Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 34

Which Should You Do First - Buy or Sell?

by The Hat Team


It’s time for you to move. Maybe it’s because your family is growing and you need a larger home. Or perhaps your nest has recently emptied and you want to downsize.  Whatever the reason, as a home owner, you not only need to find a new home, you also need to sell your current home.  This brings us to the question…which should you do first?  Buy, then sell? Sell, then buy? Or do both at the same time?  There is no one right answer for everyone, but certainly there is one that is right for you. Here are the pros and cons of each of these options:

BUYING FIRST - PROS

  • One perk of buying a new home before you sell your current one, is that it allows you the time to find the ideal home without having to rush to a decision. There is no pressure to get out of your current home by a certain date, forcing you to maybe choose a house that isn’t quite right.
  • If you are a planner by nature, then knowing where you’re going to be living once you sell your home is definitely a positive aspect of buying first.  It will give you peace of mind to know that you can move directly to your new house once you have sold your current one.
  • If you buy first, you can take your time moving.  You will also have the time to do any work on your current property that is needed, such as home improvements and/or updates, before you put it on the market.

BUYING FIRST - CONS

  • Ideally, you would be able to sell your current home within a month of purchasing your new one so that you don’t have to pay two mortgages.  But there is no guarantee that will happen.  Your house might sit on the market for a while, and if it does, you need to be prepared to make two mortgages each month until it sells.  If this is not something you are able to do, you probably shouldn’t buy before selling.
  • If you buy before selling your income will need to be able to support both mortgages.  This will increase your debt-to-income ratio ( DTI )meaning that if you’re already struggling to qualify for a new mortgage, it’s going to be even less likely you will qualify if you have two mortgages.  You may want to sell first to lower your DTI so you will qualify for your new mortgage.

SELLING FIRST - PROS

  • Depending on the state of the current real estate market, there may be a lot of competition for homes.  In this case, you will find that selling first and having cash on hand will be an advantage when competing with other buyers.  You will also be in a better negotiating position if you don’t need a contingency when you buy. Home Sale Contingencies for Buyers and Sellers
  • When you sell your current home first, you will have a clear picture of how much you can afford for your new home.  It will also provide you with cash to put toward your down payment.  If you can put a full 20% down, depending on your loan program, you can avoid paying mortgage insurance each month. This will save you money over the life of your loan.
  • Selling first will eliminate some expenses.  If you buy a new home before you sell, you will not only be making two mortgage payments until your current property sells, but you will also be paying for utilities in both homes.  These expenses can add up quick!

SELLING FIRST - CONS

  • When you sell your house before you have found a new one, you may have to find temporary housing…which can be a real hassle. Trying to find a place to live on a short-term lease is challenging and becomes even more complicated if you have pets or you are looking for specific school district.  It also means you will have to move…twice. Moving once is stressful enough. Moving twice in a short period of time is exhausting. And when you do find your new home, you may have to juggle both a rent and mortgage payment for a month or more depending on your lease.
  • If you’ve sold your current home, but haven’t found your new one, you may feel panicked about finding a home quickly.  This feeling might lead you to rush your search and to perhaps settle for a home that isn’t right for you.  Buying a home is likely the largest financial investment you will ever make, not to mention the logistical and emotional implications, so it is a decision that you definitely don’t want to rush.

Believe it or not, it is possible to buy and sell simultaneously.  For example, you can make a contingent offer, meaning that your offer is dependent on your current home selling.  A contingent offer may not be as appealing to sellers in a competitive market, but it eliminates the risk of ending up with two mortgages. Another option is to use a HELOC: Home Equity Line of Credit to cover the cost of purchasing a new home while still paying mortgage on current home.  There is also the possibility, depending on your lender, of getting a Bridge Loan to help cover expenses in the time between buying and selling.

There are many factors involved when deciding whether to buy or sell first. Let an experienced Realtor like Sandra Nickel assist you in navigating the home buying/selling process.

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

On the 12 Days of Christmas My Realtor Gave to Me

by The Hat Team

On the first day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Buyers: if you’re looking to buy your first home, now is the time! There might be less inventory now, but there is also less competition and more highly motivated sellers. 5 Reasons to Buy a Home This Fall

On the second day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Sellers: if your home is for sale during the holiday season, feel free to decorate, but don’t go overboard.  You want your home to look its best while still enjoying your personal touch.  Avoid large decorations that can be overwhelming or distracting.  Remember that potential buyers want be able to envision your home as their own.

On the third day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Buyers: take advantage of less competition from other buyers during the holiday season. Less competition might mean you'll be able to negotiate a favorable price for a home you want to purchase. Homes are often priced to sell this time of year. Although there is so much going on during the holidays, it might be worth it to go house hunting if it means a better price for you!

On the fourth day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Sellers: make your home feel inviting. If it’s cold outside, make it warm and cozy inside. Play soft, classical music and offer homemade holiday treats. If potential buyers are comfortable, they will spend more time in your home and will have more time to appreciate all its best features.

On the fifth day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Buyers: consider possible tax advantages.  If you itemize your taxes, you can deduct any points you paid upon closing, as well as property taxes and mortgage interest. Whether it is to your advantage to buy before or after year’s end depends on factors such as how many other deductions you have this year and expect to have next year.

It is best to consult with a tax professional before purchase. Even though you do not want to decide on a home purchase strictly for tax reasons, it could be to your benefit to close before the end of the year. Buying a Home: The Tax Impact of Your New Home

On the sixth day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Sellers: there will be motivated buyers this time of year. If people are house hunting during the holidays, they probably have a good reason for doing so. For example, they may be relocating for a job or investing for a tax deduction.  If they are on a deadline, they will be highly driven to find a home quickly.  It may be worth it to do the extra work involved in showing your home during the holiday season.

On the seventh day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Buyers: you may find that there are better interest rates this time of year. Generally, there is often a cyclical trend of lower interest rates during the holidays due to limited demand forcing greater competition among lenders.

On the eighth day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Sellers: price your home to sell.  A home that is reasonably priced for the market will make buyers feel merry and bright.  Many real estate agents advise sellers to initially price their home to sell rather than making small price reductions over time.

On the ninth day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Buyers: you may get a faster closing on your new home since all parties involved have incentive to complete the transaction before the end of the year. Lenders want to close their books; realtors want to receive their commissions and buyers and sellers want to settle into their new homes. Since all parties are motivated and there are fewer transactions taking place during this time, in many circumstances, it should be easier to put everything in place for a smooth and rapid closing.

On the tenth day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Sellers: provide photos that show your home year-round.  Yards and landscaping aren’t always at their best during the winter months.  Make sure that potential buyers see the beauty of your home during other times of year when the grass is greener and trees and flowers are in bloom.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Buyers: motivated sellers may mean a better deal for you. People who are selling their homes over the holidays often have a need to sell fast. If a house has already been on the market for a while, that need is even greater. It may be advantageous for you to buy now. You can negotiate fairly but firmly with the sellers for a lower price and/or other concessions such as having them pay closing costs.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my Realtor said to me:

Sellers: create a video tour for the web. You might get less foot traffic during the holidays due to the business of the season.  By posting a video tour, you may attract house hunters who don’t have time to go to your home in person.

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

How to Pack Like a Pro!

by The Hat Team

Congratulations!  You have successfully sold your home!  What a relief, right?  Now comes the hard part. Moving.  Moving is one of the 10 Most Stressful Life Events along with job loss, death of a loved one, divorce and major illness. Sounds fun, huh?  That’s why it is important to go about moving in a thoughtful and organized manner.  The more prepared you are, the less stress.  Packing up your house can be overwhelming, but you can make it easier by spreading it out over several weeks rather than trying to do it all right before you move.  Here is a general timeline for packing that you can use as a guide:

FOUR WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: PRE-PACKING - Hopefully when you sell your house, you won’t have to immediately vacate.  About a month before moving you can begin to pre-pack items that you won’t need or use before you move.  Out of season clothing, tools and small appliances, and collectibles/knick knacks are items that you won’t miss. Hint: if your house is still on the market you can take this step as well, and it will help with staging your home for prospective buyers.

THREE WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: NON-ESSENTIALS - Among the items that you didn’t pre-pack, choose those that you know you likely won’t need before moving.  Books, extra linens, and kitchen items can be packed up because you likely won’t be doing much reading, and you only need enough linens, plates, and utensils for the number of people living in the home.  CDs and DVDs can go as well.

TWO WEEKS BEFORE MOVING DAY: THE SERIOUS PACKING BEGINS - Yes…now it is time to start paring down the amount of “stuff” still in your home. If you have children, allow them to choose a few toys/games to keep out, and box up the rest. If you have a home office, clean it out and pack what you plan to take with you.  Any jewelry and shoes that you don’t wear daily can go as well.  You may feel that two weeks is a long time to go without these items, but trust me, before you know it you will be unpacking them in your new abode! 5 Ways Children Can Help During a Move

ONE WEEK BEFORE MOVING DAY: SEVEN DAYS AND COUNTING - Now it is time to pack up all but the few things you will need to get through the last few days at your current home.  The rest of your clothes and kitchen items can go (leaving yourself what you will need until the move, of course).  Go through your medicine cabinet and toss any expired medications. Pack the rest except for the ones you take daily.

TWO DAYS BEFORE MOVING DAY: IT’S GETTING REAL YA’LL - At this point your stress level may be peaking, but if you have been following the time-line and packing a bit each week, you should be almost finished!  Box up your electronics (in their original packaging when possible), bathroom items, and any miscellaneous items that are left.  Keep a box for essential items that you will keep with you as you are moving.

MOVING DAY: IT’S HERE! -  All that should be left is furniture and appliances.  Whether you have hired movers to load the large items or you are doing it yourself, it will be so much more manageable with everything else already boxed up and ready to go.

IMPORTANT TIP - Label every box.  You can either write what is in the box or what room the box should go to.  Or both.  You will be glad you did when you are unpacking!

Remember that this is simply a general guideline.  You should do what is right for you and your family when it comes to packing and moving. But hopefully this will make what can be a trying and overwhelming time a little less stressful.

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Cleaning Your Home After Selling

by The Hat Team

SOLD!  What a relief!  Your house is sold and soon you will be moving out.  Pride in ownership means that you will likely want to leave your house in good shape for its new owners. In some states, the Real Estate Purchase Contract may stipulate that the home is to be “swept clean”, meaning the seller should at least sweep the floors and leave walls and ceilings bare.  But the language can often be vague.  Here is a list of cleaning tips for home sellers to help you leave the house reasonably clean and to create a feeling of goodwill toward your buyer:

Cleaning the Interior of the Home Before Moving Out:

  • Remove all personal property.
  • Vacuum the floors.
  • Clean kitchen appliances including the inside of the refrigerator and over.  Wipe down the counters.
  • Scrub sinks and tubs.
  • Wipe down interior cabinets and shelves.
  • Wash tile/vinyl/wood flooring.

Cleaning the Garage Prior to Closing:

  • Remove personal belongings.
  • Throw away trash.
  • Properly dispose of toxic chemicals.
  • Sweep the floor.
  • Stack items pertaining to the home such as paint cans, roofing materials or extra flooring.  Check to make sure the buyer wants the extra materials first.

Basically, you want to leave the home in the condition that you would like to find your new home.  Your buyers will appreciate it!  What Are House Cleaning Expectations When a Seller Moves

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: tm-cleaning.com

Home Closings - What Can Go Wrong

by The Hat Team

Closing on a home is the final step to the home selling/buying process.  It can feel stressful and overwhelming, especially to first-timers.  Here are some things that most often go wrong with home closings, and how to avoid them!

     WALK THROUGH - A walk through of the home is done before closing to confirm that everything is as it was when you signed the purchase agreement.  It’s also the time to make sure any repairs that you requested were completed.  If you get to your walk through and discover that the owner took the washer and dryer they had agreed to leave or there were agreed upon repairs not done, your closing will definitely be put on hold.  Money will be placed in escrow to cover the costs and deadlines will be extended.

     FEES - You will want to look at a copy of your HUD-1 Settlement Statement before going to your closing so that you can look over all the fees and ask questions should you have any. Fees on the statement will include those from your lender, closing attorney, city, insurance, surveys, and transaction fees among other things.  You don’t want to get all the way to your closing and find out there are fees you weren’t aware of which may delay proceedings.

     TITLE SEARCH - Make sure the title search is completed with plenty of time to deal with any issues that may arise.  A professional title examiner should be utilized by your closing attorney to be sure there are no defects on the title that would prevent the property from being sold.   If the title search is done at the last minute and there are problems, it might take a long time to fix thus holding up the closing.

     WIRE TRANSFER - The wire transfer of funds needs to arrive within a specific window of time for closing.  An issue with the wire can hold up closing.  It’s vital to check with your lender and closing attorney to be sure that all parties have the correct wire information and timelines.

     CLOSING PACKAGE - A common problem that delays closings is the Closing Package not being ready.  At the end of the loan process, there are a lot of loose ends that must be tied up and they can sometimes cause delays. Timing is everything.  You may be scheduled to close at 11:00 AM, but if your package isn’t ready until 2:00 PM and your lender and attorney has other closings scheduled, your closing may be postponed to the next day.

If you are in the market to sell or buy a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you with all your real estate needs.  Call them at 334-834-1500 today!

Photo Credit: realtor.com

Buyer & Seller Guides Fall 2018

by The Hat Team

Selling in the Fall is a Great Idea - Here’s Why!

by The Hat Team

While summer is considered by many to be the hottest time for selling a house (both literally and figuratively), sometimes circumstances require you to sell during a different time of the year.  This fall might be exactly the right time to sell.  Homes are still in demand and there is a good chance you will find a buyer before the end of the year.   Here are some perks to selling in the fall:

- Buyers are seriously looking in the Fall. They want to get settled into a new house before the holiday season begins.  The pressure is on for them to find their new home quickly and this puts you (the seller) in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiations.

- There is less competition in the fall. Many sellers need to close and move before school starts, so fewer houses are for sale.  With less to choose from, buyers can’t afford to be quite as picky.

- You will be dealing with different types of buyers.  Families often move in the summer to accommodate school schedules. Empty Nesters and Millennial Home Buyers are more likely to be looking in the fall. In addition, employers who need to relocate their workers often wait for fall to avoid the hot market during spring and summer.  A speedy closing is the goal of most of these buyers, which means you are more likely to get the best price possible for your house.

- Fall is pretty.  The weather is cooler; the leaves are changing colors and fall décor can make homes look and feel warm and cozy.  This is a great time of year to dress up your house to entice buyers.

So, if you have been thinking about putting your house on the market, don’t wait until spring.

Contact Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professional Realtors at 334-834-1500 and get your house listed and sold this Fall!

Retirement - A Time to Sell

by The Hat Team

With more and more Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, they will be asking themselves if they should sell their homes. This is a time in their lives to finally enjoy the fruits of their labor and the last thing many want is to have to take care of a large home or be tied down to a big mortgage. Today’s housing market has low inventory of starter and trade-up properties, meaning there are a lot of buyers out there competing for homes.  So, the question retirees need to ask themselves is, “should we sell now?”.  Consider these questions to find your answer:

  1. Will you be able to afford your home once you have retired?  It’s important to think long term about the monthly costs of staying in your home.  Even if you have paid off your mortgage, you will still be responsible for Property Taxes, insurance, HOA fees, and utilities.  Then there are home repair costs.  If you are living on a limited monthly income, an unexpected, costly home repair can be devastating. 
  2. How much Equity  do you have in your current home?  If you have a lot of equity built up in your current home, you can use that to purchase a retirement home and have little or no mortgage, freeing up your monthly income for other things. 
  3. Can you keep up with home maintenance? Maybe you are someone who enjoys yard work and other home maintenance tasks, but depending on your age and health, these chores can become more challenging with time.  A condo with an HOA fee might be the way to go so that you can enjoy your golden years with the peace of mind in knowing that you don’t have to do maintenance work yourself.
  4. Do you feel secure in your home?  Criminals prey on the elderly.  It’s a sad, but true fact.  Elderly homeowners are often targets for scams and break-ins.  Home security systems are helpful, but living somewhere that has 24-hour security, such as a manned gate-house and resident only access can provide you the security you need to be able to relax and enjoy retirement.
  5. Is your current home set up property for limited mobility?  As people age, getting around can get more challenging.  People are living longer, more active lives these days, but that doesn’t mean that you will always want to climb the stairs to your bedroom. And what if you must use a wheel chair at some point?  Are your doorways and hallways wide enough? Will you have easy access to a bathroom and shower?  Homes in retirement communities are built with these things in mind and often offer the best of both worlds…activities to keep you busy and entertained and accommodations for any physical needs you might have in the future.
  6. Is your current home in a convenient location?  There are many things to consider about location.  Are you close to a hospital and drug store?  Can you easily get to shopping and entertainment venues?  Are your grandchildren close by?  Maybe you are living in a fantastic school district, which was great when your kids were growing up, but doesn’t really serve you now.  If that’s the case, take advantage of the resale value that will give you and sell so that you can find a home that is more conveniently located for you.

If you are considering selling so that you can find your perfect forever home, contact Sandra Nickel, a Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES), and her Hat Team of professional Realtors and let them help you get your house on the market and sold for the best possible price. Call them today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: forbes.com

The Price is Right - How to Price Your Home to Sell

by The Hat Team

When preparing to put your home on the market, there are a lot of things you need to think about: deciding if you should make home repairs and improvements, staging your home to impress potential buyers, keeping your lawn and house in prime condition for viewings and prepping to move.  But one of the most important decisions you must make is how much you should ask for your house. Determining the asking price for your home cannot be taken lightly. There needs to be some psychology and strategy used to decide the price that will sell your home in a timely manner and for the most profit.  You and your Realtor should identify and agree upon the approximate value of your property. You can use Comparable Sales of similar properties sold in your neighborhood to help you make this decision.

Next, you need to understand the price range for your list price.  Depending on market conditions, competing properties, time of year or inventory, the price range can fluctuate.  For example, a house with the asking price of $500 K can have a price range of $480 K to $520 K.  Once you have determined your home’s value and have a price range in mind, it’s time to conclude what your asking price will be.  This is where pricing strategies come into play.

- Appeal to multiple buyers - It may be tempting to ask for the highest price you think you can possibly get for your home.  But if you price your property on the lower end of the value range, you will likely appeal to more than one buyer and you might even have a bidding war amongst buyers who want your home.  Chances are you will get more than your asking price if this happens.

- Utilize psychology when choosing your asking price - Be careful of too many zeros.  For example, it is easier for a buyer to process $250 thousand than it is $250,000 - and $250,000.00 is even worse on the eyes. Buyers feel like they are being asked to pay more when there are more zeroes included in the price. It doesn’t change the actual price, but the perception of the price changes.

- Make sure it’s visible in real estate searches - If buyers are looking for three-bedroom homes under $400 K and you have your property priced at $405 K, an automated buyer search for properties under $400 K will exclude your home, meaning you will miss out on a lot of potential buyers. Experienced Realtors  will set up search parameters for buyers that include properties listed a little bit more above their price ceiling.  Keeping in mind that home prices are flexible, buyers could find the perfect match on a home above their limit, but with the possibility that it is in within a reasonable range of price or that it will be reduced.

- Have a price contingency plan before listing your home - You may have very high expectations regarding the worth and appeal of your home. If you insist on asking top dollar for it, you may get lucky (depending on the current market) and get it, or you may not get any full price offers at all. In that case, it’s important to have a contingency plan lined up before you list your home. That way, if you must lower your asking price, you will already be prepared for it and it won’t catch you off guard.

- Be flexible -  Setting an initial asking price is just the beginning of your home selling process.  A lot of different factors may come into play when selling your house, and you won’t be able to anticipate all of them.  Being flexible will allow you to react quickly to changing Market Conditions or new information and you will be more likely to get the best price for your home.

If you are planning to sell your house, contact Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professional Realtors and let them assist you in pricing it right for the current market.  Call them today at 334-834-1500.

The Top Five Reasons to Hire a Realtor

by The Hat Team

Whether you are looking to purchase a home or getting ready to sell one, the process of doing so will go much more smoothly if you have an experienced Realtor to represent your interests.  You might be thinking that you can save money by trying to do it on your own, but the truth is that the time, energy and stress a Realtor will save you is priceless!  Here are the top five reasons why you should hire a Realtor when buying or selling a house:

  1. EXPERTISE - Experienced real estate professionals will know all the ins and outs of buying and selling homes. Real estate has a language of its own, and Realtors will speak it fluently.  They are not only familiar with all the forms, reports and disclosures involved, they understand them and can explain them to you.  They will work to get you the best deal possible and help you avoid costly mistakes. Glossary of Real Estate Terms
  2. ACCESS - Realtors can search listings that the public does not have access to.  They will know immediately when a house goes on the market; long before you can find it on the internet.  Local Realtors will also have a lot of knowledge about different neighborhoods and areas that may appeal to you.
  3. NEGOTIATION - Realtors are trained negotiators.  It is their job to get you a first-rate deal.  With fierce competition for homes and the chance of a bidding war, you are going to want a shrewd and experienced negotiator on your side.
  4. CONNECTIONS - They know who’s who in every aspect of a real estate transaction. They can hook you up with a mortgage lender, home inspector, real estate attorney, home stager, etc.  And since the best deal for you benefits them as well, they are going to make sure to recommend the top people in their professions.
  5. TIME - While searching for a new house, or getting one ready to sell, chances are you’re still working full time, taking care of a family and feeling a little stressed about everything you need to do.  Slow down, take a deep breath and let your Realtor alleviate that stress a bit.  Being a Realtor is a full-time job that you don’t need to add to your to do list. 

The bottom line is, you probably can buy or sell a home on you own, but that doesn’t mean you should.  Hiring an experienced professional like Sandra Nickel will make your home-buying/selling experience less stressful and more successful.  Call her today at 334-834-1500!

Photo Credit: wondersunn.com

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 34

Syndication

Categories

Archives

   cdpe    crsHat Lady on Zillow