The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

Top Ten Most Helpful Home Renovation Apps Pt. 1

     Today's homes are smarter than ever, and the info you will need to plan and organize the remodeling of your home can fit in your pocket. If you want to choose which paint color looks best in your bedroom, or find a new coffee table for your living room, or how to renovate your kitchen, it can all be found on these apps! It's just as effective as hiring your own personal decorator. 

     Here are the first 5 of the top ten, easiest to use apps that can assist you in your home improvement.
1. Houzz. (FREE, iPhone,iPad, & Android) - if you are thinking of remodeling look at this app. It's essentially a picture gallery that can be broken down by room, style, location, and even furniture type. It allows you to save photos of the pictures you like. A cool feature it holds is being able to search for an specific paint brand and color and finding real homes that have used it. This way you can see what s finished room looks like in that color. 
2. Roomscan (FREE, iPhone)- this app draws out a rooms floor plan fairly fast. All that is required is placing your phone from wall to wall. So forget measuring out the room, and use your phone. This even works for oddly shaped rooms like "L" or rectangle shape rooms.
3. RoomHints (FREE, iPhone)- ever wanted to ask a large number of people about which decor looks best? This is the app for you. Simply take a photo of the room you're looking to decorate and upload it. In no time you will have people commenting on the picture with recommendations. Something great about this app is you can save your favorite comments and don't have to search through every single one of them to find it again. 
4. Snapshop (FREE, iPhone & iPad)- the hardest part about shopping for new furniture is visualizing how it will look in your home. What is so cool about this app is you just have to take a couple pictures of the room, and take...

Pros and Cons of Financing as Seller

Seller financing can benefit both parties in a home sale despite the natural risks. This is essentially taking out the middle man, and middle men do the work no one really wants to do. If you can shoulder the burden, do it and get rid of the third party.

Who wouldn’t want the banks and mortgage lenders out of the picture if they could be? It’s probably people who don’t know what they’re doing, which is most people. Shouldering the financing does involve risk.

Seller financing is when the seller is the lender in the transaction. The seller doesn’t just give the buyer money in the form of a loan like the banks and mortgage lenders do. The seller allows the buyer to make payments. They might let them rent first, and if they record is clean, and then they can buy. Now though, the expenses of property taxes, homeowner insurance, and maintenance then fall on the buyer.

The buyer almost always signs a promissory note to the seller listing the interest rate, repayment schedule, and default consequences. These are usually short-term deals. Sellers don’t want to be dealing with this for 30 years. The loan is usually amortized for 30 years with a balloon payment after the first five years, this would be the standard deal for seller financing. Balloon payments are the repayment of the left over principal sum, made at the end of a loan period.

                Pros for buyers:

  • People who cannot get a mortgage are able to buy a home though seller financing. A seller might give you the green light when a traditional lender would not.
  • Closing process is much faster and cheaper.
  • A down payment can be whatever is agreed upon.

Cons for the buyer:

  • Interest rates might be sky high.
  • A credit check will still be run on you even though the lender isn’t a real bank. You still have the...

A Costly Mistake for Millennials

Shockingly enough, a good portion of millennials claim they would rather rent than buy a home. This could end up costing them over $700,000 during their lifetime.

Six out of ten millennials say they’d rather rent than buy. One in four claim they are very likely to buy a home in the next five years. This survey was conducted with a sample size of 1,300 millennials by EliteDaily.com. This anti-buying a home trend is quite evident because their statistics show, one if four own a home, and back in the 70’s and 80’s it was one in three. This isn’t the best news for the real-estate industry.

There are plenty of reasons for this trend. One happens to be that they feel they cannot afford to buy a home. Millennials also are starting their families later in life. This generation also doesn’t like to feel they are trapped in one place. Whatever reasons they have, it will cost them in the long run. Most markets are still a better deal to buy than rent (monthly), even when you factor in all the insurance and tax costs.

When you have a plan to buy a house you plan on owning an asset as well. The median home in America is $190,000, and historic annual home price appreciation is roughly 3%. Depending on the price of the home you buy, and you do the math, carry the 2, your home could very well be worth much more than when you bought it after a decade or two. Rent can also appreciate over the course of a few decades! This being said, some millennials are likely to rent now and buy later, but waiting too long has its costs too.

Interest rates and home prices will likely rise in the future. If this is the occasion, and if you do the entire math correctly, you wouldn’t come out positive on your investment a year after the mortgage was paid off. There are also reasons to rent, like more flexibility, no mortgage payments, and very little maintenance.

 

Be smart though, if you cannot afford it, don’t buy...

5 Tools Every Single Homebuyer Should Use

We have all heard the saying, “work hard, play hard”, but now is this time to work smart. Working smarter yields faster results with less effort spent. Apply this to when you are ready to buy a home and it will be easier than what you are led to believe. Are you ready to buy a home? Good! This procedure is filled with a plethora of information.

                 It can be quite intimidating to buy your first home, but with these tools in your repertoire, it won’t be so difficult.

  • Educate yourself- Spend some time learning the steps in the process and learn your rights. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website has some information for people interesting in buying a home. They have info regarding your rights, predatory lending, etc. Once you learn about the industry you will learn all the vocabulary and won’t feel so lost.
  • Calculate cash- We all know buying a house is a serious investment. Knowing your power of the purse is crucial to having a smooth ride. There is nothing worse than finding your dream home priced at $300,000 and only being able to spend $250,000. Find yourself a mortgage calculator and avoid this let-down.
  • Location is everything- Everything about the home is important, size, design, layout, but most of all is the location. Is a good school near? Is there a park around the corner? Am I in a safe neighborhood? Your home is part of a community, and learning the characteristics of this neighborhood is critical before you purchase.
  • Pay attention to safety- Safety is always a major concern when choosing a neighborhood. You should learn all the details about your target neighborhood before you sign your name on the final paper.
  • Make a plan- Lastly; help yourself out by making the websites you find helpful along the way in your favorites. This way they aren’t lost when they...

Buying in Winter? Things to do to Prepare Yourself

Since we just sold your home in winter, let’s now buy your next home in winter.

 

It isn’t ideal to buy a home during winter because, let’s face it, winter is a drag and everything about it sucks. Homes are still waiting to be bought though. So don’t underestimate the challenge of buying a home in winter.

Some parents may become desperate at the end of summer to buy a home just to get their kids enrolled in the particular school they want. For this reason winter presents itself in a different light, one with opportunities. Let’s take a look at the five ways in which you can win while you search for your winter home.

  1. Take advantage of the discounts: While fewer homes are on the market during winter, the discounts happen on both ends. Given fewer homes on the market, yields fewer buyers as well, so this lack of demand motivates sellers, which is a tool you can use in your negotiation.
  2. Take a look at rental listings: Summer rentals are quite popular in the northeast, and many owners make a decent living renting their properties out for the entire season, month, or just a weekend. Prices tend to be better for sellers because the winter makes room for more negotiation.

If your goal is to be occupied by Memorial Day, landlords will begin marketing their properties during the winter. Some might even sell if the conditions are right. The point is there are always more homes available than what is publicly listed, and you never truly know what’s for sale until you ask. Rentals are great because they aren’t usually lived in, and they don’t have to worry about moving.

 

  1. Do your homework: Despite the cold, you can still find the right neighborhood for you and your family. Just look at researching maps with school districts, commute times, and entertainment, dining, and recreation. Once those factors are figured out your search can truly begin.
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Tips to Sell Your Home in the Winter

Everyone knows spring and fall are the traditional prime-time seasons for selling a home, but sometimes life doesn’t go as planned and requires homes to be sold in the winter. One good thing about this is that with the plethora of technology available from your smart-phone selling in mid-winter isn’t all that difficult. The supply of homes on the market will be light to begin with, and buyers will still be looking.  Since you are selling in the winter, buyers will look the other way on the landscape. There are other areas to pay attention to.

Be sure the home is easily accessible- If bad weather happens to hit while your home is on the market be sure to clear the driveway of any snow/ice. Clear off all pathways, sidewalks, and steps. A buyer could pop up at anytime wanting to see the house.

Keep the heat on- Nothing is more off-putting than walking into a cold home. Because it isn’t “inviting” it affects the buyers’ senses. A cold reception will leave the buyer with a negative first impression. Keep the heat on and make sure the house is warm and cozy.

Show off your winter wonders- If you have a fireplace in your house, now is the time to show it off! Everyone loves a real fire inside a real fireplace. It provides an ambiance that is second to none, and a comforting feeling. Ask your agent just to be sure the fire is appropriate during this time. It could also be a nice tough to keep the wood by the fire just for show.

Let buyers see your outside attributes- During warmer months buyers like to step outside on the deck and into the backyard for a look around. They are feeling out what the lot is like, and the scenery. Since buyers will be less likely to do this during the winter, make sure these features (pool, patio, deck, etc.) are visible from the window. If snow happens to be covering these features, be sure to make sure the buyer knows about them. It isn’t a bad idea...

Downsizing Could Make Sense

Current numbers show that 12.5% of the entire population is 65 years of age. This is not a huge number, but it is still a number to take a look at. I would be willing to bet a good portion of those 12.5% are considering downsizing because they do not need the space they once did. Not only that, but there’s a great sense of freedom once you have gotten rid of some of your age old “stuff” that you no longer need.

Making a move to a smaller, less expensive home could free up some money that could be well used elsewhere. Savings in the utility department will also be noticed, as well as the lower premiums for insurance and property taxes.

Leaving the home where you raised your family may be difficult, but downsizing to a smaller home may be the most logical move. Depending on your situation, your interest may have changed and a different part of town might look more attractive than it once did.

The IRS use to have a once-in-a-lifetime exclusion of $125,000 of gain from a principal residence but it was changed so that homeowners’ are eligible for an exclusion of $250,000 of gain for single taxpayers and up to $500,000 for married taxpayers who have owned and used their home two out of the last five years and haven’t taken the exclusion in the previous 24 months.

Consult your tax professional to see how this could apply to your situation!

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Landlord Won't Fix Your Repairs List? Here's What To Do

If you have a landlord and have a repairs list, sometimes it can be difficult to get a hold of them and get things fixed, so here are a few things you should know about how to handle those situations.

 

Know your rights: To find an apartment is step one. If you are a renting tenant, memorize these words, “Implied warrant of habitability”. Residential landlords need to maintain their rental units in a safe, operable, and sanitary condition. What makes places unfit to live vary by state. Here are some general rules that you have a right to have during your lease period:

  • Hot water and drinking water
  • Heat during winter months
  • Electricity and plumbing
  • Locking doors and windows
  • A place free from bugs, rats, and other pests
  • Building code requirements met

If there’s a problem with your rental unit that makes it unlivable, now is not the time to try and take advantage of the landlord. If you think you can get away with living rent-free for unfavorable living conditions, think again. The best you can probably do is withhold rent for a short period of time, but that’s it. Instead here’s what you should do:

  1. Tell the landlord the problem and request it be fixed immediately. You should have open and honest communication with your landlord.
  2. Send a certified letter if your relationship with them is poor, or if you didn’t receive a written or oral response from them. Be sure to state the problem in the letter and when it began. Have a copy of this letter.
  3. Be sure to give the landlord a reasonable amount of time to fix your requests’. The general rule is 30 days unless it is an emergency.
  4. Let the landlord or repairman in to fix, but make sure they tell you when they plan to fix it.

Not every repair is always their responsibility. Sometimes it can be your fault if you forget to scrape the dyer lent out...

Selling Your Home in a Hurry? Try Pricing it a Bit Higher

If you are trying to sell your home in a hurry, your first instinctive thought might be to drop the price in order to attract more buyers. Maybe you should try another approach. It seems counterintuitive, but increasing your asking price just slightly can attract more potential buyers. The theory is, in a competitive market as we know; you may actually sell your home faster by pricing it a little higher than other homes in the area.

This is all based from a study published back in 2013 in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. Their findings were that homes listed for 10-20% more than comparable homes sold more often. The study had a 14,000 survey population of real estate transactions with the average sale prices of properties of $234,000. For every 10% increase in asking price, homes sold .05-.07% higher.

The author wrote, “Pricing a home 10 percent to 20 percent lower than comparable homes led to a…decrease in the expected price”. Here are the reasons and a way to make this strategy work for you.

The Power of Perceived Value: Any marketer knows consumer see more than just a number when they look at a price of an object. They see it as a direct reflection of the items value.

For example: when you walk into a shoe store and see two pair of shoes, one pair for $80, and the other pair for $40. You will automatically assume the $80 pair is better due to higher technology, more comfort features, etc. The thing is though that you have no idea how much these actually cost to make, so the retail price is your best indicator.

This perceived value can also work for home sales. When a buyer is looking at identical listings other than price, (same number of bedrooms, same location, square footage etc.) they assume the more expensive house is either overpriced, or has better features than make it more valuable.

This can lead to a higher priced home being snatched up faster for several reasons:

  • ...

Here Come the Drones!

Drone quad-copters are slowly making their way to the scene in real estate. The FAA has just allowed the first real estate company (Tierra Antigua Realty) to use drones commercially. They have specifically asked to use the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ to take aerial photos and videos of homes for sale. You may think you’ve already seen plenty of aerial photos in your neighborhood, but all those images and technically been illegal.

The FAA has been in a battle with these tech companies over the use and regulations of drones. There are specific laws regarding them, but they have not been enforcing them. Because of this new ruling though, we might see a bit more regulation.

There are strict rules for drone pilots currently, and the FAA intends to make it even stricter. They want a drone pilot to have an actual pilot’s license. That is bullcrap if you ask me. This is a 10 pound object, not a flying tank. A real pilot’s license can take years to acquire, and cost more than $10,000.

While the FAA has only granted 14 exemptions to certain companies, this real estate company is the first of its kind.  The US government has been delaying its ruling on these for months, but with so many players, bad incidents are bound to happen which isn’t helping. Clear guidelines are supposed to be in place by November of 2015.

In the meantime, check out what these little gadgets are capable of and see if they could benefit you!

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Are Pocket Listings Unethical?

As the housing market continues to rebound (slowly but surely), “pocket listings” are have become questionable part of the real estate process. Brokers and sellers always like some privacy, but to what extent does it become unethical?

A pocket listing is a situation in which real estate agents peep sales information about a home off the multiple listing services (MLS) and brokers only show that house to individuals who they expect to actually buy the property.

The National Association of REALTORS doesn’t have specific rulings on pocket listings, but it’s an unwritten rule it isn’t a fair practice. However, in New York “pocket listing” does indeed violate the Universal Co-Brokerage Agreement, which requires agents to share listings.

Some would claim that a gray area is created with pocket listings. The idea is that agents can collect double commission from the deal by being agent for the buyer and seller. If the agent is putting their own personal interest ahead of his clients, then that does in fact violate the law, as well as business ethics.

Some agents will advise their clients to lower the price of their home when the “pocket listing” doesn’t sell quickly. They also let me know about putting their home up on a public MLS site. Some agents also think a few sellers may like the privacy of pocket listings because they aren’t too eager to move, that is unless a “make me move” deal is made with an incredible price.

Use your own judgement when it comes to pocking listings. If you think what you're doing is shady, it probably is. If there is no harm in what you're doing to any party involved, by all means have yourself a good ol' pocket listing.

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5 Credit Habits to Break in 2015

So you’ve decided 2015 is the year you’re going to make a major housing change. It’s now time to confirm your credit behaviors are at the pinnacle. Because buying a house is the biggest expense you’ll probably ever undertake, your credit needs to be looking strong because it plays a major role in the terms and conditions you get from a lender.

                If credit is on your list of items to improve this year, there are a few options to tune up the way you think about and interact with your credit score. Just knowing the answers to boosting this score can take you quite far. Let’s begin…

  • Being Disconnected:  Not checking your credit report

Break the habit of not checking your credit report. Check your report regularly to know where you stand. You should consider your credit report like a map to all your credit behaviors. It’s important to know how your report will be viewed by lenders and others when they see it for the first time.

  • Overspending: Running up or maxing out your credit cards

It’s best not to have a credit card, but if you must, do so responsibly. Keep your spending under control and within your budget. Keeping tabs on how you spend now will help you evaluate how much your budget can fluctuate when you decide to buy a house.

  • Managing Balances: Just paying the minimum balances due on your accounts

Pay more than the minimum. Throw everything you have without starving yourself or your family at the debt you’ve accumulated. Not only will this look responsible on your behalf, but it will also save you money on the interest in the long run.

  • Seeking too Much: Applying for credit indiscriminately

Once again, don’t have a handful of credit cards, but if you must, then do it sparingly. If you have numerous credit cards...

The Hopeful Return of First Time Home Buyers in 2015

2015 could be the year that the housing market sees first-time home buyers making a comeback. Rents are rising faster than incomes which makes buying a home a better option than just throwing away money to never be seen again.

First-time home buyers will see some of the best conditions in history, incredibly low down payment mortgages, looser lending standards, and a bigger selection of homes to choose from. Here are four market trends economists expect these first-time home buyers to see this year.

  1. Looser Lending Standards: First-time Home buyers haven’t made much of an appearance in the housing market in the past five years. However, last December Fannie and Freddie established some new lending guidelines to start offering 3% down payment mortgages. With 3% down this makes it much easier for first-time home buyers to afford a down payment. Adding that to a growing job market, this down payment is surely a good choice.

An economist for Moody Analytics Mark Zandi has predicted the sale of new homes by more than 13%, while existing homes are supposed to increase by 5%. He also believes that if the first-time home buyers can make enough of a wave in the market it will create a chain reaction allowing existing home owners to sell their homes and buy bigger ones.

  1. There will be more homes to choose from: Builders are building smaller houses to accommodate these beginning buyers. Most home builders are building homes in the price range of $120,000 to $150,000 which is about the right range for these novice home buyers.
  2. Home Prices will become more affordable: With all the new homes waiting to go on the market the supply is expected to loosen and home prices won’t feel so much pressure. This should improve the affordability in the more out of reach metro areas of the country like Washington D.C., San Jose, and Seattle.
  3. Mortgage rates will move higher, eventually: The only wrong trend real estate professionals...