Renting vs. buying: Where do you land?

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You’ve always been told that owning a home is the ultimate American dream.

Imagine renovating your master bath into a mini spa or choosing your favorite appliances for your dream kitchen. Or just getting to repaint whatever room you want. Plus, there’s the potential for financial gain when you own.

But renting has its own advantages: flexibility, a smaller financial commitment and the chance to try before you buy.

So when do you know it’s time to take the plunge on a purchase? Answer these questions to see which side of the rent vs. buy debate you might land on:

Why do you want to buy?
Sure, owning a home might be the great American dream — but is it your dream?

For some, the idea of a home where you can raise a family, be close to schools and build a community is enticing. For others, buying is a great investment. But for many, it’s about freedom: the ability to keep pets, renovate and be independent.

Will you stay in the area?
No one has a crystal ball — but knowing how long you plan to live in an area can help as you consider the pros and cons of buying. Generally, longer stays align with purchasing.

If the thought of travel fills you with more passion than the idea of settling down in your dream property, you may not be ready for your forever home. But there’s always the possibility of turning your house into an investment property.

What can you afford?
While renting usually costs less in the short term than purchasing property, owning a home can build long-term net worth. A rent vs. buy calculator can help you understand the costs of each option.

Don’t have the deposit for your dream home now? That doesn’t mean you can’t buy. We can work together to find affordable homes, and there are plenty of low or no down payment mortgage options.

Have questions about buying or financing your purchase? Let’s discuss your next steps.

Posted on November 14, 2019 at 10:42 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling Your Home

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Many homeowners will tell you how emotional it was to buy their first home, but you rarely hear about their experience selling it. It’s only natural to grow attached after creating so many wonderful memories, which can make selling a challenging process.

Fortunately, you’re not in it alone. Together, we can simplify the process and make sure you get top dollar when selling your home.

Let’s get started with some simple do’s and don’ts for selling your first home:

What should you do?

  • Get your home ready for the market. We’ll collaborate on strategic repairs and updates, home staging, photography and more options to attract buyers.
  • Plan for your next move. We’ll work together to make sure that you’ve got your next home lined up when your current home sells.
  • Be aware of your timeline. While our goal is to sell your house fast, you never know what hiccups a buyer might encounter along the way. Being aware of your timeline is essential.
  • Prepare to negotiate. After the home inspection, the buyer may ask for repairs or concessions. That’s why it’s always best for you to have a local real estate expert represent you when selling.

What shouldn’t you do?

  • Don’t assume you have to sell in the spring. Homes are sold every day. In fact, it can often be in your best interest to avoid selling in the spring because you’ll have less competition. Ultimately, the right time to sell is when you’re ready.
  • Don’t price based on your emotions. You value your beloved home, but if it’s priced beyond its worth, it will sit on the market. We’ll review local comps and discuss your home’s market value together.
  • Don’t forget to plan for the closing. To seal the deal, be fully prepared for settlement. Bring your ID and be prepared to review and sign paperwork.

Have you been thinking about selling your home? Or are you just curious about what it’s worth in today’s market? Reach out today for a comprehensive review.

Posted on November 2, 2019 at 12:02 am
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

Ceilings Are the Perfect Blank Canvas

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One of the many joys of homeownership is incorporating your signature style throughout your home. From furniture and rugs to artwork and paint colors, there are so many ways you can make a space all your own.

But there’s one space in the home that’s often left untouched — the ceiling. Though rarely considered, it’s a vital part of your home’s story.

Whatever your design style, there are plenty of ways to dress up your fifth wall. Check out these ceiling styles that designers and architects are raving about:

Go Modern Minimalist
If you like sleek and elegant design schemes, minimalism is for you. A minimalist home has clean lines in a defined color palette. Forego bright color schemes and add elaborate elements sparingly.

Paint, tile or paneling in black or grey add engaging contrast to ceilings without stealing the show.

Add Some Rustic Charm
If you’d prefer a more accessible look, then rustic style is the answer. It’s comfortable, warm and inviting with neutral tones and natural textures like wood and stone.

Wood is the order of the day with a rustic ceiling motif. Rough-hewn panels, bold beams or reclaimed wood will add stunning character to your barnhouse decor.

Keep It Traditional
If you’re looking for a style that’s casual and understated, consider a classic look. It’s a great option whether you enjoy muted tones or simple pops of color.

For traditional ceilings, bright white paint with recessed lighting is a tried-and-true choice. Your cool and classic fifth wall can be flat or vaulted with lavish details like crown molding or coffers.

Bring the Focal Point Down
If a crisp, white ceiling is your preferred style, you can dress up your fifth wall with a custom pendant or light fixture.

Ready to get rid of those old popcorn ceilings? Get in touch if you’d like referrals to interior designers in our area.

Or reach out today if you’re ready for a new space to design.

Posted on October 17, 2019 at 4:34 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

What incentive is better than money?

article-contentAre you wondering how to avoid getting into a fast and furious bidding war once you find your dream home? Even if you can afford to pay more, it’s not always the best move.

Money is one thing that turns sellers’ heads, but it’s far from the only incentive when you’re competing with other buyers. So why raise the ante with more money?

If you want to offer your seller something they can’t refuse, try offering a flexible closing date.

Why is the closing date important?
On closing day, the home’s sales documents are signed and ownership changes hands. In most cases, that’s about 30 to 60 days from when your offer is accepted.

But what if that doesn’t work with the seller’s timeline?

How can a flexible closing help you?
Some sellers need to get out fast. They could be relocating and need to move immediately. Maybe they already bought a new home. By offering a fast closing, you can help them to avoid paying two mortgages.

Other sellers need more time. Maybe they’re building their dream home and hit an unexpected construction delay. Your flexibility with a delayed possession date offers them the security of having their new home lined up before they have to move.

How else can we sweeten the deal?
Let’s say the best bid you can make is a bit lower than the listing price. Offering a seller rent-back might encourage them to choose your offer over others that are less accommodating. This lets the seller rent the space from you for a set amount of time until they’re ready to move.

To make a flexible closing date work for you, remember to go on a month-to-month lease or have alternative housing options ready.

When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, keep in mind that understanding what motivates the seller is how we’ll get your offer accepted.

Ready to start your search? Reach out today.

Posted on September 29, 2019 at 4:51 am
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

Home Financing Is Easier Than You Think

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You saw an online ad for low mortgage rates and decided to apply — just to see if you qualify. Now your phone is buzzing nonstop, and lenders are emailing you about “DTIs” and W-2s.

The onslaught of financing questions can be baffling when you’re tackling them alone. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Looking for some insight to make financing more straightforward? These four tips will get you started:

1. It’s okay to play the field.
Don’t be afraid to apply for several loans with different lenders to compare the terms and rates. You can — and should —  shop around.

Just be sure to do so within a set time period to avoid multiple credit inquiries.

2. Manual underwriting can help you qualify.
Most lenders automate their approval process to speed up transactions. However, if you fall outside conventional requirements, they can’t see your full financial picture. That’s where manual underwriting comes in.

Buyers with concerns about their income or credit should verify that their lender will manually underwrite the loan if needed.

3. Broaden your prospects with a fixer-upper mortgage.
Buying a fixer-upper can give you more home at a lower price. Did you know that the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and Fannie Mae offer loans that will cover the mortgage and necessary home repairs?

4. You don’t need 20% down.
Perhaps the biggest homebuying myth is that you can’t buy without 20% down. But you can. Here’s how:

  • Low Down Payment Options: FHA loans only require 3.5% down with a FICO score of 580 or higher, or 10% down with a score of 500 to 579.
  • 0% Down Options: Buyers shopping in rural areas may be eligible for a USDA loan with 0% down. For qualified veterans and active-duty military members, VA loans often have no down payment requirement.
  • Buyer Assistance Programs: There are down payment and closing cost assistance programs available to first-time homebuyers. Not a first-timer? Some are also available to those who haven’t owned a home in the past three years.

Mortgage financing can feel overwhelming. But you’re not in it alone.

Reach out today for a referral to a trusted lender to get preapproved for your next home.

Posted on August 15, 2019 at 2:54 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

3 Ways an Inspection Helps You Sell

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Like many homeowners, you might be hoping to capitalize on the hot summer homebuying season to sell your house for a pretty penny. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make enough for the beach house you’ve been eyeing or for a long summer getaway.

But first, you’ll need to get your home ready to sell. And getting a home inspection may be one of the best ways to do that.

Inspections can shed light on potential issues and help you make necessary repairs before listing your home. It might even help you fetch a higher asking price if the inspection shows that your home is in better condition than others in the area.

All in all, an inspection can:

1. Alert You to Issues Before Going Under Contract
A home inspection can highlight issues that might concern potential buyers.

Pro tip: You should fix any issues that pose a safety hazard. And your inspection report can serve as a repair guide before listing.

2. Gauge Your Pricing Expectations
Inspections help you get a handle on what condition your home is in and what price it might fetch.

Pro tip: A clean inspection report, or proof of recent repairs, can help buyers feel more confident in making an offer.

3. Prevent Closing Delays
If issues crop up during the buyer’s inspection, it could delay closing due to repairs or prolonged negotiations. The buyer could even pull their offer altogether.

Pro tip: Fixing issues before listing the home can improve the outcome of your buyer’s inspection. And that could mean less negotiation on the whole.

Keep in mind that inspections come with an upfront fee, and you’ll be legally required to disclose any issues the inspector finds. However, we can discuss the inspection report to see how repairs could affect your home’s market value.

Are you considering selling your home this year? Want to know what it’s worth or what you can expect in today’s market? Reach out today for a free local market report and see how your house measures up.

Posted on July 25, 2019 at 3:34 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

Buying With Friends Isn’t Like Renting

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You’ve been living with your best friend since freshman year of college, and it’s been a blast. So why not pool your money and go in on a house together? After all, it’s easier to buy when you have two incomes.

It’s true that co-buying a home with friends or family can make it easier to own a home. And it can reduce your upfront costs.

But there are a few unique differences to co-buying. Here are three you should consider and discuss before you jump into the process.

1. What type of ownership will you have?
Don’t assume that splitting the mortgage determines the ownership.

If one person will be paying a larger portion, you might want to be tenants in common. This also allows you to transfer or sell your share of the property at any time. But if you want to divide the ownership equally, you can choose to be joint tenants.

2. How are your credit scores looking?
When two buyers are on a mortgage app, lenders use the lowest credit score to determine the interest rate.

Do you both have excellent credit? If not, you could have only one person on the mortgage loan, but you’ll only be able to count one income to determine the loan size.

3. How will you pay your bills each month?
This sounds like a minor detail, but it’s important to be on the same page about finances before the bills come in.

Will you pay bills out of a joint household account? Or will one person pay the full bill and have the other pay them back?

Once you’ve discussed your plans for the finances and ownership, your best bet is to have a legal agreement prepared ahead of time.

Have more questions about co-buying a home? Reach out today to discuss your needs and get the process started.

Posted on July 11, 2019 at 6:19 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

DIY Doesn’t Mean Doing It All Yourself

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How handy would you say you are? Can you fix a leaking faucet or install a new backsplash? Do you own all the drills, power saws and sanders used by the pros?

It can be tempting to DIY it all — especially if you’re on a budget. After all, you can have an active role in improving your home, and save cash to put toward other things. Why wouldn’t you want to?

The truth is not all projects are suited for a DIYer — no matter how much of a shiplap expert you might be.

If you’re considering a few renovations, here’s when to put on your toolbelt and when you might want to call a pro:

In the Kitchen: You can probably replace a sink, reface your cabinets or install a new dishwasher.

Want to move the sink or add recessed lighting? You’ll want a pro.

In the Bathroom: Installing new floor tiles, upgrading your toilet seat or changing your showerhead are all tasks you can do.

If you want in-floor radiant heating or to install a tub where there isn’t one, bring in a pro.

On the Exterior: Looking for more curb appeal with a new garden bed and a fresh coat of paint on your front door? Have at it.

Substantial upgrades like installing a skylight, repairing your roof or repaving your driveway are better suited for a professional.

Structural Changes: If you’re super handy, you can probably install drywall or relocate a door.

But if you’re changing an area that’s load-bearing? Definitely call a pro.

Remember, DIY doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. You’ll want to hire a professional for anything that requires specialized knowledge. There’s no shame in asking for help from an expert.

Want to discuss what home renovations might improve your property’s value? Get in touch today.

Posted on June 30, 2019 at 7:07 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

Don’t Get Blindsided by Closing Costs

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Have you ever decided to buy something, only to find out about additional costs at the end? The last thing you want is to be surprised by unexpected fees – especially at your closing.

You’ve made your financial calculations. Extra charges at the eleventh hour could make all your plans go bust.

But you can’t just skip the closing – that’s when the legal ownership is transferred.

Want to avoid being blindsided at your closing? Here’s how to plan ahead for closing fees:

What’s the deal with closing costs?
Closing costs typically run about 2% to 5% of the purchase price and are paid to lenders, attorneys and other third parties. Buyers often have more closing costs than sellers because most fees are related to the new mortgage loan.

Common closing costs for buyers:

  • Loan processing fees
  • Home appraisal and inspection fees
  • Property taxes

Common closing costs for sellers:

  • Mortgage payoff fees
  • Title transfer fees
  • Attorney fees for handling the closing

How can you lower the costs?
After applying for a mortgage, you’ll receive a Loan Estimate from the lender. It summarizes the loan terms, such as the loan amount, interest rate and all closing costs. Comparing Loan Estimates from different lenders is important.

Page 2 of the Loan Estimate also details the services you can shop around for, such as surveys, appraisals and title searches.

Are closing costs ever negotiable?
Yes. A seller or buyer sometimes agrees to pay part or all of the other party’s closing costs. This is something we can negotiate into the purchase agreement.

As for paying the closing costs? Some lenders will allow you to roll the cost into your mortgage. However, you’ll pay interest on it for the life of the loan. Paying cash upfront is a smarter option if you have the funds available.

Have more questions about closing on a home? Or are you ready to get your home search started? Reach out today.

Posted on June 13, 2019 at 7:16 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

Don’t need it? Then don’t pay for it.

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You know all those fantastic home features you hear your friends gushing about in their new home? The top-notch school district and Jacuzzi? The spacious third level and even more abundant yard?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. But they’re not right for everyone.

In fact, for some buyers, they might even be a waste of money.

Are you on the hunt for a home this year? Give careful consideration to whether you’re paying for features you’ll use.

Want to know the three that people often overpay for?

The Biggest House on the Block
Have three dogs and a few active toddlers? Then room to run is a must. Is it just you and your spouse? Springing for a five-bedroom corner lot might not be worth the cash.

Buying tip:
Buy for the space you need and are planning for – not the extra level you might use someday. You can always buy a move-up property if your plans change.

A Highly Rated School District
Great schools are important if kids are in your future – or if you have little ones already. But if that’s not in the cards for you, plotting your homebuying plans around them isn’t necessary.

Buying tip:
You may find more affordable properties, and property taxes, if you search outside those school districts.

Custom Amenities
Home theaters, quartz countertops and pools are popular amenities that many buyers are willing to pay top dollar for. Are you?

Buying tip:
Focus on the amenities you know you’ll use often and get the most value from.

It’s not always easy to evaluate your short- and long-term needs. That’s why it’s essential for us to discuss how your future plans will affect your homebuying goals.

Do you need help finding your perfect-fit home with features you’ll love (and use)? Reach out today to get started.

Posted on May 30, 2019 at 8:13 pm
Chris Reis | Category: Uncategorized

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