As a prospective homebuyer, it’s important to pay close attention when viewing open houses. Certain warning signs should have you questioning a property before you decide to buy. So as you embark on your open house adventures, watch out for these red flags to avoid buying a money pit.
1. Multiple Homes for Sale in the Same Area
The house you are looking at might be a perfect fit, but what about the neighborhood? Multiple homes for sale on one street could be a sign that residents aren’t happy with the area.
Take a tour of the community, and look for signs of a thriving neighborhood, such as well-kept homes, flourishing businesses, and an abundance of sidewalks and streetlights. If you see any neighbors, ask them how long they’ve lived there and how they like the area. You could learn a lot.
2. Funky Odors
Water damage, mildew and mold might be hard to see, but they aren’t that hard to smell. Some agents try to mask these musky and dank odors with air freshener, potpourri or fresh-baked cookies — but that only goes so far.
Take a whiff of the closets or basement to get a better idea of the house’s condition. If you suspect something is off, schedule a private tour of the house with a separate agent. It’s a lot harder to hide those funky smells when it’s just you and a neutral third party conducting a walk-through of the property.
How to figure out if you're ready to take the plunge, and what you should do first.
Your best friend flips houses, your uncle has a growing portfolio of commercial properties and your parents are renting out their old home to a family who just moved to town. Are you the only one not making money from real estate?
Not quite, but you could be missing out on an opportunity at the perfect moment.
It’s a unique time for real estate investment as interest rates remain near historic lows following a housing crisis that began at the close of 2007 and a subsequent recession that wreaked havoc on residential and commercial real estate for the duration of the economic downturn. With real estate prices throughout the nation largely back at their pre-recession levels, investors have been bringing inventory left vacant in 2008 or 2009 back to the market and finding occupants.
The findings may help explain how housing-market shifts can happen in different parts of the country, even when those areas are experiencing different economic conditions.
Call it fear of missing out — on housing investments.
Our decisions about buying property are heavily influenced by our social media networks, according to new research from economists at New York University, Harvard and Facebook. They found that people whose Facebook friends experience increases in house prices are far more likely to invest in property over the following two years.
The researchers set out to study whether a person's social media network would influence their housing investment decisions, and if those decisions could show an effect on local housing markets in aggregate. On both counts, the research suggests a significant impact. That's taking into account aspects like income, one of the main factors of house-price dispersion.
The housing market is still hot in many parts of the country, with national home prices hitting record highs, but the percentage of people buying rather than renting their home continues to fall.
The homeownership rate in the second quarter of 2016 fell to 62.9 percent, its lowest level since 1965, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Click here for US Census Report.
Still, the drop from the same period in 2015 was less than 1 percent, which shows that the rate may finally be stabilizing after declining every year since before the housing bubble burst in 2006. The drop reflects a trend among today’s young adults to delay buying a home far longer than previous generations. And there may be a silver lining behind the latest drop.
“While the millennial homeownership rate continues to decline, it’s important to note that the decrease could be just as likely due to the new renter household formation as it is their ability to buy homes,” Trulia chief economist Ralph McLaughlin said in a statement. “Certainly low inventory and affordability aren’t helping their efforts to own, but moving out of their parents’ basement and into a rental unit is also a good sign for the housing market.”
Despite all the barriers to homeownership, Americans still overwhelmingly say they’d like to be homeowners. Nearly nine in 10 of those surveyed earlier this summer by Wells Fargo said that home ownership is a dream come true.
Difficulty savings for a down payment represents the number one reason that those who want to buy a home haven’t.
With summer winding down and the start of the school year approaching, it’s peak home buying season in neighborhoods across the U.S. Recent data from the National Association of Realtors indicates that existing homes are selling at a strong pace not seen since 2007, with sales activity up 4.5% over this time last year.
As millions of Americans survey the market for a new neighborhood, they’re taking into account quality of life features ranging from proximity to parks and public transit, to school ratings and commute times. Financial factors such as budget, estimated taxes, assessed value, and anticipated operating costs are also important.
While economic and lifestyle factors are critical, a lesser-known set of metrics can be equally helpful in identifying a home – and a community – that meets your family’s needs.
The future of real estate may not be all the bells and whistles of technology, but instead homes with great spaces for both work and play. This restored fire station is just the ticket, heating up the idea of owning a space that can serve your housing needs and much more. With 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and a list price of $849,000, this Sanford, FL home offers a piece of history that looks toward a stylish tomorrow.
The U.S. homeownership rate fell to the lowest level in more than 50 years in the second quarter of 2016, a reflection of the lingering effects of the housing bust, financial hurdles to buying and shifting demographics across the country.
But the bigger picture also suggests more Americans are gaining the confidence to strike out on their own, albeit as renters rather than buyers.
The homeownership rate, the proportion of households that are owner-occupied, fell to 62.9%, half a percentage point lower than the second quarter of 2015 and 0.6 percentage point lower than the first quarter 2016, the Census Bureau said on Thursday. That was the lowest figure since 1965.
Click here for full article from the Wall Street Journal.
Financing Your Manufactured Home
Is it hard to get a mortgage for a mobile or manufactured home?
No, but it is different.
Loans for manufactured homes come from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two agencies that write the rules for conforming mortgages.
FHA loans, plus financing from USDA and VA, are other avenues to finance a manufactured home.
Personal loans can work, too.
What's available to you depends on your eligibility as a borrower, the type and age of the structure, and whether it’s considered real or personal property.
Here’s how to find the best financing for your manufactured house.
There are some simple ways to improve the chances of selling your house. If you have a house on the market, or are considering it, read on for seven tips that will make it easier to sell your house and make a smooth transition from one owner to the next.
Click "Read More" for the list...
Parents must determine whether their child will stay at the school or if the investment is worth the risk.
As your son or daughter is looking at college costs, you see how big the bill will be to live in a dorm – an average of $10,138 to $11,516 annually for room and board, according to the College Board. For that amount, you think, you could buy your kid his or her own condo to live in during college.
You’re not the first parent who has had this idea. While it’s not the right move for every parent, some actually do buy their children a condo or home to live in while they’re college students.
“On paper, it’s a lovely strategy,” says Beth V. Walker, a certified college planning specialist with the College Funding Coaches and a financial planner with The Wealth Consulting Group in Colorado. But Walker says the strategy has many unknowns.
Condos were once thought of as homes that attracted singles or couples, often without children. But today, condos are growing in popularity and attracting families of all sizes.
Condos can be an excellent choice for the right buyers. Here are a few things that should considered before purchasing a condo. Most buyers start with the condo itself. That may be a good place to begin but, before they buy, buyers should also consider other factors outside of the condo.
Some developers are building condos that have a look and feel like single-family homes. These modern condos have great rooms and open, flowing floor plans that look and feel like a single-family home rather than an apartment or condo.
One of the major attractions of condos is the low maintenance. The community area is maintained by an association funded by the dues that homeowners pay into it.
That's why buyers' first consideration should be to explore the development and make sure they like the look and feel of the complex and surrounding community. There are codes and restrictions, often referred to as CC&Rs (covenants, codes, and restrictions) that buyers will have to abide by once they purchase a condo. Buyers should ask to review them before making an offer to purchase a condo. These regulations help ensure that the community maintains its general appearance and any necessary repairs of the external areas.
Review the association's budget. It may be necessary to get the seller to provide this information because it may not be released to a non-owner who is only a potential buyer. However, in considering buying into a development, it's almost like going into business with the neighbors in the complex. It's important to make sure that the association is running properly and has enough of a reserve for necessary expenses and maintenance. The budget and CC&Rs will give an idea about how stable the association is and if increases in the homeowners' association dues are likely each year.
Find out how many owners in the development are delinquent on their dues. A condo complex that has a high level of delinquencies can cause problems for buyers when it comes time to get a loan or sell the condo. Some loans are not approved if delinquency rates are higher than 15 percent.
Review the minutes from the association's board meetings. They will reveal the day-to-day issues that occur each month and give an indication of how the development is run. For instance, lots of complaints and filings about noisy residents, loud parties, or dog droppings on the lawn reveal potential problems with neighbors. The minutes will also reveal if the development is engaged in any lawsuits.
Understand what your responsibilities are for the upkeep of the condo. Find out what the association takes care of and what the homeowners have to maintain. Look at the association's property management team and see how many times the association has changed management companies. Find out why. This will may reveal how responsive the association will be should residents need its assistance.
Ultimately, buyers need to ensure that when they purchase a condo they're not buying into any legal battles the association is in the middle of and that they will be able to live in their condo the way they want. Study the CC&Rs and do due diligence before buying.
You’ve made an offer on a property, the seller has accepted, and maybe you’re about to sign a contract. Now it’s time to put some money down to show that you’re serious about moving forward.
The amount of money a buyer puts down (and when it’s put down) varies by state and local market. For many, it’s a few thousand dollars, up to three percent of the purchase price. In some parts of the country, it can be up to 10 percent.
The deposit is a good-faith gesture to the seller, indicating you’re serious about buying their home. Once deposited, this money can’t be moved or touched without written consent from both buyer and seller. Upon the close of escrow, the earnest money deposit is applied to the balance of the down payment.
Like price and terms, the deposit amount is negotiable. But if you put in much less than what’s customary in your market, it won’t fare well with the seller — particularly in a competitive market.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get your deposit back — or lose it, if you aren’t careful. From the time you put up the deposit until you close escrow, a lot can happen.
Here are the top 3 ways to protect your deposit.
It is common for home sellers to need to hire someone to do maintenance or corrective work in order to facilitate a sale. Sometimes such work will be done in order to prepare a house to go on the market. Sometimes it will be done in response to a buyer's "fix-it" list, and sometimes it will be performed in order to meet contractual requirements such as doing what is needed in order to obtain a structural pest control clearance.
When the work is hired out, as opposed to being done by the homeowner himself, attention should be paid to determine whether or not the person doing the work is required to have a contractor's license.
California Business and Professions Code #7028(a) states, "It is a misdemeanor for any person to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor within this state without having a license therefor, unless such person is particularly exempted from the provisions of this chapter. (Note: All the references here are to California law; but many states have similar regulations.) What exempts a person from the license requirement? The same code at section #7048(a) says, "This chapter does not apply to any work or operation on one undertaking or project by one or more contracts, the aggregate contract price which for labor, materials, and all other items is less than five hundred dollars ($500)…"
A project whose price totals less than $500 is considered "… of casual, minor, or inconsequential nature," and can be performed by a non-licensed person, often referred to as a ‘handyman'.
If you're hiring someone to inspect the home you want to buy, or you're a seller trying to find out if there are any hidden problems that need fixing before you put your home on the market, here are five things you need to know:
1. You can choose your home inspector.
Your real estate professional can recommend an inspector, or you can find one on your own. Members of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI), must complete an approved home inspector training program, demonstrate experience and competence as a home inspector, complete a written exam, and adhere to the NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
Anyone who is in the business of flipping houses knows the importance of having sound contractors on their team. Contractors are a pivotal part of the process and someone you can’t do without if you are going to make a profit flipping homes. If you are new to the business of house flipping, you might not have a contractor on your crew yet. You shouldn’t jump at the first contractor that comes along. You want to make sure you have a trusted professional who knows what they are doing.
If you are planning on making a business out of flipping homes, you need to make sure you have a strong team behind you. Otherwise, you could find yourself in over your head quickly. After all, the goal is to be able to make money, not lose it. To help you along the way, here are a few questions to ask contractors before you hire them as part of your crew.
Here are 10 questions to ask...
Are you bold and independent, not considering anyone's opinion but your own?
Or are you more cautious and studied, making sure your choice is accepted and appreciated?
Do you buy like a Trump or claim your home like a Clinton?
There are pros and cons to both, depending on the situation. And, there are things you can learn from each of the presidential candidates that can make you a more successful real estate buyer.
Buying a house at auction is an "adventure," says Nedalee Thomas, a homeowner in Orange County, CA -- and she should know. Thomas, a former Realtor, purchased her three-bedroom HUD home through a stressful, fast-paced auction process.
"My prayer was, and had been for many years, that I would get a home at a discount," she says. And so she did: The auction process netted her a dream place well under market price. She paid about $250,000 for the property -- an astonishing deal, especially considering nearby homes go for nearly double.
In the four years since she bought it, the home's value has increased by $200,000. "I never expected that," Thomas says.
Looking to score a sweet deal of your own? Auction homes provide a number of benefits, but the process seems designed for a specific, adventurous kind of person. Here's what to know going in:
You should buy a house at auction if you're…
First step: Make sure your heirs actually want it
As you’re basking on the deck at your lake house this summer, or tossing a Frisbee in front of your beach condo with your grandkids, you may start to consider: Will my family continue to enjoy this getaway after I’m gone?
If you want to keep your vacation house in the family for future generations to use, it’s time to start planning. Failing to take the right steps to ensure a home’s future ownership — ideally as part of an overall estate plan — can lead to painful family disagreements.
Ask yourself the following questions to ensure you’re making the best decision for your family.
On Wilson Avenue in Wayne, NJ, a shady street of well-kept homes, the wood contemporary at No. 96 stands out. It’s been empty for years, thick moss grows on the roof and, neighbors say, water from a broken pipe flooded the interior and poured down the street several years ago.
On Berdan Avenue in Fair Lawn, a piece of black tarp hangs off the roof of a brick Cape Cod, and two dead evergreens stand sentinel at the front steps. Get close to the house and you’ll catch a whiff of mold.
On Cumberland Avenue in Teaneck, weeds grow through the patio behind a vacant brick ranch; inside, paint is peeling off the walls in sheets.
Neighbors call these homes eyesores. Real estate experts have another name: “Zombie” houses — homes in foreclosure that stay empty and neglected for years.
Finding a potential home or rental is hard enough in today's real estate market where competitively priced homes are quickly snatched up. Throw a family pet in the mix, and your options shrink significantly.
As more Americans treat their pets as members of the family, the real estate industry has certainly adapted: luxury apartments are becoming more pet-friendly, and some landlords are less restrictive with their pet policies. But home seekers still face a variety of challenges when searching for a place that they and their pets can call home. And in North Jersey, complexes that allow pets can still be hard to find, experts say, and even pet-friendly policies often come with strings attached.
For renters, having a pet significantly narrows the available inventory. A recent search on Zillow.com showed 9,842 listings available for rent in New Jersey. But, when the search was adjusted to show rentals that allow pets, the number dropped to 1,709.
Tress Realty Group compiles some of the best real estate news, tips, and information for buyers, sellers and investors.