Monday, December 31, 2018

Why You Should Not For Sale By Owner

In today’s market, as home prices rise and a lack of inventory continues, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their homes on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for most sellers.

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers
According to NAR’s 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 95% of buyers searched online for a home last year. That is in comparison to only 13% of buyers looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an Internet strategy to promote the sale of your home, do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet
Where did buyers find the homes they actually purchased?
  • 50% on the Internet
  • 28% from a real estate agent
  • 7% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers
The days of selling your house by putting out a lawn sign or putting an ad in the paper are long gone. Having a strong Internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With
Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale by Owner:
  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interests 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 appraiser if there is a question of value
4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult
The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 7% over the last 20+ years.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent
Many homeowners believe that they can save on the real estate commission by selling on their own, but they don’t realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe that they can save on the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent. One of the main reasons for the price difference at the time of sale is that,

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

If more buyers see a home, the greater the chances are that there could be a bidding war for the property. The study showed that the difference in price between comparable homes of size and location is currently at an average of 6% this year.

Why would you choose to list on your own and manage the entire transaction when you can hire an agent and not have to pay anything more?

Bottom Line
Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, get together with The McLeod Group Network to discuss your needs.  971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: KCM Crew

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Your Winter 2019 Home Maintenance To-Do List: Have You Checked It Twice?

We won't sugarcoat it: The thought of doing home maintenance right now is pretty blah—especially with the holidays looming and weeks of gloomy winter days on the horizon. Who wants to do housework when you can curl up and binge-watch "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" instead?
So you're forgiven if this is one article you don't want to read. But before you take up permanent residence on the couch, you should at least skim it. That's because winter chills bring a number of home-related ills—and if you don't keep up with a little maintenance now, you could be in for catastrophic repair costs later.
So pull yourself out of hibernation mode and get started. The good news? We've done the heavy lifting for you, identifying the top tasks to tackle—and what professional help will cost you if you find yourself in over your head.

Give your gutters one last scrub

Hopefully, you've been clearing out your gutters on the regular. But once every tree is bare, it's time for one final cleaning session to "avoid moisture building up against your house—and ice dams," says Derek Christian, the owner of Handyman Connection in Blue Ash, OH.
Ah, ice dams: winter's favorite boogeyman. These troublemakers happen when warm air meets a cold, wet roof, creating supersized icicles. Eventually, that ice and moisture can find their way underneath your shingles, rotting your roof, and leaking into the living spaces below.
But ice dams are easily avoided—as long as you do a little prep.
DIY: Cleaning out your gutters is simple enough to do yourself. For extra protection, Jason Metzger, the head of risk management for PURE Insurance, recommends installing heat strips on your gutter or roof edges to keep frozen precipitation from building up.
Call in the pros: Have you been really lackadaisical with your gutter cleanings? An expert can scoop out all the gunk. Expect to pay $100 to $250.

Turn on your humidifier

Holiday humidifier. istock/Qwart
Is your furnace prepped for winter? While this might vary based on your specific model, Christian advises homeowners to check their furnace for a "winter" and a "summer" switch, which controls your humidifier.
"In the summer, the airflow to the humidifier needs to be cut off; but in the winter, you want air going through it," he says.
That keeps your skin from drying out, your eyes from itching, and your floorboards from creaking.
DIY: Switching your humidifier on is an easy task. If your furnace lacks this feature, a stand-alone humidifier, like this Honeywell model, will do the job.
Call in the pros: Adding a humidifier to your furnace is simple. Costs start at about $370.
———

Insulate (and inspect) the attic

House always feel drafty? Your attic could be to blame. Check to make sure this space is sufficiently insulated. And while you're up there, make sure no rodents can shimmy in and create their own winter retreat. (Eek!)
"Make sure any gaps and holes into your attic are sealed tight," Christian says. "As winter approaches, critters will be looking for somewhere to spend it."
DIY: Stuff gaps with insulation, and fill cracks with caulk to keep the critters—and the cold—out.
Call in the pros: If you're noticing a severe lack of insulation (or you require six blankets just to keep your body temperature normal), hiring a pro to add insulation will be worth the cost. The national average to install blown-in insulation is $1,400.
———

Create a cleaning schedule for the new year


Seasonal cleaning calendar. 
istock/ RapidEye
With 2019 rapidly approaching, now's the time to institute good home habits that will keep your space clean and organized year-round. And what better time to tackle the mountain of grime that's accumulated over the year than the frigid winter months when you can't go outside?
DIY: Creating a regular cleaning schedule makes a huge difference in keeping your home tidy and organized.
"Hang a calendar in your kitchen where your whole household can see it," and assign tasks to the household, says professional organizer Kacy Burns.
Take it one step further with weekly, monthly, and quarterly reminders.
Call in the pros: Just can't bear the thought of starting a new year with chores? If you've ever considered a cleaning crew, now’s the time. Figure on paying $200 to $300 for a one-time cleaning, but you may be able to negotiate that price down with a regular cleaning schedule.
———

Fireproof your home

With temps plummeting, you've probably already switched on your heat a few times, gathered around the fireplace, or lugged out a portable heater to warm your feet on chilly nights.
"With all these heat sources in use, homeowners must take precautions to protect themselves from house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning," says Sophie Kaemmerle, a home improvement expert with NeighborWho, a property information website.
DIY: If you haven't done so recently, replace those smoke detector batteries.
Call in the pros: If you smell gas or your carbon monoxide detector starts beeping, leave the house and call 911, followed by your utility company, which will send out a team to investigate the problem. Still feeling wary? Most fire departments will do a home safety check if you request one.
———

Maintain a smart temperature

Consider installing a smart thermostat to keep your home's temperature even. Today's models —like the ├╝ber-popular Nest—will alert you if the temperature inside your home suddenly falls. That can be a lifesaver when you're on vacation, preventing frozen pipes and other winter disasters.
DIY: If you're not ready to upgrade your thermostat, you can do your part to maintain an even temperature.
"Leave interior doors, cabinets, and vanities open to keep the whole home heated," Metzger says.
Call in the pros: Is your thermostat struggling to keep temperatures even? Are cold spots in your living room bugging you on snow days? A whole-home energy audit, which costs about $400, can identify the cause.
———

Hunker down for winter storms


Ice storm
istock/DenisTangneyJr
In most parts of the nation, the first snow has already fallen—and more is surely on the way. Before the next bomb cyclone/polar vortex/sharknado blizzard (hey, it could happen), make sure you're prepared for the worst-case scenario.
"Heavy snows and ice can take down power lines and leave you in the cold and dark," says Krystal Rogers-Nelson of home safety and security company SafeWise.
DIY: Make sure you have a (working) generator, and stock up on batteries for flashlights and lanterns. Invest in a solar-powered or battery-operated radio to stay up to date with news in case you lose cellphone reception. Store wintry weather supplies—such as snow shovels and window scrapers—somewhere you can access them easily.
If you live in an area particularly prone to snow, mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles to help snow plowers see where to go, suggests home maintenance expert Laura Gaskill.
And remember: A buildup of heavy snow on tree limbs can make them more prone to breaking, Gaskill notes, so brush snow off tree limbs after each big snowfall, using a broom to extend your reach.
Thinking about buying or selling a home in the new year? Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Jamie Wiebe, Holly Amaya 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

3 Things You'd Better Know Before Applying for a Mortgage—or Else

Unless you’re sitting on a ton of cold, hard cash, you’re going to need a mortgage to buy a home.
Unfortunately, you can’t just show up at a bank with a checkbook and a smile and get approved for a home loan—you need to qualify for a mortgage, which requires some careful planning.
So, how do you please the lending gods? It starts with arming yourself with the right knowledge about the home loan application process.
Here are three things you need to know before applying for a mortgage.

1. What is a good credit score

Ah, the all-mighty credit score. This powerful three-digit number is a key factor in whether you get approved for a mortgage. When you apply for a loan, lenders will check your score to assess whether you’re a low- or high-risk borrower. The higher your score, the better you look on paper—and the better your odds of landing a great loan. If you have a low credit score, though, you may have difficulty getting a mortgage.
So, what’s considered a good credit score in the mortgage realm? While a number of credit scores exist, the most widely used credit score is the FICO score. A perfect score is 850. However, generally a score of 760 or higher is considered excellent, meaning it will help you qualify for the best interest rate and loan terms, says Richard Redmond, mortgage broker at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider’s Guide.”
A good credit score is 700 to 759; a fair score is 650 to 699. If you have multiple blemishes on your credit history (e.g., late credit card payments, unpaid medical bills), your score could fall below 650, in which case you’ll likely get turned down for a conventional home loan—and will need to mend your credit in order to get approved (unless you qualify for a Federal Housing Administration loan, which requires only a 580 minimum credit score).
Before meeting with a mortgage lender, Beverly Harzog, consumer credit expert and author of “The Debt Escape Plan,” recommends obtaining your credit report. You’re entitled to a free copy of your full report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Though the report does not include your score—for that, you’ll have to pay a small fee—just perusing your report will give you a ballpark idea of how you're doing by laying out any problems such as late or missing payments.

2. What down payment you need

What’s an acceptable down payment on a house? In a recent NerdWallet study, 44% of respondents said they believe you need to put 20% (or more) down to buy a home. So, if you do the math, you'd have to plunk down $50,000 on a $250,000 house. Of course, that’s a big chunk of change for many home buyers.
The good news? That 20% figure is common, but it's not set in stone. It’s the gold standard because when you put 20% down, you won't have to pay private mortgage insurance, which can add several hundred dollars a month to your house payments. Another advantage of putting down 20% upfront is that that's often the magic number you need to get a more favorable interest rate.
But, if you’re unable to make a 20% down payment, there are many lenders that will allow you to put down less cash. And there are a number of loan products that you might qualify for that require less money down. FHA loans require as little as 3.5% down. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs loan program gives active or retired military personnel the opportunity to purchase a home with a $0 down payment and no mortgage insurance premium. Same with USDA loans (federally backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development).
Another option worth pursuing is qualifying for down payment assistance. There are 2,290 programs across the country that offer financial assistance, kicking in an average of $17,766, according to one study. (You can find programs in your area on the National Council of State Housing Agencies website.)
There are some cases, though, where you’ll have to put more than 20% down to qualify for a mortgage. A jumbo loan is a mortgage that's above the limits for government-sponsored loans. In most parts of the country, that means loans over $417,000; in areas where the cost of living is extremely high (e.g., Manhattan and San Francisco), the threshold jumps to $625,000. Since larger loans require the lender to take on more risk, jumbo loans typically require home buyers to make a bigger down payment—up to 30% for some lenders.

3. What is your DTI ratio

To get approved for a mortgage, you need a solid debt-to-income ratio. This DTI figure compares your outstanding debts (on student loans, credit cards, car loans, and more) with your income.
For example, if you make $6,000 a month but pay $500 to debts, you’d divide $500 by $6,000 to get a DTI ratio of 0.083, or 8.3%. However, that's your DTI ratio without a monthly mortgage payment. If you factor in a monthly mortgage payment of, say, $1,000 per month, your DTI ratio increases to 25%.
Lenders like this number to be low, because evidence from studies of mortgage loans shows that borrowers with a higher DTI ratio are more likely to run into trouble making monthly payments, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
For a conventional loan, most mortgage lenders require a borrower’s DTI to be no more than 36% (although some lenders will accept up to 43%), says Ray Rodriguez, regional mortgage sales manager at TD Bank.
The good news? If you’re above the 36% ceiling, there are ways that you can lower your DTI. The easiest would be to apply for a smaller mortgage—meaning you’ll have to lower your price range. Or, if you’re not willing to budge on price, you can lower your DTI by paying off a large chunk of your debts in a lump sum.
Let The McLeod Group Network help you with all your home-buying needs. 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.
By: Realtor.com, Daniel Bortz

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Where Are Interest Rates Headed in 2019?

The interest rate you pay on your home mortgage has a direct impact on your monthly payment. The higher the rate, the greater the payment will be. That is why it is important to know where rates are headed when deciding to start your home search.

Below is a chart created using Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic & Housing Marketing Outlook. As you can see, interest rates are projected to increase steadily throughout 2019.

How Will This Impact Your Mortgage Payment?

Depending on the amount of the loan that you secure, a half of a percent (.5%) increase in interest rate can increase your monthly mortgage payment significantly. But don’t let the prediction that rates will increase stop you from purchasing your dream home this year!

Let’s take a look at a historical view of interest rates over the last 45 years.

Bottom Line
Be thankful that you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

Let The McLeod Group Network assist with ALL your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.

By: KCM Crew

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Your Listing Is Turning Buyers Off! Here's Why

The best way to get potential buyers through the door and interested in your home is with a stellar online listing. Photos of the house and a description of the property are standard fare, but not all listings do what they're supposed to do. In fact, some might actually do more harm than good.
In many ways, trying to sell your home is like applying for a job, and your online listing is the resume or cover letter. If it’s not polished, you’ll never even get to the next phase.
So, what are the parts of a listing that can turn buyers off? Below are some of the worst offenses.

1. Lackluster (or non-existent) description

It can be hard to sum up your home in a couple of paragraphs. However, if you want to attract buyers, you’ll need to paint an inviting picture of the property.
“If it is a lakefront home, highlight the best parts of living on the lake; if it is an urban town, mention that you are within walking distance of top-rated restaurants,” says Cynthia Emerling, listing specialist at Finger Lakes Premier Properties in Canandaigua, NY.
Work with your real estate agent to pinpoint what buyers are looking for in your area, so you can mention it as early as possible in the listing description.
For example, Emerling’s company specializes in lakefront vacation homes, so “the views, the dock, and the topography of the land are all features that we highlight prominently.”
Also keep in mind that the online listing might initially show just a couple of lines of text, so make sure the most eye-catching information appears first.

2. Too much (or the wrong type of) information

Colorful listing photos or descriptions are sure to entice, but you have to be objective. Your favorite aspects of the home might not have the same effect on buyers.
“I had one seller that wanted to include photos of bunnies that lived in the backyard,” says Kris Lippi, real estate broker and owner of Get Listed Realty in Hartford, CT.
However, Lippi didn’t think that would necessarily be a selling point—and buyers might actually be concerned that the rabbits were destroying the lawn.

3. Amateur photographs


Photography equipment should never be showing in your listing photos!
Really Bad MLS Photos/Facebook
Your smartphone takes some really good photos, but that doesn’t mean they’re good enough to be used in your online listing.
“Everyone thinks they can take quality pictures with their smartphones and save a few dollars, but you only get one chance to impress potential buyers online,” says Robert Taylor, owner of The Real Estate Solutions Guy, a house-flipping company in Sacramento, CA.
That's why it's important to feature high-quality photographs shot by someone who has experience taking photos for online listings.
“A professional photographer will have the correct camera lenses, lighting, and angles to allow the entire room to be seen in a single photo," Taylor says.
Jim Stevenson, a real estate agent at Realty One Group in Doylestown, PA, agrees that pictures taken by camera phone are no match for high-quality professional photos.
“I can't tell you how many times I've seen the infamous ‘real estate agent in a mirror' shot," Stevenson says. “When the photo quality is lacking, it sends a message that your home is low quality, too.”

4. Not staging your home


By not staging a home, you're missing out on the opportunity to show potential buyers how the space can be used.
While many buyers like to think of a new house as a blank canvas for their own furniture and design tastes, leaving the rooms completely devoid of furniture and art in the listing photos can hurt you in the long run. Buyers like to see the potential of the home, so staging is highly recommended.
“When a house is staged, you can get the sense of use and purpose for each space,” says Matt Morgus, a San Francisco-based real estate agent.
That's especially important for houses with open floor plans.
“Open floor plans are extremely popular to home buyers in today’s market, but sometimes it’s hard to differentiate a space with no furniture,” Morgus says.

5. Too many days on the market

Buyers look closely at the listing price and days on the market (DOM) because this information can help them determine whether the house is priced too low or too high—and how much they should offer if they're interested.
Because every real estate market is different, there isn't a hard and fast number of days it takes for a listing to be considered stale. However, most real estate agents agree that it takes about 30 days on the market for a listing to lose its luster.
So how can you revive a stale listing? Additional marketing efforts like new photos or an added incentive (free tacos with purchase, anyone?) may help. But the most effective way to generate more buzz about your property is with a price adjustment.
"If you have been on the market for a while and activity has stalled, you should consider reducing the price,” Lippi advises. “Even if you reduce it by a small amount, it will show up in buyers’ emails again and appear online as a price correction, and this gets eyes on your listing.”
The best tactic, ultimately, is to price the house correctly the first time, so it doesn't end up languishing on the market for a couple of weeks.
“An overpriced home will force a seller to drop the price of their home numerous times to reach the ‘sweet spot’ where buyers become interested in the listing,” says Breyer.
Let The McLeod Group Network help you sell your home! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.
By: Realtor.com, Terri Williams

Monday, November 26, 2018

Appliance Paint Is Our New Favorite (and Cheap) Way to Make Over the Kitchen

Painting appliances is one of the best ways to update your kitchen without having to take on an expensive renovation. Like painting exposed bricks or a bathtub, putting on a fresh coat of appliance paint can make your hardworking machines look brand-new. But before you grab a paintbrush, here's what you need to know.

Appliance paint is different

You can achieve professional-looking results by painting your appliances yourself. However, this is not the time to use up that extra wall paint in those rusty cans in your garage. Appliance paint is specially formulated for metal surfaces and for the kind of extra-tough wear and tear to which appliances are subjected.
Refrigerator painted with white appliance paint- Rust-Oleum

Types of appliances that can be painted

The type of appliance you’re painting will determine which type of appliance paint you should get.
“Appliance paint is available in heat-resistant finishes, which would work best for your appliances that get warm over an extended period of time,” according to Amy Davis, a franchise consultant for Five Star Painting.
In fact, you should use only high-heat paint on your stove, oven, or toaster—but avoid painting the actual heat coils.
"Spray paint should not be used on any surface that comes in direct contact with food, as our paint is not tested for food safety,” says Melinda Childress, product marketing manager at Sherwin-Williams.
For appliances like the refrigerator or dishwasher that can get wet, you'll achieve the best results by choosing a moisture-resistant appliance paint.
White refrigerator painted with stainless steel appliance paint - Giani 

Choosing the right appliance paint

Rust-Oleum, Krylon, and Giani are three popular household appliance paint brands. Rust-Oleum and Krylon are both available in black, white, almond, and bisque/biscuit colors. And Giani offers Liquid Stainless Steel, a DIY kit that allows you to give your boring, outdated appliances the sleek, luxurious look of stainless steel.
Davis recommends spray paints because they are easy to use on appliances.

Prepping appliances for painting

To achieve professional-looking results, you’ll need to adhere to tried-and-true pre-painting rituals.
“A thorough cleaning will be the No.1 prep step for most appliances, since they are subject to fingerprints, grease, and food residue,” says Childress.
If the appliance is old and has traces of rust, she recommends sanding the rust to remove it before you start painting.
A lot of people try to skip the cleaning and sanding steps, but if you don’t remove grime and other residue, the paint won’t adhere to your appliances.
“You should also unplug the appliance, and remove or cover all the hardware and handles,” Davis says.

When you start painting

The best way to avoid a mishap is to follow the manufacturer's instructions on the product you're using.
To avoid inhaling paint fumes, don't paint your appliances indoors. Instead, paint outdoors or in a well-ventilated garage.
Also, it’s best to have everything that you need on hand before you start on your project.
You'll need the following tools and materials, according to Ami Gruenenfelder at the Giani paint company:
  • Painters tape
  • Paint roller tray (unless youre using spray paint)
  • Phillips head screwdriver (for detaching handles)
  • Fine #600 grit sandpaper (for sanding any accidental drips)
  • Water-based plastic primer (any plastic areas must be primed prior to using appliance paint)
Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com. 

By: Realtor.com, Terri Williams

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Forget Black Friday: This Is the Best Day of the Year to Buy a Home

Home buyers looking for a sweet holiday deal should forget about Black Friday, researchers say. Their bank accounts will be better off if they wait until Dec. 26 instead.
Yes, after-Christmas sales aren't just good for scooping up discounted cashmere sweaters and kids' toys. Buyers who close on Dec. 26 are likely to spend a median $2,500 less (or save about 1.3%) than they would on any other day of the year, according to a recent report from real estate information firm ATTOM Data Solutions. Overall, December is the best time to buy a home at a bargain price, as there are fewer buyers in the market.
Those savings are substantial, as buyers typically spend an estimated $7,000 more than the estimated market value of a property across all days of the year.
To come up with its findings, ATTOM looked at the median sales price on that day compared with the estimated market value compared with the rest of the year. The firm included only days on which there were at least 10,000 single-family home and condo sales nationally. (Only four days did not meet that threshold: Jan. 1, July 4, Nov. 11, and Dec. 25.)
"Very few buyers are looking for homes to buy around the holidays, which means less competition for the few contrarians out there who are buying," Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM, said in a statement. “Buyers and investors willing to start their home search right about when stores are setting up Christmas decorations will face less competition and likely be dealing with more motivated sellers, giving them the upper hand in price negotiations.”
But buyers need to time their offers wisely to save the most money, submitting them about a month before they plan to close. That means submitting bids right around now in order to finalize the sale around—or hopefully, the day right after—Christmas.
The other best days to purchase a home are Dec. 7, when buyers save a median $2,000; Dec. 4, at $1,823; Dec. 29, at $1,320; and Dec. 21, at $1,223.
"Great times to go out looking are all through November, particularly around Thanksgiving," Blomquist said. "While everyone else is shopping for great deals on Christmas gifts, you could be shopping for a great deal on a home. It's the home buyer version of a Black Friday sale."
The McLeod Group Network is here to help you find your new home! Contact us today at 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com. 
By: Realtor.com, Clare Trapasso