5 REASONS TO SELL NOW

 

  

Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? Can buyers qualify for a mortgage?  These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are five of those reasons.

1. The Most Serious Buyers Are Out Now

Most people realize that the housing market is hottest from April through June. The most serious buyers are well aware of this and, for that reason, come out in early spring in order to beat the heavy competition. These buyers are readywilling and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply always grows from the spring through the early summer. The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all the other potential sellers in your market put their homes up for sale.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen.  Selling now will make the process quicker and simpler.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate at about 4.5% right now. Rates are projected to be well over 5% by this time next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home to guarantee it sells. The time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 4:03 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News

5 REASONS TO BUY A HOME NOW

  

Based on prices, mortgage rates and soaring rents, there may have never been a better time in real estate history to purchase a home than right now. Here are five major reasons purchasers should consider buying.

1. Competition is about to Increase

Every spring a surge of prospective purchasers enter the housing market. Like you, they will want the best homeavailable in the best location at the best price. They will be competing with you for the ‘steals’ in the market. Don’t miss the opportunity to get that ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ buy available today that no longer be available as the market heats up..

2. Price Increases Are on the Horizon

Nationally, home prices are projected to appreciate by 4.5% in 2014 and by over 19% from now until 2018. First home buyers will probably pay more both in price and interest rate if they wait until the spring. Even if you are a move-up buyer, it will wind-up costing you more in net dollars as the home you will buy will appreciate at approximately the same rate as the house you are in now.

3. Owning a Home Helps Create Family Wealth

Whether you rent or you own the home you are living in, you are paying a mortgage. Either you are paying your mortgage or your landlord’s. The Federal Reserve, in a recent study, revealed that the net worth of the average homeowner is 30 times greater than that of a renter.

4. Interest Rates Are Projected to Rise

The Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have all projected that the 30-year mortgage interest rate will be over 5% by the spring of 2015. That is an increase of almost 3/4 of a point over current rates.

5. Buy Low, Sell High

Most would all agree that, when investing, we want to buy at the lowest price possible and hope to sell at the highest price. Housing can create family wealth as long as we follow this simple principle. Today, real estate is selling ‘low’ compared to where it will be next year. It’s time to buy.

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 4:02 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News

Moving-Up? Do it NOW not Later

A recent study revealed that the number of existing home ownersplanning to buy a home this year is about to increase dramatically. Some are moving up, some are downsizing and others are making a lateral move. Another study shows that over 75% of these buyers will, in fact, be in that first category: a move-up buyer. We want to address this group of buyers in today’s blog post.

There is no way for us to predict the future but we can look at what happened over the last year. Let’s look at buyers that considered moving up last year but decided to wait instead.

Assume they had a home worth $300,000 and were looking at a home for $400,000 (putting 10% down they would get a mortgage of $360,000). By waiting, their house appreciated by 13.8% over the last year (national average based on the Case Shiller Pricing Index). Their home would now be worth $341,400. But, the $400,000 home would now be worth $455,200 (requiring a mortgage of $409,680).

Here is a table showing what additional monthly cost would be incurred by waiting:

Move Up Cost of Waiting (2)

Prices are projected to appreciate by over 4% and interest rates are also expected to rise by as much as another full percentage point. If your family plans to move-up to a nicer or bigger home this year, it may make sense to move now rather than later.

  

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News

Old-fashioned cleaning a healthy choice

 

Originally published January 29, 2014 at 11:25 PM | Page modified January 29, 2014 at 11:55

 

Many are turning back the clock when it comes to cleaning and rediscovering old-time cleaning recipes — many of them used before the advent of the synthetic formulas widely available after World War II.

 

Q: What home-cleaning products are safe for the environment?

A: There is a greater awareness among homeowners that chemicals in commercial home-cleaning products can have negative effects on personal health — not to mention the environment.

Many are turning back the clock when it comes to cleaning and rediscovering old-time cleaning recipes — many of them used before the advent of the synthetic formulas widely available after World War II.

Believe it or not, you can handle nearly all of your day-to-day cleaning with just seven easily available, inexpensive, environmentally benign ingredients: baking soda, washing soda, soap flakes, oil soap, vinegar, borax and ammonia. And of those, only ammonia is potentially hazardous in its concentrated form. Just use it carefully, and store it out of the reach of children and pets.

Kitchens and baths

Instead of using commercial products to clear your kitchen sinks, faucets and drains, give baking soda a try. Just dampen with water and apply it the same way you would with scouring products. Unlike bleach and phosphates, which are common ingredients in commercial cleaning products, baking soda isn’t toxic to the environment and won’t kill the bacteria that sewage and septic systems need to work properly.

When baking soda is combined with vinegar, it produces an impressive foaming reaction. Pour a cup or more of vinegar into the toilet bowl, and then toss in a handful of baking soda. The combination will strip off hard-water lime deposits if you leave it for a while.

Vinegar and baking soda are also effective for cleaning drains. Dump a handful of baking soda into the drain, then pour in a big shot of vinegar and put the plug in to drive the carbon dioxide down the pipe. Keep the plug in until the fizzing stops, and then run hot water down the drain. Not only does it clean and clear pipes, it also eliminates the need for corrosive cleaners.

Vinegar by itself is terrific for cleaning faucets. And mixed with warm water, it’s your secret weapon if you have to deal with the occasional pet stain on carpeting. Combine equal parts vinegar and water and wipe pet stains away. It also works on linoleum that isn’t heavily soiled.

Laundry rooms

A mixture of one part borax, one part washing soda and one part soap flakes (about three-fourths of a cup of the mix per normal load) will work as well as any detergent. It is especially effective and kind to natural fabrics. Be sure to start by running all of your clothes through a cycle with washing soda only, which removes detergent residue. Otherwise, your whites could look yellowed.

White clothes that contain synthetic materials can yellow slightly over time with this formula, but you can counteract that by line-drying your whites in the sun now and then. Sunshine is the oldest and best bleach and disinfectant of them all.

Mother, grandmother and great-granny really did know best.

 

HomeWork is the weekly column by the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to homework@mbaks.com.

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News

5 Things to Ask Your Real Estate Agent

http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/01/31/5-things-to-ask-your-real-estate-agent/

Selling a home can be difficult — you probably want to sell in a certain time frame and for the maximum price. For most of us, it represents one of the biggest financial transactions of our lifetimes, and it can help to have expert guide us through the process. A knowledgeable and trustworthy real estate agent can be a huge asset — and you want to do a thorough screening to get the best match for you.

You’ll want to ask about commission, of course, but it doesn’t stop there. Here are five questions that you should ask your potential real estate agent.

1. What’s Your Experience Like?

This is an important question because it will tell you how long the agent has been selling homes and what kinds of of properties they usually deal with (condos or single-family homes, or in-town or suburban). It’s important to find someone who not only has years of experience, but someone who is familiar with the neighborhoods you’re interested in and often sells homes in your price range.

2. May I See Your References?

Just as when you’re hiring a new employee, it’s important to check up on your real estate agent’s references. You should call every one of them. Ask what it was like to work with this person on a day-to-day basis. Was the agent easy to reach? Would you hire him again? Did she follow up with you regularly? Most real estate agents will give out their best references so don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions in order to get the most honest responses.

3. How Many Clients Do You Have?

Asking this question should give you a good idea of how much time your agent will have for you. You don’t want a real estate agent with too many clients nor do you want one with too few. The latter could be a bad sign since no one else seems willing to hire her. (On the other hand, seasonal fluctuations are normal.)

If you’re worried that your real estate agent might have too many clients or not enough time for you, ask if he works independently or with a team. A good agent will generally have a solid support staff to handle the routine tasks.

4. What Can You Tell Me About Growth Trends?

One of the biggest strengths real estate agents can bring to the table is their ability to analyze trends in the housing market. Anyone can go on Redfin or Zillow and look up homes for sale, but how do you know what is or isn’t a competitive price? Some ZIP codes might turn from a bustling metropolis to a forgotten foreclosure town in just a few years so it’s important to hire an agent who pays close attention to growth and price trends and can help you set an appropriate asking price.
5. What’s Your Success Rate?

The Internet has made it easy to look up your real estate agent’s sales records but don’t be afraid to ask. One thing you could ask for is the agent’s list-to-selling-price ratio. This ratio is found by comparing the list price to the selling price. But don’t get too caught up in this number, make sure to vet his or her other success metrics too.

Posted on February 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Home improvement, Home ownership, Real Estate News

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About VA Loans

 

  

We are pleased to welcome Phil Georgiades as our guest blogger today.  Phil is the Chief Loan Steward for VA Home Loan Centers, a veteran and active duty military services organization. – The KCM Crew

Veteran Buying a HouseVA loans are the most misunderstood mortgage program in America. Industry professionals and consumers often receive incorrect data when they inquire about them. In fact, misconceptions about the government guaranteed home loan program are so prevalent that a recent VA survey found that approximately half of all military veterans do not understand it.

With this in mind, we would like to debunk the most common myths about VA Loans.

Myth 1: The VA loan benefit has a “one time” use.

Fact: Veterans and active duty military can use the VA loan many times. There is a limit to the borrower’s entitlement. The entitlement is the amount of loan the VA will guarantee. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may have to make a down payment. Never the less, there are no limitations on how many times a Veteran or Active Duty Service Member can get a VA loan.

Myth 2: VA home loan benefits expire if they are not used.

Fact: For eligible participants, VA mortgage benefits never expire. This myth stems from confusion over the veteran benefit for education. Typically, the Montgomery GI Bill benefits expire 10 years after discharge.

Myth 3: A borrower can only have one VA loan at a time.

Fact: You can have two (or more) VA loans out at the same time as long as you have not exceeded your maximum entitlement and eligibility. In order to have more than one VA loan, the borrower must be able to afford both payments and sufficient entitlement is required. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may be required to make a down payment.

Myth 4: If you have a VA loan, you cannot lease the home.

Fact: By law, homeowners with VA loans may rent out their home. If the home is located in a non-rental subdivision, the VA will not guarantee the loan. If the home is located in a subdivision (such as a co-op) where the other owners can deny or approve a tenant, the VA will not approve the financing. When an individual applies for a VA loan, they certify that they intend on making the home their primary residence. Borrowers cannot use their VA benefits to buy property for rental purposes except if they are using their benefits to buy a duplex, triplex or fourplex. Under these circumstances, the borrower must certify that they will occupy one of the units.

Myth 5: If a borrower has a short sale or foreclosure on a VA loan, they cannot have another VA loan.

Fact: If a borrower has a claim on their entitlement, they will still be able to get another VA loan, but the maximum amount they would otherwise qualify for may be less. For example, Mr. Smith had a home with a $100,000 VA loan that foreclosed in 2012. If Mr. Smith buys a home in a low cost area, he will have enough remaining eligibility for a $317,000 purchase with $0 money down.  If he did not have the foreclosure, he would have been able to obtain another VA loan up to $417,000 with no money down payment.

Veterans and Active duty military deserve affordable home ownership. In recent years, the VA loan made up roughly 13% of all home purchase financing. This program remains underused largely because of misinformation. By separating facts from myth, more of America’s military would be able to realize their own American Dream.

Posted on February 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Home ownership, Real Estate News

Why Did My Credit Score Drop?

Credit report with scoreDATE:JANUARY 15, 2014 | CATEGORY:TIPS & ADVICE | AUTHOR:

Last month your credit score was 735. You checked it again this morning, and it’s 20 points lower. What’s up?

It could be any combination of factors. There aredifferent credit scoring models used, and they can weigh factors differently to determine your score. But these are five of the most common reasons you could experience a dip in your score:

Late credit card or loan payment

Your payment history has a significant impact on your credit score, accounting for about 31 percent of your total rating. If your make a credit card or loan payment more than 30 past its due date, this information will likely show up on your credit report, which could cause your credit score to drop. Anything 30 days or more late matters, and 60 or 90 days late matters even more.

Larger than normal credit purchases

Another key factor in calculating your credit score is your credit utilization ratio. In simpler terms: How much of your credit are you using in relation to your total available credit? In general, the lower this ratio, the better your credit score will be. If you’ve been using more of your available credit lately, you may see a drop in your credit score. If a creditor lowers your credit limit, it may also change your credit utilization ratio and impact your score.

An unpaid account goes to collection

In order to maintain a good credit score, you need to pay all your accounts — not just credit cards and loans — in a timely manner. Late payments to medical facilities, student loans and utilities can be sent to a collection agency, which could in turn show up in your credit report.

You applied for a credit card

When you apply for credit, you give lenders the OK to ask, or “inquire,” for a copy of your credit report. This is known as a hard inquiry on your credit. When the information on your credit report indicates that you’ve applied for multiple new credit lines over a short period of time, your credit score may be lowered as a result.

You closed a credit card account

Canceling a credit card could be a good idea if it eliminates the temptation to charge more than you should. But by closing an old or unused account, you are wiping away some of your available credit, thus increasing your credit utilization ratio. As a result, your credit score may drop. Also, the length of time you’ve had accounts open shows that you have a solid payment history, so that could be another reason to keep that card you’ve had awhile open (as long as you’re paying it on time).

Written by Becky Frost, Senior Manager of Consumer Education for Experian Consumer Services. Experian Consumer Services offers credit monitoring products like freecreditscore.com™, which has resources and calculators that help you understand how credit can impact your life. Credit is an important component when buying, renting or refinancing your home

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 11:44 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Economic News, Home ownership, Real Estate News

4 Things You Need from Your Listing Agent

  

1.21 VisualAre you thinking of selling your home? Are you dreading having to deal with strangers walking through the house? Are you concerned about getting the paperwork correct? Hiring a professional real estate agent can take away most of the challenges of selling. A great agent is always worth more than the commission they charge just like a great doctor or great accountant. You want to deal with one of the best agents in your marketplace. To do this, you must be able to distinguish the average agent from the great one. Let us help.

If we were hiring an agent to sell our home today, we would require that they:

1. Understand the timetable with which my family is dealing

You will be moving your family to a new home. Whether the move revolves around the start of a new school year or the start of a new job, you will be trying to put the move to a plan. This can be very emotionally draining. Demand from your agent an appreciation for the timetables you are setting. I am not suggesting that your agent can pick the exact date for your move. You just want the agent to exert any influence they can.

2. Remove as many of the challenges as possible

It is imperative that your agent know how to handle the challenges that will arise. An agent’s ability to negotiate is critical in this market.

Remember: If you have an agent who was weak negotiating with you on the parts of the listing contract that were most important to them (commission, length, etc.), don’t expect them to turn into Superman when they are negotiating for you with your buyer.

3. Help with the relocation

If you haven’t yet picked your new home, make sure the agent is capable and willing to help you. The coordination of the move is crucial. You don’t want to be without a roof over your head the night of the closing. Likewise, you don’t want to end up paying two housing expenses (whether it is rent or mortgage). You should, in most cases, be able to close on your current home and immediately move into your new residence.

4. Get the house SOLD!

There is a reason you are putting yourself and your family through the process of moving. You are moving on with your life in some way. The reason is important or you wouldn’t be dealing with the headaches and challenges that come along with selling. Do not allow your agent to forget these motivations. Constantly remind them that selling the house is why you hired them. If they discover something needs to be done to attain your goal (i.e. price correction, repair, removing clutter), insist they have the courage to inform you.

Make sure you let your agent know what you and your family expect from them.

Posted on January 24, 2014 at 11:39 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Home ownership, Real Estate News

Enjoy coffee and conversation with Mayor Jon Nehring

coffee with the mayor

Residents are invited to meet with Mayor Jon Nehring for coffee and conversation at the McKeon Financial Building in the Lakewood area at 10-11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16.

The McKeon building is located at 1507 172nd St. NE, Ste 201. Please RSVP by 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 13 to Executive Assistant Leah Ingram at (360) 363-8091 or e-mail lingram@marysvillewa.gov.

Participants with issues to discuss about the Lakewood area, or those who just want to meet with the Mayor, are welcome to attend. Free coffee, beverages and pastries will be provided.

The Mayor hosts these occasional free coffee klatches as a chance to meet with residents in a more informal setting. While open to any topics, some timely information about the “Keep the Change” campaign, and the 2014 budget, will likely be discussed.

 

Posted on January 14, 2014 at 5:38 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Home ownership

TAKING STRESS OUT OF HOME BUYING

Great information below from a blogger on RealtyTimes.  For more information about the home buying process, please contact me.  I would love to be of assistance to you.

Written by  on Tuesday, 14 January 2014 4:56 am

Buying a home should be one of the most fun times of your life, not stressful. As you look for your first home, next home, or dream home, keep in mind these tips for making the process as peaceful as possible. 

  1. Find a real estate agent who you connect with. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the Buyer’s Agent you chose is both highly skilled and a good fit with your personality. One thing to look for is responsiveness.  Looking at sites with agent reviews like Zillow is a good way to see what others  have found from their experience regarding agent responsiveness, local knowledge, process expertise, and more!
  1. Remember, there’s no “right” or perfect time to buy. When you find that perfect home, don’t try to second-guess interest rates or the housing market by waiting longer — especially if your purchase timeline is for 3-5 years or longer or you risk losing out on the home of your dreams.  In a low inventoried market like we are in right now with less than 4 months of housing supply in much of our market, this can cause others to jump in and make offers and you might miss out!  Zillow is predicting housing prices up 4% nationally this year so the 2014 housing market probably won’t change fast enough to make that much difference in price except for up, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.  Last fall mortgage rates showed us just how quickly they can go up! Rising 150 basis points or so from the lows of last summer, we now see rates in the 4.5%-4.625% range and probably moving higher over the next six months.  As the economy perceptively improves so will mortgage rates move higher!
  1. Know that no house is ever perfect. I have built homes before that I still saw things I would change or do differently next time. If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Ask the seller to address them upon inspection and prior to closing or if unimportant, let the minor ones go.
  1. Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price in a market like this one where inventory is so low we are back in a “Seller’s Market” or by refusing to budge on your offer may cost you the home you love.  Negotiation is give and take and meeting in the middle! This is a distinctly different market than it was 2-3 years ago when there was 15-18 months’ supply of housing sitting on the market and aging rapidly with high days on market.  Seeing in certain areas of our market homes going under contract in “days” once again!
  1. Plan ahead and “first things first!” Buyers contact me every day wanting to know when we can go see a specific property!  I always try and educate Buyers I work with that the first thing that needs to be done, is to get pre-qualified for a mortgage.  Takes minutes and hours not days anymore!  Most of the time it can be done online without ever having to go to a mortgage company or bank!  Don’t even need financial docs most times to get pre-qualified!  The lending process is drastically different than it was 6-8 years ago. If it has been that long (or longer) since you last purchased a home, don’t assume because it was no problem before to get financing that today is going to be the same.  Also, and this is important for first time home buyers, getting a mortgage is more than having a good credit score and a job! It is about a combination credit score, “documented income,” access to down payment funds, and falling into a precise range of “debt to income” ratios that determine how much house you can afford!  Waiting until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate home insurance, and consider a schedule for the home inspection is too late! Too, it makes your offer weaker, and in the presence of this being a “Seller’s Market” once again with multiple offers, low inventory, and homes not staying on the market long it might cause you to miss that purchase you are looking to make on that next, first, or dream home because you weren’t ready to fully make the strongest offer you could. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your offer much less attractive to sellers.
  • Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-home buying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.
  • Look at differences in MI or Mortgage Insurance. Most are still going FHA. FHA mortgage MI has gotten much more expensive over the past six months. Look at differences between FHA and a Conventional mortgage as to whether you can qualify and the cost of doing both!
  • Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big financial commitment. But it also yields big benefits. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to buy a home and what made you fall in love with the property you purchased.
  • Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes are expected to appreciate at an average of 1-2 percent annually above inflation between now and 2020 from one report I recently read, a home’s most important role is to serve as a comfortable, safe place to live.

 

Posted on January 14, 2014 at 5:34 pm
Shelia Simmons | Category: Home ownership, Real Estate News