Real Estate Investment 101

Real estate offers a solid investment opportunity that can provide not only an income stream, but long-term value appreciation as well. It’s never too late to begin investing in real estate. Regardless of the ups and downs of the market, people will always need housing, so real estate will remain a good way to create wealth.

By understanding some of the basics of real estate investing, you can begin to create a successful investment plan.

• Start Now – Every market offers opportunities for buyers; there is no perfect time to get started.

• Understand the Risks – Before investing, you should be certain that you can hold the property until conditions are right to sell.

• Do Your Homework – Know the market and understand the trends which can affect your purchase and ownership.

• Invest for the Long-Term – Real estate investing should not be viewed as a “get rich quick” scheme. While you might find an opportunity to have a quick flip, most real estate equity is realized over years, not months.

• Understand your Expected Cash Flow – In simple terms, cash flow is what is left over after all expenses are paid. For a rental property, expenses could include mortgage, interest, maintenance, insurance, utilities, rental agents, and more.

• Budget for the Unexpected – Even the most carefully planned project can have unexpected costs.

Have a back-up plan to meet these costs. Real estate can offer solid investment opportunities. Even a first-time investor can realize profit and positive cash flow with careful planning and research. Start building your real estate portfolio now; a real estate purchase could provide a low-risk addition to your other investments for both income and asset value growth.

 

Your Tax Refund Can Get You One Step Closer to Homeownership

Saving money each month toward a long-term goal is increasingly difficult for most people. Even committed savers can get thrown off track when unexpected problems or opportunities arise. It can be difficult to envision how $200 a month can add up to a new home; the dream of homeownership continues to get pushed back in favor of more immediate needs.

For many of these potential homebuyers, their tax refund can be a big step forward in their saving goals. Received in a lump sum, a tax refund is easier to see as a meaningful dollar amount. The average IRS refund in 2019 was almost $3,000. This, added to an already growing savings account, can be a great bonus.

In addition to adding to your down payment fund, a tax refund can also be used to increase your credit score. Debt accumulation and use is the largest factor in determining a borrower’s credit score (FICO). A low FICO score can result in thousands of extra dollars in interest and origination fees when getting a home loan. Working with a lender, strategically reducing the debt ratio can add borrowing power to a potential buyer; lowering the cost of the loan and allowing more of the monthly payment to go toward the home itself instead of interest.

It’s tax refund time. Before you head to the electronics store to put that money toward a bigger TV, consider how your tax refund can help you achieve your homeownership goals.

 

Tips for Selling in Summer

Summer has traditionally been the best time to sell a home. Not only do many families take advantage of moving when the kids are out of school, but in climates where winter weather is unpredictable or severe, the warmer months make it easier to be away for showings. With more homes on the market, how can you maximize your potential for a great offer among the options? Fortunately, you can take a few steps to ensure your home stands out from the crowd.

Tips for Selling in Summer

Control the Climate – The first thing a buyer will notice when they walk into a home is the temperature. If the weather is warm and humid, it’s critical you keep the home cool. A larger air conditioning bill is a small price to pay for a top dollar offer.

Let in the Sun – It might be tempting to close the blinds to save money on air conditioning, but bright, sunny rooms are always more appealing; leave enough open to showcase natural light.

Extend Outdoors – Today’s lifestyle includes the outdoor areas and more and more homes feature outdoor living and dining areas. Regardless of your home’s features, maximize the impact of your yard with furniture, BBQs and manicured landscaping.

Spring Clean – A fresh, decluttered home with a lighter, seasonal color scheme will be visually appealing to your buyers. Replace dark pillows, linen and accents with softer colors which make the rooms seem larger.

The summer selling season is here. Make sure your home is dressed for success. Welcoming outdoor spaces and bright sunny rooms combined with inviting an air conditioned rooms will ensure you get a good offer.

3 Must-Do's Before Listing Your House for Sale

Before you list your home for sale, it’s time to do a little work around the house – to prepare and make sure your home is seen in the best possible light. These “must-do” items are about showing your home to buyers as one which is cared for and ready for them to add their own brand of home to the space. Taking a little time up front can mean thousands of dollars as buyers start writing their offers.

3 Must-Do’s Before Listing Your House for Sale

1. Declutter, Depersonalize and Clean – This is the time to take spring cleaning seriously, in any season. Clear out all unnecessary items from the home; closets, drawers, extra clothes, old unwanted furniture. Donate to charity, hire a dumpster or rent a storage space; buyers will look in every space and open all drawers and cabinets, make sure your home seems spacious. Spend some time to depersonalize by removing excessive pictures and hide heirlooms. Finally, deep clean every space top to bottom.

2. Address Deferred Maintenance – Make small repairs or hire a handyman to take care of problems which could appear during the home inspection. Replace caulking, fix broken windows and screens, replace light bulbs and freshen up and clean grout; buyers want to see a home that is cared for with “good bones.”

3. Go for Curb Appeal – Spend some time in the yard. Trim bushes and trees, clean and repair hardscape and make sure there is adequate lighting. Welcome your buyers with seasonal flowers or décor and place a fresh mat by the front door.

Before you put that sign in the front yard, spend a little time and elbow grease to make sure you welcome your potential buyers with the best version of your home.

 

The Home Selling Process

Are you planning to sell your home? Regardless if this is your first time as a home seller, or maybe you’ve sold many homes, understanding the selling process can assure you that things are going smoothly. Successful transactions don’t just happen; it takes experience and professionals to navigate from staging to closing.

Timeline For Your Home Sale

• Meeting With Your Agent – Your agent will tour your home and discuss your market value (including a comparative market analysis), timing and financial goals in order to create a custom plan for selling your home.

• Preparing Your Home For Sale - Typically even a dated home can be spruced up with small changes in furniture placement, fresh paint,new lighting and/or minor repairs.

• Listing Your House - Once your home is ready for buyers, you will list your home and your agent will implement their marketing plan.

• Offers - Once you receive offers, you will meet with your agent to review them together and determine how to respond.

• Escrow Process For Sellers – The buyers will complete funding requirements, obtain an appraisal and home inspection. As the seller, you will also complete any conditions you’ve agreed to, such as repairs or termite work.

• Closing – Once all conditions have been completed, you will close the sale and receive the proceeds.

The sales process is a series of steps that you and your agent will take together. Knowing what to expect, and when, can alleviate the uncertainty you might feel as a seller.

How to Get Over Losing Out On Your Dream Home

“I’m so sorry, they went with another offer.” It’s a shocking thing to hear; you’ve already moved into that dream home in your mind. It’s common to start second guessing yourself, even condemning yourself for not offering more money or better terms, but the truth is sometimes it just doesn’t work out. The next step is to figure out how to move on.

• Go Ahead and Mourn – It’s perfectly reasonable to mourn the loss of the “perfect” home.

• Take a Break – This might not be as easy as it sounds if you need to move, but even a short weekend off to regroup and refresh will allow you to continue the search.

• Understand What Went Wrong – It may be that you did nothing wrong and the seller got an all-cash offer 20% over asking, but it’s still a good idea to talk with your agent about your offer, make sure you truly offered a fair price with reasonable terms and if not, make adjustments next time.

• List What You Liked About the Home – Make a list of the features you liked about the home – open floor plan, big yard, expansive view, etc. This will allow you to watch for these features as you continue the search.

Losing out on your dream home is sad, but it doesn’t mean you won’t find another home you love just as much. Take some time to think through the experience and keep going – there are so many homes to choose from, you’ll find another home to love.

5 Reasons Selling Without an Agent is a Bad Idea

Do-it-yourself projects are in vogue these days. You can find advice online for everything from investing in crypto-currency to tearing down the living room wall. When considering the cost of moving, it’s natural to wonder if real estate commissions are one way to save money, but it would be a mistake. A good real estate agent might make it seem easy, but the fact is that selling your own home could actually cost you thousands of dollars.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Sell Your Home without an Agent

1. The Safety of Your Home and Family is a Priority – Real Estate agents control access to your home.

2. Most Serious Buyers Start their Search Online – A professional listing area will market your home aggressively online, which is where the buyers are searching.

3. The Buyer Might not be Qualified – A real estate agent knows how to qualify a buyer and what to look for with lender letters. Selling your home on your own risks wasted time with an unqualified buyer.

4. You Don’t Know How to Negotiate Properly – Every aspect of a real estate transaction is negotiable; you don’t have the experience to know what to negotiate to get the best deal.

5. You Could Expose Yourself to Liability – Required disclosures and paperwork for a home sale is extensive; unless you plan to use an attorney, you could miss critical disclosures and expose yourself to financial harm.

Finally, more often than not, sellers net more when they use an agent than when they try to do it themselves. In addition to selling faster, a professional agent knows how to properly price and promote your home, ensuring you get the best possible sales price and terms.

The Internet Can’t Replace Your Agent

We live in the information age; the Internet offers advice on every topic and real estate is no exception. With more and more home buyers starting their home search online, they are bombarded with advice and information – it can be easy to think that you can learn everything you need to know just by reading articles online.

The truth is your real estate agent does much more than answer your questions and open doors with a special key. A professional real estate agent will be there every step of the way. They have the experience necessary to navigate the complicated home buying process and solve common hiccups that present themselves in every real estate transactions.

Your real estate agent is a local professional. They will start by presenting themselves to the buyer’s agent as someone who will work with them to see the transaction through to a successful conclusion. They have a network of professionals who will work as a team to help you through the process. These include such professionals as: lenders, title reps, escrow officers, transaction coordinators, home inspectors, contractors and handymen, among others.

Most importantly, your agent is your ally in the home buying process. They negotiate on your behalf – armed with experience and understanding of customary charges, costs and terms. They will ensure that the price you pay for the home is fair for the condition and neighborhood. They will negotiate repairs, if needed and make sure you are protected with the proper contingencies.

The Internet offers lots of great information, but the most important step you can take when buying a new home, is hiring a local professional real estate agent. Their knowledge and expertise can’t be found by reading an article or two online.

Is It Time to Move? 6 Telltale Signs

Most people dread the thought of moving, yet those same people love it when they move. Why? Most likely it’s emotional attachment and nostalgia for a beloved home. It’s understandable but yet a home that just doesn’t fit your needs any longer can make even the most loved home uncomfortable. Are you wondering if it’s time to move? Here are 6 telltale signs that you should consider putting the “for sale” sign up in your front yard.

1. Your Home is Too Small – One of the most common signs is that you’ve outgrown your home.

2. Your Home is Too Large – Life changes! Empty nesters often find the home too large and it’s maintenance too much when they finally have time to travel and relax.

3. Your Home is Too Expensive – Are you spending all your extra cash making repairs or do you want major upgrades to suit your lifestyle?

4. The Neighborhood is Losing Value – Neighborhoods do change over time, if yours is declining consider a move.

5. Changing the Weather – Have you finally tired of shoveling snow? A move to a warmer state could be the right move. 6. Change is Good – The last great reason to move is to try something new. Different style or location, if the home isn’t making you happy any longer, time to move.

8 Things Buyers Notice as Soon as they Walk In

Buyers notice everything – good and bad. From the moment they walk in the front door, they are trying to determine if this is the right home for them and their family. If you have your home listed for sale, paying attention to what the buyers notice can mean the difference between an offer and a missed opportunity.

8 Things Buyers Notice as Soon as they Walk In

1. Light – A bright home is inviting. Make sure you fill your home with lots of natural light or a soft evening glow.

2. Smell – Nothing is less inviting than a strong odor. Even candles and air fresheners can be overwhelming. Less is more and make sure nothing unpleasant is lingering.

3. Space – Remove any unneeded furniture and offer a spacious home which flows.

4. Ceilings – Of course you can’t make your ceilings higher, but make sure they are free from water stains because buyers will look up.

5. Pictures and Personal Items – Remove personalization as much as possible so the buyers can imagine their family in the home.

6. Outdated Furnishings and Fixtures – If your home is filled with hand-me-downs, consider a professional stager. Old wall paper or outdated paint colors should be replaced as well.

7. Dirty, Grimy Rooms – Most important, clean everything thoroughly. Nothing is less appealing than a dirty home.

 

Investment Rent or Flip

There are a wide variety of ways to invest in real estate; one can make money in any of these options, one can also lose their money. To be successful in real estate investing, it’s critical that you identify what skills you have and your tolerance for risk. Then choose a type of investment that works for you and repeat that model.

Investors can make great profits by both flipping properties as well as holding them as rentals. The difference really boils down to a few considerations. First, what kind of income are you seeking? Active or Passive? Actively buying, fixing and flipping properties is quick cash that requires careful timing and effort. Rental properties on the other hand offer passive long-term income which accumulates over time. Additionally the property value increases during this time. The downside is that one must invest time in property maintenance and tenant management.

The second concern is risk. Flipping a property is not traditional investing where one buys and holds an investment. Flipping is really speculation. When buying a flipper, one must carefully gauge the cost of refurbishment, remodeling and the cost of the holding time into the price valuation, then carefully market the home and realize the profit. Any number of variances can go wrong which could cause the value to drop and profits to reduce or even disappear, such as a delay in remodeling or a slow real estate market.

Both types of investments can bring nice profits. Determining what’s best for you and your talents is important in choosing the best option for your financial goals.

Should I Consider Selling My Short-Term Rental Property?

The travel industry has changed significantly over the past decade. With the popularity of vacation rentals advertised by such sites as Airbnb, VRBO, and Home Away, travelers have more options than ever for lodging during their vacation. Unfortunately, 2020 has seen a serious decline in travel due to the COVID-19 crisis and many owners of these short-term rental properties are wondering what to do.

If you have a short-term rental property, you might be wondering if this is the right time to sell. Here are a few considerations as you weigh your options:

• Long-Term Goals – While travel is down significantly right now, this slump won’t last forever. If this property is part of your overall investment portfolio which makes sense for the long run, consider other strategies to keep the rental. If you have a mortgage, speak to your lender about payment options during this time.

• Housing Inventory and Local Home Prices – Housing inventory is down about 20% yearover-year according to the National Association of Realtors®. Lower inventory has also prevented home prices from falling in most areas.

• Historically Lower Interest Rates – Interest rates have dropped significantly since the beginning of the year. It might be time to refinance the property. In addition, if you do decide to sell, buyers are better positioned to buy.

This is a confusing time for everyone. The robust business of short-term rentals has certainly been affected over the past few months and the travel industry will suffer this summer. If you own a short-term rental, consider all your options as you decide whether it’s the right time to sell your property.

How to Find Your Dream Home When Inventory Is Low?

You’ve heard the rumors; it’s a “Seller’s Market.” Well if you are actively searching for a new home, you know that it’s true. The low inventory of homes for sale has made things difficult for buyers. There just aren’t many homes for sale out there and when a nice listing does come to market, it’s met with multiple offers…..often with offer prices over asking.

If you’re a buyer in this market, you might feel overwhelmed but remember that with a solid strategy, you can still find your dream home, even when inventory is low.

The highest offer price in the world is worthless if the transaction doesn’t close.

Here are a few tips for buyers looking in a tight market:

• Talk to a lender before you shop so you’re prepared

• Be prepared to pull the trigger

• Write a competitive offer

• Keep contingencies to a minimum

• Write a clean offer; Make it easy for the sellers to just say yes

When inventory is low, it’s each to feel like the best homes are already gone, but by working with your agent, you can put yourself in the best position to have your offer accepted.

The 4 Basic Tips for Investing in Real Estate

If you are new to real estate investing, there is a lot to learn. Unlike investing in the stock market or mutual funds, the success of a real estate investment largely depends on you; what property you purchase and how you manage the property once you own it. Real estate is a large capital investment, so before you write that first offer, it’s helpful to learn as much as you can. These 4 basic tips will give you some direction as you learn about investment opportunities.

1. Location, Location, Location – One of the most important aspects of a successful real estate investment is the location. The right neighborhood, street or community can make thousands of dollars of difference.

2. Consider Wholesale Properties – Watch for properties listed below market value. Foreclosure lists, courthouse auctions and short sales are just a few of the options to buy below market value.

3. Understand the Tax Advantages – Before you invest, visit your tax professional and learn about write-offs, business taxes and tax breaks. Figure these numbers into your plans.

4. Manage Your Credit – Leverage is important in real estate investing. Determine your ability to gain loans and correct any mistakes in your credit report.

Real estate investing has the potential for great profit. Do your homework before jumping into the market and you can position yourself to make the right decisions for your portfolio.

How to Know When You Have Outgrown Your Home

You love your home! Perhaps you bought it with the intention of raising your kids there or maybe you have found that your household now includes aging parents or even a roommate you hadn’t expected. Whatever the reason, you are now wondering if the home you love has become too small for your lifestyle, but how can you tell?

Realizing you’ve outgrown your home can mean different things to different people. To some, it could mean the need for an extra bedroom, or two. For others, the family room or living spaces seem too small for the family to gather and for meals, homework or holidays. As you begin to evaluate if the time has come to move, consider these questions:

• Have we run out of spaces to use for storage or common family activities?

• Do family members need more private space for themselves?

• Does the yard or outdoor areas include room for the family to use for enjoyment?

Think about the different ways you accommodate your needs to your home and not the other way around. If you are finding ways to fit yourself and your life into your home, you might be ready to find a larger home.

Your Starter Home vs. Your Forever

Home Buying a home is exciting. Most people have visualized their dream home—large, inviting kitchen; multiple bedrooms for family and guests; perhaps a backyard with built-in BBQ, pool, and fireplace. Yet this dream is often out of reach financially for first-time homebuyers. These buyers are ready to find a starter home and perhaps are wondering if saving for a forever home makes more financial sense.

Before making this decision, it’s important to consult with a professional financial advisor about your unique situation; more often than not, getting a starter home makes the most sense.

Things to Look For in a Starter Home vs. a Forever Home

As I already mentioned, a starter home probably won’t have all the features you dream about, so it’s important to understand the difference between “want” features and “need” features. For instance, the number of bedrooms might be more critical than the huge, eat-in kitchen. Finding a home near a park for the kids might take precedence over the expansive view of the water.

Focus on affordability and find a home that suits not only your immediate needs but offers the ability to grow in equity. Your starter home should be viewed as a financial tool to build wealth and position you to move up to your forever home. Building wealth through homeownership is a great way to ensure you’ll be able to buy that dream home when you’re ready.


Getting Outbid? Strategies to Make Your Offer Stand Out and Get Accepted

Summer is traditionally a busy time for buyers and sellers. This year has been no exception—and with lower interest rates, many homebuyers are finding the competitive environment challenging. With multiple buyers competing for properties, even terrific offers are often being outbid. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make your offer more attractive to the sellers and increase the chances of getting the property.

• Increase the Earnest Money – Earnest money is the deposit held in escrow. While the contract will dictate how monies are disbursed in the event of a cancellation, increasing the amount offered can show the seller you’re serious.

• Add an Escalation Clause – In a bidding war, it can be difficult to know what to offer because you want to outbid the competition without going too high. An escalation clause is one way to automatically outbid the others. The clause typically offers an amount—$1,000 for example—higher than any verifiable offer up to a specific amount. This can ensure yours is the highest offer.

• Pay any Appraisal Shortage – When offering more than asking price, sellers become concerned about the appraisal coming in too low. If you are willing to pay over market value, include the amount of shortage you are willing to pay.

• Remove Inspection Contingency – This option can be tricky, but if you are planning a large remodel or are willing to tackle any defects found, then you can make your offer stronger by accepting the home as-is. Classification: Public Classification: Public In this fast-moving, competitive real estate market, it’s important to make your offer stand out from the crowd. These strategies are great ways to demonstrate to the sellers that you’re serious about buying their home, increasing the chance of having your offer accepted.

 

Simple Ideas to Refresh Your Master Bedroom

We’re all spending more time at home these days. With the entire family stuck together, the home has been placed under a microscope. If your master bedroom is not the oasis you wish it were, here are a few simple ideas you can use to change the feel of the space without breaking the bank.

• Lighten Up – Setting the mood starts with lighting. Try a modern-industrial styled fixture or vintage chandelier to freshen your look. Consider the purpose of the lighting: do you want to soften the room with dimming lights or brighten a reading corner?

• Change Colors – Changing the color of the room can make a big difference in the feel of the space. Choose a soothing color and add fresh linens, floor rugs, or even paint or wallpaper to revitalize the room.

• Luxurious Carpet – Having a beautiful floor does not necessarily need to mean an expensive change. Add a luxurious area rug to add elegance to your bedroom. • Create a Sitting Area – Most master bedrooms have unused space. Find a cozy corner and add a comfy chair to carve out a quiet area to relax or read.

• Try Some Wallpaper – Wallpaper is a great way to add interest and personality to décor. Today, there is a wide variety of temporary wallpaper products that are easily removable when you tire of them. Try a bold geometric or subtle textured pattern on one or more walls to add a modern spin to your room.

Bedrooms should be a place to relax—someplace to unwind and refresh after a long day. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to update your master bedroom this weekend with some simple, inexpensive changes. Try one or all of them and spruce up your bedroom.

Tips for Buying a Home Unseen

It may come as a shock that many people purchase a home before ever setting foot inside. These buyers may be moving to a new country or city far away, or they may not have the time or resources to visit for a home search before the big move. Not everyone has the option (or the desire) to rent for a few months while they find a permanent home in their new location. Most homebuyers would prefer to purchase a house before they arrive, so they can move their belongings and quickly get settled into their home.

There are a few things you can do to make the process more manageable if you've considered buying a house unseen. The first step is to find a realtor in the area that you can trust. Let them know your circumstances and that you'll need them to help vet potential properties for you. They'll be able to provide you with a link to a virtual tour if it's offered, or schedule a meeting where they can walk you through the house via FaceTime or another video-based app. This will help you feel like you're there in person and give you the chance to ask your realtor about any potential issues that may pose a problem in the future. You'll also be able to see any features that you love, which will help you make your final decision.

Another great option is to have a family member or friend who lives in the area stop by a few open houses or take a tour with your realtor of any homes that you're interested in. It's a great idea to involve someone that you know and trust, to help spot any red flags or deal-breakers you should be made aware of before signing on the dotted line.

When the time comes for you to move in, be prepared for the unexpected. There will always be a few things that you didn't expect when you've purchased a home unseen. However, make the best out of the situation and stay positive. It really is possible to find your dream home, even if you can't see it before closing.

How to Find Your Dream Home When Inventory Is Low?

You’ve heard the rumors; it’s a “Seller’s Market.” Well if you are actively searching for a new home, you know that it’s true. The low inventory of homes for sale has made things difficult for buyers. There just aren’t many homes for sale out there and when a nice listing does come to market, it’s met with multiple offers…..often with offer prices over asking.

If you’re a buyer in this market, you might feel overwhelmed but remember that with a solid strategy, you can still find your dream home, even when inventory is low.

The highest offer price in the world is worthless if the transaction doesn’t close.

Here are a few tips for buyers looking in a tight market:

• Talk to a lender before you shop so you’re prepared

• Be prepared to pull the trigger

• Write a competitive offer

• Keep contingencies to a minimum

• Write a clean offer; Make it easy for the sellers to just say yes

When inventory is low, it’s easy to feel like the best homes are already gone, but by working with your agent, you can put yourself in the best position to have your offer accepted.

5 Maintenance Skills All Homeowners Should Know

Owning a home can be one of the most important parts of a satisfying lifestyle. The joy of coming home to someplace you can call your very own offers security and comfort. Yet owning a home comes with responsibilities as well; maintaining the home in proper condition is critical to avoid larger problems later.

While some people are handier than others, here are 5 maintenance skills anyone can master.

1. How to Turn off Your Gas and Water –If you smell gas or have a water leak, taking quick action to shut off the source to the home while you wait for a professional can save thousands of dollars, and even lives.

2. Understanding How Electricity Is Fed to Your Home –Learn how to reset GFI outlets and popped breakers at the panel to avoid expensive house calls.

3. How to Find a Wall Stud – Avoid drywall repair when hanging pictures or shelves.

4. How to Change Your Air Filters – Keep your air fresh and your HVAC systems running efficiently.

5. How to Address Simple Plumbing – From fixing a running toilet to recaulking the shower, simple plumbing related issues can save money in service calls and damage.

A quick visit to the local big box home supply store or afternoon online watching repair videos can help any homeowner tackle a few simple do-it-yourself tasks around the house. Learning a few basic maintenance skills will ensure you and your loved ones are safe and you’ll help your home stay in top condition.