The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

8 Keywords to Use to Find a Home Faster

Home Hunting is a process and it may take quite a while to find something you really like. If you are not having any luck, try these words in your search to uplift it a bit. Today’s market is a seller’s market, meaning there is a large inventory and homes sell rather quickly. When looking for a home, don’t make your search too large, or too small.

Here are some of the best hidden words to use when home hunting. These will help you guide your search in the direction needed to find what you want.

“Move-in ready” vs. “fixer uppers”

Properties that tend to be move-in ready have hidden key words in them such as, “showplace”, “modern”, and “pride”. On the other hand, words like, “TLC”, “vintage”, and “handyman special” will ensure this house needs some work, if not a lot. A word such as “black canvas” typically means the property has been completely gutted, and is ready for anyone with the gall to rebuild it from the inside.

Study up on schools

Checking out local school districts is worth your time whether you plan on having kids or not. Type in “A-rated” into the search bar to look for the better school districts, and what zones they cover; this little hint will help you know which districts to look for and which to avoid. If the property is in an A-rated district, the seller wants that to be known.  

Townhouse or Condo

If you are looking for one of these types of units, this word will be your best friend, “end unit”. End units not only have better natural light, they only have one neighbor! These units are generally in high demand, so be sure if you find one, to keep your eye on it.

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Time the Market Right with These Questions

After much thought if you want to buy a house or not, it’s imperative to time the market right. It could be a seller’s market when you are finally ready. Interest rates could just begin to rise. But how do you know if the market conditions are just right for you? These are the questions you will have to ask in order to know the market.

  1. 1.       Do I buy now or wait?

The first step is to ask yourself whether it is a good time to buy. Asking the experts is a great place to start. Asking a professional real estate agent is ideal, because they know the market, and will have facts to back up their claim. They could tell you if houses have seen upticks in their prices recently, which neighborhoods are popular, and whatever trends the market might be seeing.

  1. How much do seasonal trends affect my results?

It’s no secret that most homes sell during spring and summer. No one enjoys driving around freezing looking at houses in winter. The result is a bunch of buyers ready to make a move come spring time. Not every single sale is the same though, because some markets may be more partial towards the unfavorable months due to some event. Ask your agent to see the data patterns influencing sales during different times of the year.

  1. Are 2015’s patterns in line with 2014’s?

Will buyer data be same as the previous years? A good agent will be able to give you historical context to answer this question. They will tell you if the rise in asking price is normal this time of year, and should advise you on your best move based on prior year’s results.

  1. How is my price range relative to the markets?
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How to Personalize Your Rental Unit When Painting isn't an Option

If you are living in a rental that just doesn’t feel like home, we may have the answer. There are several options outside of painting that will help you transform your rental unit into your cozy home. The way we recommend is to add color, texture, and patterns. Ignore the boring beige walls and use these steps to help personalize your home.

Art

 You don’t need paint to cover a wall up. You can easily create an accent wall out of pictures, sticky strips, hanging fixtures, or any other decorative piece. To embellish color, just add bright, pattern heavy pictures or paintings. If elegance is your taste, go for more of a black and white tone, abstract art all encompassed by black frames.

Rug rendezvous

No matter what kind of floor you have, hardwood, linoleum, 70’s shag carpet, a good quality rug will never be a bad choice. Area rugs open the room with good color, texture, and cover up any unwanted spots. Try mixing and matching colors and patterns to tie the room together.

High shelving

Since painting isn’t an option, putting up shelving definitely is. You can create a good accent wall by adding floor to ceiling shelving, whether they are bookshelves, armoires, or wall shelves. Not only will these give you a bunch of storage, they will be really fashionable too. You’ll look like you are a master decorator. Painting these shelves a bold color will definitely make it stand out and look good.

Awesome windows

Taking big structures out of the rental is probably a bad idea, but covering it up will do too. Covering a window is a good way to add your own touch. Go to an arts and crafts store and see if you can find some good fabric that would look nice hanging by your...

How to Lose the Bidding War, But Still Win the Property

Buying real estate can be a competitive task, especially when there are more buyers than sellers. If your pockets aren’t as deep as others, your offer will probably get rejected a few times. Don’t worry though; you can take this rejection and finally get the home you want. Here are a couple reasons why your initial offer could eventually close to deal.

Use a second offer as plan B

If the seller does not choose your offer, and accepts your competition over price and minor contingencies, it wouldn’t hurt to request them to use yours as a backup offer. Just by asking, you could be number two in line if the other deal falls through.

Just within reach

The moment a seller makes the first move after accepting an offer, they are already in moving mode. They can see an empty house and the moving trucks in the driveway. If the buyer backs out last minute for whatever reason, the seller will probably accept the backup offer to keep the process moving forward.

Chances improve after inspection

There have been numerous inspections that have failed the test, and the buyer walks away because the seller doesn’t want to deal with it. These issues aren’t going anywhere; which plays favorably to you because the seller is more willing to accept the backup offer instead of no offer.

Loan qualifications are tougher now

As the standards for getting a loan rise, some buyers will not qualify, in turn backing out of the deal. This is where you come to save the day.

Make a one month time limit

The longer the transaction process takes, the more likely disagreement is afoot. Set yourself a month time limit for your backup offer...

How to Deal With a Roommate Who Hogs All the Internet

There is little that is as annoying as not having enough internet when you need it. Whether you are trying to stream your favorite show, make a post to Facebook, or send an email, the amount of bandwidth needed is crucial. In today’s society, each household has several users clogging the Wi-Fi. Sharing can be a pain, but there is a way to deal with your roommates who tend to hog it all.

How much is enough?

For beginners, playing online video games, being on your phone, and perhaps your TV is using Wi-Fi. Find out how much bandwidth you will need to run all the appliances you need at the same time. Anything less than that amount will slow everything down.  Having the right amount of bandwidth will allow everyone’s online activities to run smoothly.

The average household in America has three users online at all times. They could be streaming videos, checking their smart phone, and listening to music, a 30 Mbps will suffice. If someone gets a gaming system, you will likely need more.

Occasionally there will a situation where no matter how much bandwidth you have, it is still running slow. It could be your roommate; then again it could be the service. But before you start interrogating your roommate, do your best to find out if they are the culprit.

How do you know if there’s a hog in the house?

To keep things civil, just voice your concern about your internet being slow lately. See if they have an answer. Halt on the blitzkrieg interrogation for now until you’ve got some solid evidence. Take a look inside your laptop of PC to determine where most of your internet is going.

Check the bandwidth to check the internet speeds, and how much bandwidth is being used. Sometimes you can track exactly where it is all going, depending on how you are checking the status.  Other times you can just...

The Feds Considering Rate Hike, Is Our Economy Strong Enough?

The Federal Reserve is considering raising interest rates before the end of the year. The ultimate question is, is the U.S. economy strong enough to handle a hike?

A Reuters Poll was taken with 22 economists, and 20 of them said our economy could withstand this hike. Their main support was the amount of jobs created, and the demand for homes for millennials. If their data holds true, how do they factor in the trend of millennials who prefer renting? Most of this generation has outstanding debt, and owning a house is just a dream.

One of the economists has stated, “Rates are very reasonable now, and the signal the Fed will give when they begin raising their key lending rate will push more people into the market.

They have also claimed that the home prices in twenty metropolitan areas would rise an average of 5.0 percent this year.

Expecting a 5 percent increase in home prices will barely be strong enough to raise homeowners’ equity, which in turn will encourage them to put their properties on the market helping to fix the shortage of houses.

They are hoping this increase isn’t going to discourage first time home buyers. For some it will, and for some it won’t.

The next area the economists looked at was rate of home ownership. In the second quarter of 2015, the rate of home ownership fell to a 35 year low, and a rate hike could very well make that number fall further.

With data from last week, a positive number emerged; they found existing home sales rose 5.59 million in July nearing a 9 year high.

The economists have stated they believe all the activity in the market has strengthened itself for this hike. With the labor force rising, and the relaxation of credit conditions, these two factors should help justify the rise in rates.

Those of us watching the clock until the hike will try to lock in low rates, and for a lot of people their crippling student debt will weed them out of the market....

Reasons to NOT be a FSBO Type of Person

You may think you can save a couple hundred, if not thousands, of dollars when you decide to sell your home yourself. Unless you are a qualified professional, this won’t be true. The needed expertise will get you a higher sales price for your home, which will be more than you end up saving on commissions. Statistically speaking, homes that are sold by the owner more of than not, sell for less, and take longer, than those that use an agent. Below are five reasons you should opt-out of the DIY approach, and let a qualified professional handle your home.

Price – the surest way to sell your home quickly is to price it right. You cannot afford to price it too high and get zero offers, nor can you price it too low and lose money. Agents know the local market and how to price it based on what you are selling. Having an agent will keep you from making any emotional mistakes that could hurt your chances of selling.

Negotiation – selling and buying something that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars is no easy task. There are three parts to this process: beginning offer, counter offer, and post offer period for inspections and concessions. Unless you are a master negotiator, I would leave this up to a professional.

Exposure - When selling your house it is imperative it be seen by as many people as possible. It’s your agent’s duty to know every possible marketing avenue to use when selling your house. The one tool they will have you won’t, is the ability to talk to other agents looking for interested buyers.

Buyer perception – Most other buyers will have an agent representing them. It’s not uncommon for buyers to be deterred by For Sale By Owner because their agents simply don’t want...

5 Things Every Home Buyer Must Know When Financing a Home

If you plan to buy a house and get a mortgage, there are a few things you should definitely know. If you are a first-time home buyer it can be overwhelming, but these five tips will get you on your way.

Know the full cost of owning a home

First thing you should know is there are four payments that will go towards your house – principle, interest, taxes, and insurance.

The principle and interest are your monthly expenses. You pay off the amount of your loan month by month with the principle, and the interest is the fee for borrowing the money. The taxes are an annual property tax determined by the county you live in. Usually it is about 1.2 percent of your home’s value of that year. Homeowner insurance is a requirement when you have a mortgage. You can choose which insurance company you pay to, but this insurance usually costs anywhere from $700 - $1,300 a year.

If you choose to live in a house that is included in a home owner’s association you will have monthly dues. These can also run you $100 - $1,000 a year.

Know your credit history

The best weapon you can have when buying a house is a killer credit score. It’s simple, the better your credit score, the better mortgage deals you receive. Lenders look favorably upon strong credit scores and will give you more money for a lower interest rate.

If you do not have any credit, you should consider getting some. When you open a line of credit, your score will drop 5-15 points immediately, but it takes a few months of on-time payment to boost it up again.

Match mortgage products to your budget and timeline

It’s a good idea to know where every dollar is going. Make a written budget plan and delegate how much you can spend on the house and what is left over to spend on daily life. Ask...

Buying a House in a Good School District Matters

Despite whether you have kids or not, buying a house in a good school district can still benefit you. The obvious benefits of better teachers, test scores,  and books are always there, but what you may not know, is that these good school districts can preserve the value of your home, and ensure a good turnaround time should you decide to sell.

Never overlook the value of a good school district, but keep in mind the pros and cons of them too. There are a few costs to evaluate when trying to find a good deal on a home, and finding a good education for your children. Finding a more expensive home in a public school district is often times a better deal than what could be found in some places for kids to attend private schools.  

Finding a good public school

It’s no surprise most buyers look for homes in good school districts; it’s a big factor in the big decision. But how can you be sure if this school district is c0onsidered one of the good ones? This is determined by the age of the school, condition of the property, student-to-teacher ratio, and standardized test scores.

The bigger picture

It’s not so easy to directly connect a school district and a quality home. If a school district isn’t ranked in the upper tiers, it doesn’t mean the quality of the local education is poor. Also consider private schools. Should you wish for your child to go to private schools, it is definitely possible to find a fairly priced home. When you do the math though, it can be quite expensive with a thousand dollar a month tuition bill, and a mortgage payment. Don’t forget all the other bills and unexpected things life can throw your way.

For example, a homeowner with a $1,300 mortgage payment on a $300,000 house, who is also paying $1,000 tuition payment, can also afford a more expensive home with a good public...

Who is Responsible For What Repairs?

One of the best parts about being a renter is most of the repairs fall on the landlord. Your kitchen sink might be leaking, your washing machine doesn’t spin, or your ceiling fan looks like it’s about to come crashing down with every rotation. After you’ve submitted your repair request, just like magic, everything should be fixed by the time you get home from work.

Landlords take most of the financial burden when you take good care of the place. If you are trashing it, they could easily blame you for the broken appliance.  Occasionally with a bad landlord, they will take a couple weeks to fix the issue. Always call your landlord first before you attempt to fix it. Their job, by law, is to make their rental unit livable. If you aren’t sure which repairs fall under your responsibility or your landlords, here are the rules to follow.

Communicate the issue

All repairs should be left to the landlord, and they should be notified of them as soon as possible. They are required to respond within a “reasonable” amount of time. Occasionally, the time frame is stated in the lease. This “reasonable” amount of time really depends on the nature of the problem. If your heater goes off in the dead of winter, this doesn’t need to be put off for a week. If a light switch doesn’t work you will be fine for a few days.

Ultimately look at it like this: does this pose a safety risk, or is it superficial? Does it impede on your ability to do essential daily tasks, or just an inconvenience.

Wait a decent amount of time

If you have effectively communicated the problem to your landlord and they have done nothing about it, you have the option to take matters into your own hands. You may either fix it yourself, or call a general contractor to fix it. From here, always document how and when you gave notice...

How to Protect Your Home

Protecting your home is an important part of owning real estate. Whether you live in it year round, rent it out, or leave it empty for part of the year, your house is always susceptible to danger. Whether it is criminals, or weather, protecting your house is always a good idea.

Right when you purchase your home, the smartest thing you can do is to change your locks right away. This is to prevent burglars from messing with the locks, and strangers wandering inside. If you want the ultimate security, consider spending the money to buy the smart locks. They offer better protection and give you the control even when you are away from home.

Beef Up the First Line of Defense

The first line of defense is always your landscaping. Burglars will hide behind tall bushes and trees, so make it a priority to keep them well trimmed. If you have trees, keep all limbs trimmed back from windows, particularly second story windows. Don’t keep ladders or anything someone could climb in your yard. This is almost inviting them in! Even if you don’t have a home security system, having a yard picket will surely keep them away. Keeping the security sign in a visible area is key, so don’t just put it by the garage in the back yard.

Secure Entry Paths

A burglar’s entry preferred entry point is the front door. Most aren’t daring enough to go through the front, but the windows, back doors, garage doors will do. To keep this line of defense secure, have no broken windows, door hinges, or locks. If any of those does happen to be broken, change it right away.

Automatic Lights

Burglars always prefer a dark home. Even one light that is always one will deter most. Smart lights are a great hindrance for intruders. Having a smart light allows you to control when, and how they turn on, all...

Quick Remodels to Boost The Resale of Your Home

It’s the beginning of September, and that means fall is finally here. Now is the time to finish that home project you’ve been meaning to do all summer, or wait until next year. I’m going to share a few remodeling lessons with you, and hopefully you can get it done before winter hits.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to boost the value or your home is to remodel your bathroom. Your fashion style isn’t what is going to boost the value. If you take a cruddy bathroom, and transform it into a functional space, prospective buyers will find it more attractive. Surprisingly home shoppers look for the number of bathrooms in a home, so if you add one more, it will only help your chances.

The median bathroom remodel is roughly $12,000, with $.87 cents of every dollar recovered.  If you spend a decent amount of $3,000 you can definitely get a decent return out of that.

Before you spend a ton of money on new counter tops, ask yourself why you are renovating. If you plan on putting it on the market, hold off on the counter tops. Your money would be better spent for you to enjoy them versus trying to make a few extra bucks in the sale. Surprisingly, kitchen remodels will get you the least return out of any remodel. Kitchens recover only half of the money spent.

One of the best remodels you can do is to remodel your basement. Generally they cost about $10,000. If you do it right, and the basement has become the ultimate man cave that room will likely get you five times what you’ve invested in it. 

If you have the money to spend, the best remodel you can do for a resale, is to add another floor.  Extra floors can give you 100%+ on your investment.

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What To Do If Your Home Isn't Selling

A typical house in a strong market can usually be sold in six weeks. It has to show well and be fairly priced for you to hit a homerun with selling your house. However, not every house can sell in six weeks, and when they don’t, the seller becomes frustrated as their agents begin price reductions.

A seller begins to think the agent just wants to get this deal pushed through, but if you’ve got a quality agent, they truly want to get you the best deal possible. Houses soon lose their momentum as the house continues to sit. Potential home buyers might be turned off by this fact, thinking this is a stale house and something could be wrong with it. Fear not! Here are a few ideas to get that sale your after when your house isn’t receiving any offers.

Essential Factors: Price, Location, and condition

Changing the location of your home would be difficult, but you do have the power of controlling the other two factors. If you’ve sat on the market for a couple months and have had no showings or offers, you may want to modify the price and condition.

One choice to fix the condition is to take it of the market and do a little maintenance/update. Try de-cluttering, re-staging, or give the kitchen a quick face lift with a fresh coat of paint. If you happen to get a few comments about a certain part of the home, consider doing something to it.

If giving the house a quick face life is out of the question, your next option is to reduce price. Houses in more public neighborhoods tend to have a location problem. The best answer then is to drop price. If you are unwilling to drop the price, try renting it.

Be on the same page with your agent

If you and your agent are at two different places on selling strategy and price, you will probably have to ditch them and get a new one. Without the backing of a professional agent, the synergy will...

Four Reasons Renters Should Have An Emergency Fund

Renting is usually a part of everyone’s life at some point in time, but few are lucky. There are perks of renting vs. buying, but emergency funds are still necessary no matter your living situation. Life throws curve balls occasionally and a big wad of money is sometimes the only thing that can keep your head above water. If you happen to find yourself renting, here are a few reasons you will want to have this emergency fund.

Landlords control rent, and can raise it when they feel like it – While most states offer protection to the renter by prohibiting landlords from raising rent during the term of the lease, month-to-month renters can have rent raised in as little as 30 days.

States like Texas and New York allow rent increases only if both parties agree.  If the tenant doesn’t agree to the price increase, then the lease must be terminated. Keep in mind though, inaction legally is like the tenant approving. Be sure to read the fine print of the lease to make sure the landlord doesn’t have a clause stating he can raise rent at any time.

Disaster can strike anyone, at any time – We all know those weeks where nothing seems to go right. Your car needs a big service repair, you’ve broken your cell phone so bad a new one is the only option, and your dog needs a trip to the vet. All of these situations aren’t going to wait until you can afford all of them. Just like every month, rent is expected the day it is due. So if you lose your job, you will still need at least 3 months’ rent ready while you go find yourself a new one.

Paying your debts? Emergency fund is still necessary – As high as your debts may seem, the emergency fund is still the better path. Yes, get those paid off as quickly as you can, but keep the cash in your back pocket. If you’ve been...

Is it Time to Get A New Real Estate Agent?

Having your own real estate agent is much like having a significant other, but it’s a professional relationship instead of a romantic one. You tend to spend a lot of time with them during the week, hunting for homes, possibly hanging out, and you’ll even spend a decent amount of time with them on the phone.  

As most relationships do, they will come to an end. When the rosy feeling in your stomach about real estate disappears, or when they start putting in less time and effort, it could be time to cut it off. Here are some signs that it is time to leave them for good.

Missing in action – whether your relationship is personal, or business related with your agent, they can still disappear for a while. They might send your calls right to voicemail, ignore your text messages, pass you off to their assistant, lose track of the emails, etc. Whatever happens, they just aren’t communicating with you. The home you want to see tomorrow won’t be happening until four days later. If they do this in a cold market, no one would be happy. Now in a hot market, you don’t stand a chance to land your dream home. When this happens, you’ve been put on the backburner, and it’s time to move on

High-pressure sales tactics – You might begin to feel you are now shopping for a used car rather than a new home. Each interaction with them leaves you with anxiety because every other house on the market is already in contract and about to be sold. Your time is running out and your foot isn’t even in the door. You shouldn’t be feeling anxious when you leave your agent after a showing, you should be filled with market information, but also feel like they’ve showed you everything in an honest and straight forward manner.

They don’t listen – You’ve showed...