Don’t Get Caught in the ‘Renter’s Trap’

Don’t Get Caught in the ‘Renter’s Trap’ | Keeping Current Matters

There are many benefits to homeownership, one of top ones, is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just released their findings of a study in which they studied “income growth, housing costs and changes in the share of renter and owner-occupied households over the past five years in metropolitan statistical areas throughout the US.”

Don’t Become Trapped

The study revealed that over the last five years, a typical rent rose 15%, while the income of renters grew by only 11%. If you are currently renting, this disparity in growth could get you caught up in a cycle where increasing rents continue to make it impossible for you to save for a necessary down payment.

The top 5 markets where renters have seen the highest increase in rents since 2009 are:

  • New York, NY (50.7%)
  • Seattle, WA (32.4%)
  • San Jose, CA (25.6%)
  • Denver, CO (24.1%)
  • St. Louis, MO (22.3%)

Homebuyers, who were able to purchase their home over the same five-year period and lock in their housing costs, were able to grow their net worth as home values have increased and their mortgage balances have gone down.

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWirereported that analysts at Nomura believe:

“It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment. 

It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)

According to Freddie Mac:

“Depending on their credit history and other factors, many borrowers can expect to make a down payment of about 5 to 10%. And new 3% down financing options for qualified borrowers could mean a down payment as little as $6,000 for a $200,000 home.”

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Have a professional help you determine if you are eligible to get a mortgage.

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Don’t Let Your “Luck” Run Out

Don’t Let Your “Luck” Run Out | Keeping Current Matters

The 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate is currently still below 4%. Many buyers may be on the fence as to whether to act now and purchase a new home, or wait until next year, believing they still have time to lock in a low rate.

If you look at what the experts are predicting over the course of the next 12 months, it may make the decision for you.

Predictions for 2016 2Q:

Even an increase of half a percentage point can put a dent in your family’s net worth.

Let’s look at it this way…

The monthly payment (principal & interest only) on a $250,000 home today, with the current 3.86% interest rate would be $1,173.

If we take that same home a year later, the Home Price Expectation Survey projects that prices will rise about 4.4% making that home cost $11,000 more at $261,000.

If we take Freddie Mac’s rate projection of 4.7%, the monthly mortgage payment climbs to $1,354.

Some buyers might not think that an extra $181 a month is that bad. But over the course of 30-year mortgage you have spent an additional $65,160 by waiting a year.

 

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Tired of home maintenance chores?

So are we. That’s why we love these easy-care features that free up your free time — and do it beautifully.

1.  Front Yard Patio

Patio in the front yard of a houseImage: Westover Landscape Design, Inc.

Lawns are classic suburbia; they’re also classic maintenance time-sucks. Good-looking patios, on the other hand, don’t need mowing, watering, or fertilizing. Ever. Be a trend-setter and put one in your front yard for you to enjoy and your neighbors to envy. A professionally installed brick or flagstone patio runs $15 to $18 per square foot.

2.  Vinyl Shake Siding

Vinyl shake siding on the exterior of a houseImage: Essex Home Improvements, Inc.

Vinyl shakes look as beautiful as real wood but they won’t crack, rot, fade, or need periodic staining and sealing. Even better: At $2 to $7 per square foot, installed, they’re about half the price of real wood shakes. Lots of colors available. Did we say that bugs don’t like them, either? Well, they don’t!

3.  Quartz Countertop

Low-maintenance quartz countertop in a kitchenImage: Bellingham from Cambria’s Waterstone Collection

Everyone seems to love granite — until it’s time to reseal it. You can get a look that’s just as gorgeous with engineered quartz countertops. Made with 95% quartz (one of the hardest known materials), a quartz countertop shrugs off stains, scratches, and germs (it’s antimicrobial). Cost is $40 to $100 per square foot, installed, about the same as granite. But — unlike granite — a quartz countertop is non-porous and never needs to be resealed. For that reason, quartz countertops are starting to rival granite as the preferred choice.

4.  Fiberglass Entry Door

Fiberglass entry door on a homeImage: Heckard’s Door

What looks like and feels as beautiful as wood, stains like wood, but never chips, warps, or cracks? Answer: fiberglass. All of which makes fiberglass an ideal material for high-style, low-fuss entry doors that mimic oak, mahogany, walnut, fir, and other woods. Average installed cost for this cool curb appeal upgrade: about $3,000.

5.  Shaker-Style Cabinets

Shaker-style white kitchen cabinets in homeImage: Dwelling Studio / All Around Joe Construction

Can style be low-maintenance and gorgeous, too? Of course! These Shaker-style kitchen cabinets, with their simple lines and absence of frills and trills, make cleanup a snap. They also fit with most any design, from traditional to modern. Order them with a tough factory finish that resists stains.

6.  Turf Grasses

Buffalo grass front lawnImage: Takao Nursery

If you love a lawn but hate the upkeep, go alternative. Lush, green turf grasses are beautiful and specially formulated so they’ll grow well in various climates. Once established, turf grasses, like the buffalo grass shown here, require very little watering or mowing, and virtually no fertilizers or pesticides.

7.  Direct-Vent Gas Fireplace

Cat next to direct vent fireplace in living room
Image: Spark Modern Fires

OK, you’re not Grizzly Adams. You don’t care for chopping firewood, cleaning a sooty hearth, or paying somebody to sweep the chimney every year. But you still like to curl up in front of a blazing fire. Solution: A gorgeous direct-vent gas fireplace ($2,000 to $5,000) burns clean, is energy-efficient, and throws off tons of ambiance.

8.  Manufactured Stone Veneer

Stone veneer on the exterior of a homeImage: Eldorado Stone

One of our favorite faux finishes, gorgeous manufactured stone veneer won’t split, crack, or fade. At about $18 per square foot installed, it isn’t cheap, but “Remodeling” magazine’s “Cost vs. Value Report” says you’ll recoup about 92% of your investment at resale — one of the highest returns in the report.

9.  Drought-Resistant Landscape Plants

Flowering azaleas in a home's yard
Image: Abby Farson Pratt

Azaleas like these are in the genus Rhododendron, a group of woody shrubs that grow in many different climates and have showy spring blossoms. Beautiful azaleas are tough and hardy once rooted into well-drained soil, making upkeep easy and reducing the need for water.

Houselogic – John Riha
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Bet on These Home Improvements in 2015

If you’re considering giving your home an upgrade this year, it can be overwhelming to choose what home features need an overhaul. Trends seem to change all the time, and the last thing you want is to spend money on costly improvements that will soon be out of date.

What’s Hot In Design?

21 Hot Housing Trends for 2015

Designers, Builders Reveal Hot Trends for 2015

The Next Big Home Feature Buyers Want?

Real estate brokerage Redfin recently analyzed home features that are most desirable to potential home buyers. First, they asked local real estate agents to take note to what features were cropping up the most on home tours. Then they searched for those design keywords and took note of what trends experienced the most growth in popularity in the last five years.

So what seven home improvements made their list of the safest bets?

  1. Quartz Countertops: For years it was all about the granite counters, but it appears that quartz is all the rage these days for buyers. According to Redfin, quartz has experienced a huge increase since 2012, due to its durability and overall buyer granite fatigue.
  2. Smart Homes: While Smart Home design is overall still a niche with buyers, it’s a phrase that has experienced an explosion in listing mentions since 2012. Redfin agents caution that buyers really need to choose a smart home system with the most up-to-date software since smart home technology is rapidly evolving.
  3. Stainless Steel Appliances: This trend is here to stay, and it has only increased in popularity since 2011. According to a Redfin agent, stainless steel is “the gold standard for kitchens these days” and it appears to be a very safe home improvement bet.
  4. Fire Pits: Buyers are still interested in turning their backyards into relaxing areas with multiple focal points that encourages interaction and socializing, and adding a fire pit remains a popular upgrade.
  5. Tasting Rooms: In the high-end and luxury market, the term “tasting” has slowly increased in listings over the last five years. In the past, buyers hid their wine cellars away from the main focal point of the house, but these days they’re requesting tasting rooms that are adjacent to the main socializing rooms of the house, such as the kitchen and living rooms.
  6. Outdoor Kitchens: Along with fire pits, outdoor kitchens and multi-use backyard areas have only gained in popularity, especially for high-end buyers who mention socializing in the home as a priority. According to Redfin, “Backyards are becoming places to lounge during the summer, with full kitchens, fireplaces and televisions.”
  7. Freestanding Tubs: The days of the space-saving combined shower and tub are over, at least for luxury buyers. Redfin reports that the term “freestanding tub” has increased dramatically since 2011, as buyers want a bathroom that’s more reminiscent of a spa.

And lastly, one trend that is seemingly on its way out? Exposed brick. According to Redfin, mentions of exposed brick in listings peaked back in 2013, and they caution that other than loft homes, buyers’ interest in exposed brick is waning.

Source: “7 Home Improvement Projects That Are a Safe Bet for 2015,” Redfin (Feb. 4, 2015)

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6 Reasons to Reduce Your Home Price

While you’d like to get the best price for your home, consider our six reasons to reduce your home price.

Home not selling? That could happen for a number of reasons you can’t control, like a unique home layout or having one of the few homes in the neighborhood without a garage. There is one factor you can control: your home price.

These six signs may be telling you it’s time to lower your price.

1. You’re drawing few lookers.

You get the most interest in your home right after you put it on the market because buyers want to catch a great new home before anybody else takes it. If your real estate agent reports there have been fewer buyers calling about and asking to tour your home than there have been for other homes in your area, that may be a sign buyers think it’s overpriced and are waiting for the price to fall before viewing it.

2. You’re drawing lots of lookers but have no offers.

If you’ve had 30 sets of potential buyers come through your home and not a single one has made an offer, something is off. What are other agents telling your agent about your home? An overly high price may be discouraging buyers from making an offer.

3. Your home’s been on the market longer than similar homes.

Ask your real estate agent about the average number of days it takes to sell a home in your market. If the answer is 30 and you’re pushing 45, your price may be affecting buyer interest. When a home sits on the market, buyers can begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with it, which can delay a sale even further. At least consider lowering your asking price.

4. You have a deadline.

If you’ve got to sell soon because of a job transfer or you’ve already purchased another home, it may be necessary to generate buyer interest by dropping your price so your home is a little lower priced than comparable homes in your area. Remember: It’s not how much money you need that determines the sale price of your home, it’s how much money a buyer is willing to spend.

5. You can’t make upgrades.

Maybe you’re plum out of cash and don’t have the funds to put fresh paint on the walls, clean the carpets, and add curb appeal. But the feedback your agent is reporting from buyers is that your home isn’t as well-appointed as similarly priced homes. When your home has been on the market longer than comparable homes in better condition, it’s time to accept that buyers expect to pay less for a home that doesn’t show as well as others.

6. The competition has changed.

If weeks go by with no offers, continue to check out the competition. What have comparable homes sold for and what’s still on the market? What new listings have been added since you listed your home for sale? If comparable home sales or new listings show your price is too steep, consider a price reduction.

 

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Solar Tubes Beat Traditional Skylights for Low-Cost Daylighting

 Let me start by saying…we have these and we LOVE them!!!

By installing solar tubes, you’ll get the natural light that skylights provide — but with less cost and less hassle.

If you’ve been thinking of adding more daylight to a kitchen or dark hallway, a solar tube may be the way to go. At a fraction of the cost of a skylight, a solar tube provides plenty of warm, indirect light.

How It Works

Known variously as a sun tube, sun tunnel, light tube, or tubular skylight, a solar tube is a 10- or 14-inch-diameter sheet-metal tube with a polished interior. The interior acts like a continuous mirror, channeling light along its entire length while preserving the light’s intensity. It captures daylight at the roof and delivers it inside your home.

On your roof, a solar tube is capped by a weather-proof plastic globe. The tube ends in a porthole-like diffuser in the ceiling of a room below. The globe gathers light from outside; the diffuser spreads the light in a pure white glow. The effect is dramatic: New installations often have homeowners reaching for the light switch as they leave a room.

Cost

A light tube costs about $500 to $1,000 when professionally installed, compared with more than $2,000 for a skylight. If you’re reasonably handy and comfortable working on a roof, install a light tube yourself using a kit that costs about $200 to $400. Unlike a skylight, a light tube doesn’t require new drywall, paint, and alterations to framing members.

How Much Light?

A 10-inch tube, the smallest option, is the equivalent of three 100-watt bulbs, enough to illuminate up to 200 square feet of floor area; 14-inch tubes can brighten as much as 300 square feet.

Popular locations for a light tube include any areas where constant indirect light is handy:

  • Hallways
  • Stairways
  • Walk-in closets
  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Laundry rooms

The only place you don’t want a light tube is above a TV or computer screen where it might create uncomfortable glare.

Bringing a Light Tube Through Multiple Levels

Channeling light down to the first floor of a two-story house is feasible if you have a closet or mechanical chase through which you can run the tube. The job can quickly become more complicated if there’s flooring to cut through, or if you encounter wiring, plumbing, and HVAC ducts.

Is Your House Right for a Light Tube?

Because installation requires no framing alteration, there are few limitations to where you can locate a light tube. Check the attic space above to see if there is room for a straight run. If you find an obstruction, elbows or flexible tubing may get around it. It’s relatively easy to install a light tube in a vaulted ceiling because only a foot or so of tubing is required.

Make these evaluations in advance:

  • Roof slope: Most light tube kits include flashing that can be installed on roofs with slopes between 15 degrees (a 3-in-12 pitch) and 60 degrees (a 20-in-12 pitch).
  • Roofing material: Kits are designed with asphalt shingles in mind, but also work with wood shingles or shakes. Flashing adapters for metal or tile roofs are available.
  • Roof framing spacing: Standard rafters are spaced 16 inches on-center; gap enough for 10- or 14-inch tubes. If your home has rafters positioned 24 inches on-center, you can special order a 21-inch tube for light coverage up to 600 square feet.
  • Location: A globe mounted on a southwest roof gives the best results. Choose a spot requiring a run of tubing that’s 14 feet or less. A globe positioned directly above your target room can convey as much as 98% of exterior light. A tube that twists and turns minimally reduces the light.
  • Weather: If you live in a locale with high humidity, condensation on the interior of the tube can be a problem. Wrapping the tube with R-15 or R-19 insulation greatly cuts condensation. Some manufacturers offer sections of tubing with small fans built in to remove moist air. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, opt for an extra-hardy polycarbonate dome.

 

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How Long Before You Can Buy a Home After a Short Sale, Foreclosure or BK

Recently, I was working with a client who was looking forward to buying a home after having sold his home by short sale a couple of years ago. The rules for qualifying and the time frames change so fast it’s hard to keep up.  The rules differ depending on the type of loan, as well as personal circumstances.  Here is a guide with the current requirements for each loan type for 2015.

2015 FHA Guidelines

  • Bankruptcy – You may apply for a FHA insured loan after your bankruptcy has been discharged for TWO (2) years with a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.  You may apply for a FHA insured loan after your bankruptcy has been discharged for ONE (1) year with a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
  • Foreclosure - You may apply for a FHA insured loan THREE (3) years after the sale/deed transfer date.
  • Short Sale / Deed in Lieu – You may apply for a FHA insured loan THREE (3) years after the sale date of your foreclosure. FHA treats a short sale the same as a Foreclosure for now.
  • Credit must be re-established with a 640 minimum credit score

2015 VA Guidelines

  • Bankruptcy Ch 7 - You may apply for a VA guaranteed loan TWO (2) years after a chapter 7 Bankruptcy
  • Bankruptcy Ch 13 - If you have finished making all payments satisfactorily, the lender may conclude that you have reestablished satisfactory credit.
    • If you have satisfactorily made at least 12 months worth of the payments and the Trustee or the Bankruptcy Judge approves of the new credit, the lender may give favorable consideration.
  • Foreclosure - You may apply for a VA guaranteed loan TWO (2) years after a foreclosure
  • Short Sale / Deed in Lieu - You may apply for a VA guaranteed loan TWO (2) years after a short sale, unless it was a VA loan then restrictions apply
  • Credit must be re-established with a minimum 620 credit score

2015 USDA Guidelines

  • Bankruptcy - You may apply for a USDA rural loan THREE (3) years after the discharge of a Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy
  • Foreclosure - You may apply for a USDA rural loan THREE (3) years after a Foreclosure
  • Short Sale / Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure – If you had big issues the deed in lieu of foreclosure will be viewed as a foreclosure and you would want to wait no less than 3 years if the score is under 640.  Over 640 your UW will make the call but typically not less than one year.
  • UPDATED 12/2014 – Mortgage debt included in Bankruptcy will go by BK discharge date, and subsequent foreclosure, short sale, or deed in lieu of foreclosure will not count as an additional waiting period, as long as you are off title for any defaulted mortgages.

2015 Conventional (Fannie Mae) – UPDATED 12/2014

  • Bankruptcy – You may apply for a Conventional, Fannie Mae loan after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been discharged for FOUR (4) years, TWO (2) years from the discharge of a Chapter 13
  • Foreclosure - You may apply for a Conventional, Fannie Mae loan SEVEN (7) years after the sale date of your foreclosure.  Additional qualifying requirements may apply,
  • Short Sale / Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure –
    • UPDATED – Effective 7/29/2014:  Waiting period for subsequent foreclosure that was included in Bankruptcy is waived.  If mortgage is included in Bankruptcy, waiting period defaults to FOUR (4) from the discharge date.
    • UPDATED – Effective 8/16/2014:  Short Sale or Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure not included in a Bankruptcy has a new Waiting Period of FOUR (4) years from date your name is removed from title.  This replaces the ability to buy in 24 months with 20% down payment and minimum 680 credit score
    • SEVEN (7) Years above 90% Loan to Value | with less than 10% Down Payment – Subject to Private Mortgage Insurance underwriting guidelines.

Credit must be re-established with a minimum 620 credit score.

Fannie Mae has reduced waiting periods in cases of extenuating circumstances – The death of a primary wage earner seems to be the only one I have been able to identify up to this point.

2014 Jumbo Mortgage Guidelines

  • Bankruptcy – You may apply for a Jumbo mortgage loan once any chapter of bankruptcy has been discharged for FOUR (4) years, FIVE (5) years if multiple bankruptcy occurs on credit profile.
  • Foreclosure - You may apply for a Jumbo mortgage loan SEVEN (7) years after the sale date of your foreclosure.  Additional qualifying requirements may apply,
  • Short Sale / Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure – You may apply for a Jumbo mortgage loan:
    • FOUR (4) Years from Short Sale or Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure with Maximum 80% Loan to Value

NOTE:  If hardship is the result of an extenuating circumstance, waiting periods may be reduced.  Contact lender for details.

Preparing to Buy Again

You should begin looking at your credit at least six (6) months before you are ready to buy again.

Quite often there are things left over on your credit report that can delay your ability to qualify.

With a little head start and good advice, you can get your credit in line, qualify for financing and buy again in the lowest priced real estate market that California has seen in years and years!

If you have any questions give us a call!

 

Information and Data from Find My Way Home
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