The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

How NOT to Lose Your Rental Security Deposit

Whenever renting an apartment, house, condo, etc. there is always a security deposit. These are to ensure you do not destroy the place during your stay. The landlord then keeps the deposit in case you do not fulfill your end of the contract. All this can be avoided with a few simple steps to play by the rules, and ultimately getting your money back.

1. Take photos (video) when you move in: Walk through your new rental unit with your landlord and take pictures and video (if necessary) of every room in the place. This will show what it looked like before you moved in, so if a big hole in the wall was already there, you cannot be accused of creating it.

Email the photos to your landlord that day so there is a digital trace of this documentation. If they are too big to send, use dropbox, or post them on Youtube and make it private.

2. Give ample written notice: Some leases have clauses saying how much time you have to tell your landlord before you move out. These are usually anywhere from 30 – 60 days. It will also say what type of communication is preferred. Always go with writing though, this can never fail. Just comply with whatever the lease agreement states, and if you don’t, they can nail you and say you didn’t follow the lease agreement.

If your lease doesn’t mention anything about move out, ask your landlord before you move in, and then get their answer in writing. The reason they do this is so they can get ready for their next tenants. Having an empty unit is quite costly for landlords. The more help you are to them, the more help they’ll be to you.

 3. Don’t disrupt their showings: Don’t act like Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Step Brothers when Derrick is trying to sell their parents house. Landlords won’t appreciate that at all. Another few “don’ts” is leaving the house a mess, be difficult, change the locks, leave out valuables, and make the landlord...

Mortgage Lending

Mortgage rates fell again this week for a 30-year fixed rate to 3.83 percent, which is down 8 basis points from last Wednesday. It was actually lower earlier in the week before finding its current position. This happens to be the lowest level since June. If the GDP is looking good this week we can expect an increase in the rate.

 The 15-year fixed rate is 2.97 percent, and 5/1 ARMs, the rate is 2.84 percent. Not much change in these mortgages.

 Stay tuned next week for another update.

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Buying a House? Do These Five Things First

Are you considering buying a house? This is one of the biggest decisions of your life, with a ton of questions to be answered, and even more loose ends to secure. What you will want to do first is to make a checklist to start the right way. Here are five tips to make sure you do before taking the plunge.

  1. Checklist – Everyone can benefit from a check list. No matter how small, no matter how large, checklists help even the most organized people get everything in line. When buying a house, this is no different.
  2. Do your homework – IF you want to walk in late and without studying, you’ll be the one who is setting up to fail. No matter what you’re going to buy, know what you’re looking at. Whether it’s a small one-story ranch, or a multilevel mansion; know the features of each so you are prepared to ask the owner or agent about the property. Without knowing what you’re looking at, it’s difficult to know if you truly like it or not.
  3. Look at your credit score – Nothing scares away mortgage lenders like a bad credit score. Take a look at it to see if you have any bad marks, and fix them if you can. The typical score of 580 is what most bankers like to see, and will give you a decent interest rate. As always, the higher your score, the lower your interest rate will be.
  4. Get a pre-approval for your mortgage – This is to safeguard you when you walk in any house that catches your eye. You probably cannot afford it without the mortgage anyway. Eliminate the worry of house shopping by knowing you CAN get this house.
  5. Don’t forget loan fees – Closing costs are almost unavoidable, and often forgettable. Allocate anywhere from 10% - 20% for closing costs, and if you can get the seller to cover them then that’s a home run.

Those are the five major things you should do before buying a house, but there are a couple little side things you can do that won’t...

3 Growing Neighborhoods in Louisville

                As we have seen the slow and steady housing recovery, we have also seen new neighborhoods become quite valuable. There are a few neighborhoods in Louisville that have really benefitted from the recovery. Just because they are rising though, doesn’t protect you from a sudden fall. Home prices rise and fall outside of your control.

If you’re looking for homes in Louisville, you should definitely consider one of these rising neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have seen the sharpest rate of price increases anywhere in Louisville.

 Bashford Manor

As small as Bashford Manor is, it has seen some unbelievable growth in the past two years. The median home price for a home in this neighborhood is $105,900, which is up nearly $12,000 from May in 2014. It doesn’t look as if the growth is slowing down either, which can make this investment only more attractive. Statistically speaking, this neighborhood has grown 13.4 percent in the last year, and is expected to grow another 7 percent.

What makes this neighborhood so great is it’s a perfect family neighborhood that has all the amenities they need just a short ride away.

 Old Louisville

                Old Louisville is in the heart of downtown. It’s home to the University of Louisville, St. James Court Art show, and has plenty of Victorian style homes. The median home price is $153,700, which is more expensive than Bashford Manor, but cheaper than the national median of nearly $180,000. The rate it has increased by was 12.4 percent, and is still expected to rise another 7.8 percent in the coming year.  If you are looking to get an old house with a lot of personality, this is where you...

You're Probably Making Money on Your Home & Don't Realize It

We all know a home is one of the biggest investments we will ever make in our lifetime, however we know very little about the asset itself. A good portion of American homeowners were unaware of the growth value in homes for 2014, when in reality homes grew by 4 percent, and by double digits in more than 65 metropolitan areas across the United States!

The gap between what homeowners thought and reality was quite evident in Florida. Values of homes in southern Florida rose by 12 percent, which is roughly $23,000 per home, yet a fifth of all Floridians didn’t think values moved at all. In Tampa, the values rose by 9 percent, boosting homeowners’ properties by $12,300, all while 45 percent of the residents in Tampa believed the market never moved.

In Boston, 23 percent of residents believed their property values hadn’t changed, and they were right. Most metropolitan areas had residents undervaluing their homes; Boston on the other hand, overvalued their home prices.

Residents of Washington D.C. were the only ones who accurately predicted how their homes changed. They said anywhere from 1 – 3 percent, which is correct.

We will continue to see how the market rises or falls in the coming months.

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3 Tips to Create an Offer Sellers Can’t Pass Up

Whenever putting in a bid for a house, some offers are more attractive than others. I’m going to show you how to draft an offer that will put you in a good competitive position to get the house you want. This offer not only has to be made, but it has to be accepted before you can call this home yours.

These tips won’t guarantee you will get the house, but they will help you become a leading candidate.

  1. Carefully consider your approach – If this property’s listing price is a good starting point, reconsider. Talk to your real estate agent and find out what similar properties in the area have sold for. Your best bet is to check in the past three months, as those will give you more accurate numbers. This will give you a better idea of where your offer stands in comparison to the seller’s asking price, and the market price.

How will you be paying for this place? Will you pay cash or finance it? Cash offers usually get you’re the best deal because it’s straight cash. No mortgage holes and loose ends to tie up. If you choose to finance it, but are offering a quick close, (less than 30 days), your agent can probably use that to leverage a better deal for you.

Be careful of throwing a lowball offer on the table. Ask your agent how this could play out. Sometimes it’s a great start to begin negotiations, but other times it can send the wrong message and totally derail the negotiation. It’s all dependent on the seller and the market.

When you are ready to submit your offer, back it up with all the details the seller wants to know. Your goal is to get the seller to believe this is the best offer on the table. They will need the completed offer paperwork; all the signatures from everyone involved, and if you are asking for concessions, make sure they make sense.

  1. Weigh the pros and cons of your request for repairs – asking for concessions is part of most offers. If it’s repairing...

Update on the Mortgage Rates

Weak retail sales have scared the market making mortgage rates fall. This means the first interest rate hike is still a few months away. The mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed rate fell to a 3.91 percent; which is actually down 4 points from this time last week.

They dipped a bit early in the week and then hung out around 3.89 until settling on 3.91. The 15-year fixed mortgage rate is at 3.03 percent, and the 5/1 ARMS is at 2.89 percent.

Another mortgage rate update will come sometime next week. It’s still a good time to buy if you are teetering on the fence.

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How to Screen Your Landlord

We all have had one experience or another with landlords, whether good or bad. We all hope for the good, but there’s a couple screening tricks you can do to make sure you like your landlord.

 

They will definitely be screening you as they do all tenants, so why not screen them to make sure they have a reputable history as a landlord. Here are four easy steps you can take to screen them.

 

  1. Check Public Records – searching public records can divulge a plethora of information helpful to your cause. You can find info for the landlord whether it be their personal, or corporation, and the property itself. Look for red flags though such as bankruptcy, liens on assets, criminal records, and any pending lawsuits.

Liens will come up if in the property records if there is one against it, whether if it is in the idle of a foreclosure, and any other legal problems it might have. The tax records will show you who bought the property, when it was built, and how much they paid for it. Be on the lookout if a property management company owns this property, and if they are underwater or filing for bankruptcy, chances are your stay might not be as long as you planned.

  1. Consider Complaints – Sometimes people will complain more than others, it’s just who they are. But take those complaints seriously, and consider where they are coming from. Find an online forum about the property, landlord, property Management Company, and see how other renters’ experiences have been. Look for repeated complaints.

Check with the Better Business Bureau if you are dealing with a property management company. Social media isn’t a bad way to check too. If they are an individual person, check on Google! They have everything.

  1. Talk to Your Neighbors – Your neighbors will have the entire scoop on your landlord. They are the ones who see him coming and going whenever they do. They will (and should) be...

How to Tell How Fast Your Home Will Sell

Anyone familiar with the real estate industry knows the term, “Location, location, location”. While this is a highly reputable term, it isn’t the only worth focusing on. Homes are likely to fly off the market often have similarities between them. Here are four that will give you a solid piece of mind when looking to sell.

  1. Relax, the price will come – Yes the market is recovering, but slowly though. This takes time and won’t happen in a couple months. Whatever you do, don’t over price it. Homes that are priced 12 percent above their Zillow estimated value are almost half as likely to sell within 60 days versus those estimated values. The sweet spot is to find that middle ground.
  2. Take pictures, but not too many – 16 -21 photos are the ideal amount of photos for a listing. Always be over prepared than underprepared. Aerial shots are beginning to take flight as the new form of photographic advertising.
  3. Size matters – smaller homes, typically under 1,100 square feet, sell the fastest. They usually sell about 9 percentage points faster than larger homes in larger markets within 60 days. However, in markets like San Francisco, and Indianapolis, these little homes take the longest to sell. It all depends on your market, and where you are.
  4. Advertise – The more you advertise, the luckier you make yourself. Getting to the right advertising platforms severely increases your chances of selling within the time you’d like.

 

It’s good to be back from the west coast! Get that house sold!

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Top 10 Kitchen Remodels to Not Get Burned By

Remodeling your kitchen is one of the best things a homeowner can do for their house, also one of the most expensive. This can add thousands of dollars to the value of your home, but it’s crucial it is done right. With all the options available to you, that many more things can go wrong, and this month long kitchen project can be extended a lot longer. No one wants this. 

Before you start destroying your kitchen, read these top 10 tips to avoid so you aren’t up the creek without a paddle midway through. 

1.       Don’t overspend – Take a look at the market and decide which level of upgrade is most appropriate for you. Search the low, middle, and expensive upgrades; some can range from a simple $2,000 paint job, up to $50,000 complete renovation with countertops and appliances. If you are friends with your neighbors, ask to look at theirs to see what kind of kitchen they have. This can keep you from over/under spending. 

2.       Avoid an identity crisis – Don’t try to make a home into something it was not intended to be. This means if a single story 70’s ranch is turned into a contemporary luxury estate, it’s not going to fit. All homes are built with a certain architectural style in mind, and straying too far from that during a remodel can be disastrous.  You’re spending too much money to create a kitchen that looks out of place. 

3.       Keep the plumbing where it is – Moving water and gas lines to match up with sinks, ovens, stoves, etc. can cost you out the wazoo. Leave them alone to keep some money in your pocket. 

4.       Watch out for the wrong floor plan – If new appliances isn’t in the budget this time around, keep your floor plan at the front of your mind. Is the pattern still the same between the sink,...

When Not to Sell in a Seller’s Market

Trends in real estate can always lead us to thinking what we want to do is a good idea, but that isn’t always the case. Read these tips before you follow through with your “genius” idea.

The current market states that housing prices are on the rise yet again, and my guess is you are getting that itch to sell. There are several reasons why you shouldn’t scratch that itch and sell in this seller’s market.  Stay put and read this article before making any rash decisions.

The Return from Distress

If you have been living in a distressed neighborhood and finally hear the good word that home prices are increasing, this brings hope to your heart. Yes they might be increasing, but they could very well still be below the norm. So if your house fell 30% and the median home price increased 14%, then you’re still down. Look at the national real estate market as a whole and decide if the appreciation will likely continue or not.

It’s not about selling when it’s the best time to, it’s about selling to recoup the cost of the house and then a little more. Don’t get greedy and lose sight of your properties potential by some appealing numbers.

Assessing your Rental Market

Check out your local renters market before you sell. Rentals are on the rise because housing is becoming less affordable, and people are moving around a lot more for their jobs. Since rental rates are climbing, maybe this is your next option. Sit down with a real estate professional and see if a property like yours is worth renting out and what you could gain from it.

A Combination Approach

Sometimes it’s best to rent out your current home while you buy your next home, but only if you don’t need to proceeds of your last home to go towards the new one. ...

Easiest Way to Saving Money Around the House

One of the easiest and best ways to save money just by being at home is to unplug everything that isn’t necessary all the time. This can go a long way throughout the course of a month.

Walk around your house but keep an eye out for all the outlets. Are they being used? If so, by what? In my house I can see a coffee maker, three TV’s, a microwave, a few lamps, a charger, a toaster, and that’s only on the first floor.

These little gadgets that are seemingly always plugged in add to your electric bill daily, even when you’re not using them. This is called Phantom Power use. They are just using power while they are plugged in. The average house has about 40 gadgets to plug in. Having this running all the time can contribute to 10% of your energy bills, costing you $100 a year. Here’s a list of appliances that you should unplug when not in use, and some of the ones that aren’t costing you a penny while plugged in.

Unplug!

  1. Small kitchen appliances – Obviously leave your bigger appliances plugged in, but take out the coffee makers, food processors, microwaves, toasters, electric can openers etc. Basically if it has a clock on it it’s using energy. The ones without are using energy, but slightly less.
  2. Chargers – I know I have a bad habit of leaving my chargers plugged in. Whether it is to my phone, laptop, vacuum, once your device has reached full charge, unplug it.
  3. Entertainment system – This one is the king of all wasted energy. All the colorful lights blinking and flashing while you sleep. The stereo system is displaying phrases, while the cable box changes the little clock every minute of the night. Yes waiting for these to reboot is a hassle when you want to use it again, but just make a devout effort to kill the wait time by doing it right when you get home from work. You should definitely unplug this while you go on vacation.
  4. Computers – Screen savers don’t save jack, and sleep...

3 Home Buyer Tactics to Get the House You're After

 Before putting in an offer, we worry if ours is the one the seller is going to choose ours. Homes are moving quickly in today’s market. It can be quite cutthroat out there when multiple people are after one particular house.  I’m going to let you in on a few tips that will raise your odds of getting that house you want so badly.

Make your offer a “sharp” one

This means make sure the seller knows you’ll do almost anything it takes to get their house. The true definition of a sharp offer is to match the highest bid, and then raise it by five percent, sometimes ten.

Offer to buy out the winning buyer

We have all heard of sore losers, who just didn’t get what they wanted and sometimes even track down the winning bidder and try to negotiate with them. How this could work is to track down the buyer, and offer to pay them their earnest money deposit (occasionally up to three percent of the purchase price) as well as any expenses in return for letting you take over the purchase.

Write a letter to the new homeowners once they close

If you found yourself on the outside of that awesome house looking in, this is your last ditch effort. This is where you want to make contact with the new buyer, either knocking on their door or writing them a letter. In this conversation you explain how you missed the house of your dreams and would like to buy it directly from them, and make sure you make an offer they can’t refuse. It must cover their costs of moving again, and put a little back in their pocket for the trouble. This could finally motivate them to take your deal.

If none of these work, then you’ve lost. It’s time to go find that next house and get on with your life. Remember this experience though and use it to your advantage next time around. Good...