Archives for June 2018

6 Don'ts When Buying Your First Home

6 Don'ts When Buying Your First Home

These are exciting times. You’ve finally outgrown apartment life or living with your parents or sharing a place with waaaaayyyyy too many roommates, and you’re ready to take the leap to homeownership. Now it’s time to prepare. As you embark on this journey, beware of six important don’ts that could potentially derail your purchase.

Don’t think it’s too early to get prequalified

So, you’re just going to go out “looking” at houses, you say? The time when you just expect to drive around a little and maybe visit an open house or two is obviously the time when you’re going to fall in love with a house and want to make a move on it right away. If you’re not already prequalified with a lender, you may not have a chance at it. Competition is fierce across the country thanks to low inventory, and well-maintained, move-in ready homes do not sit if they’re priced right. Talk to a lender now to make sure you can qualify – and learn your max budget – even if you just think you’re casually looking (because that can change in a hurry!).

Don’t wait to the last minute to check credit

As a continuation of the casually looking conversation…you want to check your credit the second you start thinking about buying a home. You never know what’s going to be on there. Even if you’ve never missed a payment and have always done a good job of managing your outstanding debt, there could be errors on your report that you’re unaware of or even something from many years ago that you didn’t realize had been reported to a credit agency. Those little boo-boos, accurate or not, could be hurting your score, and a low score could keep you from getting a mortgage at all. Give yourself time to correct errors or fix blemishes; every tick upward can help you get a better rate and make your home more affordable.

Don’t forget about PMI when calculating your monthly expenses

The idea of putting as little down as possible on your new home is attractive, especially if you’re not a natural saver. Today, that can mean just three percent of your purchase price, depending on the loan. For FHA loans, it’s three and one-half percent. The problem with making the minimum down payment is that you then have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

“PMI is a fee you pay on your mortgage until you owe 80 percent or less of what your home is worth. It’s one reason why so many experts advise homebuyers make a 20 percent down payment; if you do, you avoid the evils of paying PMI,” said Student Loan Hero. “PMI can cost between 0.3 percent and 1.15 percent of your loan annually. Depending on how much you borrow, that can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs until you can cancel your PMI.”

Don’t ignore the closing costs

Many of us micro-focus on the down payment when getting ready to buy our first home, but there is another important expense related to the purchase: The closing costs. Closing costs encompass a wide variety of fees, some or all of which may apply to you depending on where and what you’re buying. They can include everything from the application fee and appraisal to the escrow fee to the home and pest inspection to the recording fees. You’re looking at between two and five percent of your purchase price for closing fees, which can definitely add up. Many first-time buyers fail to factor this in when getting ready to purchase, and you don’t want something that could amount to a few thousand dollars or more to come as an 11th-hour surprise.

Don’t forget to factor in all the monthly expenses

New-home communities often quote a monthly payment that looks quite affordable and that can entice buyers who don’t look more closely. That’s because the payment is based on principal and interest only (Typically, you’ll see a star next to the payment that tells you there’s a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.). If you take a look at the small print, you’ll see that there are also taxes and insurance to factor in. In some cases, there is also a homeowner’s association fee. That monthly payment may not be looking so good anymore.

If you’re buying your first home and coming from an apartment or other rental property, you may not have worked things like a gardener into your monthly budget. You’ll also want to consider that if you’re going up in square footage, there could an increase in your utilities, and you may be taking on payments for things like water and trash that were covered by your rental. It’s best to have a true idea of what your monthly expenses are going to look like when buying your first home so you don’t end up in over your head.

Don’t think you can go it alone

Can you buy a home without an agent? Sure. Is it a good idea? Not usually. It could be that you are looking to buy a home that is for sale by owner. “In the industry, we call these types of sellers unrepresented,” said The Balance. “Beware if you are trying to buy a home directly from an unrepresented seller. Odds are the seller won’t know what she is doing or she might be taking advantage of you; either way, it could be problematic.”

Unless you are a real estate attorney or are otherwise connected to the industry and aware of the laws, contract issues, etc., it’s best for you to have representation, regardless of what type of home you are buying.

Source: Buying Tips

Want To Buy And Renovate A Property Overseas? 9 Things To Consider

Want To Buy And Renovate A Property Overseas? 9 Things To Consider

If you’ve ever seen a movie like under the Tuscan sun, you’ve undoubtedly had your own Italian farmhouse renovation fantasy. But how real is it to think about buying property in a place that requires changing currency and a long plane ride?

“Buying and restoring a fixer-upper in another country…It can be an appealing idea,” said Huffington Post. “Houses in need of some tender loving care can be bought below market value and, when renovated, can resell for a nice profit. This is especially true in countries where labor costs are low. Using local labor and local materials (hardwoods, stone, etc.), you can add a lot of perceived value for not a lot of money.”

But, that doesn’t mean the process is easy. Think: Permit issues, trying to manage a delicate process from halfway around the world, and all the typical issues associated with renovating an older property – magnified by all that international intrigue. Still interested? We’re breaking down the particulars. 

Carefully consider the location

The image above is of a multi-use building next to the Trevi Fountain in Rome. The first floor comprises several shops, a café, and a Gelateria. On the second floor: Apartments. The two remaining floors are empty and in need of major restoration and renovation. Imagine the potential of these apartments, simply for the views alone. And, imagine the undertaking! But mostly, imagine the demand for modern, renovated apartments here, right in the center of town, mere footsteps from one of the city’s most spectacular sights.

“Location, Location, Location. The old adage about location is true,” said Expat Focus. “Picking the right location is as important as the property. Picking the wrong one can be a nightmare. Think carefully about your requirements and if an abandoned property in the middle of nowhere seems remote on viewing, it will be even more so when living there.”

Work with professionals who specialize in renovating older properties

Yes, moving to England for a year to renovate your old farmhouse sounds dreamy. But, let’s be practical. There are few among us who can uproot our lives that way (But, if you do it, please take us with you!). Bucket list aside, there are far more reasons to consider purchasing an overseas property to renovate than because you’re having an Eat Pray Love moment. And whether you’re looking to move into the property some day or renovate it sell for profit, you want to do it right, which is why working with the right people is so important.

“London is filled with period homes, and owning one of these homes has become a hot commodity in the London property market,” said The Resident. “The issue, however, is that while the outside of these homes are timeless and grand, the interiors don’t always match up.” Property management company Huntsmore focuses on renovating these period homes. “Very often we will assess a property and the walls and floors aren’t straight, or the original plaster work is out of shape,” they said. “Many of these period properties have been converted, sometimes very badly, into flats, with no regard for practicality or aesthetics. We see odd pipework boxed in, poor space configuration and many of the original cornicing and fireplaces removed. One of the main issues is that many of the problems associated with renovating a period home are not identified until the works have started and the property has been gutted. We try to identify as many of these possible hurdles as possible in the design phase to avoid delays and keep the project on track.”

Make sure it’s legal

Buying an international property may not be as easy as hopping on a plane, and, in some cases, it might not even be legal. Different places have different requirements, so be sure to check before you go off and purchase an old Victorian on a whim while on vacation halfway around the world. “Non-Bahamians must register any purchase with the Foreign Investments Board, and special permits are required,” said International Living. “Non-Croatians can purchase real estate in this country if they have approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” You can check International Living for a country-by-country guide.

Get your finances in order

“One of the biggest hurdles to buying real estate in another country can be coming up with the capital required to close on the purchase,” said U.S. News & World Report. “In much of the world, financing isn’t easy to organize. In some places financing is not possible at all for foreign buyers.” Cash is king around the world, and, in some places, it’s not just king, but also emperor.

Know your buyer

You’ll likely have a more limited buyer base in an international market, and knowing precisely who might bite on your home will drive your renovation. Are you in an area that attracts families, or are you mainly looking at retirees seeking retirement far from their current reality?

“Unless you plan to live in the home forever yourself, do your best to imagine who your resale buyer might be from the start, before beginning the restoration work,” said Huffington Post. “If you plan to rent the property, identify your target renter. If your resale buyer will likely be a retiree, you’ll make different choices than if you think you might be reselling to a family with children, for example. The differences have implications for both the work you do and the location you pick.”

Make a friend

Finding a potential goldmine when it comes to any renovation project is often about who you know. Keep your eyes open when traveling, and talk to the people you meet. Sure, there are real estate companies who can help you locate properties for sale, in addition to helping you renovate, but they may not know that the great aunt of the neighbor of the shopkeeper where you bought souvenirs is thinking about selling her incredible old place with the impossible view of the Aegean.

Think about power

Buying an international property can come with a number of particulars you may not previously have thought about, and electricity is a big one. “Unless you want to get embroiled in a lengthy and costly planning application, avoid properties not connected to main electricity,” said Expat Focus. “Despite some estate agents’ claims connection is just a telephone call away, this is not the case most of the time.”

Recycle

If you’re buying abroad, you’re almost certainly buying an older property. That can mean charming period details, but it can also mean outdated function and features. Remember when you’re renovating that you don’t need to ditch all the old to bring in the new. Save what you can and put it back, or use it in a whole new way. Working with tradespeople who are committing to reusing and recycling materials will save you money, aid the environment, and help you create a standout property.

Pay attention to local zoning laws

You can be the most experienced renovator in your state, or country, for that matter, and still feel completely out of your element when you go international. That could mean rules and laws you’re not aware of.

“Check to see if it is a listed (historic or heritage) building,” said Plaza Estates. “If it is, there may be some restrictions on what you can do when renovating.

“Beware of the local planning laws. Depending on the type of renovation you are undertaking, it would be wise to check with the local planning authority. Not all renovations will require planning permission, but it’s prudent to check if you are planning a major renovation.”

Source: Buying Tips

Emerging Trends Threaten Housing

Emerging Trends Threaten Housing

Household growth has increased over the last three years, millennials are stepping up, and home prices have recovered from recession lows. So what is there to worry about? Not much on the surface, but there are some emerging trends that suggest good times won’t continue for much longer in the housing market.

Rising housing costs

According to the latest from Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University State of the Nation’s Housing, the cost of housing has outpaced incomes to the point that almost one-third (38 million) U.S. households are cost burdened, meaning they pay 30 percent or more of their incomes for housing in 2016. Worse, 47 percent of renter households (28.8 million) are cost-burdened, with over half paying more than 50 percent of their incomes for housing.

The price of a typical existing home sold in 2017 was more than four times the median income, compared to just over three in 1987.

Tepid wage growth

While there’s been growth in wages in recent years, it hasn’t kept up with inflation, and certainly hasn’t kept up with housing. The real median income of households in the bottom quartile increased only 3 percent between 1988 and 2016, while the median income for adults aged 25 to 34 rose by just 5 percent.

Meanwhile, the median home price grew 41 percent faster than inflation between 1990 and 2016, the median rent grew 20 percent faster. Adding insult to injury, 2.5 million rental units priced below $800 serving households earning up to $32,000 annually were lost between 1990 and 2016.

Income Inequality

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition attests that there’s not one state, county or metropolitan area in the entire United States where a full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour can afford a modest 2-bedroom apartment. They need three times that amount, or $22.10 to afford a modest two-bedroom rental.

According to real estate analyst John Burns, the problem is the shrinking middle class, which is diminishing demand for median-priced housing. “Among households headed by those under age 65, middle-income households plunged from 57% of American households in 1970 to only 45% today – a decline of 12%. The result has been a 7% increase in the percentage of households who earn more than double the US median income, from 12% in 1970 to 19% in 2016 and a 4% increase in the percentage of households who earn less than 80% of the US median income, from 31% in 1970 to 35% in 2016.”

<p>Senior Households increasing faster than Millennials

Millennials formed an average of 2.1 million net new households annually in 2012–2017, but despite being larger in numbers, they’re forming fewer households than older generations. Over the past 10 years, the number of older households grew by over 7 million, rising from one in five households to one in four. By 2035, one out of every three households will be at least 65 years old. As the oldest homeowners move into care facilities or pass on, there eventually won’t be enough buyers for senior homes because younger household formation hasn’t kept up.

New Housing Still Underperforming

New JCHS analysis projects household growth at a rate of 1.2 million per year between 2017–2027. Single- family construction, however, has remained well below the long-run annual average of 1.1 million units for at least ten years.

Homebuilders are trying to keep up. Single-family starts rose 8.6 percent to 848,900 units while permitting increased in 78 of the 100 largest metros, but because of the higher cost of materials, new homes are priced higher than existing homes. In April 2018, the median price of new homes sold was $312,400, compared to the median existing-home price of $257,900.

And for the first time since 2009, the national rental vacancy rate rose, ticking up from 6.9 percent to 7.2 percent. Most of the increase was concentrated among newer and higher-cost units, which suggests the party could be about to end.

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that housing sales volume has fallen for the last two months. While prices are at a 74-month high, sales volume is 1.4 percent below a year ago.

While it’s early to call a housing recession, the indicators are being felt. Home prices, affordability, household formation, wages, rental, existing and new home performance are all categories to watch going forward.

Source: Buying Tips

10 Places That Will Pay You To Move There

10 Places That Will Pay You To Move There

Close to job. Great schools. Projected growth. They’re all reasons why someone might consider buying a home in a certain area. But here’s one more important reason: Because someone wants to pay you to move there.

That’s right. You could actually make money moving to a new area…if you’re willing to go where the interest is.

“The idea has spread where a strong economy, an aging population and an exodus of younger workers have triggered severe labor shortages – often places with very low unemployment rates and higher-than-average wage growth,” said MSN. “That’s why small towns across America, instead of offering incentives to employers, such as Amazon.com Inc., are giving it to workers – one by one.

We’re talking about places like:

North Platte, Nebraska

The city offers incentives “from student loan help and home buying grants, to gifted parcels of land and even town-wide ceremonies in your honor,” said Inc. “Last year the North Platte chamber of commerce started offering up to $10,000 to anyone who moves there for a job, in the hopes of helping the town of 24,000 fill some of its hundreds of job openings. They’ll even present you a large check during a ceremony in your honor.”

St. Clair County, Michigan

This city has its eye on a student population who they hope will then stick around and pump money into the economy. They recently upped their student-loan scholarships from $10,000 to $15,000.

Grant County, Indiana

Move to Grant County with “advanced training or a college degree” and you could get $5,000 toward a home from the economic development office. You have to stay for at least five years. You could also get a $9,000 scholarship from the chamber of commerce to help repay loans.

Hamilton, Ohio

Or, move to Hamilton, instead. The city’s student loan repayment incentive is $5,000.

Marne, Iowa

You can even get a free piece of land when you move to Marne. “The small town of 120 has a free-lots program that offers any newcomers a free piece of land to build a home on,” said Inc. “The state of Iowa has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.8 percent.”

But it’s not just small American cities that are enticing new residents to move there. You can opt to move to Canada, Switzerland, Chile, or even Italy, and get paid to do so.

Candela, Italy

“It pays to live in Candela, Italy. The once-bustling town in Puglia has dropped from more than 8,000 residents in the 1990s to just 2,700 today, so the mayor is offering up to 2,000 euros (about $2,350) to lure people back to the picturesque Medieval village of winding streets and restored palazzos surrounded by hills and forests,” said Moneyish.

To qualify, you must “live inside Candela, rent a house and have a job paying a salary of at least 7,500 euros ($8,800) per year. Singles will receive 800 ($940) euros from the town coffers, couples will get 1,200 euros ($1,400), three-member families will get 1,500 to 1,800 euros ($1,760-$2,100), and families of four to five people will get more than 2,000 euros ($2,350). Candela may also give tax credits on city waste disposal, bills and nurseries in the future.”

Saskatchewan

“If you’ve graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution and you live in Saskatchewan, you can qualify for a tuition rebate of up to $20,000 under the province’s Graduate Retention Program,” said Slice

Pipestone, Manitoba

In the rural municipality of Pipestone, Manitoba, you can get a grant worth up to $32,000, buy a home with just a $1,000 deposit, and buy a lot for just $10. 

Albinen, Switzerland

Last year, residents of Albinen in southern Switzerland pushed for an incentive program to attract some more folks.”According to the proposal, anyone who decides to move to the village and buy, refurbish or build a home should be paid an incentive: CHF 25,000 per adult and CHF 10,000 per child,” said Swissinfo. “There are conditions though: applicants must be below the age of 45 and commit themselves to living in Albinen for at least ten years. They will also need to invest a minimum of CHF200,000 in the property, with the financing approved by the bank. If someone moves away or sells the property within these ten years, they will have to pay back the money received from the village.”

Chile

Chile fancies itself the future business center of South America, so its efforts are geared toward startups. “In this scenario, Chile will pay a company $50,000 through their program Start-Up Chile,” said Nomadapp. “In order to qualify, the startup must have the potential of becoming global and largely successful. In addition, they will provide you with a one-year work visa and business contacts. The support system is completely in English despite the country being primarily Spanish speaking.”

Source: Buying Tips

Steps To Building Wealth

Steps To Building Wealth

It’s never too late to secure your financial future. At BuildingWealth.org, a public service offered by the Dallas Federal Reserve, you can learn how to reach your life goals by budgeting, saving and investing, building credit and controlling debt.

When you understand the difference between assets and liabilities, you know that owning a home, contributing to a retirement plan, and creating savings are all assets in the making because they increase in value or provide a return. Automobiles, clothing, smartphones and furniture are not assets because they depreciate in value. Liabilities are debts that you owe to credit card companies, mortgage lenders, hospitals, etc.

It doesn’t make sense to go into debt to buy possessions that aren’t assets, unless it serves a necessity like a car that gets you to and from work. That’s why lenders look at your credit history to see how sensibly you spend money and if your finances fall within their income-to-debt guidelines. You don’t want them finding that all your free income goes to eating out and mall shopping. No matter how much money you make, you shouldn’t have more than 42 percent of your income going to pay liabilities and that should include credit card debt, rent, car payments, student loans, etc.

So the first step is creating a budget that enables you to save money. Track your spending and see where money is wasted so you can cut back and create savings. If your company offers a 401K plan, contribute as much as you comfortably can. Give yourself a goal to eat out once a week instead of five times a week. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll build savings.

Owning a home is one of the foundations of wealth. With rare exceptions, the longer you own your home, the more equity, or ownership you’ll have. Equity is created three ways – when your home rises in market value, when you pay down or pay off your liability, and when you make repairs and improvements that raise the value of the home.

Home ownership is like a forced savings account. Until you sell the home, you’re not going to touch the equity you’ve built unless you take on a liability by refinancing your mortgage to make improvements.

To figure out what you need to do to buy a home of your home, you should create a budget and a gameplan and then calculate how long it will take you to save the amount you need. If you want to save $20,000, that will give you a 10 percent downpayment on a $200,000 home. Saving $200 a month, you’ll be able to buy a home in just over eight years, but it’s likely that you’ll save much more per month with as your income increases, your spending habits improve, and your investments start to show returns.

All it takes is time and money.

Source: Buying Tips

Sneaky Ways To Find A Home That's About To Be Listed For Sale

Sneaky Ways To Find A Home That's About To Be Listed For Sale

Coldwell Banker just rolled out some exciting new tech that’s meant to help determine when someone is about to list their home for sale. What may sound Big Brother-y to some is being lauded by others as the Big Data answer to next-level real estate success. Call it the high-tech version of going door-to-door asking if owners are looking to sell their home. Also, call it a great lead source for agents and a potential boon for buyers looking for an “in” after repeatedly getting shut out of homes thanks to ongoing inventory issues.

“In a real estate market facing a severe lack of homes for sale, agents could really use a secret weapon – something to shake up the status quo of the listing and selling game…something to help them compete in a low inventory market,” said RISMedia.

Coldwell Banker’s solution: CBx Seller Leads, which can identify homes that are most likely to be sold before an agent ever becomes involved. “Coldwell Banker has taken it to the next level, expanding the value of big data for real estate by adding proprietary algorithms and machine learning to the data in the original CBx product to fuel the entire CBx Technology Suite and give brokers and agents access to market intelligence they can’t get anywhere else.”

Skeptical? Consider this: “Coldwell Banker piloted CBx Seller Leads in 16 different markets; during the pilot, leads converted at twice the industry average.”

The potential advantage to the agent is undeniable, but we also love the benefit to buyers. Agents who nurture those leads may be able to find a gem for a client without having to fight other buyers in a crowded market where inventory is at a premium. But CBx Seller Leads isn’t the only way to get an early beat on new homes that haven’t yet been listed. Here are some more tips that could help you find that elusive home.

Stalk your preferred neighborhood

Sure, the workmen outside that cute corner Colonial could mean the homeowners are doing some updates to make the house function better for them. Or, it could mean they’re making updates to get the home in better shape so they can list it. You don’t know until you ask. Your real estate agent may recommend leaving this task to them for best results, and, you never know – it could turn out that you end up shaking on an as-is property that gets you into a desired neighborhood, gets you a great deal, and gives you the opportunity to fix it up the way you want to.

Work with a connected REALTOR®

If a listing doesn’t get posted to the MLS or the big listing sites like Trulia and Redfin, how do you find out about pocket listings? The first step is to ask your real estate agent. Tell them that you’re interested in pocket listings and that you’d like to expand your search beyond the homes on the MLS. Encourage them to reach out to other realtors to see if there is a hidden gem on the market. It’s a lot more work than scouring the online listings, but sometimes it can really pay off. In addition to working with an agent, there are also sites getting into the pocket listing game, such as PocketList, which specializes in unlisted homes in the San Francisco Bay Area. Zillow also has a “coming soon” search feature, which allows you to check out homes that have not yet been posted on a listing service.

What you’re looking for in a real estate agent is someone who is going to work hard for you, obviously. But, especially when you’re trying to find a home in a hot market where there aren’t a lot of available homes, working with someone who has a large base of connections in the industry and a great working relationship with other agents is crucial. Those relationships may yield early notice on a new home about to hit the market or pocket listings you’d never know about if it weren’t for your agent.

Look for an unkempt yard

Could be an overwhelmed homeowner, could be the owners are on an extended vacation…or it could be that the home is about to be foreclosed on.

Track “Notices of Default”

Finding a pre-foreclosure property isn’t as easy as driving down the street in your preferred neighborhood, looking for signs on the lawn. There is no complete list that aggregates listings of homes subject to a notice of default, and it can be a process to find these potential buys. A savvy agent who hustles to find properties in default can be a real asset to a buyer, especially if they are able to cultivate a relationship that ends up with a great home and a great deal for their buyer and an “out” for the seller.

“The easiest way to buy a pre-foreclosure home is to help the seller to make up the back payments and then arrange to buy the home directly from the seller,” said The Balance.

Source: Buying Tips

10 Things To Do After Relocating To A New City

10 Things To Do After Relocating To A New City

Free at last! The backbreaking work of moving large furniture from one side of the house to other is finished. No more do packed boxes line the house. It’s a great feelings of accomplishment. Enjoy your reprieve for a night as you’ve earned it. After giving yourself a day of rest it’s time to get back to work!

1. Get Connected to your New Neighborhood: Probably the most anxious part of moving is meeting your new neighbors. It’s essentially a crap shoot as they could be wonderful people that you will eventually trust and perhaps they will become a vital asset once you become settled in. Or possibly they could be the Neighbor from Hell. Regardless going out of your way and introducing yourself to the neighbors will go a long way as we know first impressions last a lifetime.

2. Update your address with the important contacts: Emergency contacts, banks, family members, and collectors must all be made aware of your address change. This can be a bit tedious, but you must make sure everything is in order as you would hate for some meaningless bill go into collections due to sheer negligence.

3. Register your vehicle: Go to dmv.org and get new tags, a license plate, and a registration card. If you don’t and you get pulled over you will be very sorry. You will most likely have to waste a day in court to appeal whichever fine may have been levied on you.

4. Re-register to vote in your new location: Follow http://www.eac.go. It’s important that you do this as states rules and regulations vary when it comes to establishing residency.

5. Find a doctor/dentist: Click here to find a Doctor or Dentist near you. Make sure to do a quick check of ratings as well.

6. Update your insurance: Compare Auto Insurance now! You would be surprised to see how much auto insurance can vary state-to-state, but it certainly make sure you get the best and most advantageous rate.

7. Check your commute to work: Try at least two different routes and time how long it takes you to go each way. As good as Google maps is becoming, it’s still better to be prepared and know multiple ways to get to work in case an unfortunate event were to happen causing you to be late to work during your first week.

8. Get acquainted with your new city! Try new things: Go to new grocery stores. Check out urbanspoon.com and see which restaurants are the best in your area. Look up TripAdvisor and see which attractions are closest to you.

9. Review your moving company: Perhaps it was a pleasant experience perhaps it wasn’t. If you indeed had a bad experience make sure other people don’t make the same mistake that you did.

10. Schools: If you have children make sure to get them registered and set to go for school. Also make sure to check for sports leagues, clubs, or extracurricular activities to get them involved.

Source: Buying Tips

What Is The Home Seller's Staging Hiding From You?

What Is The Home Seller's Staging Hiding From You?

When sellers stage their homes, they’re simply trying to make their homes as attractive as possible to buyers. Staging can include cleaning, decluttering, depersonalizing and decorating the home. It can be done by the seller, or by a professional who goes so far as to completely overhaul a home with glamorous rented furniture and accessories.

At its best, staging helps buyers see the possibilities so they can easily visualize themselves owning and living in the home. It can also distract buyers’ attention from real problems a home may have or that may be expensive for the buyer to handle.

There’s nothing wrong with a seller presenting a home for sale at its best – sparkling clean and ready for viewing. But before you let yourself be enchanted by the romantic table set for two, the aroma of cookies coming from the oven, and the spa robe and slippers laid out by the bathtub, ask yourself if those are the things that you should be noticing.

Instead, concentrate on the things that will impact your daily life — how the home flows and functions, whether the home needs expensive repairs or updates, or buy all new furniture to make it work.

When you view homes for sale that are staged, ask yourself the following questions:

Does the home look too “decorated?” A sure sign a home has been professionally staged if everything in the home has a generic furniture store look all from the same manufacturer or era. If you see no signs of wear, or stickers under vases and glassware, then the home has been dressed to impress. That kind of perfection isn’t achievable for most people, so don’t look at the décor, look at the bones of the home.

Does the staging make sense? Would you really put your own furniture as close to the fireplace or as far from the window? An attractive but odd arrangement is a tipoff that the room is either not well designed or that a problem is being minimized. For example, a heavy chair may be used to discourage buyers from lifting the area rug.

Is the staging hiding a repair that needs to be made? Bathrooms and kitchens are the most expensive rooms to repair and update. Move the bottle of bubble bath and look behind the shower curtain. Is the caulk fresh? Is the porcelain tub or sink stained? Is the finish worn off of the fixtures? Look under the sink for water stains.

Is the staging overdone? Candles burning in every room or tons of air freshener may be masking pet odors. Heavy drapes may cover ugly views. Go ahead and open them up and look outside.

Is the furniture proportionate to the rooms? Small-scale furnishings can disguise rooms that are too small, so go ahead and sit down. If your knees are under your chin, the room may be too small for your purposes. Furniture that’s massive can mean a room is going to be difficult or very expensive to decorate.

If you like the home well enough for another viewing and to make an offer, ask the seller to leave off the air freshener and to move that heavy chair aside. Take measurements and make sure your things will fit. Get the home inspected, so you know what you’re really buying.

Source: Buying Tips

How To Make Sure You're Buying A Home In A Safe Neighborhood

How To Make Sure You're Buying A Home In A Safe Neighborhood

“Crime levels have declined sharply in the US over the past two decades. According to FBI statistics, the rate of violent crime fell 50% between 1993 and 2015, the most recent full year available,” said Business Insider.

Yet, school shootings are increasingly on everyone’s minds and public perceptions are that crime is actually on the rise. “In 21 Gallup surveys since 1989, the majority of Americans said there was more crime compared to the year before, despite the downward trend in both violent and property crime rates in the US during that period,” they said.

In and amongst all the other factors buyers need to consider when looking for a home – price and affordability, square footage, commute time, how much updating needs to be done – it’s more important than ever to feel safe in your home and neighborhood. Lists like WalletHub’s 2018’s Safest States in America (Vermont, Maine, and Minnesota are the top three), and Niche’s Best Place to Live in America, of which safety is a key factor (Naperville, Illinois, Irvine, California, and Thousand Oaks, California) are a great place to start. But when you want to dig a little deeper, start here:

Map the crime in the area

The city you are looking at could be on the safest cities list, but what about the specific neighborhood? Using a crime mapping service can help. “CrimeReports and SpotCrime are two services that collect police and crime reports,” said Homes.com. “Enter the address where you plan to buy or build, and these two services will display a list of the crimes committed in the vicinity, complete with a breakdown of the dates and type of crimes. You can compare potential neighborhoods with these tools to see which ones have the lowest crime rates.”


familyeguide.com

Check for sexual predators

The U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) is a regularly updated database that allows you to enter an address and map sex offenders nearby.

FamilyWatchdog is another great place to look. “Type a location or address into the website’s search box, and FamilyWatchdog generates a map pinpointing the address of nearby registered sex offenders,” said Safewise. “Color-coded icons correspond to various sex crimes, including crimes against children, sexual battery, and rape. Click the icon and you’ll see a picture of the offender, learn their aliases, and find out what sex crime they’ve been convicted of. If you’re looking for a specific individual, you can search for them by name.” With this free service, “You can also sign up to be alerted when a registered sex offender moves in or out of your neighborhood.”

Talk to people already in the area

This is a top tip for buying a home regardless of what your specific concerns may be. After all, you don’t want to end up living across from the next Nirvana, who practice in the garage until all hours of the night, or the grumpy old man who spends his afternoons gazing out the window so he can run outside to yell at anyone who dares walk a dog by his house. A nosy neighbor (and every place has at least one!), can also give you some great info about potential concerns beyond the mild (or not so mild) irritations. If there are issues in the neighborhood, in the schools, or in a particular home, you’re likely to hear it here first. What might seem like gossip can be great intel you want to take seriously.

Check Nextdoor

Perhaps nowhere will you find better and deeper insight into what a potential neighborhood is like than getting a peak at the local Nextdoor. Expect to see the typical Nextdoor posts—lots of “my dog (or my cat, my lizard, or my turtle) got out,” and all kids of complaints about bad driving, complete with shaming pictures of license plates. You’ll also see lots of posts about suspicious individuals/potential prowlers and questions about whether that “loud bang” (that was probably fireworks) was actually a gunshot. If you haven’t already had the pleasure of joining Nextdoor in your current community, this will give you a taste of what to expect.

But behind all of that potential paranoia is some real info that could give you important insight into the neighborhood and who you might soon be living near.

Choose the right school

New-home purchases are often made or broken on the quality of the area schools, but parents today are concerned about more than test scores. As you’re doing your research, perhaps a one-on-one with the principal is in order. Knowing details of the school’s anti-bullying policy may help you feel more confident in your choice. It stinks to have to think about things like evacuation plans and active shooter training, but knowing the school has elements in place to keep your kids safe is, unfortunately, crucial today.

And, just as you may want to talk to neighbors about the quality of the neighborhood, local parents’ take on the school, teachers, administrators, and how safe and protected they feel their kids are is also key.

Source: Buying Tips