Happy New Year! If buying a new home is on your list of goals to achieve in this new year, here's some advice to keep in mind as you prepare for what will be one of the biggest investments you will make in your lifetime!10 Best-Kept Secrets for Buying a Home
Get the most out of your money with these handy home-buying tips.Excerpted from an original post on HGTV.com #10: Keep Your Money Where It Is
It’s not wise to make any huge purchases or move your money around three to six months before buying a new home. You don’t want to take any big chances with your credit profile. Lenders need to see that you’re reliable and they want a complete paper trail so that they can get you the best loan possible. If you open new credit cards, amass too much debt or buy a lot of big-ticket items, you’re going to have a hard time getting a loan.#9: Get Pre-Approved for Your Home Loan
There’s a big difference between a buyer being pre-qualified and a buyer who has a pre-approved mortgage. Anybody can get pre-qualified for a loan. Getting pre-approved means a lender has looked at all of your financial information and they’ve let you know how much you can afford and how much they will lend you. Being pre-approved will save you a lot of time and energy so you are not running around looking at houses you can't afford. It also gives you the opportunity to shop around for the best deal and the best interest rates. Do your research: Learn about junk fees, processing fees or points and make sure there aren’t any hidden costs in the loan.#8: Avoid a Border Dispute
It’s absolutely essential to get a survey done on your property so you know exactly what you’re buying. Knowing precisely where your property lines are may save you from a potential dispute with your neighbors. Also, your property tax is likely based on how much property you have, so it is best to have an accurate map drawn up.# 7: Don’t Try to Time the Market
Don’t obsess with trying to time the market and figure out when is the best time to buy. Trying to anticipate the housing market is impossible. The best time to buy is when you find your perfect house and you can afford it. Real estate is cyclical, it goes up and it goes down and it goes back up again. So, if you try to wait for the perfect time, you’re probably going to miss out.#6: Bigger Isn't Always Better
Everyone’s drawn to the biggest, most beautiful house on the block. But bigger is usually not better when it comes to houses. There’s an old adage in real estate that says don’t buy the biggest, best house on the block. The largest house only appeals to a very small audience and you never want to limit potential buyers when you go to re-sell. Your home is only going to go up in value as much as the other houses around you. If you pay $500,000 for a home and your neighbors pay $250,000 to $300,000, your appreciation is going to be limited. Sometimes it is best to is buy the worst house on the block, because the worst house per square foot always trades for more than the biggest house.#5: Avoid Sleeper Costs
The difference between renting and home ownership is the sleeper costs. Most people just focus on their mortgage payment, but they also need to be aware of the other expenses such as property taxes, utilities and homeowner-association dues. New homeowners also need to be prepared to pay for repairs, maintenance and potential property-tax increases. Make sure you budget for sleeper costs so you’ll be covered and won’t risk losing your house.#4: You’re Buying a House - Not Dating It
Buying a house based on emotions is just going to break your heart. If you fall in love with something, you might end up making some pretty bad financial decisions. There’s a big difference between your emotions and your instincts. Going with your instincts means that you recognize that you’re getting a great house for a good value. Going with your emotions is being obsessed with the paint color or the backyard. It’s an investment, so stay calm and be wise.#3: Give Your House a Physical
Would you buy a car without checking under the hood? Of course you wouldn’t. Hire a home inspector. It’ll cost about $200 but could end up saving you thousands. A home inspector’s sole responsibility is to provide you with information so that you can make a decision as to whether or not to buy. It’s really the only way to get an unbiased third-party opinion. If the inspector does find any issues with the home, you can use it as a bargaining tool for lowering the price of the home. It’s better to spend the money up front on an inspector than to find out later you have to spend a fortune.#2: The Secret Science of Bidding
Your opening bid should be based on two things: what you can afford (because you don’t want to outbid yourself), and what you really believe the property is worth. Make your opening bid something that’s fair and reasonable and isn’t going to totally offend the seller. A lot of people think they should go lower the first time they make a bid. It all depends on what the market is doing at the time. You need to look at what other homes have gone for in that neighborhood and you want to get an average price per square foot. Sizing up a house on a price-per-square-foot basis is a great equalizer. Also, see if the neighbors have plans to put up a new addition or a basketball court or tennis court, something that might detract from the property’s value down the road.
Today, so many sellers are behind in their property taxes and if you have that valuable information it gives you a great card to negotiate a good deal. To find out, go to the county clerk’s office. Sellers respect a bid that is an oddball number and are more likely to take it more seriously. A nice round number sounds like every other bid out there. When you get more specific the sellers will think you've given the offer careful thought.#1: Stalk the Neighborhood
Before you buy, get the lay of the land – drop by morning noon and night. Many homebuyers have become completely distraught because they thought they found the perfect home, only to find out the neighborhood wasn’t for them. Drive by the house at all hours of the day to see what’s happening in the neighborhood. Do your regular commute from the house to make sure it is something you can deal with on a daily basis. Find out how far it is to the nearest grocery store and other services. Even if you don’t have kids, research the schools because it affects the value of your home in a very big way. If you buy a house in a good school district versus bad school district even in the same town, the value can be affected as much as 20 percent.
For exceptional service, make the SMART MOVE, Call Kenny Babin, Realtor, (225) 768-1800!
Buy a home before 2014
New rules, rising rates could mean fewer options.
Originally published December 13, 2013 1:58PM on housingwire.com
The year 2014 will be a type of test market for the mortgage industry, with the Federal Reserve
expected to eventually taper its mortgage securities purchases.
Not to mention the fact that 2014 is forecasted to bring a rise in rates and new lending rules that are likely to reshape the process of acquiring a mortgage.
With all of that in mind, HomeFinder.com is advising consumers to consider buying homes
before the end of this year.
The site goes as far as naming the top five reasons for buying real estate before the dawn of 2014.
Among them the fact that rates are already up one to 2% over last year, and it’s still possible to grab a 30-year, FRM at 4.5%, according to lenders cited by HomeFinder.
New lending rules, including the qualified mortgage definition, will shift debt-to-income ratio requirements higher, potentially making it more difficult to buy a property, the report claims.
Lower sales during the holidays also could mean more inventory to comb through.
And finally, anyone who buys before the end of the year can begin deducting the interest right away, maximizing tax deductions.
Why You Should Buy a Home During the Holidays
Six reasons why winter is the best time to buy a houseOriginally posted by Mortgagematch.com on Realtor.com
"The early bird gets the worm," as the saying goes. A well-known children's story depicts the undertakings of a squirrel and a fox. While the fox was spending the winter being lazy, his neighbor was busy gathering nuts. In the middle of the coldest season, the fox was surprised to discover he was starving and couldn't find food, while the squirrel had everything he needed. Planning and effort is what creates your future. Like the diligent squirrel, those who get busy buying homes in the holiday season -- when they could be passing the time at a more relaxed pace -- reap rewards from their efforts. While avoiding competition, you'll benefit from lower prices and motivated sellers, better mortgage rates, tax deductions and quick closings, and you can feel satisfied that you spent your time wisely in the pursuit of a better life.Reason #1: Lower competition means lower prices
Most people think of spring and summer as the best time to buy a house. They want to get their children settled into new schools before the start of the new school year. The warmer time of year therefore creates a seller's market, where buyers have a disadvantage. You'll find competition for the best deals and high prices. For many people, the holiday season is the time to catch up on gift sales, festivities, and spending moments with loved ones. When you buy a house at this time, you take advantage of the low prices this natural lull in the marketing cycle creates. Like the diligent squirrel in the story, you will be one of the special few spending their time looking at houses.Reason #2: Serious sellers
Less competition means that people are motivated to sell their house. In the holiday season, buyers are a precious commodity. In fact, only 8.1 percent of home sales occur in December. Sellers know that fewer feet will be treading on their carpet, so this small window of opportunity turns you into a serious buyer with a serious edge. If the house has been listed for many weeks, you'll have even more negotiation power, especially since sellers receive a tax deduction if they sell before the end of the year. If you are genuinely earnest about wanting to buy a house and have a reasonable offer, why should a homeowner have to reschedule his holiday plans to continue showing his house and worry about selling? Here you have the leverage in price negotiation.Reason #3: Better interest rates on mortgages
The drop in demand to buy a home at holiday season means that lenders experience less requests for mortgage money at this time. This phenomenon manifests itself in favorable mortgage terms for you -- a great reason why it's the best time to buy a house. Interest rates drop every December through January on a cyclical basis. A lender can offer you a low interest rate or even cancel some fees to secure your patronage. Do your homework and shop around (don't forget to include the many online options) in order to get the best rate. Loan officers advise that it's best to get pre-qualified with a mortgage broker or lender early because loan closing turnaround times can range from 30 to 60 days.Reason #4: Tax deduction
Buying a house and closing before the end of the year may give you a much-appreciated tax deduction. You have a good chance to be able to subtract the interest component of the initial mortgage payment from that year's taxable income. Speak to a qualified tax advisor to find out how mortgage interest deduction may be applicable to your circumstances.Reason #5: Faster closings
Faster closings are historically more available in November and December, because of fewer overall transactions in the industry. Because lenders want to close their books at the end of the year, they may be inspired to close a transaction more quickly for people buying homes at this time.Reason #6: Enjoy your summer vacation
Finally, do you really want to spend your summer vacation overwhelmed with the demands of buying a house? If you're moved in during the winter, you're freed up to enjoy summer activities. If you do some landscaping work in the winter, you'll even enjoy the warm weather more when the fruits of your labors become a pruned and blooming property in the spring.
If you put in some planning and effort to buy a home during the winter months, then you can relax and enjoy yourself more than those caught up in the spring and summer house-buying frenzy.If you are buying or selling a home, make the SMART MOVE. Call Kenny Babin, Realtor (225) 768-1800, with Keller Williams Realty, Red Stick Partners.
Excerpted from an original post by Vera Gibbons on ZillowBlog
, November 19, 2013What You Need to Know About Buying a Home During the Holiday SeasonLess competition
Let’s start with the obvious one: less competition. This lowers the chances of multiple offers and bidding wars
(something we saw a lot of last spring/summer), and should translate into a bigger discount for you. Know your market! Serious home sellers
Why would sellers pick such an inconvenient time - while everyone is busy entertaining family and friends and enjoying the spirit of the holidays - to list their properties? Probably because they need
to sell and may feel compelled to do so before the end of the year for tax purposes. What this means for you: less hassle when it comes to negotiating
; a greater willingness, on the part of the seller, to agree to concessions; less chance of the seller waffling; and greater respect for your offer, even if it’s a little lower than the seller was perhaps expecting.Faster mortgage approval
Lenders aren’t as busy this time of year, and less volume could mean faster approval. Some lenders might even be willing to reduce fees during the off-peak season in hopes of gaining your business. Greater affordability
Sure, home prices have been rising, but they’re typically lower in December than during any other month (so you don’t have to be as aggressive with your initial first offer, compared with buying during peak to high season). As we enter the slower home shopping season many overheated markets are moving away from bubble brink and ultimately becoming more affordable than they have been historically. If you want to take advantage of low interest rates, the time to act is now.Vera Gibbons is a financial journalist based in New York City and is a contributor to Zillow Blog. Connect with her at http://veragibbons.com/. Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Trying to sell your home between Thanksgiving and New Year's can be tricky. Attract homebuyers even during the holidays with these useful tips!Top 10 Tips for Selling Your Home During the Holidays
Originally posted by FrontDoor.com
The holiday season from November through January is often considered the worst time to put a home on the market. While the thought of selling
your home during the winter
months may dampen your holiday spirit, the season does have its advantages: holiday buyers tend to be more serious and competition is less fierce with fewer homes being actively marketed. First, decide if you really need to sell. Really. Once you've committed to the challenge, don your gay apparel and follow these tips
- Deck the halls, but don’t go overboard.
Homes often look their best during the holidays, but sellers should be careful not to overdo it on the decor. Adornments that are too large or too many can crowd your home and distract buyers. Also, avoid offending buyers by opting for general fall and winter decorations rather than items with religious themes.
- Hire a reliable real estate agent.
That means someone who will work hard for you and won't disappear during Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's. Ask your friends and family if they can recommend a listing agent who will go above and beyond to get your home sold. This will ease your stress and give you more time to enjoy the season.
- Seek out motivated buyers.
Anyone house hunting during the holidays must have a good reason for doing so. Work with your agent to target buyers on a deadline, including people relocating for jobs in your area, investors on tax deadlines, college students and staff, and military personnel, if you live near a military base.
- Price it to sell.
No matter what time of year, a home that’s priced low for the market will make buyers feel merry. Rather than gradually making small price reductions, many real estate agents advise sellers to slash their prices before putting a home on the market.
- Make curb appeal a top priority.
When autumn rolls around and the trees start to lose their leaves, maintaining the exterior of your home becomes even more important. Bare trees equal a more exposed home, so touch up the paint, clean the gutters and spruce up the yard. Keep buyers’ safety in mind as well by making sure stairs and walkways are free of snow, ice and leaves.
- Take top-notch real estate photos.
When the weather outside is frightful, homebuyers are likely to start their house hunt from the comfort of their homes by browsing listings on the Internet. Make a good first impression by offering lots of flattering, high-quality photos of your home. If possible, have a summer orspring photo of your home available so buyers can see how it looks year-round.
- Create a video tour for the Web.
You'll get less foot traffic during the holidays thanks to inclement weather and vacation plans. But shooting a video tour and posting it on the Web may attract house hunters who don't have time to physically see your home or would rather not drive in a snowstorm.
- Give house hunters a place to escape from the cold.
Make your home feel cozy and inviting during showings by cranking up the heat, playing soft classical music and offering homemade holiday treats. When you encourage buyers to spend more time in your home, you also give them more time to admire its best features.
- Offer holiday cheer in the form of financing.
Bah, humbug! Lenders are scrooges these days, but if you've got the means, then why not offer a home loan to a serious buyer? You could get a good rate of return on your money.
- Relax — the new year is just around the corner.
The holidays are stressful enough with gifts to buy, dinners to prepare and relatives to entertain. Take a moment to remind yourself that if you don't sell now, there's always next year, which, luckily, is only a few days away.
can help you sell your home this holiday season! Call (225) 768-1800 today.
14 mistakes that will kill your home's value
By Christopher Solomon of MSN Real Estate
Your home is your castle, and you can do what you want with it. Right? Sure. But if you want a good return on the dough - and sweat equity - you pour into Home Sweet Home, you should make sure those changes are smart ones.
Too often, that’s not the case. Real-estate agents and appraisers say they regularly see homeowners make changes that don't increase the value of the home by much, if at all. Some renovations or alterations can even drag down the value of a home. Then, of course, there is all the damage that a lack
of upkeep and upgrades can do.
Check out these home-improvement blunders and our tips from the experts on how to steer clear of them.1. Going overboard for the areaThe common mistake:
A common mistake homeowners make is improving a home too much
for the neighborhood, turning the home into a pricey outlier. How much is too much? That depends. "If you're in a really nice neighborhood, it would be hard to over improve something," says Jay Josephs, a certified appraiser for 23 years and the president of the Josephs Appraisal Group
in Phoenix. But if you, say, install a $20,000 pool behind a $60,000 house, "you might get $5,000 to $8,000 return," Josephs says.What you should do:
"Pay real close attention to the common denominator in a neighborhood," says Sandra Nickel, the owner of Sandra Nickel Hat Team
, a real-estate agency based in Montgomery, Ala. Talk to a trusted real-estate agent or an appraiser, and ask for an appraisal without improvements and another with them. If it doesn't pay off, "it's not a good value," Nickel says.2. InconsistencyThe common mistake:
Homeowners goof by upgrading inconsistently, which hurts value, says Josephs, who is also a partner at Value Trend Solutions.
"I have seen completely remodeled kitchens where people have spent $40,000 or $50,000 on a kitchen, and the rest of the house is untouched — there are vinyl floors, blue shag carpeting," he says.What you should do:
"The best way to get the greatest return on your home is to cure the deficiencies. Find out what's the baseline in your particular neighborhood — and anything you can do to bring your home up to that baseline … is probably an investment worth doing," Josephs says. "One of the things I like to say is, 'Stone floors and vinyl floors should never be touching.'"3. Closing off the porchThe common mistake:
Some folks see a front porch as an opportunity for another four-season room. That's a no-no, Nickel says. "Obviously, the people who want to live in that neighborhood value being able to interact with their neighborhood," she says. High fences and enclosed porches prohibit that, she says. "Do not wall yourself from the community, if community is one of the assets of your neighborhood."What you should do:
If you want to create a comfortable, usable space, make the front porch a screened porch, Nickel says. If you have a larger full porch, perhaps enclose half of the porch. But be sure to keep most of the porch open to the outside world. You — and prospective buyers — will be happy you did.