Dympna Fay-Hart
Serving Chicago Area Sellers & Buyers

(773) 230-3800

Send me a message

RisMedia

Syndicate content
Updated: 2 hours 27 min ago

Ask the Expert: What Do Buyers and Sellers Need to Be Aware of This Summer?

June 11, 2018 - 3:20pm

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: As summer approaches, what do buyers and sellers need to be aware of?

A: With the summer season right around the corner, here are a few critical components that can’t be overlooked by buyers and sellers alike.

  • Insulation is often lacking in a home’s attic, leading to excessive heat loss or gain and high energy bills. Consult a professional to determine if more insulation should be added.
  • Soot builds up in chimneys quickly, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, in addition to posing a fire hazard. A certified chimney sweep should be hired to routinely clean your chimney to prevent build-up.
  • Deterioration and rot can remove caulk and grout around a bathtub, which can cause leaks and lead to extensive damage to the surrounding walls. You can determine if there’s insufficient grout by checking between tiled enclosures for voids. Caulk integrity can be determined by gently pressing and checking for any sponginess, a sign of weakened integrity.
  • A loose toilet seat, while uncomfortable, may be a sign of a bigger issue. In fact, a seat that rocks could indicate that the seal at the base has failed, which can allow water to leak to the floor below, causing significant damage. If the seat feels loose, have the toilet inspected by a professional—and have the seal replaced if necessary.
  • The electrical outlets in our homes are sometimes incapable of handling the large number of gadgets we now throw at them. To prevent problems from overloaded outlets, consult a certified electrician to install additional outlets to handle the increased load.
  • Plants too close to a home’s siding can cause moisture damage and premature wear. Make sure to keep vegetation in control by keeping plants neat and trim.
  • Downspouts often release against walls, which can cause the foundation to deteriorate, causing water to enter the basement. Redirect these downspouts away from the structure.
  • Like chimneys, oven or range filters can become clogged, posing a major fire hazard. Check filters for built-up grease, and consult a professional to check the connections to determine if the model needs exterior exhaust.
  • Seals around kitchen and bathroom sink fixtures can become loose, leading to water damage in cabinets below. Visually examine seals and test them to see if they feel loose. If so, repair or replace them immediately.
  • Roofs don’t last forever. When purchasing a home, consult a professional home inspector to determine both the age and condition of the roof. Failure to do so may result in a significant amount of expensive damage to the home.

For more information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Ask the Expert: What Do Buyers and Sellers Need to Be Aware of This Summer? appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

Listing This Summer? The Best Investments to Make Outdoors

May 28, 2018 - 3:01pm

Are you listing this summer? Get your outdoors in shape—it can pay off.

According to National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) research, certain exterior improvements are likely to recoup at resale. Based on feedback from REALTORS®—who, through their experience, know what house hunters are ready to spend on—the best enhancements are lawn care, landscape maintenance and tree care, and installing an irrigation system. Landscape/lawn care pays for itself—generally 100 percent of the expense or more is recovered, according to the research—while irrigation has a promising ROI of 86 percent.

For homeowners not selling yet, exterior improvements can be satisfying in and of themselves. Assigning a “Joy Score” from one to 10, with 10 anteing up the most enjoyment, both a fire feature and an irrigation system earned 10s, followed by a new wood deck or water feature (both 9.8s), “statement landscaping” (9.7) and an “overall landscape upgrade” (9.6), the research shows.

“REALTORS® understand that a home’s first impression is its curb appeal, so when it comes time to sell, a well-manicured yard can be just as important as any indoor remodel,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Even homeowners with no immediate plans to sell can gain more enjoyment and satisfaction from their home by taking on a project to revive their outdoor spaces.”

MORE: A Front Door, Flooring and Other ‘Happy’ Home Upgrades

Additionally, appearances matter beyond the residential space. Forty-three percent of REALTORS® have advised a commercial owner to improve the outside of the property, including lawn care, landscape management and an “overall landscape upgrade,” the research shows.

“It is not just homeowners that need to think about curb appeal when it comes time to sell; a beautiful exterior is just as important for commercial property owners,” Mendenhall said. “In fact, 81 percent of REALTORS® said they believe curb appeal is important in attracting a buyer.”

“This report validates that landscaping is an investment worth making, offering the immediate benefits of increased enjoyment of your property, as well as desirable long-term value that holds if or when it comes time to sell,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president, Public Affairs, at the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), which collaborated with NAR on the report. “From lawn and tree care to installing a new fire or water feature or landscape lighting, there’s no shortage of opportunities to enhance your landscape and to reap the benefits these upgrades provide.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Listing This Summer? The Best Investments to Make Outdoors appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

Common Home-Buying Mistakes People Make at Every Age

May 14, 2018 - 2:51pm

(TNS)—No matter the age or life stage, everyone makes mistakes when it comes to home-buying.

Whether it’s picking the wrong location or buying more house than you can afford, the mistakes are often universal, says Ilyce Glink, author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask.”

“When you’re in your 20s, your life isn’t the same as when you’re retired, and yet you’re both going to make timing mistakes,” Glink says. “You may make location mistakes. You may not think about what you need for every stage of your life, so you buy the wrong size home or make a bad money decision.”

Even so, certain age groups are more susceptible to particular missteps than others. Here are common mistakes homeowners make at each age, and a few ways to avoid them.

20s: Getting the Wrong Type of Mortgage
People in their 20s are just starting their careers and usually have less money saved than older homebuyers. For these folks, paying less for a mortgage is not just a priority, but a necessity.

This can be a bad thing if buyers get into an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) thinking they will earn more money down the road, says Michael Corbett, host of Extra’s “Mansions and Millionaires” and author of “Find It, Fix It, Flip It.”

“Younger buyers might get an adjustable-rate mortgage because the rate is really low; it’s like a teaser rate, and they think, ‘I’m going to get it because I’m improving in my job situation or I’ll pay off my student loan’—but if that doesn’t happen then, when interest rates go up in five to seven years, they’re going to see their mortgage rates double or even triple,” Corbett says.

If the rates on ARMs increase dramatically, there’s a chance the borrower will no longer be able to afford their mortgage payment, which could put the house in jeopardy. Before leaping into an ARM with just a dream of a house and a hope for a bigger paycheck, consider other cost-saving alternatives.

Along with popular programs like FHA loans and VA loans, there are other lesser-known initiatives geared to homebuyers on a fixed income. The HUD-sponsored Good Neighbor Next Door program, for example, offers home-buying assistance for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers.

Along with federal money, there are also state-sponsored grants for first-time homebuyers, which you can typically find on your state’s website.

30s: Not Thinking About the Future
Homebuyers in their 30s blunder by not considering a future family when they’re standing in the middle of downtown condo with gorgeous views and access to a rooftop pool. While snagging the ultimate bachelor or bachelorette pad might seem alluring, it can also cost you money down the road, Corbett says.

“What happens is they end up having to sell—maybe not at an appropriate time—the bachelor pad and get into another house,” says Corbett. “Now they’re doing it under duress instead of planning ahead the first time, so there’s a lot of money lost there.”

If you plan on having a family, it’s important to consider that when you’re home shopping, even if you’re currently single. Glink says to ask yourself these questions before buying a home:

  • Who do I imagine living with in the future?
  • Where do I imagine living?
  • How do I imagine living?

Those answers should be an integral part of what you look for in a home. For example, if you think you might want kids or even a dog, you’ll probably want to choose a home with a backyard versus one near a great nightlife.

40s-50s: Overestimating Your Budget
In your 40s and 50s, you tend to have more money, which can lead to overestimating your budget and buying a house you can’t afford. One way to avoid this is to figure out your lifestyle comfort level, Glink says.

“Just because you can afford a $500,000 home doesn’t mean you should buy one,” says Glink. “If you’re married and both you and your spouse are working, figure out whether or not you can afford the mortgage payment if one of you gets laid off.”

Figuring out your budget is a critical step for buyers of all ages. Even experienced homebuyers can make the mistake of spending at their limit, which can mean making sacrifices that they weren’t prepared to make. Use Bankrate’s home affordability calculator to determine how much you should spend.

The takeaway for buyers in their 40s and 50s is to leave room in the budget for things they aren’t willing to give up—for example, private school for the kids.

60s and up: Falling in Love With That Vacation Home
Many homeowners in their 60s are retired or getting ready to retire. Among the many decisions retirees make is where to live. While some choose to stay where they are, many plan on moving to warmer climates, or even another country.

A costly mistake retirees make, Glink says, is going on vacation, falling in love with the place and moving immediately. Relocating and buying a home is an expensive process, so retirees should be sure they familiarize themselves with a new place before buying.

“Too many retirees make the mistake of going on vacation, and they think, ‘Oh my god, this is great,’ and they go home immediately and they sell their house,” says Glink. “They get there and they hate it. They didn’t spend enough time there.”

Before buying a new house in your vacation paradise, be sure to visit the area in every climate. For example, Florida is great in the winter, but many people might not be comfortable in the humid summer months. The same goes for Northern areas—what’s blissful in one season can be awful in another.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Common Home-Buying Mistakes People Make at Every Age appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

How the On-Demand Consumer Has Changed the Real Estate Industry

May 10, 2018 - 3:48pm

Over the last decade, homebuyers have become more tech-savvy, beginning with a simple shift of traditional in-store shopping and REALTOR® office visits to Cyber Monday shopping and searching for house listings online. As the real estate industry continues to grow, consumers have come to adopt, and expect, a self-sufficient, on-demand technology experience, where they have control over the process.

For the Buyer
Having absolute transparency to browsing house listings online has done numerous things for the real estate consumer, including increasing their overall knowledge and convenience, and making it a much more simpler process to buy a home. Consumers can educate themselves on real estate trends and changes in the industry. Rather than waiting on a third party, or real estate agent, to send them a list of houses, the consumer has the freedom to browse online from the comfort of their home.

Outside of the online experience, companies such as OfferPad allow buyers to browse their homes on their own and during their own timeframe. If interested in touring a home, the customer can simply send a text message and instantly gain access to the home. There is no need for an agent to be on-site, and the pressure is removed from the buyer. If the customer is interested in making a purchase offer, they are free to directly work with OfferPad.

For the Seller
Very similar to a buyer, a homeowner selling their home has more transparency into the market, as well. They have a better insight to what the buyer may be looking for, and possibly an inkling of what they think their home may be worth. Those who have sold a house before through the traditional process know that it can be a long and stressful event. Everything from determining what renovations need to be done to the home, keeping it clutter-free for when strangers want to tour it, worrying about how long the home may be on the market, and expenses that come along with each day, then hoping the right buyer doesn’t fall through…the process can be time-consuming.

Recent real estate industry changes have welcomed technology and alternate ways to buy and sell a house. Emerging companies like OfferPad offer a new way for people to move freely. Those who are looking for a more seamless way to sell their home that offers certainty, and removes much of the pain points, are selecting companies to directly buy their home.

With nearly every industry making great strides to support the on-demand consumer, real estate will need to evolve, and continue bringing innovative ideas and solutions to the homebuyer and seller. For those interested in using OfferPad as a different, hassle-free way to move freely, visit offerpad.com, and type in your address and property information. The company will contact you within 24 hours to provide an offer.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post How the On-Demand Consumer Has Changed the Real Estate Industry appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

How to Avoid a Low Home Appraisal

May 3, 2018 - 3:05pm

(TNS)—Even when a seller and buyer agree on a price for a home, the deal can collapse if the property appraises for less than that price.

For example, let’s say a seller lists his house for $325,000, the buyer offers $275,000, but they settle on $300,000. A week before closing, the appraisal comes in at $265,000. That’s the maximum price for which the lender is willing to offer a mortgage.

Who’s going to make up the $35,000 difference?

In this case, the seller has already come down on the price and doesn’t want to lower it again, and the buyer may not have enough cash to cover the shortfall, or does not want to pay more for the house than its appraised value.

As a result, the deal falls through.

What Causes a Low Appraisal
Short appraisals are common in declining housing markets because the lack of recent comparable home sales in the area, or “comps,” make it hard for appraisers to determine the current market value of a property.

When home sales slow down, good comps “age” quickly. Add foreclosures and short sales to the mix and appraisals can run all over the map.

The Home Valuation Code of Conduct, or HVCC, which went into effect in May 2009, compounded the problem. The HVCC prohibits Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lenders from having direct contact with appraisers.

As a result, most lenders work through appraisal management companies, or AMCs, whose pool of residential appraisers includes those with limited training or little familiarity with the geographic area being appraised.

Know How to Protect Yourself
You can protect yourself from low appraisals. Here are some suggestions for buyers and sellers.

If you’re a buyer:

  • Tell your lender to find an appraiser who comes from your county, or perhaps a neighboring county. After all, you’re paying for the appraisal.
  • Ask that the appraiser have a residential appraiser certification and a professional designation. Examples include the Appraisal Institute’s Senior Residential Appraiser, or SRA, or member of the Appraisal Institute, or MAI, designations.
  • Meet the appraiser when he inspects the home and share your knowledge of recent short sales and foreclosures that could skew the comps. You can speak with your appraiser; the prohibition applies only to your lender.

If you’re a seller:

  • Get an appraisal before you list a home. Search for a qualified appraiser in your area on the Appraisal Institute site.
  • Use the appraisal to set a realistic listing price for your home.
  • Give a copy of your prelisting appraisal to the buyer’s appraiser.
  • Question a low appraisal. There’s always a chance the appraiser or a supervisor will take into account new or overlooked information.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post How to Avoid a Low Home Appraisal appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

Silent Killers: Managing Transactions With Hazardous Home Conditions

May 2, 2018 - 3:50pm

Mold. Radon. Lead.

For many homebuyers, these are words that strike fear and introduce uncertainty into a real estate transaction. Depending on how severe the conditions are, they not only may be hazardous to the health of the home dwellers, but also may be deal-killers, as well.

So, what’s the best way to manage a transaction in which inspections reveal the ugly truth behind a typically picture-perfect home? The answer isn’t simple, as it largely depends on the severity of these hazardous home conditions, the location of the home and the temperament of the buyer.

Where Are They Found?
In many areas across the U.S., high radon levels are more commonplace than the discovery of lead and mold. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), higher concentrations of radon are most commonly found in the Northeast, Midwest, Southern Appalachia and Northern Plains regions. According to Radon.com, the highest levels are found in Pennsylvania, averaging 8.6pCi/L, followed by South Dakota at 9.6pCi/L.

In the Westchester area of New York, hazardous levels of mold are not as common except within distressed properties, but high radon levels are more expected.

“Much of Westchester is built atop bedrock and granite, and older homes tend to have porous stone foundations,” says Melissa Colabella, a real estate salesperson with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty Irvington in New York. “I have only a few select clients who buy and sell distressed properties, which is a market where mold is an issue, but they typically buy the homes in cash and expect to gut it to the studs anyway. In the high-end residential market, you will not see many situations involving mold, but even luxury homes are prone to fluctuating radon gas.”

Lead, however, appears within areas that have older homes. Any homeowners looking to sell property built before 1978 must complete a lead disclosure. Areas such as Boston, Mass., are host to a multitude of older homes, which were typically constructed using lead pipes, along with lead-based paint.

“In Greater Boston, we have a majority of older homes, so lead is most common, then radon and mold only on occasion,” says Paul Mydelski, founder and chairman of RE/MAX Leading Edge in Boston.

And as Andrew Northrup, broker at Jameson Sotheby’s International Realty in Chicago, Ill., has experienced, these three conditions can fluctuate in severity and occurrence even within the boundaries of a single city.

“I’ve found radon, lead and mold in many different areas of the city and suburb,” says Northrup. “City radon levels are on a lower scale in the suburbs, but new developments in both areas can have higher levels of radon from the displacement of ground materials during construction. For lead, condos and single-family homes built before 1978 can potentially contain lead-based paint. Mold can be an issue in many homes in the city and suburbs where below-grade space is used, and in attics where improper ventilation is present.”

What Is the Biggest Challenge?
Regardless of what the levels of mold, radon and lead are, homebuyers are by far the biggest obstacle when trying to close a transaction with any of these conditions.

“The biggest challenge of managing a transaction with high levels of radon, lead or mold is actually trying to tamp it down with the client,” says Mydelski. “Our job is to guide the client through the options of tools to repair the issue.”

And often, as Colabella has experienced in her own business, parents can become an obstructing force even if the conditions can be easily remediated.

“Radon is a fairly simple mitigation process costing roughly $1,500-$2,000 in [Westchester, N.Y.],” says Colabella. “It’s hard to tell a first-time homebuyer that radon gas is not a deal-breaker when their family members say it is. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that fluctuates, and if you don’t have it during your initial home inspection, you may still detect traces in the future—and while a client may trust their REALTOR®, they will always trust their parents more.”

Agents should begin educating buyers on these conditions at the start of the buyer-agent relationship. Familiarizing buyers with the terminology, possible severity and options for mitigation will ensure they are not caught off guard and scared away during inspections.

“It’s important that REALTORS® educate their buyers on potential hazardous home conditions by providing them with the EPA’s educational pamphlets,” says Northrup. “Also, connecting them with licensed professionals that test and/or offer remediation services can help to set proper expectations on how to best deal with the issue and the potential costs. This information can also be provided to the seller to then negotiate a mutual solution.”

How Can Agents and Homeowners Be Proactive?
Agents should have scripts regarding property conditions for sellers, as well as buyers. Depending on the condition, there are steps that homeowners can take to ensure their own safety and safeguard against inspection complications when it’s time to sell; however, if these issues are not resolved before the home is listed, agents should inquire about any known problems so they may be disclosed to potential buyers.

“When representing a seller, it’s imperative that they disclose any current known issue to a buyer at the beginning of the transaction to alleviate improper expectations about the condition of the home,” says Northrup.

For homeowners looking to sell, Colabella recommends they get a pre-inspection and resolve the major issues or risk losing more money than what they would spend to remediate the problem.

“Radon tests are inexpensive at $125 and worth conducting every few years, especially if you are living in your basement,” says Colabella.

There are also steps that homeowners can take, not only to monitor levels of radon and watch for mold, but also to prevent these conditions from becoming hazardous to their health. It’s all about knowing what to look for, according to Northrup.

“For radon, keep in mind that any environmental changes to the ground area of the home—or adjacent area due to new construction or an addition to your existing home—could cause elevated radon,” says Northrup. “For lead, monitor for peeling interior and exterior paint. If sanding or removing old walls, remediation experts should be utilized for proper removal of dust and debris. For mold, monitor areas prone to moisture and humidity, such as finished basements and attic areas. Make sure these areas are low-humidity and are properly ventilated.”

With the help of technology, homeowners can better spot these conditions before they become dangerous. For example, a new radon testing tool, Airthings Wave, provides real-time data of indoor radon levels to homeowners who can simply wave their hand in front of the detector to find out if levels are healthy, temporarily high or dangerous and unhealthy. For homeowners, knowing about these problems before they transform into unlivable conditions (especially with mold) can be the difference between a quick fix and a financially devastating one.

“Most sellers do not do any testing or take any precautionary measures with lead unless they are planning renovations,” says Mydelski. “With radon, if you know you have high levels, in most cases, it’s actually relatively inexpensive to mitigate. Mold can be tricky because it is not always easy to discover, but just keeping dehumidifiers going and keeping things dry can be a homeowner’s best start.”

When Does It Make Sense to Back Out?
Not every transaction is created equal when these conditions factor in. While some mold problems are nothing to worry about, others may be beyond the scope of a simple remediation process and are a much too costly fix for the homebuyer.

“If I’m representing a buyer facing a $30,000 mold remediation project and sellers do not renegotiate the price (assuming mold is not taken into consideration in the price), then they should back out,” says Colabella. “But not all mold is created equal, meaning that it is not all expensive or dangerous. In situations where buyers are backing out due to small traces of harmless mold then, ultimately, they will lose a few households before they get comfortable enough to handle it.”

When it comes to lead or asbestos, their presence alone should not set off red flags for a transaction as, in most cases, they are easy to encapsulate with a new coat of paint or coverings for pipes and floors.

“Asbestos was widely used during a certain period and is not necessarily an issue,” says Colabella. “The fibers are hazardous when aggravated. I had a client walk right out of a house when she saw asbestos tile in the basement, but you can put tile on top of asbestos flooring and never aggravate it, making it a non-issue. Asbestos wrapped pipes are more concerning, but also easily remediated and often by the seller. These are not great reasons to walk away from a house you love.”

Looking beyond costs, it’s essential to gauge if a situation merits resolving or if the home poses too much of a safety and investment risk. The EPA estimates that radon causes 21,000 cancer-related deaths each year, while exposure to aggravated lead can lead to reduced growth of the fetus and premature births in pregnant women, as well as growth, behavioral and learning problems in children. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found evidence that exposure to mold can lead to upper respiratory tract symptoms and illnesses in otherwise healthy individuals.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Silent Killers: Managing Transactions With Hazardous Home Conditions appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

5 Home Inspection Mistakes Buyers and Sellers Make

April 22, 2018 - 12:01pm

(TNS)— A home inspection is an assessment of a home’s condition. Home inspectors not only identify problems with houses; they can give buyers information that will help them with the upkeep.

“We want to teach them how to maintain the property because it’s the biggest investment they’ll ever make,” says Alden E. Gibson, a past president of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

If you’re getting a home inspection, here are five mistakes to avoid.

Not Researching the Inspector
Too many buyers and sellers hire whoever is recommended to them without doing any research. The inspection is only as good as the inspector doing it, says Troy Bloxom, owner of Home Inspections Plus near Anchorage, Alaska, and past president of the National Association of Home Inspectors.

A few questions to ask:
·      How long have you been inspecting homes?
·      How many inspections have you done?
·      What are your qualifications, certifications and training?
·      What was your job before you were a home inspector? (Ideally, your pro was in contracting or building.)

You want a certified professional who stays current.

“There’s a lot of stuff you have to know, and you want someone who’s keeping up with ongoing education,” says Kurt Mitenbuler, who is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and owns an inspection company in Evanston, Ill.

You’re looking for an inspector who can analyze the home’s strengths and weaknesses, then explain them.

Not Attending the Inspection
Being present for the inspection may not be mandatory, but it’s a smart idea. Simply reading the inspection report isn’t enough to give most homeowners the full picture, Gibson says: “If they don’t see it, they don’t understand it.”

Gibson says he turns down dozens of inspections a year “because people can’t be there or don’t want to be there.”

The inspection might take an entire morning or afternoon, so set aside enough time. Some inspectors will sit with you afterward to explain things and answer questions.

“Any home inspector who doesn’t let you follow him around? That’s weird. Ask me any question you want,” Mitenbuler says.

A good inspector can give you an estimate of how much you’ll need to spend on repairs and upgrades, which is very valuable information as you consider your budget.

Not Reading the Inspection Report
Too many buyers and sellers just glance at the inspection report. You need someone who uses “clear, concise” language in person and in written reports, Mitenbuler says. He recommends scanning a few reports by checking the inspector’s website or asking for a sample report.

A knowledgeable pro will state simply what’s wrong with the house and what it will take to fix, Mitenbuler says.

Not Getting a Presale Inspection
Many sellers decide to leave the presale inspection to the buyers, Bloxom says. That’s a mistake.

When the buyers get an inspection (and if they’re smart, they will), the sellers may have little time to complete repairs and keep the sale on track, Bloxom says.

But if the seller has the home inspected before putting it on the market, he has more time to do repairs and to shop around and control his costs for the work, Bloxom says.

Both buyers and sellers often wait too long to engage an inspector, Gibson says. You should find an inspector long before you have (or make) an offer on a home. “Any good inspector will be booked out,” he says.

Not Prepping the Home
Inspectors get annoyed when homeowners don’t prepare their houses for inspection.

“Don’t force the home inspector to empty the closet to get into the attic,” Mitenbuler says. If you have a crawl-space hatch, move anything sitting on top of it.

Got a lock on a utility closet, basement or shed? The inspector needs access, so open it or provide keys.

For a seller, the best tack is to be at home to meet the inspector, introduce yourself, provide your mobile number, and then you can take off, Mitenbuler says.

To reduce the need for repeat inspections, hire professionals to do repairs, Bloxom says. Too many sellers will try DIY or get them done on the cheap, but poor workmanship will show up during the follow-up inspection, Bloxom says, and could result in more repairs—and another inspection.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post 5 Home Inspection Mistakes Buyers and Sellers Make appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

Keys to Buying a Second Home

April 1, 2018 - 12:00pm

(TNS)—If you’ve been thinking about buying a second home, now is a good time to take the leap. Mortgage rates are still historically low.

But there are some vital things to do before you start shopping. Follow these steps to make buying a second home a smooth process:

The best way to start the search for a second home is to find a real estate agent who is familiar with your desired location. This person could provide you information about neighborhoods, market prices and the pros and cons of particular properties.

With an eye toward the long-term value of a property, the agent could fill you in on price histories and how comparable sales have fared, and resale prospects. Factors that tend to help properties hold or increase in value are proximity to a major metropolitan area, ease of access and the availability of year-round amenities.

Factor in additional costs. Today’s second-homebuyers are more interested in enjoying their properties rather than getting a quick return on their investment.

Still, you should consider that you will be away from the property a lot of the time, which usually entails additional costs, such as having a management company check the place in your absence for water leaks, frozen pipes and other problems.

Getting insurance for a second home may be more challenging than it is for a primary residence. If you are considering a second home on the beach, for example, you’ll need flood insurance in addition to regular home insurance. It has become more difficult to get flood insurance in coastal communities, and the cost has increased greatly in some markets.

Be sure you can afford two mortgages. You have to qualify for a second-home mortgage, which is on top of any mortgage debt on your primary home.

Typically, you will need to make a down payment of at least 10 percent, meet credit standards and debt-to-income requirements, and provide documents for income and asset verification.

If you have a good relationship with the mortgage lender on your primary residence, that might be a good place to start your quest for a second-home mortgage.

Take into account the tax implications of your purchase. If you use your home as a true second home, you could get a deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes, just as you do with your first-home mortgage.

Be aware that under the new federal tax law, the cap to the mortgage interest deduction will be lowered from $1 million to $750,000. So if you already have a $750,000 mortgage and get a loan for a vacation home, you won’t be able to deduct the interest on the second mortgage.

If you rent out your second home, you will have to consider additional tax ramifications, particularly if the rental period extends beyond 14 days a year.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Keys to Buying a Second Home appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

Ask the Expert: Can a Home Inspection Help the Mortgage Process Along?

March 27, 2018 - 3:43pm

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: Should sellers get a home inspection to help the mortgage process along?

A: If you’re a seller, it behooves you to get your own home inspection prior to putting your house on the market. But why spend money on one when the buyer will surely get their own?

Buyers that see a recent home inspection along with the listing sheet already realize that the asking price of the home is likely justified. They can rest assured that there are no scary surprises waiting for them upon closing. And you can hasten an offer by having that report right in front of serious buyers when they’re considering putting in an offer.

This also establishes a sense of trust between the buyer and the seller from the start. It shows the buyer that you care enough to get details and minor problems with the house detected and fixed before they even put in an offer.

If your home inspector shows you minor items that may come up in the buyer’s home inspection, you can have the issues looked at and repaired before the buyer even has their report done. You will have time for bids on a job instead of rushing to pay a higher price for the work, or, worse, having to deduct from the agreed upon price. In fact, you can show the report and a receipt proving the problem was already addressed by a licensed professional.

Having a good report readily available also shows the buyer that you’ve most likely been maintaining the property all along, which is another terrific plus when selling.

Mitigating risk is key when selling a home. Since laws regarding disclosures vary from state to state, for the most part, you as the seller are responsible even after a closing if something has been hidden or unreported to the buyer. Taking the time to have your own inspection will allow you to have repairs made for a cost that suits your budget, instead of having to deal with credits the buyer may ask for as the result of their home inspection. By getting a pre-inspection, you have proof that home maintenance issues, to the best of your knowledge, didn’t exist at the time of sale.

The only instance when it may not pay for a seller to proceed with a pre-inspection is when they’re selling a fixer-upper. In this case, the buyer already knows what to expect, and they should have a thorough home inspection completed before signing on the dotted line.

For more information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Ask the Expert: Can a Home Inspection Help the Mortgage Process Along? appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

6 Things You Must Do Before Buying a Home

March 27, 2018 - 3:37pm

(TNS)—Buying a home is a huge investment—probably the most significant purchase of your life. It’s not something you should do without preparation.

Before you start on the road to homeownership, make sure you are ready.

Improve your credit score.
A high credit score snags you the best deals. “Below 660 or 680, you’re either going to have to pay sizable fees or a higher down payment,” says Barry Zigas, director of Housing Policy for the Consumer Federation of America.

A score of 700 to 720 can get you a good deal, and 750 and above can garner the best rates on the market.

Pull your credit reports and make sure you’re not penalized for old, paid or settled debts.

Stop applying for new credit a year before you apply for a mortgage. Keep the moratorium in place until after you close on your home.

Figure out what you can afford.
There are various ways to determine how much house you can afford. If you’re using an FHA loan, your monthly payment can’t exceed 31 percent of your monthly income. The FHA will let you go higher under some circumstances.

For conventional loans, home expenses should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income, says Susan Tiffany, retired director of Personal Finance Publications for adults for the Credit Union National Association, or CUNA.

Use Bankrate’s calculator to figure out how much house you can afford. Add to that other housing expenses, such as taxes, insurance and utilities. Then, bank the difference between that total and what you’re paying now.

Save for a down payment and closing costs.
You’ll need to save between 3 percent and 20 percent of the house price for a down payment. Your credit history and loan terms help determine how much you’ll need to come up with.

For example, with an FHA loan, the down payment requirement can be as low as 3.5 percent. You’ll need a credit score of at least 580. Home loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, require no down payment.

Another cash expense will be closing costs. The national average for closing costs for a $200,000 mortgage is $2,084, according to Bankrate’s latest survey.

If a big down payment is a hardship, look for down payment assistance. Search online using the city name, the county name and key word combinations such as “down payment assistance,” “first-time homebuyers” or “homebuyer’s assistance.”

Down payment assistance often is based on location or reserved for particular buyers, such as first-time buyers. In a buyer’s market, you can negotiate to have the seller pay a portion of the closing costs.

Build a healthy savings account.
Building up your savings—not just for a home—is very important. Your lender wants to know that you’re not living paycheck to paycheck. If you have three to five months’ worth of mortgage payments set aside, you’re a much better loan candidate. Some lenders and backers, like the FHA, will give you more latitude on other criteria if they see that you have a cash cushion.

That money will also help pay for maintenance and repairs of the home. Most repairs are sporadic, but big-ticket fixes such as a new roof or water heater can come up suddenly and drain your budget.

A good rule of thumb is to assume that you’ll spend 2.5 to 3 percent of your home’s value each year on upkeep and repairs. If you buy a $250,000 home, aim to save $520 to $625 per month.

Get preapproved for a mortgage.
Before you start house shopping, you should get your financing in place.

“The No. 1 thing is (homebuyers) better have everything in order,” says Dick Gaylord, of RE/MAX Real Estate Specialists in Long Beach, Calif., and a former president of the National Association of REALTORS®.

Gaylord says you should get a mortgage preapproval “before you walk through the first house.” Otherwise, “How do you know how much you can afford?”

Buy a house you like.
Short-term homeownership can be expensive, depending on how much you put down and what it cost you to sell your old house and move.

To get a home that will make you happy, don’t count on a quick purchase. Step back and make certain the house you’re considering is one that will fit the needs of you and your family.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post 6 Things You Must Do Before Buying a Home appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

What to Consider When Selling Your Home in a Rising Rate Environment

March 13, 2018 - 3:23pm

There are many economic variables to consider when selling your home when interest rates are rising. If that’s the only changing economic variable, you’re generally going to see a negative impact on both home sales and home prices. This means as interest rates rise, the buyer pool for your home is going to shrink.

In 2008, the Federal Reserve set rates at 0.25 percent because of the recession and the lack of buyer confidence or demand. Since then, buyer confidence and buyer demand have risen. In December 2015, rates climbed to 0.5 percent and continued to rise to where they are today at 1.5 percent. The Fed has noted rates will rise to 2 percent in 2018 and then 3 percent by 2020.

What Happens to the Ability to Sell Your Home With These Rises in Interest Rates?
If interest rates rise 1 percent and all other economic factors remain the same, purchasing power for homebuyers will decrease by just over 11 percent; therefore, every quarter-percent (0.25 percent) rise of interest rates reduces homebuyer purchasing power by 3 percent.

That means for a home purchase of $300,000, a 1 percent interest rate rise reduces buying power to just under $267,000. So, someone who potentially may have been able to purchase your home may no longer have the buying power to do so. This creates a smaller buyer pool and less demand for your home. It’s also likely to increase supply as fewer people are able to purchase homes.

If mortgage rates rise, it becomes more probable for indecisive buyers to rush into the market, and the short term will likely see a decent boost; however, it could add extra pressure if rates continue to rise without leveling out.

While interest rates play a role in the housing market, there are a variety of personal and economic factors to consider, as well.

What Other Economic Factors Play a Role?
Supply and demand play crucial roles in determining the movement of home prices. If supply goes up, home prices go down. If supply goes down, home prices will probably go up. If demand increases, home prices mostly likely will as well; however, if fewer people are looking to buy homes, then prices will most likely decrease. As a seller, these are important factors to consider when putting your home on the market.

The sale of new homes is another factor to consider alongside rising interest rates because supply and demand will always play a factor in the home-buying process. Supply increases when new homes are created. Assuming that interest rates don’t rise too rapidly, paying attention to new-home inventory levels will give you an indication of what to expect as a seller.

Monthly income, as it relates to monthly mortgage payments, is a more important variable to gauge than interest rates alone. Your debt-to-income ratio plays a larger factor in your ability to qualify for a mortgage than interest rates alone. When monthly income rises, your ability to absorb higher interest rates does, as well. This means that as long as people are making more money, they’ll also be able to pay off any increase in debts.

When the real estate market crashed in 2007-2008, monthly payments of principal and interest were nearing 25 percent of the U.S. median family monthly income. Even with a rise in interest rates, Americans are currently seeing the highest monthly median income in the last 35 years. Because of this, the percentage of monthly income going toward monthly payments is still well below levels that analysts consider dangerous.

Overall, we seem much more hesitant to take out mortgages than we have been in the past.

One of the largest surprises is the percentage of all-cash transactions for home purchases. Even with interest rates at historic lows, the percentage of all-cash transactions is higher than normal because we’re more cautious about taking on debt than we have been in recent decades.

High stock market valuations allow people to diversify their percentage of assets, cash out and reinvest in real estate to keep their portfolio balanced.

The number of distressed properties is a result of a strong job environment. This allows folks to pay their mortgages without defaulting, while also helping to keep prices up even with a rise in interest rates.

While interest rates play a large factor in selling your home for top dollar, they’re in no way the only deciding factor. All of the factors mentioned above should be taken into consideration before you rush into selling your home because of high interest rates.

Ryan Fitzgerald is the founder of Raleigh Realty, a local real estate firm in Raleigh, N.C., that specializes in helping people find great homes for sale online.

This appeared first on ZING! by Quicken Loans. For more information, please visit realestate.quickenloans.com/.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post What to Consider When Selling Your Home in a Rising Rate Environment appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate

4 Ways to Prepare for a Competitive Spring Home-Buying Season

March 4, 2018 - 1:05pm

(TNS)—With housing inventory far lower than demand and mortgage rates poised to rise, it’s going to be a competitive market for homebuyers this spring.

If you’re looking to buy a home this season, here’s how to prepare yourself to enter the fray. 

Get your financial house in order.
Unless you plan on paying for the house in cash, you’ll need to apply for a mortgage. No matter how streamlined the process is, you’ll still need to gather a significant amount of documentation to give an accurate financial picture to the lender.

Before you even begin house shopping, look at your credit report to make sure there are no errors that could affect your score. Also, pay off any delinquent bills and reduce any other debts you owe so that your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is favorable. Use a calculator to figure out your DTI and see if you need to make changes. Your goal is to look as attractive to lenders as possible so that you are you approved and can get the best rate on a loan.

Make sure you’ll qualify for a mortgage.
In order to get a mortgage, lenders want to know you’ll be able to meet your monthly obligations no matter what. This means they’ll ask to see your entire financial situation including employment history, salary, savings, investments, debts and anything else that makes up your net worth. Use a prequalifying mortgage calculator to get an idea of what size loan is right for your needs.

Even if you think you’re a strong candidate, never assume you’ll automatically qualify with the first lender you contact. Lenders’ guidelines have become stricter since the housing crisis of 2008, and you could lose out on the house you want if you can’t close on a loan. “Sometimes one deficiency can be offset by another strength. For example, if you have a higher DTI ratio, saving up enough to put a bigger down payment can help,” says Bill Banfield, executive vice president of Capital Markets for Quicken Loans. 

Choose the right REALTOR®.
Unless you’re a seasoned pro, having a REALTOR® on your side can make a big difference.

“An experienced agent will know what could happen that might make a deal fall apart and how to keep that from happening,” says Dori Summer, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in Coral Springs, Fla.

Making an offer on a house in a competitive market can require more than just a willingness to pay the price. If a seller has to choose between multiple buyers, they’re likely to choose the one that’s coming to them with the best overall package. A good agent will present your offer along with other information, including your ability to get a loan, how much you’re able to put down and anything else that might make you more appealing than someone else vying for the same property.

Be prepared to pay the price.
Home prices in close to two-thirds of the housing market are at an all-time high, according to a February 2018 report by the National Association of REALTORS®.

“Sellers in this current market get at least 95 percent of their asking price,” says Samona Rosenberg, a licensed real estate agent with Stein Posner Real Estate Services in Boca Raton, Fla.

If you see the house you want and you know it’s in your budget, it may not make sense to hold out to see if the price will drop.

“The best properties all have multiple offers,” says Erik Williams, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty in Cambridge, Mass. “If it’s a desirable property, it’s desirable to buyers. The people that I see get places under agreement are the most prepared people and the most aggressive.”

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post 4 Ways to Prepare for a Competitive Spring Home-Buying Season appeared first on RISMedia.

Categories: Real Estate