Realizing the Highest ROI on your Outdoor Remodeling Projects!

Realizing the Highest ROI!

This report takes a deep dive into the reasons why homeowners complete outdoor remodeling projects, the value of taking on such projects, and the increased happiness experienced by homeowners once a project is completed. It also contains:

• The typical cost of 10 outdoor projects, as estimated by members of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

• How much appeal each project is likely to have for buyers, according to REALTORS®.

• How much REALTORS® estimate homeowners can recover on the cost of the outdoor projects if they choose to sell the home.

Should You Fear Rising Mortgage Rates?

No Need to Fear Rising Mortgage Rates!

History shows us that we don’t need to fear the recent spikes in mortgage rates because they won’t have an impact on home prices, according to Fannie Mae researchers in a new report.

Fannie Mae evaluated the trajectory of mortgage rates since 1990. Over the years, researchers have found that rising rates don’t hamper home sales and have no impact on home prices.

“History suggests that interest rate increases at the level recently witnessed will not stop the current housing recovery,” the report notes.

For example, the study found that from October 1993 to December 1994, mortgage rates rose from 6.8 percent to 9.2 percent. However, home prices leveled off and then only dropped slightly during that time.

From October 1998 to May 2000, mortgage rates soared from 6.7 percent to 8.5 percent and there was no impact found on home prices during that period, according to Fannie Mae.

“What we see through the ups and downs of rate changes is that sellers are reluctant to lower prices,” Mark Palim, who led the Fannie Mae study, told CNNMoney. Read more

Multiple Offers! Did you say “Ugh”?

Multiple Offers 101!

Welcome to Multiple Offers! That’s what is happening all around Puget Sound. Since there is very little inventory on the market and when a property is priced at or below market value, it’s not unusual for a seller to receive 8-10 offers. Sometimes home buyers wonder if it’s even worth trying to compete against other buyers—NEWS FLASH—it’s almost always a good idea to write an offer anyway. By clicking the image above, you can review several tips that will leave you holding the key at the end of the day. These are just a few ideas, and with some strategic planning and thoughtful consideration, I can help you achieve your homeownership goals!

Contact me today at kristy@betterhomesproperties.com

Should I Replace My Carpet Before Selling My Home?

Samples of color of a carpet covering closeup

Should I Replace My Carpet Before Selling My Home?

Last week I was asked the following question by a potential seller:

“Should I replace my carpet before selling my home?”

This is actually a question that I am asked quite often. The answer is, “it depends”. I cannot give a blanket recommendation about whether or not to replace the carpet because it depends on your particular selling situation.

For example, I have seen situations where a flood of buyers came through a house, but none made an offer. The reason cited in the feedback from these buyers was that the carpet was dated and worn, and a musty smell that permeated the home was likely due to the very aged carpet. Additionally, the sellers were competing in a highly competitive market against other newer homes. In this instance, the sellers did replace the carpet and the home sold quickly.

However, I have also seen the alternative—a buyer who replaced the carpet, but it was not enough to ensure a quick sale and it lingered on the market.

I have also seen a buyer replace the carpet, only to have it torn out by the new homeowners who were going to put in hardwood floors.

The key is to look at your competition. If you are competing price and location-wise against other properties which have been updated, then an adjustment should be made. That may be by lowering the price to accommodate for the older carpet, offer a carpet allowance to the buyer, or even possibly installing new carpet.

But before you go down that road, here are two alternatives to consider:

1. If the structure of the carpet looks good (it isn’t loose or has worn patches), consider hiring a cleaning company to do a thorough cleaning. It may take care of the problem.

2. If it doesn’t take care of the problem, you could offer a carpet allowance OR you can offer to replace the carpet when you move out. In this case, you could go to places that sell carpet with a dollar amount in your mind you want to spend and your room measurements. Discuss your situation with the salesperson and pick up a few squares of carpet in a variety of colors or finishes that match your budget. Then have the samples in, say, the living room along with an explanation that you will be replacing the carpet with one of the samples (buyers’ choice). This way, the buyers get exactly what they are looking for and if they choose to replace with hardwoods, the cost or allowance can be included at closing, and the buyers can then pay the difference and get the flooring they really want.

Understanding Mortgage Loans – Part 2

Printed on the seal of approval documents

Mortgage Loans – Part 2

In Mortgage Loans Part 1 we talked about fixed and adjustable rate mortgages. There are additional terms that may be discussed and you may be wondering what the terms mean and how it applies to you.

In addition to the fixed rate mortgage and adjustable rate mortgages, mortgages may also be either “conventional” (meaning funded by the private sector–usually a bank) or a “government-backed” loan. Government-backed loans are backed by the federal government, including the Department of Veteran Affairs or the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The government agency is “insuring” the loan, although the funding may still be by a bank.

So why the two different types of loans? The Department of Housing and Urban Development typically has less stringent lending qualifications, making it easier for some buyers to get a loan. For example, at the time of this writing, the down payment on an FHA loan (by the Federal Housing Administration) can be as low as 3.5%; a private loan generally requires 10-20%, but can be as low as 3%.

Below are the most typical types of government loans:

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) Loan: The three benefits of this loan are the low down payment, lower credit score requirements, and additional monies to fix the home up can be included in the loan amount. Buyers who want to take advantage of an FHA loan first need to find an FHA-approved lender. I have a full list of our local FHA-approved lenders in the event these loan parameters sound like a good match for your needs.

Once the buyer finds a home and makes an offer, FHA will require an inspection of the property the buyer has made an offer on. There is a minimum list of requirements the property must meet in order for FHA to back the loan.

The drawback to an FHA loan? Government mortgage insurance is an additional expense you will need to cover.

VA Loan: These are managed by the Department of Veteran Affairs and are reserved for military service members. The benefit of a VA loan is that it does not require a down payment. If you are a military service member, an agent can help you find a property, but when it comes time to apply for the loan, your Veterans Administration office will point you in the right direction and help you with the application process.

USDA Loan: These loans are managed by the United States Department of Agriculture and are reserved for rural areas. They are available to low-income residents. Please visit http://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do to see if a particular property is eligible for USDA financing.

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both conventional and government-backed loans. If you are thinking about buying a home in the near future, let me set up a meeting with a lender who can guide you through the ins and outs of each, and help you determine the best loan for your needs and comfort level. Please contact me at 425•213•3700 or send an email to kristy@betterhomesproperties.com.

Understanding Mortgage Loans – Part 1

mortgage application form

Mortgage Loans – Part 1

Buyers can easily get overwhelmed by the options they are confronted with when it is time to apply for a loan. Conventional? Government-backed? Fixed rate? Adjustable rate? Even within these categories there can be several options.

Before you can determine which loan is right for you, you need to have an understanding of how each one works and the costs and benefits of each. Let’s start with definitions:

Fixed Rate Mortgage: Fixed rate mortgages are exactly that–the mortgage rate remains fixed for the life of the loan. Monthly payments are fixed (for the principle and interest–if property taxes and homeowners insurance are paid as part of your payment, these are paid through an “escrow” account which can fluctuate from year to year).

Adjustable Rate Mortgage: These are also called ARMs. This type of loan has the potential to have monthly payments that change since the interest rate can change. There is usually an initial period of time where the interest rate does not adjust. This might be a “1-year” ARM, 3-year, 5-year, or 7-year. How often the interest rate adjusts will also depend on the loan. Since interest rates do change over time, the payment can either be higher or lower depending on the difference in the interest rate. For example, if someone took out a loan now when interest rates are at record-low levels, it is unlikely that interest rates will continue to be this low when the interest rate adjusts. Furthermore, ARMs generally start out with a lower interest rate than a fixed rate loan.

It is important to know your future plans when determining the type of loan which is ideal for you. For example, if you are planning on staying in your home for only seven years, it might save you money to use an adjustable rate mortgage with the expectation that you will be moving and taking out a new loan before the interest rate is adjusted. However, what happens if there is a health issue or something else which prohibits you from moving in seven years? What if you cannot move into a fixed-rate mortgage? These things must be taken into consideration when determining whether you can afford your monthly payment–now and later.

Below are our current interest rates as of the writing of this article:

Conventional Loan:
*30 Year Fixed Avg: 3.5%
*15 Year Fixed Avg: 2.75%
*5/1 ARM Avg: 2.875%
**Fees and Points: 1.0
***Margins: 2-2.5

FHA Loan:
*30 Year Fixed Avg: 3.25%
*15 Year Fixed Avg: 2.875%
*5/1 ARM Avg: 2.5%
**Fees and Points: 1.0
***Margins: 2-2.5

*Information provided by Ron Autry, Mortgage Advisory Group.

**Fees and Points refer to the cost of obtaining a loan. For example, on a $100,000 loan, the fees would be 1.0% or $1,000.

***Margin refers to the interest rate added to the measure for the ARM (also called the “index”) to determine the full interest rate charged. For example, if the index is the prime rate, in the instance of the 5/1 ARM above, the interest rate would be the prime rate plus 2-2.5%.

If you are thinking about buying a home in the near future, let me set up a meeting with a lender who can guide you through the ins and outs of each, and help you determine the best loan for your needs and comfort level. Please contact me at 425•213•3700 or send an email to kristy@betterhomesproperties.com.