The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

Clean That Closet Out!

How often do you walk into your closet and tell yourself you’ll lean it out soon? We all tell ourselves that, but rarely do it. It’s probably time to get rid of a bunch of clothes you haven’t worn in years. Take the initiative and clean that closet! It will be easy and worth your time. You’ll be happy you did and it will only take an hour.

The Purge

Donate just a little time occasionally to clean your closet, or go after it all at once. Keep a container in your closet or bedroom that is a donation bag. Whenever you come across a piece of clothing or an item that you no longer use, toss it in the donation bag. When the bag is full, or you’re finished cleaning out the unused items, take that bag to a donation center. 

You can’t wear it if it doesn’t fit

No matter how attached you are to a special pair of paints, if it doesn’t fit, you cannot wear it. It makes zero cents to keep the items that are old and don’t fit right anymore. The only exception is if you are a gym rat and have a plan of wearing it again soon, while being able to hold yourself to a commitment. 

New seasons and chances

When the seasons change you bring out a whole new wardrobe. If you didn’t wear that sweater last winter, you won’t be wearing it this winter. If the gaudy tank-tee you love never left your closet last summer, it sure isn’t going to this summer. Get rid of these items!

Use the plus one, minus one approach

Just bought a pair of new jeans? Put them in a nice place in your closet, but dat forget to take out the old pair that are collecting dust. The idea is that...

Underwater Mortgage Options

And astounding 3.2 million households in America cannot afford their monthly mortgage payments. This is often referred to those in the industry as an underwater mortgage. 

What are underwater mortgage is is when the balance of your mortgage loan is greater than the fair market value of your home. This often happens when there is a downturn in the market or flat out crash and home prices.

Let's say four example you buy a $300,000 home in 2006, and you still owe $250,000. If you tried to sell your home in the current market you may only get $230,000, leaving you still owing $20,000 and no downpayment on your next home. The advice here is to wait it out. But what happens if your family is growing too fast and waiting isn't a viable option?

Here's what to do:

Getting out of an underwater mortgage will hurt, there's no two ways about it. Prepare yourself to feel a little sting, because it is coming.

1. Short sale

Short sales always hurt because they come up as a little mark on your credit history. Yes you've had a short sale in the past few years, all lenders are awfully hesitant to loan you money. The strategy of hurry up and wait is the one that you may have to take.

2. Take a little from savings

To make up the difference you may have to cash out a retirement fund or use your rainy day money. What's worry some about this is you may have nothing left over, or not enough to keep you afloat if a tragedy were to happen. If you skimmed too much out of your savings and don't have enough for a down payment on your next home, your best bet is to find an experienced loan officers who know where they can get you good deals in Fannie Mae.

3. Rent your home

To meet the needs of your growing family you may have to...

Wasteful Spending is Hurting Your Bank Account

We never really notice little amounts of money being taken out of our bank account. Weekly, we seem to spend $3 here, $5 there, on small things like items at a gas station, or even a quick lunch. Throughout the course of a month all these little purchases on knick-knacks add up. 

We typically have an idea of about how much money we have in our bank accounts, but we seldom pay attention to each transaction. Your financial ship is sailing full speed ahead, but a little leak may be letting in water to slow you down along the way. Here are some common ways we spend money that slow our ship down, and how to plug that leak.

  1. Bank Fees

Banks are sneaky and they’ll take your money any way they legally can, which is usually through fees. The best way they can is through overdraft foes, and then by issuing paper statements. Sometimes they’ll even charge you a flat fee for not having a certain amount of money in your account. Yes, thats right, they’ll take your money for not having enough money. 

Certain banks charge you to move your money around. Also, some banks make you pay for services you really don’t need. So figure out where you bank is taking your money and do everything you can to keep their hands off it.

  1. Food waste

If you ask any American where they spend a good chunk of their money, you will hear food as some common answers. It’s okay to spend money on food, but there’s also food waste involved, no doubt. Americans have the tendency to buy in bulk, which leads to a bunch of it being wasted. The best thing one can do is meal-plan and resist the urge to buy outside of that plan, unless you are 100% sure it will be eaten.

  1. Energy gluttons

Energy is an expense everyone has, but how much they spend is up to the user. Energy consumption varies throughout the year. Winter months we blast our heater, leave it alone in the...

Jobs You Will Want to Hire Out

On this blog we usually promote DIY projects, but not today. Sometimes the workload can be just too large, or advanced for a homeowner. When this kind of circumstance is the case, it is almost unavoidable to hire out the work to a professional contractor. 

If you are flipping or renovating there will surely be several parts of the home where you hire a professional to make sure the job is done right. You pay for what you get (typically) and hiring out is usually expensive. When you hire out you'll save yourself time and hassle. These are the four jobs that you should probably hire a contractor to complete. 

Roofing

If your home needs a new roof this is the most important project to hire the professionals. It will take forever if you do it yourself, and you could even do it wrong. If you're working on the flip house, just remember, time is money. 

If you've never installed a roof, but feel like you can learn through YouTube, do yourself a favor and hire it out.

Plumbing

Plumbing is a dicey venture best left to the professionals. It's possible you could make a huge mistake and cause yourself hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in damage. Sometimes plumbing can be an instant issue, or it may take months to notice the problem, so why even chance it?

You would be better off hiring a professional who does this for a living. The time you'll save will be much more valuable than the cost you save by doing it yourself, and possibly doing it wrong.

Structural improvements

The newest trend in homes are open floorplans. As a flipper, chances are you will need to knock down some walls. The problem with this is that you can't just knock down any wall. Something may crumble! If you knock down the wrong wall you...

Termites and Insurance? Are You Covered?

Termites live to eat, and if they are in your walls and/or foundation, your home is under attack. The countless number of termites will be eating day and night without rest. Termites cause billions of dollars of damage every year, and most homeowners don’t know their home is under attack until it is too late. At that point the homeowners ask whether their home insurance covers termite damage. The answer is, nope!

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover any damage that is preventable, and this includes any insect like bed bugs, fleas, roaches, termites, etc. The way insurance companies look at termites and other bugs is interesting. They figure them to be preventable, because homes deserve maintenance and inspections fairly often. Some insurance companies boldly outline the rejection of coverage for bug infestations. 

There is one exception though. It’s called collateral damage. Picture this, termites eat away at a corner of your foundation, and a beam collapses. When that corner of the house collapses, and  it takes the second story corner weight with it, insurance will cover the repair of the second story; but the cost of the foundation beam will be out of your pocket.

So it’s clear that homeowners insurance covers unexpected/accidental situations, but nothing that happens over time like termites. 

On the plus side several insurance companies offer special policies for “wood destroying insects”. This rather small list includes termites, carpenter ants, and beetles. The cost will depend on where you live. States like California, Arizona, Texas, etc. can have terrible termite problems, while states like Alaska and Maine have very few termites. It all just really matters where you live, so a good way to decide if you need this is to talk to your insurance agent, but don’t buy everything they say. 

One way to prevent an infestation is to call pest control to treat your home. Another option...

Foreclosings Dwindle

Less and less foreclosure signs have been sprouting up in the past several years, which has been excellent for the industry.

A foreclosure filing includes default notices, and auctions and bank repossessions. These have dropped 19% across the country from the first quarter of 2016. This is roughly 235,000 homes! 

A report by Attom Data Solutions, a real-estate data firm, claims these are the lowest level of foreclosures since the third quarter of 2006! 

If we view this on a local level, more than 100 markets fail sufficiently below pre-recession foreclosure levels, which is up from 78 markets last year. These cities that still have a higher number of foreclosures include Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

In March 2016 foreclosure rates were up 24% compared to March 2017. However, March rates are up 6% from February. 

The state of new jersey had the highest rate of foreclosures followed by Maryland in Nevada.

Since foreclosure rates are dropping, this indicates a strengthening housing market. It may also impact the affordability crisis that is popping up throughout the country. And because people are finding it harder to afford houses, they are choosing to rent rather than buy. 

Regardless, we like seeing the rate of foreclosures shrink!

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8 Home Improvements Under $1,000

Here's how you can upgrade you home in under $1,000!

1. Install a smart thermostat

Heating and cooling your home accounts for more than 40% of the total energy usage. Having a programmable thermostat allows you to keep an eye on the temperatures even when you're not home. Many people forget to turn it off when they leave for work in the morning and it runs all day. Having a smart thermostat allows you to manage it from the road. There can be a substantial amount of savings over the long-term with this cool feature.

2. Update your fixtures

Old lights, vanities, and appliances can really make a Home look old. New anything will breathe new life into the home. Simply installing new hardware on cabinets gives it a fresh new look. Replace the spa think that your house that look old and it will go along way.

3. New toilet

Replacing an old, ugly, heavily used toilet can make a substantial impact of your home. Toilets only cost anywhere from $100-$300. The new toilets even use less water which can shrink your water bill over time. 

4. Reglaze the bathtub

Bathtubs can really make or break a deal. They are a pain to install, so every buyer really hopes the current one is in good shape. For a couple hundred bucks you can reglaze your tub and make it look brand new. 

5. Lay down a tile floor

Tile is sexy, and it makes a home look elegant. Shiny new floors really help homes sell. They are easy to clean and don't hold dirt and grime like carpet does. Lay some time in your bathroom and if the budget allows, in other parts of your house.

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Market Value Vs. Assessed Value

A home's value is not a set number, it is based on what somebody will pay for it. These numbers move almost daily. There are usually two numbers to look at when buying or selling a home. There's the "assessed value", and the "market value", so let's learn the difference. 

These numbers seem identical, but they can be vastly different. The assessed value is usually lower and used in different ways.

Market value

The definition of market value is, "The most probable price that a given property will bring in an open market transaction." 

Essentially it's the price that a buyer will pay for the property, given the seller accepts that price.

A professional real estate agent is trying to determine a home's market value by looking at a couple of characteristics. 

External characteristics: these include the curb appeal, the outside condition of the home, style of home, size of the lot, and availability of public utilities.

Internal characteristics: The number and size of rooms, construction and appliance quality and condition, HVAC systems, and energy efficiency.

Comparable: what the homes nearby are selling for, or have already sold for.

Supply & demand: The number of buyers and sellers in your area.

Location: how desirable of a neighborhood this home is in, the quality of school districts, and the crime rate.

The market value of a home is a good place to begin for a plethora of things. Agents can use the market value to prod sellers to come up with a reasonable asking price for their home. A seller may give an unrealistic number they want for their home, but the agent is there to guide...

4 Things That Could Be Stopping Your Home From Selling

Your home is your castle; with all the loving memories you've made along the way in such a special place. When it is time to sell your home and you don't even get any showings you start to question what has gone wrong. 

Instead of moping around about it, go through the house and look at it the good, the bad, and the horrible so that you know what needs to be done to sell your house.

The worst thing you can do is nothing, and the best thing you can do is take action. Ask what few people have looked at your house have thought, and request your agent send out surveys for feedback.

Don't take the results of the site surveys personal, that they are only looking at this as a business deal. And just remember that the customer is always right.

When you're selling your home make sure you don't fall in the trap of the four common things a seller typically overlooks that turns off buyers. One of these may be stopping your home from selling. 

1. Keep a clean home

Dishes in the sink, toys on the floor, male laying around - all of these eyesores portray to the potential buyer that the home isn't well cared for. It may also signal there is a lack of storage room. Clean your home of all the unnecessary items before anybody steps inside. Box stuff up, sell it online, or donate it; however you choose it has got to go. 

2. Update décor

Popcorn ceilings, wood paneling walls, shag carpet, are completely out of date. Buyers don't want to buy a home they'll have to renovate them selves. Simply trading out the brass doorknobs or painting the wood paneling or quick fixes that could remedy your problem.

3. Clean up after your animals

It's common that pets leave a lingering smell and the buyers walk out after a couple minutes....

Closing Times Are Speeding Up!

National average closing time for February was down to 46 days after falling from 51 in January. This is according to Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report.

The average home purchase loan took approximately 45 days to close in February which is an improvement of three days from January. A refinance loan took an average of 47 days to close in February, which is an improvement by 6 days. 

63% of the market share are conventional loans for February, while January held a 66% marketshare. The FHA bumped up it's market share by two percentage points and the VA loans rose by one point to 10%.

The FICO score's for loans decreased in February to 720 after falling from 722. Considering a year ago in August and September, FICO scores are currently 11 points lower. On the other side, FICO scores are still one point higher than January 2016.

The good news is that 70% of the closed purchase loans had a minimum score of 700.

February was a strong month for buyers, they held a 57% of the total close loans. 

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