Why Access Is One of the Most Important Factors in Getting Your House Sold!

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So, you’ve decided to sell your house. You’ve hired a real estate professional to help you through the entire process, and they have asked you what level of access you want to provide to your potential buyers.

There are four elements to a quality listing. At the top of the list is access, followed by conditionfinancing, and price. There are many levels of access that you can provide to your agent so that he or she can show your home.

Here are five levels of access that you can give to buyers, along with a brief description:

  1. Lockbox on the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
  2. Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
  3. Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showings with just a phone call’s notice.
  4. By Appointment Only (example: 48-Hour Notice) – Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.
  5. Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2 pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.

With more competition coming to the market this spring, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.

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Selling Your House: Here’s Why You Need A Pro In Your Corner!

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With home prices on the rise and buyer demand still strong, some sellers may be tempted to try to sell their homes on their own rather than using the services of a real estate professional.

Real estate agents are trained and experienced in negotiation while, in most cases, the seller is not. Sellers must realize that their ability to negotiate will determine whether or not they get the best deal for themselves and their families.

Here is a list of just some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to For Sale by Owner (FSBO):

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interests of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The termite company, if there are challenges
  • The buyer’s lender, if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value
  • The title company, if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
  • The town or municipality, if you need to get the CO permits mentioned above
  • The buyer’s buyer, in case there are challenges with the house your buyer is selling

Bottom Line

The percentage of sellers who have hired real estate agents to sell their homes has increased steadily over the last 20 years. Let’s get together to discuss all that we can do to make the process of selling your house easier for you.

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Is Your Car Lease Keeping You From Buying a Home?

Getting a mortgage can be difficult. Sometimes, to increase the odds of being approved or to qualify for a larger loan, prospective borrowers will pay down debts or eliminate existing loan obligations. Often, the process for doing so is simple, but there’s one type of financing that could trip up your efforts: a car lease. Here’s a breakdown of why — and what you can do to so avoid any snags.

What’s Your Debt-to-Income Ratio?

When you apply for a mortgage, a broker is going tally up all of the monthly payments you make on existing obligations, including credit cards, student loans, personal loans, car debts and other mortgages. That number gets measured against your income. This debt-to-income ratio helps determine your monthly mortgage payment. (So does your credit score. You can see where yours currently stands by getting your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.) Sounds easy and simple enough, right?

Well, the concept is, but if more than 25% of your income is already going towards debts, you may not be able buy as much home as you think. When you have other existing obligations, your ability to borrow can be reduced tremendously. That $300 per month car lease, for example, can be severely hampering your buying power.

Mortgage Tip: Remember, lenders will use only what you’re obligated to pay on existing loans in calculating your debt-to-income ratio. Choosing to pay more on your debts can be a good financial move, but mortgage lenders generally don’t give you any benefit for choosing to do so.

Why a Car Lease Can Trip You Up

Unlike an auto loan, a car lease can be trickier to workaround if you’re trying to pay off debt to qualify for a mortgage. Let’s say your credit report shows a car lease payment at $300 per month. There is a balance on the credit report of $6,000 due, which is the remainder of the lease. If you had a car loan with these exact terms, you could write a check to pay off the $6,000 obligation. Case closed.

Unfortunately, that option doesn’t apply to a car lease. You can give the car back and pay the $6,000 balance that is due. However, to qualify for a bigger mortgage, the lender will need to verify there is no obligation due for car. If you give the car back, the mortgage company may ask what you’re going to drive instead — especially if there is a commute time from where you work to where you plan on residing.

Should you find yourself in this predicament, here are some options to consider.

  • Call your car dealer. You can ask if they have any specific options for getting out of the lease. You’ll need to make it crystal clear that you must be out of the lease obligation completely.
  • Transfer the lease to someone else. Your mortgage company should be OK with this option as long as you can show and verify the obligation is completely out of your name and that there is no obligation associated with it. You can search online for options if your car dealer doesn’t have any transfer suggestions.
  • Pay out. Give the car back, pay the balance due and either buy a new vehicle in cash, removing any debt-to-income ratio predicament or finance a car that has a lower monthly payment. The key here is that the payments need to be reduced or totally removed if you want to maximize your buying power.
  • Consider your priorities. A great deal on your car lease may not matter if you are serious about buying a home, plain and simple. Ask yourself: Is the car more important than the house?

Paying Off Debt for a Mortgage

Paying off debt to qualify for a mortgage usually needs to be documented in the following ways.

  • Money used to pay off the obligation cannot come from the reserve requirement your lender almost certainly has. Lenders usually want you to have at least three to four mortgage payments in the bank, called reserves, as a cushion when granting your loan request.
  • You’ll need to produce a paper trail showing money leaving your bank account and going to the creditor to pay off debt or a provide copy of the canceled check to show you no longer owe the obligation.

All of these steps may seem unnecessary and overly repetitive, but they are a byproduct of the current mortgage lending world. Remember, stringent underwriting requirements help to ensure lenders are making good loans and, more importantly, that you can actually afford the house you are looking to buy.

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What to Consider When Choosing Your Home To Retire In

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As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether they should sell their homes and move has become a hot topic. In today’s housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home’s ability to adapt to your needs in retirement.

According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.

1. Affordability

“It may be easy enough to purchase your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property.”

Would moving to a complex with homeowner association fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity

“If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage.”

The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $9,700 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance

“As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline.”

As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind of not having to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security

“Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind.”

As scary as that thought may be, any additional security is helpful. An extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets

“Renting won’t do if the dog can’t come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits.”

Consider all of your options when it comes to bringing your ‘furever’ friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or in a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility

“No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility.”

Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn’t mean that down the road you won’t need your home to be more accessible. Installing handrails and making sure your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience

“Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!”

How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to sell your house in today’s market and get you into your dream retirement home!

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