Keys to Buying a Second Home

 

If you’ve been thinking about buying a second home, now is a good time to take the leap. Mortgage rates are still historically low.

 

But there are some vital things to do before you start shopping. Follow these steps to make buying a second home a smooth process:

 

The best way to start the search for a second home is to find a real estate agent who is familiar with your desired location. This person could provide you information about neighborhoods, market prices and the pros and cons of particular properties.

With an eye toward the long-term value of a property, the agent could fill you in on price histories and how comparable sales have fared, and resale prospects. Factors that tend to help properties hold or increase in value are proximity to a major metropolitan area, ease of access and the availability of year-round amenities.

 

Factor in additional costs. Today’s second-homebuyers are more interested in enjoying their properties rather than getting a quick return on their investment.

Still, you should consider that you will be away from the property a lot of the time, which usually entails additional costs, such as having a management company check the place in your absence for water leaks, frozen pipes and other problems.

Getting insurance for a second home may be more challenging than it is for a primary residence. If you are considering a second home on the beach, for example, you’ll need flood insurance in addition to regular home insurance. It has become more difficult to get flood insurance in coastal communities, and the cost has increased greatly in some markets.

Be sure you can afford two mortgages. You have to qualify for a second-home mortgage, which is on top of any mortgage debt on your primary home.

Typically, you will need to make a down payment of at least 10 percent, meet credit standards and debt-to-income requirements, and provide documents for income and asset verification.

If you have a good relationship with the mortgage lender on your primary residence, that might be a good place to start your quest for a second-home mortgage.

 

Take into account the tax implications of your purchase. If you use your home as a true second home, you could get a deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes, just as you do with your first-home mortgage.

Be aware that under the new federal tax law, the cap to the mortgage interest deduction will be lowered from $1 million to $750,000. So if you already have a $750,000 mortgage and get a loan for a vacation home, you won’t be able to deduct the interest on the second mortgage.

If you rent out your second home, you will have to consider additional tax ramifications, particularly if the rental period extends beyond 14 days a year.

 

 

By Poonkulali Thangavelu   2018  Bankrate.com


Posted on April 23, 2018 at 7:33 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Buyers |

Single Family Homes by Area – SOLD in March 2018

Source:  iTech MLS

   Location # Homes Average Average Average  Avg.  Days
 SOLD Square Ft. Price/SF    List   Price   On Market SP % LP
La Canada 17 2361 $ 772 $ 1,473,143 17 107.03%
Montrose 0
La Crescenta 13 1751 $ 552 $ 891,877 55 102.86%
Tujunga  12 1581 $ 413 $ 614,658 30 100.46%
Sunland  10 1466 $ 438 $ 607,110 28 99.73%

 


Posted on April 9, 2018 at 4:58 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Market Stats |

6 hacks to buying a home in a competitive market

 



 

 

 

 

 

Tips to purchasing a home in a tight housing market 

  • Get preapproved for a mortgage.
  • Identify where you can compromise.
  • Work with your agent.
  • Don’t make lowball offers; consider an escalator clause.
  • Avoid contingencies.
  • Write to the sellers or offer a large earnest money deposit.

 

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle,” reads the ancient Chinese tome, “The Art of War.” Indeed, buying a home in a tight market — when houses sell within weeks instead of months — can feel like combat. Avoid the battle and keep a cool head with these six strategies to make your strongest offer and close as quickly as possible.

 

1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Sellers in hot markets care about two things: money and speed. Pre-qualification gives buyers an idea of how much financing they can obtain and, because mortgage pre-approval is a conditional agreement to lend, it sends a powerful message to sellers that your financing is ready to go. It is wise to compare mortgage lenders in any situation, but in tight markets many sellers and listing agents will not even work with buyers who are not pre-approved. If you are having trouble getting pre-approved for the size loan you need, take the time to improve your credit score, pay off debts and save more money for the down payment. These actions will help you obtain better loan conditions.

2. Identify home needs and compromises

In competitive markets, expect to make a decision rapidly. Homes can literally sell the day they get listed on the market. Establish a clear idea of the home you are looking for early on to make the decision process easier. Which features of the neighborhood and home are absolute necessities, nice-to-haves and deal breakers? Agree on what can be compromised so you don’t waste time discussing when you should be making an offer. Moreover, don’t disregard properties that don’t look perfect in the listing. Photos and descriptions can vary widely from reality, and you don’t want to miss a great home that was presented poorly.

3. Work alongside your real estate agent

Getting a real estate agent to help you search for homes and present offers is typically a good idea, and not just because the seller usually pays their commission, giving you extra professional help at no cost. Good realtors understand the local market, so they know what’s available, what is coming available, and what will sell fast. In competitive markets, however, it is useful to scout properties yourself as well, instead of relying solely on the agent. Tour neighborhoods you’re interested in and search online listings to share with your agent.

4. Escalate, don’t bargain

If you’ve found a great home in a tight market, this is not the time for tough negotiations. In hot markets, lowball offers can be rejected outright with no further opportunity for discussion. Understand your maximum budget — including budgeting for closing costs— but don’t be determined to strictly adhere to a fair market value.  Houses often sell above asking price in hot markets, so expect to pay more. Instead, present your highest offer from the start or consider using an escalation clause, which increases your offer over other bids, usually by $1,000, until it reaches your set maximum. If a home has a pending offer with contingencies attached, consider making a back-up offer in case the other buyer’s contingencies nullify the deal.

5. Avoid contingencies

Contingencies provide important buyer protections, allowing buyers to back out if an inspection finds major problems or the appraisal values the house too low for the buyer’s financing. Reducing contingencies will make your offer far more appealing to the seller, however, because it gives them less responsibility and can shorten the purchase timeline. If you aren’t comfortable waiving a home inspection, consider a pre-inspection — which allows the seller to keep the home on the market while your inspection is pending — or offer to arrange the home inspection within a week of making the offer. Financing contingencies are another potentially time-consuming clause. Waiving this contingency is extremely risky because it commits you to purchasing the home in cash should your lender back out. Only remove a financing contingency if you have a concrete pre-approval and are completely confident in your mortgage and the appraised value of the home.

6. Tug at the seller’s heart or purse strings

Sellers in a tight market will likely receive multiple offers on their property. Set yours apart and demonstrate your seriousness with a personal letter and/or a large earnest money deposit. A letter sharing a sentimental narrative and passion for the home may sway a seller to accept your offer over a similar one, particularly if they have cherished memories of the home. Likewise, a large earnest money deposit can boost the chances of your offer being accepted because it indicates you are committed to buying the house and closing quickly. If you are able and willing, consider offering to split the cost of the Realtor commissions — or use a buyer’s agent who you are paying — to sweeten the deal.

 

Jasmine Whiting  –   Ask A Lender  September 2017

 


Posted on March 26, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Buyers |

4 Cost-Effective Ways to Raise Your Home’s Value

 

 

home's value

 

 

If you’re looking to raise the value of your home, especially for resale purposes, you’ve undoubtedly heard all sorts of ideas that will get the job done, many of which may be too expensive or too difficult for you to handle at the moment. Many require a large chunk of change, and while they may very well give you a return on your investment, you may not have this kind of money lying around.

 

 

 

 

Here are four budget-friendly ways to raise your home’s value and increase its future resale value at the same time:

Change Out Doors and Windows

Not only can your doors and windows be easily seen from the outside of your home, thus impacting curb appeal, but they also significantly impact your home’s interior. Consider energy-efficient windows that keep heating and cooling costs down and also fit the design of your home. For outside doors, try steel or fiberglass doors that keep energy costs low and improve home security.

Add Space

If possible, find a way to increase space in your home. This could be as easy as adding a patio or deck for outdoor entertaining or finishing off a basement. If you have the space and the funds, consider adding an additional room, which can be a huge boon for homebuyers who need an extra bedroom or bonus room.

Modernize Plumbing

Little leaks and plumbing issues can cost you a great deal on your home value, especially if you’re actively trying to sell your home. Hire a professional plumber to address your pipes and drains and to change out plumbing fixtures for a modernized appearance. If your water heater is getting old, consider purchasing a new one at the same time.

Use Paint Wisely

Paint can do a great deal to modernize a home and improve its value for a very low initial cost. Paint walls a neutral color, and spiff up kitchen and bathroom cabinets with a new color. Many older cabinets can be salvaged with a quick sanding, a coat of primer and a new color.

Not every renovation or remodel has to cost a great deal of money to be a wise investment. Instead, as you can see above, there are many small, easy changes that will still yield great results. If you truly want to raise your home’s value, consider changing part of the aesthetic of your home or modernizing your windows, doors or plumbing.

 

 

Dixie Somers  –  Mar 20 2018   RISMedia’s Housecall

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 7:05 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Home TIPS, Sellers |

Sell Faster in 2018: Design and Staging Tips

sell faster

Selling your home can often be stressful as you live life in limbo. Once the house is listed, you want to receive a good offer as quickly as possible. Here are tips for staging and upgrading your home for a faster sale in 2018:

Start With the Basics

Buyers are going to be turned off if they see a leaking roof or furnace on its last leg. It’s not going to matter how impressive your kitchen is if your home has major issues. While new siding isn’t glamorous, the improvement can return nearly 92.8 percent of your investment, according to Remodeling magazine. Window and roof replacements also return a high investment of around 80 percent.

 

Cleaning Your Home

Getting every nook and cranny clean is the cheapest way to increase appeal. Potential buyers need to picture themselves living in your home. Dirt, grime and disrepair can distract them from the highlights of your home. Make sure your home is spotless for each showing, vacuuming floors and double-checking surfaces for streaks before leaving.

Hiring a professional to deep-clean and get into the crevices may not be a bad idea. You won’t want dirty dishes or laundry sitting around, so make sure they are either done or taken with you during the showing.

 

Photo-Ready

Photogenic homes are more likely to excite buyers and get them placing bids faster. Here are a few ways to make your home photo-worthy:

  1. Dramatic Color Accents: Purple is a big color for 2018. Update your home with trending accents. Lavenders are projected to be a popular decorating color and Pantone announced Ultra Violet as the 2018 Color of the Year. Using jewel tones in your floral arrangements, including mixed metal decor and choosing the right faux fur throw can help modernize your house to appeal to buyers.
  2. Light and Bright: If at all possible, brighten your spaces with natural lighting from windows, unique light fixtures and bright walls. Brighter interior spaces are easier to photograph.
  3. Moody Interiors: If natural light isn’t readily available, dark charcoals and navy colors can exaggerate the furniture and room features; however, buyers can be easily scared off if they feel like they need to repaint the walls. While moody can be a big payoff for the right house, it can be a devastating choice for the wrong house.
  4. Two-Tone Cabinets: Finishing upper and lower cabinets differently can create an interesting dynamic in the kitchen. A HomeAdvisor survey says the national average cost of refinishing cabinets is $2,600. Bleached wood lower cabinets can be contrasted with a vibrant paint color on the cabinets above.

 

Clutter-Free

All clutter has to go. If you have to rent a storage space offsite to house your items until you move, then do it. Clear clutter from your closets, cupboards and garage, as well—buyers are going to be looking at the storage spaces in your home. If you really can’t move the clutter to another site, box it up and put it in the garage or attic until moving day. You want everything looking move-in ready and showing off what your home has to offer.

 

Staging the Home

Set up every room to show off how it can be used by the new buyer. Even though a spare bedroom might feel larger if it’s empty, adding a bed and dresser that fit the space can make it more inviting to a potential buyer. Photographs, memorabilia and themed rooms, like Disney princess or a favorite sports team, should be swapped out for decor that keeps a personal touch without feeling exclusive.

 

Curb Appeal

When potential buyers arrive at the home, what kind of first impression is your home presenting? Curb appeal is typically a low-cost upgrade that can lead to faster sales. Make sure the exterior is clean by power washing the siding, driveway and walkways. Keep the lawn mowed, bushes trimmed and trees pruned back from the house. Keep the gardens free of weeds, mulched and edged. Spruce up the entrance with potted flowers or cute furniture that makes the space feel inviting and inspiring. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint and hang house numbers that are visible from the street.

Selling your home can be a very stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be!  Follow these tips and up your chances of having solid offers come in quickly.

Althea M.  –  RISmedia’s Housecall   Mar 15 2018 

Posted on March 20, 2018 at 12:06 am
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Sellers |

Spring Maintenance Tasks for Your Rental Property

 

spring maintenance

 

 

In some locations across the country, March snowfalls are breaking records, so it’s strange to already be talking about spring. But the “spring forward” time change and the Spring equinox reminds us that the flowers will start blooming soon! This seasonal change means more than just fresh rain, new flowers and renewal. As a property owner, it’s also time to consider spring maintenance activities for your real estate investment.

 

 

 

Seasonal maintenance may be a chore, but routine inspections and proactive upkeep will keep your costs down and ensure that your rental property does not require preventable expensive repairs.

As the old adage goes, spring usually brings showers. You can prepare for this extra moisture by completing some of these simple tasks:

Roof inspection

Check out the interior walls and ceilings for signs of water stains, cracks and settling of foundation walls. During an exterior roof inspection, you should be looking for curled or missing shingles; rusted and pitted flashing; and cracked caulk around pipe collars, skylights and other roof penetrations. Last winter, many in the Northwest experienced ice dams due to the extended cold weather. This can cause significant damage to a home. It’s always a good idea to double-check for any lasting impacts from a rough winter season.

Eradicate moisture

Remind your tenants to check for mold that can build up in the winter from interior humidity. Heavy rains may cause small puddles or dampness in the basement or attic. It will soon begin to smell musty. You may need to install a dehumidifier to dry it out before mold develops.

Clean the gutters

A debris-clogged gutter can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home. Most people use a sturdy extension ladder and scoop out the gunk into a bucket. There are tools at home improvement stores that allow you to accomplish removal from the ground. If winter storms have left debris in the downspout gooseneck, force it out with a garden hose.

Clean recessed foundation vents

Just like gutters, vents can become catch-alls for leaves, twigs and assorted debris. Clean the vents by hand or with a shop vacuum.

Of course, there is always landscaping to do in springtime. Common tasks include lawn aeration, overseeding, fertilization and pruning of shrubs. Early spring is also a great time for pruning flowering trees and fruit trees since they will start budding soon. Despite our best efforts in the fall, there are usually some leftover leaves to finish cleaning up, as well.

Taking extra care of the exterior of your property as the seasons change can help prevent structural damage, save energy and keep the property’s systems running properly. While some maintenance tasks must be completed seasonally, don’t forget about your annual tasks, as well. Maintenance, cleaning, servicing and landscaping guarantees that your property remains in good shape and your investment is protected for the coming years.

 

Brentnie Daggett  –  RIS Medias Housecall   Mar 7 2018  

 


Posted on March 12, 2018 at 5:46 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Home TIPS, Sellers |

How To Attract More Buyers

 

 iStock-545350878-300x200.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

These tips will help you convince buyers your property offers top value for their dollar.

 Amp up curb appeal.

Look at your home objectively from the street. Check the condition of the landscaping, paint, roof, shutters, front door, knocker, windows, and house number. Observe how your window treatments look from the outside. Something special—such as big flowerpots or an antique bench—can help your property stand out after a long day of house hunting.

 

Enrich with color.

Paint is cheap, but it can make a big impression. The shade doesn’t have to be white or beige, but stay away from jarring pinks, oranges, and purples. Soft yellows and pale greens say “welcome,” lead the eye from room to room, and flatter skin tones. Tint ceilings in a lighter shade.

 

Upgrade the kitchen and bathrooms.

These are make-or-break rooms. Make sure they’re squeaky clean and clutter-free, and update the pulls, sinks, and faucets. In a kitchen, add one cool appliance, such as an espresso maker.

 

Add old-world patina to walls.

Crown molding that’s at least six to nine inches deep and proportional to the room’s size can add great detail on a budget. For ceilings nine feet high or higher, consider dentil detailing, which is comprised of small, tooth-shaped blocks in a repeating ornamentation.

 

Screen hardwood floors.

Refinishing is costly, messy, and time-consuming, so consider screening instead. This entails a light sanding — not a full stripping of color or polyurethane — then a coat of finish.

 

Clean out and organize closets.

Remove anything you don’t need or haven’t worn in a while. Closets should only be half-full so buyers can visualize fitting their stuff in.

 

Update window treatments.

Buyers want light and views, not dated, heavy drapes. To diffuse light and add privacy, consider energy-efficient shades and blinds.

 

Hire a home inspector.

Do a preemptive strike to find and fix problems before you sell your home. Then you can show receipts to buyers, demonstrating your detailed care for their future home.

 

NAR – REALTOR Magazine

 


Posted on February 26, 2018 at 10:04 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Sellers |

What to Know About Title Insurance

 

Title insurance protects your ownership right to your home, both from fraudulent claims against your ownership and from mistakes made in earlier sales, such as misspellings of a person’s name or an inaccurate description of the property. In some states it is customary for the seller to purchase the policy on your behalf.

 

 

 

 

Your mortgage lender will require it.

Title insurance protects the lender (and the secondary markets to which they sell loans) from defects in the title to your home—which could include mistakes made in the local property office, forged documents, and claims from unknown parties. It ensures the validity and enforceability of the mortgage document. The amount of the policy is equal to the amount of your mortgage at its inception. The fee is typically a one-time payment rolled into closing costs.

 

There are two different policies to consider purchasing.

The first policy, the one your lender will require, protects the lenders investment. You may also purchase an owner’s policy that provides coverage up to the purchase price of the home you are buying.

 

You have the right to choose your provider.

You can shop around for a lower insurance premium rate at a wide variety of sites online. You should first request quotes from a few companies and then reach out and speak to them. Ask about hidden fees and charges that could make one quote seem more attractive than another. Also, find out if you’re eligible for any discounts. Discounts are sometimes available if the home has been bought within only a few years since the last purchase as not as much work is required to check the title. You can also ask your lender or real estate professional for advice or help with getting quotes. Make sure the title insurance company you choose has a favorable Financial Stability Rating with Demotech Inc.

 

Even new construction needs coverage.

Even if your home is brand-new, the land isn’t. There may be claims to the land or liens that were placed during construction that could negatively impact your title.

 

 

NAR – REALTOR magazine


Posted on February 19, 2018 at 6:26 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Buyers, Buying and Selling |

How to Prepare for the Photo Shoot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the majority of buyers shopping for homes online, high-resolution slide shows and video tours are a must. Here’s how to make your home shine on camera.

Understand the camera’s perspective.

The camera’s eye is different from the human eye. It magnifies clutter and poor furniture arrangement so that even a home that feels comfortable in person can look jumbled online.

Make it spotless.

Cameras also tend to magnify grime. Don’t forget floor coverings and walls; a spot on a rug might be overlooked during a regular home showing, but it could become a focal point online.

Know what to leave.

You want to avoid clutter, but try to have three items of varying heights on each surface. On an end table you can place a tall lamp (high), a small plant (medium), and a book (low).

Snap practice pictures with your own camera.

This will give you an idea of what the home will look like on camera before the photographer shows up. Examine the photos and make changes to improve each room’s appearance, such as opening blinds to let in natural light, removing magnets from the refrigerator, or taking down distracting art.

Pare down.

Removing one or two pieces of furniture from each room, even if just for the shoot, can make your space appear larger on screen.

Rearrange.

Spotlight the flow of your space by creating a focal point on the furthest wall from the doorway and arranging the other pieces of furniture to make a triangle shape. The focal point may be a bed in a bedroom or a china cabinet in a dining room.

Accessorize.

Include a healthy plant in every room; the camera loves greenery. Energize bland decor by placing a bright vase on a mantle or draping an afghan over a couch.

Keep the home in shape.

Buyers who liked what they saw online expect to encounter the same home in person.

 

REALTOR magazine

 


Posted on February 12, 2018 at 7:11 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Sellers |

Checklist: For a Better Home Showing

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Remove clutter. Clear off counters and pack unnecessary decorative items. Put extra furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season items. Don’t forget to clean out the garage, too.

Let it shine. Cleaning windows and screens will help bring more light into your home. Replace burnt bulbs, and consider higher wattage in low-light areas. Clean the walls or brush on a fresh coat of bright, neutral paint. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones and show off your view.

Keep it clean. A deep clean before listing your home will make upkeep easier. Consider hiring a cleaning service to help.

Maximize comfort. In summer, shut A/C vents on the first floor so more air will get upstairs. Reverse the process in winter.

Perform a sniff test. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate odors. Open the windows to air out the house. Consider potpourri or scented candles and diffusers. For quick fixes in the kitchen, cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract or orange juice can instantly make the fridge a nicer-smelling place. Boil lemon juice in your microwave, then add it to your dishwasher to eliminate odors. You can also run lemon rinds through the garbage disposal for a similar effect.

Take care of minor repairs. Sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained.

Tidy up outdoors. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. A pot of bright flowers near the entryway adds great curb appeal.

Set the scene. A bright afghan or new accent pillows easily jazz up a dull room. Pretty dishes or a simple centerpiece on the tables can help buyers picture themselves living there. Try staging a chess game in progress. If you have a fireplace, lay fresh logs or a basket of flowers there.

Make the bath luxurious. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight, along with old towels and toothbrushes. Add a new shower curtain and fancy guest soaps.

Send the pets to the neighbors. If that’s not possible, crate or confine them to one room, and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.

Lock up valuables and medication. Agents can’t watch everyone all the time.

Head out. It can be awkward for everyone if you’re home at the time of a showing.

 

REALTOR magazine   Jan 2018

 


Posted on February 8, 2018 at 11:07 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Sellers |