Misconceptions Keep First Time Home Buyers Out of Market

MarketWatch | Since the recession, first-time home buyers, who’ve made up around 40 percent of all buyers, have been shrinking. In 2015, they made up just under 30 percent of the market share, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The culprit seems to be a lack of knowledge about low-down payment programs such as those available by the Federal Housing Administration.

Consumers believe on average that they need 16 percent for a down payment in order to qualify for a mortgage, but in reality, homes can be purchased with as little as a 3 percent down payment.

Rules enacted in 2015 that decreased the amount of mortgage insurance borrowers must pay on FHA loans and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lowering down payment minimums may have boosted first-time participation slightly, say housing analysts.

If you have any questions about purchasing a home, please contact me today. I’m able to help you find the right home and help you secure the right financing.


3 Renovation Missteps That Can Hamper Value

Source: MarketWatch | Renovations are mostly done not only for a home owner’s comfort but to add value to their home. However, in some cases, home owners may end up making their home worth less. Here are three of the most common renovations that can potentially decrease the value of a home:

1. Eliminating a bedroom:
The more bedrooms a home has, the higher the price it can usually sell for. Even if the home owner plans to remove a bedroom in order to expand another one or make a living space larger, this renovation project could likely burn them at resale by completely changing the comparable value of the home in the neighborhood.

2. Renovating the garage into living space:
Getting rid of the garage space in favor of an extra office, family room, or bedroom can be a turnoff to many potential buyers at resale. Seventy-four percent of recent buyers said that having a garage is extremely or very important, according to a survey of 7,500 people by Crescent Communities.

3. Removing closets:
People need closets, and will many times count the number of closets per room. This is why it can hurt the resale value of a home when a closet is removed in order to make a bedroom, or master suite larger.

How to Do Your Own Yearly Home Inspection

Before you buy a home, it’s always a good idea to get a professional home inspector—but that shouldn’t be the only time you give your home a thorough look. Here’s a checklist of what to look for when performing a yearly visual inspection on your own home, or one you are considering buying.

A professional home inspection should not be skipped when buying a property. But when you first visit the house, you can also do your own visual inspection so you can watch for certain trouble spots. Even after you buy the house, doing this at least once a year will catch most issues before they become major problems.

You’ll need a pair of binoculars, flashlight, gloves, screwdrive, notepad and pen, and a camera to document problems. Click here to view the inspection list

Why You Need to Learn More About Feng Shui

The ancient design philosophy of feng shui is gaining more traction in real estate as the number of Chinese home buyers are taking a bigger liking to U.S. real estate.

Eighty-six percent of Chinese Americans believe feng shui will play a role in a future home buying decision, according to a newly released survey of 500 Chinese-American home buyers, conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, in conjunction with the Asian Real Estate Association of America. What’s more, 79 percent of respondents said they’d pay more for a home that follows feng shui principles — an average of 16 percent more to boot.

Seventy-five percent of respondents said deal breakers for them, which follow feng shui principles, would be a home being located at the end of a dead-end street, having the stairs directly facing the front door, and if the front and back doors are aligned. Continue reading at realtor.com

Avoid these 5 open house mistakes

The world of real estate is very competitive. You have a chance to make an impression and it is usually a first impression. Sellers often underestimate the importance of preparing a home for an open house, and that can lower their chances of finding a buyer. Here are five common open house mistakes you should avoid.

MUSIC: Leaving the TV on or a stereo on to dull out white noise may make sense, however, this is an opportunity to offend a potential buyer. You never know who will walk through that door and they may be turned off by certain music types. The best advice is to leave it silent so they can experience the home in their own way opening up their imagination.

CLUTTER: This may seem obvious, but clutter is a huge no-no when showing a home. Showing messy and unkept homes to potential buyers is by far the biggest mistake many sellers make when holding an open house. This is a sign that you may not have taken care of the property and it also restricts the buyer from imagining their furniture or items in the house because they are so focused on all the clutter.

KIDS & PETS: No matter how cute your children are, even the furry ones – they should not be at an open house. Ever! Logistically they make things difficult because you have to keep them separate from the viewers of the home. This means blocking off areas of the house, a real no-no in an open house. They also behave unpredictably. The last thing you want is your beloved pet leaving his mark on the floor right in front of the guests. You want the seller to focus on your house and these are distractions.

SMELLS: There is nothing more inviting than walking into a home that smells like fresh baked cookies or pressed linens. Smell is a sense many people forget when showing a home and its so easy to satisfy this part. If you are a smoker or have pets there are extra precautions that will be necessary to make sure you don’t turn buyers away.

POOR CURB APPEAL: Many home sellers pay little attention to the outside of their houses, especially during the winter. But potential buyers look at your home’s exterior with very critical eyes. The roof is one of the main places buyers will look and then the rest of the home.  Make sure your landscaping looks clean and fresh. Mow the lawn, plant some shrubs and rinse the patio doorway.


Mortgage before marriage? You got it!

After eight years of dating, Greg Hebert and Laura Reiffarth knew it was time to take their commitment to each other to the next level. In June 2012, they took the plunge — and bought a home together.

The couple, who have recently gotten engaged, knew then that they would eventually get married, but buying a house first seemed like the right step for them.

“We knew we couldn’t afford to do both at the time, so we had to make a decision,” Reiffarth says. “We felt it was financially and logically smarter to buy the house first.”

It’s a decision more couples are now making. A recent survey by Coldwell Banker found that 1 in 4 married couples between the ages of 18 and 34 purchased a first home together before marriage.

The trend follows the increase in cohabitation documented by the 2010 census and in a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC study found that nearly half of women up to age 44 had cohabitated between 2006 and 2010, compared with 34% in 1995. It also found that 40% of those couples got married within three years of living together.

And for Hebert and Reiffarth, it made more sense from a relationship perspective to buy the house, then tie the knot.

“It’s kind of funny for us to think about how our parents did it,” Reiffarth says. “We look at getting married before moving in together as a huge risk. What if you were married, moved in together and then couldn’t stand the other person? Then you’re kind of stuck, just spent a lot of money on a marriage and a house.”

Changing attitudes
Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, who worked with Coldwell Banker on the homebuying study, says couples who are purchasing homes together are definitely commitment-minded, but that the difficult economy has prompted a shift in priorities.

“You have a population that has to be more aware of fiscal realities and responsibilities, and there is kind of more of a sober attitude when it comes to making pragmatic decisions,” she says. “Couples are deciding, ‘We are committed,’ and it makes sense to save money.

“I don’t think you can separate out the economic and fiscal realities with how couples decide to move forward in their lives,” she says. “How they handle finances will have a huge impact on their relationships. It’s not romantic, but it’s real.”

After they married, the couple built a home in Hyde Park, Ohio, and Bhattacharjee says she is glad they waited.

“We were more established in our careers and had more disposable income so we could afford exactly what we wanted,” she says.

Testing the relationship
But for some people, buying a home signifies a much bigger commitment than getting married.

“Owning five or six hundred thousand dollars of property together may actually be a stronger bond, one that can be harder to disentangle, than many marriages, which can often be dissolved rather quickly and easily with a no-fault divorce,” says Barry Maher, a motivational speaker who owns two homes in California with his partner, Rose Fennel.

The couple had lived together for eight years before they made their first co-purchase.

“Living together in a rental home was a commitment, certainly much more of a commitment than dating,” he says. “But obviously, it wasn’t nearly as strong a commitment as marriage. All it would have taken for either of us to get out of the relationship was a U-Haul, a couple of friends and a few trips lugging our stuff to a new location.

“But buying a home together is a major commitment, with promises that have to be kept and major consequences if they aren’t,” Maher says. “Just the fact that we were willing to commit to buying that property showed how strongly we were committed to making the relationship work.”

Ryan Lau and his fiancée, Leina Yokota, bought a house together in Honolulu in September 2012 because it made financial sense, but found that the process was a good test of their relationship.

“A Realtor will tell you the top three things to consider before you buy are location, location, location,” he says. “I say, before you decide to buy with your significant other you need communication, communication, communication. Our plan was one that evolved as we went through this process. We listened to each other, were honest with each other and revised our plan as we went along.”

Skip the fine. Here are 7 Ways to Save Water in Your Yard

By Jennifer Gravely – aolrealestate.com

Brown grass, dead shrubs, puny gardens — they’re an eyesore for sure. But keeping your yard in pristine shape can be quite a burden, especially in the summer heat, when drought conditions are rampant.

Here are seven tips to keep your yard looking its best, without wasting water.

1. Be sprinkler savvy.

Your automatic sprinkler can be a huge help when it comes to keeping your yard looking its best, but it can also be a huge water — and money — waster.

First, make sure your sprinklers are watering your lawn, not the driveway or road, and frequently check the system for leaks. Consider installing rain and/or moisture sensors that will turn sprinklers off if it’s raining or if the ground is already saturated.

2. Water when it matters.

Water your lawn only in the morning. In the heat of the day, that water will touch the surface and then quickly evaporate — leaving you with less than ideal results.

A rain gauge can help you track how much water your yard is getting — about an inch of water per week is all it really needs. During especially dry times, it’s best to just leave the yard alone. Yes, it will brown, but it will be dormant and bounce back once it gets cooler, saving loads and loads of water.

3. Use a drip system.

For the ease of a sprinkler system but with far less waste, opt for a drip-irrigation system. With this type of system, a hose riddled with tiny holes is placed throughout your yard, allowing small amounts of water to seep directly into the ground over long periods — exactly what your yard needs to thrive.

4. Collect rainwater.

Stock up on water when you can to use around your yard and garden. Turn gutters into your own personal watering system by directing them into much-needed areas in your yard. Or, install a rain barrel to collect the runoff from your gutters.

Check local laws first, as there may be restrictions on water collection. Continue reading the full article here.