How’s The Real Estate Market?

The First Question

The Real Estate Market Key

“How’s the real estate market?” is one of the most common first questions people ask a Realtor®. There are generally two ways to answer that question.

The first way is to say that the market is AMAZING! It’s a truthful statement from the Realtor’s perspective. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if the market is going up, or down, or is stable. The market is right for someone, no matter which market we are in.

The second way to answer that question is to say “It depends.” The reason why this answer is great is because in any given market, the conditions affect different people in varying ways. For example, currently we are still in a seller’s market. So, depending on whether you are a buyer or a seller will matter how the question is answered. This answer might be better than the first because it opens up a conversation with the other person. Stating that the market is amazing gives an answer but doesn’t necessarily encourage the other person to think about it and ask additional questions. By saying that “it depends,” the other person has to take a moment and think about it. They might then come back and ask additional questions to get clarification.

If you ask me how the market is, I will more than likely tell you that it depends. This also gives me a chance to have a deeper conversation and help educate the person about the specific things going on in the market – today!

The Heart Of A Teacher

The Real Estate Market Kitchen

At my core, I am a teacher. As an employee of a Fortune 500 company, I spent years teaching new skills to other employees so they could be successful in their careers. As an instructor at a Junior College, I spent three years teaching new skills to people. These skills helped them find employment once they had completed their degree programs. As a Realtor®, I help educate people on the market for real estate but also focus a lot of effort teaching them about the process of buying or selling a home.

Why? Well, it’s because people don’t buy or sell a home every week. The average person lives in their home for seven years before considering selling that home and purchasing a new home. There is little chance that these people are keeping up with all the latest legal issues with buying or selling a home.

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I am able to help educate them in the process, help them identify the things they are looking for and offer opinions and options for them to consider.

As a teacher, my primary role with students was to teach the fundamentals of the tools they needed to perform tasks and then allow them to experiment to come up with a solution that worked for them.

In a similar way, my role as a Realtor® is to offer the tools needed for my clients to make the best decision for themselves. My opinion might matter or it may not. Making sure my clients are educated ensures that they are able to perform the due diligence necessary to make the best decision for themselves about purchasing or selling a property.

It’s important that the teacher knows more than the student but they don’t have to know everything. If you don’t know an answer, tell them that and get back to them after researching.

The same thing applies to Realtor’s. An advantage that teachers and Realtors have is they are surrounded by resources to help them find the most relevant information for the students and clients. As a Realtor, I have a whole team of mentors, lenders, managers, a legal team, title companies, inspectors, plumbers, electricians, and others available to get information and share with others.

Summary

The Real Estate Market House

The market condition depends on the individual. Just because it is a seller’s market doesn’t mean that someone buying cannot get a good deal. Ultimately, a house will only sell for what someone is willing to pay for it. The good news is that historically, for any given twenty year period, real estate values tend to go up. The downturn in 2008 had many factors involved that made the market dangerous. Now, not even a decade later, the market has recovered and is growing again.

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Realtors have a huge team of resources at their disposal to help find answers to any question you might have. They also have the knowledge to help you set the correct price for your property to sell or find the property that meets your needs.

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Renting When You Want To Buy?

Problem!

Rental House

You Don’t Have the Down Payment?

So you want to buy a home?

You’re spending as much on rent as you would be by owning your own home. Maybe you only need a few months and you’ll have enough for a down payment through FHA.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

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Problem!

Credit problems?

Home Partners of America can work with you if your credit score is above about 550. Even if you have had issues in the past, Home Partners of America may be able to work through those issues and get you approved anyway. It’s not a guaranty but may be worth a shot to find out.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

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Problem!

I just went through a divorce and need to sell my existing home

Divorce can be tough. No one really wins. It’s hard enough getting a divorce but then having to sell the home you lived in adds even more stress.

Home Partners can work with couples who are in this situation. Get with me to find out how we can sell your existing home and get one or both of you into your own house. Selling your existing home requires both parties in most cases but not the buying part. Home Partners of America will work with you while you are selling the existing home so you aren’t worried about where you are going to live.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

Keep In Mind

You only get one shot at this program. Once you get into a home, if you decide to leave after the lease period, you won’t be able to use the program again on another home. Therefore, it’s really important to take the time to look for the home you want in the process. The beauty of it is that if you decide it really isn’t the home for you, you can get out of it.

One final thing

If the market tanks like it did in 2008 and the house is now worthless, simply finish your year lease and move on to another property. Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about issues like that.

Real Estate Photos

Front House Photo

Why Does It Matter?

When you are in real estate, there are a ton of photos you view each week. You can immediately tell which agents have their client’s best interest at heart just by looking at the photos. Using your phone doesn’t really qualify as a professional photo.

Here’s the reason. When someone comes in to take photos of your home for sale, you are broadcasting to a large number of people, including international buyers interested in purchasing. The photos are their first look at your property. Think about that!

I know what you are thinking – The market is so hot right now, it doesn’t matter what the quality of the photos are. People are buying homes left and right.

Although that may be true, those photos will be in the various systems until your home goes on sale again. That could be years or decades. Since they stay in the system, every agent out there who looks at the property will see the photos and the agent who placed them there.

What NOT To Photograph?

Bathroom Photo

Toilets

Everyone knows you have toilets in your house. Unless this is a very unique toilet, you probably don’t need to waste much time taking a photo. If it happens to be in view when you are taking a photo of the bathroom, well, ok.

Clutter

No one needs to see your dirty socks on the floor or the dishes in the sink. You may have the greatest soda can and bottle collection around but it does nothing for selling your home. Clean off all flat surfaces. Kitchen counters, bathroom counters, bureaus should be clear.

Branded Company Signs

Believe it or not, it is against the rules to have photos of your company signs in the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). It can lead to guiding consumers to your business instead of using the open market. Oops!

How To Take Great Photos

Kitchen Photo

Use a DSLR with a wider angle lens, 20mm or less. Use proper lighting. I heard this trick too. That the same photos at several different exposures and overlap them so that bright spots are dimmed and darker spots are enhanced. Then again, is that manipulating the photos? Hiring a professional photographer isn’t cheap but you can get about 25 photos of a property that will be great quality and show the real estate agent’s professionalism towards their clients.

Take photos of the main areas of the house, bedrooms, bathrooms, media rooms, and the outside areas. If possible, provide a floor plan of the home for people to see the overall layout. Of course, you want a nice, clean shot of the front of the house.

Highlight the favorite areas of your house. If you put a lot of work into your kitchen, take a few extra shots of it. Installed an outdoor kitchen? Make it attractive and snap another shot. Just remember that all improvements are not treated the same. Don’t overdue improvements. You may be wasting money.

Three Things To Improve Curb Appeal

Maintain your yard

Cut the grass, clean up the yard, plant a few new flowers. The first impression anyone has when they physically come to look at your house is the curb appeal. For a few dollars, you can spruce it up nicely so that it stands out on your street.

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Fix Minor Repairs

Fix obvious repairs before accepting any contract. If you make the repairs before people offer contracts, then in some cases, you can fix the issues yourself. Got some window trim that has some water penetration? Fix the caulking yourself and you could save a ton. If you wait until after you accept a contract, then the repairs must be done by a licensed person, not you.

Pool Photo

Pools and Spas

Make sure they are clean and working properly. If the pool or spa is dirty or the pump is not working, it will leave the impression that there are underlying issues with it. A clean and functioning pool and spa appeals as a relaxing oasis for all who come.

Things To Do Inside

Gathering Area Photo

Clean Rooms, Remove Clutter

Make the beds and basically clean out anything from inside the house that you do not need if you are going to still occupy the home.

Look at it this way – you’ll already have some of your stuff packed even before you make the mad dash to get out of there.

Of course, work with your REALTOR® to come up with the best marketing plan for your home. If you don’t have a REALTOR®, I’m available to help. Visit my business website for more information.

Who Would You Sell Your House To?

The Situation

Sell Your House

You are down-sizing from your 4 bedroom, 2 ½ bathroom, 2 car garage home that you have lived in for 30 years. You don’t like the stairs anymore or the amount of cleaning and upkeep needed. You’re getting ready to retire and the three kids you had have all moved away and have their own family.

It would be nice to move further away from the city and get a one story home that is newer.

You’ve done a good job updating your home with a new kitchen, updated master bathroom, and some great landscaping.

You reach out to a REALTOR® and ask for help selling your home and finding a new one in another town.

The REALTOR® brings you three people who are very interested in buying your property.

House Keys

John and Sally

John and Sally are both hard-working people with one child. They are planning on growing their family and the apartment they have been living in is just too small. They really like your house and the neighborhood. They are ready to make an offer. Good news! They have a prequalification letter from a bank.

Mark and Susan

Mark and Susan are a little older than John and Sally. They have two kids in grade school. Mark is the main breadwinner and Susan works part-time at the school where their kids go. They grew up in the neighborhood and want to relocate back to where they grew up. Great News again! They have been preapproved by a lender.

Karen

Karen is a single mom of three kids in middle school and high school. Unfortunately, her husband, Dan, passed away from a car accident six months ago. She’s fortunate that they had a will and life insurance so she is ok financially. She needs the room for the stage of life she is in. Great news a third time! Karen has been pre-underwritten from a lender.

Who would you choose?

John and Sally have written you a nice letter. They say they love the upgrades to the house and how much the kids loved it when they went by to look at it. They even included a photo of their family. Oh look – they have the cutest little puppy that the kids wanted so bad. What you don’t know is that they have five credit cards that are maxed out and a loan they defaulted on.

Mark and Susan noticed that there were a few items that needed to be fixed and they don’t want any hassle. They expect the items to be fixed or they may look for another house. They really like the neighborhood though and would love to be back close to family.

Karen just wants something safe and secure. She knows the neighborhood a little and even though there are a few minor repairs needed, she can handle having a contractor come in to have them looked at during the contract option period.

This is a tough call for anyone. They all sound really good for the most part. If you were trying to sell your home what criteria would you use in choosing which buyer you wanted to sell to? Would it be the young growing family, the established family, or the widow? Would you want to make repairs or work with a person who is ok with the small defects in the property?

Definitions

Pre-approved

Thanks to my friend, Paul Nolte from Home Team Mortgage, I have some definitions for you to consider before making your final choice.

Prequalification – A prequalification letter simply states that there has been a discussion between the potential home buyer and a lender or bank. There is a verbal verification of assets and income. A credit report has been pulled and it seems ok on the surface. The credit score is verified but at this point, we are relying on what the potential buyer is saying about the details of their credit report, their job history, and bank account balances.

Preapproved – A preapproval means that all the information provided by the potential buyer has been verified based on what they have said. W-2’s, paystubs, tax returns, bank statements, etc. have been verified. This is done at the local lender level only but there is certainly a better feel for the state of the potential buyer’s finances.

Pre-underwritten – This is the best you can get. It combines all the efforts of the prequalification, preapproval but also the information has been given to an underwriter to make sure nothing has been missed. Work verifications and IRS checks of the tax documents provided have been verified. The potential buyer is qualified to get the loan they need for the purchase. All that is uncertain at this point is the property (title work and appraisal).

Selection

Elderly Couple

With this new information, it’s easy to see that the best choice would be the person who is pre-underwritten. They are qualified. The property still needs to be approved. That includes inspections, repairs, and appraisal but at least you know the person can get the loan.

The second choice would be the preapproved persons. All their information looks right. They should be able to get the loan without an issue but it is unknown if there are IRS issues, back tax issues, or if they are still working where they said they were.

The last choice would be the prequalification letter. There has been little background work done on this potential buyer. Lots of things could go wrong along the way.

Next Steps

If you are in the market to put your house on the market to sell, the next step would be to contact me at Ebby Halliday, REALTORS® and set up an appointment so we can review your property and take care of things that might get in the way of selling your home. If you are looking to buy, again, reach out to me so that we can get you pre-underwritten and be in the best position to move on the property you want as soon as possible.

3 Ways To Immediately Start Improving Your Credit

Credit Catch 22

Catch 22 Loan

Your credit score is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you need it in order to get loans for things like cars and houses. You will also need it to qualify for a lease. On the other hand, if you aren’t careful with your credit choices, you can end up in a credit crunch. This can make it very difficult to qualify for loans and leases.

I’ve been on all sides of the credit issue and have even written a book related to that experience. When it comes to buying a home, your credit is the first thing that gets looked at when you need to take out a loan for a home. Lenders will look at every aspect of your credit to determine if they will back a loan for you to purchase. In today’s market, it is so important to get pre-approved or even pre-underwritten for a loan so that when the house you want comes on the market, you are ready to go.

Here are three things you can start doing today that will begin to improve your credit score without resorting to debt-consolidation plans or filing bankruptcy.

Pay Every Bill On-Time

Fix My Credit

Nothing screams at your credit louder than missing payments on credit cards and utility bills. They are red flags to lenders. If you fall into this category, start paying your bills on-time. It may take six months to fix your credit this way but it’s an easy fix if you want to change your situation.

Don’t Use Credit

Don't Use Credit Cards

It’s ok to have credit. It’s not ok to have so much debt related to credit that your debt-to-income ratio gets so high that no one will loan money to you for a purchase. Typically, if you have 35% or more of your income dedicated to debts – and that includes your rent, then it will be more difficult to get that loan. The best option is to simply stop using your credit cards and don’t open any new accounts. Lenders will also tell you not to close any accounts. If you are paying all your bills on-time and no longer using your credit cards, then it just goes to say that your debt-to-income ratio will start to go down the longer you pay.

Start Saving

Piggy Bank

You’re going to need a down payment for that house you want to buy unless you are using a VA loan. Do you need 3.5%, 5%, or even 20% down when you purchase? Your decision will determine if you need to secure mortgage insurance on your loan. VA loans are for military – active duty and veterans – as a way to say thank you for your service. Other programs are available such as the Military On The Move program.

Conclusion

Take care of your credit and it will take care of you when it comes to larger purchases. Reach out to me if you are ready to search for a home or if you need more information about fixing credit issues so you can purchase.

Request a free brochure on steps you can take to get ready for pre-approval of your loan.

 

Can’t Afford To Buy?

The Issues

Buy A Home

So you want to buy a home?

The only problem is that your credit isn’t where it should be, or you don’t have enough for a down payment, or you filed bankruptcy, or you’ve been late on some bills.

But the cost of renting is so high right now!

Rent is as much as a mortgage.

A Way Forward

Home Partners Of America

Let me tell you a little about Home Partners of America.

Home Partners of America works with you to get you where you want to be.

Here’s how it works:

  • Search for your dream home
  • Home Partners of America will purchase it for the fair market value
  • They own the home now so they lease it to you
  • You work out any financial issues while leasing the property for up to three years (renewable on an annual basis)
  • You get the Right to Purchase that home at any time during the lease period

If you decide after moving in, that it isn’t the dream home you had hoped for, simply finish out your lease for that year and move out. Simple.

What’s the catch?

There isn’t much of a catch. Up front, you already know all the numbers. Your rent will be slightly higher than what you can rent a comparable home in the area for but don’t forget you have the right to buy the home.

Each year for the three years, the rent goes up a little as well as the price of the house. However, if the market causes the surrounding homes to go up quicker than your schedule, then you get the home at a discount. And – if the market starts to drop, again, you can simply finish out your lease and move on. That seems like a pretty good win-win situation.

You have one shot at it so make it count. This isn’t a program you can repeat. For one time, you get to find your dream home, lease it for a while and then have the right to purchase it. If you choose not to purchase, you can’t do it again.

How does Home Partners make money?

They are purchasing the home when you are ready and approved to lease it. That’s a fixed price for them. They charge you rent which cannot be used towards a down payment so they get that income. When you purchase the home, the price is appreciated at about 5% per year. Finally, if you back out of the lease, they turn around and lease the property to someone else as a regular lease property. It becomes part of their leasing inventory.

Next Steps

Simple. Send me an email requesting information about Home Partners of America. I’ll send you a link to register with them and then we can get together and find that perfect home for you.