Housing Market

5 Qualities to Look for in a Realtor

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New Home

Realtor Showing Hispanic Couple Around New HomeThe process of buying a house is not as simple as searching through the real estate listings, contacting the seller, and putting your money on the table. In fact, there is a lot more to the whole process, which will be challenging if you lack the help of a professional realtor. From submitting an offer to attending open house tours, the stages of buying a home should not be rushed.

When investing in a home with a helping hand from a broker, a realtor will keep a percentage of the final sale price. After all, he or she must make money in some way or another! This commission will be well deserved if the realtor is good at what they do. Feel confident when choosing a realtor by assessing their qualities.

If he or she boasts the following attributes, you are onto a winner:

  1. Great Communication Skills – The way in which a realtor communicates with his or her clientele will have a direct effect on the realtor’s success in the property industry. The real estate agent must know what you, the buyer, is searching for specifically. From the location to the budget and the interior/exterior design, a realtor will be a good listener. Furthermore, they will keep the client(s) up-to-date with the latest information regarding best offers and real estate market trends.
  2. Full Time Real Estate Agent – Understanding the local housing market is absolutely essential for a realtor to perform their job properly, make a commission, and satisfy the buyer. The most successful real estate agents will be self-motivated and have the ability to hustle in a fast-paced environment. With the local housing market changing on a daily basis, it is crucial that the realtor is able to solve problems with tenacity and attention to deal. Hiring a full time realtor allows the buyer to communicate with the agent whenever need be. Hiring a part-time realtor can potentially cause communication and scheduling issues.
  3. Knowledge of Current Real Estate Market – Not only will a good real estate agent have knowledge of the property but also, the area. From the future developments that are expected to take place in the future to the conveniences, schools, and transport in the local area, a realtor must do their homework.
  4. Honesty and Integrity – Never buy a home with the help of a realtor who does not possess these critical qualities. An honest realtor will have your best interests in mind and not just have the commission in mind. Trustworthiness is absolutely essential and in order to get a true understanding of a realtor’s integrity.
  5. Negotiation Skills – Dealing with tricky situations is all part of a realtor’s job. Focus on how well the real estate agent is able to build rapport when you meet with them for the first time. Can they solve problems and eliminate misunderstandings before they arise? Ask yourself these questions to ensure you choose a realtor who can negotiate the best deal on your dream home.

Experience is absolutely paramount for a real estate agent to help you find your ideal home for the best price. In addition to their level of experience, it is crucial that you find out how many years the realtor has worked in the industry. Preferably, he or she will have gained the title of professional realtor at least five years ago. A realtor who has a lot of contacts in the industry is someone worth teaming up with for a house hunt.

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Add A Personal Touch When Submitting Your Offer

Business women hands working writing notebook on wooden desk, lighing effect

Business women hands working writing notebook on wooden desk, lighing effectJust because you have your eye on a property and have been shown around the premises by a professional real estate agent, it does not mean that you will be the only person interested in submitting an offer. In fact, there could be multiple people making an offer at the same time, which is why it is imperative that your offer really stands out!

It is rare for a buyer to offer the seller the asking price, with most buyers putting their haggling skills to the test in order to land their dream home for a desirable price. So, how can you peak the seller’s curiosity and improve your chances of receiving a positive response?

Capture the seller’s attention with a personal letter. A traditional tactic that has not lost its touch, personal letters can make you stand out among a sea of bidders.

How to Write the Perfect Personal Letter

Including a personal letter with your offer is known to help get an offer accepted. Below, we discuss the three main points to include in your letter:

  • Personal Information - Opening up to the seller will strike a chord with them. It will help them to get to know you, without even meeting you. Furthermore, it will allow them to make a choice based on who they would (ideally) like to transfer home ownership to. Including personal information in your offer letter that is related to your profession, your pets (if any), and your family size will make your offer stand out. Plus, the inclusion of personal information will prove to the seller that you are a serious and honest buyer.
  • Express Emotion - Connecting with the seller on an emotional level can be a challenge, but if you accomplish it, the chances of your offer being accepted are far greater. Perhaps you have decided to buy a new home so that you can use the leftover expenses to fund a relative’s surgery or a child’s college education? Maybe you want to relocate as a way of feeling safer in the neighborhood? Whatever your reason(s) for wanting to buy a particular property, don’t be afraid to express emotion in your letter.
  • Show Appreciation - It is nice to be nice! Even if the seller already has someone else in mind, this doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve some gratitude. After all, they invited you into their home and took the time to read your letter, right? Be polite and you never know – the seller could change their mind and accept your offer over someone else’s.

When you realize the difference a personal offer letter could make to your chances of being accepted for a property purchase, you won’t want to approach a seller without writing a letter ever again! A well-written letter that demonstrates your suitability for the house can be read over and over by the seller, thus enabling them to make an informed decision. After all, it is their pride and joy they are selling, so they won’t be willing to hand the keys over to just anybody.

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5 Questions to Ask During an Open House

Home for sale

Home for saleOne of the longest standing real estate traditions is an open house. If you are new to buying properties, take a moment to understand what an open house is and how it could aid you in making a purchasing decision. A way of generating traffic and luring in interested buyers for a potential sale; open houses are usually organized on weekends. The real estate agent will do a number of things to prepare for an open house, such as create ads in the local newspaper, put signs up in the surrounding area, and even embellish the property with banners and balloons to capture the attention of passers-by.

It’s not just the real estate agent who has a duty during an open house, however. As someone who is considering investing in a property, it is your duty to ask questions at this stage. Below, we expand on the five main questions you should be asking prior to purchasing a commercial or residential property.

  1. Why do the sellers want to move? - By asking this question face-to-face, rather than over the phone, you can get an honest answer from the seller or the seller’s realtor. Should the homeowner be transferring ownership of the premises due to relocation, work-related issues, or finances, you needn’t worry. If the seller is transferring home ownership because of constant repairs or if the area or schools are unsafe, you should think about this decision further.
  2. How long has the property been on the market? – The longer a property has been on the market, the more questions you should be asking. A desirable piece of real estate will not be on the market for long before it is snapped up. If a home has been on the market for a while, be sure to check the market value and condition of the home. Some seasons attract more buyers than others, so take this into account as well.
  3. How many offers have been made? - When you know you are competing with other offers, decide whether or not you want to proceed or walk away. Asking this question is essential because it gives you an idea of what the seller deems a reasonable offer. Additionally, it enlightens you about how much interest the property is getting.
  4. Are there any issues with the home? – Not every property featured on the real estate market will be perfect. In fact, a lot of buyers will be on the hunt for properties that they can acquire for a discounted price and renovate. If you are looking for a home that doesn’t need too many repairs, be sure to ask major repair questions, such as when the roof was last repaired.
  5. When was the house last updated? – You can figure out if the property is worth the asking price based on how often it has been maintained and/or updated over the years. If you are looking to avoid making updates down the road, we suggest finding a property that has been recently updated.

Take your time looking around when you attend an open house and try your hardest to envision yourself living in the home. Think about how your furnishings will look inside each room, and if the price of the home falls within your budget. Don’t forget to factor in the closing costs, to avoid unexpected surprises.

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Market trends on home equity: The top ROI home improvements that contribute to home equity.

Beautiful Kitchen in Luxury Home with Island and Stainless Steel

Home equity is the market value of your financial interest minus the debt balance against it. Typically, the largest debt against your home is your mortgage. As you make mortgage payments against the loan, the equity of your home increases. You may also gain equity as your property appreciates in fair market value.1 Understanding your home equity as well as larger home equity trends is key for making a sound investment in property and then increasing your equity in that investment.

Once you’ve invested in property, you must decide which home improvements to make to boost the equity of your home. Before you consider large home renovations, start with the basics. When a potential buyer looks at a home, he assumes that the basic systems are running smoothly.2 No one wants to buy a home and then immediately sink thousands of dollars into a new roof, plumbing infrastructure, or HVAC system. Taking care of the basics will minimize monthly maintenance expenses and put your home in prime condition for potential buyers.
After the home is in good working order, think about tackling a larger renovation. Two of the best rooms to invest in are the kitchen and bathroom. In a strong housing market, a top notch kitchen or bathroom remodel frequently returns over 100% of the cost. People spend a lot of time in their kitchens and bathrooms and will be able to tell whether or not money was well invested in these areas of a home.

Do you live in an older home with only one bathroom? If space permits, it makes more sense to add a second bathroom than to renovate the only bathroom. If your home has two, three, or even four bedrooms and just one bathroom, adding a second bathroom may increase the sales price as much as 8.7%, which is more than double the rate for adding another bedroom.4
If you’re not anticipating a move in the foreseeable future, be honest with yourself about whether you’d get more use out of a bathroom or kitchen renovation. Even if you don’t get quite as much money back doing the remodel that you really want, you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of the home.

As you weigh varying home improvement projects, think about the value of your house, the average home value in your neighborhood, the general state of the housing market in your area, when you plan to sell your home, and the projects that interest you the most.5 For example, an $8,000 stove is fabulous, but it simply doesn’t make sense to install it in a home worth $220,000. You want to choose home improvements that offer the biggest bang for your buck.

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What will Fannie Mae HomeReady do for Borrowers?

Blue Key and Great House

In August 2015, Fannie Mae announced a new option for would-be homeowners who have been turned down for conventional mortgages due to lower or moderate income levels: HomeReady. The goal of the program is to recognize that today’s households encompass several generations, all of whom contribute to the well-being of all residents. If you’re a borrower who has experienced difficulties in applying for a home mortgage, here’s what you need to know about this innovative program. 

Fannie Mae HomeReady Facts for Borrowers: There are a few key features of the HomeReady mortgage program that will appeal to borrowers.

  • Low Down Payment: Borrowers can obtain financing for up to 97% and there are flexible options for qualifying applicants.
  • Flexible Down Payment Source Options: An array of resources can be used for down payment and closing costs, with no minimum contribution requirement from the borrower’s own assets.
  • Educational Programs: Borrowers can learn from educational opportunities to help them understand the implications of home buying and ownership. These programs are required under the HomeReady program.

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Factors that Can Keep Interest Rates Stay Low

Interest Rates - Paramount Equity®

Low Interest Rates - Paramount Equity®Interest rates have been at historic lows for the past few years. What everyone wants to know now is how much longer will interest rates be this low? The market won’t be this good for buyers forever. Anyone who is interested in purchasing a home in the near future shouldn’t be too worried about rates increasing too much anytime soon.

Don’t Feel Too Much Pressure to Buy Just Yet

It is certainly a good idea to buy a house while interest rates are still low. However, don’t feel pressured to buy a home just because rates and prices are low if you’re not ready.  Figure out your situation and what you want in a home, only when you know you’re ready should go out and buy a home. If you’re a homeowner and can stand to benefit from a lower rate should refinance now. The rates cannot possibly get significantly lower than they are now. (more…)

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The Current Status of Home Prices

The Current Status of Home Prices

The Current Status of Home PricesWhen you are talking about buying a home you may say things like this is the time to buy a home, or wait until the housing bubble bursts. It can be hard to tell if home prices are going up or going down. Many people worry a lot about whether it is the right time to buy. If you are looking for an investment property this may be a bigger concern than if you are looking for a family home. Whichever camp you fall into, in 2013 it seems that things may be looking up when it comes to buying a home.

Are Home Prices Rising or Falling?

When you look at what the money managers out there say about home prices, you may be hearing good things. According to Forbes home prices are pretty steady. There (more…)

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Luxury Homes 101

Luxury Homes - Paramount Equity®

There is nothing quite like owning a luxury home. Picture beautiful, scenic views, spacious bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms, Olympic-sized swimming pools, and gorgeous, landscaped yards. Okay, so that’s quite an image, and you’re probably asking, “So, how do I go about choosing a luxury home that fits my style, needs, and budget?”

Here is Luxury Homes 101 to the rescue. Below are some tips that will help you learn about the ins and outs of looking for a luxury home. You will know what to research, things to consider, and traps not to fall into, so you will have the dream home you’ve always wanted.

What to look for

First, talk to homeowners in your top three subdivisions or neighborhoods. (more…)

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