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The Best Is Yet to Come for Homebuyers

It’s a seller’s market out there, and for homebuyers, the struggle this spring is real: few affordable options, and price growth that just won’t quit.

Another issue’s working against them, too: timing.

According to a recent analysis by Zillow, the best time for buyers isn’t spring, but summer—the end of summer, that is. Why? There’s more supply as the season winds down, specifically in August, and sellers who weren’t so lucky earlier on become anxious to unload, cutting prices before the weather changes and the school year starts.

In the analysis, August had more listings than any other month (8,000 more in L.A., for instance), and saw the highest share of listings with lowered prices. Comparing reductions over the spring and summer months:

Zillow_Buy_Reductions

“In such a competitive housing market, it’s easy for buyers to get frustrated when they are putting in multiple offers without success,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Buyers who start their home search in the spring may still be looking months later—but for those who can wait it out, the end of summer will bring more favorable conditions. Homes that may have been overpriced earlier in the year are more likely to have a price reduction, and those listings passed over in earlier months may look better with a fresh perspective.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

The No. 1 Obstacle for Would-Be Homeowners

For all the hurdles to homeownership, one obstacle is stubbornly more insurmountable than the rest: the down payment.

Renters are having trouble stacking up the savings to place a down payment on a home, according to the recently released Zillow® Housing Aspirations Report (ZHAR). Seventy percent of renters surveyed in the report say the down payment is more of a hindrance than debt (cited by 50 percent of those surveyed), job security (38.5 percent) and qualifying for a mortgage (53.2 percent)—though those aspects are barriers, as well. Low supply was a roadblock for just 11.2 percent of those surveyed.

“With home values close to record highs, it’s no surprise renters are concerned about coming up with enough money to buy a home,” says Dr. Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow. “Rising rents are also a factor—it’s extremely difficult to save when you’re paying record-high rents.”

The irony? The difficulty of coming up with a down payment is keeping most renters from saving money as a homeowner. In 33 of the 35 major metropolitan areas, a monthly mortgage is less expensive than monthly rent.

Though renters have low down payment options, the long-term savings gained with 20 percent down—a general standard—often outweigh those earned upfront.

“While it is possible to put down as little as 3 percent on a home, the trade-off is a higher interest rate and costly private mortgage insurance—a financial trade-off that may make sense for some buyers,” Gudell says.

Renters, still, have not lost sight of their homeownership goals. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed are “confident” in their ability to afford a home “someday;” 25 percent have a more definitive timeline, planning to buy a home in the next three to five years. Twenty-two percent of millennial renters, markedly, plan to buy a home in the next one to two years. Only 2 percent of millennial renters plan on never buying a home.

Importantly, 66 percent of those surveyed equate owning a home with the American Dream.

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

5 Things to Check Before Moving In

Buying a new house is an exciting process that marks a new chapter in life. For many people, it’s fun to shop around and tour different properties. When you’re serious about purchasing a home, there are a few important parts of the property to check before you move in.

The Neighborhood
You should feel comfortable with the quality of the neighborhood, which will influence the value of your home. Look at the condition of the other homes and check to see if people are loitering at different times of the day. The house should also be in proximity to your job, or nearby schools if you have children. Some individuals who don’t have a family may want to purchase a home in a good school district due to the impact that it’ll have on the value of the property.

Storage Space
The storage space that is available in the home influences how much clutter will be left out in the open. Look for plenty of storage space that is available in the bedroom closets or in the kitchen to ensure that you can comfortably fit everything that you own without feeling cramped.

Plumbing System
Run the faucets to inspect the water pressure and ask the owners if the pipes are insulated. Hire professionals to check if the radiators are working and if the hot water tank needs to be replaced soon.

The Roof
The roof is one of the more costly features of the home and protects the interior setting from damage due to environmental elements. Hire a professional roofer to determine the lifespan of the roofing material and if it needs any repairs. The tiles or shingles should be secure on the roof deck, and there shouldn’t be any leaks present.

Sufficient Drainage
Many buyers make the mistake of overlooking the drainage on the property, but it can cause issues if not in good shape. Insufficient drainage can lead to severe structural problems in the home.

Although it can be easy to fall in love with a house, there are several areas to check before making an offer to ensure that you won’t run into problems down the road. By taking the time to inspect each part of the property, you can have peace of mind knowing you’re making a good investment.

By Kara Masterson

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Navigating the Home-Buying Process: 5 Tips

Buying a home for the first time can be complex and daunting, especially in a competitive housing market. A new book, “My First Home: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving the Ultimate American Dream,” aims to help first-time buyers navigate the process.

Below are five tips from author Shashank Shekhar, a blogger, media source and radio and television personality:

1. Move Quickly
In this kind of market, if you see a home you like, you’d better be prepared to jump on it. Don’t hem and haw—make the offer.

2. Understand the Seller’s Needs
The best deal is not always the most money. The seller might be in escrow on their new home. They need their current residence—the one you’re wanting to buy—to close before they can move, so you need to move from contract to closing quickly. Sometimes, it could be the opposite: The seller wants to stay in the home longer than the typical 30-45 days for closing. In that case, offering rent back to the seller might be a clincher.

It’s your real estate agent’s job to find out the real motivations and needs of the seller and craft your offer accordingly. Sometimes it’s obvious; other times, it’s not.

3. Get Your Loan Officer to Call the Listing Agent
When you make an offer, the loan officer should explain to the listing agent that you are well qualified and that the transaction will close on time. Sellers and listing agents feel more comfortable working with loan officers who are proactive in their communication. They also feel more assured that the loan won’t fall through.

4. Be Aggressive on the Terms and/or Price
In most cases, you need to be ready to be aggressive with terms like quick closing, no appraisal/loan/inspection contingencies, etc. Be sure to discuss these with your loan officer and real estate agent. You need to be qualified to take such risks with your earnest money deposit—or else, don’t do it!

5. Hire a Real Estate Agent
Work with a real estate agent that understands the market. Agents who truly understand market dynamics and are well connected can get their clients’ offers accepted even when it’s not the highest. Work with people actively closing real estate transactions—your nephew’s girlfriend is only a good option if she’s legitimately qualified.

Source: Shashank Shekhar, Arcus Lending

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Getting Ready to Rent? Buying Might be a Smarter Choice

Between down payments and closing costs, buying a home is a big financial commitment that may seem out of reach for those who ultimately choose to rent instead. However, in today’s market environment of rising rents, the difference in cost between renting and owning is actually narrowing, making this a favorable time to buy a home in most U.S. cities.

According to the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index, 15 of the 23 cities covered are solidly in buy territory, while another five are only marginally in rent territory.

Want to know if buying is a better than renting for you? Ask yourself the following questions:

How stable is my employment situation? Lenders will take the length of time you’ve spent at your current job into consideration, so if you’ve jumped around a lot or just started a new position, that may work against you.

Are you ready to settle down for awhile? Buying a home is an excellent long-term investment, not usually a quick flip. So if you’re still testing out different cities or interested in seeing the world, renting may be a better option.

What shape is your credit in? Your credit score weighs heavily in securing a favorable mortgage loan. If yours is not in the best shape, it may be better to rent while you work at building a better credit profile.

What’s your true financial picture? While your salary may seem more than sufficient to make your projected mortgage payments, keep in mind that homeownership involves many different costs, from property taxes to repairs. So run the numbers carefully before deciding to buy.

The best way to decide whether to rent or buy is to consult a real estate professional in your area. If you’d like more real estate information, please contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

10 Easy Home Improvements to Make on Your Fixer Upper

There is something awesome about buying a fixer upper and doing the renovations yourself. Some people fix them up a bit at a time, using cash as they have it available. If you want to make a big impact by doing small things, here are 10 things you need to include.

Paint cans ready to be used on white background

1. Change Out the Lighting
Nothing says outdated like an old-fashioned gold chandelier. Lighting is something that can be updated easily and won’t cost a bunch of money. It is one of the smallest things you can do that will have the biggest impact.

2. Paint
There is an old saying: “If a barn needs to be painted, slap some paint on it.” You will be amazed at what some paint can do to your home. A new hue can cover imperfections and give the room the blast of color it needs. Forget drab, white walls that are lackluster. Give your home a color makeover.

3. New Fixtures
Just like the lighting, the fixtures in the home become outdated quickly. Start with the kitchen faucet and then move on to the bathroom. You can update and upgrade a fixer upper by just adding these small touches.

4. Paint Cabinets/Add New Hardware

If you have new cabinets in the budget, then you should go for it. However, if your budget is limited, then you may want to try to paint them. Painting old cabinets and installing new hardware will give the kitchen a facelift. If the cabinets are old but sturdy, then you can bring them back to life. Painting is inexpensive and has a huge impact.

5. Rip Out Old Carpeting
Carpet is great when it is new; however, when it is old and dingy, it can really have a negative impact on a space. Hardwoods are the best option, followed by laminate floors. However, if you are stretched for money, you may try a bag floor or a penny style one. There are creative options online that allow you to do great things with your floors for less.

6. Add Curb Appeal
The curb appeal of the home is everything. It does not matter how great the inside looks if the outside is in shambles. Clean up any dead plants and add some new ones. Be sure to pick flowers and shrubs that bloom at different times. This will allow you to have color year-round. Add some shutters and a fresh coat of paint to the porch. Use decorative numbers to display the address. Finally, replace the mailbox if necessary.

7. Repaint Ceilings
Ceilings are often overlooked. They are usually white and the color is reserved for the walls. However, people do not realize how dirty these ceilings can be. A fresh coat of paint on the ceiling can really enhance the whole room. The walls are not the only thing that needs to be painted.

8. Upgrade the Exterior Façade
The biggest impact you can have on the outside of a home is to replace or paint siding. If you have it in the budget, you can add brick and stone accents. Most fixer upper homes have chipping paint and worn out siding. Splurge for some nice siding or paint a great color to update the home’s look.

9. Replace the Windows
New windows are expensive, but they are important. If you have old windows in your home, you need to spend the money to upgrade them. Windows are great for keeping the elements at bay. You will save yourself money in the long run by sealing offdrafty openings.

10. Update the Heating and Cooling Unit
To help the process of heating and cooling a home, you need to make sure the home has an updated HVAC unit. The air filters are just as important as the unit. Filters with a rating of Merv 11 have “astro pleating” to help ensure no dirt or dust gets into your system. Extend the livelihood of your unit by selecting quality air filters.

By Cary Teller

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Know Your Real Estate: 5 Researching Tips for Homebuyers

Being a first-time homebuyer can be an intimidating prospect; it seems like there’s so much to learn! The process doesn’t get less challenging the second or third time around. Here are five tips to help you research and prepare for your next home-buying experience.

Location, Location, Location
It’s a cliché but it’s true: location really is the most important part of the real estate equation. However, the right location isn’t the same for everyone. Take your family’s priorities into account and know where you would buy a home and where you would not. Try to be flexible; if you’re longing for a place with a yard, then a balcony might not cut it—however, a roof deck might! Always look for the exception to the rule. It’s also a good idea to compare home prices around the home that you’re considering. This will help you figure out if your house is a good deal and in line with the market expectations.

Find Your Financing
Finding the perfect house can take years, but once you find it things will move quickly. Most real estate markets are fast-moving and a great house at a great price can easily go on the market in the morning and be under contract by the evening. When you find that house, you have to be ready to jump on it. This means that you should have your financing figured out before you make an offer. Ask friends, family, any law or finance professionals your family uses, or your REALTOR® for a recommendation for a mortgage company. Be sure to get quotes from several different firms so you have a general idea of what your rate really should be.

Understand the Vocabulary

You should educate yourself about some of the jargon that comes with the real estate territory; otherwise, you might find yourself completely out of your league when discussing purchasing terms.

Check Out the Neighborhood
If you’re looking for homes outside of the neighborhood you live in, the best way to get a feel for it is to go and spend the day there. Find a few open houses you’re interested in and go make a day of it. Have lunch, stroll the streets, check out the parks and schools, and find out what kind of people live there. These are the things that give a neighborhood its flavor, and things that you can’t know until you go there and see for yourself.

Choose an Agent
A real estate agent can make or break your home-buying experience. If you don’t have an agent you already know and like, ask for recommendations and check local ratings sites. This can be a very personal relationship, so if you find an agent you believe in, hang on to them!

Buying a home is an exciting and stressful process, but with these tips, you’ll have a great experience researching, shopping for and purchasing your next home.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

When it Comes to Homeownership Decisions, Pets Rule

A lot goes into the decision to buy, sell or remodel a home. After all, this is one of the most significant investments of your lifetime, so there are a lot of factors to be weighed and considered…including how happy your pet will be.

Yes, you read that right. In fact, 81 percent of respondents to a recent report from the National Association of REALTORS (NAR), reported that animal-related considerations play a role in determining their next living situations. In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either have a pet or plan to get one in the future, so it stands to reason that our animal companions will play a significant role in our housing decisions for the foreseeable future.

According to NAR’s 2017 Animal House: Remodeling Impact report, 99 percent of pet owners said they consider their animal part of the family, and 89 percent of those surveyed said they would not give up their animal because of housing restrictions or limitations. In fact, 12 percent of pet owners have actually moved in order to accommodate their furry, finned or feathered family member, and 19 percent said they would consider moving to accommodate their animal in the future.

No one knows the relationship between homeowners and their animal friends better than REALTORS. Those surveyed for the report said that one-third of their pet-owning clients often or very often will refuse to make an offer on a home because it is not ideal for their pet.

Other interesting statistics from the report include:

– 67 percent of REALTORS say animals have a moderate to major effect on selling a home. If you’re selling your home, make sure you’ve cleaned or replaced any areas affected by pet damage or odors.
– 52 percent of respondents said they had completed a home renovation project specifically to accommodate their pet, such as fencing in their yards, adding a doggie door or installing a pet-friendly laminate flooring.
– 80 percent of REALTORS consider themselves animal lovers, so you’ll have lots of support in accommodating your pet’s housing needs when buying!

Source: National Association of REALTORS

Published with permission from RISMedia.

Snow Emergency Numbers & Red Cross Links

With a winter storm approaching our region late tonight into tomorrow — a Blizzard Warning is in effect from late Monday night through late Tuesday night, with heaviest snow expected Tuesday morning/afternoon. Accumulations of 2-4” per hour are likely with total accumulation expected to be from 12-18.” Wind speeds will be 20-30 mph with gusts of 35-50 mph. During the storm, it is expected that travel will be almost impossible (and not recommended) and it’s likely most businesses and schools will be closed.

 

Below you will find emergency phone numbers and Red Cross safety information.

 

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SNOW EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBERS

 

Emergencies: Dial 911

 

To report power outages or downed power lines:

• PSEG 24 hour hotline(800) 490-0075

 

To report gas outages or gas safety emergencies:

• National Grid 24 hour hotline(800) 490-0045

 

Information on mass transit service:

• MTA/LIRR/NYC Transit: www.mta.info

• LIRR 24 hour travel information center: 718-217-5477

• NICE Bus travel information: 516-228-4000

• NYC Transit travel information: 718-330-1234

 

Up to the minute information about traffic conditions on Long Island’s major roads:

• NYS Department of Transportation’s 511 service: www.511ny.org or call 511.

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Local Numbers:

5 Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

(TNS)—You’ve decided to go for it. You know mortgage rates are enticingly low.

Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for first-time homebuyers. It’s difficult to know exactly what to expect.

Take these five steps to make the process go more smoothly.

Check Your Credit
Your credit score is among the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.

“In addition, the standards are higher in terms of what score you need and how it affects the cost of the loan,” says Mike Winesburg, formerly a mortgage planner in Wheeling, W. Va.

Scour your credit reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts.
Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn’t mean your credit is stellar. The amount of credit you’re using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score.

The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.

Repairing damaged credit takes time. If you think your credit may need work, begin the repair process at least six months before shopping for a home.

Evaluate Assets and Liabilities
A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of money they owe and money they have coming in.

“If I were a first-time homebuyer and I wanted to do everything right, I would probably try to track my spending for a couple of months to see where my money was going,” Winesburg says.

Additionally, buyers should have an idea of how lenders will view their income, and that requires becoming familiar with the basics of mortgage lending.

For instance, some professionals, such as the self-employed or straight-commission salesperson, may have a more difficult time getting a loan than others.

The self-employed or independent contractor will need a solid two years’ earnings history to show, according to Winesburg.

Organize Documents
When applying for mortgages, you must document income and taxes.

Typically, mortgage lenders will request two recent pay stubs, the previous two years’ W-2s, tax returns and the past two months of bank statements—every page, even the blank ones.

“Why it has to be every single last page, I don’t know. But that is what they want to see. I think they look for nonsufficient funds or odd money in or out,” says Floyd Walters, owner of a mortgage company in La Canada Flintridge, Calif.

Qualify Yourself
Ideally, you already know how much you can afford to spend before the mortgage lender tells you how much you qualify for.

By calculating debt-to-income ratio and factoring in a down payment, you will have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly.

Though there’s not a fixed debt-to-income ratio that lenders require, the standard dictates that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income be devoted to housing costs. This percentage is called the front-end ratio.

The back-end ratio shows what portion of income covers all monthly debt obligations. Lenders prefer the back-end ratio to be 36 percent or less, but some borrowers get approved with back-end ratios of 45 percent or higher.

Figure Out Your Down Payment
It takes effort to scrape together the down payment.

There are programs that can assist buyers with qualifying incomes and situations.

“I’ve helped arrange assistance loans for $10,000, which are interest- and payment-free, and forgivable after five years. Although considered a loan, they’re more like grants. Other programs can provide up to $40,000 interest-free,” Winesburg says.

Finally, speak with mortgage lenders when you’re starting the process. Check with friends, co-workers and neighbors to find out which lenders they enjoyed working with and ask them questions about the process and what other steps first-time homebuyers should take.

©2017 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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