Susan Jensen and Alli Baldocchi of RE/MAX Estate Properties in Hermosa Beach host a client appreciation event at the Maison Luxe. There was wine, snacks, friends and good conversation.
The recent housing downturn discouraged millions of people from entering the home buying market. They were more confident in renting than buying. However, as the home market stabilizes more renters are now considering becoming buyers. As many as 5.2 million renters plan to buy their first homes this year, with many more renters considering following these individuals’ leads soon. This uptick in homeownership hopefulness is up 25 percent from just a year ago.
As eager as many people are to buy their first homes this year, they still may face some obstacles. People must still qualify for a mortgage, something that may be difficult if they have low credit scores, low incomes, not enough money for a down payment, or other financial hurdles. Likewise, they must find housing that fits in their budgets. With the economy rebounding, home prices continue to increase. People must time their house hunting accordingly so that the demand for housing matches the budgets that they have set aside for their purchases.
Further, studies show that this 25 percent in homeowership confidence occurs in major metro areas across the country. Some of the cities in which people stated their hope to buy a home include San Jose, California, Miami, San Francisco, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington, D.C., Denver, Phoenix, and Seattle. In these cities, rental prices are soaring, making the idea of buying a house attractive to people who have been renting all the years, but now discover that they could save money by purchasing a home.
According to a report released by BMO Harris Bank, about half of people surveyed spent six months looking for a home and visited and average of 10 houses before making a final decision. The survey also found that people had conflicting emotions about the home buying process, whether they were first-time homebuyers or had purchased a home before. While nearly half of both groups were excited about the process, anxiety occurred in nearly a third of new home buyers and a quarter of repeat buyers.
Some of the biggest concerns for buyers were things that would take place after a purchase, with 79 percent concerned that they would discover something wrong with the home and 69 percent fearing that housing prices would drop. Still, people appear to be generally optimistic about discovering the perfect house, with more than half expecting to find their dream home in their price range and three-quarters believing they’ll know when they’ve found the house they want.
People appear to be trying to follow the suggestion that housing expenses should only take up about a third of a household’s income, and 13 percent of first-time buyers say that they are pre-approved for a loan. An additional 83 percent intend to go through pre-approval before attempting to purchase a home, something that is recommended by the Head of Mortgage Sales of BMO Harris Bank.
Ninety-eight percent of respondents say that pre-approval takes the stress of financing out of the buying process, and 87 percent feel that it gives them an idea of what they can spend.
When taken as a whole, the study demonstrates the importance of working with experienced and trusted real estate agents and lenders. By working with professionals who have your best interests in mind, many of the anxieties associated with buying a home — from getting an inspection to qualifying for a loan — will diminish.
For those who have not heard, last Wednesday saw a low moment in Manhattan Beach when the entrance of a family’s home was intentionally set on fire. Ronald Clinton awoke around 2:15 a.m. on February 4 to his dog barking, smoke alarm sounding, and house filling with smoke before there was a loud explosion. He was able to get his children and dog to safety, but they would later realize that a tire doused in accelerant had been thrown at their front door and ignited, leaving them with $200,000 in damage and doubts about feeling safe in their own home.
While nothing will ever undo this awful act, there was a silver lining in the reaction from the community last Friday when 700 people gathered for the most amazing candlelight vigil in support of the Clintons. The message to the arsonist was communicated perfectly by Councilwoman Amy Howorth: “We will not allow this in our city. This massive turnout proves that people here want no part of this. We want (the suspect) to know this is not acceptable.”
We are Ron and Malissia’s real estate agents and represented them when they bought their home. We are fortunate to call them friends. They are a lovely, successful family of five, and we are sick that such a horrific incident could happen. We urge anyone with information to contact the police or fire department immediately. Please consider contributing to the reward fund. Per the Clintons’ wishes, any unused portion of the money raised will go to the Manhattan Beach Education Fund to promote and celebrate diversity.
The residential real estate market is heating up, and the National Association of Realtors estimates a 30 percent rise in the number of existing home sales for 2015. If you plan on selling your home, it is in your best interest to make the necessary improvements to maximize the valuation of your property.
De-clutter and Organize
Improvements prior to selling your home should start at getting the place organized. Donate or throw away items you no longer use. Archive your family photos and memorabilia in temporary storage space to de-personalize your home to enhance buyers’ interest.
It takes motivation and elbow grease to de-clutter, but professional organizers can get the job done efficiently. Potential returns range from 3 to 5 percent for this project, but guest-ready neatness counts when pricing your home.
Update the Kitchen
The kitchen should beckon potential buyers with a welcoming appeal. Easy cosmetic changes such as new fixtures for the sink, updated appliances and modern kitchen counter materials may yield as much as 7 percent returns. Fresh paint on the walls, upgraded cabinet hardware and new window covers will do much to make a kitchen look fresh and modern.
Basic Bathroom Improvements
The state of the bathrooms reflect on the overall condition of the house. Fix leaky plumbing, replace old fixtures then re-caulk and re-grout to spiff up the bathroom sink, tub and counters. Bathroom upgrades can yield from 1 to 3 percent returns.
Curb Appeal Matters
Touch up the paint in strategic areas to freshen up the home, but power-washing may suffice instead of whole-house painting. Focus on the front door, facade and street front areas because curb appeal influences buyers’ perception of the pricing of your home.
Read More: 5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal
When you get what you think is a home loan approval letter in the mail, you understandably may be very excited. However, before you act on this letter, you should avoid making some common home loan mistakes that could sink your homeownership prospects. These precautions can help you avoid a financial fiasco that could jeopardize your credit and your ability to buy a home in the future.
Letter From an Out-of-Town Lender
If your letter is from a lender from out-of-town, you should use caution before acting on the letter’s contents. An out-of-town lender may be prowling for vulnerable and hopeful would-be homeowners who are desperate to buy a home at any cost. This company may also be trying to compromise your identity and access your bank account.
Qualification Versus Approval
Many people who have had past credit issues get pre-qualification letters in the mail. These letters again may be bait for people to give out money and identify information. Pre-qualifying for a house does not mean that you are approved for a loan. The loan inquiry itself could be a hard hit on your credit report, which could lower your score.
As the economy rights itself and more people are entering the homebuyer market, you may be anxious to buy a home yourself. However, you should avoid jeopardizing your credit and your money by avoiding these home loan mistakes. Taking the time to read the letter and determining if it is a scam can help you safeguard your buying prospects later.
While many people have made moves to be more environmentally friendly in their vehicle choices and making sure that they recycle, a number of individuals are not aware of how beneficial green architecture can be. Green architecture can be perceived as being expensive and difficult to implement, but the reality is that it provides a number of ways to save you money as well as improving the resale value of your home.
There’s no question that there’s an upfront cost when implementing green initiatives in your house, but there’s also a solid return on investment. According to a study done by McGraw Hill Construction, the ROI for green structures improved by an average of nearly 20 percent in 2011. In addition to recouping your investment, you can also expect a reduction in the amount of money it costs to run your home. Per the World Green Building Council, green upgrades to your home can save you as much as $16 per square foot on energy expenses and up to two dollars per square foot on water expenditures.
Your pocketbook isn’t the only thing that will be better off if you make green upgrades in your home; your family’s health will improve as well. Households with sustainable architecture tend to have better indoor air quality thanks to improved airflow, reduced temperature variations and better insulation. The Boston Housing Authority discovered that people living in green buildings were 47 percent less likely to have sick inhabitants than those living in regular buildings, even during flu season.
The right contractor for your bathroom remodeling project may have to wear many hats. Bathroom redesign requires the services of licensed plumbers and electricians, among other trades people. The contractor will have to coordinate the process very well to ensure that work flows smoothly and efficiently.
1. Experience matters.
The contractor must have a track record of successfully completing projects preferably related to bathroom design and remodels. Look at before and after photos if a physical inspection is not possible.
2. Credentials count.
Contractors who will be spending a lot of time inside your home should be properly vetted, including background and reference checks. Likewise, subcontractors should be checked unless the contractor vouches for them. In any case, make sure that the contractor can present proof of performance bond and insurance that also covers subcontractors.
3. Attention to details is a must.
So much minutiae is involved in a bathroom remodel, and every little detail plays a role in creating the dream bathroom. Look for a contractor who is organized and focused with a nose for practical solutions.
4. Cutting corners is not acceptable.
Examine the bid and ask to look at sample materials if possible. It is tempting to choose the lowest bidder, but this may not yield the best results if the lower bid involves using inferior fixtures and substandard materials. Be wary of contractors who underbid to win the contract then bump up the budget later on.
Bathroom remodeling is a very personal project, so make sure that you can get along with the contractor who will be in your private space until the project is completed.