Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 44

Building Wealth by Investing in Real Estate

by The Hat Team

 

Investing in real estate is a time-tested way to successfully build wealth.  While there are many ways to invest your savings, investing in real estate is unique in that it offers cash-flow, liquidity, profitability, and tax and diversification benefits that other investments do not.  If you’ve been thinking about how to build wealth for your retirement, you would be smart to consider investing in real estate. Diversification and Real Estate Investing

There are four primary ways to make money in real estate:

  1. Appreciation. When a property increases in value, you have real estate appreciation. Sometimes is happens due to changes in the market and other times it may be due to upgrades made on the property.
  2. Cash flow income (rent). Cash flow income is a nice perk of real estate investment that you don’t have in other types of investments.  It is generated when you purchase a home or apartment building or an office building and rent them out.
  3. Real Estate Income.  This is income earned by people who earn commissions through real estate transactions or buy property managers who oversee the operations of rental properties.
  4. Ancillary Real Estate Income - This can be a huge source of profit.  Things like application fees, vending machines and laundry facilities are money makers that go beyond the monthly rent.  Increase Your Bottom Line - Supplementing Rent with Ancillary Income

While there are certainly Risks of Real Estate Investing, there are a lot of benefits that outweigh the risks:

  1. Real estate is something that people who grew up lower to middle class are familiar with.  They may not have been exposed to things like stocks and bonds, but they likely know the importance of owning a home.  Buying a home is an investment that is reachable for them.
  2. Having an investment that you can see; something that is tangible, is psychologically important.
  3. You have the control in a real estate investment.  You don’t have to worry as much about being defrauded the way you might when entrust your money to someone else to invest for you.
  4. You will reap the benefits of tax advantages.
  5. You can Leverage Your Debt to buy more real estate and increase your net worth.

Whether you are thinking of purchasing a home for yourself and investing in your own future by building equity or you are considering buying property to rent out, investing in real estate is great way to build wealth!

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 Raise Your Credit Score to Save Money

by The Hat Team

Want to buy a house but a low credit score has you down?  Don’t despair! There are ways to raise your credit score and save thousands on your mortgage.   A strong credit score can lead to better interest rates, additional loan programs to benefit homebuyers, and easy and quick approvals which will put you on the fast track to home ownership.  Here are some tips for raising your credit score:

  • Make sure your credit reports are accurate.  The first step toward improving your credit score is checking your credit reports.  You will find your credit scores on three different reports, one each from the 3 Major Credit Bureaus.  Keep in mind that credit reports can have mistakes…and they often do.  That’s why it’s important that you analyze them carefully.  Make sure that the information on the reports is accurate, because if there are mistakes, they will be reflected in your score.  It’s easy to check your credit reports and doesn’t have to cost anything since you are entitled to a free copy, once a year, of all three thanks to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  Once you have copies of your credit reports go through them carefully and make sure of the following:
  • Is your personal information is accurate?
  • Are all your credit accounts are being reported?
  • Are there any late or missed payments that you remember making on time?
  • Are there any applications for credit that you don’t recognize?
  • Are there any accounts you don’t recognize?
  • Are there decades old items still on your report?

Highlight any discrepancies you find.  If you do find errors, you will have to dispute each one separately.  How to Dispute Errors on Your Credit Report

  • Figure out what you need to fix/change/improve.  Here are some examples of things that could be causing your score to be lower than it should:
  • Your identity may have been stolen and someone is screwing up your credit.
  • An old collection account could still be haunting you, way past its statute of limitations for your state.
  • Do you have an ex-spouse? Perhaps he or she has not paid a bill he or she was supposed to pay per your divorce settlement.  Unfortunately, you could be suffering the consequences.
  • If you have ever defaulted on a loan it might be showing up as several defaults on your credit report because it has been sold to other debt collectors.
  • It might be a simple name mix up…your credit information might be mixed up with that of someone with a similar name.
  • Devise a plan to improve your credit score.  You can open a free account on Credit.com where you can get tips to help you determine where your poor credit issues are and they can assist you in creating an action plan for improving your score.  To get started, try keeping your credit card balances as low as possible, and start paying down debt rather than moving it around.
  • If you have a habit of making late payments…stop.  It’s vital that you make payments on time. Set up alerts when payments are due so that you won’t forget.  If due dates don’t coincide with when you get paid, make some calls to get the dates moved around to better suit your schedule.  Don’t be afraid to ask a credit card issuer or lender to forgive a past due payment. You might be surprised to discover they will happily work with you if you have a history of making on-time payments.
  • Open a secured credit card.  This is a type of credit card that allows you to make a deposit into a checking account that “secures” the line of credit being extended to you.  You will be able to get a secured credit card even if you already have bad credit, and adding a new account with a positive payment history will help improve your credit score over time.

2018's Best Secured Credit Cards for Building Credit

Once you get your credit score where it needs to be, you will reap the benefits by qualifying for better rates and save money on your mortgage loan!

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: cfcw.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

Resale Value - What Matters Most

by The Hat Team

Unless you plan to stay in a home for the rest of your life, resale value should be a major consideration when purchasing a house. Home-ownership is a huge financial investment and the goal should be to get as much monetary return as possible when you sell.  While you can’t always predict what the future holds for the real estate market, there are some basic guidelines for what kind of properties have good resale value.  Don’t make the error of focusing only on what you want when doing your home search.  Think about the following factors that will affect the resale value:

  1. LOCATION - This should be a primary consideration when looking for a home that will provide a good return on your investment.  A desirable location is likely to remain a hot market for home sales.  Think about the school district you will be in.  Even if you don’t have children in school, a top district will draw many buyers.  Different people will be looking for different things, but most buyers will want basically the same things from the location of the home. Home Buying: Location Matters
  2. NUMBER OF BEDROOMS - A house with more than two bedrooms will sell faster and for a better price than one with only one or two bedrooms.  Even a couple with no children will want extra space for an office or guestroom (or both).
  3. NUMBER OF BATHROOMS - Buyers will expect to pay much less for a home with only one bathroom.  If people are choosing between a house with one bathroom and one with two, they will almost always be willing to spend a little extra to get that additional restroom.
  4. GATHERING SPACE - Buyers want a large, informal space for relaxing and entertaining family and friends.  You will get more value out of a spacious family room than you will out of a formal living room. 
  5. STORAGE - These days people have a lot of “stuff” and they need places to put it all.  Storage space, including closets, a pantry and loads of cabinets will improve the odds of getting high bids for your house. 
  6. GARAGE - People who live in suburban areas need places to park their cars.  A covered parking place or two is ideal.
  7. OPEN FLOORPLAN - Buyers are looking for homes with open spaces and rooms that flow from one to the next.  A house with an Open Floorplan will improve your chances for a profitable resale.
  8. OVERALL CONDITION - A property that is well-cared for, updated and remodeled will greatly enhance resale value.  Focus on rooms that matter most to buyers - kitchens and bathrooms. Make sure everything is in good working order.  Some people might be looking for a fixer upper, but many buyers are willing to pay a premium for a move-in ready home.

If you are in the market for a new home let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professionals assist you in finding your dream home.  Call them at 334-834-1500 today!

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

Buying is Better than Renting: Here’s Why

by The Hat Team

With interest rates still relatively low, buying a house right now is less expensive than renting in many places, including Montgomery, AL.  Now is a great time to lock into a rate.

Buying is often considered to be financially better than renting over the long run because your mortgage payments build equity in your home, which you will eventually own, while rent only goes toward the upkeep of your home and the pocket of your landlord. That is just one reason buying is better than renting.  Here are some others:

  • You can do what you want with your property. Making home improvements will be your choice…from colors to paint the walls to light fixtures to types of floors, you won’t need permission from a landlord to make changes.
  • Tax benefits. Tax Deductions are a great perk of home ownership.
  • Stable monthly payments. Rents can go up, but with a fixed-rate mortgage, your monthly payments won’t change.
  • Forced savings.  Renting might seem less expensive, but would you actually save the money you don’t spend on rent?  Since your mortgage payments are building equity in your own home, which you can later sell for profit, it’s like a forced savings.

Using a Rent vs But Calculator you can see how buying is a better financial option right here in Montgomery.  For example, after 4 years, the cost of homeownership (down payment, mortgage, taxes, etc.) for a $150,000 home in Montgomery would be $94,094.  The total cost to rent the same house for that period would be $52,193.  Renting would leave you with $41,901 in your pocket (including the money you didn’t spend on a down payment).  So, it looks like renting would be better financially, right?  But wait…not so fast.  Let’s look at what you gain over the same 4-year period if you buy.  After 4 years, your home will have $70,371 in equity. However, if you instead rent and invest your down payment and the other money you save at a 6% return rate, it will earn around $8,351 in 4 years.  So, if you look at your gross costs, equity and investment potential, it’s better for you to buy than rent if you plan to live in your home more than 3 years and 3 months.

The bottom line is, if you’ve been thinking about buying a home in the Montgomery area, don’t wait!  Start investing your money in your own home vs that of a landlord today!

Contact Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of professional Realtors at 334-834-1500 and let them help you find your dream house today!

What NOT to Throw Away When Downsizing

by The Hat Team

Getting organized to move is an arduous task.  It makes sense to get rid of a lot of unused belongings when you are getting ready to pack and move, especially if you are downsizing.  But it’s important not to go overboard! There are some things that are worth keeping. In fact, there are some things you should never throw away, even when downsizing:

  1. Important Papers.

You should let go of as much paper as you can before moving, but be careful that you don’t thrown away important documents.Hang on to the following: birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, social security cards, retirement documents, medical records, insurance policies, passports, wills, trusts, power of attorney documents, property deeds, investment records, education records, diplomas, military service records and vehicle titles.

  1. Collections.

If you collect something, clearly it has significance to you. Maybe you just like it, or maybe it has sentimental value.Either way, you should definitely take your collection with you and make room for it in your own home.Now, if you have several collections, you might have to pick your favorites and leave some behind.But downsizing doesn’t mean having to let go of the things that mean the most to you.

  1. Family Heirlooms

Sometimes you inherit things that you feel you must keep just because they were passed down to you from family.But you don’t really like them. You keep them packed in a box and don’t use or display them.There is no point in moving these to your new home. But family heirlooms that you love should make the cut.Downsizing gives you the opportunity to take stock in your family heirlooms and decide what is worth keeping and what can be sold or given away.Take the items that you enjoy and that are meaningful to you…leave the rest.

  1. Electronics

Unless you have the time to make sure that all your electronics have been completely cleared of personal information, you should take them with you.The last thing you want is to give away, sell, or dispose of electronic devices that still carry your personal information.

  1. Photographs

When you are in the midst of packing for a move and you are exhausted and overwhelmed, you might start throwing away things that seem unimportant at the moment…but you may regret it later.Take all your photographs with you.If you have time, save space by getting them digitized using a company like Legacy Box. But don’t throw them away!

  1. Landline Phones

Many people rely solely on cell phones these days.But you never know when you might misplace your mobile phone, run out of battery or lose service.Keep at least one land line for emergencies.

  1. Sentimental Items

This may seem like a given.Of course you won’t leave any sentimental items behind.But sometimes it’s difficult to decide what holds deep sentimental value to you, especially when you are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff you have to move and fit into your new, smaller home.Don’t let downsizing make you feel like you must get rid of the things that mean most to you.Choose the ones that mean the most and bring them along!

Are you looking to downsize? Sandra Nickel and her team of professional Realtors can help you get your current home on the market and assist you in finding the perfect home to suit all your needs and desires. Give them a call today at 334-834-1500!

Mortgage Loan Pre-Approval Will Make You Stand Out to Sellers!

by The Hat Team

Across the country right now, the number of buyers seeking homes far outnumbers the number of homes available.  Because of this, the housing market is super competitive and buyers often need to do something to stand out.  One way to show that you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even in a less competitive market, knowing your budget will give you security of knowing if a home is within your reach.

One of the many advantages of working with a local Realtor is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process.  Once you have chosen a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with vital information regarding your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.

There are 5 Cs that aid in determining the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  • Capacity: Your current and future ability to make payments.
  • Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash.
  • Collateral: The home or type of home that you want to purchase.
  • Character: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time.
  • Conditions: Current interest rates and amount of principal influence lender’s likelihood of financing the borrower.

Getting pre-approved not only shows sellers you are serious, but also speeds up the process of completing the purchase once your offer has been accepted.

Many people overestimate the down payment and Credit Score needed to qualify for a mortgage.  If you are ready to buy, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at what you can afford!  Contact Sandra Nickel and her team of professionals at 334-834-1500 and let them help you achieve your dream of home ownership today!

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 44

Syndication

Categories

Archives

   cdpe    crsHat Lady on Zillow