Resolve to Hire a Real Estate Professional in 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Resolve to Use a Real Estate Professional in 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Happy New Year!
  • If you plan to buy your dream home or sell your house in 2016, resolve to use a real estate professional!
  • Real Estate Professionals are there for you through the entire process to help with paperwork, negotiations, pricing, and so much more!

6 Reasons You Should Get Pre-approved For A Mortgage

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(courtesy lighterside-staff-authorBy Lighter Side Staff  |  S.D. Shank )

Shopping for a home before getting pre-approved for a mortgage is like walking into a grocery store without a wallet. You may have the desire to buy, but you lack the ability. Let’s cover some basics…

What is a mortgage pre-approval?

In a nutshell, a mortgage pre-approval is written assurance from a lender or broker that you’re able to borrow money to purchase a home up to a certain amount. It’s based on the income, employment and asset documentation you supply at the time of application, in conjunction with your credit history.

1. Without it, most agents won’t work with you.

Makes sense, too. Right? Think about it: when you hire an agent, he/she will invest countless hours showing you homes over the course of your house hunt. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’tyou want assurance that your hard work would lead to a favorable outcome for both you and your client?

2. You’ll know how much house you can afford.

Getting pre-approved before you begin house hunting allows you to know how much house you can realistically afford. Knowing this narrows down the options and makes the selection process more efficient. Not to mention, it protects you from the unpleasant surprise of realizing the home you fell in love with doesn’t fit your budget.

3. It adds clout to your offer.

In many markets, homes attract more than one offer. If the sellers are weighing one offer against another, they may lean towards the one accompanied by a pre-approval letter. That’s because pre-approvals instill confidence that the buyer is financially capable of purchasing their home.

4. It could increase your negotiating power.

In addition to strengthening your offer when compared to buyers who haven’t taken this step, getting pre-approved may give you the upper-hand when negotiating the price. If the homeowner is eager to sell, they may be more willing to accept a lower offer from someone they’ve been assured is financially capable of purchasing their home.

5. It saves time.

Obtaining a mortgage is a lengthy process. Getting pre-approved ahead of time shortens the time between contract to close — this way you’re ready to proceed with finalizing the mortgage once you’ve found the home you want to purchase.

6. It carries more weight than a “pre-qualification”.

A pre-approval differs from a pre-qualification. With the former, the lender has actually checked your credit and verified your documentation to approve a specific loan amount (usually for a particular time period such as 30, 60 or 90 days). A pre-qualification can be useful as an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on your home, but it’s a less accurate indicator of your ability to purchase. A pre-approval always carries more weight.

 

Thinking of Selling Your Home? Get Ready to Negotiate!

Thinking of Selling Your Home? Get Ready to Negotiate! | Keeping Current Matters

Now that the market has showed signs of recovery, some sellers may be tempted to try and sell their home on their own (FSBO) without using the services of a real estate professional.

Real estate agents are trained and experienced in negotiation. In most cases, the seller is not. The seller must realize their ability to negotiate will determine whether they can get the best deal for themselves and their family.

Here is a list of some of the people with whom the seller must be prepared to negotiate if they decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house.
  • The termite company if there are challenges
  • The buyer’s lender if the structure of the mortgage requires the sellers’ participation
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value
  • The title company if there are challenges with certificates of occupancy (CO) or other permits
  • The town or municipality if you need to get the COs permits mentioned above
  • The buyer’s buyer in case there are challenges on the house your buyer is selling
  • Your bank in the case of a short sale

Bottom Line

The percentage of sellers who have hired a real estate agent to sell their home has increased steadily over the last 20 years. Meet with a professional in your local market to see the difference they can make in easing the process.

How to Stop Overspending at Target

You’re at Target. You only need shampoo and toothpaste.

But then you feel the gravitational pull of the Dollar Spot. Look at all those adorable, unnecessary knickknacks! You grab a few goodies for the kids and keep moving.

Then you see a gorgeous green scarf up ahead. You steer forward to take a peek. Just as you suspected, it looks perfect over your light gray pea coat. Plus, accessories are 15% off right now!

In the cart it goes.

Maybe you’ll just glance at the jewelry while you’re here . . . Any of this sounding familiar?

Name Your Dollars

Target knows their customers. And they know it’s hard to pass up a bargain—especially a cute bargain.

So how do you stop your impulse shopping and actually spend less at this mega chain?

As simple as it sounds, you must make a budget. That means give every dollar a name.

Here’s how it works: At the beginning of each month, sit down with your spouse and create a spending plan for everything from gasoline to eating out. If you want some new clothes, that’s okay, just work them into your budgeting categories ahead of time.

Once you’ve spent every dollar on paper,then you can start spending the real stuff (we like to use cash). Just don’t go over what you’ve allocated!

Related: Learn more about making a zero-based budget

Watch Out for Sales

Easier said than done, right? Target is, after all, brilliant when it comes to sales.

They offer racks upon racks of discounted clothing, reduced-price housewares at the end of every aisle, and a customizable Cartwheel app, which offers rotating deals on everything in the store you already love.

But how much is all this “saving” really costing you? Math time, people.

If you get 25% off a decorative pillow that you never intended to buy, you’re still paying 75% more than you would have! That’s called spending, not saving.

Avoid these shopping traps by making a list before you go. Then practice some self-discipline once you’re there. If an on-sale item isn’t on your list, don’t put it in your cart—Cartwheel or not.

Delay Gratification

If you’re having trouble sticking to your new budget and shopping list, use your psychic abilities. Look into the future and imagine how you’ll be using this “must-have” item a month from now.

Will your kids still be playing with that cheap paddle ball game? Will that owl statue actually fit on your fireplace? Or will those fake leather heels start rubbing blisters on your feet?

Nine times out of 10, the answer will be to put it back. But what if you still want it?Then you wait.

Work it into next month’s budget (and next month’s list) and revisit your feelings in 30 days. If you still love it, buy it without the guilt.

Related: 2 Words That Will Change the Way You Shop

Make It Work

A budget isn’t a bad thing. When done right, it actually gives you permission to buy what you want. So before you slip out to Target the next time, prepare yourself for the temptations ahead.

And if you happen to leave the store with more than you bargained for, take it back. That’s what receipts are for.

Need help making a budget? Check out Dave’s latest budgeting tools and forms.

(Courtesy of Dave Ramsey, “Top 6 Life–Changing Articles of 2015” http://www.daveramsey.com/blog/how-to-stop-overspending-target?ictid=CJFMH207)

NAR’s Latest Existing Home Sales Report [INFOGRAPHIC]

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NAR's Latest Existing Home Sales Report [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Why Did Home Sales Drop So Dramatically Last Month?

Why Did Home Sales Drop So Dramatically Last Month? | Keeping Current Matters

Yesterday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their latest Existing Home Sales Report which covered sales in November. The report revealed that sales:

“…fell 10.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million in November (lowest since April 2014 at 4.75 million)…”

That revelation gave birth to a series of industry articles, some of which quoted pundits questioning whether the housing market was slowing. In actuality, there is one rather simple explanation to much of the falloff in sales last month. It is likely the implementation of the “Know Before You Owe” mortgage rule, commonly known as the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule, which went into effect on October 3. These regulations caused house closings to be delayed by an extra three days in November as shown in the graph below.

Average Days To Close | Keeping Current Matters

Three days might sound like a minimal difference. However, since there are only approximately 20 days in a month that a closing would normally take place (Mondays through Fridays), losing three days constitutes well over 10% of all closings. These sales are not lost. They are just moved into the next month’s numbers. In a DS Newsarticle on the subject yesterday, Auction.com EVP Rick Sharga explained:

“The most likely cause for the weak sales numbers is a delay in processing loans due to the new TRID mortgage requirements imposed by the CFPB. This is the biggest change in mortgage document processing in many years, and there have been numerous reports within the industry of problems implementing the process and the new documentation that comes with it.”

So how is the housing market actually doing?

A better way to look at how well the housing market is doing is to look at the Foot Traffic Report from NAR which quantifies the number of prospective buyers that are actively looking for a home at the current time:

Foot Traffic Growing | Keeping Current Matters

We can see immediately that demand to buy single family homes is increasing over the last few months – not decreasing.

Bottom Line

No matter what last month’s sales numbers show, the housing market is still doing well as demand remains strong.

Building Family Wealth Over The Next 5 Years

Building Family Wealth Over The Next 5 Years | Keeping Current Matters

As the economy continues to improve, more and more Americans are seeing their personal financial situations also improving. Instead of just getting by, many are now beginning to save and find other ways to build their net worth. One way to dramatically increase their family wealth is through the acquisition of real estate.

For example, let’s assume a young couple purchases and closes on a $250,000 home in January. What will that home be worth five years down the road?

Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists every quarter. They ask them to project how residential prices will appreciate over the next five years. According to their latestsurvey, here is how much value that $250,000 house will gain in the coming years.

Family Wealth Earned with Home Equity | Keeping Current Matters

Over a five year period, that homeowner can build their home equity to over $40,000. And, in many cases, home equity is large portion of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to better your family’s long-term financial situation, buying your dream home might be a great option.