Something New Every Day

Finally, take the time to learn something new! Those who no longer have a morning or evening commute are going to wind up with some extra free time on their hands. Take this opportunity to learn something new. Even though some people might feel like they are being forced to work from home, turn this situation into a positive one. use the extra time wisely and find a way to expand those horizons ever so slightly. Learning new skills can pay big dividends down the road.

Posted in Mortgage

Wealthy Seniors Can Benefit From Jumbo Products

Wealthy Seniors Can Benefit From Jumbo ProductsIndividuals who own their homes with a considerable amount of equity should consider looking into proprietary jumbo reverse mortgages. These can be helpful tools that may allow seniors to either pay down an existing mortgage or fund their retirement. 

These tools are particularly helpful in areas of the country that have high property values, such as California and New York. In these states, jumbo reverse mortgages may provide seniors with up to $4 million in potential loan proceeds. These funds can be applied to a variety of possible purposes.

A Changing Thought Process Surrounding Reverse Mortgages

In the past, mentioning reverse mortgages was seen by many as an option of last resort; however, it seems like this reputation was largely gained because they were new and unfamiliar to most people. Over the past few years, financial experts have done a tremendous amount of research into reverse mortgages and have uncovered their potential to help someone’s financial portfolio.

There are numerous ways that reverse mortgages can help someone’s retirement portfolio ride the ups and downs of the market. Reverse mortgages can even be used to help someone postpone the claiming of Social Security benefits. 

A Potential Use Of Reverse Mortgages

One potential use of reverse mortgages follows a simple formula. The goal of this formula is to buy low and sell high. When the market goes up, draw on the retirement account for income. After all, the market is high, so shares of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds are going to be at their greatest value.

When the market starts to drop, avoid using the assets in the retirement account. Wait for those assets to come back up before using them. During this time, it is better to use a reverse mortgage and draw on the equity in the home instead.

A Mountain Of Untapped Equity

Proprietary reverse mortgages are becoming more popular in locations that have high housing values. In these locations, retirees might be sitting on a large amount of equity and might not even know it. In these locations, jumbo reverse mortgages can help individuals and families who might be short in their incomes. For this reason, retirees should consider using a jumbo reverse mortgage to help cover their living expenses and long-term care needs.

Posted in Real Estate

The ‘Golden Girls’ Strategy? Elderly Adults Share Home Ownership

The 'Golden Girls' Strategy Elderly Adults Share Home OwnershipThe “Golden Girls” trend got its name from the popular television sitcom about four elderly women who live together to share expenses. It is becoming a popular way in real life for elderly adults to share homeownership and it has many benefits.

The cost of assisted living is quite high. The median cost in the United States for assisted living is $4,051 per month. In many parts of America, that amount makes a substantial mortgage payment. Rather than pay that high price to live in an adult assisted-living community, many able-bodied elderly are choosing to pool their resources and live together in a large home that they own together.

Buying A Home To Share

The homes that work well for this are those that have many bedrooms, each with a private bath, and are on one-level. Three- or four-bedroom homes are ideal because the cost of the home and the operating expenses can be shared among three or four elderly adults to reduce each person’s cost compared to what they would spend if they were alone.

It Is Fun To Share

The communal areas for a shared-living arrangement are the main living room, dining area, and kitchen. Many find that by sharing the cost of a home, among like-minded peers, that the quality of life is very nice. The pooling of resources usually creates enough money to pay for the expenses and to pay for in-home personal assistance as needed. Most importantly, loneliness is reduced, which sometimes leads to serious depression in the elderly who live alone.

Many baby boomers are now entering retirement. Estimates are that seven out of 10 will need some form of assisted living care. Females still live longer than men on average, so that is why this trend is more about elderly women living together than men. However, the concept works just as well for both sexes.

Multigenerational living is also becoming popular for the same reasons. It costs so much to own and maintain a home that it is not as easily accomplished by households with one or two workers who contribute to pay for the expenses. Most situations benefit from having a third or a fourth contributor, which reduces the average contribution for all.

Get Competent Legal Advice

When considering any shared ownership of a home, it is very important to use the services of a competent legal counsel to draw up the ownership agreement. Shared homeownership is a type of partnership and benefits from having a “buy-sell” provision in the agreement that allows any remaining co-owners to buy out the portion held by a co-owner who dies or otherwise becomes physically unable to continue living in the home.

Summary

Most baby boomers had roommates when they went to college to share expenses. Embracing a “Golden Girls” strategy to share home ownership is like returning to a style from the younger times. It is wise to be very careful about who is chosen to form a home-ownership partnership; however, with proper legal documentation and prudence in choosing who to live with, this can be a very satisfying way to spend your golden years.

Posted in Mortgage

Three Reasons 25% Of Millennial Homebuyers May Struggle To Purchase A Home

More Than 25% Of Millennial Homebuyers May Be Financially UnpreparedMillennials are the first generation in America that will probably not be able to do as well as their parents. In the United States, there is not as much upward mobility as there was in the past. What is the cause of this?

CNN reports that Millennials have more college degrees than their parents. They also have an enormous amount of student loan debt. Many millennials have lower-paying jobs than their parents had at the same age when adjusted for inflation. Spending patterns changed as well, due to the high cost of living.

Finding The Money

Saving is not easy. The net worth of Americans, who are from 18 to 35 years old, decreased by 34% since 1996. Even though millennials are financially savvy, the 2008 global financial crisis made it difficult to find jobs and made saving for many nearly impossible.

Those who have been able to put aside some money in the last ten years are lucky if they have $8,000 in savings, which is the average for those millennials trying to save for a home purchase.

Soaring Home Prices

By 2018, the real estate market recovered from the 2008 collapse. In most American cities, housing prices are going up significantly. The home prices surpassed pre-crash levels and now continue to rise. Soaring home prices make buying a home very challenging.

What To Do?

For most millennials, the best choice is to continue to live with their parents and use the lower cost of living as an opportunity to put away enough money for the required down payment to buy a house. Many plan to live very frugally and to save for up to five years if they want to buy a home of their own.

For others, they are developing co-ownership plans, where millennials plan to share home buying with more than one person. In these deals, they become the landlord and the tenants of a multifamily property that they buy together.

The Math

The median home price in America is $226,800. First-time buyers, who qualify, can get FHA-backed mortgage financing with as little as 3.5% down. Still, that is $7,938 just for the down payment. There is also the need to have 2% to 5% of the loan amount for closing costs, which can add up to $10,943.

Financial prudence recommends having at least three months of living expenses in savings to cover any unexpected temporary emergencies, like losing a job. Add another $12,000 for this contingency. This means to safely buy a home at the median price, with a low-down-payment loan, a millennial may need to have as much as $30,881.

For conventional financing, with 20% down, the numbers are much higher. For that type of financing, a millennial needs about $66,432.

Summary

Millennials face significant challenges in homeownership that are unique to their generation. For these reasons, many are delaying homeownership for at least five years and living with their parents longer, to save more money, to make their dream of homeownership come true in the more distant future.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

Posted in Real Estate

What Is House Hacking?

What Is House HackingSome clever millennials are teaching the older boomers a new way to invest in real estate, which goes by the name of “house hacking.”

What Is House Hacking?

House hacking has nothing to do with computers, although you may go on the Internet to find candidates for real estate investments suitable for hacking. The goal of house hacking is to acquire a multifamily rental property, live in one part of it and rent out the other parts for enough rental income to cover most, if not all, of the expenses of owning the property.

Live Rent-Free

As the on-site manager of a property that you own, you do not have to pay any rent. If you are clever, and the rental market is robust in the area that you choose for house hacking, then the rental income from the other units in the multifamily property will be sufficient to cover the property’s expenses. Then, you live rent-free.

Finding A Hackable Property

Multifamily properties, up to four units, are the best candidates for house hacking. A two-story townhouse that divides into two separate living spaces, a duplex, a triplex, or a small apartment building may be suitable.

Cash Flow

Calculate the cash flow from the portions of the property that rent to others. If the rent covers all the expenses then the property is said to have a positive cash flow. That is the goal. Have some funds set aside to cover any downtime when a unit is vacant between renters.

Financing

Owner-occupied properties qualify for lower financing rates than non-owner-occupied properties, which are held purely for investment.

Landlord Headaches

As the owner/landlord you will deal directly with any tenant relations and problems. If a pipe breaks in the middle of the night, you are the one who will have to deal with the problem. Be sure to screen tenants thoroughly and maintain the property. Some do not like dealing with tenants; however, if you are careful when selecting tenants and handle any problems professionally, this work provides an excellent experience for understanding further real estate investments to build up your portfolio.

Summary

House hacking came about especially for those from the younger generation of millennials simply because buying a property is very challenging on one income and even difficult on two incomes. If you consider the payment of rent by others as part of the total income that supports a property, the math may work out better. When the numbers work out, you may have found an investment opportunity with house hacking. Work with a qualified real estate agent who specializes in multifamily properties for the best results.

Posted in Mortgage

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Is Allowing Drive-by Appraisals Because Of COVID-19

The Department Of Veterans Affairs Is Allowing Drive-by Appraisals Because Of COVID-19The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has impacted every industry across the country. Many people are being asked to shelter in place and everyone has been asked to practice social distancing to try to curtail the spread of this deadly virus.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has asked both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to make some changes in the manner they conduct property appraisals and employment verification.

Shortly after the move by the FHFA, The Veteran’s Administration (VA) and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) followed suit by relaxing property appraisal requirements. Due to the unusual circumstances that are facing the country right now, these changes are necessary to keep people safe while minimizing the blow to the economy.

Exterior Inspection Appraisals

One of the critical parts that must happen during the purchase of a home is something called an appraisal. Typically, these appraisals involve an on-site inspection of the home, taking a close look at everything inside to try to make sure the price is as accurate as possible. Now, appraisals can be done on something that is called an exterior-only or “drive-by” basis. This means that appraisers might drive by to confirm that the property exists, but will not physically inspect it. 

In some cases, they might just use the computer, find comparable properties, and appraise it in this manner. This is normally referred to as a “desktop appraisal”. This is important for everyone, including those who are Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loan borrowers.

Why Appraisals Are Needed Now

Even though fewer people may be currently looking at houses, there are other reasons why an appraisal might be necessary. Many people are looking for sources of emergency funding, particularly as hours get cut and people get laid off.

There are still bills that need to be paid, including utility bills and mortgages. Therefore, many people are looking at taking out a second mortgage as a source of immediate liquidity. Sometimes, an appraisal might be needed to make this happen.

Other Measures Are Being Taken By The FHFA

In addition to the notice about drive-by appraisals, the FHFA has also suspended any foreclosures and evictions in many cases. People who are facing hardship due to the pandemic can also apply for forbearance, which can take a lot of stress off of the shoulders of individuals and families.

If you have questions about your mortgage and financing options available to you during the Coronavirus pandemic, contact your trusted mortgage professional. They will be best able to analyze your personal situation and provide the most accurate feedback.

Posted in Real Estate

What Is Pooled-Funds Investing?

What Is Pooled-Funds InvestingUnder the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on April 5, 2012, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) relaxed the rules about advertising investments. This allowed the trend of crowdfunding to expand dramatically giving real estate investors more opportunities for pooled-funds investing.

What Is Polled-Funds Investing?

A pooled investment fund takes in money from a group of investors to use to acquire real estate for larger amounts than each investor’s money would support. Prior to the passage of the JOBS Act, these pooled investment funds were only accessible by large investors through private placements and private real estate investment trusts (REITs). The minimum investment might be up to $250,000 or more. High-net-worth individual investors and institutions were the only investors capable of the buy-in to gain access to these investments, which usually offered better and more stable returns.

After the JOBS Act came into being, the advertising of these pooled investment funds was possible under the new law. The phenomena of crowdfunding came out of this. Money from many investors creates a larger investment fund managed by a professional team, intending to obtain strong performance results.

Better Investment Opportunities For The Smaller Investor

These new investment opportunities allow the smaller investor to participate in a greater diversity of real estate than they could achieve on their own. Moreover, an investor can create a pooled fund to acquire a property with the help of other investors. To use this technique to buy real estate, it is helpful to work with a qualified real estate agent or broker who understands this concept of pooled investment funds.

Due Diligence Required

Not all investment pools succeed in producing decent returns for investors. The SEC is no longer regulating these polled investments carefully. This means that the challenge of due diligence falls on the individual investor. Before investing, it pays to conduct exhaustive research about the pooled investment fund, the cost of the fund management fees, the expertise of the fund’s management, and their past investment-performance history. Always remember past results are no guarantee of future performance and never invest any funds that you cannot afford to lose.

Summary

The relaxing of SEC regulations in 2012 allowed many opportunities for pooled investments to flourish. While there is the possibility of strong returns on investment, there is also some risk. Investors considering a pooled investment fund, such as a crowdfunding deal, should conduct thorough due diligence and get advice from a qualified REALTORS® in the market where the property will be located before making any investment.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted real estate professional.