Posts for Syndication

How Long Will It Take To Sell My House?

By Virtual Results

How Long Will It Take To Sell My House?One of the questions we get most often from sellers is, “How long will it take to sell my house?” While this is true in normal times, it’s even truer now. Sellers want to have some idea of how long the home-selling process is going to take, beginning with how long the house will be on the market. Let’s take a closer look at what’s happening in the market today and what steps you can take to get a great offer sooner.

Homes are flying off the shelves

According the National Association of Realtors (NAR) August 2020 Confidence Index, homes typically sold in 22 days in August. In addition, 68 percent of homes were on the market for less than a month. This is a record-breaking timetable. Buyers are eager to find a home and put in an offer, especially because there is currently a huge shortage of inventory. Simply put, in today’s market you can expect to move from listing to pending sale in less than a month. There has never been a better time in recent history to sell your home.

Set a realistic asking price

Just because we’re in a sellers’ market doesn’t mean that you can set an unrealistically high price on your home. Pricing your home right from the beginning is key in getting an offer quickly. Work with an agent who has experience in your market to help determine the best asking price for your home. When you overprice your home, it can sit on the market for too long. This can lead buyers to think there’s something wrong with it. Setting the right price is key.

Make it sparkle

Being in a sellers’ market also doesn’t mean you can get lazy about showing your home. You need to make it sparkle! First, pack up your extra belongings and large pieces of furniture and keep them in storage. Include anything that is personal, such as framed photographs of family or décor from a specific sports team. Organize what’s left, keeping in mind that buyers will be looking in drawers and closets so they need to be tidy. Once you’re organized it’s time to clean every room in your house. This includes places you tend to neglect, such as baseboards, windows, cabinets, and floors. If you’re short on time, then consider hiring professional cleaners.

Address minor repairs

In addition to cleaning and de-cluttering, you should attend to minor repairs. This includes patching drywall, touching-up paint, repairing loose doorknobs, and tightening leaky faucets. You should also consider giving rooms a fresh coat of neutral paint, installing new hardware in bathrooms and kitchens, and upgrading lighting fixtures. These small repairs can go a long way.

Stage and add curb appeal

More and more buyers are doing their preliminary shopping online. Make your home stand out amongst the competition by staging it to sell. Determine what the best feature is of each room and stage your furniture and décor to highlight it. You could also hire a professional stager who will bring in new furniture and décor to make your home look polished. Give some attention to the outside of your home as well. Clean up the yard, replace broken lights, and add some seasonal décor.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Repairing Your Credit Post-Pandemic

By Virtual Results

Repairing Your Credit Post-PandemicThe global coronavirus pandemic has had serious financial consequences for many Americans. High unemployment caused by the shutdown has made it difficult for some to make their monthly payments. Unfortunately, missing payments can have a negative affect on your credit score, which can impact your ability to buy a home in the future. If your credit has suffered as a result of the pandemic, then here’s what you need to do begin rebuilding it.

Check your credit report

First things first – if you’re concerned about your credit, then get a copy of your credit report. By looking at your report, you can see firsthand what factors are negatively impacting your credit. This will help you prioritize how you tackle repairing your credit. Consider what will make the biggest impact. Your payment history makes up the largest portion of your score, so this is often where you’ll want to start.

Make payments on time

Late payments can stay on your report for up to seven years. Making your payments on time will help you to keep your credit score up. It also helps to eliminate late fees, which can quickly eat up extra funds. If you’re able, then sign-up for automatic payments. This helps you to avoid forgetting to make a payment. Look into ways to reduce your spending, such as cooking at home or finding ways to lower your Internet or cell phone bill.

Don’t dig a deeper hole

Avoid taking on new debt while you’re repairing your credit. Another factor that determines your credit score is your credit utilization ratio. This is the ratio of how much credit you’re using divided by how much revolving credit you have. You want to keep this number as low as possible. The only type of loan that you should consider getting is a debt consolidation loan. This kind of loan helps you to pay off and close your existing credit.

Keep your accounts open

Your credit history also plays into your score. You should keep your accounts open even if they are paid off. Just remember to keep your accounts active by periodically making small purchases. Make sure to pay off those purchases in full each month.

Check into deferment plans

You’re not the only one experiencing financial problems as a result of the pandemic. For this reason, many lenders are extending deferment plans for credit cards and mortgages. This can be a good way to protect your credit while still being able to miss payments. Just be sure to check your credit report occasionally to ensure that it’s being reported correctly, or it could negatively impact your score.

Ask for lower interest rates

You don’t get what you don’t ask for. And this is often true with low interest rates. Did you know that you can simply call your lender to ask for a lower rate? While there is no guarantee it will work, it is always worth a try. The money you save on interest payments can then be applied to the principal balance, which will allow you to pay it off faster.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Tips for Second-Time Homebuyers

By Virtual Results

Tips for Second-Time Homebuyers

Everybody has advice for first-time homebuyers. But what about those who are buying a home for the second time? While wading into the real estate market for the first time can be intimidating, that doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a pro when it’s time to buy your second home. In fact, being a second-time homebuyer presents its own set of unique challenges. If you’re preparing to buy your second home, then here are some tips you should keep in mind.

Figure out what to do with your current home

Buying a home for the first time can be scary. But when you do it for the second time, you also have to figure out what to do with your current home. Will you sell it or rent it? If you’re selling, will you try to sell at the same time as buying a home, or wait until after you’ve made your purchase? There are many factors to consider when making this choice, including how much money you have saved, local market conditions, and how much you feel you can handle at one time.

Don’t rule out an FHA loan

While most people think that FHA loans are specifically for first-time homebuyers, second-time homebuyers can utilize them as well. However, you must meet all the criteria including credit and down payment requirements. Generally, you cannot use an FHA loan for an investment property or vacation home. But if you are looking to relocate permanently in your next home, it’s worth looking into this type of loan.

Determine how you’ll make the down payment

How will you make the down payment for your second home? For many second-time buyers, they rely on the sale of their first home to make the down payment on their next home. But if you’re waiting to sell your current home, you’ll need to make sure you have enough saved for your down payment. And take into consideration that unless you have at least 20 percent of the purchase price saved, you’ll be paying PMI (private mortgage insurance).

Evaluate your current needs

Your needs have probably changed since you bought your first home. For this reason, you should take time to reevaluate what you are looking for in a home. This year, many homeowners have decided to upsize since they are now working from home or they have children who are attending school online. Sit down and make a list of your priorities so that you can focus your search on homes that meet your current needs.

Think long-term

Even if you think you’ll be living in your new home for the rest of your life, things can change. After all, nobody really expected that we’d all be staying at home for almost all of 2020. We don’t know what the future holds, which is why it is important for you to consider how easy it will be to sell this home down the line. There may come a day when you thank yourself for it.

Work with a professional

Finally, take some of the stress off your second-time home purchase by working with a professional real estate agent. They can offer advice and expertise every step of the way to make your second-time home-buying experience as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Fall 2020 Is a Great Time to Sell

By Virtual Results

Fall 2020 Is a Great Time to Sell

Traditionally, summer has been the best time to sell a home. It’s the time of year when families with children most often choose to move so that their kids will be settled in for the new school year. But the pandemic has totally upended the housing market, and we’re living in a new paradigm. For this reason, fall 2020 has turned into an exceptional time to sell your home. Here’s why.

Interest rates are at record lows

If you tune into the news, then you’re well aware that interest rates have hit an all-time low. Rates have fallen below three percent during the summer and may even fall lower than that by the end of the year. And while we’ll probably see these historically low rates for the foreseeable future, they will eventually go away. This is driving up demand as buyers flock to the market to take advantage of these incredible rates.

Millennials are finally entering the market

For years, experts have been trying to predict when Millennials would enter the housing market in a big way. While this generation has been unable to buy in previous years for reasons such as sizable student loan debt, it seems that many are now ready to become homeowners. This internet-savvy age group has been searching online listings for months or even years, waiting for the right time to make their move. For many, this perfect storm of wanting more space because of the pandemic and the current economics of buying a home make it the best time to take the leap.

Home prices are on the rise

Because of this surge in demand, home prices have held steady and even gone up in competitive markets. Selling your home at a time when prices are high is always going to be a good idea as you will have an easier time getting a good return on your initial investment. Economists predict that home prices will continue to rise in the near future.

More homeowners are able to move up

The pandemic has made us all realize how important our homes are to our health and well-being. And now that many of us are working or going to school from home, having extra space for these activities is essential. Many homeowners who have equity in their homes are deciding that now is a good time to upsize their living situation by using the equity in their current homes to help finance their purchase.

There is a shortage of homes for sale

Finally, fall 2020 is a great time to sell because there continues to be a shortage of homes for sale. The pandemic spooked many home sellers who were both afraid of having strangers in their homes and worried they wouldn’t be able to find buyers. While more sellers are returning to the market after putting off their sale, there is still a shortage of inventory. When inventory is low and demand is high, you’ve got all the ingredients you need for a sellers’ market. If you put your home on the market now, then you can feel confident that there are many buyers out there who will be interested in making a competitive offer.

Compliments of Virtual Results

DIY Home Repairs During a Pandemic

By Virtual Results

At a time when most of us are concerned about inviting strangers into our homes, handling unexpected repairs can be a challenge. After all, that burst pipe doesn’t really care if you want to call a plumber or not. However, there are several home repairs you can complete yourself with the right knowledge and tools, making it unnecessary to call in the pros. Here are some tips for tackling DIY home repairs during a pandemic.

Repair drywall

Did that picture-hanging process leave you with a big hole in your wall? Fortunately, repairing holes in your drywall is an easy fix with a little spackle. Scrape off any loose bits with a taping knife and then spread on some spackle. If the hole is too large for this kind of spot fix then use a mesh patch. This will give you a smooth surface on which you can apply the spackle. Let dry for 24 hours and then sand off any rough edges. It’s always handy to keep leftover paint so that you can touch-up small fixes like this as well.

Fix a running toilet

Do you have a problem with a toilet that just won’t stop running? Not only can that noise become irritating, but it can also run up your water bill. The good news is that this is another repair that you can easily tackle by yourself. If your toilet won’t stop running, then it’s probably a faulty flapper. This is the small rubber piece that separates the tank from the toilet bowl. Start by turning off the water behind the toilet. Remove the tank lid and flush to empty out the tank. Remove the old flapper and replace it with a new one. Attach the chain to the trip lever and make sure the flapper can fully close. Turn the water back on and try a test flush. If the toilet is quiet after the tank fills, then you did it!

Replace caulk

While you’re working on your toilet you may realize that the caulk in your bathtub has seen better days. If your caulk is cracked, broken, or peeling, then it could cause water damage and mold. But have no fear, replacing caulk is a job that you can DIY as well. First, completely remove all the old caulk with a putty knife or razor blade. Then fill the tub with water. The water weighs down the tub and expands the gaps so you’re sure to get good coverage. Now thoroughly clean the surface by vacuuming up debris and then wiping with a paper towel soaked in rubbing alcohol. Then apply the new caulk. It’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality caulk, as it will last much longer than the cheaper versions. Finally, dip your finger in water and run it along the caulk line. This will smooth the caulk and force it into the gap. Patch any holes with new caulk and smooth using the same process. Follow the directions on the caulk container for drying time – usually it’s about 24 hours.

Compliments of Virtual Results

10 Real Estate Acronyms To Know

By Virtual Results

10 Real Estate Acronyms To KnowIf you’re diving into the real estate market for the first time, then you’ve probably realized there’s a bit of a learning curve. When researching homes and mortgages you may have come across some terms that are unfamiliar to you. Acronyms are especially popular in real estate, and it’s helpful to know what all these abbreviations stand for. Here are 10 of the most common real estate acronyms that you’re likely to come across when you’re buying or selling a home.

HOA

Many homes and condos are part of an HOA, or homeowners association. This is the governing body that oversees your community and establishes standards to help maintain property values. If you purchase a home that’s in an HOA, then you’ll be paying monthly fees to them for things like the maintenance of public spaces.

FHA

A popular type of loan is an FHA loan. FHA stands for the Federal Housing Administration, which has a program that guarantees loans for buyers who qualify. They typically require very low down payments and are great for first-time buyers.

VA

VA loans are another common type of home loan. They are guaranteed by the Veterans Administration and are available to those who have served in the military. One great benefit of VA loans is that they require no down payment at all.

CMA

Are you preparing to sell your home? Then you’ll probably want to get a CMA from a real estate agent. This stands for Certified Market Analysis, and it is a comprehensive report that helps to determine the value of your home. Finding just the right asking price for your home is a crucial step when selling.

FSBO

When you search listings, you may come across the acronym FSBO. This means the home is For Sale By Owner. If you want to purchase a home that is FSBO, then be aware that the seller will not be working with a professional real estate agent and you or your agent will be dealing with them directly.

MLS

MLS stand for Multiple Listing Service. This is the collection of all the homes that are for sale at any given time. When you put your home up for sale your agent will list it in the MLS. If you’re looking for a home, your agent will search the MLS for properties that fulfill your needs.

ROI

Are you in the market for an investment property, or are you thinking about how much your home will be worth down the line? Then you’re considering the home’s ROI – return on investment. The ROI represents how much you stand to profit over your original investment.

APR

As you begin to shop around for a mortgage, you’ll come across the term APR. This stands for annual percentage rate and refers to the cost per year over the term of your loan. It is a combination of your interest rate as well as other fees.

DTI

Another term you’ll probably encounter when applying for a mortgage is DTI, or debt-to-income ratio. This is the percentage of your monthly income that goes toward paying your debts. The smaller your DTI, the better.

PMI

Finally, if you’re playing less that 20% of the purchase price for your down payment, then you’ll probably be paying PMI, or private mortgage insurance. This is a fee that covers your lender in case you default on your loan.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Homes for Sale Need “Screen Appeal”

By Virtual Results

Homes for Sale Need “Screen Appeal”Just about everything has gone virtual in the age of the coronavirus, even home sales. In an effort to stay as safe as possible, many homebuyers are opting to see homes online instead of in person. As a home seller, it’s essential that you take this “new normal” into consideration when you put your home on the market. That’s why it’s important to create “screen appeal” to entice potential buyers. Here’s how.

Focus on staging

Staging your home for sale is a great strategy during normal times. But it’s even more important now. Homes that are staged allow potential buyers to see the property in the best possible light. Start by de-cluttering and removing all personal items. Remember – you want buyers to be able to imagine living in the home. Do a thorough cleaning and repaint rooms in neutral colors if needed. Replace light bulbs so every room has ample light. Rearrange furniture to maximize flow, and remove any bulky items that take up too much space. For some it may be wise to rent a storage unit temporarily so you have a safe place to store your stuff until you move.

Take a test run

Now that your home is de-cluttered, cleaned, and staged, do a test run. Take photos of each room and see how they look on screen. Is each room living up to its potential? Are the room’s best features being highlighted? For some rooms, that may be a beautiful view just outside the windows. Or maybe it’s a great architectural feature like a vintage fireplace. Taking preliminary photos before a professional comes in to take them gives you the chance to fine-tune your staging. That way you know you’re getting the best possible results.

Consider virtual staging

Virtual staging can be a great choice for sellers who have empty homes they are putting on the market. Instead of bringing actual furniture into the space, technology does all the work. Virtual staging services are available in most markets and these professionals can digitally add furniture and décor to your photos. You can also try a DIY approach with virtual staging apps that are now available.

Practice the video tour

If you know that your home is going to be shown via video tours, then take a practice run to get a sense of what buyers will be seeing. Get your agent or a friend on the line and take them on a walk-through of your home. This will help you determine which features you want to make sure buyers see and can alert you to any problem areas that you hadn’t noticed. And remember to keep all the paths clear. Whoever is giving the video tour will be trying to juggle several things at once and you don’t want them to trip.

Don’t skimp on curb appeal

Finally, you should also be focusing some time on increasing your home’s curb appeal. Now more than ever the outside of your home is an important part of the picture because it’s the first thing most buyers will see. Clean up the yard and add some seasonal décor to make your home look cozy and welcoming.

Compliments of Virtual Results

Why Mortgage Pre-Approval is Essential

By Virtual Results

Why Mortgage Pre-Approval is Essential

We say this often because it’s so important – you must get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin your home search. Getting pre-approved for a home loan is the critical first step on your road to home ownership. There are many reasons why your pre-approval is essential, so let’s take a look at them.

It helps you get your finances in order

When you apply for a mortgage you are going to need documentation of your financial situation. You’ll be gathering many documents including bank statements and tax paperwork. Getting pre-approved means that you’ll have all the information you need upfront and can move forward knowing that you’re in good shape. Getting your finances in order also means ordering a copy of your credit report. Many consumers unfortunately have errors on their reports, and that could cost you if you’re one of them. Your credit score affects your ability to qualify and the interest rates you’ll get. Make sure your credit report doesn’t contain any errors, and if you find any take the necessary steps to have them removed.

It shows you what you can afford

Once you start looking at homes, you’re going to be tempted to bite off more than you can chew. It’s easy to get swept up in your emotions and start fantasizing about buying a home that you may not be able to afford. You can avoid this kind of disappointment by finding out early how much you can afford. There are many online calculators available that will show you what your budget should be. That way when you begin your home search you can target only those homes that fit well within your means. Buying a home you can’t afford will be a source of serious stress down the line, so only looking at homes you can afford is very important.

It shows sellers that you’re a serious buyer

We are in a sellers’ market. Now is a great time to sell a home because buyers are flooding the market and there is a shortage of inventory. That means many buyers may be putting in offers on the same house. If you don’t have a mortgage pre-approval it’s very unlikely your offer will be the one the seller chooses. They want to make sure that you’ll get to the closing table without any trouble. There are many ways that a home sale can derail, which is what all sellers want to avoid. And getting pre-approved shows the seller that you’re a serious buyer who is ready to move forward. Getting pre-approved gives you a competitive advantage.

It can ease your mind

Finally, getting pre-approved can seriously ease your mind. Buying a home can be a stressful process, especially during a pandemic. There are already so many things to consider and worry about. When you know that you’ve been pre-approved it can give you more space to consider all the other things that go into a buying a home. And it will ultimately give you more confidence in yourself during the process.

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Unemployment and Homeownership

By Virtual Results

Unemployment and Homeownership

The pandemic has caused millions of Americans to file unemployment claims over the last few months. Those who have been laid off or furloughed may be concerned about how this will affect their opportunities to buy a home in the future. Rest assured, unemployment will not derail your plans of homeownership. However, there are some things you should keep in mind as you prepare to buy a home down the road.

Short-term challenges when buying a home

Losing your job in the middle of buying a home can mean that you’ll need to hold off on closing. Unfortunately, lenders take into account that lost income when determining your eligibility for a loan. Unless you’re purchasing the home with someone else, such as a spouse, who can offset that lost income, the lender will probably not approve your loan. But what if you’re collecting unemployment? In most cases, lenders consider that temporary income, and it won’t be used to help you qualify for the loan.

Long term affects of unemployment when buying a home

The good news is, once you are again employed, you won’t have to wait too long before shopping for a house. Most lenders do like to see a steady employment history. That means six months at your current job and two years of being employed. Anything older than two years should have no affect on your ability to qualify for a home loan.

How unemployment affects your credit

Your credit score is a big factor when it comes to getting qualified for a home loan. And unemployment can certainly have an affect on your credit score, depending on how you handle your financial stresses. If you fall behind on your bills, then you may be reported to the credit bureaus. This could have a negative effect on your credit score. Unemployment also affects your debt-to-income ratio. This is the ratio of how much money you make versus how much you owe. If your income takes a hit, you may rely more on your credit cards, which will increase your ratio.

How to minimize financial issues during unemployment

As a future homebuyer, it’s important to take on as little debt as possible while you’re unemployed. Limit your spending and try to stay current on your payments. Always make your minimum monthly payments, and reach out to your creditors to see if you can arrange for lower payments, deferment, or even forbearance. Look closely at your bills to see where you can make some adjustments in the short term to save money during this time.

Recovering from unemployment

While unemployment is a scary and daunting time, you can recover. If your credit score takes a hit, then there are ways that you can repair it. In as little as six months, your credit score can bounce back to a level that is acceptable by many lenders. The bottom line is, while unemployment may put your dreams of homeownership on hold for the time being, it doesn’t mean it will forever. And there are steps you can take during your unemployment period to mitigate damage and be prepared more quickly for your future home purchase.

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Buying in a Hurricane Zone

By Virtual Results

Buying in a Hurricane Zone

As if living through a pandemic weren’t tough enough, now we’re headed into the middle of hurricane season. Hurricanes can wreak havoc on property, so it’s important to assess the risk if you’re buying in a hurricane-prone area. Have you found a home you love that’s in an area that experiences hurricanes and flooding? Then here are the questions you need to ask yourself.

What is a hurricane zone?

First of all, let’s define what a hurricane zone is. A hurricane zone is an area where hurricanes most often make landfall. Millions of homes in America are located in hurricane zones, especially those along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricanes are most likely to happen between June 1 and November 30 each year and have wind speeds between 74 to 157 mph.

What kind of damage do hurricanes cause?

Wind damage is one of the most common kinds of damage that a hurricane will cause, especially to the roof. But hurricanes also cause storm surge where water rises to an abnormal level causing flood damage. They can also cause downed trees and power lines that can damage a home’s structure.

What kind of house should I purchase?

Some types of homes are better at withstanding hurricanes and floods than others. Homes designed with a dome shape tend to fare better against wind damage. In addition, homes that are built on stilts will be better prepared for the storm surge.

What is the cost of homeowners insurance?

Where you live within a hurricane zone can have a drastic effect on how much you pay for homeowners insurance. In some cases, you may even need a different policy to cover losses from the wind. Call around to get quotes from different companies for homes you’re interested in. You will find that those homes closer to the water or flood zones will have higher premiums. You can save money on your insurance costs by buying just outside of this zone.

Should I purchase flood insurance?

Flood insurance is not included with a typical homeowners insurance policy. Flood damage can be extremely costly. The only way to be protected from those expenses is to purchase flood insurance. In fact, if the property is located within a flood zone, you may be required to carry flood insurance.

Is the home up to code?

It’s also important to find out when the home was built. In many hurricane zones, building codes have gotten stricter over the years to help protect homeowners from damage. But if the home is older, it may not be up to code. Your home inspector can tell you whether or not the home meets current building standards.

Do I have the money for safety upgrades?

Finally, having all the proper equipment to mitigate damage during a hurricane is extremely important for homeowners. This could include installing impact windows, storm shutters, and a garage door brace. Some of these safety upgrades can be costly, so factor this into your budget when making an offer. Be aware you may also qualify for discounts on your insurance if you implement these safety upgrades.

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