The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

Housing for Military Families Less Affordable than for Civilians

In San Diego, military families who choose to move off base pay up to 65 percent of their salary on their mortgage, and up to 60 percent for rent. It always costs more to live off base, even after their, “Basic Allowance for Housing.” It isn’t uncommon for landlords to be other military families, who know how much the basic BAH is for various ranks.

These families don’t have the choice of settling down in one spot for a long period of time because they know they’ll only be there a couple years. Because of this they do not get to redecorate, or make any major improvements. It just isn’t a smart move financially.

Nationally, service members generally pay up to 32 percent of their income on their housing, which is double what civilians’ pay. This is for all military members combined, and who do not live on base.

Renting is even more expensive for them. Up to 42 percent is paid in rent, compared with the 30 percent for civilians.

US Average – 15.3%

Air Force – 30.4%

Army – 29%

Navy – 34.6%

Coast Guard – 33%

Marines – 36%

 Of course this all depends on where they’re based. While soldiers in San Diego expect to pay 65.5 percent, soldiers in Fort Hood, Texas pay just 15.1 percent on a mortgage and 29.1 percent for rent. This stands more in line with the national for civilians.  

 Think about these statistics during the week and remember what all these homeland heroes give up for you. Not only on the battlefield do they sacrifice, but their personal lives do as well. Thank a hero in uniform next time you see one.

 God Bless America!

...

Treating Your Summer Garden With Water Features

Thinking about putting some elegant fountain in your backyard, or a pond to give it a little life back there? Water features are always classy and aesthetically pleasing to the eye when you find the right one.

“Do we have room”, is usually the first question asked. The answer is probably yes since this doesn’t require acres of land. You don’t need the biggest or loudest fountain. Water features come in all shapes and sizes. They really aren’t hard to find, you just don’t notice them when you’re out. One unlikely spot is your local plant nursery. Every property looks better with a pond, but do you have to have one? No.

Keep in mind fountains can be expensive to maintain. For a larger scale example, Louisville’s waterfalls fountain was erected in 1988 but was only in operation for ten years. To thrust its 400+ foot jet of water into the air was quite expensive each time.

The Pant water Features

This feature is relatively popular, simple, easy to construct, and useable in almost any garden. How it was is there is a small pump at the bottom, and it sips water from the tray and pumps it back up to the top so it can trickle back down again.

...

6 Signs Your Real estate Agent Is Secretly a Fairy Godparent

If your real estate agent can somehow make problems disappear, then you know you have the right agent. In the real estate world, there are agents who are great, and agents who are not-so-great. For the great ones who can make your problems disappear, you wonder how they did it with just a snap of their fingers.

If you suspect something smells funny, here are the signs your agent might be a fairy godparent.

  1. They can cast a spell

Negotiating is a form of art, and the negotiator is the artist. If your agent does more than just talk, speaking in magic tongues, count yourself the lucky one. Even the most seemingly hopeless real estate agent can be saved by the gift of gab. They are able to make everyone a winner, leading the conversation along just as they planned.

  1. They have a bag of magic tricks

Superstar agents spend their time with other superstar agents. When buying a house, the inspection is a vital part. Some agents work solely with veteran inspectors who have infared cameras (no lie). This camera is a game changer for multiple reasons. It can read the difference in temperature, telling which parts of a room have moisture and insulation issues. A room with a fresh layer of paint appears perfect on the surface, but could potentially be holding issues underneath. So now you are left with a choice, walk away, or request your agent cast their spell.

  1. They have secret skills

Maybe you get lucky and have an agent who is also an interior decorator. If they are a superstar they will rearrange your for-sale home, leaving it much better than before. They will know the perfect color for your wall, matching it to your furniture. If they choose to help you out (they should), all their effort will be done timely, and without much effort at all.

  1. They can make things vanish and appear             

 A...

4 Loans That Affect Your Mortgage-Worthiness

There are different types of debt available to you so that one day you can boost your credit score. Don’t be fooled by the system that is always telling you to borrow, being in debt is never a good thing and it can actually hurt you if you over-borrow.

Searching for a new mortgage is something every homeowner must do (except the stupid rich ones) and your credit score matters here. It can make or break the mortgage approval, and even determine which if you get the house you want.

There are two types of debt: secured and unsecured. When borrowing money from a bank to buy a house, the bank has the option of taking back the house if you default. This is a secured debt. It is balanced against a tangible object as a security measure. Unsecured debt is something the bank cannot get their hands on in case you default on your payments. An example of unsecured debt is student loans and credit card debt.

Let’s take a look at the four key consumer loans that make our lives hell. These will be a mix of secured and unsecured debt on your credit score – and ultimately your mortgage worthiness.

Student Loans

Student loans are unsecured debt. These aren’t a bad mark for your credit score if you pay your bills on time. Because they take decades to repay, these can actually help your credit score. Loans that take a many years to pay off have the possibility to boost your credit score. These can be figured into your debt-to-income ratio, so they might affect your ability to afford a mortgage.

Auto Loans

Auto loans are secured debt because the lender can reclaim the car if you default on your payments. This type of debt has the possibility of raising your debt score by diversifying the type f debt you carry. Since auto loans are more difficult to get than credit cards, some lenders might see this as a good...

Smart Furniture to Make the Most of Your Space

In recent years there has been an upswing in the popularity of small space living, especially in the metropolitan cities, which is the result of the higher cost of housing. Even if you are one of those living in small quarters, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice functionality, and comfort in your home.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize the space in your home.

Room Dividers

If you live in an extremely small place like a studio apartment, you should use a room divider to increase the functionality of the living space. The most optimal way of sectioning a living space is to use a room divider that also doubles as a storage space. Example, you could use a bookshelf to separate the room while also helping to take clutter in the home.

Vertical Storage

One place to always find extra storage is above everything else and along the walls. Look above the kitchen cabinets or doors to check for a space that could hold a few extra shelves. You might find some wasted space in your closet, which is the prime example for potential extra storage space. Don’t overlook the high sports on walls to install wall hooks where you can hang shelves or other suspendable storage solutions.

Concealing Solutions

Small spaces appear smaller when you can see everything. To counter this, you can opt for concealing solutions such as other curtains or textiles, which can be mad to hang over shelving or across doorways. Boxes and baskets are also a viable way to hide loose objects. Some furniture comes smart, meaning it comes with built-in hiding features.

Double-duty Solutions

To help your home feel larger, try fitting multiple functions in one room in your home. For example, you can place an office desk in your dining room. This way it has multiple functions depending on the time of day. You can also have the space under the stairs as a big storage spot. Lastly, you can turn the walls in your...

3 Tips for Evaluating Multiple Offers

Selling your home is a process, sometimes an unpleasant one, but sometimes it can be fun. Usually it’s only fun when you get a slew of interested buyers waiting to make you an offer. Figuring out which offer to accept is of utmost importance, and which one will go through is crucial.

The sellers dream is receiving as many offers as they can handle as quickly as possible. Once multiple offers start coming in, brace yourself, there will be a ton to look over. This is when you know you’ve staged your home to the best of its ability and priced it correctly. Having multiple offers will be stressful, because which offer should you accept? Here are some tips to decide which offer.

 

Identify the best buyer and work with them to make a deal

When I say “best buyer” I mean the person(s) that have been to the house multiple times, and has made themselves known to you and your agent. Do not confuse this with the person who placed the highest bid. If the best buyer was the highest bidder, there’s a chance you could be caught in a bidding war, or they get cold feet and walk away after an inspection.

This best buyer is the one who is working with a local agent, and has been pre-approved with a mortgage, and has been in the market for some time. A quality listing agent will be quick to point out who is the best buyer. The buyer who is committed to a home and wants to close is the buyer for you. The second you accept an offer or sign a contract, the work begins.

 

Use the terms of a lower-priced offer with your best buyer

If you have a couple offers, they might run the gamut for over-asking to lowballing you. Try not to take offense to any offer, because every offer you get, the more times you will have to figure out a counteroffer.

If your agent can contact the buyer’s agent and say they’ve received five offers, it will make the top two buyers want it even more!...

How to Avoid Those 'Gotcha' HOA Scenarios

If you are looking to buy a home in an area that as community amenities, swimming pool, tennis courts, hiking trails, etc. you will be paying for them whether you use them or not. If you handle this area correctly, HOAs can preserve the value of your home. On the other hand, dealing with them can be a difficult task in itself. Here are six ways to avoid these pitfalls.

It all depends on the family, but love-hate relationships are common with their HOA. There can be benefits as well as negatives as well. Make sure you know how to make the HOA work for you, or else avoid buying into a neighborhood that has one.

Here are some possible “gotcha” moments you should consider when selling or buying a home with an HOA.

  1. 1.       An investor’s “gotcha”: Renting is against HOA rules

 Some neighborhoods limit the amount of homes that can be rented out, while they expect the houses to be used by families and kept up with. When you are dealing with an HOA neighborhood, make sure there are no restrictions on how many homes can be rentals.

If you do choose to buy a property in an HOA neighborhood, be sure to find out what covenants, conditions, and restrictions they have. If the HOA doesn’t allow rentals in the property you bought and intend to rent, you could be up the creek without a paddle.

 2.       The lender “gotcha”: The HOA has financial difficulties

If you are trying to sell your property, you should know if the HOA is solvent. It may not have enough cash reserves to cover common-area repairs and upkeep, and then the lender won’t approve of a new mortgage.

Know if there is an ongoing litigation, because if there is, getting a lender to approve a loan will be quite difficult. Also ask if they have adequate insurance. Most lenders won’t approve a loan unless the...

How to Handle Snide Remarks About Your Home

There’s little that is less defeating than hearing snide comments or criticisms against your home, the one you are trying to sell. But the best revenge against it is to use their feedback to make your home irresistible for the next open house.

It is never a comforting feeling to put your home up for sale and then have a parade of strangers waltz through offering your home up for brutal criticisms. They will probably even attack your taste of décor and your tidiness of your closets.

Some comments are directed to pierce the heart, while others are backhanded compliments. Some people might say, “I wish I could care less about cleaning like these people”, or “This place could be great with a little more effort put into it.” While the best one, “How quaint” is just like saying “bless his/her heart.”

To emotionally distance yourself from your home will help, but let’s figure out a way to constructively use this feedback. Let’s use it to motivate you to sell your home at the best price.

View the comment pragmatically

Leave your emotions at the door and find the comments that could help sell your home. When a neighbor recommends using bold colors, but insists on playing it safe, this is something you want to listen to. Potential buyers might have the same reaction. Remember, you aren’t painting to please your eyes; you are picking colors to appeal to buyers. The goal here is to give buyers the idea of a blank canvas. This way the buyer doesn’t have to do much work (which is a factor, believe it or not) but it also helps them visualize living in your home. These are some giant and important steps in getting them to make an offer.

Don’t take the comments personally, put them to good use

The most hurtful comment can be one about cleanliness. Everyone can understand why that comment might depress you, but don’t let it. We all practice...

How to Get Started in Real Estate Investing

Are you thinking about getting started in real estate investing? Well if you do it correctly, your first investment property has the potential to be quite profitable. I cannot think of any reason a newbie real estate investor cannot profit from a small, purchase to start off with. Home values are rising at a rate of 3.9 percent year after year, and expectations have them rising another 2.6 percent over the next year. If you’ve been considering real estate investment, now is the time to throw down some of your savings towards some real estate.

 In order to start the right way, you’ll need to make some executive decisions. Here’s how to go about this.

 Assess your current finances

 Usually the standard percent to put down on a property is 20%. To avoid having two mortgages, let’s be responsible and save/wait until we can afford the property outright. Yes, this will require a large amount of cash, and much discipline, but to skip the lender and avoid interest rates, you might opt for a foreclosure listed below the local market median.

If you have no need for a mortgage, you should consider living in your investment property so the owner-occupant rates can be fully utilized. This is only temporary living. One year will lock in the lower interest rates for the remainder of the mortgage. If you live in your property, the rates are much more favorable than a second home, or rental property loans.

For those lucky enough to purchase multiple income properties at the same time, it’s vital to choose the right financing. In this situation, it is recommended you use cheap 30-year fixed rate mortgages and buy as many properties as possible.

 Determine the potential cash flow

 Watching popular shows that show you how to flip houses make this task look pretty easy. Usually most homeowners profit little or none at all when they sell shortly after closing. Obviously making...

How to Protect Your Belongings During an Open House

Don’t want to get your jewelry stolen during an open house? Well be sure to secure them from the people who will be rummaging through your closets, drawers, and cabinets.

An open house is pretty much an open invitation for complete strangers to walk through your house while you are absent. You post a sign in your yard saying you won’t be home during these hours, so come on in and take a look around.

There are a few risks once you put your home on the market and make it open to the public. As humans we expect a common code of decency when we let humans in our home. It doesn’t hurt to be proactive in case the common code is undervalued. Chances are they’re not going to help themselves to your valuables while you’re gone, but I definitely wouldn’t give them an open invite to do so.

People are just curious, it’s in our genes, and they are given a right to be curious during an open house.

The target spots will be your medicine cabinets, jewelry boxes, and your trinket room. Be sure to scan your rooms and look for easily pocketed items. This will include your prescriptions, notes with personal or valuable information, checkbooks, and jewelry.

Do NOT overlook the potential opportunities for identity theft; this is a growing crime in America. This means all bills, bank statements, and mail need to be put away where no one can stumble upon them. Don’t stuff them in a drawer, that’s just dumb. Lock them up!

Also be sure not to obsess over whether it is secure enough. This could create a state of fear and paranoia. No one in their right mind will walk out of your home with your brand new plasma TV, but they might put the $100 bottle of wine in their purse on the way out.

Here are your safety tips

  • Find a reputable agent and ask him/her how to safeguard your home during an open house.
  • Make sure your agent has a sign-in sheet for everyone who enters your home.
  • For multilevel...

Even Lower-Tier Homes Are Still Too Expensive For Many Workers

As rents are rising faster than ever, they are also eating more of people’s incomes. People want to buy homes, but this route isn’t possible for many of the lower-income class.

 The incomes aren’t matching the rise in home prices. Since 2000, incomes for the lowest third of U.S. workers have grown juts 15%, while home values has grown 41%.

 Renters are spending around 31% of their monthly income on rent, and homeowners are spending about 15% for mortgage payments. Obviously the situation is different geographically, as well as the household income. For example, in Los Angeles, a bottom tier worker will spend around 85% of their monthly income on a lower-priced home. Middle-income workers will spend 41% for a middle priced home, and the top will pay just 30% for the most expensive homes.

 Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Salinas, and San Jose all are in California and the top third of workers pay just 30% or more of their monthly incomes for mortgages on expensive homes. Mid-level earners pay a little more than 30% of their incomes for middle-valued homes in 11 markets.

 The lowest third of earners pay more than 30% of their monthly incomes on low-priced homes in 77 markets! Because of this statistic, we see that many cannot afford this and are priced out of the market.

 

...

5 Money Hacks for Your Next Move

 Moving isn’t cheap, so use these steps and you won’t overspend during the process. There are security deposits, down payments, and insurance costs for the move.  All these costs stack up even before the first month’s mortgage payment, or rent check.

 The last item on your budget is the actual move. The average cost of moving in-state (according to the American Moving & Storage Association) is roughly $1,170, while moving out-of-state can be as much as $5,630. It’s best to cut these costs where you can, so here are a few hacks to help you do that.

 Don’t schlep unwanted goods - Something about a new home makes us want to fill it up with stuff as quickly as possible. Even if we don’t really plan to keep it there for long, we still end up trying to hold on to it. When you are packing up your things and deciding what to bring with you and what to leave behind, use the general rule: if you haven’t used it in the past three years, and don’t plan to, leave it behind. The best way to get rid of these types of goods is through yard sale; maybe even donate it if it is in decent condition.

  1. Get friends to help – No amount of free beer is enough to help a friend move. Moving sucks and you know it. Beer should be considered a bonus and not payment. A good way to repay them is through an equally significant time, or skill commitment. Something like babysitting their kids/pets or helping them hang a piece of furniture or something similar.
  2. Don’t buy general moving supplies – Now is when it’s okay to raid your office for packing peanuts. Look through the recycle bins in your building for old news papers and anything you could use during a move. Ask your local liquor stores for boxes. There’s no reason to pay $2+ for containers of materials that were supposed to be used once.
  3. Pack everything before moving day – Moving companies charge for the time spent from the...