Benefits of Buying

Renting is overrated. The money is being thrown into the wind while your landlord is rolling in your hard earned cash and paying off their mortgage while telling you they’ll get to that leak under the sink “soon.” I remember renting one year when I didn’t even see the landlord. I couldn’t tell you what they looked like. My dishwasher was broken and the maintenance man told us to not use our health hazard heater because it was outdated. Needless to say it was a cold winter and we moved out of there quickly as possible. Does this sound like a familiar situation? Then you may be ready to sail into the sea of ownership where you are the Captain and that ship is under your control.

Buying a home comes with certain freedoms. One of those freedoms is not having a landlord. You are able to paint, hang wall art, and landscape as you please without the risk of not getting a deposit back. There are no noise restrictions, pet deposits, or remodeling. Butters, the hound, can run and be free in his house without his human worrying about what the landlord will say about his accident on the carpet. Renting stifles this ability to truly make a space your own. A home is yours to customize into a beautiful space that mirrors your personality with no guilt.


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Taxes are a big stressor. Who doesn’t want a little relief when April comes around? Homeowners are offered several tax breaks. Some of those include Mortgage Interest, Tax and Penalty Free IRA, Home Improvements, Energy Credits, Home Equity Loans, and Real Estate Taxes. There is even a Home Office credit if you work from home. So many deductions, so little stress.

A homeowner’s net worth is 45 times that of an average renter. While rent is never recovered, mortgage payments build equity. It is an investment in the future by increasing an individual’s net worth. Not to mention it is cheaper to buy than rent. The average mortgage is lower than a rental payment and over time the interest portion of the mortgage payment decreases therefore the interest that you pay will be lower than a rental cost.


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Having a home in a neighborhood provides a sense of community. You know your neighbors. You know where your children will grow up and go to school. You know that you can walk your dog every night with a peace of mind. One doesn’t always get that when renting because you never know when the rent may be raised depending on your lease. You may not even be able to renew your lease when the time comes. Community is a sense of stability and security.

Free yourself of the waves of rent, buy your dream boat.

 


Come to our First Time Home Buyers Workshop if you would like to learn more on August 26th:

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The new “Top Ten” that might turn off a home buyer!

1. Boldly Painted Walls

Decorators often tout black or another bold paint color as the perfect backdrop to metallic accessories or appliances in modern home design.

The reality is that people prefer the exterior and interior walls of a home to be neutral. Even though repainting is cheap and relatively easy to do, it’s still a pain and buyers might not want to bother.

When decorating, your best bet is to stick to an appeasing hue for the walls and use accessories to provide pops of color.

2. Wallpaper

Bold, graphic patterns increasingly are being incorporated into interior design, often in the form of wallpaper.

But wallpaper—even if it’s only on one wall—is an extremely personal choice and time-consuming to remove if it doesn’t appeal to the buyer

Consider replacing wallpaper with a neutral paint for broader appeal.

3. Lavish Light Fixtures

While potential buyers want rooms that seem airy and bright, beware of installing a showpiece light fixture that is too modern or ornate.

Fixtures should enhance your home—not steal the spotlight.

4. Gleaming Gold

Designers may be mixing silver and gold to give homes star quality, but it might be wise to change out fixtures if they have the wrong metallic sheen.

Gold can give a home an outdated, ’80s feel. Switching out the faucet and door handles with a more appealing finish—such as brushed nickel—is relatively inexpensive and can help make your home appear sleek rather than out of style.

5. Converted Garages

People want a covered parking space so that they have a safe place for their car—especially in areas where street parking is at a premium. Additionally, people often use their garage as storage space.

If you convert your garage into a space tailored your specific needs, such as a music practice room, it may not suit your potential buyers.

6. Converted Bedrooms

Like with the garage, people want rooms built for their original purpose.

If you’ve converted an unused bedroom to an office, walk-in closet, or a game room, make sure you can easily convert it back to a bedroom when you’re ready to sell.

7. Carpets

While designers love to play with the texture of shag carpeting as it feels soft underfoot, the majority of home buyers prefer hardwood floors.

People assume carpets trap dirt, germs and odors, and they don’t want to go through the hassle of steam cleaning their home before they can move in. Potential buyers also don’t want to spend time removing carpet to expose hardwood floors.

If someone really loves carpet, it’s much easier for them to add it themselves—after the purchase.

8. Too-Lush Landscaping

The “outdoor living room” is all the rage, and you may be tempted to build out your backyard into a lavish wilderness of flowers.

But potential buyers may be hesitant to buy a home with an overly landscaped property requiring a lot of maintenance.

Focus on creating or maintaining a nice and neat outdoor space that people can enjoy without too much fuss.

9. Pools and Hot Tubs

A pool may seem like a luxurious feature, but it can be a big turnoff for buyers.

Pools are perceived to be expensive to maintain and potential safety hazards, especially for families with children. Above-ground pools are eyesores and can leave a dead spot in the backyard.

These sentiments extend to hot tubs, too. Many people see hot tubs as breeding grounds for bacteria, and they are not a feature easily removed from the deck or back yard.

10. Fancy (or Not) Pet Products

Sales of pet products are expected to increase nearly $3 billion from last year, and there’s an increasing market for luxury pet items.

But even animal lovers don’t want to see another family’s pet paraphernalia in a potential home. Even if your home is immaculate, the presence of pet-related items will give the impression that it’s dirty.

Be sure to remove all traces of your pet—including toys, food dishes and photos—before listing your home for sale.

House hunting? Here are some tips from the tube!

1. Be optimistic

Two things that contestants on The Bachelorette have in common, besides an obsession with roses? They’re usually true romantics and eternal optimists, with a little bit of crazy risk-taker thrown in.

When you’re house hunting, make like Kaitlyn Bristowe. You’ve got to truly believe your happily ever after is out there — but not be afraid to test drive all the homes available to make sure you’re choosing the best fit for you.

2. Make it work

Those designers on Project Runway work it. They scour stores for the perrrrrrrfect materials and don’t settle until they find exactly what they’re looking for. (The ones who do settle for “good enough” are usually the ones who get booted off the show early, amirite?)

If you’re searching for a new home, take this tip to heart: Don’t settle. Remember that the right house for you is out there somewhere, even if you’ll have to tackle some DIY projects to make it work.

3. Be a survivor

The flashiest, priciest offer doesn’t always win the house. Sometimes, just like the underdog competitor in Survivor or The Amazing Race, it’s the offer waiting in the wings that proves patience and diligence can win out.

When you’re house hunting, remember that sometimes houses don’t appraise for the astronomical price resulting from a bidding war. Sometimes a buyer can’t secure a loan after all. With a little patience (and maybe a little luck), you’ll be waiting in the wings to collect your winnings.

4. Appearance isn’t everything

When a contestant walks onto the stage of America’s Got Talent, the judges have to be prepared for anything — because talent comes in all shapes and sizes.

Same goes for house hunting. It’s easy to be swayed by a pretty facade and fancy fixtures, but if the floor plan doesn’t work for you, or the yard is just too big for you to manage, you probably won’t be happy there. Keep your eyes and mind open so that you can make clear decisions based on the features that are right for you and not be swept away by the flashy features.

5. Remember that you’re “not here to make friends”

Hopefully, you’ve found a group of professionals you trust to help lead you through the home-buying process. But if, for example, your real estate agent consistently shows you properties that don’t meet your very clearly outlined criteria, or your home inspector isn’t able to answer all of your questions (or seems to be skimming over details), it might be time to start from scratch with someone new.

It’s understandable if you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (and unlike in reality TV, there’s absolutely no need to be mean or rude), but ultimately you’re the one who will be making the mortgage payments or dealing with the problems your inspector didn’t turn up on that fixer upper.

Never feel guilty about asking for a second opinion, parting ways with an agent who doesn’t meet your needs, or requesting more time to discuss financing options with your mortgage broker. You’re not here to make friends … you’re here to find a house.

6. Keep your eye on the prize

Buying a home can be an emotional experience — after all, you’re making a huge investment, and that can bring anxiety and worries along for the ride. And when emotions are running high, there’s a much bigger opportunity for miscommunication or snarkiness to turn an already challenging situation into an impossible one.

But you’re also hopefully buying a home that you love, or that you want to turn into something wonderful, or that you might want to raise your kids in someday. And in any reality show competition — from Top Chef to So You Think You Can Dance — the people who come out on top are almost always the ones who can keep their cool under the most challenging circumstances.

So the next time your significant other gives you grief about spending a Saturday cozying up to a Project Runway marathon instead of hitting the open-house circuit, just let them know you’re learning how to “make it work” by studying the tactics of your favorite designers.

 

The Economy’s report card from 2015!

From The Wall Street Journal:

A surge in U.S. incomes last year delivered the first significant raise for the typical family after seven years of stagnant and declining earnings, the result of sustained job growth finally lifting a broad swath of American households.

The median household income—the level at which half are above and half are below—rose 5.2%, or $2,798, to $56,516, from a year earlier, after adjusting for inflation, the Census Bureau said Tuesday.

The increase was the largest annual gain recorded since the yearly survey of incomes began in 1967, though it didn’t fully close the gap left by last decade’s recessions. Median household incomes stood 1.6% shy of the 2007 level, before the last recession took its toll, and 2.4% below the all-time high reached in 1999.

The figures show how several years of robust employment growth, including 2.4 million people who gained full-time work last year, helped regain ground lost after an especially wrenching downturn, particularly for lower-income households. Longer hours, higher wages and lower inflation also have contributed to the improvement.

One question now is whether a sustained upturn is under way, or whether these gains are likely to peter out as the economy nears full employment, especially given a continuing slide in measured worker productivity.

“It has been a long slog from the depths of the Great Recession, but things are finally starting to improve for many American households,” said Chris Christopher Jr., an economist at IHS Global Insight, a research firm.

At the current pace, median household incomes could surpass their 2007 level next year, according to forecasts by IHS, concluding a lost decade for workers.

The official poverty rate in 2015 was 13.5%, down from 14.8% in 2014, the Census report said. That was still slightly higher than in 2008 and up from 11.3% in 2000. More than 43.1 million Americans were living in poverty last year. The poverty level was $24,257 for a family of four.

Meanwhile, the report showed fewer people lacked health insurance in 2015 than the previous year, largely because of expanded access through the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. The Census Bureau found 29 million people, or 9.1% of Americans, lacked health insurance in 2015. That is down from 33 million people, or 10.4% of the population, in 2014. The uninsured rate has dropped significantly since 2008, when millions more Americans lacked coverage.

Democrats celebrated the report during a campaign season that has been marked by deep economic unease among voters in both parties.

Five pieces of priceless advice to 1st time home buyers!

1. Find out how much you can borrow

Many factors impact the amount of money that your bank is willing to lend you. This includes your income, down payment, credit score, outgoings and current debts along with many other variables.

This is one of the most crucial stages of the home buying process, so seek legitimate advice that allows you to plan appropriately. Realistically, you should do this before you start seriously looking at properties so that you know which homes to look at.

2. Do your research

Regardless of whether you are a first-time home buyer, getting an idea of what’s on the market is essential. Don’t always just look at a house’s face value; investigate what is going on in the surrounding areas, including future development plans, transport links, schools, crime rates and facilities.

The last thing you want to do is buy a house only to find out that an airport is being built next door.

3. Never underestimate the knowledge of mom and dad

The homebuying process was much different back when our parents bought their first home; however, you should never underestimate how knowledgeable they are on the general process.

Don’t be scared to ask for help, as they might have information and experience in handling issues that you might not have even considered. If you are lucky, they might be able to help you financially, so you should consult with them from the start.

4. Account for additional costs

It can be easy to forget the ancillary costs that come with buying a house, other than paying off your mortgage every month. Before you fully secure the property, consider the cost of taxes, valuation fees, agent fees, closing costs, HOA fees, etc.

In addition, take into consideration your other monthly outgoings such as utility bills, taxes, cable, insurance, and of course, the upfront cost of moving into and furnishing your home.

5. Don’t settle for the first property you see

There are very few people who manage to find a house that ticks all the boxes on the wish list, so make a list of the most important features that you aren’t willing to compromise on.

It can be tempting to move into a house that is already decorated and save yourself a few weeks of DIY. But it’s not worth it if you find out you will have to replace the whole central heating system three months down the line. Learn the difference between cosmetic issues and real ones.

You need to buy a home this Summer! Read why!

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices have appreciated by 5.9% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 5.3% over the next year. The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects home values to appreciate by more than 3.2% a year for the next 5 years.

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase 

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have remained around 4%. Most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. TheMortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison, projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by this time next year.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. A year from now, your housing expense will increase if a mortgage is necessary to buy your next home. 

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe now is the time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

With your Realtor by your side, let’s make an offer!

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.

Sound advice for home buyers in a competitive market!

1. Be informed

If you have specific neighborhoods, communities, or builders you’re interested in, start researching and following them on social media, and set up Google alerts. The first line of defense is to know what’s going on so you can act fast to get the home you want.

2. Register your name on the interest list

Communities and builders reach out to those on their interest lists with news about model homes, property releases, new phases, and other updates. If you want to be among the first to know, make sure the community/builder knows about you. You also want to be aware that many new-home communities have a policy regarding real estate agent representation; you typically have to tour the community with your real estate agent on your first visit in order for your agent to receive a commission when you purchase. Which brings us to our next tip…

3. Work with a REALTOR®

REALTORS® have the inside track on new releases and in many cases will be able to alert you to important news before the public has been made aware.

4. Make a friend

It doesn’t hurt to makes friends with the sales agents in the community. They’re great resources for neighborhood details others might not be aware of.

5. Get preapproved

If you’re not preapproved for a loan when you go to buy a new home, you could lose it to someone who is.

6. Check for financing options through the builder

Using a builder’s in-house mortgage option won’t move you up an interest list, but it can provide other benefits. Depending on the builder, there may be incentives like closing cost help or upgrades for financing your home with their mortgage partner.

7. Talk to your REALTOR® about options and upgrades

This is important when securing your financing. The model home, if there is one, will likely be significantly upgraded and full of options that raise the price well beyond the base price. Having an idea of the options and upgrades you want, and the cost involved, is an important step in the process because it helps ensure you are approved for the correct amount. Finding out after the fact that you can’t qualify for the home you want because the decked-out kitchen you’re coveting has pushed the sales price out of reach would be a drag.

8. Familiarize yourself with the community and the properties

Intense community interest – the kind that incites camp outs – can breed a frenzied energy and cloud judgment. And, you never know which home sites the people in front of you in line will choose. It could be that the one you were dreaming of is gone by the time you get to the front. Knowing the community well and having notes outlining which sites meet your needs will help you make an informed choice when it’s your turn.

Still renting? Read this!

There are some people that have not purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either your mortgage or your landlord’s.

As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.  

That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.