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Real Estate

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This Week’s Hot Real Estate Tip: How to Choose the Right Neighborhood
Choosing a neighborhood is a big decision, but it can be simpler than you think, as long as you look at the right things. You want to make sure you choose the right neighborhood for many reasons: if you currently have a family or are thinking of starting one down the line, you’ll want to pick a house located in a good school district. If you’re thinking of this as a huge investment – which you should – you’ll want to pick a neighborhood where the homes are continuing to increase in value.


Here are some important factors that you should look at while choosing your home:

· quality of the school district
· traffic in the nearby areas (think of your work commute, school commute, etc)
· value of the nearby properties: are they increasing or decreasing?
· proximity to important community buildings, such as: schools, offices, hospitals, malls, airports, etc
· proximity to things that aren’t ideal, including prisons
· noise around your area
· crime rate
What should your search strategy be like?


Obviously your primary focus should be choosing a house that meets your budget. But you can get the most out of your investment by picking a good area:


Your surroundings don’t necessarily have to include the biggest and best community in the moment – just look for an up-and-coming area so that the value of your home rises through the years. Have your realtor look into the demand around your neighborhood – they can find out if there are multiple offers being made at other houses throughout the neighborhood – that’s always a tell-tale sign of whether or not it’s a good investment.


Just remember that it’s not about rushing and putting money down on the first house you like. Buying a house is about doing your homework, doing the research, and looking into what will give you the best value!

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Going From Renting to Home Ownership: What to Think About
Making the decision to purchase a home instead of renting one involves a lot of weighing the pros and cons. Many people just think about the fact that once you purchase a house, you no longer have to pay a rent check every month, but there are some other costs involved as well – you need to think about several different aspects, including the following:


Homeowner Costs
Homeownership involves a monthly mortgage (to go along with the down payment), but remember there will also be property tax, as well as homeowners insurance. Make sure to do your research and talk to a real estate expert!


Consider Long-Term Value
There are plenty of long-term benefits that come with owning a house. If you make the right choice and purchase in the right area, your house can often be worth more – even much more – than it was when you purchased it. You will be paying a mortgage, but you’ll save on rent costs and you could end up making a profit form the house anyways. It just means you have to consult with a good real estate agent and do your research when it comes to figuring out the possible home value in the future.


Responsibility and Flexibility
There are plenty of good things about renting – your landlord is generally responsible for the upkeep, you can pick up and move at any time, etc. At the same time, you don’t really have the opportunity to make the place “your own.” Many renters have rules about decorating, painting, pets, outdoor care, and other requirements that don’t necessarily let you fully make you home truly yours. So if you want to take the reins, definitely consider buying your own home.


Going from renting a home to owning one is a big step, but transitioning into homeownership is a wonderful thing, as long as you do the research!

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Homeowners insurance is inevitable. But you could be paying a much higher price than you actually have to. There are plenty of small ways to reduce your homeowners insurance, as long as you do the work ahead of time. Be sure to consult your real estate agent if you have any questions, and in the meantime, consider starting with these 3 tips:


#1: Shop Around
You never want to just settle for the first quote you find. Make sure to look around, and get at least 3-4 quotes, so that you know you’re not being taken advantage of. You can even leverage one quote to get someone else to lower theirs. And remember – it’s not just about price. Some companies have lower pricers, but others have better customer service, better deals, better regulations, etc. So shopping around doesn’t just mean considering price, it means doing your research so you know that you’re getting the best all-around deal.


#2: Be a Loyal Customer
Many companies will give you a better deal if you have been a loyal customer. Companies are competing against each other all the time, so they have to think of ways to keep their customers loyal and happy – a lot of times they do this through offering potential discounts to customers that have stuck by them. Some companies will offer discounts as high as 10% if you’ve been there around 5 years or longer!


#3: Inquire About Any and All Discounts
Just because a company doesn’t advertise it, doesn’t mean they don’t have plenty of discounts. There are plenty of special discounts they have, such as senior discounts for customers that are 55 or older. So be sure to mention (while you’re shopping around) that you’ve been looking around for what kind of discounts each company has and make sure they know that they have some competition.

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It’s important to find a responsible and trustworthy moving company so that you can ensure you’re not taken advantage of. Sometimes the “final” quote a company gives you is not final at all, and may include other charges. You need to ask a few different questions to make sure your belongings will be safe and you will not end up paying more than you thought you agreed to. Here are some questions to ask a moving company to ensure you get a good deal:


Question 1: Is This the FINAL Quote or Will There Be Other Charges?


The final quote is not always the final quote. Oftentimes a moving company will give you the general charge just for “moving” everything but they don’t include all the extra charges. Additional charges may include longer routes, charges for appliances, fuel, fragile objects, etc. Keep in mind that you should also let them know up front about any items you own that may be difficult to move, such as chandeliers or pianos.


Question 2: What Is the Insurance Policy?


Make sure to ask what type of insurance is automatically included in the quote, and find out if there are any additional policies that are available to you. Typical coverage is around 50-60 cents per pound, but sometimes companies will give you a special deal or a special upgrade if you ask for it. You may also want to look into 3rd party insurance coverage for the move – just to make sure everything is 100% safe and covered.


Question 3: Who Is Responsible for Damages?


You’ll want to immediately discuss the process for what happens if something is damaged or broken or if something goes missing. Sometimes companies fully cover that type of issue, but if it’s a self-service move, you’re oftentimes responsible for your own packaging.


Moving your entire life from one place to another is already a stressful process – whether you’re moving down the street or across the country. So make sure you know the ins and outs of your agreement before you sign any contracts or hire any movers!

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Believe it or not, different housing markets behave differently during the fall. According to the real estate website Zillow, national home values rose 0.4% from July, although this is the 3rd month in a row that home values rose more slowly than the previous month.


However, markets in California, Nevada, and Minnesota are still seeing fast home value appreciation growth (at least 2% or higher). This means it’s important to know your market – if you’re buying a home in one of these areas, be prepared to pay a little more, and if you’re not purchasing a home in one of these areas, be aware of the growth in your market.


Keep in mind that as the fall season comes to a close and we enter winter, selections may be limited. Many homeowners who weren’t able to sell their homes during the busy spring and summer season have become frustrated and have taken their homes off the market, especially with the holidays coming up. So, be prepared for a smaller selection than you expected.


With that in mind, remember that you may now have the option to negotiate a previous dream home. Did you see anything you saw a few months ago but chose not to proceed because of the price? Be sure to check back and see if it’s still on the market – if it is, you probably have some room to negotiate a lower price – at this point, a lot of homeowners just want to sell their home before the holidays.


There are clearly positive and negative aspects to buying a home in the fall – you may have a smaller selection, but there also maybe be more room for price negotiations. Either way, it’s always good to get as much home-buying information as you can! Remember to check back next week for another weekly real estate tip!

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When preparing to sell your house, holding an Open House is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. What you need to know is that an Open House doesn’t necessarily directly lead you to your home buyer. In fact, most of the visitors that go to an Open House rarely ever buy the house that they are looking at. An Open House is like advertising in that it’s not always about getting people to buy it – it’s about getting them to notice it, spread the word, and recommend it to others.


The main duty of an Open House is to serve as an announcement – it lets all of your neighbors know that the house is on the market, so that they can come it, take a peek, see if they like it, and spread the word. Most people are inherently nosy, so the majority of your neighbors won’t be able to resist the urge to check it out.


And believe it or not, you want these people to come check out your house, because they are most likely the ones who will tell their friends, neighbors, and acquaintances about the available house – creating tons of word of mouth advertising for you.


It’s important to host an Open House right when your home has been placed on the market. If it’s already been on the market for a while and people have already seen the “for sale” sign, they’ve probably done all the word of mouth advertising they’re ever going to do – which, if they haven’t seen the house, is probably very little.


However, if you do want to host more Open Houses but your agent has helped you host yours already, you can always check if another agent would do it for you. Your listing agent may allow someone else to do it, because it’s less work for your listing agent, and other agents would be interested in doing it just for the opportunity to meet and network with future prospective homebuyers.


The important things to remember are: host it as soon as you can, make it as big as possible, and have a good impression on people – if they like you and they like your home, they’re much more likely to recommend it to others!

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As we talked about last week, homebuying is easier when you clean up your credit.


When meeting with a mortgage lender, they will generally check with three credit bureaus in order to view the history of your past payments. So if you only clean up one of the three bureaus, you’re not really doing much to help yourself. This blog post will be part 1 out of 2 posts on how to clean up your credit, so pay close attention!


The first thing you need to do is get a copy of your credit report. This report will show all three of the major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and Trans-Union. Mortgage lenders will typically request data from all three bureaus to get a good idea of your credit history. So if they’re going to be looking at it, you’ll want to get a copy of your credit report as well, to know what you’re dealing with. Make it easier for yourself by ordering a Merged Report – they usually only costs around $30 and will be delivered to you in hard-copy through the mail – just Google “Merged Report” and you should be able to find somewhere to order it from.


What to do once you contact your creditors:
The main thing you need to do is call any creditors that report a negative item and ask them to remove it. Be very polite, ask in a pleasant voice, and don’t overreact or get upset when they say no. Just repeat the quest again continuously, while remaining polite and respectful. If they continue to deny your request, just ask to speak to the supervisor. Keep a record of your conversation with the time, date, who you spoke to and what they told you. Most of the time, you will be able to get the negative item removed.

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As I mentioned in my blog recently, cleaning up your credit is crucial when it comes to getting an affordable home loan. You want your report to make you seem like a trustworthy and responsible adult who will pay your bills on time, so that lenders are more likely to give you a better rate. Once you’ve gotten a copy of your credit report, and worked with creditors to clean off any negative items, here’s what you have to do next:


Get Written Confirmation of Agreements
Once you’ve gotten creditors to agree they will wipe the negative item off your report, ask for a letter by mail (or fax) confirming that they are correcting the negative information. You’ll need this letter to ensure that they do follow up on their promise to correct the negative item, and you also may also need it in case you are applying for a mortgage before the changes take place. Your lender will need this documentation.


What to Do if Your Creditor Won’t Remove an Item:
Occasionally, the creditor will refuse to remove the negative credit item. If the item is definitely not yours, call the credit bureau immediately. Only discuss the negative items that are inaccurate – not any of the ones that are accurate. If you confirm any accuracy on any of the items, you can no longer dispute it again in the future by call or mail. For remaining items, dispute them through mail by writing directly to the credit bureaus. Write a letter that includes all necessary information – your name, social security number, address, disputed accounts and account numbers. Be sure to sign the letter as well. All you need to say is that you are disputing the data the way that it appears on your credit report and explain why.


Although these things may seem tedious and frustrating, it will make it all worth it if it gets you closer to getting a great home loan. Any questions? Just email me at!

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Three Reasons Not to Have Too High of a Selling Price
Everyone’s first instinct when selling a house is usually to price it fairly high. Occasionally a home seller will luck out and someone will sweep it off the market. But, for nearly 99% of homeowners, pricing a home too highly can actually give them a lot of trouble when it comes to selling their home. There are a few reasons you need to be careful about your selling price, and here are three of them.


1: If you start out high and then drop it, your house is no longer a “hot commodity”
Once people see you have dropped the price of your house, they will no longer view it as a home that is high-demand. It becomes “old news” and people will assume it has been on the market for a while and that it’s not selling for a reason. People will only see it as back on the market as opposed to being newly for sale – this always decreases the amount of interested buyers.


2: Potential buyers will no longer be competitive about your home
People always want what they can’t have – this even applies to huge life-altering decisions like buying a house. If you lower the price of your home, then potential buyers will assume you are having trouble selling, and they will not be as aggressive about making an offer or even buying your home. They will think they have plenty of time to decide, so your house could end up sitting on the market for even longer than you anticipated, because potential buyers are taking their time deciding.


3: You will most likely get lower offers than you request
When potential buyers think there are other people interested in your home, they are more likely to be aggressive in terms of meeting your price or even offering more than you requested, in order to beat out the competition. But if they see that your house was at a high asking price and you’ve lowered it, they’ll know you are struggling to sell it, and they will most likely force you to settle for a lower price than you would have even received at a normal price – because they know they can.


It’s understandable that your first instinct when selling a home is to have a high asking price – you’ve probably put a lot of money, effort, and time into your home, and you want to price it at the right value. But as you can see just from these 3 reasons out of many, pricing your house to high can actually lead to an even lower price than if you would price it at a normal number. So make sure to check with your real estate agent and do your research when it comes to pricing your home for sale. Questions? Email me at!

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In almost every homebuying instance, homebuyers are required to buy homeowners insurance for their real estate purchase. This is because both the owner and mortgage lender need protection in case of damaged property from natural disasters or human-caused destruction. But many homeowners are understandably concerned over how much their insurance will cost, and they want to make sure they don’t get taken advantage of. While there is no set cost because every case is different, here are some factors that can help you figure out whether or not you’re getting a good price.


Factor #1: The Size of Your Home
The price of your insurance premium is always impacted by the type and size of your home – this includes the square footage, the age of your home, and the kinds of materials that were used to build the structure (so that it’s easier to assess how likely damage to the home would be). You should also be aware of how recently your home has been renovated and if there have been any recent additions to it – this will impact the insurance company’s assessment of how much it would cost to rebuild your home in the case of a disaster. The larger your home and the more expensive the renovations and materials are, the more expensive your insurance policy will be.


Factor #2: Fire Protection
If your home is near a fire station and in close proximity to a fire hydrant, it’s much more likely that your home would be saved if a fire occurred. Because a good location fire-wise means less damage to repair your home, it also means your insurance can be lowered – so make sure you’re aware of where you are in relation to these things – it could save you a decent amount on your premiums.


Factor #3: Regional Disaster Characteristics
If you live in a region that is prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, and other potential natural disasters, your insurance costs will definitely be increased to cover these potential risks. Be sure to keep in mind that earthquake and flood protection are 2 natural disaster categories that are not included in standard policies, so if you live in an area prone to these things, you’ll have to pay higher premiums.


Factor #4: Local Crime Statistics
Homeowners insurance policies cover damage and losses to your person property from human-caused damage like theft or vandalism, so if the local crime rates in your area are higher, your premium price could increase. If you’re worried about getting taken advantage of when it comes to getting your homeowners insurance questions answered, just do your research and remember these factors – it will be hard for anyone to take advantage of you when you already know how it all works!