FURNISHED CONDO ON GULF ACCESS CANAL
With historically low interest rates persevering and prices starting to creep back up, more and more renters are grappling with the question of whether to buy now or keep renting. Based on the countless clients I have helped buy their first home, I can confidently tell you, yes! Now is a very opportune time to purchase your first home. According to my colleagues in the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, a national network of leading real estate agents, first-time home buyers across the country have taken advantage of today’s market conditions to go from renter to homeowner. That said, the ability to move into homeownership is very dependent upon the overall health of your finances. Buying a home not only takes having the necessary cash on hand for the deposit and closing costs, but also the financial wherewithal to convince a bank to lend you 80% or more of the purchase price in the form of a long-term mortgage. Here are some other important points to be aware of before embarking on a home purchase:
1. Having good credit is all important, so put out the bucks to Fair Isaacs’ myFICO.com to get your current scores (about $16 each for reports from Equifax and TransUnion, another $15 at Experian.com). Don’t be surprised if the scores differ somewhat, and check them carefully for errors. Remember that errors must be reported to and corrected by the agencies themselves, which could take weeks or months.
2. Know what you can afford. Aim for a home that costs about two-and-a-half times your gross income – less if you have significant financial debt. In all, your monthly home payments should not exceed 36% of your gross monthly income. Getting pre-approved by a lender should be your signal to start home shopping.
3. Check your cash situation. Whether you are aiming to amass 20% of the home’s price for a conventional loan, or 3% or more for a loan from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, you will also need to cover fees and closing costs, which can run up to 5% of the mortgage amount. First-time buyers may augment their cash by borrowing from an IRA or getting a cash gift from parents, but check with a financial advisor for amounts and tax consequences.
4. And speaking of tax consequences, remember that homeowners, unlike renters, must pay property taxes each year – and pay for any needed repairs or upgrades. Be sure to leave yourself a little financial wiggle room in order to meet these expected – and sometimes unexpected – expenses. If you would like more information about preparing to buy a home, please e-mail me. I also invite you to forward this to anyone else who might soon be joining the ranks of homeowner!
Other than vacations, summer is the time of the year most popular for home improvement. The long days and warm, sunny weather make a great time to work on repairs and renovations without much of the hassles and delays that rain and other elements bring.
As a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have years of experience and understand how taking on a remodeling project is beneficial to you, both now and then later down the road should you choose to sell.
For these reasons and more, a good number of homeowners undertake home improvement projects, especially during the summer.
Following are tips and projects—both large and small—for homeowners looking to spruce their homes up this summer.
Patios and Decks
What better way to enjoy the warm days than by creating an outdoor living space for the family to enjoy.
Decks and patios are among the most popular summer remodeling ideas. There are various factors to take into consideration when deciding on whether a patio or deck is the most appropriate project to undertake. Such factors include soil condition and consistency, site terrain, use, capacity and privacy, as well as the cost and maintenance you are willing to put up with.
Throughout the seasons, your home has taken good care of you and your family and now is the best time to give back.
Go through your property to evaluate and create a checklist on areas that need mending or replacement. This list is a crucial preparation before calling a contractor or handyman for maintenance/repair services. Some common maintenance and repair include:
When it comes to summer remodeling, there’s no better way to invest your hard-earned dollars than by making your home energy efficient. An energy-efficient summer remodel is truly a worthwhile endeavor as it will result in years of savings on your energy bills. Some of the common items you can buy and integrate into your energy-efficient renovation include:
Taking on one (or more!) of these projects is a great way to give back to your home this summer…and, in some cases, save you a bit of money, too. For more information on home renovation projects, please e-mail me – and please feel free to forward these tips to any family and friends you think might benefit from them as well.
Thanks to the perfect storm of low prices, attractive inventory, and affordable interest rates, this continues to be a lucrative time to invest in a home, whether it be a first home, a move-up home, or a second home.
Choosing a home is no easy process, however, and many factors must be carefully weighed before making your selection. As a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I advise my clients to pay careful attention to a few details in particular when considering a home—these important details will significantly impact your long-term happiness in the home as well as the home’s appreciation over time. So, as you begin to consider properties in our neighborhood, here are a few issues to think about that may help you find exactly the right home for you and your family:
Type of home: One-story or two, single-family, duplex or condo? How will paying homeowner dues affect your overall buying power? Will a swimming pool be a bonus or a hindrance? Making these decisions in advance will help you focus on the right types of home to look at.
New or existing: A new home is all shiny and clean, but will carry with it some hefty initial costs such as landscaping and window coverings. An existing home will have many of these things, but repairs or renovations that may need to be made will also impact your budget.
Features: Weigh the costs of gas vs. electric heating and cooling, and the possible need for fencing. How important is a fireplace? Does the home have enough bedrooms and bathrooms to support your family in the coming years?
Ease of maintenance: What is the condition of the roof? The appliances? Will you have to paint the interior or exterior and/or replace the carpeting? Be sure to factor in such costs in your budget and your negotiations.
Location: Do you want to be in the city or in the country? Nearer to libraries, parks and entertainment or set among tall trees and lakes? What about the need for public transportation? Nearby hospitals and schools?
Crime rate and public schools: Check with local enforcement and local residents to get a feeling for statistics and quality. I can also provide you with up-to-date statistics on this information.
Economic stability: Whether an area is growing or not can affect its future property value—as will the economic stability of the area.
Property tax: Examine the annual amount of real estate taxes and other assessments levied in the neighborhoods you are considering.
I can help find the answers to the above concerns as well as provide more suggestions on what to look for in a new home—just e-mail me. Also, please pass this article onto others who may benefit from this information
If your business has not been affected by the economy considered yourself fortunate. The real estate market has certainly been challenging for a while now. Recently I found myself staring at my cell phone certain it must not be working properly because it was not ringing…at all.
Rather than stare at my computer and curse my cell I decided to do something for myself. Golf is my passion and has been since I was a child. I have always wanted to get a professional club fitting and it was something I had never allowed myself to do. I made the appointment, over came my self induced guilt trip and went for it.
Being the conscientious realtor that I am I of course brought my cell with me just in case it started functioning again. The club fitting was quite an experience. I hit golf balls for two and one half hours with every brand of club on the planet. Did I mention I live in Florida and it was really hot, too? During the course of this exhausting yet exhilarating exercise my phone wouldn’t sop ringing. Before it was over I had a new listing, two buyer leads and a transaction that was going to close ahead of schedule. I also got a great set of clubs.
The point is you don’t have to be sitting in a office to be productive and sometimes getting out is far more productive. The next time you feel like you have hit the wall go do something you really enjoy. You might be surprised just how beneficial that can be. I have to go my phone is ringing.
A smile, a friendly greeting, answering a call or returning one. These may not seem all that important but you never know how they may affect a customer or a potential client. Random acts of kindness can be very powerful lead generators.
Far too often when meeting with sellers and buyers I hear the same mantra; My Realtor never calls me or communicates with me. I don’t know why after hearing this repeatedly that I am still surprised or I guess puzzled by this. Success in real estate has far more to do the with the efforts of the individual realtor than the company he or she represents. How hard is it to make a call or make the extra effort?
I make it a point to call my sellers once a week. During that period of time when it felt like absolutely nothing was selling these calls were not enjoyable but I did it anyway and tried to be as upbeat as possible. At the end of those conversations without fail they all said thank you so much for calling. They simply appreciated being informed no matter what the news may have been. It is so basic yet so many Realtors just don’t seem to get it.
I was recently involved in a transaction and I had the buyers. The sellers had a limited service listing which only paid the buyers rep and they were handling everything for themselves. These people were not experienced in the business side of real estate and when I arrived to present the contract they had numerous questions regarding the entire process. I spent a great deal of time with them and took them step by step through the process. In the days that followed I called and kept them updated on our progress. The next time we met they asked me for a supply of my business cards. They said they were so impressed with my service they wanted to recommend me to their friends. All I did was give of my time and communicated with them.
The little things really do matter and they can pay tremendous dividends.
I guess the folks down here aren’t buying all of the negativity that the media is selling regarding the real estate market. What they are buying is property. Pending sales were up 6.3% in January in our area. I have noticed the surge in activity and yes, I have been busy and no, I am not complaining. I am also not surprised.
Home prices are extremely attractive and mortgage rates are as well. What a great combination and the result is sales are happening. Owning a home has been and probably always will be the great American dream. The current economic situation has put a damper on morale and spending but Americans are a resilient bunch and we will climb out of this and be better than ever.
Real estate…Uh oh, gotta go that pesky phone is ringing again.
I was enjoying a relaxing walk along the harbor in Gilchrist Park recently with a friend of mine. Gilchrist Park is a great escape in Punta Gorda. It has it all: harbor view, tennis, walking path, picnic areas, just alike a mini vacation from the daily routine.
Work was the farthest thing from my mind when my friend asked me if this was the worst real estate market I had ever experienced. Without hesitation I answered with an emphatic no. My worst experience in the real estate market occurred when I tried to purchase my first home. It was at the end of the Carter Administration and interest rates were at 18%. I was a teacher at that time and I had a fifty percent down payment when I applied for my loan. I was denied the mortgage because they said as a teacher I did not make enough money. This one of the reasons I am now in real estate. At that moment I was convinced that I would never own a home and I was also certain that interest rates would never get out of double digits. I was wrong on both counts.
When markets are up we tend to believe that they will never come down and when they are down we think they will never go up. This is exactly what markets do. The media would like you believe that it is all doom and gloom but there are plenty of opportunities in our real estate market. Home prices are lower than they have been in several years and there is a large inventory from which to choose. Interest rates are attractive and there are affordable packages for first time buyers. Ok, that is great for buyers but what about those poor sellers? It is true that the seller will not make the big profits they enjoyed when the market was up but then again anything they purchase will cost less as well.
The point is you can choose to be negative or you can look for opportunities. I am looking forward to a positive and prosperous market in 2009. How about you? Happy New Year.