House to Home

Real Estate Disclosure: 101

Posted by Morgan Saylor on 9/27/16 7:30 PM

If you’re new to real estate but you’re dedicated to finding the perfect home, you will likely encounter the term “disclosure”.

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Topics: Real Estate, homebuying, disclosure

Finding an Open House

Posted by Morgan Saylor on 8/8/16 8:30 PM

If you’re interested in buying a home but you’re a bit lost on how best to hit up an open house, Realtor.com has a few tips for finding and attending an open house!

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Topics: Home, Real Estate, Home Buyer, shopping, home buying, search, open house

Buying to Rent

Posted by Morgan Saylor on 3/2/16 8:30 AM

Is the landlord life for you? The dream of many is to invest in homes, condos, and buildings to buy and rent out – making the most of your investment could be tricky.

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Topics: Home, Rent, Renting, Real Estate, Sellers, home buyers, Rental Market, investment

Big Home, Small Lot?

Posted by Amy Patterson on 10/13/15 4:40 PM

According to a recent article by Zillow, homes in the U.S. are growing in size, while the lots on which they sit are shrinking. Data from the late ‘90s shows that the median size of a single-family home in the U.S. has grown by 24% – going from about 2,100 square feet to 2,600 between 1999 and 2014.

However, the lots these expanded homes are sitting on have shrunk by about 10% in the same period – going from 9,600 square feet to 8,600 in the same time frame.

To put this information in an equation that is relative to a specific home size, in 2000, homes had approximately three square feet of lot space per every one foot of indoor home space, however, in 2014, that number dropped to about two square feet of lot per foot of indoor space.

According to Zillow Chief Economist, Svenja Gudell, this trend meets a compromise between builders and homebuyers – specifically, a compromise between what builders can profitably supply (within a close proximity to job hubs) and what homeowners want – bigger homes (and a willingness to accept a smaller lot space).

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Topics: Homeowners, Home Loans, Market, Real Estate, Home Sales, Home Value, Home Buyer, Property, Home Size, Lot Size, Mortgage Market

Be Sure Before You List

Posted by Amy Patterson on 7/30/15 4:10 PM

Are you think about selling your home? Don’t. Rush. It. Research shows that if you list your home before you’re really ready, your decision could be met with a long list of negatives. So how do you know if you’re ready? Answer these questions to find out.

Are you certain you are ready to list?

If you can’t say without a doubt that you’re ready, chances are you probably aren’t…and that’s okay! Think about the reasons why you’re not and work toward checking those items off your to-do list.

Do you have a plan once you sell?

You should have a game plan for after your home sells. While in the past it has sometimes taken homeowners months or even years to sell their homes, right now, the market is booming and sellers are seeing record turn-around times.

Do you know your listing price?

Listing price can be a difficult thing to decide on. If you’re working with a realtor, your problem is solved, but if you’re not, you’ll need to research market and local data to determine the correct listing price for your home. With the technology that buyers have access to, “trying to see how much you can get” for your home is not always the best strategy. Buyers can access information on your property and its history.

Have you staged?

Staging your home is important, and can make a big impact on the response that potential buyers will have to it. Before you list your home, you should have an idea of the amount of time you’ll need to stage it. In our current market, you could list today and have an interested buyer on your doorstep tomorrow.

Do you need to make repairs?

Do you have a floating list of repairs that you have been meaning to get around to? Before you list your home, you should either take care of them or calculate the cost of their repair into your home’s listing price. 

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Topics: Home Loans, Realty, Real Estate, Home Sales, Home Value, Home Buyer, Staging, Realtor

How to: Get the Most out of Open Houses

Posted by Amy Patterson on 7/27/15 4:26 PM

Open houses are central to the real estate market, and have a huge impact on the market’s status and profitability. Open houses are great tools for real estate agents as well as sellers, but they can also be great tools for homebuyers…but only if you get everything out of them that you can. Do you know how to get the most value from your open house endeavors?

Visit homes in your area – even if they might not be your dream home

This may seem like a waste of your time, but in reality, going to open houses in your new potential neighborhood gives you valuable insight on the current market. Perhaps there is a house in the area that is in the same price range as your dream house, but has a few better (or worse) features – you can use this information to your advantage.

Watch other buyers’ reactions to the home

Other buyers are getting an impression of the home just like you are – but what are they doing? Are they quickly walking in the home and back out? Or lingering and asking the real estate agent additional questions about the listing? Chances are, if a lot of potential buyers are interested, it’s a hot listing.

Ask questions

Ask the real estate agent any questions you may have about the property. They are a direct line of communication between you and the seller, and they know more about the home than you can pick up from the listing.

Find an agent

Open houses give you the ability to start creating relationships with your local realtors. If you don’t have a realtor in the area yet, visiting open houses can allow you to engage and meet with various agents that you may decide to work with. Open houses are the perfect environment for making new relationships with potential agents because they are low pressure, informal and they give you a chance to see the agent working in their environment. 

Source: Zillow

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Topics: First Time Home Buyers, Homeowners, Home Loans, Realty, Market, Real Estate, Home Sales, Home Buyer, Realtor

Big Market...Little Money Down

Posted by Amy Patterson on 6/30/15 4:47 PM

Saving up for a down payment of 20% is great…for some homebuyers. However, many homebuyers may choose to forgo that option and go for a loan product that requires little or no down payment. In our current market, home sales are booming, which means home prices may soon rise. You may find yourself in a predicament…buy now with no money down, or risk home prices going up and save for a down payment. Here are a few reasons to take the plunge now:

  • You’ll build equity quicker. If home prices do rise, your home will be worth more, and provide you with more equity just by owning it.
  • You’ll beat the odds. By deciding to buy now, when the market is hot and rates are still good, you’ll be able to beat the chance that home prices, along with rates, will rise in the near future.
  • You’ll be converting your rent into something tangible. Instead of throwing away money every month, you would be investing money. Every payment you make on your mortgage is equity you now own. In many cases, your monthly rent payment is now more than the cost of a monthly mortgage payment. In fact, a recent study shows that owning a home for only two years (in the majority of the country), balances out the costs of renting.
  • You’ll use appreciation to your advantage. If you’re waiting to buy, appreciation is working against you. While you’re saving, the price of housing is going up. However, once you own your home, appreciation works in your favor, making the value of your home greater, which means you will eventually get a greater return from it.
  • You’ll get tax benefits, especially if you’re a first time homebuyer.

If you’re ready to become a first time homebuyer, check out our guide!

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Topics: First Time Home Buyers, Home, Homeowners, Home Loans, Realty, Market, Real Estate, Home Sales, Home Value, Home Buyer

Home Prices Hit 7 Year High

Posted by Amy Patterson on 6/29/15 4:52 PM

The predicted 2015 housing boom just keeps expanding; single-family home sales in May grew to a remarkable 7-year high. Though economists predicted sales to be at 525,000 for May, the actual number was 546,000. A staggering 21,000 more homes were sold than originally forecasted, breaking a record that hasn’t been touched since 2008.

This data comes from the research firm Capital Economics and signifies that the market is continuing to, not only rebound from the housing bubble, but grow rapidly. The main driving force behind May’s growth is an expansion of sales in the Northeast, which saw 87.5% increase in home sales from April.

So what’s the reason for the jump?

The first quarter of 2015 brought with it a 2.6% growth in wages and benefits, while around the same time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – the two largest government lending agencies – relaxed their down payment requirements.

Source: USA Today

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Topics: Mortgage, First Time Home Buyers, Home, Homeowners, Home Loans, Realty, Market, Real Estate, Home Sales, Home Buyer

Declutter Before Your Move

Posted by Amy Patterson on 6/25/15 4:09 PM

Buying a new home in a new neighborhood is fun – but moving is not so fun. I know few individuals who revel in the joys of strategically packing everything they own into gazillions of boxes and spending days unpacking them all over again. No one really loves it, but chances are, we’ll all have to do it at least a few times in our lives.

But wouldn’t moving be easier if you had less stuff to move. Of course, it would. You don’t need to throw out everything you own (or even close), but decluttering your abode before you even begin packing is a great way to save you time, money and added frustration.

Get rid of trash – I’m not referring to the pizza box from last night, I’m talking about random trash that’s lurking in every room. Check out your bathroom…do you really need 4 half empty bottles of shampoo? Consolidate and throw the rest out. What about your kitchen? Do you have 17 partially stale boxes of cereal in your pantry? Get rid of them! (Also, start using air tight containers – your cereal will last longer). Trash lurks around every corner, and chances are, if you haven’t used it recently, you won’t use it soon.

If you don’t have time to go through every room before you start packing, make sure you hit your kitchen and your bathroom. Why? Because there’s less likely to be an attachment to things you find…meaning you’ll be more apt to toss things you don’t need.

Ready for your next step? Download our moving checklist.

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Topics: First Time Home Buyers, Home, Homeowners, Real Estate, Home Buyer, Packing, Moving

Win Your Bid – Win Your Home

Posted by Amy Patterson on 6/22/15 2:53 PM

You’ve found your dream home – now you need to win it – or at least win the right to purchase it. In today’s market, sellers clearly have the advantage, and often, have many offers to choose from. So how do you get your offer to stand out? And more importantly, if a bidding war ensues, how do you win it? How do you walk away as the new owner of your dream home?

The first step is to write a cover letter to the seller with your offer. For tips on writing a winning cover letter, check out this post. A cover letter will help you stand out, and often, be the difference between you and other potential buyers who do not have one.

If the seller does not accept your first offer, and your agent tells you that there are other buyers interested (and bidding), then congratulations, you’ve entered a bidding war. 

Now what? 

  • Make sure your offer is at least the full price of the home, and depending on your available funds, more than the listing price if you can swing it.
  • Offer to pay the seller’s closing costs.
  • Make sure you’re pre-approved – sellers view potential buyers who are pre-approved more seriously than those who are not.
  • Provide a purchase agreement with earnest money – this, like the pre-approval, let’s the seller know how serious you are about purchasing the home.
  • Provide a written contract about the appraisal and any inspections – the contract should include things that you are willing to overlook should they arise. Sellers may be fearful about potential buyers nit-picking items that may arise during the appraisal or inspections, a contract helps to put the seller’s mind at ease. 
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Topics: Mortgage, First Time Home Buyers, Home, Homeowners, Home Loans, Market, Real Estate, Home Sales, Home Buyer, Sellers

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