At Home with Teresa

8 Benefits of Buying a House at Year's End


Summer may be real estate’s busy season, but winter offers great opportunities for buying a house, especially for renters looking to become homeowners, growing families trading up to larger houses and baby boomers seeking homes to fit their evolving lifestyles.

Generally speaking, your housing choices during the late fall are still healthy. October and November are great months to go house hunting. December is usually sparse, market-wise, but if that fits your timeline, you could luck out.

The benefits to buying a house at the end of the year include the following:

1. Tax savings

If you close by December 31, you can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, points on your loan and interest costs. These deductions are significant, especially in the early years of your loan when you’re paying off a lot of interest.

2. Motivated sellers

Many sellers want to enjoy tax savings on the next home they purchase. They may accept lower bids in order to meet Uncle Sam’s deadlines. However, if you’re in a strong seller’s market, you’ll want to be conservative and heed advice from your real estate professional.

3. Builder incentives

If you’re buying a house that is brand new, there’s a good chance builders may push to close the books on their year—and meet quotas. They may offer upgrades or little extrasto sell houses before the calendar turns.

4. Available movers

Many moving companies are booked six weeks or more in advance during the busy summer months. In the fall and winter, it’s normally easier to secure the services of amoving company or rental equipment on shorter notice.

5. Paying toward something you own

If you’re renting, your monthly check goes toward something that will last you a month: You’ll never see any return on that money. When you buy a house, your monthly mortgage payment goes toward an investment—and ultimately a roof that’s yours.

6. Consistent payments

Landlords can increase your rent. Once you secure a mortgage, you can rely on consistent payments if you have a fixed-rate loan.

7. Freedom to renovate

Modernize your kitchen, paint your home’s exterior neon orange, change your fixtures orreplace your carpeting; whatever inspires you, no one can tell you, “No!”

8. Gaining equity

In the beginning, most of your payment goes toward interest. But gradually more will go toward paying off your principal, meaning you build up equity—or savings—in your home. Another factor in equity is appreciation: As home values rise, so does your rate of equity.

Updated from an earlier version by Michele Dawson.

Why it's Good to Sell Your Home Over the Holidays


Although many homeowners would rather wait to sell their homes until after the New Year, sellers who have already listed their homes may be asking this question: Should I leave my home on the market or take it off during the holiday season?

Conventional Wisdom on Selling During the Holidays. The general consensus has always been that sellers shouldn’t even try to sell their home during the busy holiday season since potential homebuyers are too busy planning vacations, attending parties, and cooking meals. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday right around the corner, people often don’t have a lot of time to look at properties.

On the other hand, the Internet and new technology have given rise to a new generation of buyers with Smartphone's, tablets, and laptops. As a result, people have instant access to information, and the buying season has become a year-round event. The Internet also cuts down on the amount of time that it takes to buy a home because many buyers do their shopping online. In reality, people are always looking for homes – before, during and after the holidays.

As sellers put their homes back on the market in January, the supply of homes goes up dramatically, which translates to less demand for your particular home and less money as well.

Are Homebuyers Even Motivated During the Holidays? During the holidays, the people who look at your home are typically motivated buyers. Since many sellers tend to take their homes off the market during the holidays, buyers have fewer choices. This means less competition, and a much better chance of selling your home. In some cases, you can even get more money for your home.

Homebuyers are also emotional during the holidays, and for some reason, they tend to buy more when their emotions run high. Whether it’s a car, home, motor home, or major purchase, people often buy these things based on their emotions rather than practical reasoning. Obviously, people buy homes for different reasons, but during the holidays, emotions are much nearer the top of the list.

People looking for a home during the holidays are serious. Some of them have an immediate need to buy a home. Many of them have to relocate due to job opportunities, while others are experiencing life changes such as divorce, family loss or retirement. A lot of people also try to buy homes at the end of the year in order to save money on taxes.

Why Homebuyers Want to Buy During the Holidays

Faster Approval From Lenders The fact that lenders aren’t very busy during the holidays means that you can probably push the paperwork through in a timely fashion and get your loan approved quicker.In hopes of winning some business during the slow season, some lenders may even be willing to lower their fees, which means more savings to the buyer. But keep in mind that it’s always a good idea to shop around.

Lack of Competition Can Lead to Low Prices  Home prices are dictated by the economy and the supply of and demand for housing; there is no correlation between seasons and home prices. But there’s no denying that the holiday season is a slow time for the U.S. real estate market. If a buyer is lucky enough to find a home they love during the holiday season that is sold by a motivated seller, the lack of competition from other homebuyers may help them get a great price!

Although home prices are on the rise across the country, they’re typically lower in December, compared to the rest of the season. With the combination of lower interest rates and lower prices, the time to buy a home may be now.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home during the holidays, it always pays to do some research beforehand. It also pays to be aware of market trends in the real estate world. Since the market is slow in December, the chances for multiple offers on the same home are slim, which may translate to a bigger discount for the buyer.

5 Questions Every Real Estate Agent Should Ask a New Client


There are many articles out there suggesting questions that buyers should ask their real estate agent, but now it’s your turn!

Whether you’re an experienced REALTOR® or not, it’s important to always be crystal clear on a new client’s background information and preferences.  Know where you stand before jumping into a relationship with a lead.

Here are 5 questions you should ask a new client:

  1.    Why are you buying and why is now the right time to move?  

Learning WHY they are buying a new home at this specific time is very helpful in tailoring your real estate services to fit their needs.  It will also help you determine how many hours you can expect to work.  For instance, some may be looking for a REALTOR® way before they sell their current home, while others may wait until the last minute.  Everyone’s timing is different.

  1.    How many houses have you already seen and what are your 3 favorite neighborhoods?   

You’ll gain a better understanding of their recent real estate experience and at the same time, you’ll find out if they have already been working with another agent.  Also, ask them to list their 3 favorite neighborhoods – this is an easy way to begin discussing the importance they place on schools, demographics, and where they want to live.

  1.    If we found your perfect home tomorrow, what would you do?  

Ask this question so you can evaluate their readiness to actually move and better grasp their preferred timeline.  If you’re speaking with a first-time home buyer, use this moment to go over the closing process and any other details they need to know about buying a new home.

  1.    Are you working with a lender?  

Now you’ll can make an easy transition into a financial conversation.  This is a great opportunity to learn whether or not they are pre-approved.  If they have not been pre-approved, suggest a lender of your choosing.

  1.    What would be a deal breaker?  

Find out what they DON’T want.  Specifically, what features, or lack of, would immediately rule out a home?  This will save you tons of time and energy when finding the best home for your new client.  Everyone has different preferences when it comes to their next home, and understanding what to omit speeds up the buying process.

by Courtney Soinski

CNE Designation

It's OFFICIAL!  CONGRATULATIONS goes out to all of our new CNE Grads at RE/MAX Classic! The attendance was overwhelming as 68 of our skilled professionals just added the Certified Negotiation Expert Designation to their list of education specialties! Just one more way they are adding every tool in their arsenal and education to better serve their clients. A special shout of CONGRATULATIONS goes out to the following associates at RE/MAX Classic ...

Faye Awdish
Michael Bailey
Holly Bartram
Alia Belbeisi
Lee Bittinger
Noel Bittinger
Staci Bockmann
Carol Boji (Broker/Owner)
Nathan Boji
Barry Canner
Donna Charlick
Kathy Christo
Deborah Crockett
Brian Dabish
Rodger Dabish
Nadia Dalou
Kelly Darling-Pletsch
John Dilworth
Kathleen Drew
Joseph Durso
Rosemary Firestone
John Garmo
Mary Gatto
Tanta Ghita
Beverly Gilbert-Allwine
Debra Gilbert
Dale Grace
Marilyn Handloser
Steven Hannosh
Tony Holguin
Fran Houseworth
Jonathan Kello
Terri King
Lysa Kowalik
Jamey Kramer
Tiffany Larrabee
Linda Leporowski
Robyn Lewis
Wendy Liu
Cindy Mancina
Michelle Markoz
Lori Marshick
Teresa McCollom
Jeff McLaughlin
Dan Mullan
Lou Nantais
Rick Nessel
Clara Norris
Bart Patterson (Vice President & General Manager)
Shelley Pies
Abe Quassis
Heidi Rhome
Pat Rice
Amanda Richardson
Chantelle Ritchie
Deborah Robbins
Steve Safran
Muhammad Saleem
Bruce Scarsella
Lee Schostak
Linda St. Denis
Kathy Strelecki
Todd Taliaferro
Karen Walls
Sheri Wilkins
Andrey Yakunin
Brian Yaldoo
Debbie Yatooma

Now that's impressive!

Top Five Open House Prep Tips


If your open house prep list involves preparing a stack of listing flyers and making sure your clients shovel the driveway, it’s time to update your strategy. While marketing materials and home aesthetics are important for a successful open house, these five open house prep tips will ensure a seamless event from start to finish.

1.) Counsel your clients: Educate your clients on best practices to prepare their home for an open house (see: staging tips, decluttering advice, donation options). Once the home is in open house condition, consider giving them a place to go while you host the event, like passes to a local museum, a gift card to a nearby coffee shop, or matinee movie tickets. Also, don’t forget about the pets – offer your sellers daycare options nearby, so their furry family member has a place to go!

2.) Digitize your marketing: Share your open house listing information across your social media networks to increase its reach. Include the address in a Google Maps format so buyers can easily access it on their mobile device when driving to the event. Supplement the  listing information using a video app like Magisto. You can showcase your listings’ special features, as well as easily share across your social media channels.

3.) Assemble an expert team: Have a network of experts an email away, in case a motivated buyer is ready to make an offer (particularly if the potential buyer is from out of town). Be ready to share your recommendations on the area’s go-to appraiser, mortgage broker, insurance agent, moving company or if they are looking to give the home a new look, a home remodeling company or interior designer.

4.) Plan ahead for the follow-up: Don’t wait until you’re back in the office to contact potential buyers. Use an app like Open Home Pro to automate follow-up communication with visitors before they have even left the property. The app will email listing information to potential buyers during the open house and will identify hot leads (who is qualified for a mortgage, who doesn’t have a real estate agent) post-event. The app will also automatically send potential buyers important information like a price decrease.

5.) Prepare for the next open house: If your listing didn’t sell, consider it a learning opportunity. Open Home Pro will let you track all of the feedback you heard from visitors and let you share it with your seller. If the unanimous feedback was the house is priced too high, this feedback could help your seller lower their listing price.


by On February 12, 2014

Privately Owned Housing Starts Up 21 Percent from Last Year, Sizable Gains in Multifamily Housing



housing_starts_blueprintsData released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau in conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development indicates that privately-owned housing starts were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000 in July, 6 percent above the upwardly revised June estimate of 846,000 and 21 percent above the July 2012 rate of 741,000.

The month-over-month increase in housing starts reflects sizeable gains in multifamily housing. According to the release, multifamily housing starts rose by 26 percent over the month of July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 305,000, partially offsetting the 25 percent decline that took place in June. On a 3-month moving average basis, which smoothes the volatility, multifamily housing starts increased by 6 percent to 290,000. Despite the increase, the 3-month average of multifamily housing starts remains below the 300,000 level that was recorded in the first five months of the year.

Meanwhile, growth in total private housing starts was partly restrained by a slight dip in single-family housing starts. Over the month of July, single-family housing starts fell 2 percent to 591,000 units. Geographically, the month-over-month declines took place in the South (-5 percent) and in the West (-10 percent), while single-family housing starts in the Northeast (+12 percent) and the Midwest (10 percent) rose. The decline in single-family housing starts that took place in the South and in the West may partly reflect higher than average precipitation over the month of July. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rainfall across the country was higher than normal in July with parts of the South and the West experiencing the most rainfall July relative to their normal levels. Despite the slight monthly decline in single-family housing starts, the underlying trend remains basically unchanged. On a 3-month moving average basis, single-family housing starts were 597,000, 0.1 percent below its level in June.

New Home Sales Jump 8.3 Percent in June


Sales of newly built, single-family homes surged 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted, annual rate of 497,000 units in June, their fastest pace in the last five years, according to data released today by HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“New-home buyers are returning to the market in larger numbers as firming prices, shrinking inventories of homes for sale and improving local economies convince them that now is the time to make their move,” said Rick Judson, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Charlotte, N.C.

“Meanwhile, the very low supply of new homes on the market is indicative of the difficulty that builders are having in keeping up with demand due to availability issues with regard to materials, credit, labor and lots for development. The takeaway from this report is that the housing recovery is solidly on track and isn’t going to be derailed by slightly higher mortgage rates,” says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “After years of fence-sitting, buyers are back and are ready to move forward with an investment in homeownership.” Looking ahead, he said he anticipates further, though more incremental gains in sales through the end of this year.
Three out of four regions saw solid gains in new-home sales activity in June, with the Northeast, South and West posting increases of 18.5 percent, 10.9 percent and 13.8 percent, respectively. The Midwest posted an 11.8 percent decline following an above-trend bump in activity in May

The inventory of new homes for sale declined to 161,000 units in June, marking a razor-thin, 3.9-month supply at the current sales pace. The months’ supply of homes for sale has not fallen below this level since March of 2004.

Source: RIS Media

Housing Inventories Rising Faster Than Usual


Source: Realtor Mag

The number of homes for sale rose 4.3 percent in June to 1.9 millionthe highest level in the past year. These gains are also higher than usual for this time of year, according to newly-released housing data from®.

Following two years of declines, housing inventory is finally reversing course. More home owners are seeing rising prices and may be more apt to try to sell their homes.

The number of homes for sale has risen the most in the past year in areas that had seen the largest declines, such as Sacramento, Calif. (up 11 percent), Atlanta (up 10.9 percent), Phoenix (up 6.2 percent), and Miami (up 2.2 percent). From May to June, inventories soared by the highest month-over-month amounts in Southern California, with inventories up 51.5 percent in Orange County, 45.7 percent in Los Angeles, and 18.1 percent in San Diego, according to®.

However, inventories of homes for sale remain far below last years level in markets such as Boston (down 35.1 percent), Denver (down 30.1 percent), Detroit (down 25.7 percent), Seattle (down 23.2 percent), and San Francisco (down 21.7 percent).® also reports that median asking prices climbed 0.5 percent in June from May, reaching $199,900. Median asking prices are up by 5 percent over last year.

How Real Estate Professionals Can Help Clients Navigate Short Sales And Foreclosures


Source: Forbes

Homeowners facing financial hardships may be able to negotiate with their lenders for a loan modification or refinance that will reduce their monthly mortgage payment. In some cases, this is enough to allow the borrower to remain in the home. In other cases, however, the borrower may still be unable to meet the demands of the loan because of factors like loss of a job, divorce, illness or death of a spouse and may have to sell the home through a short sale or lose the home to foreclosure. As difficult as these situations are, a qualified real estate professional can help guide buyers and sellers successfully through the process.

Short Sales

A homeowner in financial distress may put his or her property on the market as a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure. A short sale, or pre-foreclosure sale, occurs when a property is sold for less than the amount due on the mortgage. This type of real estate sale can benefit the lender, who can avoid the lengthy and costly foreclosure process, and the borrower, who can eliminate or reduce mortgage debt and keep a foreclosure off their credit report.

A lender may agree to a short sale if the borrower has a personal financial hardship (such as job loss, divorce or medical emergency) and owes more on the mortgage than the home is worth. If the lender approves the short sale, any proceeds from the sale will go to the lender. Since the sales price falls short of the balance remaining on the mortgage, the difference may either be forgiven by the lender or the lender can seek a deficiency judgment against the borrower for all or part of the balance (a few states prohibit deficiency judgments following a short sale). The short sale process varies from state to state, but the steps generally include:

Short sale package A financial package is submitted by the borrower (seller) to the lender. This includes financial statements, a letter describing the sellers hardship and copies of financial records.

Short sale offer If the seller accepts the offer from an interested buyer, the listing agent sends the lender the listing agreement, an executed purchase offer, the buyers preapproval letter and a copy of the earnest money check, and the sellers short sale package.

Bank processing The bank reviews the offer and either approves or denies the short sale. This can take several weeks to months.

Helping Sellers

No Money Down Mortgages are Back


Its 100% financingthe same strategy that pushed many homeowners into foreclosure during the housing bust. Banks say these loans are safer: Theyre almost exclusively being offered to clients with sizable assets, and they often require two forms of collateralthe house and a portion of the clients investment portfolio in lieu of a traditional cash down payment. In most cases, borrowers end up with one loan and one monthly payment. Depending on the lender and the borrower, roughly 60% to 80% of the loan can be pegged to the homes value while the remaining 20% to 40% can be secured by investments. On a $2 million primary residence, for instance, the borrower could get a $2 million loan, which would require a pledge of assets in an investment portfolio to cover what could have been, say, a $500,000 down payment. The pledged assets can remain fully invested, earning returns as normal, without disrupting the clients investment goals. While these affluent clients may be flush with cash, this strategy allows them to get into a home without tying up funds or making withdrawals from interest-earning accounts. And given the markets gains combined with low borrowing rates in recent years, some banks say clients are pursuing 100% financing as an arbitrage playwhere the return on their investments is bigger than the rate they pay on the loan, which can be as low as 2.5%. Some institutions offer only adjustable rates with these loans, which could become more expensive if rates rise. In most cases, the investment account must be held by the same institution thats providing the loan.

These loans also provide tax benefits. Since borrowers dont have to liquidate their investment portfolios to get financing, they can avoid the capital-gains tax. And in some cases, they can still tap into the mortgage-interest deduction. While these loans make up a small portion of banks overall lending, demand for them has been rising. BNY Mellon Wealth Managements mortgage team says it experienced a 10% increase in requests for 100% jumbo-mortgage financing involving clients investment portfolios in 2012 compared with a year prior. BOK Financial, which offers up to 100% financing just to medical doctors through its private-banking divisions in eight states, including Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas, says there has been a roughly 25% increase (or about 100 more borrowers) in this lending from a year ago. Also, at Citi Private Bank, applications have been growing over the past two years. Demand is two to three times what it normally is, says Peter Ferrara, managing director of the private banks residential real estate.

Some banks are using this product to lure in clients, such as BOK Financials offer, which is available to new physicians. To provide the loan, the bank must first receive proof that the borrower has cash or investments, like stocks or mutual funds, that equal 10% of the borrowed amount.

What to consider before signing up:

         Portfolio restrictions. The amount clients can borrow against investment accounts will depend on what the portfolio comprises. In most cases, they can get up to 95% if the account comprises cash, up to about 80% if its bonds, and between 50% and 75% with stocks.

         Relationship pricing. To get the lowest rate, clients who already have significant assets at a particular bank should consider applying for 100% financing there.

         Underwriting standards. Borrowers will still need to pass regular underwriting requirements, including having a high credit score, a low amount of overall debt and  documentation of substantial income/assets.  

Source: Marketwatch

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