Mortgages Made Easy: How to Choose the Right Home Loan

Key Takeaways:

  • As mortgage rates continue hovering near historic lows, many potential buyers are eager to make a move—but it can be hard to know which type of loan is best.
  • There are dozens of different mortgage options available today, and some even have low down payment or credit score requirements. This can help a variety of buyers finally achieve their real estate goals. 
  • Need help finding a lender or choosing the right mortgage for your needs? We’d be more than happy to offer a few recommendations.

Home Financing 101: The Most Common Types of Mortgages

Let’s face it—understanding mortgages can be the most complicated part of buying a home. Even experienced buyers sometimes have trouble deciding between lenders or shopping around for the best interest rate. And because there are so many options, it can be difficult to track down the mortgage that best meets your needs.

There are a variety of factors you should consider before committing to a loan, such as your income, debt, financial history, and how long you plan on staying in your new home. But if you play your cards right, you could end up scoring a great deal. Here are some of the most popular types of mortgages, as well as their pros and cons.

Fixed-rate mortgage

Mortgage scrabble tiles

A fixed-rate mortgage is the most basic and reliable type of home loan you can get. Your interest rate and monthly payment will stay the same for the entire duration of the mortgage, and you’ll likely have to put at least 20% down and have an established financial history to get approved.

Typically, fixed-rate mortgages are broken down into 15- or 30-year terms. If you want predictability and don’t plan on moving for a while, this is probably the best option for you.

Adjustable-rate mortgage

house, coin stacks, and clock

Unlike their fixed-rate counterparts, adjustable-rate mortgages offer the initial benefit of a lower rate and down payment. However, ARMs fluctuate with the market, which means your interest rate and monthly payments could increase or decrease over time.

While there is more risk involved with an adjustable-rate mortgage, it can be worth it if you plan on living in your home for a shorter period of time. Generally, ARMs have a capped introductory interest rate for the first few years, which can save you quite a bit of money compared to a fixed-rate loan.

VA loans

Member of the military

If you or your spouse are an active, retired, or veteran member of the military, you could be eligible for a VA loan. Backed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, this unique type of mortgage lets you buy a home with little to no down payment or mortgage insurance.

Because VA loans are guaranteed (but not financed) by the government, they do have stricter requirements than other mortgages. The loan can only be used towards a primary residence, and the house you intend to buy has to meet minimum property requirements. This means you’ll have to undergo additional inspections and appraisals. 

FHA loans

Couple moving in

Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the FHA loan is designed for first-time or lower-income buyers. While most mortgages typically require a down payment of 20% or more, the FHA loan allows buyers to put down as little as 3.5%; that equals out to around $9,000 for a $250,000 house.

FHA loans come with a fixed interest rate and can offer a path to homeownership for buyers who don’t have enough saved for a traditional loan. However, you will be required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) every month, which typically costs around 1% of your total loan amount. It’s also important to remember that the government does not issue your loan—you’ll still have to shop around for the right FHA-approved lender.

USDA loans

Farmland

The USDA loan is a government-sponsored mortgage program that targets buyers in more rural areas. While the USDA does have stricter credit and income requirements than the FHA, they’ll fund up to 100% of the purchase price for an eligible home. That means you won’t have to put any money down, and you may even enjoy a lower-than-average interest rate. 

Additionally, USDA loans require mortgage insurance, and you won’t be approved if your debt-to-income ratio exceeds 41%. Before applying, you should also check the USDA’s eligibility map to see if your area qualifies for the program. 

Other loans

House on a calculator

This is hardly an exhaustive list of all the mortgages used by today’s home buyers! Depending on your financial situation, you could qualify for a more niche loan, such as a balloon mortgage, bridge loan, or jumbo loan. Many banks, lenders, and state governments also have their own programs or incentives that are worth exploring. You can even combine different types of loans to create a financing plan that’s tailored to your needs.

If you don’t have time to research all of your options, it might be beneficial to work with a mortgage broker or ask your agent for recommendations. They’ll have the knowledge to guide you in the right direction!

Want to Learn More About Mortgages?

If you’re in the market for a new home, we’d love to discuss your financing options or recommend some top-rated lenders. Contact us today to learn the ins and outs of the home buying process, from finding a loan to finally getting the keys to your new place. We look forward to helping you start your next chapter!

Be Our Guest: 4 Ways to Transform Your Home into the Ultimate Entertaining Space

Key Points:

  • Even in the middle of a pandemic, today’s homeowners are looking to make their spaces more conducive to entertaining.
  • Certain upgrades—especially those in the entryway, kitchen, and backyard—have the potential to boost your home’s resale value. And best of all, your guests will love them just as much as you do!
  • These projects might have a high return on investment, but you won’t have to break the bank to really wow party-goers…or potential home buyers!

4 Ways to Make Your Home Entertainment-Friendly

The holiday season is approaching fast—and while you may be adept at hosting an amazing get-together, your home could actually be holding you back. Seemingly minor annoyances, like a too-small kitchen or not enough seating, are exaggerated when your space is filled with guests. However, a few slight changes have the potential to transform your house into the life of the party. 

Ready to get your space looking its best for your next post-pandemic extravaganza? These four home upgrades are definitely worth the investment if you’re passionate about entertaining. Plus, they can even increase your home’s resale value when you decide to sell!

Spice Up Your Entryway

Art on a wall

When it comes to throwing a fantastic gathering, you want to make a good first impression from the moment guests arrive. So if your entryway is looking a little drab, it’s time to give it a little extra TLC.

Even if you have a small front porch, you can still spruce it up with a new welcome mat or seasonal wreath to set the tone for what awaits inside. From there, make your foyer more inviting by adding a few luxe, yet practical, touches. A small bench, mirror, or coat rack will help your guests feel at home right away. Don’t have a foyer? You can enhance just about any entryway with a statement rug or some wall art.

Focus on the kitchen

Kitchen with bar seating

Any memorable soiree almost always involves food. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a gourmet kitchen renovation to create a room that’s beautiful and functional.

Above all, your kitchen should be an area where you’re able to cook while still mingling with visitors. If you’re a gourmand at heart, splurging on some higher-end appliances or extras—like a chef-caliber stove with additional burners—can make a huge difference. If you really want to go all out, consider adding a larger kitchen island for more seating that won’t disconnect you from your guests.

Do you relish in mixing the perfect drink for your party-goers? Try transforming a rolling cart or some extra counter space into a bar. Just set up some bottles, put out your best glasses, and accessorize with a decorative ice bucket or other bar tools. If you have the room, you can even install a wine fridge!

Create social zones

Set dining room table

One of the biggest misconceptions about party-planning is that you need a large, open space to entertain. Believe it or not, you don’t have to knock down walls to craft a layout that works well for gatherings of any size. Instead, focus on creating designated social zones that encourage your company to chat and explore.

In most cases, guests tend to gravitate towards the kitchen—but you want to have plenty of alternatives to avoid everyone crowding in the same room. Every social zone should have a distinct focal point that draws attention and creates a visual connection between each space.

In a living room, your focal point could be a roaring fireplace, your favorite artwork, or a large sectional sofa. A table of appetizers in a dining room can draw hungry visitors out of the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different techniques for each gathering!

Upgrade your outdoor space

Outdoor patio

Ready to take your celebration outdoors? Making improvements to your yard, patio, deck, or balcony will elevate your next get-together—and can also yield an impressive return on investment.

If you haven’t already, you might want to buy a table, chairs, or a couch able to withstand the elements. This establishes another social zone for visitors (and you!) to enjoy. A pergola, fire pit, new pavers, or outdoor lighting are a few other upgrades that help tie everything together. If you love to barbecue in the summer, you may even want to indulge in an outdoor grilling station with a sink and some counter space.

Want to Get Your Home Looking Its Best Before You Sell?

Making a few key updates to your home can impress guests and potential buyers. Whether you’re ready to sell now or just have a few questions, you can trust us to help you navigate your next real estate journey from start to finish.

Give us a call to learn more about selling in today’s hot market—we’ll even let you know how much your property is worth with our free home valuation!

Busting the Biggest Home-Buying Myths of 2020

This year has been difficult for just about everyone, but if you were (or still are) thinking about buying a home in 2020, you might be feeling more than a little overwhelmed. An ongoing pandemic, the subsequent recession, and general uncertainty have forced many house-hunters to put their real estate dreams on hold. However, despite all these potential obstacles, homeownership is still a very attainable goal.

Don’t Let These Myths Keep You From Buying a Home!

Buying a home is a huge decision, and it’s one you shouldn’t make without careful planning. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding the home-buying process and the real estate market as a whole, especially as the nation continues to navigate an unpredictable year.

Still unsure about making a move during 2020? Here are four of the most common myths that deter today’s buyers—and why you shouldn’t believe them.

It’s not a good time to move

Family packing up for a move

On the surface, this myth may seem true. Towards the beginning of the year, a majority of sellers chose not to list their homes, while many buyers didn’t feel comfortable moving during quarantine. This caused the national real estate market to experience an unusual spring slump. The good news is that the market has made substantial progress since March—actually, real estate has become one of the most stable investments you can make in 2020. 

Pent-up buyer demand has helped the market recover in record time. In fact, the number of mortgage applications, closed sales, and pending sales are up by double-digit percentages compared to last year. And if you’re still hesitant to buy during a pandemic, you’ll be happy to learn that most agents now offer virtual tours and have put social distancing measures in place to keep clients safe.

Homeownership isn’t affordable

Piggy bank and house figure

Does it seem like houses are getting more and more expensive these days? You aren’t just imagining things—home prices are about 6.5% higher than they were last year. This means a home that was worth $250,000 in 2019 could now sell for nearly $270,000.

While this may seem like bad news for buyers, you shouldn’t be deterred by rising prices. Historically low interest rates have helped to make homes more affordable, even as they continue increasing in value. Although a small change in interest rates may not seem drastic, it can actually save you tens of thousands of dollars over the lifespan of your loan.

If you already have a bit saved up in the bank for a down payment, buying a home can even be more affordable than renting. Today’s average mortgage payment of $1,275 is $188 less than the average monthly rent. That equates to a savings of over $2,200 per year!

You need a 20% down payment

Saving for a down payment

You’ve probably heard that you need at least a 20% down payment to buy a home. While there is merit to putting down as much as possible, you can still purchase your own place with as little as 0% down by using the right loan.

According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors, the median down payment for all buyers in 2019 was just 12%, and first-timers only put down an average of 6%. You might also qualify for an FHA or VA loan, which offer down payments as low as 3.5% or 0%, respectively.

It’s worth researching different types of mortgages, as well as down payment assistance programs available in your area. They could provide the financial boost you need to finally buy a home!

You can’t buy if you have debt or bad credit

Calculating and reducing debt

The average American has accrued $38,000 in personal debt, excluding home mortgages. Even if you don’t owe quite that much, any kind of debt or a low credit score can seem like a pretty big roadblock if you’re trying to make a move. However, there are still a few options that can get you on the path to homeownership.

The easiest way to boost your credit score is to pay off your debts; consolidating your loans into one monthly payment could help you reduce your debt-to-income ratio. There are also a variety of loans tailored to buyers with lower credit scores, such as FHA, VA, or balloon mortgages.

It can take time to pay off debt and rebuild your credit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work towards buying a home. If you have any questions about your individual situation, it’s best to contact your agent or financial advisor. They’ll have plenty of resources available to guide you in the right direction!  

Take Advantage of a Hot Market

Are you thinking about buying a home before the end of the year? Contact us today to get the ball rolling on your real estate journey! We look forward to teaming up and finding you a place that checks all the boxes.

Need to sell before you buy? We can help with that, too!

How to Search for a Home During COVID

Are you looking to move but concerned about safely searching for a home during the COVID-19 pandemic? These times are definitely different than anything we could have imagined. However, with these careful steps, we are able to aid you in searching for a new place to live safely in the Albuquerque area!

How Has Looking for Home Changed Due to COVID-19?

Like many other things that COVID-19 has impacted and altered, searching for a home is no different. Looking for a home during the pandemic will require tenacity and the willingness to be adaptable in everything but your budget.

Home tours have definitely changed the most, and the market has now skewed more in favor of sellers. This transition can lead to bidding wars, as the number of available homes remains low in comparison to the number of buyers looking to take advantage of historically low interest rates. More safety precautions, such as masks and social distancing, have also been put into effect to keep the home buying process as safe as possible.

House tours have changed to improve safety

A woman views a house virtually while searching for a home during COVID-19.

One of the best parts about looking for a home is getting to tour all of the listings that are out there. Unfortunately, that is one thing that COVID-19 has impacted. There have been changes in how buyers are allowed to view homes they are interested in. Potential home buyers are now able to tour and view homes virtually to keep themselves safe. 

While it’s still possible to view a property in person, it may have to be in a smaller group you had originally planned when you started searching for a new home. If you would prefer to tour a home via Zoom, many agencies are offering that as an alternative as well. 

Be prepared for a bidding war

People wearing masks meeting.

There are a lot of buyers in search of additional space to accommodate those spending more time at home. But the limited number of homes available creates a higher demand for homes than are obtainable on the market.

While you may feel like you are staying on top of new homes coming onto the market, sometimes a more personable approach can make the difference in securing your new home. Writing a personal letter to the seller may help by letting them know what living in this home would mean to you as the buyer.  

Wear masks and keep your distance!

A woman puts on a mask.

Be sure to contact your Realtor when you’re interested in touring a new home. In order to keep both buyers and sellers safe, masks will be required to comply with state mandates, and you may be asked to wear gloves. 

We inform you not to alarm you, but to make you aware of the changes that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. Some things, such as the addition of requiring masks and social distancing when touring homes, have been made to improve safety measures not only for the seller, but the buyer as well.

Have Additional Questions About Searching for a Home During COVID?

Searching for a home during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a confusing and scary time for all. However, we are here to help! Contact us today for all of your questions regarding buying and selling in the Albuquerque area during this unprecedented time. We are ready to help you find your dream home safely!

Make Your Home Boo-tiful with These 4 Halloween Staging Tips

If you step outside on a cool October afternoon, you might just smell some pumpkin spice and freshly picked apples wafting through the air. That can only mean one thing: Halloween is just around the corner! And while this ghoulish holiday delights both kids and kids-at-heart, it also creates interesting staging opportunities for home sellers.

As tempting as it might be to pull out your most spine-chilling decorations, buyers probably don’t want to walk through a haunted house to tour your space. If you want to avoid a home staging horror story, we have a few tips to help you incorporate a little spooky flair without going overboard.

Here’s How to Add a Tasteful Touch of Halloween to Your Home Staging

While it’s totally acceptable to add a dash of Halloween-inspired decor to your home, your goal should be to stage for the season, not the holiday. That means using more fall-focused decor instead of going all-out with spider webs, skeletons, and other eerie touches.

Here are a few guidelines to get your home looking its best for autumn buyers. And if you ever have questions about what is and isn’t appropriate, just ask your agent for advice!

Start with your front porch

Pumpkins on a doorstep

If you absolutely have to add a bit of Halloween fun to your home, consider transforming your front porch into an area that both buyers and trick or treaters will love. Start by setting out some natural touches, like pumpkins, potted mums, or even a small bale of hay. You can always tone up the holiday spirit with a Halloween-themed welcome mat or wreath.

Try to keep all of your outdoor decor as low-key as possible. That means waiting to put out any inflatables, cobwebs, or light displays until you move into your new home.

Put out some pumpkins

Painted pumpkins

Looking for an easy way to get buyers in the Halloween spirit? Pumpkins are one of the most versatile fall accessories, and they work well inside and outside! Aside from the traditional jack-o’-lantern, you can also set out some smaller, uncarved pumpkins throughout your home. If you’re in the mood for a DIY project, paint some craft pumpkins in neutral tones to create little pops of Halloween cheer.

Pumpkins don’t all have to look the same, either. Head to your local pumpkin patch to check out different sizes and colors—there’s no better way to add a splash of orange, white, green, or brown to your space! 

Avoid over-the-top accessories

As you stage your home for buyers, it’s best to leave your most outrageous Halloween decorations in storage for next year. While you may love mummifying your living room or embellishing with spiders and bats, these additions can quickly morph into an unwelcome distraction during a showing. Instead, consider adding more subtle accents, such as dark-colored lanterns with votive candles, a fall-inspired tablescape, or candy displayed in tall jars.

You should also ensure that none of your accessories are gorey or frightening. The last thing you want to do is have buyers wondering if your house is truly haunted!  

Appeal to the senses

Votive candles

Autumn is filled with endless signature scents, sights, and flavors—and you can use them to your advantage when staging. To set the mood inside your home, try putting out some Halloween candy in a decorative bowl as a refreshment for buyers. Fall-inspired candles can add a sense of warmth, so don’t be afraid to bring on the pumpkin spice.

If you really want to go above and beyond, boiling a pot of apple cider, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla before a showing will help you invite some of the season’s best aromas into your home.

Leaves May Be Falling, But Home Sales Aren’t!

Don’t get spooked by the home selling process—our team is here to help! We have the tools you need to get top dollar for your home before the busy holiday season. And even if you’re still on the fence about selling, we’d be happy to give you a free report of your home’s current value. There’s never been a better time to cash out on your hard-earned equity, so just give us a call to get started!

What Increasing Home Prices Mean for Today’s Buyers and Sellers

To say that 2020 has been a bit of a whirlwind would be an understatement. And as we get closer to the end of the year, many buyers and sellers are wondering if it makes financial sense to enter the market. Although the warmer months are typically considered the best time to move, buyer demand continues to surge into fall, while the available supply of homes just keeps dwindling. This has caused home prices to skyrocket to one of their highest points ever.

Need some advice before breaking into today’s competitive housing market? We have a few details to consider before making any big decisions.

Buying or Selling Soon? Here’s How Rising Home Prices Will Affect Your Move

Real estate has always been about supply and demand. For example, during the housing market crash of 2008, home prices plummeted partially because of low buyer interest. Today, though, we’re seeing the opposite—prices are increasing due to waning supply and rock-bottom mortgage interest rates.

This is fantastic news for anyone looking to sell their home and cash out on their hard-earned equity. Buyers, on the other hand, may have to do more to stand out from the competition.

Why have home values increased?

Increasing home values

Even amidst a pandemic and national recession, buying a home is still a top priority for many Americans. In fact, according to a newly released report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the number of existing home sales reached a 14-year high this August. A similar report by Bloomberg states that if current demand holds strong, we could run out of housing inventory in around three months.

Wondering why so many people are clamoring to buy this year? Even in the face of rising home prices, low mortgage rates have enticed buyers to make a move. While record-shattering rates have helped to expand purchasing power, this intense desire for homeownership has caused prices to jump by a whopping 8.2% year-over-year.

Buyers can take advantage of lower interest rates to afford a more expensive home

Family buying a home

If you’re thinking about buying a home soon, you’ll need to be prepared to navigate a cutthroat market. Ever since rates started decreasing in late 2019, more and more buyers have decided to start searching for a home. Unfortunately, this means you could get caught in a bidding war or might have to make some compromises to secure a place of your own.

Although prices have soared dramatically since last year, buying a home is still an attainable goal. In fact, when mortgage rates sunk below 3% this summer, buyers found themselves with an extra $15,000 in purchasing power.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by today’s market, you’re not alone—and reaching out to an agent can help you get the answers you need. Consider contacting a real estate professional before you start looking for homes. They can provide the expertise you need to find your perfect place!

Sellers should expect to sell quickly and for top dollar

Today’s sellers are in a better position than ever before. Nationally, the housing market has struggled to keep pace with buyer demand for the last few years, but this deficiency has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. By listing now, you could take advantage of fierce rivalry amongst buyers, high home prices, and low competition from other sellers.

Despite the ongoing recession, home prices have actually climbed throughout most of 2020. Between May and July, existing properties appreciated in value by a whopping 2%, which is the highest month-by-month increase in three decades. If you’ve lived in your home for at least a few years, you could be sitting on six figures of equity.

Even if you aren’t interested in selling, there’s never been a better time to check on your house’s current value. A top-rated local agent should be able to perform a full home analysis and tell you how much you could sell for if you listed today. 

Bottom Line: Now Is the Time to Talk with an Agent

Buying a home

Whether you’re thinking about buying or selling your home, you shouldn’t wait to connect with an agent who has plenty of experience in your desired area. They can help you keep up with today’s ever-changing market and answer any questions you might have.

Not quite ready to move? It’s still worth talking with an agent about your current home’s value, especially as we continue to see such dramatic price increases!

Ready to Take Your Next Steps?

No matter what your real estate needs might be, we’re here to help you every step of the way. Get in touch with us today and let us know what we can do for you. We can even conduct a comparative market analysis on your home to see how much equity you’ve gained over time!

These 4 Negotiating Tips Can Help You Sell for Top Dollar

Receiving your first offer is one of the most exciting parts of selling your home. And while it might seem like the hard work is finally over, the negotiation process is actually just getting started. 

Even in a seller’s market, negotiating with a buyer can require quite a bit of time, skill, and guidance from your agent. However, with the right strategies, you can remain in the driver’s seat and maximize your profits.

Here’s How to Negotiate with Potential Buyers

When buyers submit an offer, they’re trying to get the best possible price, secure specific contingencies and financing, and close on their ideal timeline. As a seller, you’ll want to take their needs into consideration—but that doesn’t mean you have to give in to every concession.

Ready to hone your negotiation skills? Here are four easy tips to help you leverage a deal that gets you the price you want while keeping your buyer happy.

Review every offer with your agent

Agent helping with a contract

Even if you have some home selling experience, it can be hard to decipher all the elements of an offer. Most offers are just a small part of a purchase and sale agreement, which includes everything from price to contingencies to deadlines, so it’s important to review every detail with your agent.

While it might be tempting to decline any offers below your asking price, you still want to consider the bigger picture. It may be worth sacrificing some equity for fewer contingencies or a cash deal. Your agent can guide you through the pros and cons of each offer, as well as answer any questions.

Don’t compromise on your must-haves

Talking at a table

Fortunately, low inventory and rising prices have given sellers a distinct advantage in today’s market. That means you probably won’t have to give up a lot of your must-haves—like a certain price or closing date—to secure your sale. 

While it’s okay to drive a hard bargain, you don’t want to appear unreasonable to buyers. In some situations, it’s common courtesy to agree to certain contingencies (such as a home inspection), offer credits for repairs, or even pay a portion of their closing costs.

Make a clear counteroffer

Making an offer

If you receive an offer that isn’t quite what you want, you have a few options. Most sellers choose to respond with a counteroffer, which proposes modified terms that are more beneficial to them. 

The biggest factor to consider is price—if a buyer offers less than you’re willing to accept, try countering with a more realistic number. However, you’ll also want to take financing, contingencies, and timing into account. For example, you may want to ask a buyer for a different closing date or say no to excessive contingencies, as they can slow down the transaction. Ultimately, the ball is in your court, so it’s worth weighing different options with your agent.

Don’t be afraid to say no

Signing paperwork

Generally, you should always submit a counteroffer to every reasonable offer. However, if it becomes clear that a buyer isn’t willing to budge on your deal-breakers, don’t be afraid to say no. It’s also best to automatically decline any lowball offers that are around 30% less than your list price.

While it may seem counterintuitive to turn down an offer, it’s not worth negotiating with someone who isn’t serious about your home. And because the market is extremely competitive right now, it probably won’t take long to find a buyer who’s willing to pay the right price.

Thinking of Selling Your Home Soon?

If you’re looking for the right agent to guide you through the negotiation process, we’d love to lend a helping hand! Get in touch with us today to learn the ins and outs of selling your home—we’re always on hand to answer any questions you might have.

Buyer Beware: 6 Red Flags That Could Spell Trouble for Homebuyers

Picture this: you’ve found a seemingly perfect home in just the right neighborhood. It has every single one of your must-haves, plenty of space, and even all of the features you want. But on the tour, your agent spots a few big problems, like a crack in the foundation or signs of water damage. Should you walk away from what seems like your dream house?

Unless you’re looking to tackle a fixer-upper, you may want to proceed with caution if you run into any of these red flags during a showing.

Watch Out for These 6 Red Flags During a Showing

As you tour homes, it’s important to remember that a seller may not always disclose (or know) the whole truth about their house. If you ever have any questions about a home’s condition, make sure to ask your agent. They’ll often be able to spot problems that you may not see yourself, and they can also help you decide whether or not a certain issue is a dealbreaker. 

And even though a property may appear well-maintained, there could be some lingering imperfections that aren’t visible to an untrained eye—here are a few examples.

Foundation issues

Foundation crack

A faulty foundation is one of the biggest and costliest problems you can encounter in a home. If you spot any foundation cracks (both outside or inside) bigger than one third of an inch, it could mean a property has major structural defects.

Other signs of potential foundation issues include sticking doors, gaps around window frames, or sagging floors.

Outdated electric and plumbing systems

Tools and electrical supplies

A leaky faucet or ungrounded outlet may seem like a quick fix, but they could signal a much larger problem. If you’re touring an older home, have your agent ask about the age of the plumbing and electrical wiring. It’s essential (and expensive) to bring these systems up to code to prevent potential floods or fires.

An old roof

Old roof shingles

Typically, roofs should be replaced every 12 to 15 years. So if you notice some missing or curling shingles, it could mean that a home’s roof has reached the end of its lifespan. If you’re not sure about a roof’s age, be sure to ask your agent—they can get in touch with the seller’s agent for more information.

Water damage

Water damage on a ceiling

Take a look at a home’s ceiling and floors—do you see any dark spots? If so, this could be a sign of water damage, which is often a pricey fix. Be sure to check out a home’s drainage situation, too. A yard that isn’t properly graded could cause water to seep inside after a heavy rainstorm.

Homes that have basements are more prone to leaks than those that don’t, so don’t forget to head downstairs to look for water damage!

Unwelcome critters

Mouse trap

Bugs, mice, and other pests can spell big trouble for a house, especially if the infestation is widespread. Termites in particular should be a huge red flag, as they can destroy a home’s entire structure before being detected.

If you see an overwhelming number of critters wandering around during your tour, you may want to move on right away. You should also check for mud tubes, hollow or rotting wood, and bug droppings, as these are common indications of termites.

Unpleasant odors

Spraying air freshener

Notice a less-than-pleasant scent during a showing? These aromas could be signs of mold, mildew, water damage, pests, improper ventilation, and countless other issues. You should also be wary if a seller seems to be covering up smells with heavily scented candles or air fresheners.

Bottom line: Always have a home inspection

Home inspection report

Even if you don’t spot any of these problems, it’s always best to have an inspection after your offer is accepted. A qualified inspector can spot problems both large and small and will provide a detailed report of everything that needs to be fixed.

From there, you can try to renegotiate the price of the home with the seller or ask them to complete the repairs. However, if a home is being sold “as-is,” you may be stuck doing the work yourself. 

Thinking About Buying Your Next Home?

When it comes to finding the right home, it pays to have an expert agent on your side to handle all the details. Give us a call today to learn more about the premier services we offer to our buyers. We’d be more than happy to answer any of your real estate questions, and we can also help you sell your current home, too!

How to Handle Getting Multiple Offers on Your Home

If you’re thinking about listing your home, you’ve probably heard that we’re in a seller’s market right now. As inventory dwindles and buyer interest intensifies, it’s not uncommon to see properties sell just hours after they’re listed, sometimes even tens of thousands above their original asking price.

This may seem like an ideal scenario, but navigating a multi-offer situation can be difficult for even the most seasoned sellers. And sometimes, selecting the right offer doesn’t always mean going with the highest bidder.

Your Guide to Choosing the Right Offer

As a seller, you’ll quickly find that not all offers are created equal. In addition to price, there are a few other factors you should consider, such as contingencies, financing, closing dates, and plenty of other extras that buyers can attach to an offer. 

Feeling a little overwhelmed? This advice can help you streamline, and get the most out of, your home sale.

Keep your agent in the loop

Talking with an agent

First and foremost, you’ll want to include your agent in every step of the negotiation process. They’ll be the main point of contact between you and a buyer’s agent, but they can also talk you through your options and help you decide which offer best suits your needs. Additionally, your agent can educate you on common contingencies, as well as other terms that are often added to an offer (more on that later!).

Compare contingencies and financing

Hand holding cash

Aside from price, you should look at the contingencies and financing options included within any offers you receive. Contingencies are conditions that must be met before a sale—common examples are home inspections, appraisals, and loan approval. As a seller, you want to see as few contingencies as possible, as they can make it harder to close the deal.

Additionally, it’s important to consider how a buyer will be paying for your home. Cash offers are usually considered the best, as you won’t have to deal with appraisals or lenders. There’s also no chance of losing the sale if the buyer’s loan application doesn’t get approved. If you’re looking to close fast, it may even be worth accepting a lower offer if it’s in cash.

Consider any extras

Signing a contract

In a hot market, some buyers will do anything to stand out against the competition. However, before you fall for any seemingly enticing offers, you’ll want to know which terms will actually benefit you as a seller. 

It’s almost always worth giving special consideration to pre-approved buyers, because they’ve taken an extra step to secure their financing ahead of time. Buyers who want to close quickly, pay any closing costs, or even set an escalation clause to outbid other offers may also be more serious candidates.

Remember your home’s value

Money house

If you end up receiving quite a few offers on your home, you might even find yourself in a bidding war. This can drive the price up quite substantially, but you should probably think twice before accepting the highest bid.

If a buyer is financing their purchase, your home will likely need to pass an appraisal before the sale. And if the price was inflated in a bidding war, a bank may not approve the buyer for the full amount of their loan, which could jeopardize the deal. Be sure to keep your home’s value in mind as you review offers with your agent. They can help you filter out any outlandish bids while still maximizing your profit.

Gearing Up to Sell Soon?

Selling a home doesn’t have to be a stressful process—at least not when you work with a top-rated local agent! Feel free to give us a call and let us know how we can help with any of your real estate needs. We have the resources and expertise to get your house sold quickly and for top dollar!

A Pet Lover’s Guide to Buying a Home

If you have dogs, cats, or other pets in your home, you probably consider them to be part of your family. And if you’re thinking about making a move soon, that means you’ll want to take their needs into consideration, too. Here’s our ultimate guide to finding the perfect place you and your furry friend will love!

The 4 Factors to Consider When Buying a Home with Pets

According to a recent survey by CNBC, 79% of pet owners who recently purchased a home said they would have passed up a seemingly perfect property if it didn’t fit their pets’ needs. So it’s no surprise that pet-friendly features—like large, fenced-in yards and proximity to parks—are now in high demand with today’s buyers.

Are you searching for a home with Fluffy or Fido in tow? If so, here are four factors you should consider before making a move.

Local Pet Laws

Dog in the grass

Believe it or not, every state, county, town, and even some neighborhoods have specific rules about pets, so you’ll need to read up on any local laws before committing to a home. You’ll often find regulations regarding pet types, breeds, vaccinations, and leash requirements.

If you choose to move to a condo or community with a homeowners association, pet restrictions may be a bit tighter. Some neighborhoods place limits on the number of pets allowed per residence, and they often have noise ordinances to curtail more boisterous animals. If you have any questions about what is and isn’t allowed, don’t be afraid to ask your agent or the HOA for more information.

The Neighborhood

Cat in the grass

Choosing a location is one of the most important parts of the home buying process, especially if you have a pet. Some neighborhoods are more pet-friendly than others and may even have special amenities for four-legged residents, so you’ll want to spend some time scoping out the area to see what’s around.

If you have a dog, consider moving to a community with plenty of sidewalks or a nearby park. You may also want to steer clear of busy streets, especially if your pet likes to sneak out on unchaperoned adventures. Don’t forget to track down the closest pet supply stores and veterinarians, too!

Outdoor Spaces

Puppy running in grass

For most pet owners, having a large, fenced-in yard is a must if your furry friend loves to spend time outside. However, you’ll want to be sure that your outdoor space offers more than just room to roam. Make note of any potential safety risks, like poisonous plants, water features, and holes in or under the fence. If the house next door also has animals, confirm that they won’t be a hazard to your pets.

If a home doesn’t already have a fence, you may need to factor that cost into your budget. Some neighborhoods have restrictions on fences (or don’t allow them at all), so do your research first!

Interior Features

Cats looking out the window

When it comes to finding a new place for you and your pets, the inside matters just as much as the outside. As you tour a potential home, start by taking a look at the floors—hardwoods usually fare better with pets, as they’re easier to clean and restain. You’ll also want to ensure that your new home has ample room for all of your pets, as well as their litter boxes, toys, and crates. Bonus points if a space has some pet-approved upgrades, like doggie doors or built-in feeding stations!

If you plan on staying in your next home for more than a few years, consider your pets’ changing needs as they age. Common features like stairs or a closed-in floorplan can become obstacles for older animals, but if your pet has specific needs, you may be able to make accommodations.

Making a Move with Your Pets?

Buying a home with pets doesn’t have to be hard if you work with the right agent! Contact our team today to learn more about making a move with Fluffy and Fido. We’d love to help you find a place that suits you and your companions’ needs!