With a 2,000+ mile long winter storm affecting much of the country, there are plenty of home owners who wish they were better prepared. Even when you live in warm climates, some of these things are important to check periodically.
Preparing for the change of seasons can make your home more comfortable and protect your investment. Regular maintenance extends the various components of a home and can generate savings in operating costs while avoiding expensive replacements.
- Weather strips around doors and windows should be checked for possible air leaks.
- Caulking around windows and doors should seal out moisture and air leaks.
- HVAC should be inspected and serviced by a professional annually.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested regularly.
- Ductwork and supply lines from water heaters should be insulated.
- Fireplace chimneys should be cleaned regularly and fireplaces should be inspected for cracks in mortar and to see if the damper closes properly.
- Gutters should be free of leaves and debris to prevent rainwater build-up.
- Tree branches touching or hanging over your roof should be trimmed.
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The Winter Home Buyer Report conducted in the second week of November by REALTOR.com® revealed the sentiments of current home buyers expecting to buy a house during the winter months. It appears that there is pent-up demand with buyers who were unable to purchase a home recently.
Most cited as an impediment to purchase was the challenge of low inventory. Strong demand coupled with short supply explains why home prices have been increasing.
“This summer and spring home buying season was particularly challenging for buyers, especially first-time home buyers trying to compete with all-cash offers and bidding wars because of reduced inventory. In fact, a quarter of the winter home buyers revealed they are in the market now because they were unable to find a home during this last home buying season,” said Alison Schwartz, vice president of corporate communications at REALTOR.com®. “While buyers are still experiencing challenges with inventory and approximately one in five buyers plan to put down all cash, there are advantages to looking for a home in the winter. Motivated sellers, better prices and less competition between buyers are some of the top reasons winter home buyers are interested in purchasing a home during the colder months of the year.”
Some interesting statistics taken from the report are:
Biggest challenges when searching for a home during winter:
• 34 percent shared that there is not enough inventory on the market
• 29 percent believe that winter weather makes house hunting unpleasant
Traditionally, the industry has found that the fourth quarter of the year has a lower sales volume and is generally attributed to distractions from the holidays and not wanting to make a move during consistently inclement weather. Even in areas that are not affected by extreme winter weather, there seems to be a mindset about moving in the winter.
Indications are that it may be advantageous for sellers to put their home on the market now rather than wait until after the first of the year.
Most school children would probably say that Thanksgiving dates back to the Pilgrims at Plymouth as early as 1621. By the late 1660’s, it had become traditional to hold a harvest festival in New England.
President George Washington declared the first nation-wide thanksgiving in 1789 “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”
One hundred fifty years ago during the Civil War, in October, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national day of Thanksgiving.
William Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state, drafted the proclamation: “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God…they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”
Even though the country was in the middle of the costly Civil War, the people of America started an enduring tradition to give thanks. In 1941, Congress determined that Thanksgiving will be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.
Most people are familiar with the various reasons a homeowner refinances their home which generally result in two major benefits: saving interest and building equity.
There is however another reason to refinance which may not be as common which is to remove a person from the loan. In the case of a divorce, when one party wants to keep the home and the other party wants their equity out of the home, it is possible for the remaining party to refinance the home. If the equity is sufficient to justify it and the remaining owner can qualify for the new loan, the refinance can provide the proceeds to buy out the other spouse.
Refinancing to remove a person from the loan could also involve a situation where two or more heirs jointly own a property and have differing opinions on when to sell. The same situation could apply to a rental property with multiple owners and the refinance would provide a way to buy out a partner.
Sometimes, it’s not about taking cash out of the home to buy out the other party. If a person’s name is on the mortgage, they’re responsible if it goes to default. One party may be willing to deed the home to the other party but it doesn’t necessarily relieve them of the liability of the mortgage they originated.
Many times, once a person has made their mind to move on, they’ll take the fastest and easiest way out. Removing a person from the deed or a mortgage is a reason to consider obtaining legal advice to protect your interests. Refinance Analysis calculator.
Reasons to Refinance
1. Lower the rate
2. Shorten the term
3. Take cash out of the equity
4. Combine loans
5. Remove a person from a loan
As a homeowner, you obviously pay for your mortgage but as an investor, your tenant does. Equity build-up is a significant benefit of mortgaged rental property. As the investor collects rent and pays expenses, the principal amount of the loan is reduced which increases the equity in the property. Over time, the tenant pays for the property to the benefit of the investor.
Equity build-up occurs with normal amortization as the loan is paid down. It can be accelerated by making additional contributions to the principal each month along with the normal payment. Some investors consider this a good use of the cash flows because interest rates on savings accounts and certificates of deposits are much lower than their mortgage rate.
In the example below, is a hypothetical rental with a purchase price of $125,000 with 80% loan-to-value mortgage at 4.5% for 30 years compared to a 3.5% for 15 years. The acquisition costs were estimated at $3,000, the monthly rent is estimated at $1,250 and $4,800 for operating expenses.
Notice that both properties have a positive cash flow before tax. The cash on cash return is the revenue less expenses including debt service divided by the initial investment to acquire the property. The 15 year mortgage will obviously have a smaller cash flow and lower cash on cash but the equity build-up is significantly higher.
If the goal of the investor is to pay off the property to provide the highest possible cash flow at a later date, a shorter term mortgage with a lower interest rate will help them achieve that. A simple definition of an investment is to put away today so you’ll have more tomorrow. Sacrificing cash flow now, during an investor’s earning years, is a reasonable expectation to provide more cash flow in the future when it might be needed more.
Contact me if you’d like to explore rental property opportunities.
When you’re buying or selling, the obvious source to get your real estate question answered is your agent but where do you go the rest of the time? As a homeowner for many years to come, you’ll need reliable help and solid suggestions.
Our business goal is to have a select group of our friends and past customers who consider us their lifelong real estate professional. We want to earn that trusted position so they’ll enthusiastically refer their friends to us. Our plan to achieve this is simply to help these people with all of their real estate needs not just when they buy or sell but for all the years in between.
Throughout the year, we offer reminders and suggestions by email and social media that benefit your homeowner experience. When we find good articles to help you be a better homeowner, we’ll pass them along. You’ll discover new ways to maintain your property, minimize expenses and manage debt and risk.
We want to be your “Go-To” person for everything to do with real estate. If we don’t have the answer you need, we’ll point you in the right direction to find it.
We’re here for you and your friends…now and in the future. Please let us know how we can help you.
Lenders, like any business, have to make a profit. The cost of acquiring the funds, the operating costs to service and the expected profit margin are easily identified. The variable in pricing is the type of mortgage and the credit worthiness of the borrower.
A loan with a 3.5% down payment is riskier than a loan with 20% down payment. If the lender has to take the property back to recover their expense, the margin is greater between what is owed and what the property is worth on an 80% mortgage.
Credit scoring is a risk-based pricing method that allows a lender to be competitive in the market for the best loans from different borrower groups. Individual lenders set their own levels for what they consider “A” credit which is reserved for the best rates. If good credit is approximately 710 to 740, scores below that are considered higher risk and will have higher rates.
Risk must be assessed for both the borrower and the property that collateralizes the loan. The borrower’s credit history and income stability are strongly evaluated by the lender but if a default should occur, the property must secure the loan to avoid a loss to the lender.
The challenge for some buyers is they are unaware of what their credit score is and how it will affect the interest rate offered by the lender. It is to the buyer’s advantage to be pre-approved by a reputable lender prior to starting the process of looking for a home. In some cases, the lender can actually improve the borrower’s credit score to help them qualify for a lower interest rate.
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One of the anxiety highpoints during the sale of a home is waiting for the buyer’s home inspection report. Most sellers willingly disclose what they know about their home to any potential buyers. The concern stems from the inspector finding something that they’re totally unaware of and that it will either cost them a lot of money to correct or the buyer will simply use it to void the contract.
If the inspection does reveal some unknown problem with the home, it’s probably as big a surprise to the buyer who is not as emotionally or financially invested as the seller. It is human nature to fear what you don’t understand and when a report identifies defects, they may simply opt-out of the home.
The solution to the situation may be for the seller to have the home inspected prior to putting it on the market. There is still a risk of becoming surprised by an unknown defect which at that point, would have to be disclosed to potential buyers or repaired by the seller. The advantage is that it creates a baseline to compare discrepancies that may arise when a future buyer has the home inspected.
If the seller’s inspection report is made available during the marketing process, it could give buyers a sense of confidence about the home even though they may still choose to have the home checked by their own inspector.
The cost of the inspection, possibly $500, keeps some sellers from taking this initiative when selling their home. In an effort to minimize their expenses, they forego getting valuable, disinterested 3rd party advice that could help sell their home. On a $175,000 home, the fee for the inspection will probably be less than 3/10 of one percent of the sales price.
Another option to the seller to increase marketability of the property and bolster buyer confidence in the home would be to offer a home protection plan. Generally, the seller doesn’t incur cost for this coverage until the home is sold and there may even be some coverage for the seller during the listing period. The benefit to the buyer is avoiding unanticipated expenses for specific items that are covered during their first year of ownership.
Contact me for recommendations of home inspectors or home protection plans.
Man’s best friend enjoys many of the benefits of his master’s home besides food and shelter and a comfortable place to live and play. In return, dog owners expect companionship and possibly, protection; after all, even a small dog can bark to signal intruders.
Few people doubt that most dog owners love their pets and treat them well. The costs associated with having a dog can include medical and dental that rivals human expenses, premium food, toys, grooming and license fees. However, one of the expenses not anticipated by pet owners is a higher homeowner’s insurance premium.
There are almost five million dog bites a year with children being the main victims.
“Dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claim dollars paid out in 2012, which amounted to more than $489 million,” said Peter Robertson, representing the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, testifying against the bill at a hearing of the Committee on Financial Services. He said, “The total cost of dog bite claims increased by more than 51 percent between 2003 and 2012.” It is now estimated that dog bites cause losses of over one billion dollars a year.
Some insurance underwriters have denied or canceled coverage or increased the premium of the owner’s liability insurance based on the homeowners’ specific breed of dog such as Pit Bulls, Dobermans, Akitas, Mastiffs, Malamutes and even German Shepherds. The aggressive nature of certain types of dogs combined with specific training or lack of training, abuse or neglect are identified by insurer’s refusal to provide liability coverage.
If you are considering what insurers identify as a high-risk pet, you might want to visit with your insurance agent prior to acquiring your new best friend to see if it affects your rates.
You’ve seen lists telling buyers what to do to find the right home but knowing what not to do can be just as important. After finding the right home, negotiating a contract, making a loan application and inspections, buyers, understandably, start making plans to move and put their personal touches on the home.
In today’s tenuous lending environment, little things can derail the process which isn’t over until the papers are signed at settlement and funds distributed to the seller. Verifications are made by a lender at the beginning of the loan process to determine if the buyer qualifies for the mortgage. The verifications are usually done again just prior to the closing to determine if there have been any material changes to the borrower’s credit or income that might disqualify them.
1. Don’t make any new major purchases that could affect your debt-to-income ratio
2. Don’t apply, co-sign or add any new credit
3. Don’t quit your job or change jobs
4. Don’t change banks
5. Don’t open new credit accounts
6. Don’t close or consolidate credit card accounts without advice from your lender
7. Don’t buy things for your new home until after you close
8. Don’t talk to the seller without your agent
Your real estate professional and lender are working together to get you into your new home. It’s understandable to be excited about one of the biggest decisions you’ll make and that you feel you need to be getting ready for the move.
Planning is smart but don’t do anything that would affect your credit or income while you’re waiting to sign the final papers at settlement.