Buying Properties

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Tips for Seniors Looking to Purchase a New Home

Update:  How to Make and Pay for Home Modifications to Enable Aging in Place According to the AARP, an estimated 90 percent of seniors wish to age in place. That is, they want to spend the rest of their days living in their own home rather than in an assisted living facility. However, the homes Americans raise their families in aren’t necessarily the best options for aging in place. Multi-story homes with large floor plans become difficult to navigate as a senior’s cognitive-motor skills deteriorate. This puts a lot of older people in a situation they haven’t been in for years: buying a new home. Seniors looking for a new home may have some catching up to do when it comes to the latest innovations in the real estate market, but in the end it is nothing they can’t handle. If you or someone you know is a senior looking to purchase a new home, take the following advice into account to ensure you find the best place to fit your needs. Finding the Right Home Back in the day, looking for a new home meant scouring over grainy curb photos in the newspaper and real estate bulletins then spending your weekend pounding the pavement to check out the interiors. Today, seniors can cut down on the amount of legwork and browse houses on the market from the comfort of their current homes. Online real estate listings provide a comprehensive description of a property along with interior photos and videos that create a virtual tour. From an online portal, interested parties can easily schedule a walk through if they like what they see in the profile. When looking for a home to spend their Golden Years in, seniors should seek certain features: ● One-story, flat floor plan ● Less square footage (for less overall upkeep) ● Neighborhoods with HOA services such as lawn care ● Location near hospitals and other health care services ● Showers and slip-resistant bathroom flooring ● Large windows and plentiful light ● Wide doors and hallways ● Retirement-friendly tax zoning Finding a Real Estate Agent While seniors can easily browse homes through online marketplaces, all homebuyers can benefit from the professional services of a real estate agent. When it comes to finding a place with all the necessary accessibility features, a real estate agent can zero in on the best options and get the inside scoop on properties that haven’t hit the market yet. When looking for a real estate agent, ask around for one that has experience working with seniors to find their perfect home for aging-in-place. The best real estate agents work within a niche market and know how to appeal to their demographics’ wants and needs. Call the Jones Team at RE/MAX Corridor (210) 414-8439. Financial Options for Senior Real Estate Buyers While selling their current home can help finance the purchase of a new property, some seniors may need additional financing to fund things such as accessibility modifications and smart home features. Most homeowners spend between $1,604 and $14,168 nationally for accessibility modifications. Since most seniors live on a fixed income, it’s important to find funding sources that have reasonable interest rates. Even better, applying for government grants can pay for renovations and those who receive them don’t have to pay anyone back at all. Medicare, Medicaid and veterans programs offer funding for those who qualify, as well. *** While most seniors want to age in place, most homes are not optimal when it comes to accessibility and safety. When searching for a new home, seniors should look for flat floor plans and a good location. A real estate agent that works in the retirement niche can help find the perfect house. While selling a current place can help fund the purchase of a new home, additional funds may be necessary for safety renovations. Loans, grants, and Medicare funding are all available for seniors who need it.


Tips For Senior Homebuyers: The Benefits Of Buying Over Renting

For many seniors, the decision to make a move after retirement comes due to a change in income and the need to downsize a bit. For some, buying a new home is a way to ensure that they are leaving something of value to their children or grandchildren. Building equity and having a place that is all your own, to do with as you wish, is one of the many benefits of owning a home.   The process is a big one, however, and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Think about your budget and how much space you need, as well as location; do you want a home that’s not too far from town? Or a home that’s only one story for ease of mobility? Write down all the things you want in a home and talk with your spouse or family members about each person’s needs.   Here are some of the best reasons to buy a home rather than renting.   You’ll be making a good investment   Buying a home is an investment, not only for your own future, but for the future of your family as well. While some people invest in stocks, buying a home means you get the benefit of the home’s entire value rather than earning on only your down payment.   You also get tax benefits from owning a home, such as writing off your mortgage interest and property taxes every year. These benefits often make owning a home as cheap or even cheaper than renting.   For more information on how buying can help you save money, read on here.   You can keep your monthly payment the same   Rent amounts will increase over time, but if you lock in your interest amount at signing, you can ensure your mortgage payment stays the same unless you decide to refinance. This will help you stick to a budget and keep you on track no matter what life throws at you.   You can go green   Renters can certainly make improvements in their lifestyle that will allow them to live in a more energy efficient way, but homeowners can think on a bigger scale. Because the house is yours to do with as you wish, you can install energy-saving appliances, solar panels that will keep you from overspending on heating and electricity bills, and an energy efficient roof. Not only will these improvements help the environment, but they can save you money all year round.   You can incorporate home automation   Technology continues to explode these days, and there are so many products on the market that can benefit senior homeowners. Self-adjusting thermostats will help you keep your utility bills in check, while some of the latest home security systems you can install yourself and monitor from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. There are also new options for lighting that enable you to adjust your lighting from an app whether you’re at home or away. The available options are seemingly endless and offer a homeowner a safer, more efficient home.   Save money   Homeowners tend to save more money than renters do, in part because they know they need to be responsible and put cash away for unforeseen circumstances, such as when the air conditioning goes on the fritz or when they need to buy a new appliance. These occurrences aren’t something a homeowner wants to think about, but it’s important to remember that unplanned things happen from time to time. Socking away some savings will ensure that you can take care of these things without too much stress.   “When you rent, the landlord picks up the taxes, insurance, maintenance and sometimes utilities. If you buy, plan on replacing the water heater some years, the back fence other years, the roof occasionally…if you can do some of it yourself, your cash outlays will be much less than the landlord’s. And you can do it yourself if you’re be willing to learn. Try Googling “leaky faucet” and you’ll find plenty of advice,” writes Bill Conerly of Forbes.   Buying a home is a big decision, and it takes a lot of research and planning to find the right place for you. However, if you’re tired of renting and feel that you’re ready to make the move to home ownership, the benefits can certainly outweigh the negatives.


Time to Downsize? Consider These Important Tips!

Facing the prospect of downsizing to a smaller, more accessible home can seem insurmountable. From carefully going through every treasured item you’ve accumulated for the last 20 or 30 years, to organizing and packing. Even picking a moving company feels like a monumental task. Add the emotions that come from leaving your long-cherished home and downsizing can quickly feel like a big downer.   There are plenty of upsides to consider, though. For example, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, by cutting your housing-related expenses you can free up income that allows you to draw down your savings at a slower rate. And don’t forget, a new home can also help eliminate things that have become burdensome as you’ve aged, like stairs, lawn maintenance and too much space to keep clean.   While plenty of sites offer a detailed checklist of all of the essential steps for downsizing, we’re going to take a look at a few specific tips to help you get started now.   Selecting a Moving Company   When selecting a moving company, it’s wise to remember the old adage, “you get what you pay for.” Oftentimes, the finest moving companies won’t be the least expensive. It’s important to avoid fly-by-night companies or companies with new names, and to be wary of moving scams. Keep these tips in mind: Research moving companies you’re most interested in using and set about doing an initial screening of each one. Look at various review forums, like the Better Business Bureau or You’ll also want to check out the consumer advocacy site Make sure you end up with estimates from a minimum of three companies. Always ask for a written binding estimate or a not-to-exceed-estimate so as to cap moving costs. Before you make that final decision, call the FMCSA’s Safety Violation and Consumer Complaints hotline at 888-368-7238 to check for any complaints.   Understanding How Your Animal Will Handle The Move   It’s never too early to start to thinking about how your pet is going to handle the transition. Here are some things you should do to help keep your animal settled during the process. Condition your pet by getting out a few boxes and suitcases in advance so your pet doesn’t associate those items with you leaving them. Train for any necessary behavior modifications in the smaller space. Talk to the vet about medication if your pet is displaying signs of anxiety. Either board your pet or leave them with a pet sitter on moving day. If possible, have a few of their items in place at the new home before they arrive so they have a familiar scent.   Don’t Try To Do It All   As you familiarize yourself with the various tasks of making the move, consider carefully what you want to take on versus what you may be able to outsource. The National Association of Senior Move Managers offers services that will step in where you want to be less involved, say packing for instance, or they’ll take you through the whole process from laying out your new space, deciding with you what you’ll keep and move, sorting, packing, moving, and setting up your new home.   Take Care of Yourself   Let’s face it, moving is stressful so there’s a few simple things you can do to make things easier on yourself. Give yourself plenty of time. Get plenty of sleep Listen to relaxing music as you sort, clean, or pack. Take time to enjoy things other than your move, such as exercise or reading. Eat healthy.   As you set about downsizing, try to focus on the positive outcomes of your move, like less yard work, making new friends, fewer cleaning chores, and so on. And remember, getting settled in the new spot will take time just as it did when you moved into your current home. Allow yourself some downtime to recoup from the stress of the move, then get out there and make the most of your new neighborhood.


Webcast Recording: Using a Reverse Mortgage to Buy a Home

Posted in Buyers, Mortgage Financing, Professional Development, Working with Clients, by Sam Silverstein on February 24, 2017 REALTOR® Magazine recently hosted a live webcast about how reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECMs), can be used to help seniors finance the purchase of a home in addition to their traditional purpose of enabling people to borrow against the equity in a property where they already live. The program took place on Feb. 22, 2017. Panelists included Scott Trembley, CEO of The Trembley Group, a real estate firm in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that handles home purchases with HECMs; and Frank McInerney, a loan specialist with Reverse Mortgage Funding in Bloomfield, N.J. Jon Boughtin of NAR Communications hosted the program. More information about reverse mortgages Find a reverse mortgage lender


Money’s Available to Buy But Many Renters Don’t Know It

Posted in Financing & Credit, Working with Clients, by Robert Freedman on March 16, 2017 Millions of households are mortgage-ready but don’t try to buy because they can’t come up with a downpayment. And yet, hundreds of downpayment assistance programs around the country are available and go largely untapped. Small To be sure, many households won’t qualify for downpayment assistance. They simply earn too much money. But more people than you might realize would qualify if they would only apply. Because in many markets, the allowable income level is pretty high, and we’re not just talking about high-cost markets like San Francisco, where the median home price is about $1 million. There are more than a thousand downpayment assistance programs around the country. Each one is unique, with its own eligibility requirements, home-price limits, and resale restrictions. But these programs also share many features. The disconnect between the millions of households who could buy if they only had downpayment money and the availability of so many programs to help them creates an opportunity for you as a real estate professional. No one is in a better position to connect households with assistance programs than you are. It’s because of this opportunity to expand your market that REALTOR® Magazine hosted a live webcast on April 20. The goal was to let you know how you can find out instantly what programs are available for households in your area. Chrane Program experts were Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource in Atlanta, and Brenda Small, GRI, associate broker with Keller Williams Capital Properties in Washington, D.C. They walked real estate professionals through the programs available, what they have in common with one another, and how you and your customers can tap into resources in your market instantly. They debunked myths about the programs, too. And they answered questions in real time. Watch the recorded version of the webcast now.


7 Pricing Myths to Stop Believing If You Ever Hope to Sell Your House

By Cathie Ericson | Sep 7, 2017 BsWei/iStock Pricing your own home is hard, what with all the history and hopes this magic number entails. Of course, you want to make a profit. Of course, all that money you spent installing a swimming pool or a half-bath will be recouped, because you’re leaving your digs in better shape than when you bought it, right? Right? Well, not necessarily. Too many home sellers fall prey to myths about home pricing that seem to make sense at first, but don’t jibe with the reality of real estate markets today. To make sure you haven’t bought into any of this malarkey—since the buyers you’re trying to woo sure haven’t—here are some common pricing myths you’ll want to rinse from your brain so you kick off your home-selling venture with realistic expectations. It’s time to get real, folks! 1. You always make money when you sell a home Sure, real estate tends to appreciate over time: The National Association of Realtors® estimates that home prices will jump 5% by the end of 2017 and continue rising 3.5% in 2018. But selling your home for more than you paid is by no means a given, and your return on investment can vary greatly based on where you live. The NAR also found, for instance, that the cost of single-family homes increased in about 87% of the metros it studied, but prices actually dropped in 23 markets. So don’t assume you’ll walk away with a profit until you’ve examined what’s up in your area first. 2. Price your house high to make big bucks We know what you’re thinking: “Hey, it’s worth a shot!” But if you start with some sky-high asking price, you’ll soon come back to Earth when you realize that an overpriced home just won’t sell. “While the payday might sound appealing, you’re actually sacrificing your best marketing time in exchange for the remote possibility that someone will overpay for your home,” says Kathleen Marks, a Realtor® with United Real Estate in Asheville, NC. While certain buyers might be suckered in, this becomes far less likely if they’re working with a buyer’s agent who will know all too well when a home is overpriced, and advise their client to steer clear. And this can lead to problems down the road (as our next myth indicates). 3. If your home’s overpriced, it’s no big deal to lower it later Sorry, but overpricing your home isn’t easily fixed just by lowering it later on. The reason: Homes that have lingered on the market for months—or that have undergone one or more price reductions—make buyers presume that something must be wrong with it. As such, they might still steer clear, or offer even less than the price you’re now asking. Bottom line: “Price your home appropriately from the beginning for your best shot at having a quick and easy sale,” Marks recommends. 4. Pricing your home low means you won’t make as much money Similarly, sellers are often leery of pricing their home on the low end. But as counterintuitive as this seems, this strategy can often pay off big-time. Here’s why: Low-priced homes drum up tons of interest, which could result in a bidding war that could drive your home’s price past your wildest dreams. 5. You can add the cost of any renovations you’ve made Let’s say you overhauled your kitchen or added a deck. It stands to reason that whatever money you paid for these improvements will be recouped in full once you sell—after all, your home’s new owners are inheriting all your hard work. The reality: While your renovations might see some return on investment, you’ll rarely recoup the whole amount. On average, you can expect to get back 64% of every dollar you spend on home improvements. Plus that profit can vary greatly based on which renovation you do. Check out this list of common renovations and their return on investment to know what you can actually expect. 6. A past appraisal will help you pinpoint the right price If you have an appraisal in hand, from when you bought or refinanced your house, you might think that’s a logical place to start to price your home. It’s not! An appraisal assigns your home a value based on market conditions at a specific date, so it becomes old news very quickly. In fact, lenders typically won’t accept appraisals that are more than 60 days old. “Since lenders know markets can change in six months’ time, it’s important for sellers to understand that a previous appraisal is never a reliable source for the current value of a home,” Marks says. 7. Your agent might overprice the house to make a bigger commission Don’t even go there, says Realtor Raena Janes of RJHomes in Tucson, AZ. “While it’s true that an agent’s commission is based on the selling price of a house, the disparity will end up being negligible,” she says. For example, the difference in commission between a $300,000 house and one that’s $310,000 is about $150. “No real estate agent is going to lose a sale for the sake of a couple hundred dollars,” she explains. Cathie Ericson is a journalist who writes about real estate, finance, and health. She lives in Portland, OR. Follow @CathieEricson


8 Dumb Reasons People Can’t Buy a Home


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6 First-Time Home Buying Mistakes that Waste Money

Note:  This is a copy of this article for demo purposes only.  REMOVE from production version. Auto Draft What’s the best way to save money on your first home? Buying a home is not only nerve-racking, but it’s also expensive. Especially if you make any of these surprisingly costly first-time buyer blunders. Mistake #1: Worrying about missing out. One of the most expensive errors first-time homebuyers make is rushing to buy in a hot market. Here’s how it happens: You fall in love with a great house in a popular neighborhood, where homes are selling fast. Better make an offer on this house today, the thinking goes, before it slips away. That could be an expensive mistake. Instead, slow down, take a breath and shop around. Your patience will probably pay off sooner than you think, and you’ll save money. Mistake #2: Not knowing your mortgage options. There are many different kinds of mortgages, each with different pros and cons. The most common types of mortgages include: • Fixed-Rate Mortgage • Adjustable-Rate Mortgage • 1-yr. Treasury ARM • Intermediate ARM • Flexible Payment Option ARM • Interest-Only Loan • Convertible ARM • Balloon Mortgage • FHA Loan • VA Home Loan Before you sign, take the time to educate yourself about your options. Taking on the wrong kind of mortgage could cost you thousands of extra dollars a year. Mistake #3: Too much mortgage. Before you start shopping for a home, shop around for a mortgage. Smart research now can save you thousands of dollars later. But don’t let the bank tell you how much of a house to buy. If you have good credit, you’ll probably qualify for a much larger mortgage than you can safely afford. To stay out of financial trouble, make sure that the monthly payments (including principal, interest, taxes and insurance) are no more than 25% of your take-home pay. Mistake #4: No down payment. Low or no down payment offers can be tempting, but they could spell financial disaster. If you can’t afford a down payment, that’s a sign that you can’t afford to buy a home yet. Many financial experts recommend waiting until you have saved up enough money to make a 20% down payment. Not only does that lower the amount of your mortgage payment, but it also helps you avoid the cost of Private Mortgage Insurance, which could be $1,000 a year or more. Mistake #5: No emergency fund. Before you buy your first home, you should have an emergency fund in place that can cover 3 to 6 months of expenses. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting in over your head at the first sign of trouble. If the air-conditioner breaks or the roof leaks, you could find yourself relying on credit cards to pay for basic home repairs, and quickly dig yourself into a financial hole. Mistake #6: Thinking that owning is cheaper than renting. In truth, owning a home costs more than renting. When you buy a house, you have to cover costs that you never have to think about as a renter. Maintenance, taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA fees, lawn care, higher utilities – the list goes on and on. In the long run, home ownership is smarter than renting, because you tend to build valuable equity. But that doesn’t make it cheaper. To be smart, get a mortgage that’s actually lower than your current rent, so you have room in your budget to cover these additional expenses. Don’t make these first-time home buyer mistakes. Keep these tips in mind when it’s time for you to buy your first home, and you could save thousands.