sales

Winter Home Selling Tips

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You’ve heard the fearful warning cries of home sellers everywhere, “Don’t sell your house during the winter!” Believe us, so we have. But does the claim hold any real truth? Both the fall and winter have come to earn a bad rep on the real estate selling market, but the truth is these seasons aren’t the off-season that everyone paints them out to be. With a few tips and tricks from us, you’ll be fast on your way to getting your home out of your hands just in time for the New Year!

Sure, the numbers don’t lie. We’ll admit it; the winter season does indeed have fewer potential homebuyers. But numbers also suggest that there are fewer listings to choose from. Logically speaking, that can only mean that the few buyers who ARE out there have slim pickings. Suddenly, making sure that your property is the absolute best just became a lot easier.

Going against everything you’ve heard, we’re here to tell you that selling your home during winter isn’t impossible. In fact, some actually suggest that your home will sell faster AND for more money in the wintertime. Take Baltimore, for example, where 54% of homes placed on the real estate market in winter actually sold within a timespan of 6 months. However, compared to the summer and springtime, that number decreased to a range of 43% and 46%.

Still not convinced? Further studies have gone on to suggest that a home listed during the wintertime is 9% more likely to sell and at a quicker rate too! We know, we know, this may all come as a major shock to you, especially since it contradicts everything real estate professionals have said about selling during the holiday season. But before you jump on the market, it’s important to know how to take full advantage of the season, which is exactly what we’re here for!

If you’re in the business of selling your home during the season, make sure you keep some of the biggest winter home selling tips in mind to get the most out of your efforts. We’ll begin with the most obvious, make sure your home is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, this can mean making sure that your driveway is shoveled if you live in a snow-ridden area or even making sure that both your windows are clean, especially since these are a major source of cozy lighting during the winter time.

Finally, take advantage of the power of your winter listing and display the beauty of your home year-round to give potential homebuyers an idea of what they’ll be investing in, regardless of the season. Also, make sure that your home gives of a cozy and warm vibe. Make use of that fireplace you’ve barely touched and open up the curtains to let some natural light leak in. Don’t forget to even take advantage of the holiday season, but remember not to go overboard with your decorating.

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Image Source: Veterans United

Tourism and Real Estate: How They Benefit Each Other

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Real estate trends usually revolve around a number of different factors, which can prove to be major influence. Tourism has proven time and time again to be one of those contributors. Miami is no stranger to record-high tourism, which easily explains the constant renovation and reconstruction of Dade County. In 2013 alone, Miami tourism continued its streak of record-breaking numbers with a whopping 14.2 million visitors overnight, most of which were classified as luxury visitors.

The tourism-real estate trend isn’t just limited to the South Florida area, however. When looking on a national scale, other areas are reaping the benefits, as well. Nashville, for example, has seen a massive increase in the commercial real estate industry all thanks to the booming tourism numbers. Nashville, Tennessee was named one of the top travel destinations of 2014. As a result, new developments are constantly springing up in the area that range from retail to restaurant to a new music center which contributed millions to the economy during its first year.

Miami not only boasts massive tourism numbers, but immigration numbers to boot. Just last month, the World Cup influenced a major influx of Hispanic visitors to show off their pride in one of the nations top Hispanic travel destinations. As a result, the Hispanic population has ultimately witnessed an increase after events like the World Cup all due to the tourism experience. This eventually segues into a much larger growth in real estate; it also affects the overall cultural experience of South Florida. Commercial and residential real estate growth becomes evident when you take a look around and take notice of all the reconstruction, sky-high construction cranes, and growth in business. All the signs point to the fact that the effects of tourism are positively influencing real estate.

Tourism and Real Estate

Winning a Real Estate Bidding War

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The low supply of homes for sale in many markets means buyers must be prepared for bidding wars. Buyers should be strategic in how they present their offers, and avoid paying too high a premium for their “perfect” property.

Obtaining written confirmation of preapproval for a mortgage is a must, real estate agents say. Sellers looking over multiple offers will likely discard those on which financing is not assured.

In highly competitive markets like New York City, where bidding wars are now the norm, buyers should look in a price range slightly below their maximum in case they have to bid up, said Gea Elika, the principal broker at Elika Associates in Manhattan. “Today, you usually have to overpay to get something that you like,” he said. “The question is: How much do you overpay and how quickly will you recoup that premium?”

Making that calculation can be difficult, but at the very least, Mr. Elika advises buyers not to overpay by much if they plan to stay in a property for only a few years. He usually strikes a verbal agreement with the seller’s broker that his clients will be given a chance to counter in the event of a competing offer. But buyers in many markets are formally inserting that option into their offers in the form of what is known as an escalation clause, said Don Frommeyer, the president of the NAMB, the Association of Mortgage Professionals (formerly the National Association of Mortgage Brokers).

Read more about real estate bidding here.

Sales of Existing Homes Jumped Nearly 5% in May

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WASHINGTON — Sales of previously owned homes in the United States rose more than expected in May, and the stock of properties for sale was the highest in more than 18 months, suggesting that housing was pulling out of a recent slump.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday that existing-home sales increased 4.9 percent last month to an annual rate of 4.89 million units. It was the largest rise since August 2011.

Economists had forecast that sales would rise 2.2 percent, for 4.73 million units annually.

The housing recovery stalled in the second half of 2013 as interest rates increased and prices rose while the supply of properties for sale dwindled.

Despite the second consecutive months of gains, sales were down 5 percent compared with May 2013. They remain down 9 percent from a peak of 5.38 million units, hit in July.

Read more about May’s sales here.

First-Time Homebuyer Program – Miami

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If you are looking for assistance in obtaining financing as a first-time homebuyer and you qualify under CDBG, HOME, SHIP or Surtax income guidelines, you may benefit thanks to the loan program between the Miami-Dade County Public Housing and Community Development and local home mortgage lenders.

 

Homebuyers in Miami-Dade County now have a chance to own a home of their own at below-market mortgage rates. If you’re a homebuyer looking for a manageable mortgage, this new program may make it possible for you to buy the home you want right now.

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Public Housing and Community Development will work with you and local mortgage lenders to provide a low-interest second and/or a third mortgage using the appropriate source of funds to bring your out of pocket costs to an affordable level.

 

Public Housing and Community Development invites low- and moderate-income persons who are first-time homebuyers to apply for a mortgage loan subsidy through the County’s loan program. Program participation is limited to one time only per family. A maximum 30-year fixed-interest mortgage is available for persons who qualify. You will also be required to obtain a first mortgage from an approved participating lender.

Real Estate Prices Rise Again in Miami

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Miami is still proving to be one of the hottest property markets in the United States, as median sale prices were up for condominiums and single-family homes in March. The market is continuing to be popular with overseas buyers and investors.

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Last month the median sales price for single-family homes rose by 4.4%, up from $225,000 in March last year to $235,000 for March 2014. Prices have now risen for 28 consecutive months, according to figures from the Miami Association of Realtors. The average sales price for a single-family home rose by 17.8%, increasing from $389,847 in March last year, to $459,102 for March 2014. The article in Propertywire points out that Miami is still attracting worldwide investors, and demand continues to be strong this year. However inventory levels are rising, creating a more balanced market.

To read more, click here.

A-Rod makes a profit on Miami Beach condo

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With his baseball career on ice, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is making a little money in the real estate market. The embattled player is suspended for the season because of doping allegations, but he managed to make a tidy profit on his Miami Beach luxury condo when he sold it this month for $2.575 million.

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He bought the home for $2.1 million just last June. He initially listed it in November for $3.2 million, but dropped the price in January to $2.99 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, A-Rod decided he wanted something bigger on the beach.

The three-bedroom condo offers wraparound balconies with views of the ocean and Miami Bay in a luxury building with white modern decor by Briggs Edward Solomon.

This isn’t the first time Rodriguez has quickly changed his mind about fancy Miami real estate. In 2012, he listed his 20,000-square-foot North Bay Road home soon after finishing its construction.

The property was listed by Rodriguez’s sister, Arlene Dunand of One Sotheby’s International Realty.

Tips for Mortgage Borrowers in 2014

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These 10 mortgage tips can help you with your mortgage decisions in 2014.

1.Document your finances: Lenders will be extra diligent when underwriting home loans in 2014, as new mortgage regulations go into effect in January. The rules put pressure on lenders to verify that borrowers have the ability to repay their loans.

2.Lock a rate as soon as you can: Rates will likely climb in 2014 as the Federal Reserve is expected to reduce the pace of the economic stimulus program that has long helped keep rates low.

3.Refinance now — if you still can: Many homeowners lost the opportunity to refinance at a lower rate when rates jumped in 2013. But those who are still paying more than 5 percent interest on their home loans might still have an opportunity.

4.Buyers, use your bargaining power: As mortgage rates climbed, lenders lost a big chunk of their refinance business. In 2014, they will turn their attention to homebuyers and will fiercely compete for their business. Buyers should take advantage of bargaining power they gain with that increased competition.

5.Learn your rights as a borrower: Mortgage borrowers will get many new rights as consumers this year when new mortgage rules created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau go into effect in 2014.

6.Take good care of your credit: It’s nearly impossible to get a mortgage without decent credit these days. That will continue to be the case in 2014. If you are planning to get a mortgage, monitor your credit history and score until your loan closes. The best mortgage rates usually go to borrowers with credit scores of 720 or higher. You may still get a mortgage with a score of 680, but lower scores will mean higher rates or higher closing costs.

7.Don’t overspend: Lenders don’t want to give out loans to borrowers who will have little money left each month after they pay their mortgages and other debt obligations such as credit cards and student loans.

8.Consider alternative mortgage options such as ARMs: A homeowner planning to keep a house for seven to 10 years could take advantage of lower mortgage rates by choosing a seven- or 10-year ARM instead of the 30-year traditional fixed-rate mortgage. Rates on adjustable-rate mortgages can be as much as one percentage point lower than on fixed-rate loans.

9.Considering an FHA loan? Reconsider: Mortgage insurance premiums on FHA loans are likely to continue to rise in 2014, and after recent changes, the borrower is now required to pay for mortgage insurance for the life of the loan. Try to qualify for a conventional loan before you apply for an FHA mortgage.

10.Don’t panic:Yes, mortgage rates will likely climb in 2014. But don’t panic, thinking you have to buy a home now to grab a low rate. If you are shopping for a home, do your best to move quickly, but remember that this is one of the biggest financial decisions of your life. Get your mortgage and buy your home when you feel ready.

New Mortgage Rules for Homebuyers: What Does It Mean?

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Home For Sale Real Estate Sign in Front of Beautiful New House.

As the housing market heats up again following the slowdown of the past few years, many consumers will try to buy a home for the first time or upgrade a home with a mortgage that had previously been underwater. If you fall into either group, you should know that a new set of rules passed as part of the Dodd-Frank Act – enacted in response to the financial crisis of the late 2000s – will go into effect Jan. 10, 2014. The rules will require lenders of qualified mortgages to conduct more thorough analyses of mortgage applicants’ financial information to ensure applicants can afford to repay the loan.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, under the Ability-to-Repay rule, the lender generally must consider eight factors. These include your current income or assets, current employment status, credit history, the monthly payment for the mortgage and your monthly debt payments compared to your monthly pre-tax income, which is your debt-to-income ratio.

Under the new rules, you’ll generally need a debt-to-income ratio of less than 43 percent to obtain a qualified mortgage that’s underwritten based on standards considered safe for consumers. Federal rules state that the term of the loan cannot exceed 30 years, and the points and fees paid by the borrower cannot exceed 3 percent of the total loan. Under the new rules, qualified mortgages also cannot have risky features such as an interest-only period, when the borrower pays only interest without paying down the principal.

Setting A Holiday Budget

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If you haven’t started saving yet for Christmas, it might be a bit challenging.  But it can definitely be done — you don’t need to rely on credit to have a good season. When you save a little each month all year, the Christmas season becomes something worth anticipating.

Create Your Lists and Check Them Twice
Before any dollar amounts are discussed, create a set of lists to outline your holiday priorities. What starts as a simple list of each holiday your family celebrates will eventually turn into a detailed list of the specific items you’ll need to buy for each meal and which gifts will be purchased for each person. Be thorough in yo ur list-making by including who you’ll give gifts to, any potential travel, hosting requirements, grocery lists, any necessary home improvements, décor, and miscellaneous expenses that will inevitably creep in such as postage and increased electric bills if you’ll be turning on any decorative lights. Also, don’t forget about year-end charitable giving donations as those will also impact your budget.

Count Your Pennies or better yet, track them. Remember that a budget is a fluid entity, so be diligent in your efforts to track where your money is going. Not only will you be able to identify potential overages before they happen, but you’ll also have this information as a reference point for setting next year’s budget. A bit of planning and organized action now will lead to less stressful, debt-free holidays in the future