Is Summer or Winter the Best Season to Buy a Home?

You hear it a lot – there are best and worst times to make any sort of purchase. Whether it’s a television, a car, or a home, statistics are available that may influence your decision on when would be the best time to make a purchase.

Numerical data isn’t the only thing you should be taking into consideration, though. Each season has something different to offer in terms of making the home buying process easier or more challenging. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of buying during the summer or winter.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Summer


Did you know there are more homes on the market during summer? According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory in the U.S. is actually 15% greater in the warmer months than in the colder months.

If you have a lot of items on your home wish list, you might be better off searching during summer as you’ll have more homes from which to choose. The only disadvantage (depending on the climate where you live) is that summer results in more competition, as a greater amount of people are likely to visit open houses in nicer weather.

It probably goes without saying, but moving during summer is a bit more pleasant than moving during winter. For many, sweating beats freezing while trying to pack and unpack a moving truck. You can always cool yourself down, but it’s usually harder to warm up. It also tends to be safer if you reside in or are moving to an area that gets snow or ice.

If you have school-aged children, moving during their summer vacation offers more flexibility than trying to move during the winter holidays or spring break.

Lastly, one nice thing about summer is the lack of snow. That can be a huge obstacle when trying to look at the exterior of a home. You might miss the fact that a few shingles (or the entire roof) need to be replaced when there’s a pile of snow on top of it. The same goes for cracks in the driveway, and curb appeal in general.

What to Think About When Buying a Home During the Winter

There’s less competition in the winter as most people are busy with the holidays, their new year’s resolutions, or getting back into the swing of things at work. At this time of the year, buying a home isn’t typically at the forefront of most people’s minds.

What does that mean for you? No bidding wars, and more room to negotiate if a seller is feeling a bit desperate.

They might be if the reason why they’re moving is a pressing one. Combined with having to work around their real estate agent’s holiday schedule, having less showings, and subsequently, less interested buyers, sellers might be willing to give you a better deal or include more bonuses in the offer.

Again, depending on where you live, the weather during winter can be brutal. You’ll be able to easily identify drafts from windows in a house, and you’ll notice how effective the heating system is.

While snow can work against you, it can also work for you as you’ll be able to see how well the roof and driveway handle several inches of accumulation. Are there noticeable dips in the driveway? Have ice puddles formed on the property? These fairly major repairs can give you an advantage during negotiations.

Considerations for Both Seasons
There are a few factors to be concerned with during both seasons – namely, your real estate agent’s availability, and your neighbors.

Obviously, real estate agents may take time off during the holidays in the winter, but if they have children, they may also be likely to take off during the summer as well. Before you work with an agent, ask them about their availability over the next few months. You want to ensure that their planned absence won’t negatively affect your intentions to buy.

On the other hand, an agent looking to work through the winter holidays may be more motivated to help you, given the number of prospective buyers is lower.

Additionally, when you buy a new home, you’ll want to be surrounded by good neighbors, right? Summertime is great for seeing which neighbors excel at lawn maintenance and which ones let their grass grow for weeks on end. If you’re someone that cares a lot about a home’s upkeep, this might concern you.

At the same time, you’ll be able to see if neighbors work together to get rid of snow during the winter, or if houses on the block are nicely (or obnoxiously) lit up with holiday decorations.

Which Season is Better for Buying a Home?
As you may conclude, there’s no right or wrong answer. There are benefits and impediments to searching for a home in any season. You shouldn’t let weather or the trending numerical data hold you back. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll know it.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter

Posted on August 16, 2017 at 8:40 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appraisal, backyard, bid, Bidding War, Buyers, buying, closing costs, community, curb appeal, Homeowners, mortgage, neighborhood, real estate, Spring, summer, trends, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Condo vs. Townhouse

Condo and townhouses are often lumped together, but have some significant differences. Agent Jessica Riffle Edwards explains the differences between the two.

I’ll admit it, I’ve owned a condo for the last three and a half years and just found out what the difference was between a townhouse and a condo. While you would think that they’re pretty much the same thing, there are some key differences that might be critical to you depending on your situation and appetite for being responsible for home repair.

Here’s star listing agent Jessica Riffle Edwards explaining what the differences are between the two.

Source: Coldwell Banker Blue Matter Blog
Posted on August 9, 2017 at 9:08 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appraisal, bid, Bidding, Buyer's Market, Buyers, buying, closing, closing costs, credit score, debt, equity, escrow, first time buyers, Foreclosures, Homeowners, hot market, Offers, real estate, selling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Mistakes Buyers Make In A Hot Housing Market

 

The home-buying process moves quickly in a seller’s market. Be sure to keep positive as you search for your dream home.

 

We are in a hot Real Estate market right now with little inventory. These tips could make the difference in the success of your next purchase!

Buying in a hot house market is sometimes inevitable, but you can save money by avoiding these mistakes.

It’s the never-ending saga of homebuyers everywhere: just when you start looking for homes for sale in Fairfield, CA or Walnut Creek, CA, prices seem to be booming and you’re stuck trying to buy in a seller’s market. House-hunting is hard to time perfectly, and sometimes it’s impossible to avoid buying in a hot market.

But don’t let the fear of tough competition send you into a panic. Avoid falling into one of these traps when shopping in a hot real estate market, and you’ll likely save yourself some money (and a few gray hairs).

5 mistakes that will cost you in a hot housing market:

  1. Acting out of desperation

    It’s hard not to be let down when attractive homes are taken from “new” to “pending” before you even have the chance to look at them, but remember: Desperation has no place in a home-buying transaction.

    Once desperation sets in, you risk making an impulsive and otherwise unwise decision, such as talking yourself into a home that isn’t quite what you really want or paying more than you can afford. Even if you can’t or don’t want to make an offer, every home you research and visit will give you a better insight into the home-buying process and the market and allow you to refine exactly what amenities you want in your future house.

    Once you know exactly what you want, let others know too. Give your contact information to the listing agents at open houses and ask them to drop you a note if they get similar listings.

 

2. Hesitating (This is a biggie!)

What’s worse than seeing great properties come and go before you can get out to view them? Seeing them placed under contract before you make an offer.

Before you walk into an open house, make sure your paperwork is up to date and your loan approval hasn’t expired so you’re in position to make an offer that day. If you haven’t already gotten a loan approval, it’s time to start the loan approval process, stat.

 

3. Ignoring the market entirely

It’s nearly impossible to time the market and make your real estate decisions based on current trends. A better plan is to make your buying decisions based on what’s currently happening in your family, your career, and your life (and what you envision will happen in the next five to 10 years). That said, when it comes time to execute your decision to buy, it’s foolhardy not to pay attention to the market.

You need to be able to play both sides and avoid the panic-inducing fluctuations of the market while staying informed. Ask your real estate agent to help you pay attention to neighborhood-specific information, such as which types of properties move quickly, how many days they generally stay on the market, whether multiple offers are a reality you will face, and how much over asking price homes like the one you want are selling for.

Then use this information to make strategic decisions, covering everything from which properties and areas you’ll focus on to how quickly you’ll need to get out to see listings to — most importantly — what price range you should focus your search on.

 

4. Misunderstanding your budget

Don’t run the numbers in your head. Don’t ballpark your income, loan payments, and bills, stick your finger in the wind, and guess at how much you can spend on a home. Financially speaking, home buying is the big leagues, so you need to be sparkling, crystal clear on precisely what you can afford.

In a hot market, you may be faced with decisions about whether to increase your price range or your offer price on relatively short notice. If you need help, don’t hesitate to bring your tax adviser or financial planner into the home-budget discussion — especially if you’re a new homebuyer. They can help you understand tax breaks for new homeowners, which can free up some extra money for your mortgage, property taxes, insurance, and HOA dues or private mortgage insurance, if applicable.

Also, make sure you include line items for your savings, retirement investing, gifts, school tuition, travel, and recreation — the sort of things that lenders will not account for when they tell you what their guidelines say you can afford.

 

5. Overpaying

Hot markets mean multiple offers on the same home, which often result in a bidding war. And once you’ve had one too many homes pulled out from under you after a bidding war, it can be tempting to pay more than you budgeted for.

To avoid overpaying for a home just because it’s in a bidding war, be sure to go through comparable homes with your agent before you even look at the house.

Bonus: If your agent includes active and pending sales in their pull of the comparable data set, you may find out useful information such as whether other competitive properties have just hit the market, or that all of the competition is now under contract — things that might also inform your motivation levels or price strategy.

Source: Trulia Blog

 

 

Posted on July 8, 2017 at 1:53 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Buyers, buying, hot market, mistakes, overpaying, real estate, research, Sellers Market | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Basics of Buying Investment Properties

 

With this terrific checklist, you, too, can be on your way to being a savvy investor!

Everyone wants a magic and immediate path to wealth. The bad news? The path doesn’t exist. Wealth is attainable through more conventional means. If you come to understand the real estate industry and if you deepen your own firsthand experience as you buy and sell investment properties, you’ll be on the road to success.

Along the road, there are six core principles that will make or break each real estate investment deal. They are the most important concepts you will learn. I call them the Big Six. With each successive deal I negotiated, I grew to recognize the common elements. The Big Six are part of a sequenced step-by-step formula that enables you to identify and purchase the right income property at the right price.

The elements of the Big Six Formula that will guide you into the basics of buying income properties are the following:

Location
Location is the single most important component of any real estate deal. It is crucial in determining your investment success. Look for properties that are situated in an “A” location. Such locations include the socioeconomic levels of the people who live or work in a particular neighborhood, its proximity to shopping centers, public transportation, crime levels, the nearness of prestigious universities and medical facilities, traffic congestion, zoning restrictions, the quality of schools, fire and police protection, and even the reputation of the local government and its officials.

Building Quality and Design Efficiency
Design efficiency interfaces with building quality. When you find an investment property you’d like to buy, you will need to scrutinize both elements. Look for properties that far exceed minimum construction requirements and that have useful and innovative design elements. This will not only make the property attractive to tenants but will add value to the property in the future. Design features on apartment complexes that stand the test of time include walk-in closets, large kitchens with windows, and his-and-her bathrooms. In an office building, a common area factor of 15 percent is desirable as well as a ratio of four parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of rentable space.

Tenant Profile
Tenants can represent either an asset or a liability in an investment. When you invest, your mission is to make sure your tenant profile is the former and not the latter. Just as you want a well-constructed and well-designed property, you’ll want stable tenants who are a good match for your property and have appropriate lease agreements. Find out how much rent is generated and whether it is at market rate or under market. You want to focus on finding an income property that offers the opportunity to increase rental income and, by doing so, multiply the value of the property so that you can resell it at a substantial profit.

Upside
This fourth element refers to the cash flow growth possibilities offered by a particular property along with the likelihood that the property will increase in value. A property may cost $1,500,000 to construct, but if it brings in only the income of a $900,000 property, then it is worth only $900,000.  The key to increasing value lies in buying a solid Class B property in an “A” location where the rents are under the market, the leases are short term, and there are no options to renew the leases.

Financing
In the musical Cabaret, there is a song with the lyrics “Money makes the world go around.” It could just as easily be used to describe real estate’s role in the economic landscape. The free flow of money and access to credit is what adds vibrancy to property investment. Before you get started, you’ll need to get a number of finance-related items in order. The first thing you should do before applying for a mortgage loan is to review your credit reports and your credit scores. Also, learn the terms, understand the components of a mortgage and how they interact, and be open to the full range of financing options available. Banks and other financial institutions make money from mortgages. They are willing to negotiate. Be creative—you may be surprised at the terms you’re able to obtain from a bank or insurance companies, especially in today’s low interest rate environment.

Price
The successful evaluation of a property’s price has to do with how much information you can gather about a seller and the property than it does about the price tag on the real estate deal. You must look at the value of the property, which is not the same thing as its price. The crucial concern is not just how much the property costs, but what kind of income it can generate for you. A property may be architecturally perfect and engineeringly sound, but if you’re locked into long-term, under-market lease rates, the value will be eroded.

If you master these principles, wealth will be within reach. However, it’s not enough to just understand and utilize the Big Six. You must execute them in order. That’s because they all fit together snugly to form your customized real estate formula.

Source: RisMedia

Posted on July 8, 2017 at 1:07 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, investing, investor, Location, real estate, rental, tenants, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Does It Really Matter What Your Neighbor’s Home Sold For?

Interesting food for thought. Depending on the dynamics of the other homes in the neighborhood, fair market values can vary.

Whether you’re buying or selling, remember that your neighbor’s sale price is just one piece of the puzzle. Whether you’re buying or selling, make sure you look beyond the data to get the big picture on home values.

After researching the sale prices of his neighbors recent home sales, Steve Rennie thought he knew exactly what his Kansas City, MO, house was worth. But when the Rennies decided to sell and started interviewing real estate professionals, they discovered they needed more and more relevant information. While the sale price of homes on your street can provide important insight into the price of a home you’re selling or buying, here are some of the other factors you should consider to make your best deal.

Unique or unusual home? Comparable sales may not exist

The Rennies quickly realized that recent sales near them wouldn’t be the perfect way to gauge their home’s value. We had interviewed several agents, and most came back with prices for homes that were not truly comparable to ours, because we had a unique older home in an area of newer ones, recalls Rennie. Eventually, the couple called real estate agent Dan Vick, vice president of RE/MAX Results in Kansas City, who offered a different perspective.

Since I didn’t have comps in their exact neighborhood, I went a half-mile away to find homes of similar age and style, says Vick. They’d said they wouldn’t list their home for one penny under $180,000, but based on my comps, I asked: Would you mind if I listed it for more? The house sold the first day it was on the market for $189,500. The Rennies were thrilled.

While comps give sellers a point of reference and an understanding of how strong the real estate market is, Vick suggests calling a professional familiar with your neighborhood to interpret comps properly and gauge what your home is worth. In newer subdivisions, especially if one or two builders have built the majority of the homes there, you can look at similar floor plans. But in older areas, that rule doesn’t apply, because you don’t have the same house four doors down the street.

Stick to the facts and expert advice when pricing a home

Even when you’ve studied comps and have noted relevant details about recent nearby home sales, it’s often easy for sellers to overlook important information when setting a price, says Michael Kelczewski, a real estate agent with Sotheby’s International Realty in Centerville, DE. I continuously encounter sellers who value their home above fair market price, he says. Cosmetically upgrading a kitchen or bathroom won’t usually generate a 100% ROI, so I’m tactful when explaining the reality of property valuations or asset depreciation.

Pricing your property appropriately, regardless of what your neighbor sold for, is key in today’s market, adds Matt Laricy, managing partner with Americorp Real Estate in Chicago, IL. A couple of years back, people would price a home high, get lowball offers, and be willing to negotiate, he says. Nowadays, with low inventory, many sellers are too aggressive: Their neighbor’s house sold in one day, so they think, I’ll overprice my place because I know I’m the only one on the block. But buyers are smart; they may not even look at it until the price comes down.

Bottom line? Don’t be greedy, Laricy says. If you price your home realistically, you’ll likely get more than one offer and net more money in the long run.

Understanding how agents set prices can help buyers score the perfect home

Buyers can benefit tremendously from checking what homes in their chosen neighborhood have sold for, says Laricy. In Chicago, we don’t do price per square foot, so knowing what a neighbors house sells for is huge, he says. If it sold really low, that’s good news for you as a buyer.

However, buyers sometimes overlook other crucial details in their quest to zero in on the best price, he adds. That can lead to a harder sale or lower profit in the future. In big markets like New York, Chicago, Miami, and LA, where people are coming and going all the time, you’re buying an investment, he explains. Buyers usually don’t think about value: why certain buildings trade at different rates now, which ones will trade higher than others in the future, and which neighborhoods are worth more. These are things you need an expert eye for.

He notes that younger buyers tend to neglect that all-important real estate factor: location. They chase kitchens and bathrooms, he says. They’ll buy in a less desirable location to get a nicer kitchen. You can always change a kitchen, but you can’t pick up a property and move it.

Yet even as buyers and their agents leverage comps to make a good buy, sometimes the heart wants what it wants, says Vick. I think you can get too caught up in the comparable data. If your buyers have looked at 15 homes, and this is the one they’ve fallen in love with, it really doesn’t matter what the comps are; you’d better go after it with a strong offer, he suggests. A note of caution to buyers: be careful not to overestimate a home’s appraisal value, since an offer that’s much higher than appraisal value could put your purchase at risk.

Buyers should bring their best offers from the start!

Especially in red-hot real estate markets, Laricy advises buyers to bid smart the first time or risk losing out to another buyer. Usually, buyers who lowball are the ones who end up missing out on two or three properties before actually getting something, says Laricy. Be realistic by putting in a strong offer upfront.

First-time homebuyer Corinne Hangacsi followed that advice before purchasing her two-bedroom townhouse in Wilmington, DE, this spring. We did our research through Trulia. Our real estate agent definitely clued us in to what was happening in the area, but we also looked at other comparable properties ourselves, she says. That in-person research helped Hangacsi feel comfortable making a strong initial offer. My biggest piece of advice for first-time homebuyers is to be patient and do your homework. Go with your gut; when you find the right place, you’ll know.

Source:  Trulia Blog

Posted on May 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: appraisal, buying, first time buyers, Homeowners, market trends, neighborhood, neighbors, Offers, real estate, research, Uncategorized, value | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunrise Residences – Inviting & Contemporary New Rentals in Fairfield!

Discover the Enchantment….

This secret garden contains brand new studio and one bedroom units, modestly priced from $1475 – $1575. They are nestled among relaxing greenbelts within a quiet, gated community.

Our interiors include elevated ceilings, rich Euro-frame java beech wood cabinetry, stainless appliances, granite counters, microwave, washers/dryers and much more.

These inviting living spaces are convenient to shopping and commuter access. Lots of Bright Natural light, open floor plans, spacious baths, granite countertops and vanities, washer and dryer in every unit, mirrored wardrobes and lovely front patios. The gourmet kitchens are a chef’s delight! And don’t forget to take advantage of the wonderful community room for fun events. Located at 2750 North Texas Street in a secure gated community. Come on by and visit us for a tour or you can always call us at 707.421.9900.

Posted on May 10, 2017 at 11:59 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Fairfield, moving, real estate, rentals, security, Sunrise Residences, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,

3 Things You Shouldn’t Say To A Seller’s Agent

 

So you are thinking about checking out some open houses this weekend? Here are 3 very good tips to arm yourself with as you are going out the door!

When it comes to talking to the seller’s agent at an open house, a little mystery goes a long way.

More isn’t always better — especially when it comes to talking to a seller’s real estate agent. Your buyer’s agent is a guide and advocate in your real estate journey and should know everything about your needs, your desires, and how much house you can afford. But the seller’s agent is an entirely different story, and what you share with them should be minimal.

If you’re buying a home, your agent is almost always your voice to the seller. Speaking alone with the seller’s agent doesn’t happen very often, and it’s easy to forget who you’re speaking with — but there you are at the open house, eating a slice of quiche, and the seller’s agent, noticing that familiar glow in your eye, comes over and starts to chat you up.

Here are 3 things you shouldn’t talk about with a seller’s agent

  1. How much you like (or dislike) the house.Basically, play it cool. You want the seller to know you could feel at home here and that you would be serious about any offer you might make, but she doesn’t need to know that this house is exactly what you’ve been looking for and that you’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

    You also shouldn’t be too critical. If you do end up making an offer, you don’t want to reveal anything that could make you seem like a less-than-viable buyer. Especially in a competitive environment, you want the seller to think you’re as solid as they come.

    The seller has the power in hot real estate markets, and he or she may choose to go with an offer that’s more likely to close than one that’s potentially shaky, even if it’s a few thousand dollars higher.

  2. How much you can and will spend.

    You also don’t want to talk about your financial situation. If he or she knows how high you’re either willing or able to go, then your offer could be at a disadvantage. Your first goal is to have your offer accepted. Your second goal is to have it accepted at the best price.

    Neither of these goals are served when the sellers think they know how high or low you’ll be able to go on the final sales price. It makes no difference whether your offer relates to finances or personal choice or your last tarot reading. As with romance, a little mystery goes a long way. The seller should get a fair price for what she’s offering, and if you think it’s the right house for you, the fair price has little to do with the most money a bank will give you.

  3. Be smart and let your agent do the talking.

    In the end, your best bet is to eat your quiche,
    ask questions at the open house, and let the seller’s agent talk about the house. Anything else worth revealing will be done later when your agent does her job by getting you the house at the right price.

Source: Trulia Blog

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 4:24 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, first time buyers, open houses, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

You’ve decided to go for it. You know mortgage rates are enticingly low. Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for first-time homebuyers. It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect.

Take these five steps to make the process go more smoothly.

Check Your Credit
Your credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.

“In addition, the standards are higher in terms of what score you need and how it affects the cost of the loan,” says Mike Winesburg, formerly a mortgage planner in Wheeling, W. Va.

Scour your credit reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts.
Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn’t mean your credit is stellar. The amount of credit you’re using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score.

The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.

Repairing damaged credit takes time. If you think your credit may need work, begin the repair process at least six months before shopping for a home.

Evaluate Assets and Liabilities
A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of money they owe and money they have coming in.

“If I were a first-time homebuyer and I wanted to do everything right, I would probably try to track my spending for a couple of months to see where my money was going,” Winesburg says.

Additionally, buyers should have an idea of how lenders will view their income, and that requires becoming familiar with the basics of mortgage lending.

For instance, some professionals, such as the self-employed or straight-commission salesperson, may have a more difficult time getting a loan than others.

The self-employed or independent contractor will need a solid two years’ earnings history to show, according to Winesburg.

Organize Documents
When applying for mortgages, you must document income and taxes.

Typically, mortgage lenders will request two recent pay stubs, the previous two years’ W-2s, tax returns and the past two months of bank statements—every page, even the blank ones.

“Why it has to be every single last page, I don’t know. But that is what they want to see. I think they look for nonsufficient funds or odd money in or out,” says Floyd Walters, owner of a mortgage company in La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

Qualify Yourself
Ideally, you already know how much you can afford to spend before the mortgage lender tells you how much you qualify for.

By calculating debt-to-income ratio and factoring in a down payment, you will have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly.

Though there’s not a fixed debt-to-income ratio that lenders require, the standard dictates that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income be devoted to housing costs. This percentage is called the front-end ratio.

The back-end ratio shows what portion of income covers all monthly debt obligations. Lenders prefer the back-end ratio to be 36 percent or less, but some borrowers get approved with back-end ratios of 45 percent or higher.

Figure Out Your Down Payment
It takes effort to scrape together the down payment.

There are programs that can assist buyers with qualifying incomes and situations.

“I’ve helped arrange assistance loans for $10,000, which are interest- and payment-free, and forgivable after five years. Although considered a loan, they’re more like grants. Other programs can provide up to $40,000 interest-free,” Winesburg says.

Finally, speak with mortgage lenders when you’re starting the process. Check with friends, co-workers and neighbors to find out which lenders they enjoyed working with and ask them questions about the process and what other steps first-time homebuyers should take.

Posted on March 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: buying, credit score, financing, first time buyers, mortgage, real estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Boost Curb Appeal in a Day…

 

Sometimes when planning to sell a house, in the name of renovating interior living spaces, updating bathrooms, replacing appliances and adding decorative touches throughout the bedrooms, homeowners leave outdoor curb appeal as a last priority. While of course the inside of a home is important, sellers make a big mistake when they neglect the exterior. Why is a home’s exterior so important? Consider this: Curb appeal is often a potential buyer’s first impression of a home, the very thing that helps him/her decide whether or not to come inside. Whether they’re shopping online or by cruising through neighborhoods, the outside of your property is the first thing they’ll notice. If you’re selling your home or about to, how can you quickly and effectively tackle the outdoor appeal? Here are some key tips for boosting the curb appeal in a way that means quick turnaround and increased home value:

1. Start with the Front Door. Believe it or not, your home’s front door can be one of its most important assets. A new steel entry door consistently ranks as one of the most rewarding projects in home repairs, yielding an increase in home value that’s greater than the costs to install one. Likewise, to make the door especially captivating, consider painting it a bold, pleasing color that will grab attention and add charm. When buyers see a new door that looks attractive, they see another asset that makes your home the one to buy.

2. Make Any Necessary Repairs. Is the driveway cracked or the front doorbell busted? Now is the time to call a repair company or get out your own toolbox to make repairs. Buyers want turnkey, move-in-properties, and that means they want properties with repairs already done. Do the work now to get your home in ship-shape condition.

3. Keep Up with Landscaping. From mowing the lawn to pulling weeds, make sure you’re keeping up with your outdoor landscaping so that your home looks presentable and well cared for at all times. Overgrown bushes and dying plants are a surefire signal to potential buyers that you’re not caring for your home and leaving more maintenance for them to handle.

4. Add Lighting. While most buyers will come visit your home during the daytime, it’s not at all unusual for the most interested ones to also drive by at night to see what nighttime curb appeal is like. Landscape lighting can make all the difference in terms of how a home looks, so make an investment in attractive lighting options that illuminate and add interest to your property. “Solar landscaping lights are a great addition to any yard because they don’t require complicated and expensive wiring,” says Bob Vila. “Remember, though, you get what you pay for—cheap lights won’t last as long and simply won’t look as good.”

5. Touch Up Paint. A fresh coat of paint is just as powerful outside as it is inside, so to update your home’s look, repaint the exterior or at least touch up problem areas. Another idea is to paint the trim a new color that creates either a nice complement or contrast to your home’s overall look.

6. Make Over the Mailbox. You might not think a mailbox matters much, but it’s yet another one of those little details that can add up together to make a strong impression on a buyer.

7. Add Outdoor Furniture. From rocking chairs on the front porch to an outdoor patio set on the back deck, outdoor furniture creates outdoor living spaces that expand your home’s appeal. Look for attractive, durable pieces that will endure weather damage and look good for years to come — whether or not you include these pieces with the home sale, setting them up is a great way to stage your home for greater resale value.

The bottom line when it comes to curb appeal is that a little investment today can add up to big rewards tomorrow. Take the time to update, clean, repair and add value to your property’s exterior now and you will make it more attractive to buyers, not to mention more beautiful to come home to. Use the tips above to get started now.

Source: Rismedia

Posted on March 4, 2017 at 11:58 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: curb appeal, maintenance, real estate, selling, staging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Get Your Credit Score Ready for Homebuying Season!

Getting ready to buy a home this spring? Make sure there aren’t any cracks in your credit. A good credit score is essential when it comes to securing a mortgage.

“If (your score is) below 600, you’re probably not going to buy a home in the short term,” says Mike Sullivan, director of education at nonprofit credit and debt counseling agency Take Charge America.

Given the slew of stringent regulation introduced following the housing crisis, most lenders simply won’t risk extending this demographic credit. In fact, even consumers with good scores should polish up the ol’ credit report.

Qualifying for the best mortgage rates starts at a 740 credit score. Scores below that threshold will likely have higher interest on their home loans.

So if you plan on hitting up the housing market this April, make sure to pull a copy of your credit report and check to see where your score stands.

Check Your Status

Under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, or Credit CARD Act, everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau every year.

Obtain a copy of this report from AnnualCreditReport.com. It won’t come with your score—you can purchase that for a nominal fee. But there also are websites that offer free versions of your score year-round.

A recent version of your credit report will show you where you stand in terms of creditworthiness. The report should also spell out what you need to do to improve your score.

“You don’t have to entirely guess,” Sullivan says. “You simply look at what (the score) takes into account and you deal with those issues.”

Get Current

You’ll definitely want to address any delinquent accounts on your record.

“If you are behind, you want to bring those up to date as soon as possible,” says Kathryn Moore, a certified consumer credit counselor with GreenPath Debt Solutions. Delinquent accounts are a huge red flag to mortgage lenders because they demonstrate a lack of ability to repay debts.

They’re also the quickest way to tank your credit score. A missed payment—particularly following an extended period of good credit behavior—can cause a drop of 70 to 90 points.

Sadly, you won’t immediately recoup all those points once the account is reported as up to date.

Instead, “you need to be patient and make all of your payments on time and slowly build your score up” again, says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America.

The role that time plays in building stellar credit is why it’s ideally “a good idea to look at your credit at least a year out” of shopping for a mortgage, says Bruce McClary, a spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Getting a Quick Boost

If you are behind this timeline, there are a few steps you can take to potentially give your score a quick boost.

For starters, scan your credit report for accuracy. An error—such as an old, bad debt; incorrect account balance; or worse yet, a phantom foreclosure—could be needlessly weighing down your score. Have these errors corrected by contacting the credit bureau in question.

“There’s a link (on your credit report) to dispute any inaccurate information,” Moore says. “The credit bureau from there will have to resolve that dispute within 30 days.” Once a negative error is removed, your score should improve.

You can also engineer a quick boost by paying down existing debts, particularly high credit card balances. This move improves your credit utilization rate—essentially how much debt you are carrying versus how much credit has been extended to you — and should bolster your score.

Experts generally say to keep your credit utilization below 20 to 30 percent of your collective credit. However, “you really want to get that ratio down to rock bottom if you’re looking for a house,” McClary says.

Clearing out existing balances will also improve your debt-to-income ratio, which a “lender looks at” closely during their mortgage decision process, Moore says.

Lenders typically say the “back-end” debt-to-income ratio—or the amount of your income that is needed to cover all your monthly debt obligations, including credit card bills and other loans—should be 36 percent or lower.

Finally, if you recently missed a loan payment because you, say, didn’t know about the bill, try calling up the issuer (or lender) to see if they will refrain from letting the credit bureaus know about your faux pas.

What to Avoid

Once you have your score in the upper echelon, make sure it stays there. Avoid running up your credit card balances again, which will help keep your credit utilization in check.

Also avoid applying for other loans, including store credit cards, particularly in an attempt to improve this aforementioned credit utilization rate. Applying for new credit generates hard inquiries on your credit report, which could ding your score.

And “if those inquiries don’t necessarily show up as approved accounts, that sends up a red flag” to lenders because it could look like you were turned down for a credit line, McClary says.

Not to mention that you’re more likely to miss a payment when you have multiple cards at your disposal, Brobeck says.

Conversely, don’t close any accounts while you are looking for a mortgage, as the closure could send your credit utilization skyrocketing in the wrong direction.

Source: RisMedia/Bankrate.com

Posted on March 4, 2017 at 11:50 pm
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