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Prioritizing Lifestyle Amid Rising Interest Rates

The real estate market has changed over the past year. One of the biggest
issues facing anyone considering a home purchase or sale is rising interest
rates. After enjoying years of mortgage rates in the 2-3% range, many
borrowers are shocked to see a conventional 30-year fixed loan offering
rates as high as 7 per cent. While historically reasonable, this increase is
having an impact on the real estate market. If you are considering a move,
it’s important to remember that your lifestyle still needs to take precedence
over these temporary changes.

First, your mortgage interest rate is just one aspect of your overall financial
situation. Taking a more holistic view of the potential move, including
lifestyle and personal needs, may provide a more favorable picture. For
example, if the move is a downsize, what is the savings in loan amount
(less expensive home), maintenance and repair costs, utility costs, property
taxes, etc.? One must also consider the potential tax deduction difference
that mortgage interest might provide.

Another important consideration is that property values may have dropped
in some areas as rates have increased. While one may not completely
balance the other, it can make the increase more palatable. Additionally,
rates fluctuate and if interest rates decrease, you might have the option to
refinance down the road. Meanwhile, home values have historically been a
great vehicle for wealth building as values rise over time.

Finally, and most importantly, if your lifestyle has changed and you want to
move, then that should be your priority. Quality of life is the single most
important aspect of health. While rising interest rates may change your
decision, it should not keep you from moving if that’s what’s best.

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Unusual but Important Considerations When Choosing the Right Neighborhood

Most people know that choosing the right neighborhood is one of the most
important aspects of a great lifestyle. When buying a new home, this
becomes even more important. While everyone knows that property values,
safety, schools, and commute ranks high in importance, there are some
considerations that are not commonly thought about in advance yet make a
huge impact on satisfaction.

· Vibrant Community and Social Scene – While some people are
looking for a quiet life in the country, for those craving more action, consider
this when choosing a neighborhood. Look for farmer’s markets, art
galleries, festivals, bars and clubs, community events; ways to create a
sense of belonging and involvement.

· Pet-Friendly Environment – For pet owners, finding a welcoming
community for their furry friends is important. Look for places with lots of
green space, dog parks, and pet-friendly establishments.

· Unique Architectural or Historic Value – There are many cities with
historical districts and heritage sites. Buying a home in these areas can be
a distinctly inspiring experience. One caveat, before buying, it’s important to
make sure to understand the rules and restrictions; often there are
ordinances which prevent changing the exterior of the home.

· Natural Surroundings – For nature enthusiasts, living near green
spaces and outdoor recreational opportunities can be important. In addition
to community parks, trails, or lakes, these buyers should consider proximity
to national parks, BLM land, or public waterways.

· Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Communities – If environmental
sustainability is important, then look for communities with eco-friendly policies and amenities. Watch for communal gardens, bike lanes, and
renewable energy initiatives.

Choosing the right neighborhood is about more than just property values
and school systems. By looking beyond the traditional aspects and
considering the unique things that enhance lifestyle, buyers can make sure
that the community, as well as the home, suits their needs.

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Important Things to Consider Before Buying a Fixer Upper Home

Purchasing a fixer-upper property can be an exciting and rewarding
experience. HGTV is filled with programs of amateurs knocking down walls
and tiling bathroom floors. The fact is that this is much harder than it looks
and before diving headfirst into this kind of project, it’s critical to consider
whether you are prepared for the venture.

5 Important Things to Consider Before Buying a Fixer-Upper Home

1. Financial Planning – The first step in buying a fixer-upper home is to
establish a realistic budget. Include the purchase price, repairs costs, and
any expected expenses for renovation or restoration. Once you have
created a “known” list, then add extra for unexpected issues that will arise.

2. Time and Effort – Renovating a fixer-upper takes time and effort,
even if you hire a general contractor to oversee the project. Consider the
overall scope of the project and evaluate your skills and level of time

3. Structural Condition – Before making an offer, thoroughly inspect
the property’s structure and foundation. Recognize the impact of any issues
uncovered and make sure to budget for the proper corrections.

4. Real Estate Market and Location – Even a beautiful home in a
terrible area is a bad investment. Consider such factors as property values,
market trends and the potential for future appreciation. Work with a
financial planner to make sure the investment fits your long-term goals.

5. Legal Considerations – Before writing the offer, familiarize yourself
with local building codes, permit requirements, and zoning regulations.
Ensure the changes you anticipate align with local requirements.

Purchasing a fixer-upper home can be a wonderful investment and
worthwhile project. By evaluating your budget, time commitment, property
condition, and potential appreciation, you can be sure to choose the right
situation for your goals and experience.

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Buying a New Construction Home? A Few Tips To Avoid Panic

A brand-new home! Who hasn’t dreamed of creating the perfect home from
scratch and moving into a space that no one has ever lived in before.
There’s something special about a fresh home, but remember, new doesn’t
mean perfect. And it certainly does not mean that there won’t be
imperfections, small or large, to contend with.

One of the most important things to understand up front is what does your
warranty cover? A builder’s warranty covers typical defects and other
problems, but the fine print outlines timelines, procedures, and limitations.
A thorough reading prior to closing will clarify how to handle any issues that
arise when you move in.

When you are ready to move in, your checklist will differ from a typical
resale home. First, always have an independent home inspection, just as
you would if you purchased a used home. Alert the builder immediately of
anything that the inspection uncovers. During the final walk-through, you
will also want to make sure the home was completed correctly; are the light
switches level, are the floors even, is the paint free from nicks and
scratches? You are buying a new home and it should look new.

Buying a new home is exciting. The good news is that most issues are
minor and can be quickly corrected by the builder or home warranty
company when discovered. No need to panic when imperfections show up.

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The Real Reason Home Prices Don’t Seem to Be Crashing

The real estate market today is quite different from what it was just a few
months ago. Mortgage rates have risen dramatically which impacts the
borrowing power of home buyers. The frantic pace of the past few years
has also slowed with homes staying on the market longer than we saw
during the last few years.

With all these changes, many potential homebuyers are wondering when
the prices will crash. In other words, when is the right time to buy?
The housing market is affected by supply and demand. With a potentially
smaller buyer pool, the assumption would be that home prices would fall to
attract the few buyers still looking. But prices are not reacting this way in
many markets. In fact, the supply of homes nationwide has stayed
relatively small, which in turn has helped prices stay steady.

The fact is that rising interest rates are affecting sellers as well. Most sellers
are planning to purchase a replacement property. This means that many
sellers are reconsidering their own ability to purchase the desired
replacement home. As a result, rather than attempting to capitalize on any
lingering seller’s market, many have withdrawn instead, keeping the current
inventory low and prices stable.

While it’s difficult to predict the effect of more interest rate hikes on seller’s
behavior, homebuyers should concentrate on finding the right property for
their needs rather than second guessing the market. It’s always the right
time to buy the perfect property.

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Looking for a Mortgage? How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Nothing is more stressful than shopping for a mortgage and realizing your credit score isn’t what you expected. Worse still is finding that your identity has been stolen and there are fraudulent accounts or activity on your report. Recovering from identity theft can be time-consuming – you might lose your dream home if the seller cannot wait for you to resolve the issue.

Before this happens to you, there are steps you can take to protect your Social Security number and your credit.

Guard Your Social Security Number – First, you should memorize your Social Security number – never keep the card in your wallet. Second, consider whether giving your SSN to someone is really mandatory; many forms request this information, but ask questions before providing to see if it’s actually required.

Freeze Your Credit – This little known trick can prevent anyone from applying for credit in your name; including you. Contact the reporting bureaus to prevent your credit report from being used for any purpose. Unfreeze when you need it.

Get ID Theft Protection – Consider using an ID theft protection company to monitor your credit.

Be Careful Online – Avoid public interest hot spots and other unsecured networks when buying or banking online. Install a firewall and consider a private virtual network system. Do not open any unknown emails or links.

Don’t take your identification lightly. Your credit is important to most aspects of your financial life, but especially so when obtaining a home loan. A small change in credit score can cost thousands of dollars in additional fees and interest; it can even cost you the home if your ID has been stolen while you work to restore your credit. Take some simple steps ahead of time to ensure you’re protected.

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Your “Starter Home” Might Last Longer than You Think

New homebuyers often tell their agents that they are looking for their “starter home.” Several factors go into this approach. These are typically younger buyers, often without children. They may be looking for a maintenance-free home, like a condo, or they might assume that starter homes are more budget-friendly. There are plenty of good reasons to buy a home with the assumption that it’s only for a few years, but it’s usually wise to consider the fact that it might be for much longer.

As 2020 demonstrated so clearly, things can change without warning. Homebuyers choosing a small condo with the intention of living in it for only a few years might later find themselves trying to carve out space for children due to employment challenges or market changes. The good news is that many times—once you add in association fees, taxes, and other costs—an older home that needs updating could be just as economical as a brand-new condo with all the latest design features.

When buying your first home, it’s important to consider how you would manage if you needed to stay longer than expected. An older home might offer a yard where you could expand, or extra rooms which can become bedrooms. These options can give you flexibility as your lifestyle changes over the years.

If you buy your first home with the future in mind, you can protect yourself from the unexpected income changes, real estate price booms, or any other outside influence. Don’t discount the older fixer-upper simply because you plan to move in a few years—plans change, and giving this some prior thought can help you adjust more painlessly in the future.

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Market Signal to Watch For in Real Estate

The housing market has been crazy over the past few years. While there
have always been periods of ups and downs, buyer’s markets and seller’s
markets, yet the frenetic pace and swings since the start of the pandemic
has had everyone on edge. Now that interest rates have climbed back to
more “normal” levels, those in the market are wondering, “what’s next”?
For anyone interested in buying or selling real estate, it can feel like a
guessing game. Is it the right time to sell? Can I get the best price? Should
I buy a home this spring? Will interest rates go up, or down? It can feel

Yet, there are signs that can help consumers make the right decision for
themselves and their families. As spring season starts, there are signs that
indicate a strong real estate market. New mortgage applications are rising
again. Indicating buyers are starting to look at their options.

After a long period of rising home mortgage rates, the last few weeks have
seen a small downturn, and buyers are moving to lock in these lower rates.
This is also good news for sellers. With more buyers on in the market, they
can expect better activity and higher home prices.

The key for both buyers and sellers is to keep their expectations
reasonable. Experts do not expect a large rush of either buyers or sellers
flooding the market, so this sprint looks like an opportunity to slow down a
bit, weigh options, and make a solid transaction, without the pressure.

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Basics of a Successful 1031 Exchange

A 1031 Exchange is a potential option for investors who may be interested
in deferring taxes when selling an investment property. By reinvesting the
proceeds into another investment property, investors have the opportunity
to take advantage of real estate market opportunities without having to pay
taxes on their profits immediately. It is important to note, however, that this
strategy comes with strict rules that must be followed carefully in order to
ensure a successful exchange.

In order to be considered for a 1031 Exchange, the properties involved may
need to be investments and not for personal use. Additionally, it is generally
required that the properties be like-kind, although they do not have to be
exactly identical.

There are many different types of investments that could potentially qualify
for a 1031 Exchange. For instance, an investor may choose to exchange a
multi-family apartment complex for a shopping center, or a commercial
office building for a rental property. Ultimately, the specific circumstances of
each investor’s situation will determine whether or not a 1031 Exchange is
the right choice.

The timing of a 1031 Exchange is crucial, and investors should aim to
identify a replacement property within 45 days of selling the original
property, with the exchange being completed within 180 days of the sale.

Working with experienced real estate professionals who have knowledge
and expertise in 1031 Exchange transactions can be helpful, as mistakes
can be costly if the rules are not followed precisely.

While a 1031 Exchange can be a valuable strategy for investors, it is important to keep in mind that
individual circumstances can vary, and it may be wise to seek personalized
tax advice from a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or tax advisor to
determine if this strategy is suitable for a particular investor.

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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:

Loan Qualifying
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.