Get the Edge in a Seller’s Market

A seller’s market is when there are more people buying houses than there are houses for sale.  If you’re looking to buy a home right now, it may be hard to get one at a fair price. In the most sought-after areas, houses are going under contract in a matter of days, even hours. What can you do to be prepared if you must buy a home now?

Hire the best Realtor

Do a search on Realtors. Get the best, with the most experience, you can find. This will give you the advantage you need in a competitive market as she/he will be on the frontlines, keeping you in the know at all times.

Be ready to act instantly

No matter where you live, listings for homes in popular neighborhoods are often few and far between. When these homes do hit the market, they don’t last long. If your heart is set on buying in one of the more popular areas, starting your house hunt early and having patience means that when the moment comes, you’ll need to act quickly.

If you’re really interested in a home, ask your Realtor to get as much info as you can beforehand: property reports, disclosures, etc. Keep your schedule open so that when a home becomes available, you can get to it immediately. .

Get pre-approved

One of the smartest things you can do to ensure your chances of getting the home you want. This part can very well make or break the process. Assume others will be putting in an offer as well and having a pre-approval letter in your hand will give you an edge.

Having your lender verify your ability to afford a home loan for a certain amount lets the seller know you are qualified and motivated. It shows financial security which gives the seller the confidence to feel that the sale will go smoothly with you.

Keep your offer simple

Most offers include contingencies- things like completing inspections and receiving a mortgage commitment -that needs to happen for the transaction to move forward.

When looking at offers, sellers tend to see contingencies as potential opportunities for the deal to fall apart. As a result, they’re more likely to choose an offer that’s relatively “clean” or reduces their risk of potential hang-ups.

In a competitive market, you might see other buyers removing or reducing their contingency periods to make their offer more competitive.

But remember! If you choose to, for example, waive an inspection contingency, you’re agreeing to buy the home regardless of what problems may exist. You’ve got to be OK with that.

Start with a strong sale price

Besides keeping your contingencies in check, there is another component of the offer that will help set you apart from the crowd and it’s fairly obvious — the offer price.

If it is possible for you, consider putting down a larger deposit which will let the seller know you are serious. Be flexible with the closing date to accommodate the seller’s schedule. And know that the sellers are likely to be enticed by a big payout, or if possible, a cash offer. Offer the asking price – and even more, if you think you can swing it. Use a mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payments will look like.

Write a personal note to the seller

Remember that many sellers have an emotional attachment to their home and moving is often hard for them. They’ve put their heart and soul into the home, built families, and made memories in the home. Write a note letting them know why you love their home and how you plan to take care of it. They may love to hear how their home will be in good hands.

Be prepared to negotiate

The whole experience of buying a home is emotional and if the home you are trying to buy has multiple offers, this isn’t the time to throw in a lot of extras. Keep the contract as clean as possible by not asking for extras such as closing cost changes, home warranties, appliances or furniture.

The Bottom Line: Be flexible. As a buyer in a seller’s market, not everything will go the way you want it to. Be patient. If you are working with the best Realtor, they will have the experience to keep you calm while guiding you in the right direction.

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3 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Mortgage

If you’re looking to purchase a new home, you’re probably going to need to get a mortgage. Mortgages are home loans that provide you with the upfront capital to purchase your home. In return, you’ll pay off the balance of the loan, along with interest, taxes, and insurance (known as the mortgage premium), over the course of time. 

Just like a credit card, a mortgage’s interest rate varies from borrower to borrower and lender to lender. Lenders assign interest rates based on their lending standards, your credit score, the current market, and a number of other factors. Terms can range from extremely favorable to jaw-droppingly expensive. 

Whether you’re looking to get the most favorable mortgage terms possible, or want to optimize an existing mortgage, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn 3 ways to get the most out of your mortgage.

Pay Attention to APR 

Looking to buy a home? There are a lot of different elements that go into home loans. It’s not just a matter of loan amount and interest rate; a mortgage includes taxes, premiums, closing costs, and more. This total amount sits under the umbrella of a single term: annual percentage rate, or APR. 

APR is the yearly rate of interest and other additional costs associated with your loan payment. For instance, a mortgage with an APR of 10% means you’ll be paying an additional 10% of your loan amount in fees each year. 

Here’s another thing to know about APR: it comes in two different forms. 

Fixed APR 

A fixed APR has a single rate for its lifetime. Your APR will remain the same throughout the entirety of your loan, regardless of changes in the market . 

Variable APR 

A variable APR, also known as an adjustable rate APR, is tied to an index, like the prime rate. If the associated index goes up, as does your APR. If it goes down, your APR does, too. 

Mortgage lenders know that many borrowers aren’t aware of the difference between APR and interest rate. They take advantage of this mistake by advertising mortgage rates with extremely low interest rates. What they don’t advertise is that the other factors that determine APR, like premiums, are extremely high, making the loan unfavorable. 

Don’t get fooled by a low interest rate; always look at APR for the full picture. 

Explore Refinancing Options 

If you’d like better terms on an existing mortgage, it may be time to look into refinancing. Through refinancing, a borrower can take out a new mortgage that both pays off the existing mortgage and offers them different  financial benefits, whether that may be lower interest rates, better payment terms, or even cash-out options. 

There are a few different ways to refinance your home. 

Rate and Term Refinance 

Rate and term refinancing is the most common type of refinancing. A borrower takes out a new loan that has different rates or terms than their original loan. They may be left with a new mortgage payment that has a lower interest rate, better monthly payment, or offers them other financial savings. 

Borrowers may opt for a rate and term refinance for a number of different reasons. The most common is a change in the market. When interest rates go down, those with fixed interest rates may refinance in an attempt to benefit from the more borrower-friendly market. Others may choose to refinance because they’ve made significant changes to their finances or credit score and believe that could earn them more favorable terms. Lastly, some may refinance to free up capital that allows them to meet other financial demands. 

Cash-Out Refinancing 

Has your home increased in value? If so, you may be able to take advantage of cash-out financing. Cash-out refinancing allows borrowers to utilize the new equity in their home to free up cash, in return for a higher loan amount. For instance, a borrower whose home has increased in value by $100k may opt to take the $100k in equity out of their home, and in turn they will owe $100k more on their refinanced loan. 

Cash-In Refinancing 

This type of refinancing allows a borrower to pay a significant portion of their loan down in a lump payment and, in turn, receive more favorable terms. 

Consider a Reverse Mortgage

Are you concerned about having enough funds to make it through retirement? It’s a common problem for many seniors. Come retirement age, they find themselves pinching pennies and worrying about how they might support themselves through the next few decades of their lives. Fortunately, there’s a type of mortgage designed exactly for this concern, known as a reverse mortgage. 

A reverse mortgage, also known as a home equity conversion mortgage, is a type of mortgage that allows you to leverage the equity in your home to free up cash to pay for virtually any expense.  

Unlike cash out refinancing, a reverse mortgage doesn’t require your home to have gone up in value in order to access capital. Istead, it’s a federally insured program that allows you to withdraw equity from your home—typically, in tax-free income. Reverse mortgages are also different from cash-out refinancing in that they don’t require monthly repayment. While payments are allowed, they aren’t required until you sell your home, vacate the property, or pass away. 

In order to qualify for a reverse mortgage, you must meet the following requirements: 

+Age 62 or older

+Own at least 50% equity in your home

+Occupy the home as your primary residence

+Live in a single-family home, two to four-unit property, townhouse, or FHA-approved condo

+Have sufficient income or assets to cover property-related expenses like property taxes and mortgage insurance

Mortgages are a decades-long commitment. It’s important to make sure that the mortgage you choose suits your needs and enables you to live the life that you want to live. Fortunately, there are many options to find the right home loan or modify the terms of your current mortgage for a more favorable arrangement. Follow these tips to get the most out of your mortgage. 

Matt Casadona has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in Psychology. He is currently a contributing editor for 365 Business Tips. Matt is passionate about marketing and business strategy and enjoys the San Diego life, traveling and music.

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Real Estate Myths Debunked

Just because you read something on the internet does not mean it is true.  Real estate myths are all too common, however, they can be “debunked” with a proper explanation. Most people only deal in buying or selling real estate only once or twice in their lives. Because of this, myths about the real estate industry abound, causing confusion among new buyers and misconceptions about real estate

Set your home price higher than what you expect to get: As a seller, giving your property a price tag that is higher than the prevailing market price may reduce your chances of getting a good deal for your property. Homebuyers and agents usually do not consider homes that are priced beyond market value. Also, you might consider pulling down the price if you are not able to attract offers in the first few weeks of listing your property for sale. Also, buyers and Realtors often get suspicious about properties that have been on the market for too long.

Experienced agents are always the best ones: It is true that longevity and experience in the real estate business can be some of the indicators of an agent’s competence, but these can certainly not be the sole indicators. Among the essential and imperative traits of a credible real estate advisor are honesty, initiative, listening skills, availability and, most importantly, negotiation skills. Both buyers and sellers look for these qualities in their advisors, rather than the duration of their career.

If buyers don’t like the exterior, they will never consider going inside: It may be true in some cases, especially if the buyer is in a hurry to spot just the right property. But in most cases, buyers are out to get properties that work best for them on multiple counts. If the rest of the features of the house are exceptionally good, they might like to ignore the flaws in exteriors. For instance, even if the exterior is not very appealing, the property might have its desired amenities and features like a great layout, a specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a portico, or a backyard. In such cases, the buyer could consider making the purchase and revamping the exteriors later.

Going ‘for sale by the owner’ is the best option: You as a home buyer can choose the route you want to take for finding the right property for yourself. The choice is between hiring an advisor who understands your requirements and takes you on a tour of several selected homes that are relevant. Alternatively, you could access online real estate portals, go through newspaper listings, or speak to people you know are selling their properties, and then go out on your own. 

Agents say and do anything to close a deal: It is a common belief that real estate advisors say and do anything to complete a sale, only to pocket their commission. Though there might be a few aberrations, real estate advisors with a professional approach are ethical people who dutifully toil to get you the best deal. Every agent has different skills, different experience levels, and different traits.

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5 Tips to Becoming A More Informed Property Owner

The ownership of private property is one of our most cherished freedoms.
Property divides power between the government and the individual and allows
citizens to be rewarded for their own industry. But to fully enjoy the benefits of
property ownership, knowledge and vigilance is required. Knowledge regarding
the scope and extent of one’s property rights and vigilance in defending and
protecting those rights when they are being threatened.

In instances where either private or public actors are seeking to challenge your
property rights, be prepared to defend yourself by knowing, in advance, what
your rights are or by consulting with an experienced real estate or eminent domain lawyer. Following these tips will also help you better protect your interests as a
property owner.

Know Your Rights

When you own real property, you have a bundle of legal rights that go along with that ownership, including:

The right of possession
The right of control
The right of exclusion
The right to derive income
The right of disposition

Property rights can also extend to surface rights (the right to use the surface of
the land), riparian rights (the right to any water on your property), subsurface
rights (the right to use what is below the surface, such as oil, gas, and minerals), and air rights (the right to the area immediately above your property). Of course, these rights have exceptions and limitations, and also may come with legal obligations (e.g., taxes). They may also be lost, voluntarily transferred or even regained after a period of time, such as when you rent a portion of your property and the lease terminates. Property rights may also vary from state to state and from community to community. They may be subject to local, state and federal laws. Knowing your rights as a property owner makes you more aware of what you can or cannot do with your property, and how to protect it from intrusions or encroachments.

Familiarize Yourself with the Core Title Documents

There are many documents that contain vital information about a landowner’s
property and the extent of their ownership rights. Among these documents, some of the most important and typical ones are the following:

The Deed and other documents of title and exceptions to title, such as an

The Deed of Trust or other documents showing that the property has been
mortgaged or collateralized for payment of a debt

Survey and boundary documents

Zoning maps and master plans

Some of the terminology in these documents may be difficult to understand for a non-lawyer. But it is still in an owner’s interest to review them in order to develop a basic understanding of property rights and obligations. If you don’t have a copy of some of these documents, you may be able to get them from your title insurance company, county clerk and recorder’s office, or the local land use and planning department.

Go Through the Deed to the Property

Property deeds are signed legal documents that transfer the ownership of the
real property from one person to another. For the deed to be legally operative, it
must identify both the grantor/seller and the grantee/buyer and contain an
adequate description of the property, among other elements.

There are different types of deeds, each type providing different levels of
protection to the grantee, as well as the obligation of the grantor. Deeds also
typically include deed restrictions, which are important in understanding the
extent of the owner’s use and enjoyment of the property.

Understand the Title Documents

Title documents prove the ownership or control and possession of a person over
specific property or a parcel of land.

Aside from establishing ownership, however, title documents also disclose liens, defects, deed restrictions, and exceptions to title that affect the property. Reading and understanding these documents will give you an insight into the limitations and exceptions that apply to your ownership of the property.

Consult with A Real Property or Eminent Domain Attorney

Anytime you encounter issues concerning your property rights, whether it’s a
defect in the title or a potential taking due to an act of eminent domain, seek the
professional advice of a real estate or eminent domain attorney before taking any further steps.

Regardless or the type of property you own or property-related issues you’re
faced with, these professionals can help shed light on the situation and steer you towards a more favorable outcome.

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School District Matters

When it comes to resale value, whether you have children or not, researching school districts is a crucial step when buying a new home. it’s best to invest in a home in a top school district. Living in a good school district doesn’t just bring better teachers, better books, and better test scores — it also can help preserve home values and ensure faster resale rates. These homes often sell faster than homes in lesser school districts. In a case of bad economic times, a home in the lower quality school district declines in home value, while the homes in the top school districts will hold their value.

Do the research. Any information you need for absolutely anything is available online. Do a search to determine the school district or even the specific school, that is the best in the town you will be searching for a new home. There are websites that offer test scores, rankings and demographic information, including student diversity by race and gender, the percentage of students on free lunch programs and the student-teacher ratio, to learn about the schools and school districts you are considering. One of the best ways to dig into specifics on districts you’re considering is by talking to other parents. If you’re moving to an unfamiliar area, Facebook groups and other social media sites can be a way to connect. There’s no better way to get a feel for a certain district than engaging with people who are actually in it. 

A survey on asked random people about their overall buying strategy and how they viewed school performance. The results found that a surprising number of people are willing to give up things to get within the boundaries of a good school district. That, for every five buyers, one buyer would be prepared to give up a garage or bedroom for a good school.

They also found that for every three buyers surveyed, one buyer would even settle for a smaller home to get access to a good school. And over half of those surveyed said they would sacrifice nearby shopping options for a better school.

Beyond sacrificing things in their home purchase, buyers were willing to pay more money for a home in a good school district. One out of five of those surveyed said they would pay between six and ten percent more for a home – and one out of ten people surveyed stated that they’d go even higher, paying up to 20 percent more for a home with access to the right schools.

The Bottom Line: Consult with the best Realtor in the area in which you are looking. The next best resource for neighborhood and nearby school knowledge is your local real estate agent. Even if you don’t have kids, between the Realtor and the research you do, buying a home in a good school district affects the value of the home.

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