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Multi-Generational Living – A Path to Affordable Homeownership

In today’s increasingly expensive housing market, multi-generational living
has emerged as a practical solution for families seeking homeownership.
By pooling resources and sharing living spaces, this lifestyle not only allows
more people to achieve their dream of owning a home but also offers
additional benefits in child and elder care.

Here’s how your family can leverage this strategy:

· Financial Resources – Combine income, savings, and credit to build
a strong financial foundation for purchase. By using all available resources,
the family may be able to purchase a larger home than they could alone.

· Space Optimization – Multi-generational homes often feature
separate living suites or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) or granny flats.
Finding some kind of separation allows more flexibility and privacy.

· Shared Responsibilities – Discuss the distribution of chores, costs,
and maintenance tasks. This not only provides for a shared burden but
removes the opportunity for disagreement or disappointment.

· Estate Planning – Multi-generational homeownership can make
inheritance strategies easier but can also create misunderstandings among
siblings not involved in the living arrangements. Clear estate planning is
essential.

· Clear Expectations – Be very clear about expectations for lifestyle.
Discuss childcare, elder care, family time, etc.
The most important thing is to have open communication. Expectations on
both sides can create challenges without clear guidelines and
conversations.

The benefits of multi-generational living can be enormous.
Studies show that children thrive when in regular interaction with
grandparents and the elderly live longer when surrounded by family.

Prompted by the housing affordability crisis, multi-generational living is
becoming more practical and desirable. With a little communication and
planning, this offers families new options for owning a home.

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What to Expect from a Potential Contractor

Most homeowners do not have the expertise or interest in tackling a large home project, so they find a contractor to handle it for them. Hiring a contractor is very different from finding a handyman or gardener. A contractor must adhere to strict guidelines set out by the state or jurisdiction they operate in.

Here are the basic requirements that a contractor should address when you meet with them:

· Licensing Requirements– You should always use a licensed contractor. Not only have they met and maintained specific standards, but this protects you in the event something goes wrong. In many states, you have no legal recourse if the worker is not licensed. Every state has a licensing board where you can check the validity of the license.

· Deposit Limits– It’s common for contractors to ask for a deposit prior to starting work. The amount of deposit is limited by the state in which you live. For example, in California a contract cannot ask for more than 10% of the job or $1000, whichever is less.

· Disclosures– Your contractor should provide you with a list of written disclosures prior to starting the project. These discuss the scope of work, materials to be used, timelines, total cost and change procedures.

· Right to Cancel– Your disclosures should also clearly state your right to cancel within the regulations laid out by the local authority. Typically, this is within three days and the contract must clearly state how the cancellation is to be received. Specific laws and regulations vary by state, but they can be found on the state licensing board’s website.

Before hiring or starting any project,familiarize yourself with these rules to ensure you’re hiring the right company and protected.

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Importance of Title Insurance

Title insurance is a critical component of the home selling process, yet
many homeowners do not fully understand what it is or its value. Simply
stated, title insurance protects both buyer and seller from any potential
issues with the property’s title. When selling a home, obtaining title
insurance offers peace of mind to all parties.

Title insurance acts as a safeguard against potential defects in the
property’s title. These defects can include liens, unpaid taxes, undisclosed
heirs, or simply errors in public records. Without title insurance, a buyer
could find these issues haunting them after the close, leading to costly legal
issues or financial loss.

One of the primary reasons for buying title insurance is to protect against
any claims that arise after the close of the sale and when the seller is long
gone. Even if a title search is conducted during the escrow period, title
insurance is a way to provide a safety net, with potential missed issues or
undeclared claims.

Title insurance may seem like another fee that lenders require to charge
consumers more, but the fact is it is an essential protection for all parties.

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Strategies for Selling a Home with Difficult Tenants

Selling a home can be challenging in any circumstances. Add a difficult
tenant to the mix and it becomes even more complex. While it would be
nice to simply ask the tenant to leave, if there is a valid lease in place, this
may not be possible. In addition, any issues with the tenants must be
disclosed to the potential buyers, further complicating the sale negotiations.
The best option is to try and resolve any issues before starting the sales
process.

Before doing anything, have a conversation with the tenants. Work to
understand and mitigate any issues they may raise. For example, they may
be concerned about having their lives disrupted during showings, and
simply limiting access to the home may resolve the situation. Another
option is to offer a buyout of the lease or other financial incentives for their
cooperation or early departure.

If the situation is more severe, such as tenants causing property damage or
non-payment of rent, you may need to postpone the sale to address the
tenant issues legally. Eviction is a lengthy and costly process, so again
offering a financial settlement may resolve the issue. If not, consult with an
attorney for options and guidance.

Finally, consider the timing of the sale and be sensitive to the tenants’
needs. The end of the lease term is the best time to list, but also timing
based on the end of a school year may help tenants with families make the
move. The best thing to do is collaborate with your tenants to find solutions
that allow you all to move forward easily. If the tenant will stay in place,
ensure the change is smooth by introducing the new owner and putting
them in the best position to have a successful transition.

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First-Time Sellers – 5 Things You May Not Know

Selling your first home is an exciting journey that comes with its unique set of
challenges and learning curves. Even if you feel well-prepared and have partnered with a
skilled real estate professional, there are several aspects of the home-selling process
that might surprise you. Here are essential insights to help you navigate your first home
sale effectively.

1. Pricing is Critical
Setting the right price for your home is crucial. Tempting as it may be to start with a high
asking price, this can deter potential buyers and lead to a longer wait time in selling your
home. Overpricing can necessitate significant price drops later on, which might give
buyers the impression that there’s something wrong with the property. A competitively
priced home, on the other hand, is more likely to attract interest and sell quickly.

2. Preparation is Key
Before listing your home, take proactive steps by addressing repairs and any deferred
maintenance. This not only enhances the appeal of your home but also prevents
potential buyers from being put off by the work they would need to do. A
well-maintained home generally sells faster and possibly for a higher price, as buyers
perceive the care you’ve taken over time.

3. Understanding Disclosure Practices
Transparency about your home’s condition is generally expected in the home-selling
process. Sellers often share details about the property’s history and current state, which
can include past repairs and any existing conditions. Providing this information can
foster trust and facilitate a smoother transaction by ensuring buyers are well-informed
about what they are purchasing. This approach is widely regarded as a best practice in
real estate sales.

4. Anticipating Closing Costs
Understanding potential closing costs is crucial when selling your home. These costs
can vary and might include fees such as title insurance, transfer taxes, and other related
expenses. It’s important to be aware that these costs are part of the transaction and can
sometimes be negotiated with the buyer. By familiarizing yourself with these potential
expenses, you can better estimate the net proceeds from your home sale and approach
negotiations with a more informed perspective.

5. Negotiations
Negotiating the sale terms is more complex than just agreeing on a price. As a first-time
seller, it’s crucial to understand that nearly every aspect of the offer can be negotiated,
including closing dates, contingencies, and even appliances included in the sale. Having
a flexible strategy and an experienced real estate agent on your side can significantly
benefit this process. Whether it’s negotiating repair responsibilities or adjusting the
closing timeline to fit your needs, being well-prepared to discuss these aspects can
make a significant difference in achieving a favorable sale.

Navigating your first home sale can be daunting, but with the right information and
guidance, you can successfully manage the transaction and look forward to your next
steps in your real estate journey. Being informed about these key aspects will not only
help you feel more confident but also position you for a successful and smooth sale.
Remember, the best resource at your disposal is a knowledgeable real estate
professional who can provide insights and expertise tailored to your specific situation.

We are always ready to help you.

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Benefits of Downsizing After Retirement

Retirement is an exciting new phase of life, and one most people look forward to their entire working life. For those ready to make this change, downsizing their home is an important decision. While the thought of leaving the family home can be emotional, there are significant benefits that can enhance the retirement lifestyle.

First, downsizing can provide significant financial savings. There may be substantial equity in the home which can be used for other purposes. Additionally, expenses associated with maintenance, utilities, taxes, and repairs can be dramatically reduced with a smaller home. Money which can be used for travel or other lifestyle choices.

Downsizing also offers a simplified life in the home. Fewer rooms to clean and maintain allows homeowners to spend less time on household chores. These homes are often single story, as retirees trade large multi-storied homes for smaller spaces. A smaller home is easier to navigate and is often designed with accessibility needs in mind. These homes are perfect for people who want to age in place.

While moving may feel overwhelming at first, retirees who make the change often find it liberating. Downsizing requires decluttering and divesting of stuff, which offers a more relaxed environment focused on items that really matter. Moving to a 55+ community is also an advantage. Surrounded by other retirees, people find a larger sense of community and rich social life.

All in all, there are strong advantages to downsizing after retirement. Of course, it’s not right for everyone but with so many options available, it is worth considering.

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What the New Credit Score Models Mean for Homebuyers

Starting in 2025, new credit scoring models will be used by lenders to
determine the creditworthiness of potential homebuyers. Fannie Mae and
Freddie Mac will mandate the adoption of the new FICO Score 10T and
VantageScore 4.0 by the end of the year. For those interested in buying a
home, these changes will impact their ability to purchase. The good news is
that these scores aim to be more inclusive and to show a fuller picture than
the old classic FICO scores did.

These new scores have been noted to have better accuracy, and consider
alternative credit data, as well as traditionally reported credit cards and car
payments. For example, VantageScore 4.0 allows borrowers to add on-time
payments for rent, utilities, and telecom bills. For those with limited debt or
who prefer to use cash, this is a big advantage when seeking credit.

The introduction of these new credit scoring models offers more opportunity
and accessibility to credit for more individuals. This is particularly true for
those with limited credit history or strong alternative credit data.

Additionally, the VantageScore 4.0 only requires one month of credit history
to generate a score, while FICO 10T still requires at least six months.

Overall, the launch of these credit scores is a significant step towards
hopefully allowing access to homeownership to more Americans. By
considering alternative credit, these scores may provide lenders a truer
picture of the ability of a potential homebuyer to pay their loan and extend
credit to those previously unable to qualify

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Home Search Frustration?

The best part of buying a new home is going out and touring homes. This is
especially true for first-time home buyers. As time goes on, however, it can
be frustrating when each home falls short of expectations. While it’s
important to be realistic about what is available and affordable, there can
be a temptation to settle when the right homes don’t pop up quickly.

When this happens, it’s important to take a step back and reevaluate the
criteria. Often buyers head out without a solid list of “must-have” and
“like-to-have” features in mind. If finding the right home is becoming
difficult, then this is the time to create or review these items. Consider
lifestyle as well as willingness to renovate or remodel. Is it important the
home is turn-key on day one, or is there a willingness and ability to make
changes after the sale?

Focus on the “must-have” list first. There could be a beautiful chef’s kitchen
on the “like-to-have” but if 4 bedrooms are critical for the size of the family,
the larger kitchen will not compensate for long. That said, if the hope is to
find a home with a pool, is there room to add the pool later?

Finding the right home is often a matter of timing. Patience is the best
advice. With the start of the new year, new listings are hitting the market
every day. The perfect home may not have been listed yet.

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Understanding the Difference Between Interest Rate and APR

One of the least understood aspects of obtaining a home loan is the difference between the interest rate and the APR (Annual Percentage Rate). At first glance, they sound like the same thing, but while they both impact the cost of the loan, they are two different aspects of the home loan program.

Home interest rates, or more commonly referred to as mortgage rates, are the actual cost of borrowing the money needed to buy the home. Lenders use the borrower’s credit score, income, loan amount, and other factors to determine their risk of lending the money. Then, they determine how much interest to charge on the principal loan amount.

On the other hand, APR provides an overall picture of the total cost of borrowing. It includes not only the interest rate cost, but also other costs and fees associated with the loan. Items such as origination fees, points, and mortgage insurance are all added to the total interest due over the course of the loan and then compared to the amount borrowed to determine the Annual Percentage Rate.

For potential borrowers, the APR allows them to compare the total cost of the loan among all available loans. One might offer a lower interest rate but once the fees and costs are included, it may end up costing more in the long run. Mortgage financing can seem complicated and confusing but by learning the terms and how they affect the loan, borrowers can make informed decisions about what loan program makes sense for their needs.

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What to Expect From a Listing Agent

You already know that the best way to sell your home, and for the most
profit, is to hire a listing agent. The fact is that people who sell using a real
estate agent make more profit and have a smoother transaction than those
who try to do it themselves. Yet often consumers don’t know everything the
listing agent does. Listing a home properly entails so much more than
putting a lockbox on the front door and slapping a sign in the yard.

The listing agent is your advocate and partner in the selling process. They
help guide you through the transaction, negotiate on your behalf, and work
with the buyers’ agents to get you the best deal possible. A good listing
agent will provide you with regular updates and input from showings. The
most important thing is to discuss and set expectations at the beginning.

Some sellers ask that their agent attend all showings. This is typical with
luxury properties, for example. But often they do most of their work behind
the scenes, encouraging offers, negotiating counter offers, working with
lenders and appraisers, handling loose ends and hiccups.

Once in a while, things don’t go well. The partnership becomes difficult or
impossible. Since almost all listings involve a reasonable time limit, you
may feel trapped or hopeless that there is a solution. In this case, you do
have options. First, if your agent works for a brokerage, call the managing
broker who can mediate, or if necessary, reassign your listing if needed.

Your agent is your partner. Be honest and open with your needs and
expectations. In this way, you can work together to sell your home quickly
and for the best price and terms possible.