Category : FAQ

When selling a house, it is important to show the house in its best condition. Getting rid of the clutter, sprucing up the landscaping, and repainting the walls are the usual suggestions, but what about home staging? Hiring a home staging professional to do all of these tasks can be one of the best decisions you make when selling your house.

A potential buyer is not just looking for a house, but for a home. Make them feel like your house can be their new home! The “staged” look of a house can evoke emotion in a customer as soon as they walk in the door. If that buyer can picture themselves lounging in the living room, hosting in the dining room, and filling the picture frames throughout the house with pictures of their loved ones, they are more likely to buy it.

The more you invest in getting your home ready to sell, the higher the return will be. Creating an ambiance and an atmosphere that make potential buyers feel at home and comfortable is a wise investment.

Curb Appeal is a Must!

downloadIf your home has curb appeal, you’ll be able to sell it quickly and for top dollar. That’s why REALTORS® rate exterior home remodeling projects as the most valuable homeowners can make.

Many homeowners are confused about which projects will provide the most return on investment as they prepare their homes for the market.

The 2014 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, co-sponsored by the National Association of Realtors and Remodeling magazine, outlines the costs and resale returns on the most popular home improvement projects.

Realtors know which home features are important to buyers in their area. Projects such as a new entry door, siding and window replacements can recoup homeowners more than 78 percent of costs upon resale.

So why remodel anything if it’s not going to give you back 100%? It’s because the first impression a homebuyer gets is priceless. You want the buyer to choose your home, and quit looking for something better.

If the buyer doesn’t like what he sees, you won’t get another chance to make any kind of impression.

So which home improvement projects will net the most return?

Eight of the top 10 most cost-effective projects are exterior projects.

Replacing your front door with a steel entry will cost $1,100 on average, but you’ll get nearly 97% of what you spent back in your pocket.

The second most popular improvement is a wood deck addition, which will return over 87 percent of costs, similar to the return on fiber-cement siding. Vinyl siding returns a little over 78 percent of costs.

A midrange garage door replacement returns nearly 84 percent while an upscale garage door replacement offers 82.9 percent of costs recouped. Wood window replacements recoup over 79% of costs and vinyl windows return nearly as much.

Rounding the top 10 projects are an attic bedroom and minor kitchen remodel. These are important too, but you’ve got to pique buyers’ interest first.

The good news is that the return for all projects is higher in the last two years. To find out what the best return on home improvements is in your area, talk with your REALTOR.

Written by Blanche Evans

housing-rebound

Many of you are seeing it in the field: Low inventory, houses flying off the market and a groundswell of demand from buyers. As a result, home prices are steadily increasing.

Combine all those factors with signs of strength in the economy, and you have a recipe for another market change: higher mortgage rates.

The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped to 4.29 percent in early July—nearly a whole percentage point above where it was in early May, according to Freddie Mac.

While some industry watchers predict that rising rates could stall the positive momentum in housing’s recovery, I tend to agree with the school of thought that says the rebound will continue despite upward ticks over time.

Rates are still historically low compared to what they were before the recession hit, and prices are still affordable in many areas.

Will some home-buyers see a decrease in their buying power if rates climb too far, particularly young, first-timers or low-income families? Unfortunately, yes.

But it won’t affect all buyers.

Recent data reported by the MBA notes that although we’re seeing slight dips in overall mortgage applications as rates increase, conventional home loan applications are picking up by a few percentage points.

This indicates two things: 1) people with steady incomes and employment, a sizeable down payment, and strong credit are finally coming off the sidelines to buy before rates go up further; and 2) many of these borrowers are more than likely move-up or repeat buyers who saw the equity return to their homes and were able to finally sell so they could make their next move.

Recent data reported by the MBA notes that although we’re seeing slight dips in overall mortgage applications as rates increase, conventional home loan applications are picking up by a few percentage points.

Perhaps you know of potential buyers who have been waiting for the bottom of the market. If what we’re seeing is any indication, the bottom has come and gone. We’re in a steady recovery, and now’s the time to encourage those would-be buyers to explore their options. It’s worth noting, though, that home prices and mortgage rates could go up more as demand continues to outpace existing supply and new construction.

These recent market shifts are an opportunity for you to shine a spotlight on your professional expertise, as well as employ creative marketing strategies to communicate these trends to your entire database of contacts. Use local and national statistics to show them what’s happening in real estate.

If you know of potential buyers who’ve been waiting it out, tell them what’s going on in frank terms, then connect them with a trusted lender who will show them what their monthly payment might look like at the current mortgage rate for a property within their price, as well as a comparison of what it might be if rates reach 5 percent or more. Seeing the numbers in black and white could be the impetus indecisive buyers need to make their big move.

It’s natural for some people to panic a little when they see home prices and mortgage rates make big jumps, but it’s an inevitable part of the crests and troughs of a housing cycle. Remind home-buyers and sellers of your value by giving them the facts without the frills. With the right approach, you’ll help get those buyers and sellers off the sidelines and back into the game.

For more information regarding mortgage rates or your housing needs contact us at adim@rochesterhomesplus.com

Home-Affordability-Calculator

What happens if you go through a tough financial period and you find yourself behind on your mortgage payments for your home?

If you are missing mortgage payments and are having difficulty paying, this can become a serious problem. Even just one missed payment can be difficult to catch up on, and if you are in this situation it is important to get help right away.

Contact Your Lender

The first step in this circumstance should be to get in touch with your mortgage lender to explain the situation. Simply leaving things alone and not explaining why you have missed a payment will just make things worse.

When people are struggling financially, they avoid calling their creditors for as long as they can. This is usually the wrong strategy to have if you want to make sure that you keep your home.

When you speak to the lender, you can explain why your payment is overdue. For example, perhaps you were laid off from your job or you have been sick and unable to work. If you have a good payment history and you are the one to initiate contact, the lender may be more likely to consider options for you to repay the mortgage.

Consider All Of Your Options

Is there a relative or a friend who could lend you enough money to pay off your missed mortgage payment? Could borrow from your insurance policy? Is there a way you can sell something that you are not using or cut back on other expenses?

Perhaps you could work a part time job on the side to earn more money. There are a number of ways that you could come up with the extra cash and make the mortgage payment.

However, be careful with payday loan companies or other short term lenders, as they may charge extremely high interest that can make it even more difficult to get out of debt later.

Loan Modification

In some circumstances, you might be able to arrange with your loan servicer to permanently change one or more of the terms of your mortgage contract so that your mortgage payments will be more manageable for you.

This could include reducing your interest rate, adding the missed payments to the loan balance or extending the term of the loan. A loan modification can be a good idea if you are facing a reduction in your income that will last for an extended period.

If you are struggling financially and you have missed a mortgage payment, don’t panic. Instead, follow these steps to make sure that you deal with the situation well and get back on track.

To find out more about getting a mortgage on your home, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

RE/MAX in the Know: The Difference One Light Bulb Can Make

Can A Monkey Sell Real Estate?

By Anthony James

Recently, I heard a local REALTOR® make this statement over the radio: “Even a monkey could sell real estate in this market.” As a professional in the industry with over 11 years of experience, I get it. I understand the message this REALTOR® was trying to convey: The market is hot and homes are selling quickly. However, I don’t think a monkey could do our job.

Surviving the downturn of the local California real estate market and pressing forward in my career has helped me understand the true meaning of being a broker/manager. When the game changed in 2007, many REALTORS® were left to either sink or swim. This was the defining moment in a REALTOR®’s career. During this time, the monkeys were definitely scratching their heads and eating bananas while the real professionals rose to the challenge and figured out a way to claw through one of the toughest real estate markets our nation had ever seen.

And don’t just take my word for it, let the numbers speak for themselves: According to the California Department of Real Estate (DRE), the amount of people entering our industry has substantially slowed. In 2007, California issued about 44,000 salesperson licenses—a relatively high number—but only 11,434 salesperson licenses were issued in 2012.  If the business of selling homes could be taken care of by a monkey, why is this number dropping at such an alarming rate? Wouldn’t everyone want to get in on the act?

Further, the misconceptions about our industry happen in mainstream media too. The  lives of typical REALTORS® are hardly as glamorous as they seem on reality TV shows like “Million Dollar Listing.” The average real estate agent is earning less than $38,000 per year and it makes my stomach turn to see our industry misrepresented on television. The truth is, we work long and hard for our money and sometimes go weeks without a paycheck. Let’s recognize the reality and not attempt to minimize the importance of our role and what we do as professionals.

But the other issue I take with the “monkey” statement has to do with its source. As a community of REALTORS®, we must always be aware of what we are saying and how we are portraying ourselves to the public. Making a statement that a monkey could do our jobs gives off the worst possible perception of how valuable we really are to our clients. I can assure you that no monkey would be able to complete the hundreds of short sales and REO transactions I’ve been involved with in the past 11 years. If I would’ve asked a monkey to help me figure out how to close the 10-month short sale with delinquent taxes, liens, HOA dues, back child support, a seller who left the country, property damage, and three loans at three different banks, I know the monkey would have no answer.

Today, I want to challenge us to rise up as a community of young professionals and be extremely aware of the statements we put into our markets and give to local media. As the tide turns and the market continues its recovery, please press forward with a level of character, dignity, and integrity that shows our clients how essential we are to the success of their real estate needs. Our jobs are challenging enough and the last thing we need is to be compared to an animal by one of our own. Rest assured, this ain’t no monkey business—and you can quote me on that!

Anthony James is a Broker Associate and Regional Manager at RE/MAX Gold in Northern California.  He’s been a REALTOR® for over 11 years and now helps hire and train agents for the 21 offices he manages.  Connect with James at www.facebook.com/SacHomeMarket or ajames@remax.net.

Home-Affordability-CalculatorFor the millions of Americans who lost their homes in a foreclosure or short sale during the recession, things are starting to look up. In addition to receiving a piece of the $3.6 billion settlement that banks are distributing to borrowers who were wrongfully foreclosed on, some homeowners are now becoming “boomerang buyers” and re-entering the market after a foreclosure or short sale.

Neal Katz, a mortgage agent at All Western Mortgage in Las Vegas, says he fields calls from a number of people wondering how long they have to wait before qualifying for another mortgage. “The biggest hurdle is time,” he says. “Time is the only thing that makes things better.”

Wait times vary depending on individual circumstances such as the size of the down payment and whether the buyer’s home was foreclosed or sold in a short sale. Those who’ve gone through foreclosure might wait three years for a Federal Housing Administration loan or seven years for a conventional loan, according to Katz. The wait time may be closer to two or three years after a short sale. In rare cases, a homeowner who sold in a short sale may be able to get a new loan right away if he or she hasn’t fallen behind on mortgage payments.

[Read: Why You Can’t Afford to Skip Renter’s Insurance.]

Programs aimed at helping borrowers re-enter the market through second-chance mortgages are popping up throughout the country, especially in cities like Las Vegas that were hit hard by the housing bust. Buyers who’ve left the market for several years and meet income requirements may be eligible for first-time buyer programs as well.

Going from owning a home to renting isn’t an easy transition for most people. “It’s very hard on homeowners when they have to go out and ask someone to rent them a house,” says Dianne Langston, a real estate broker in Solano County, Calif. “They’re ready to get out of the rental situation and be a homeowner again.”

Despite the ego blow, that transition time between mortgages offers a chance to save for another down payment and clean up any credit issues. Some people who’ve experienced foreclosure or a short sale also let other financial obligations slide out of frustration or resignation, Katz explains. Now’s the time to tackle those issues. “If you have a small collection account from a credit card, settle it,” Katz says. “Take care of all the other things you can to show the underwriter that you did the best you could. That way, the delinquencies are so long ago that it shouldn’t have an impact on your credit score anymore.”

[Read: Secrets of Successful House Flippers.]

Still, the fact that someone may qualify for a mortgage doesn’t mean they’ll immediately jump back into homeownership. Historically, only 30 percent of borrowers who defaulted on their mortgage in 2001 had taken out another mortgage within 10 years, according to researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The researchers also found that borrowers who terminated their mortgages not due to a default (for instance, paying off the house or switching to a larger or smaller house) returned to the mortgage market about two-and-a-half times faster.

Heather Harmon, a Redfin agent in Sacramento, Calif., sees some buyers waiting longer than they need to before buying again because of emotional reasons. “They’ve had to recover psychologically from the experience as much as they’ve had to recover financially,” she says. “You definitely see the buyers who are just mad about what happened. They blame it on circumstances, and they’re afraid of it happening again. In other cases, they’re really embarrassed. They feel exposed, and they’ve got to drag their financials back out again.”

Many people are depressed or discouraged after a foreclosure or short sale, according to Langston, because a house symbolizes their hard work and oftentimes the American Dream. “They don’t understand that it’s not the end of the line,” she says. “I always encourage people by letting them know that they can re-enter the marketplace.”

[In Pictures: 10 Ways Your Home Can Pay You Money]

Harmon recently worked with a couple in their 60s who bought a new home with a Department of Veterans Affairs loan two years after selling their previous house in a short sale. “They weren’t proud of it, but they’re picking themselves up again,” she says, adding that younger homeowners often have a harder time bouncing back from a short sale because of the impact on their kids and the desire to keep up with the Joneses.

While buying a house seemed nearly impossible for the couple thanks to the competitive local market and the longer closing time for a VA loan, Harmon says building a relationship with the seller and the seller’s agent helped the deal close. “We strategized our offer in a way to give the seller everything we possibly could give him because we were bound by the terms of the VA,” she says.

Nominate a ‘Good Neighbor’ by May 20th

ST_GoodNeighborAwardsRealtor Magazine is now taking nominations for the 14th annual Good Neighbor Awards.

You may apply, or nominate a deserving RE/MAX colleague, by Monday, May 20th.

Good Neighbor Awards celebrate Associates who volunteer in activities that help improve the quality of life in their communities.  Winners will be named in October, and honored at the annual Realtors Conference & Expo, to be held in San Francisco in the fall.

As part of the Awards, five winners will each receive $10,000 grants for their charities; five additional grants of $2,500 each will be awarded to winners of honorable mentions.

For more information, and to nominate someone for the Good Neighbor Awards, check outwww.realtor.org/gna or contact Sara Geimer at (312)329-8296 or sgeimer@realtors.org

Spider Man Closings

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As you may or may not know, they have started filming the Spider Man 2 movie downtown, which has resulted in a large portion of Main Street being closed along with cross streets being local traffic only. The following link looks like the best way to find out which streets will be affected.  When you get to the web page, click on the button that says “Day by Day Street Closure Maps” and it will pull up a nice map with color-coded street closures.

The only unfortunate thing is that it is a day-by-day update, so you can only find out about tomorrow’s street closures.  They say they will update it every evening with closures for the next day.