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Save Money on Home Insurance

Home insurance is critical for homeowners. It protects you from unexpected
damage due to fire, wind, flood, and more. Unfortunately, the cost of these
policies can be very expensive and over the past few years, some
premiums have doubled or even tripled as more natural disasters hit the
country.

Fortunately, there are a few ideas on how to save money on premiums.
Here are  possible ideas to save money on your home insurance.

1. Bundle Policies – The easiest way to save money is to use the same
company for both auto and home. Most companies offer significant
discounts for doing all your business with them.

2. Increase Deductibles – Raising your deductible on all policies, even
just a little can save money overall. Consider how much you are able to
spend before relying on insurance and see how much you can save.

3. Home Security Systems – Most companies offer a nice discount for
home security, plus you have the added benefit of greater safety for you
and your family.

4. Good Credit – A higher credit score will likely give you a lower
premium. Be sure to ask your insurance company to review your score at
each renewal period.

5. Review Coverage – Do you have health insurance at work? Then
maybe you don’t need medical coverage through your auto policy? Review
your policies and make sure you need everything you’re paying for and
always seek the advice of your insurance agent.

6. Claim Free – Insurance is there to use, but you may not want to use it
for everything. If you have a $1000 deductible, for instance, it does not
make sense to submit a claim for damage that totals $1150. Staying
claim-free saves money.

Finally, shop around. At each renewal period, take the time to compare
leading companies and make changes when necessary. Switching
companies is very easy and can save you hundreds of dollars. Consult with
your insurance agent to find out if any of these ideas might work for you

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Fluctuating Interest Rates and Real Estate Investing

Interest rates tend to fluctuate over time. As a real estate investor, it’s
important to understand how changes in interest rates can impact the
housing market.

How Rising Rates Affect Home Buying
When interest rates rise, it generally slows demand in the real estate
market. Here’s why:
● Higher mortgage rates decrease purchaser purchasing power
● Potential homebuyers face increased monthly payments
● This leads to fewer buyers competing for the same properties
● Sellers have less leverage and negotiation power

Opportunities for Savvy Investors
However, a savvy real estate investor can find opportunities even in a rising
rate environment:
● Less overall demand means more negotiation leverage for buyers
● Motivated sellers may offer price reductions to attract buyers
● Investors can potentially acquire properties below market value
● For long-term investors, temporary rate fluctuations matter less than
the property’s income potential over time

Creative Financing Options
There are also financing options like adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) and
interest-only loans that can provide lower initial payments:
● ARMs allow buyers to take advantage of lower introductory rates
● Interest-only loans offer lower initial monthly payments
● These can make properties cash flow positive for investors

Key Takeaways
The key is keeping your real estate investment goals and financial position
in mind. While rising rates present challenges, they also create possibilities
for strategic investors.
● Maintain a long-term perspective on any property purchase
● Utilize diverse financing tools and structures
● Find opportunities to acquire properties below market value

By following these tips, you can make smart real estate buys even in
today’s rising interest rate environment.

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Don’t Overdo It When Decluttering to Sell Your Home

If you’re preparing your home to sell, you already know that it’s important to
declutter. A clean, tidy space allows potential buyers to see the beauty of
your home and to imagine themselves living there. But there is a fine line
between decluttering and denuding – removing too much can leave your
home looking cold and uninviting. Learn the difference and make sure your
buyers feel “at home” in your property.

Decluttering involves carefully removing excess personal items and décor
to create a clean and appealing space. On the other hand, some home
sellers go too far and end up with sterile rooms that lack any warmth or
personality. Buyers aren’t attracted by stark white walls with minimal
furnishing any more than they are by wall-to-wall clutter. Buyers want a
home with style and energy.

As you prepare for showings, start by removing extra “stuff.” Remove
excess items from tabletops, countertops, shelves, and personal items. You
do want a lived-in feel but allow some empty areas that make rooms look
larger and brighter. Once you’ve removed unnecessary items, strategically
return special décor and the occasional family picture or two.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a balance between decluttering and
maintaining the charm and personality of your home. Your buyers are
searching for a family home, so keep some “family” in the mix.

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Is Your Vacation Rental Ready For Winter Guests?

Owning a vacation rental, like an Airbnb or VRBO home, is a great way to
earn extra income. Much of the year, all these properties need is a way to
manage access and a cleaning service. When winter comes, however, it’s
important to add some extra care – both for the safety of your guests, but
also to keep the home in top condition.

Here is a quick checklist for anyone managing a vacation rental this winter:

· Inspect, Repair, and Maintain Heating Systems – Before
temperatures drop, hire a professional to inspect and adjust heating
systems. Replace filters to increase efficiency.

· Seal Drafts and Insulate – Short term tenants will want to stay warm
and don’t care about your heating bills. An afternoon spent
weatherstripping or caulking can save hundreds of dollars each month.

Also consider adding extra insulation to the attics, walls, or basements to
keep the warm air inside.

· Have Clear Expectations – Leave clear instructions for guests.
Discuss how to protect pipes from freezing, how to report issues if they
arise, and have an emergency contact available at all times. Explain how to
turn off water properly, if necessary, and any other precautions required.

Always make sure you have adequate liability insurance as well. Winter
can cause its own share of challenges for vacation rentals. Proper
preparation and maintenance will ensure your vacation rental is a
money-maker and not a money-pit this winter.

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Selling During the Holidays

Selling your home during the holidays requires a balance between family
celebrations and public access. While your home may look its best, it can
be challenging to accommodate the last-minute showings. Communication
with your agent is critical and with proper planning, you can minimize the
disturbances while still allowing potential buyers to view your property.

· Showing Windows – Working around your holiday schedules, as
well as your agent’s, state clearing in your real estate listing the show times
you will allow. An example might be a 4-hour window on weekends or a
2-hour time frame weekday evenings.

· Advance Notice – State clearly that all buyers must reach you prior
to showing up. Of course, some will still stop by, but you can minimize the
impact by asking for advance notice.

· Online Tools – The more pictures and videos the better. If your
potential buyers can view your home online, you are more likely to get the
right buyers setting appointments. You may get fewer showings, but they
will be the right ones.

· Clean-up Stations – You want your home to look festive, but this can
lead to clutter. Keep clean-up bins in strategic locations so you can easily
hide unnecessary items on short notice.

Again, communication is more important than ever during the holiday
season. You are in control. Set realistic privacy boundaries and hold to
them. This allows you to showcase your home in its best light, without the
disruption to your family traditions.

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Market Outlook

There’s been some concern lately about another housing market crash.
Maybe you’ve read articles linking today’s environment with the Market
Meltdown of 2008. Even with the talk of recession, this real estate market is
very different and that means that most experts do not expect a crash, just
a normal ebb-and-flow slowdown. There are some significant differences in
today’s situation:

Heading into the 2008 crash, loans were very easy to find. Almost anyone
could qualify for a loan with zero down payment and lower FICO scores.
The lending industry was taking huge risks, and this pushed home prices
higher, artificially. With stricter lending policies in place, not only do
borrowers need to qualify properly, but appraisals are based on true value,
avoiding over-inflated prices.

Housing Supply
Another difference is the housing supply. As home prices soared, so did the
number of homes for sale. Currently, there is still a shortage of available
inventory for the buyers still looking for a new home.

Equity Levels
Another huge difference is near record equity for most homeowners. The
strong housing market during the pandemic pushed home values higher
than ever before. Contrast this to the Market Meltdown era of short sales
and foreclosures, and it’s clear that most sellers can still afford to negotiate
and reap a healthy gain in the process.

What this means to you
The bottom line is that if you are a buyer looking to purchase or a seller
ready to move, there is no reason to wait or worry that there is a crash on
the horizon. The frantic pace of the market has slowed, interest rates have
risen, but opportunities are still available in this market.

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Why You Should List Your Home During Holiday Season

Listing your home during the holiday season can be a fantastic idea!

Here are some compelling reasons why:

✨ Less Competition: Fewer sellers mean your home stands out to motivated buyers.

🏠 Serious Buyers: Many house hunters during the holidays are ready to make a move.

🌟 Festive Appeal: Decorated homes exude warmth, creating an emotional connection.

📆 Flexible Timing: You can choose when to schedule showings and close the deal.

💰 Year-End Tax Benefits: Buyers may want to take advantage of tax benefits.

🎁 A Fresh Start: Buyers might see your home as a holiday gift to themselves.

Ready to make the most of the holiday season in real estate?

Let’s chat!

#HolidayHomeSelling #RealEstatePros #FestiveOpportunities

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Looking for a Mortgage? Review Your Resume

When evaluating a potential borrower, lenders consider a number of
factors. You already expect to produce a good FICO score, proof of
income, and a reasonable down-payment, but have you reviewed your
resume? A crucial aspect of loan approval is your employment and
employment history – your resume.

Your employment history provides lenders some insight into your financial
stability and income consistency. They want to ensure that you have a
steady source of income that will cover your mortgage as well as
household essentials. Typically, this involves pay stubs, W-2 forms, and tax
returns. They will also verify employment with your human resource
department, including hire date. If you have been in the same job for a
while, this strengthens your application by reducing the risk the lender
assumes in loaning you the money. Sometimes, the lender will need to look
closer and ask for more documentation if your employment history reveals
potential issues.

Self-Employment

The approval process for self-employed borrowers may be slightly different.
Lenders will expect a strong, steady income stream that will be verified with
bank statements and tax returns. A company profit and loss statement will
also be requested.

Employment Gaps

Extended, unexplained employment gaps may be a concern for lenders.
The key is to explain, and most lenders understand reasonable
explanations such as education, caring for a family member, or extended
illness.

Changing Industries

Recent changes to your career track or industry can be a red flag to
lenders. Remember they are looking for consistency. However, as with
other issues, having a strong reason for the change and demonstrating
financial stability can alleviate these concerns.

Before you send off your loan package, it’s worth giving your resume a
quick review. Proactively offer documentation for anything that seems
unusual or that may cause questions. Working with your mortgage
professional can help you navigate the process and result in a loan
approval.

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How to Respond to a Lowball Offer

After all the hard work it takes to ready a home for sale, it can be so discouraging to find the first offer you get is a lowball offer. Regardless of the market,there are buyers who write offers 10%,20%,even 30%below list price. While most of these offers are just“throw-aways,”it’s still possible to turn it in to a successful sale.

Before you do anything,take a deep breath and stay calm. There are many reasons why a buyer throws out a low offer. It could be they are getting bad advice from a family member or nervous first-time buyers afraid of leaving money on the table. It’s also possible that they are working with a new or poor real estate agent. The one thing you know is that they were interested enough in your home to write an offer,and they expect to negotiate.

The next step is to send a counter offer. Be respectful and thank them for the offer. If you do have room to negotiate,then offer to reduce your price to a reasonable level. If you have priced the home well to start with,then explain how you arrived at the list price and present any available comps.

Remember to look at the other terms offered and be flexible where you can. For example,they may have asked for a longer escrow period,and you can accommodate their timetable.You may also want to ask that the home inspection is“information only”that removes the option of repairs.

A lowball offer may take the wind out of your sails,but it doesn’t mean that there is no opportunity for moving forward. Working with your agent,send a reasonable counter offer back to the buyer and you may find that there is still a successful sale down the road.

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The Real Reason Your Agent Wants You Gone During Showings

There are several good reasons for homeowners to make themselves scarce when potential buyers come to view their house. While one motivation is avoiding problematic comments,there are other benefits to giving prospective buyers space during showings.

For one,an empty home allows potential buyers to envision themselves living there.With the sellers out of the way,buyers can move freely through the rooms and picture where heir own furniture and belongings could go. An unoccupied house becomes a blank canvas for buyers to mentally customize to their own lifestyle and needs.

Leaving also allows buyers privacy to discuss their impressions and point out pros and cons to each other candidly. They may feel more comfortable critiquing elements of the home or debating if it meets their wish list when the sellers are not present. This facilitates an open dialogue between potential buyers.

Finally,an empty house also provides a neutral atmosphere for buyers to evaluate it objectively,without sellers unconsciously influencing their perspectives. Buyers can take their time forming their own opinions when touring alone,without chatting with sellers or feeling pressured in any way.

Vacant showings also enable buyers to visualize a future here,speak freely,and decide independently. These benefits make it advisable for sellers to make themselves scarce during viewings.