Elegant home in the highly sought after Fenwick addition! Nothing cookie cutter about it from the classic light fixtures to the dome, tray and vaulted ceilings. Designer kitchen with bistro feel. Detailed woodwork on the center island, built in oven and microwave. Range is built in a unique brick area. True 4 bedrooms, a cool media room, oversized study that could also double as a music room in addition to the living room. Corner lot provides plenty of space to run and play whether it’s adults, children or fur babies. There is also a greenbelt just across the street with walking trails, community pool and playground. All of this coupled with a highly sought after school system, it’s a home you don’t want to pass up! Centrally located 2.5 miles from the turnpike, restaurants and shopping. Call today for your private showing.
Reason 1: You should have gotten an ARM
The majority of home buyers get a fixed-rate mortgage, because this guarantees the interest rate they pay will remain the same over the life of the loan. Yet certain home buyers could have saved big-time by taking on the more “risky” alternative: an adjustable-rate mortgage, which has an attractively low initial rate that adjusts according to the market after a set period.
Many people are leery of ARMs, which got a bad name during the housing bust when thousands of homeowners saw their monthly payments balloon after that initial period expired, but today’s ARMs have more safeguards for consumers. And they can be great for certain types of home buyers. If you don’t expect to stay in your new home for more than a few years, you can enjoy an ARM’s lower initial rate and sell your home before the adjustment takes effect.
“A really low teaser rate makes sense for someone who doesn’t plan on living in the house for that long,” says Kenneth Crichlow, the operations manager at First Rate Funding in Albany, NY. “If it’s a starter home, and they figure in five years they’ll be ready to get a bigger, better house, they won’t hit the point where the rate might go up.”
If this fits your timeline, check for ARMs with 5/1, 7/1, or 10/1 terms, depending on your plans (that first number indicates the year length of the introductory period, and the “1” means the rate will adjust once a year thereafter). These ensure your rate remains in place until you’re ready to move on, without risking a surprise boost.
Reason 2: You could have bought points but didn’t
One common way to pay less interest on a home loan is to purchase discount points upfront—that is, if you can afford them. Typically, a discount point costs 1% of the home’s value. For a $200,000 house, you can pay $2,000 to reduce your interest rate by 0.25% (the percentage can vary by lender).
You might find this ridiculous—paying more upfront just for the slightest change in your interest rate? Boo, hiss. But this can really work out in the long term.
For that $200,000 home, for example, buying just 2 points to knock your interest rate from 5% to 4.5% can lower your monthly payments from $1,074 to $1,013 a month, saving you $732 per year—and $21,699 over the life of a 30-year loan.
Unlike an ARM, you’ll need to stay in your house longer to make this worthwhile—at least six years, to recoup the $4,000 for the points.
Reason 3: You didn’t use a broker
Even if you consider yourself financially savvy, a mortgage broker can save you a major chunk of change over the life of your loan.
“If you want to get the best possible mortgage for you and your family, the most important thing is to find a mortgage adviser who can offer you options and keep an open mind,” says Casey Fleming, author of “The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.”
There are just so many types of mortgages out there, a broker or adviser (an adviser typically works with one bank, whereas a broker is independent) can be incredibly helpful in finding options that fit your situation.
“The right loan depends on your circumstances, goals, and concerns,” says Fleming. “One-solution mortgage lenders do a huge disservice to customers. They don’t look at the big picture and offer options that solve the concerns that the consumer either has, or should have.”
Reason 4: Things have changed—but your mortgage hasn’t
Once you’ve secured your mortgage, your work is done, right? Not necessarily. Mortgages can, and should, move with the times. For instance, if interest rates have plummeted, you could save a bundle by refinancing at a lower rate. Or even if interest rates have stayed steady, major changes may have happened with you.
For instance, when you purchased your home, you might have been aiming for the lowest monthly cost possible, since that’s all you could afford. Maybe you bought a $200,000 home and selected a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage that costs $1,074 per month. Which is fine, but at 5% interest, by the time those 30 years are up, you will have paid about as much in interest as the principal—another $200,000.
So if your income has risen significantly since you first got your mortgage, you might want to refinance for a 15-year term. Your monthly payments will rise, but only to $1,288 per month, and if you can afford them, you’d save a whopping $90,000 in interest by not stretching it out over 30 years. Best of all? You’ll be mortgage-free in half the time.
Looking for a country feel with the turnpike only 2 miles away? Here it is! Situated on a cul-de-sac lot containing a large backyard with covered patio that backs up to a greenbelt. Enter into the open living/dining area with the simple starting gas fireplace as a focal point. You won’t run out of space in this kitchen abundant with cabinets and a pantry! High efficiency stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops complete the look. Refrigerator negotiable. Dining area and bar space for eating, not to mention the flow into the living room is perfect for entertaining. Laundry room has an additional linen closet and shelving for all of your extras. Master boasts tray ceilings, a bay window and double closets to reduce arguing about sharing closet space. The split floor plan offers oversized kids bedrooms and a full bath. Who wouldn’t want to live in this warm community complete with a pool, clubhouse and gym located in the highly sought after Deer Creek Schools?
Making an Offer
Once you find a home you like, your agent should help you to put together an offer that will be formalized in the purchase and sales agreement, a binding contract between you and the seller.
Consider how aggressive you want to be in negotiations and how competitive the market is (after all, until your offer has been accepted, the seller can take other offers). If you’re hoping to conserve cash, then consider making a stipulation that the seller contribute to closing costs — the amount varies depending on the type of mortgage and down payment amount, but can range from 3 to 9 percent of the sale price.
Also decide whether you want your offer to be subject to the home passing inspection, and what type of inspection. A traditional home inspection covers any flaws in the property so that you know exactly what you’re getting into. You can also include a pest inspection, radon testing, and a bunch of other options.
I was prepared for an endless back-and-forth with the seller (maybe I watch too much TV), but our negotiation was short. We made an offer, the seller countered, and our agent advised us to come back with our “best and final” offer to let the seller know that we were done negotiating. They accepted.
Hidden cost No. 1: Taxes
Depending on how long you’ve lived in your home, when you sell the place, a large portion of your equity may go straight to federal and state capital-gains taxes. Many folksdownplay or underestimate this heavy lift. You can exclude up to $500,000 of profit from the sale of your home if you’re a married couple filing jointly, or $250,000 if you’re single. (Your profit is the sale price minus its selling expenses and “tax basis”—that is, what you paid when you originally purchased it, plus the cost of any improvements you’ve made to the property.)
The IRS offers some guidelines on how to calculate capital gains, but you’ll still want to consult a tax adviser to find out how much you’re going to walk away with when you sell your home, says Rae Wayne, a Realtor® with the Bizzy Blondes team in Los Angeles.
Additionally, if you’re buying your next property, you might have to pay more in property taxes depending on where you’re moving. But if this is a retirement move you’re making, you may be in luck: Some cities offer property tax relief to seniors, so find out from your adviser if a discount is available and whether you qualify.
Hidden cost No. 2: Repairs
Depending on how long you’ve lived in your home, you might have plenty of deferred maintenance to deal with. So to get the most value for your house, you’ll need to make repairs before putting your property on the market. You may also have some cosmetic issues that need attention. Maybe lots of ’em.
“A lot of homeowners just let landscaping slip,” says Nancy Newquist-Nolan, a Realtor with Pacific Coast Realty in Santa Barbara, CA, who specializes in downsizing. “Older homeowners in particular just don’t have the energy.”
Is that you? When Jeb Bush was labeled “low energy” during the Republican primaries, did you nod sadly in recognition? Then it’s worth hiring a professional to do basic landscaping, including removing weeds, planting flowers, and pruning hedges and trees. Improving your home’s landscape can raise its value by up to 12%, according to research from Virginia Tech.
Moreover, painting the front door, replacing the mailbox, and updating light fixtures are low-cost upgrades that can boost curb appeal substantially.
Hidden cost No. 3: Moving
Unless you can get friends or family to help you (and at this point in your life, do you really want to?), you’ll probably hire a moving company when you downsize. Just keep this in mind: The average professional move costs a not-at-all-small $12,230, according to Worldwide ERC, an association that tracks mobility costs.
But there are a number of ways you can save.
Timing is crucial. Summer is peak moving season, since most families want to move when their children are out of school. And trust us, surge pricing isn’t unique to Uber. So avoid the priciest periods if possible: You’ll save if you can relocate during the winter. Moreover, a mid-month move will help cut costs, since movers are busiest during the beginning and end of the month when leases turn over, says Scott Michael, president and CEO at American Moving & Storage Association.
Another way to cut costs is simply to comparison shop: Get in-home quotes from at least three companies, Michael advises. Transporting valuables like antiques? Make sure you’re covered if something breaks. Since legal coverage varies by state, look into purchasing “full replacement value” protection from the moving company, says Michael. Also, some homeowners insurance policies cover items when in transit, so check your coverage.
If you’re making a local move, you’ll likely pay by the hour, so make the process as seamless as possible, says Regina Leeds, a professional organizer and author of “Rightsize … Right Now!: The 8-Week Plan to Organize, Declutter, and Make Any Move Stress-Free.”
To conserve time, pack smaller items yourself, label boxes and furniture to indicate their designated room, and supply workers with handwritten instructions the day of the move.
“The less questions movers have to ask you, the faster they’ll go,” and the more you’ll save, says Leeds.
Since long-distance moves are typically priced based on weight, you can shave costs by unloading your “clutter” before moving.
Hidden cost No. 4: Storage
Having trouble parting with some of your possessions? You may be tempted to put them into a storage unit, but Newquist-Nolan says it’s a waste of money.
“When you downsize, you should be able to reduce your possessions to fit your new living space,” she says.
Leeds recommends going room to room and making a list of everything you’re going to get rid of, including furniture, clothing, and canned foods.
“You want to have space in your next home for new mementos,” says Leeds.
Be brutal—you’ll be happy you were. You have three options when paring down your belongings, according to Newquist-Nolan: Give them to family, sell them (either on eBay or in a yard sale), or make a donation and receive a tax write-off. Some organizations (e.g., the Salvation Army) will pick up donations from your house, making it a hassle-free decision. If you’re going to simplify, simplify.
Hidden cost No. 5: Living expenses in your new locale
This one is a big wild card. Some living expenses are fixed, like condo dues or homeowners association fees, and thus easier to budget for; in other cases, your cost of living might go up—sometimes way up—if you’re making a long-distance move.
Online calculators can give you a rough estimate of what you’ll be paying, but you can get a better sense of how much things cost by visiting your prospective town.
“Check out the supermarkets, restaurants, and shopping centers,” says Wayne, “and talk to as many people as possible to get a feel for what it’s like to live there.” After all, small is the new big. Just make sure it’s the right kind of small.
1. Don’t take it personally
We know you love the way you set up your living room. That eclectic collection of wicker baskets from all your European travels stacked up in the corner? It’s the perfect detail for you—but not for your stager. Not even close.
So here’s the thing: When they tell you what to change (and they absolutely will), don’t be offended. It doesn’t mean they think your style is awful. Not necessarily, anyway.
“It’s not about whether I like something or not,” Burke says. “It’s about how we’re going to present it. I know what photographs well and what looks dated.”
Her favorite clients are the ones who know tough feedback is coming and don’t care: “I walk in and they say, ‘You can’t hurt my feelings. Do whatever you want.’”
2. Toss your stuff, and disconnect emotionally
For many sellers, home staging will be the first time they realize they’re really, actuallymoving. Family pictures come down, the sofa goes into storage, and suddenly this place you called yours is looking less and less like you.
If you need to do some emotional processing, we understand: It’s hard to put your family home on the market. But don’t subject your stager to your stress. Detach. Chill out. Help the process, don’t hinder or fight it. Keep your eye on the prize: selling your home at the right price, to the right buyers, within the right time frame.
What does that really mean? Try removing as much of your stuff as possible before the stager comes. By tackling spring cleaning you’ll not only accomplish some necessary decluttering before your move, but you’ll also get used to the idea that this is no longer your home.
“We need to make sure that they’re truly ready to sell their house,” says David Peterson of Synergy Staging based in Portland, OR. “That’s a big part of emotionally disconnecting.”
3. Move out (if you can)
Both Peterson and Burke find staging a home vastly easier when it’s vacant. If you can afford to move out when the home goes on the market, do it.
“It’s easier for them, it’s easier on their pets, and it’s easier on the buyer,” Burke says. “We can create one cohesive look and don’t have to blend anything.”
Occupied houses present more of a challenge (and take substantially more time): Stagers have to accommodate daily living, as well as risk the homeowner not preserving their layout (or any rented furniture).
Occupied homes can even cost more to stage. “It’s just a lot more work, timewise, when the owners are still living in the place,” Burke says.
4. Stay out of the picture(s)
According to the 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 92% of buyers use the Internet to look for homes—meaning the pictures posted alongside your home’s listing are wildly important.
“Much of what I’m doing is to appeal to people through photographs,” Burke says. “I hope that photo will touch people and they’ll say, ‘That’s going on my short list.’”
Peterson aims to be the “last person in before the photographers. We want those pictures to look great.”
But no one wants the buyers to be disappointed with the home’s real-life presentation after seeing photos online. So here’s a bonus: If you’re staying in the property, make sure to keep it in tiptop shape.
5. Get your money’s worth
Staging isn’t a last-minute addition before your home officially goes on the market. Stagers work far in advance and can’t always fit in last-minute work. Costs start around $1,250, depending on your state of residence, square footage, and what—if any—furniture you rent, according to the Real Estate Staging Association.
That might seem like a lot of money to spend on a home you’re about to sell, but both Burke and Peterson say staging is an investment with a very high return. “Anything we put in, we want to make sure you’re getting your money back,” Burke says.
6. Stay on schedule
Don’t dillydally on making the recommended changes for your stager, who can’t begin rearranging until you’ve finished renovating. Usually the requested changes are small (new paint, fixing chipped tiles in the bathroom, etc.).
Not finishing small jobs on time can push the entire project back.
“If we get there and a place hasn’t been cleaned, or there’s still a painting crew, we can’t do our jobs. Then we have to charge them a fee, leave, and then reschedule,” Peterson says. “If we’re booked out several weeks, it really makes it hard.” And maybe even more expensive. So get moving.
True handicap accessible Mother-in-Law plan that backs up to a peaceful greenbelt. Open floor plan with elegant engineered wood floors in the living room. Large island, built-in hutch, tons of custom cabinetry and upscale appliances. Gorgeous lighting throughout. Oversized bedrooms including a Master with Tray ceilings, separate sinks in the bath and walk in shower, along with a huge walk-in closet. 6″ crown molding, sculpted carpet, designer colors, a true custom designed floor plan you must see to appreciate. Back secondary bedroom has it’s own attached bathroom perfect for guests, teens or elderly parents. One year builder warranty frees you of any maintenance concerns. Quiet community just behind the newer public library. Brand new Sprouts grocery store along with more businesses coming just a few blocks away for your convenience. You do want to miss out! Call today for your private showing.
Gorgeous contemporary home you won’t want to miss! 3 bed, 2 bath plus a study with rich wood floors. Open floor plan is perfect for entertaining and makes the home feel larger. Incredible utility room with granite countertops and a sink. Kitchen also includes granite, quality appliances, island and tons of custom cabinetry. Large walk-in pantry next to the kitchen allows plenty of room for stocking up for parties. The covered patio is enclosed on 3 sides which is ideal for this Oklahoma wind! Tray ceilings in the living and master. Master bath boasts separate tub & shower in addition to the double sinks and private water closet. This is affordable elegance at it’s finest! Great community across from Spring Creek Elementary. HOA will cover community pool, playground greenbelt, etc. Enjoy seeing the stars at night in this picturesque area only 2 miles north of the turnpike with NO city traffic to deal with, doesn’t that sound heavenly!? Welcome home.