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When It’s Time To Make Your Move...


Don't Fall For the Wrong Home Written by Blanche Evans on Thursday, 03 September 2015 2:12 pm When you go shopping for homes in the fall, you have some advantages. Buyer traffic has slowed with the start of schools. Sellers who've had their homes on the long hot summer market are weary of trying to sell their homes and more willing to drop prices. Your REALTOR® has more time for you, and is telling you about good deals in better neighborhoods. But there's a reason you might be vulnerable to choosing a home too quickly, even though market conditions are more in your favor. You want to get into your new home before the holiday season starts. You're already under the nesting spell of grey skies, glorious turning leaves, and afternoon football games on TV. It's Thanksgiving at your house this year, everybody! But wait. The holidays aren't a deadline. It's far better to choose a home that meets your needs no matter what time of year it is. 1. Get pre-approved. Your lender will give you a price limit that you can comfortably afford based on your income and debts. These are time-tested formulas that allow some wiggle room in your finances so you won't be house-rich but cash-poor. 2. Shop for the right size, not the biggest. Buying the biggest home you can isn't the best idea. Think about the operating costs of heating, cooling and maintaining all that space. This is money wasted that could be spent on other things you may need such as a new car or furniture. 3. Think about your activities. Think about how you actually use a home. A home with a huge impressive kitchen is a poor investment if you don't cook much, except at Thanksgiving. Do you have the space you need for your home office or art studio? Are there enough bathrooms for the morning rush? 4. Consider the commute. Newer homes offer the most amenities, but they tend to be far from city centers. How long would you spend commuting to your job every day to live in a particular community? Those are hours spent in traffic that you could be spending with loved ones. 5. Look at the bones of the home. Appliances, wall colors, and flooring can easily be updated, but the basic floor-plan has to flow well for the way you live. Look at the traffic flow. Is it easy to let the dog outside and clean muddy paws when he comes back in? Where do the kids put their backpacks when they come home from school? 6. Be willing to update. Many homes are affordable because they're older and need work. Many times, cosmetic updates can turn a so-so home into a treasure. If you set aside your holiday deadline, you can start work on your new home while more contractors are available and possibly less expensive than in the busy summer months. 7. Be sure to get year-round amenities. Remember what you enjoy doing in the fall, winter, spring and summer. The home you want to buy now should make you happy for the fall, but what about warm weather? Will you be able to garden, swim, or entertain outdoors? The best time to buy a home with a pool is in the fall and winter. When you're comparing homes think about your wish list and which home comes closest to meeting your price, number of bedrooms, condition, space, features and the amenities of the neighborhood. Once you move in, you'll know you fell for the right choice.

5 Best Tips For Negotiating a New

Home Purchase

Buying a new home is exciting but can sometimes be overwhelming. Knowing how to effectively negotiate with the seller can go a long way towards increasing your confidence and reducing stress. Here are five tips for improving negotiations with home sellers. 1. Start with the right price There's a lot to consider when determining the purchase price to offer including the home's value now and the price of the home when the seller purchased it. You should also know comparable sales prices in the area. Your Realtor can help you determine all of these amounts. How long the house has been on the market, whether it's already been reduced in price, how quickly the seller needs to move and whether there are multiple offers on the house can all affect the price you offer. If a completed property inspection is available, review it before negotiating as this may also affect the price you offer. 2. Be on the same page You and your spouse need to be in complete agreement on the amount you're willing to pay for the home and any concessions you're willing to make before sitting at the negotiation table. If the seller observes any disagreement, he can use that to his advantage by thinking he has to convince just one of you rather than both. 3. Don't reveal too much Keep your reasons for wanting to purchase the house to yourself. The more the seller's agent knows about your motivation, the bigger the seller's advantage. The seller doesn't need to know that you need to purchase a home quickly or that you want your children enrolled in the neighborhood schools or that you're recently divorced or widowed. So don't reveal it. Nothing says you have to. 4. Don't get in over your head Don't waste time negotiating on a home you really can't afford. Keep your emotions under control and keep looking until you find something that's within your budget. You'll be glad you did. 5. Be Realistic Always be reasonable in what you offer the seller. Most sellers have a pretty good idea of their home's value. Offering a price that's way too low may irritate the seller. Once that happens a seller is usually less inclined to work with the buyer. Be fair and be realistic and you'll benefit more when it's time to negotiate

4 Emotional Mistakes Made By Home Sellers

By Michael Estrin • The greatest hindrance to the sale of a home can be a seller who is seized by emotion. "It is very important for sellers to (keep) in mind that a real estate transaction is most likely the single largest financial transaction they will ever undertake," says Fiona Dogan, a realtor in the Rye, N.Y., office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty. "It should be viewed and handled primarily as a business transaction, with cold, hard decisions being made on a financial and investment basis." Home sellers who allow emotions and sentimental attachments to overtake them during the sales process run the risk of making hasty, sometimes poor decisions, Dogan says. Here are some tips to help any home seller avoid making emotional mistakes that could cost money. Home-selling emotional error: Overpricing Getting top dollar is the dream of every home seller. But getting a buyer to pay a premium for features that are valuable only to you? That's closer to fantasy, according to Tracie Hamersley, senior vice president and associate broker at Citi Habitats in New York City. "Overpricing often occurs because of emotional reasons," Hamersley says. "So many sellers make the mistake of thinking that their home is special and that a special buyer will pay more because they also fell in love with the property." The truth is prices have nothing to do with the seller's emotional affinity for the property, and according to Hamersley, it's important sellers understand that as early as possible. Sellers who bought at the top of the market likely won't see that same price from today's buyers. "It's a different market," Hamersley explains. "If a seller bought their home during the market's peak, they may have to face the unappealing prospect of losing money on the sale in today's market. This is a difficult position for a seller to be in, but it's one that reflects today's reality." Home-seller error: Going to a showing There are a lot of legitimate reasons why a seller might want to be present for the home's showing. But having a seller there tends to sour the experience for most buyers, according to Renee Weinberg of Petrey Real Estate in Long Beach, N.Y. "Getting the seller out of the house is key," Weinberg says. "Whenever we take a listing, this is explained in advance." According to Karyn Anjali Glubis, a real estate broker and owner of The Real Estate Expert in Tampa, Fla., sellers are sensitive when buyers nitpick flaws. "Sellers think that every little thing is a complaint against how they may have maintained a property," Glubis says. The reality is that observations from buyers -- though sometimes harsh -- have nothing to do with the person selling the home. Having a seller present for an open house or the first (or even second) showing tends to stifle potential buyers from expressing opinions. After hearing negative feedback, some sellers reject offers for emotional reasons, Weinberg says. Sellers should use their agents to insulate them from the process, filter relevant information and only meet the buyers when there's a serious offer on the table. Home-seller errors: Rejecting early offers Sellers be warned: The longer a property sits on the market, the worse the offers are likely to get, says Nick Jabbour, a New York City real estate agent and vice president of Nest Seekers International. "Once a property is marketed, it will receive the most attention during the first two weeks," Jabbour says. "(The home is) new to the market, and any buyers that have been in the market for a home will see it come up. If it is priced right, an educated buyer, (who has) been in the market for a while (and) sees the home as a fit, will put a serious foot forward." Sometimes early bids run the risk of spooking sellers who worry they underpriced their properties. But Jabbour says you can tell the property was priced correctly when an early offer is near the asking price, as long as the asking price is in line with the market. "Waiting for a better offer is counterproductive and can result in a property languishing," Jabbour says. Home sellers, don't take offers personally When you're selling your home, it's easy to take everything personally. But doing so is a big mistake, according to Fiona Dogan, a realtor in the Rye, N.Y., office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty. "Sellers need to become emotionally detached very quickly from their homes," Dogan says. "By its very nature, a real estate transaction is aggressive and confrontational since the seller wants the highest price and the buyer wants the lowest." That negotiation almost always means a buyer will point out every flaw with the property. But while hearing that information may sting a little, it's really a good sign, according to Dogan, because it means the buyer is serious. "A seller needs to be ready to hear criticism of their lovely home and be able to deal with it as a negotiating tool and not take it as a personal affront and walk away from a potential sale for emotional reasons," Dogan says.

Buying a Home, Don’t Choose by Price Alone

With so much talk about falling prices and bargains for home buyers, most folks looking for a house are expecting to find a "real steal" when they go house hunting. And some no doubt will. But there's a reason why homes in some spots have fallen in price more than homes in other spots. I did some research on the Phoenix area lately and found wide discrepancies in how much home prices had fallen from one area to another. Some were only down about 25% while others were down 67%. I expect it's the same in other cities as well. So what makes the difference? Location The number of lender-owned homes The other people in the neighborhood Age and condition of the surrounding homes All of these factors affect home values. And unfortunately, even after this crisis is over, all but the number of lender-owned homes will still be a factor in the value of those homes. Location covers a lot of different issues, and the desirability of a given location varies from one home-buyer to another. But start with thinking about issues such the proximity to factories that belch out smoke or fill the air with noise around the clock. Nearby airports or rail lines are also a factor, because they mean noise. Homes in flood zones may be cheap - but the flood insurance won't be. Homes in communities dependent upon dying industries are usually at rock bottom prices, too - because people are moving away, not in. These are issues that can permanently depress prices, so a bargain home might not be a bargain at all. On a more personal level, buyers need to think about location in terms of their own lives. Saving several thousand dollars on the purchase price of a home is small comfort if they have to drive an additional 60 minutes to work each day. An over-supply of lender-owned homes in the neighborhood may be the one factor that is depressing prices only for the short-term. Their presence will devalue a home, but only until they're sold. So buyers who are in it for the long haul might do well to consider buying in a location such as that - provided that other factors make the home a good choice. The people in the neighborhood are an issue real estate agents aren't allowed to discuss. But it definitely does affect the value of homes. Even if you get a home for 25% of it's value in another location, you should avoid it if all around you are run-down houses, yards filled with trash, and people coming and going that make you uneasy. Owning a home in a neighborhood where you're afraid to go for a walk in the evening is not a wise choice, no matter how low the price. On a more personal level, and beyond the safety/fear factor, neighborhood make-up will affect your happiness in that home. If you're a young mom with small children, you will probably be happiest in a neighborhood with at least a few other young moms with kids. If you're a senior citizen, you might not enjoy a neighborhood filled with noisy children and teens - but on the other hand you might prefer it. And, even though agents cannot by law talk about the racial makeup of any neighborhood, you probably should take a look for yourself. Will you be happy if you turn out to be the only person in the whole neighborhood who is of a different race? Some would - others would not. The age and condition of the homes is also a factor to consider. Old homes can be charming, but only if they've been maintained. So take a careful look. Is the whole neighborhood on a decline, or are some residents working at fix-up? An old neighborhood on the upswing could be a very good investment. If others are making improvements and the home you find needs work, are you qualified and able to do that work? If you have to hire it all done, the house may not be a bargain at all. The bottom line - don't choose based on price alone. Make sure you're going to be happy with the location, and that you're buying in an area where prices can be expected to appreciate when the mortgage crisis is over.

10 Ways to Improve

Your Credit Score

If your credit score is “fair” or “poor”, don’t panic — there is plenty you can do to fix it. We know it can be stressful to learn you’ve got a poor or fair credit score. But the good news is there is plenty you can do about it. It almost always makes financial sense to postpone buying a home until you’ve got a score of at least 660. But don’t worry — many people can pull this off in as little as six months, and we’re going to show you how to do the same. 1. Carefully review your credit report. Almost 80% of credit reports contain at least one error. That means you may have mistakes on yours that are pulling down your score. So go through it line by line to ensure nothing funny’s going on. If it is, tell the credit bureau in writing what information you believe is inaccurate. (If you correct the error with one credit bureau, all three will get updated). • Include copies (not originals) of documents that support your position and enclose a copy of your credit report with the items in question circled. • Send your letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can document that the credit bureau received your correspondence. • Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures. 2. Reduce your credit card balances. High balances on multiple cards pull down your score. So a big priority is to pay them off, especially if you’re carrying monthly debt greater than a third of your gross monthly income (so, if you earn $6000 a month before taxes and you’ve got debt that exceeds $2,000 in any given month, your credit score is being pulled down). 3. But don’t cancel any of them. It’s probably tempting to cancel credit cards, especially if you’ve got a couple you never or rarely use. Don’t. Doing so will just make your credit- utilization ratio worse (which basically means the amount of debt you carry relative to available credit). For example, if you’ve got five credit cards with $1,000 credit limit on each, you’ve got $5,000 of available credit. If you’ve maxed out two of them (meaning, you’re carrying $2,000 in debt), you still are using less than half of your total available credit. But if you cancel a couple cards, suddenly you’ll be carrying $2,000 worth of debt out of, say, only $3,000 of available credit. And that reflects badly on your score. 4. And don’t get any new ones, either. Opening a lot of new accounts makes you look desperate for some quick cash, and can raise some alarms. The goal now is to become saintly about the credit cards you’ve already got. 5. ...Unless you don’t have any credit cards at all. But if you don’t have any credit cards, consider getting one or two. Having and using them responsibly can really build your score. 6. Pay all your bills on time — every time. Make sure you pay every single one of your bills on time, whether it’s a credit card or electricity bill. If you’re prone to forget, set up automatic withdrawals to make sure nothing gets forgotten. 7. But if you haven’t in the past, ask for forgiveness. If you’ve been a good customer, a lender might agree to simply erase one or two late payments from your credit history. You usually have to make the request in writing, and your chances for a "goodwill adjustment" improve the better your record with the company (and the better your credit in general). But it can’t hurt to ask. 8. Don’t buy anything big. Avoid buying any big-ticket items, like a new car or fancy appliances, that you might need to buy on credit, especially within six months of applying for a mortgage. 9. Don’t quit your job. Lenders like stability. If you’re the type to jump from job to job, or if you just started a new one (even if it’s a higher income than your last), you look like a higher risk than someone who has been consistently employed. 10. Pull together a bigger down payment. This is especially true for those with lower credit scores — the bigger your down payment, the better your interest rate. Borrowers who have at least 20% as a down payment are less likely to default than those with less available, so lenders reward them accordingly
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