July 2015 Newsletter

Stay connected with market conditions, buyer's and seller's advise and real estate news from your local market expert.

JULY 2015

HOMEBUYING TIPS

Finding the Perfect Neighborhood

There’s an episode of the TV series “How I Met Your Mother” where the characters decide to buy a home only to learn later that it sits downwind from a sewer plant. The message is obvious: A buyer must do his or her due diligence on prospective neighborhoods to avoid those kinds of mistakes. Here are a few tips:

Investigate the surrounding area: Good schools boost your property value. Research the closest parks and community centers and consider how busy streets impact the neighborhood. Check out stores and restaurants in the area. You may be used to a 5-minute drive to the grocery store, only to find out that your new home is 25 minutes away from the nearest place to buy milk.

Get to know prospective neighbors: Walk through the area and say hello to people. Ask them for their impressions of the neighborhood. While you’re at it, look around. Are there lots of kids on the block? Do people walk or jog through the neighborhood at night? A neighborhood can speak volumes by itself.

Research the Homeowner’s Association: What are the regular fees? Are there lawn or construction restrictions? Knowing these things can really make an impact.

A good real estate agent can furnish you with a wealth of local information and take you on a tour of the closest commerce centers, restaurants and shops. A little groundwork will help ensure that your dream house is surrounded by a dream neighborhood.

HOMESELLING TIPS

Staging your home with kids around

Homeowners with young children face a common challenge when their house is on the market: How do you keep the home clean and ready for prospective buyers? Keeping that “staged look” as the kids create instant messes can be overwhelming. Children’s bedrooms are the worst when getting a home ready to sell—toys, clothes and activities.

  • Limit the number of toys and activities that children play with each week and adding and subtracting as the kids get bored.
  • Pack away extra toys, stuffed animals and books.
  • Organize remaining toys neatly in baskets, boxes and bins and display only a few items on shelves.
  • For those with infants, keep your nursery tidy by storing all extra diapers, wipes, lotions, baby bottles and clothes in a dresser or nearby closet.
  • Emptying the diaper pail frequently will help ensure that the room smells fresh and clean.
  • Removing furniture that doesn’t serve a purpose can help the room appear larger.
  • Having kids share rooms allows you to set up the unoccupied room as a guest room or home office, adding extra value to your home.

Once your current home sells, the new home will provide your kids with exciting new adventures. If that doesn’t make them more cooperative in helping keep the place, then there’s always plan B: bribe them with ice cream, outside!

HOME IMPROVEMENT TIPS

The power of a deck

The addition of any amount of usable square footage to a property increases its value. Customized decks are a hot trend in home upgrades. A great-looking deck may entice more people to come see your home.

Building or updating an existing deck isn’t simply a great investment, it provides unique opportunities to personalize your yard. With many families staying home to save money, why not create the perfect location for entertaining?

Experts agree that multi-level decks—a series of deck levels connected by stairways or walkways—are a very popular option. One level can be used to catch the sun, one can be positioned for shade and another can be set close to the house for entertaining and barbequing.

While wood decks are the most popular, they also require more upkeep. For that reason, people are considering composite materials as a viable option. They may cost more up front, but ultimately last longer and require less maintenance.

By designing your deck with accents, lights and unique accessories, you can transform your backyard and make a sizeable impression on potential buyers.

FINANCIAL TIPS

 

The 203k Mortgage

Consumers often find ample value in distressed homes – properties that are under a foreclosure order or up for short sale. In many cases, “distressed” speaks more to the condition of the home than their recent financial histories. They may have been empty for extended periods and subject to vandalism and theft.

If you are considering a home in need of renovation, you should consider a 203k mortgage. It would allow you to finance both the acquisition and rehabilitation with a single loan. There are two types of 203k loans:

203k Streamline: This is the most popular. The maximum allowable in repairs is $35,000 and does not allow any structural repairs to be done to the home (unless they’re a result of an unforeseen circumstance).

Full 203k: Allows for structural repairs and can exceed the $35,000 in home repairs. Both types allow up to $1,500 in swimming pool repairs.

Some important 203k facts:

  • Since it is based on the home’s potential value after repairs (not its existing value), you can be approved for a higher loan amount.
  • They carry long-term-fixed rates.
  • They’re insured as soon as they fund.
  • They include escrow accounts for the scheduled repairs.
  • Loan amounts are capped according to local FHA limits.
  • Only owner-occupied properties of one to four units qualify.
  • The home must be at least one year old.

Click here for more information on 203k mortgages.

 

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