Bidding Wars – How To Win

As some high-demand markets and areas are red hot with limited inventory, we are seeing bidding wars with multiple offers on a house or property which can result in a bidding war.
Here are a few tips to win a bidding war and if you’re the seller how to pick a winner. Don’t forget to get feedback from your real estate agent as they may have important knowledge about the seller. And don’t get too frenzied where you bid yourself to a point where its going to break your budget!

Up the Ante
Of course if there are multiple bids on the property, increasing your offer is going to help. In addition you can make a larger down payment on the mortgage to make financing easier, especially if the purchase price goes above the appraised value. And the old saying cash is king is applicable here as well. Paying in cash shows you’re serious and it also can make for a faster closing.

Preapproval
You’ll want to do this anyway but definitely make sure you are preapproved as it shows you are a viable buyer. Please contact us for a pre-approval letter whether you are in a bidding war or not!

Escalate
You can also add an escalation clause where if someone matches your offer you will raise your offer above it!

Write a Letter
This may sound hokey but we have seen a lot of cases where sellers want their house to go a buyer that is going to care for and appreciate the house. Tell them why the house is special to you and you might not even be the highest bidder and still have the winning offer!

Picking a winner
If you’re lucky enough to be on the selling end of a bidding war here are some tips to pick a winner. Again cash is king. Cash offers give you a lot more certainty that there won’t be surprises during the closing. And if its not a cash offer review the buyers offer, make sure they are preapproved before starting. Also review special offers and escalation offers like an offer to waive some contingencies or beat matching offers.

Read more...

How To Make Your Work From Home and Virtual School House Work

Many people are finding their house has turned into a virtual office and a virtual school. Making sure your kids are properly learning through zoom and at the same time making sure you are working productively can be a juggling act! 🤹‍♀‍
Here’s a few tips to help keep the balls in the air!
Make Clear Schedules
Your kids need to know your schedule and if there are important meetings not to interrupt and you need to make sure you know your kids schedule including online class schedules. A great way to do this is with google calendars you can make one for each parent and child and share them with each other.
If the kids are younger you can make it old-fashioned and do it on a whiteboard for them to clearly see.

Make School and Work Places
You can have designated areas for work and school, maybe a desk or table that is the work table during the day. If you’re tight on space consider having in home cubicles (ok that doesn’t sound fun) but you can get an inexpensive divider screen or even just some posterboard!

Block Off Time To Work
Ideally you can set up chunks of focus time that are roughly the same time for you and your kids to have focused work and studying. You can try 45 minute or one hour blocks of focused time to get things done.

Become An Early Bird
Try getting up early, a couple of hours before your kids. This will help you get things done and be organized and have more time to help them during the day. That means turn off the tv AND especially the phone a little earlier at night (we recommend this anyways 🙂

Get Some Fresh Air
If possible schedule a daily walk with your kids. You both will need a break from being inside and in front of a screen all day, plus some fresh air and vitamin D are always good!

Read more...

30 Year Mortgage Rate Near Record Low

The federally chartered Freddie Mac is reporting that interest rates are holding near record lows below 3 percent!
They reported an average rate on 30 year fixed mortgages of 2.93 percent with 0.8 percent average in closing costs.
What does this mean for you?
Well if you are considering buying – you have basically never seen better rates.
And there’s a good chance you can refinance into a lower a rate with lower monthly payments.
Contact us today and we can review your situation and calculate how much you may be able to save!

Read more...

Bathroom Remodeling – Should you do it?

Should you remodel your bathroom?
If you are planning on selling a home and want to know if remodeling is a good idea, generally the answer is actually no. Statistically, you will get about 70% of the price spent back in terms of purchase price. Now a remodel can help you sell faster and if you’re bathroom is very old or in bad shape, needing of repairs then it can be a good idea!

If you are moving into a new house and want to remodel your bathroom that’s a completely different story of course, but either way here are some guidelines to start with….

Budget
Set a budget first (this actually might be a good rule of thumb in most cases 🙂
Bathroom remodeling can go from low to high cost faster than you can find parking at home depot.

Type and Layout
Decide if you’re going with a traditional standard bathroom, half or wet. Then figure out the layout. We generally recommend keeping the existing layout if you want to keep costs down! If you have to replumb things costs can go up quickly. Things to keep in mind do you want a bathtub – stand alone or built in with the shower – if you’re splurging or space is at a premium a wet bathroom can be fun (but not cheap).

Lighting and Outlets
You want to make sure lighting is flattering and well placed – a light right over your countertop can cause reflections. Also make sure there’s enough light for activities like applying make-up.
And don’t forget the outlets! Imagine finishing up and then realizing you don’t have a place to plug in the hair dryer or electric toothbrush 🙁

Plan and Communicate
If you’re not DIYing this and hiring a contractor then we cannot stress communication enough. You want this planned out, written out with dates, scope and materials to be used. You might think you went over it and the contractor understood everything and then on installation day you’re not on the same page – don’t assume – that and set a budget will get you far 🙂

What about a mini-upgrade?
Sometimes just upgrading a few fixtures like lights and faucets can actually make a big difference so especially if you’re selling consider a mini upgrade instead of remodel!

Read more...

Curb Appeal – Little Steps Make a Big Difference

If you’re thinking about selling and want to sell your house faster at a higher price then curb appeal is one of the first things should focus on. And you can make dramatic improvements for only a few hundred dollars!
First Impressions are important so lets focus on a few easy and low cost ways to boost your curb appeal.

Check the numbers
This might seem silly but if people can’t find your house, they can start the tour on the wrong foot. Look into getting new house numbers as it will make your house look fresher too.
This goes for the mailbox as well! A beatup or old mailbox is an eyesore and a new one might only be $20!

Keep It Clean
If you’re sidewalk or driveways are dirty, get a pressure washer to clean them up. Also make sure walkways are safe and even – if you have a broken walkway or paving stones consider getting those fixed!

Frame the Entrance
Make sure the entrance to the house is welcoming from lights to railways – if you have an old screen door, consider replacing. A fresh coast of pain on the front door can help too.

A New Coat
If you haven’t painted the house in a while consider painting it or at least touching up problem areas. Another low cost way to make your house pop is just repainting the trim and doors in a contrasting color. Be bold but not too bold in the color choice!

Freshen up with Flowers
Ok if doesn’t have to be flowers but check your landscaping. A tree might help frame the house and can boost the appeal for as low as $50! Flower boxes in the windows might be a nice low cost touch. After you put in new planting make sure to keep them watered so the look fresh and healthy for you the open house!

Look at Your House with New Eyes
You look at your house everyday but walk around your house as first time visitor and see what sticks out in need of repair – unhealthy plantings, weeds, cracks in the pavement – fixing the little things can make a big difference!

Read more...

Should I Refinance for less than half a percent?

Should you refinance for less than half a percent difference on your current loan?
You’ve probably heard that interest rate are at record lows and if you’re current rate is one percent higher than today’s rates then we would usually say refinancing is a no-brainer. But what if you already have a low rate and its less than half a percentage point less than your current rate, should you refinance then?
There are a few key factors to consider.
1. Do have an Adjust Rate (ARM) Mortgage?
Getting into a lower fixed rate mortgage can definitely make sense in this case as you’ll lock in a lower rate, as the ARM rate may rise in the future.
2. Do you have a high loan balance?
If your loan balance is $500,000 a quarter percent difference could mean over $300 dollar less in monthly payments!
3. Do you plan on staying in the house more than a few years?
There will be closing costs to pay when you refinance so in order to get see the savings you’ll generally need to stay in the house for a few years.

Of course when in doubt make sure to contact us, we can crunch the numbers see how much you’ll save and if it makes sense for you!

Read more...

Five Quick Tips to Improve Your Credit Score Before Applying For A Mortgage

A good credit score is something we all want and it can help you get a better interest rate as well. Before we get started though, the first thing you should do is get your credit report!
You can order it free here – https://www.annualcreditreport.com
Now that you have your report lets get to those tips! 🤓
1. Check for Errors!
You want the report to be clean and mistake free. Check if there are misspellings of your name or addresses. Other things might be duplicate accounts, incorrect account information, closed accounts that are still listed as open, fraud etc!
2. Clean up the Errors!
If you found something wrong the next step is to get the errors fixed.
You can contact the major three bureaus directly to fix any errors! Be prepared with paperwork to back up your case!
Here are links to the three bureaus on how to address errors:
https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/faqs/how-to-dispute-credit-report-information/
https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-dispute/
https://www.transunion.com/credit-disputes/dispute-your-credit
3. Pay Late Or Past Due Accounts
This is important! Pay these off whenever possible. Here is a pro-tip: if you have an account with a late fee or in collection – contact them before paying and ask them to remove the record entirely if you pay the account off. This will really help your score!
4. Pay On Time
Ok this is obvious but its important too – even if its the minimum payment make sure you get the payments in one time – everytime.
5. Open New Accounts Or Increase Your Limits
This will help your credit to improve your credit utilization rate – how much of your available credit you use. The lower the rate used the better so don’t open a new card and max it out – just open it and use it a little and pay it off monthly if possible.
These are five quick tips that can really help boost your credit before you apply for a mortgage. If you are ready to apply contact us today and we will be glad to review the options with and see what best fits your needs!

Read more...

Top Ten Questions To Ask When Buying A Home

Here is a top ten list of questions you should ask before buying a home
1. What is my budget?
We mean total budget, not just the sales price. Remember to include property taxes, insurance, any HOA fees, renovations costs and ongoing maintenance.
2. Did I get preapproved?
Most realtors want to see that your pre-approved (many won’t even talk to you until you are!). So get preapproved to show you mean business. And we can help! Contact us today for a preapproval letter!
3. Why is the seller moving?
This can be useful in seeing how motivated the seller is and can help in negotiating the price.
4. What comes with the sale?
Make sure you get in writing what is included in advanced – the washing machine, stove, blinds etc.
5. Is it in a flood or natural disaster area?
Make sure you know if its in a FEMA flood zone or other disaster coverage you may need.
6. What is the going rate for houses in the neighborhood?
Look at housing prices of other homes sold in the area to get a feel for prices
7. How long has the house been on the market?
If its been sitting on the market for a while, that can strengthen your negotiating position
8. How about the neighbors?
This is doubly important if you’re moving into an HOA, make sure you do your own intel on this. Talk to neighbors, drive around and see for yourself.
9. How’s the home’s health?
Make sure you get a thorough inspection and have any issues with the house identified in advanced and also get a history of renovations.
10. How’s the neighborhood?
Lastly make sure you check out the neighborhood too! Make sure to check the local schools, crime rates, what activities are available nearby and if you’re going to have a commute make sure you to check the drive time too!

Read more...

Cash Out Refinance – 5 Key Things To Consider

If you haven’t heard interest rates are at record lows (I know you probably heard this on the radio the last ten years, but this time its true!). So if you have a mortgage, there’s a good chance you can refinance into a lower rate (generally a good idea 🙂 and may consider getting cash out, so here are five things to consider. First we will start with the pros….

Low Rates and Lower Rates.
As we said rates are low now – like really low. And if you’re considering a HELOC or home equity line of credit, rates on a mortgage refi are often lower. So you can lock in a low rate and have lower payments – sounds good right?

Debt Consolidation
If you have a lot of high interest debt (i.e. credit cards), you can pay that off and potentially save thousands in interest payments!

Cash On Hand
We are definitely in uncertain times and you might want a cash cushion to help pay bills and also if you’re income in the near future is uncertain. Or you can use that for home improvements like maybe a new home office or gym (this can often be used as a deduction as well).

And Some Cons
Don’t Rinse and Repeat
Ok we are trying to say don’t get the cash out and repeat the same debt spiral. If you’re cashing out and taking advantage of today’s great rates make sure you take advantage of the opportunity and avoid the temptation to go on an amazon shopping spree and run up the bills again.

Closing Costs and PMI
Make sure to check your closing costs aren’t more than the new savings! Also if you currently aren’t paying PMI and refi to more than 80% of the home value you may have to start paying PMI!

In general if you’ve been considering a cash-out refinance or just want to see if you can lower your monthly payments – contact us today and we’ll give you a run-down of your options and see what best fits your needs!

Read more...