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Purchase a HUD Home for Only $100 Down

Posted by Matthew T. Smoot on April 27, 2017 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)


Purchase a HUD Home for Only $100 Down

There is a great new program available now for purchasers who are looking to buy a HUD home.  All that is needed is $100 for your down payment instead of the minimum 3.5% down if you were to go with an FHA loan.  In order to qualify you must meet the following requirements:

1.  You must use a HUD registered broker.  Not all broker's and agents will have access to this program for their clients.

2.  You must pre-qualify for a mortgage and use a lender who offers this program. 

3.  Homeowners purchasing the home as a primary residence will get first priority to utilize the program.

4.  Prior to making a bid, you must provide your real estate broker with the appropriate earnest money deposit in the form of a cashier's check or money order.

This is a great program available on selected HUD homes.  For more information, or to get pre-qualified for the program contact me and I will put you in touch with a loan officer who can participate in the program.

Matthew T. Smoot-Your "Whatever it Takes" REALTOR®
When You List with Smoot, You Sell with Smoot

With over 11 years in the business I offer my clients the most comprehensive representation in Maryland.  Not only am I a REALTOR, but I also hold a Broker's license, which is the highest and most specialized license a REALTOR can hold.  Customer Service is my Priority, Selling Houses is My Goal!  Contact me for any and all of your Real Estate Needs.  443-504-8930

Understanding Disclosure Laws for Sellers

Posted by Matthew T. Smoot on February 15, 2017 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)


Understanding Disclosure Laws for Sellers

Knowing what the law says about disclosure is an important part of the real estate sales process. You need to be aware of what you are expected to disclose to potential buyers, both to avoid breaking any laws and to help you better plan your sales process. Of course as a real estate agent you want to present the best points of the home you're marketing to fetch the best price, but you also want to avoid potential lawsuits by following the letter of the law.
 

Generally speaking, you want to be honest about the state of the home you are selling. While there is no need to paint it in a bad light - what you think is a problem may not be for the right buyer - an honest assessment of the positives and negatives of the property tends to make things easier for both buyer and seller.
For real estate agents, understanding disclosure laws is a paramount part of your success, along with keeping you out of a courtroom as well! Real estate agents need to be keenly aware that disclosure laws in many states are different for sellers than they are for agents. Generally speaking, real estate agents are held to a much higher standard than homeowners are in many areas of the country.
 

Things To Disclose about Homes For Sale

Quite often home sellers will ask real estate agents what do I have to disclose when selling my house? The answer really depends from state to state. Here is a reference where you can find a comprehensive review of just about every issue under the sun that could come up in a real estate transaction. Do your homework and know the disclosure laws in your area. Below is a review of some of the more popular disclosure issues in real estate sales.
 

Lead

The federal government requires that homeowners make it known if a property contains lead-based paint if the home was built before 1978. You may have received a pamphlet about the risks of lead paint when you bought the home, or when you were a renter at some point. As a seller, you will need to provide the same pamphlet to buyers, and allow them to test the home for the presence of lead within a 10-day period. Disclosing the possibility of lead paint is a federal regulation. It is just about the only disclosure issue that applies to every state in the United States.
 

Repairs and renovations

Major repairs and renovations must meet building code requirements in your area. When the home inspector goes over the house, he or she will most likely notice any repairs that have been done, so it is good to be prepared with documentation that all the work done to the home is up to code before you try to sell the home. Plenty of home sales have fallen through due to shoddy repair work, so avoid any problems by having all the paperwork in order.
 

Mold

Mold and the water that causes mold problems can be a serious issue for potential buyers. Although it has yet to be demonstrated that mold causes serious health issues in a home, the fact is that buyers are hyper aware of mold and are not going to be happy if they discover it after they have closed on your home. Be straightforward about the problem, look for the most effective solutions (mold remediation specialists can help) and you should still be able to sell your home even if you discover mold.
 

Square footage

The concrete facts about your home, like its square footage, are not something that you can fudge on. It only takes a buyer breaking out a tape measure to verify your square footage claims, so it makes sense to be accurate from the start. Bringing in a third party professional to the home to have him or her calculate the square footage is never a bad idea. If you have already had an appraisal, an accurate measurement should be available on your report.
 

Legal problems

You want to clear up any legal issues related to the home if at all possible before you go to sell it. Things like a cloud on the title or a lien against your home can make selling the property harder than it has to be, so ideally you will work these issues out before you try to sell. If you do have any ongoing legal issues with the property, you will need to explain them to any buyer that you are hoping to attract. If the home is a short sale, probate sale or estate sale, that should be disclosed to the buyer up front.
 

Homeowners Associations

If you live in a neighborhood with an association this should be disclosed up front to potential buyers. Your HOA is an important part of your property, dictating a variety of things about living there and about ownership. Any buyer is going to need to know about the HOA and its requirements before purchase. Now you do not need to vent all your frustrations to a potential buyer - any HOA can be frustrating to deal with at times - but you do need to let him or her know that the HOA is part of the deal.
 
An informed buyer will ask questions about the state of the HOA, how it handles problems and its financial stability, so it can save you time to gather all this information before you start meeting with buyers.
 

Termites

Termites and other pest infestations are going to be noticed by any good home inspector. Even if you have already had the problem addressed, there will most likely still be evidence that there was a problem at some point in time. As the seller, you want to be ahead of the game and have all your information ready to explain the termite problem, how you dealt with it and why it is no longer a worry for any potential buyer. Get documentation from whoever treats for the pests and have it ready as you go to sell.
 
Knowing how to prepare for a home inspection as a seller is always an important consideration for keeping a sale from falling apart. When doing your listing walkthrough it is always a good idea to look for blatant problems that could surface during the time of the buyer's home inspection.
 

Major issues with the home

Things like the roof, foundation, walls, plumbing, electrical system and other fundamental features within a home are supposed to be in good working order. After living at your home for a while, sellers may realize they have issues but just don't have the funds to fix them or think nobody will find out.
 
When it comes to disclosing the issues you should know about, speaking with the seller on the history of problems is not a bad idea. Any great real estate agent should know the disclosure laws for their area. He or she should be able to assess what the real issues are - which need to be disclosed - and the issues that are not as important. Decide on how you will present the information to be honest and accurate, while avoiding the tendency to present the home in a bad light.
 
Matthew T. Smoot-Your "Whatever it Takes" REALTOR®
When You List with Smoot, You Sell with Smoot
With over 11 years in the business I offer my clients the most comprehensive representation in Maryland.  Not only am I a REALTOR, but I also hold a Broker's license, which is the highest and most specialized license a REALTOR can hold.  Customer Service is my Priority, Selling Houses is My Goal!  Contact me for any and all of your Real Estate Needs.  443-504-8930

10 Easy Ways to Safeguard Your Home and Prepare for an Emergency

Posted by Matthew T. Smoot on February 5, 2017 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)


10 Easy Ways to Safeguard Your Home and Prepare for an Emergency

When disasters strike, they come without warning. This is why you need to prepare for emergencies ahead of time. These 10 tips will help safeguard your home and family, and save you time, money, and stress should an emergency occur.
 
Protect your home from break-ins.

A home invasion occurs every thirteen seconds in the United States. This alarmingly high rate means it's essential to safeguard your home from burglars by investing in a home security system.

Know potential threats and emergencies relevant to your location.

If you live in the Midwest, tornados are a bigger threat than floods. If you live in California, earthquakes are a real danger. Teach your family about the natural threats common to your location and what to do should one occur. Having a plan and instinctively knowing what to do can save your life in the event of a disaster.

Inspect your outdoor lighting.

Make sure to check your outdoor lights to see if any need to be added or replaced. Well-lit homes help deter burglars and prevent accidents.

 
Perform regular home safety checks.

Every month, inspect your home for signs of broken or damaged items. Make sure your roof, basement, attic, pipes, and foundation are in good condition. Check your door locks, garage door, and windows for any broken parts. Regularly fixing up your home will help maintain its value and keep it in great condition.

 
Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

An average of $12 billion in personal property is lost in fires each year. Protect your home and personal items by routinely testing your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Not only will this protect your home and property, but it can also save your life.

 
Inspect your fire extinguisher.

Check the pressure gauge to see if the needle is in the green, and replace or service it if it isn't. Also examine the hose and nozzle for cracks, and you'll need to replace your fire extinguisher if the handle is missing the locking pin or is broken. Should a home fire occur, you will be prepared to handle the situation because your fire extinguisher will be in great working condition.

 
Create an emergency communication plan.

Discuss what everyone in your home will do in case of a disaster. Talk with each family member about their responsibilities, where you will meet, and how to communicate with one another. If communication lines are down, it's important to have a central meeting location established so everyone can meet and regroup. Discuss different disaster scenarios and come up with a communication and action plan that everyone knows and can enact if necessary.

 
List relevant contact information and make it easily accessible to everyone.

Keep contact information on hand in case of an emergency. While you may keep numbers in your cellphone, it's smart to keep a hard copy of key contacts in your home. This list can include your primary care physician, poison control, and a trusted neighbor.

Keep 72-hour emergency kits in your home and car.

The CDC recommends putting together an emergency kit that includes the following.
  • One gallon of water per person, per day
  • Non-perishable food that is easy to prep
  • A can opener
  • Important medication
  • A radio
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Toilet paper
Compile and regularly update your home inventory.

If you need to file an insurance claim after a blizzard or burglary, it'll help to have an itemized inventory for your valuable home goods. Store instruction manuals, serial numbers, and important receipts in files that you can access easily when needed.
Incorporate these ten safety hacks into your to-do list and you'll be able to safeguard your home, property, and family should a disaster or emergency occur.
 
Matthew T. Smoot-Your "Whatever it Takes" REALTOR®
When You List with Smoot, You Sell with Smoot
With over 11 years in the business I offer my clients the most comprehensive representation in Maryland.  Not only am I a REALTOR, but I also hold a Broker's license, which is the highest and most specialized license a REALTOR can hold.  Customer Service is my Priority, Selling Houses is My Goal!  Contact me for any and all of your Real Estate Needs.  443-504-8930

Cost vs. Value: Which Home Improvements Offer the Highest ROI in 2017?

Posted by Matthew T. Smoot on January 28, 2017 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (0)


 
 
With the many different projects reported annually in Remodeling Magazine's Cost  vs. Value Report, not much has changed from last year...and that's not a bad thing. The 29 projects found on this year's report paid back an average of 64.3 cents on the dollar in resale value. Looking at the 24 most tracked projects (projects consistently tracked for the last six years), their payback for 2017 was also 64.3 cents-only three-quarters of a penny higher than 2016 projections.
 
Why the little change? Simply put: the differences in underlying numbers was minimal year-to-year. The average cost for those 24 projects rose a meager 3 percent, while the value that real estate professionals put on said projects only rose 4.2 percent. Minor gains, yes, but we'll take what we can get.
 
Recent and long-time trends continued, reports Remodeling. Curb appeal projects like changes to doors, windows and siding garnered a higher ROI than work done inside the home. Replacement projects, like doors or windows, scored higher among real estate pros than did remodels.
 
On a national scale, the top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report's "midrange" cost category are:
  1. Attic Insulation (Fiberglass) (107.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,343
    Average Resale Value: $1,446
  2. Entry Door Replacement (steel) (90.7% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,413
    Average Resale Value: $1,282
  3. Manufactured Stone Veneer (89.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $7,851
    Average Resale Value: $7,019
  4. Minor Kitchen Remodel (80.2% ROI)
    Average Cost: $20,830
    Average Resale Value: $16,699
  5.  Garage Door Replacement (76.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $1,749
    Average Resale Value: $1,345
The top five projects with the greatest ROI in the report's "upscale" cost category are:
  1. Garage Door Replacement (85.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,304
    Average Resale Value: $2,810
  2. Entry Door Replacement (fiberglass) (77.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $3,276
    Average Resale Value: $2,550
  3. Window Replacement (vinyl) (73.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $15,282
    Average Resale Value: $11,286
  4. Window Replacement (wood) (73.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,759
    Average Resale Value: $13,691
  5.  Grand Entrance (fiberglass) (70.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $8,358
    Average Resale Value: $5,855
Regionally, the Pacific division (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii) saw an average payback of 78.2 percent for all projects, with 10 projects posting cost-recouped levels of at least 90 percent. The East North Central states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, however, saw an average of just 54.9 percent, with no single project offering a payback of as much as 80 cents on the dollar.
 
At the other end of the spectrum are projects with the lowest returns on investment-improvements generally not in demand by the market. Again on a national scale, the five projects with the lowest ROI in the "midrange" cost category are:
  1. Bathroom Remodel (64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $18,546
    Average Resale Value: $12,024
  2. Master Suite Addition (64.8% ROI)
    Average Cost: $119,533
    Average Resale Value: $77,506
  3.  Backyard Patio (54.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $51,985
    Average Resale Value: $28,546
  4.  Backup Power Generator (54.0% ROI)
    Average Cost: $12,860
    Average Resale Value: $6,940
  5.  Bathroom Addition (53.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $43,232
    Average Resale Value: $23,283
The five projects with the lowest ROI in the "upscale" cost category are:
  1. Major Kitchen Remodel (61.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $122,991
    Average Resale Value: $76,149
  2. Master Suite Addition (59.9% ROI)
    Average Cost: $250,687
    Average Resale Value: $150,140
  3. Bathroom Remodel (59.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $59,979
    Average Resale Value: $35,456
  4. Bathroom Addition (57.1% ROI)
    Average Cost: $81,515
    Average Resale Value: $46,507
  5. Deck Addition (composite) (56.4% ROI)
    Average Cost: $39,339
    Average Resale Value: $22,171

Matthew T. Smoot-Your "Whatever it Takes" REALTOR® When You List with Smoot, You Sell with Smoot

With over 9 years in the business I offer my clients the most comprehensive representation in Maryland.  Not only am I a REALTOR, but I also hold a Broker's license, which is the highest and most specialized license a REALTOR can hold.  Customer Service is my Priority, Selling Houses is My Goal!  Contact me for any and all of your Real Estate Needs.  443-504-8930

 

 

Housing Made More Affordable with FHA's Reduction in Mortgage Insurance

Posted by Matthew T. Smoot on January 19, 2017 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Housing Made More Affordable with FHA's Reduction in Mortgage Insurance

Annual mortgage insurance premiums for Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed mortgages are lowering toward their pre-bust level, with FHA announcing on Monday another reduction, this time to 0.60 percent for most borrowers. The one-quarter point reduction is expected to save FHA-insured borrowers with a closing date on or after Jan. 27, 2017 an average $500 this year.
"After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it's time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families," said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro in a statement. "This is a fiscally responsible measure to price our mortgage insurance in a way that protects our insurance fund while preserving the dream of home-ownership for credit-qualified borrowers."

FHA raised premiums several times since the recession to keep its Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) afloat, at a considerable cost to borrowers, and, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), to the detriment of housing; research by the organization shows that the increases priced out approximately 1.5 million renters. The Fund's capital reserve ratio is now at 2.32 percent, above the 2 percent requirement.
 

NAR applauded the reduction, stating it "breathes new life" into FHA-insured mortgages.
"FHA mortgage products exist to serve an important mission: providing home-ownership opportunities to creditworthy borrowers who are overlooked by conventional lenders," says NAR President William E. Brown. "The high cost of mortgage insurance has unfortunately put those opportunities out of reach for many young, first-time and lower-income borrowers. Now, we have a real opportunity to get back on track.
"This is a question of simple math," Brown continues. "Every time we cut the cost of mortgage insurance, it means more borrowers meet the debt-to-income ratio required to purchase a home. It follows that dropping mortgage insurance premiums will mean a whole lot more responsible borrowers are suddenly eligible to purchase a home through FHA. That puts more money in the Fund to protect taxpayers, and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American Dream."


HUD expects the new reduction to help 1 million households. FHA last reduced premiums in January 2015, which saved 2 million FHA-insured borrowers an average $900 annually.


Matthew T. Smoot-Your "Whatever it Takes" REALTOR®
When You List with Smoot, You Sell with Smoot

With over 11 years in the business I offer my clients the most comprehensive representation in Maryland.  Not only am I a REALTOR, but I also hold a Broker's license, which is the highest and most specialized license a REALTOR can hold.  Customer Service is my Priority, Selling Houses is My Goal!  Contact me for any and all of your Real Estate Needs.  443-504-8930


Housing Made More Affordable with FHA's Reduction in Mortgage Insurance

Posted by Matthew T. Smoot on January 19, 2017 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Housing Made More Affordable with FHA's Reduction in Mortgage Insurance

Annual mortgage insurance premiums for Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-backed mortgages are lowering toward their pre-bust level, with FHA announcing on Monday another reduction, this time to 0.60 percent for most borrowers. The one-quarter point reduction is expected to save FHA-insured borrowers with a closing date on or after Jan. 27, 2017 an average $500 this year.
"After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it's time for FHA to pass along some modest savings to working families," said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro in a statement. "This is a fiscally responsible measure to price our mortgage insurance in a way that protects our insurance fund while preserving the dream of home-ownership for credit-qualified borrowers."

FHA raised premiums several times since the recession to keep its Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF) afloat, at a considerable cost to borrowers, and, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), to the detriment of housing; research by the organization shows that the increases priced out approximately 1.5 million renters. The Fund's capital reserve ratio is now at 2.32 percent, above the 2 percent requirement.
 

NAR applauded the reduction, stating it "breathes new life" into FHA-insured mortgages.
"FHA mortgage products exist to serve an important mission: providing home-ownership opportunities to creditworthy borrowers who are overlooked by conventional lenders," says NAR President William E. Brown. "The high cost of mortgage insurance has unfortunately put those opportunities out of reach for many young, first-time and lower-income borrowers. Now, we have a real opportunity to get back on track.
"This is a question of simple math," Brown continues. "Every time we cut the cost of mortgage insurance, it means more borrowers meet the debt-to-income ratio required to purchase a home. It follows that dropping mortgage insurance premiums will mean a whole lot more responsible borrowers are suddenly eligible to purchase a home through FHA. That puts more money in the Fund to protect taxpayers, and it puts more families in homes so they can live out the American Dream."


HUD expects the new reduction to help 1 million households. FHA last reduced premiums in January 2015, which saved 2 million FHA-insured borrowers an average $900 annually.


Matthew T. Smoot-Your "Whatever it Takes" REALTOR®
When You List with Smoot, You Sell with Smoot

With over 11 years in the business I offer my clients the most comprehensive representation in Maryland.  Not only am I a REALTOR, but I also hold a Broker's license, which is the highest and most specialized license a REALTOR can hold.  Customer Service is my Priority, Selling Houses is My Goal!  Contact me for any and all of your Real Estate Needs.  443-504-8930


New Year Predictions: What to Expect with Real Estate in 2017

Posted by Matthew T. Smoot on January 13, 2017 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

New Year Predictions: What to Expect with Real Estate in 2017

 

The new year is here and with it comes new factors which can and will affect real estate throughout the year. Below you will find what the experts are expecting in 2017. Keep an eye on the following:
 

1. Increased interest rates will be a game-changer.
While interest rates are still some of the lowest they've been in years, they are increasing and will be a motivating factor for buyers early in the first quarter, especially since 95 percent of first-time homebuyers are dependent on financing. Expect them to act quickly and lock-in reasonable long-term loans enabling them to make long-term buys.
 
2. The market is not in decline; it is re-setting.
Nationwide, home prices are forecast to slow to 3.9 percent growth year-over-year, from an estimated 4.9 percent in 2016. The biggest shift will occur in the ultra-luxury market, especially in urban environments with a massive construction boom, where the highly accelerated and unsustainable growth for the past five years lead to inflated asking prices and declining absorption rates.
 
3. Millennials and baby boomers will dominate again. These two dominant demographics will power demand for the next 10 years. Both generations are approaching life changes that traditionally motivate people to buy or sell a home. These life-defining changes include: marriage, having children, retiring and becoming empty-nesters. As such, the baby boomers could boost the market with double transactions as both buyers and sellers. Most of them are already homeowners, so they will be looking to sell and downsize to a smaller home, lowering their cost of living to maximize ease of retirement. Baby boomers have the potential to make up 30 percent of buyers in 2017, and being less dependent on financing gives them an advantage to be more successful with closings. Millennials, on the other hand, are more likely to finance and thereby more susceptible to increased interest rates, but they are still expected to make up 33 percent of buyers in the new year.
 
4. The Midwest is the new frontier.
Due to escalating rents and inflated home prices in the coastal cities, millennials are drawn to the Midwestern markets because they have a lower cost of living coupled with tremendous job growth. Midwestern cities claimed 42 percent of the millennial purchase market share in 2016, much higher than the U.S. average of 38 percent.
There is strong affordability in 15 of the 19 largest Midwestern markets, so this trend is expected to continue even as interest rates increase. Strong local economies and population growth will fuel the appeal of these hot markets, so keep your eye on: Columbus, Ohio; Omaha, Neb.; Des Moines, Iowa; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Colorado Springs, Colo.
 
5. Foreign buyers expand their borders beyond coastal cities.  While international buyers still look to New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco real estate as a safe haven for their money, escalating price per square foot numbers-an average of $2,400-plus in Manhattan-are pushing them to look in other metropolitan areas nationwide. Cities like Nashville, Tenn.; Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Ohio; Chicago, Dallas and Austin, Texas are rapidly grabbing foreign buyers because prices are lower and they can get a better return on investment.

Their primary interests are long-term growth opportunities, a luxury lifestyle and security. Moving forward, prime coastal locations will remain strong but the trend of international buyers expanding their searches and taking a serious look at new locations will continue to accelerate.

 
6. Consumer confidence will boost home sales.
With the anticipation of stronger economic and wage growth in 2017, home sales could exceed 6.3 million transactions, a significant increase from 2016. The GDP growth is forecast to be 2.1 percent with a 2.5 percent increase in the consumer price index, while unemployment is expected to decline to 4.7 percent by the end of 2017.
 
Furthermore, the record-breaking rise and powerful performance of the stock market post-election has fueled confidence and given people the assurance they need to loosen their purse strings. Folks who were hesitant to spend money during a tumultuous and uncertain election year are now ready to put their money to use.
 
7. Lack of inventory spurs fast-moving markets. Buyers should be prepared.  Inventory is currently down an average of 11 percent in the top 100 metropolitan markets nationwide, but with interest rates on the rise, prices may go down slightly. A slowdown in home price appreciation could motivate more property owners to sell, easing some of the inventory crunch. Regardless, in a competitive market, buyers need to be prepared and able to act quickly when they find Home Sweet Home.
 
Matthew T. Smoot-Your "Whatever it Takes" REALTOR®
When You List with Smoot, You Sell with Smoot
With over 11 years in the business I offer my clients the most comprehensive representation in Maryland.  Not only am I a REALTOR, but I also hold a Broker's license, which is the highest and most specialized license a REALTOR can hold.  Customer Service is my Priority, Selling Houses is My Goal!  Contact me for any and all of your Real Estate Needs.  443-504-8930
 


6 Things to Avoid Wasting Money on in Your New Home

Posted by Matthew T. Smoot on April 27, 2016 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

6 Things to Avoid Wasting Money on in Your New Home

OK, we've said it time and again, but it bears repeating: Buying a home is a very big expense-and once you've kicked off all that spending, it's easy to find yourself caught up in rampant lifestyle inflation. After all, you've got an enormous, shiny new house just waiting to be filled with all sorts of nice stuff, right?
Well, take some quick advice: Don't keep spending.

Homeownership comes with its fair share of unique costs: property taxes and urgent repairs and energy bills, oh my. There's no need to add to their cost by shelling out for unnecessary expenses. Here are six major cash outlays that buyers can avoid.
 

Too much house

This one requires some thought before you actually nail the deal: How much house do you really need? Just because you're pre-approved for a hefty purchase price doesn't mean you should go as big as you can.
"The house that you can afford with the money you're lent can make the budget go out of whack," says Andrew Gipner, a financial adviser at Longview Financial Advisors in Huntsville, AL.
Not sure where to trim? Consider having less closet space, buying fewer bedrooms, or-especially-eliminating a formal dining room.
You don't use the dining room nearly as often as you think.
 

Fixing up your outdoor space ASAP

Once you close on your home and move in, you might be itching to host your first late-season barbecue. Or maybe you've been dreaming about a koi pond. But hold on: Updating your outdoor space shouldn't be your first priority, especially if you're tight on cash. Unlike couches and beds, which are essential to a functioning house, landscaping and decor can be put on pause.
That goes double if you're building new: According to Hans-Daniels, building your backyard at the same time as your home can cost "a lot more than if you did it after the fact."
So exercise some caution before committing: Try pricing out your plans with a landscape contractor, and consider rolling them out in phases.
 

Old, outdated insurance

Still using the same company that offered you renters insurance seven years ago? It might be time for a change. Shop around.
"You may stay with the same company, but you may find something that's a little better price for the same thing," Gipner says. "Sometimes, people may not want to shop around or may be married to a particular company."
Just because the same company had a good deal on auto or renters insurance doesn't mean it's the best fit to protect your home. Go through all your options with a fine-toothed comb, looking for a deal that won't crush you financially but also leaves your house and its belongings secure.
After all, now it's not just your stuff-it's your roof, yard, and foundation you have to protect, too.
 

Space-filling stuff

If you're moving from an apartment, chances are good you're astounded by how much space you have. There's another bedroom and a dining room and ... yet another bedroom!
Don't feel like you have to fill it all at once. Give yourself-and your home-time for personality to emerge.
"A lot of people will go out and say, 'Oh my gosh, I've got to fill this space and buy stuff,'" Gipner says. "I'm not against possessions, but the way some people do it can be seriously detrimental to their finances."
Instead of immediately stuffing the TV room with a generic, new couch and coffee table, wait it out. See what you really need and what you really like. In the meantime, stick the money you save into a renovation fund.
 

Extended warranties

Many homes don't come with appliances installed, so first-time homeowners might find themselves making large purchases (like a dishwasher or refrigerator).
Here's a tip: You don't need the extended warranty.
"I'm against them," Gipner says. "What are the chances everything you own is going to break or not work anymore?"
Yes, something might break within the relatively slim service window-but the money you'll spend fixing one thing will be far less than the extended warranties on all the things. Your average warranty costs about $123 for major appliances, according to Consumer Reports, and a single repair costs not much more (and might not even be covered). Just risk it-you'll come out ahead in the long run.
 

Yard maintenance

Having your own yard is definitely exciting, and while it's important to keep it healthy and watered, you don't need to go overboard. Resist the pressure to hire additional help for your yard-even if you've locked into an HOA that covers it.
"You can still be part of an HOA and cut your own grass," Gipner says. "You don't have to pay someone an exorbitant amount of money to come out and cut your grass."
Don't be tempted by the sales pitches you'll inevitably receive after your purchase goes through. A gorgeous lawn is achievable-and it can be done all on your own.

For more great real estate tips, visit me on the Web at www.SoldwithSmoot.com
 
Matthew T. Smoot-Your "Whatever it Takes" REALTOR®
When You List with Smoot, You Sell with Smoot
With over 9 years in the business I offer my clients the most comprehensive representation in Maryland.  Not only am I a REALTOR, but I also hold a Broker's license, which is the highest and most specialized license a REALTOR can hold.  Customer Service is my Priority, Selling Houses is My Goal!  Contact me for any and all of your Real Estate Needs.  443-504-8930


First Time Buyers Struggle With Limited Inventory, High Prices

Posted by Stephanie Albright on April 25, 2016 at 2:40 PM Comments comments (0)

First Time Buyers Struggle With Limited Inventory, High Prices

 

Home values are rising the fastest among entry level homes in more than half of the largest U.S. housing markets, according to first quarter Zillow Real Estate Market Reports. Rising homes values in this segment of the market can be attributed to a lack of supply, with 10 percent fewer homes for sale this year compared to last.

 

The median value of entry-level homes, those at the bottom third of the market, rose the most over the past year in Denver, up 20 percent followed by Portland and Dallas. There are 13 percent fewer entry-level homes available in Denver than there were a year ago. The number of entry-level homes available declined the most in Portland. There are 40 percent fewer entry-level homes available in Portland than there were a year ago.

 

The findings signal difficult times ahead for first-time homebuyers looking to enter the market. Going into home-shopping season this spring, buyers will find fewer homes in the bottom and middle of the market, which are the homes most affordable for first-time buyers. The trend also highlights the different experiences buyers are having in the recovering housing market. Buyers looking for the most expensive homes will find slower price growth, a larger selection, and less competition this spring than entry-level buyers who are likely to face stiff competition, bidding wars, and very few homes to choose from.

 

"It's going to be a tough home-buying market this spring, especially for first-time buyers or people looking to move up into a slightly more expensive home," says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. "In order to stand out in a competitive market, buyers should get pre-approved for a loan, find an agent who has experience with bidding wars, and consider coming in at the asking price or higher, so the seller knows they're serious."

 

In all of the largest U.S. housing markets, more than a third of the homes available for sale are in the most expensive segment (top-tier homes). These homes are the most likely to have a price cut, a signal that there is less demand for top-tier homes.

 

Information provides by: www.zillow.com/research/data.

 

My name is Stephanie Albright and I specialize in helping buyers and sellers invest in real estate in South Florida, Treasure Coast and the Palm Beaches. I have 15 years of experience in the real estate industry which allows me to bring tools and solutions that exceed the expectations of my clients. I currently hold real estate licenses in Florida and Tennessee.

 

I am pleased to say that I educate myself on an ongoing basis to learn everything new about my business. The real estate business changes quickly, so I’m dedicated to being an expert in my field. I have designations such as, Short Sale Foreclosure Resource, (SFR) and I’m a graduate of the Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI). I’ve also been an Exit franchise owner and managing broker. I take my business very serious, so I’m able to share my knowledge with my valued clients.

 

I love my affiliation with an awesome company like Exit Realty, and Exit has the best tools and support, in the business. If you are considering listing your property in West Palm Beach, Wellington, Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, or Loxahatchee; ask me about my latest internet marketing systems, strategies and websites. My website is: http://www.WPBareahomesearch.com. I would love the opportunity to earn your business and look forward to partnering with you to buy or sell your home.

 

Blog roll: WithExit,

 

Happy Tax Day, Homeowners! What to Do with That Refund?

Posted by Stephanie Albright on April 19, 2016 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Happy Tax Day, Homeowners! What to Do with That Refund?

 

Tax season—a time of year just about everyone dreads. Even if you don’t owe money to the government, it can be hassle to get organized and actually file your taxes before that April 15 deadline (or, as is the case this year, April 18).

 

But for many homeowners, tax time can be something to celebrate since homeownership holds many financial benefits. While home is where we make memories, build our futures, and feel comfortable and secure, it also allows homeowners to take advantage of various tax deductions.

 

So if you are one of those lucky homeowners who expects a return upon filing your taxes, the big question becomes, “What to do with this money?” Sure, you can be responsible and put it into a savings or retirement account. Or you can take that much-deserved vacation or go on that long-awaited shopping spree. But another option is to be both responsible AND gain some personal satisfaction—put it into your home, likely your biggest investment.

 

The National Association of Realtors®’ consumer website HouseLogic has put together some ideas on how to invest that refund back into your home, no matter the situation. For example, new homeowners without much equity in their place could consider putting the money toward their mortgage. Making extra payments could shave several thousand dollars off in the long run.=

 

Homeowners a little further into their mortgage may want to tackle some improvement projects that make them both happier and recoup costs should they ever want to sell. Check NAR’s 2015 Remodeling Impact Report to see what projects make homeowners happiest and which ones bring back the most money upon resale).

 

And if homeowners are looking to put their place on the market soon, perhaps the right move is putting that refund cash toward staging your home for potential buyers. After all, 49 percent of Realtors® say that most buyers are positively affected by home staging, according to NAR’s 2015 Profile of Home Staging. Getting an expert to show you how to put your home’s best foot forward is a good idea, especially if you’re looking to sell quickly.

 

Check out HouseLogic’s ideas for improving on your biggest financial asset—your home—here. And happy Tax Day!

 

Posted in Miscellaneous, by Maggie Kasperski on April 15, 2016

 

Tags:home staging,taxes

 

Stephanie Albright, Exit Realty Premier Elite

 

My name is Stephanie Albright and I specialize in helping buyers and sellers invest in real estate in South Florida, Treasure Coast and the Palm Beaches. I have 15 years of experience in the real estate industry which allows me to bring tools and solutions that exceed the expectations of my clients. I currently hold real estate licenses in Florida and Tennessee.

 

I am pleased to say that I educate myself on an ongoing basis to learn everything new about my business. The real estate business changes quickly, so I’m dedicated to being an expert in my field. I have designations such as, Short Sale Foreclosure Resource, (SFR) and I’m a graduate of the Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI). I’ve also been an Exit franchise owner and managing broker. I take my business very serious, so I’m able to share my knowledge with my valued clients.

 

I love my affiliation with an awesome company like Exit Realty, and Exit has the best tools and support, in the business. If you are considering listing your property in West Palm Beach, Wellington, Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, or Loxahatchee; ask me about my latest internet marketing systems, strategies and websites. My website is: http://www.WPBareahomesearch.com. I would love the opportunity to earn your business and look forward to partnering with you to buy or sell your home.

 

Blog Roll: WithExit,

 


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