Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How to Compete for a Home in a Tough Market

It's no secret the Portland is a hot housing market. Homes are flying off the market, prices are increasing and bids are getting tougher. While there are not as many investors on the market is there were five years ago, homebuyers still find themselves competing with other homebuyers for the same property. Is there a way to beat out your closest competitor? And, what are those ways to make your offer stand out so that you can be assured you get the home you love?

Here are five ways you can prepare yourself ahead of time to compete in a hot housing market when it comes time to present an offer. 

#1. Make sure your finances are in order. 

 Placing an offer is not the time to be concerned about whether or not you are approved for a home loan, have money for a down payment, inspection and closing costs, and how much money you can afford in a mortgage payment each month. You should already have all of these figures in place and ready to go before even looking at one home. Having all of your finances in place ahead of time means that your offer will get looked at first, and if attractive enough, the seller will know that you've already done the financing homework necessary to afford the home. This means you want to speak to a lender about getting preapproved, have a preapproval letter ready to submit with the offer, have cash in the bank for a substantial down payment/earnest money deposit and have extra money for a home inspection. Letting the seller know you are ready to go financially eases their mind that the deal is likely to close.

#2. Submit a solid offer. 

 While you may not always be the first offer, you can submit a fast and strong offer. Make sure you don't insult the seller by asking for everything under the sun with a lowball offer. This is not the time to submit a lowball offer. Have your real estate agent understand the market in the neighborhood and submit a quality, strong offer without undervaluing the property. If you come in either at or just slightly below the asking price, most sellers will know you're serious. Make sure all of the dates comply and agree with the seller. Try not to set out the closing date months in advance but a decent, reasonable closing time with favorable terms.

#3. Consider an escalation clause. 

 In seriously hot markets, and Portland have a lot of micromarket neighborhoods around the area that are incredibly hot, you might want to consider an escalation clause. This means that the buyer is willing to increase their offer if there are other bids up to a particular Price. Let's say that it's a $400,000 house. You're willing to offer $5000 over the highest asking price up to $430,000. The only drawback to this type of strategy is that you'll have to make sure the property appraises for the escalated amount otherwise you'll have to make up the difference.

#4. Let the seller know how much you love the property. 

 Sending a personal letter may seem almost taboo in today's society and something done years ago to impress the seller but it might actually work today. Simply sending a letter, a picture of your family or appealing to a soft heart could get your offer approved. Of course, this is not the end all and it shouldn't be your only line of defense but it certainly can't hurt to let the owner know how much you love their home, appreciate the care and maintenance they've put into the property and how you're planning on keeping up the property for the good of the neighborhood and society.

#5. Consider a pre-inspection. 

 This can be a tricky situation because in a hot market, low-priced homes tend to sell faster than you may not have time for a home inspection before placing an offer. However, you can certainly ask the seller if you can perform a pre-inspection before making an offer to save time later on and so that your offer is serious without a lot of contingencies. As with any offer you'll want to verify all the logistics, legalities and terms with your real estate agent. Using a dedicated buyers agent means that your needs, your price and terms will be the top priority.

If you really want the home, use the tactics here to get your offer to rise above the rest. To get started with your financing preapproval please contact The Palmer Team in Portland today or start your application process here for free.

5 Things to Know Before Buying a Foreclosed Home

If you’re considering buying a foreclosed home you’re probably looking for a bargain. Foreclosure homes typically sell for less than other homes on the market but there are some things you should know before signing on the dotted line.

#1. How to buy a foreclosure home.

There are basically two different ways to buy a home that is in foreclosure. First off, lenders will auction the home off after the owners stop paying the mortgage. These are typically sold at public auctions. However, since most people don’t have a few hundred thousand dollars in cash lying around,  you’ll want to buy the property after  a bank takes ownership of it. These are bank owned properties sold by real estate agents. This is where most people buy a foreclosed home and it is sold in the traditional way.

#2. Buying a home at an auction.

If you’re buying a home at the auction it’s typically not easy and most of these auctions are site unseen. You’ll be competing with professional real estate investors so you’ll need to have several hundred thousand dollars in cash in order to bid. Also, because these are site unseen you have no idea what type of repair jobs you’ll face after the purchase.

#3. A bank owned foreclosure is easier.

Instead of an auction, going through the bank is an easier process and homes sell for up to 40% less than comparable homes that are not foreclosed upon. Once the bank has taken ownership of the home you would make an offer just as you would with a typical sale. There will be a real estate agent representing the bank that will present your offer to the bank and come back with a counter offer.

#4. Banks usually will not complete any repairs.

One of the drawbacks to buying a foreclosure is the bank will typically not conduct any repairs, replacements or alterations of the property. It’s basically what you see is what you get. And this leads into the last point.

#5. You absolutely need a home inspection.

Never buy a foreclosed home without hiring a home inspector. You do have the right to a home inspection before closing on the sale. Many foreclosed homes need a ton of repairs so you want to know exactly what you’re getting into before finalizing the sale. You might determine that after knowing what all needs to be done on the property it’s not quite the bargain you had hoped for.
For more information on home inspections, visit the American Society of Home Inspectors of Western Washington

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Texas Hill Country - What is it?

You may have heard the term "Texas Hill Country" before but not really understood what it means. It is technically a 25 County region in central Texas featuring tall, rugged hills with granite or limestone. It includes the second largest granite dome in the United States, Llano Uplift.

The area reaches into portions of the two major metropolitan cities of San Antonio and Austin. The following are the counties within the boundaries of the Texas Hill Country

  • Bandera
  • Bell
  • Blanco
  • Burnet
  • Comal
  • Coryell
  • Crockett
  • Edwards
  • Gillespie
  • Hays
  • Kendall
  • Kerr
  • Kimble
  • Lampasas
  • Llano
  • Mason
  • McCullouch
  • Menard
  • Real
  • San Saba
  • Schleicher
  • Sutton
  • Travis
  • Val Verde
  • Williamson

Texas Hill Country also has a font association with architecture, music, and the food culture. It's quite different from normal text and culture that influences the southern end of Texas. This area is also known as the center of the Texas Wine industry and there are three American viticultural areas located in Hill country including Fredericksburg and Bell Mountain.

It's home to several historical and national treasures such as the Alamo, haunted houses, nature trails, preserves, and the beautiful Hamilton pool, a natural oasis preserve located about 30 miles west of Austin. This natural preserve focuses on habitat protection and restoration. The beautiful 45-foot waterfall creating a gorgeous swimming hole is a great day hike but you do need reservations.

From backcountry roads to fantastic barbecue at the Cooper's Old Time Pit to the stunning views along old farm roads, Texas Hill Country is a beautiful place to not only visit but the call home. If you are visiting or maybe you've just moved here and are exploring our region seven the most amazing things to check out include kayaking down the Medina River as it winds its way on down to Bandera. Perhaps you can smell the lavender even before you reach Blanco, an hours drive outside of Austin. May through July, the lavender blossoms.the hillside as Blanco is known as the lavender capital of Texas. Speaking of scents, when the peaches are in full bloom in August and September, the smell of the ripening fruit wafts over the hills and then the smell of rosemary, thyme, and other herbs catch your attention at the Fredericksburg herb farm. Texas Bluebonnets bloom around mid-March through April and are just one of the many native varieties of plants, flowers, and trees throughout the Texas Hill Country.

After you've taken in the Flora, check out the minerals and rocks of the Texas Hill Country. Topaz, the state gem of Texas is found in Mason County, just an hours drive from Fredericksburg. You can literally find these gorgeous stones lying throughout the ground in granite outcroppings, creek beds, and ditches. Residents are free to hunt these beautiful stones at Lindsay Ranch.

Speaking of ranches, Texas Hill Country has some of the most spacious, authentic and vivacious ranches and farmlands in the country. In Gillespie County, residents can choose an 8-acre equestrian ranch in Tierra Linda complete with your own Airpark, outbuildings, stables and beautiful ranch homes. Whether it's gated or just welcomes you with a large fence post entrance, the ranches in the Texas Hill Country are unlike anything in the nation.

Whether you are planning your vacation to the Texas Hill Country or planning a move, the Hill country is unlike anything this country has to offer.

Thank you to Tommy Taylor with TexasforSale.net - Visit the website for more on Tierra Linda Ranch and the Texas Hill Country.

Image adapted By Billy Hathorn at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17686486

Monday, July 25, 2016

Is Your Home Inspection Totally Independent?

Did you know as a homeowner you have the right to choose whatever home inspector you want? Many first time buyers and even long time buyers don't realize this. They simply agree to whatever home inspector their agent or escrow chooses but this could backfire. You want an independent inspector that has your best interest at heart, not someone in the agent's back pocket who's only goal is getting the deal closed.

When you buy a house you will typically have an inspection contingency to go along with the offer. This means that you want to check out the home with a professional inspector before agreeing to finalize the sale. If for any reason you don't like the inspection or don't agree with something you can cancel the sale altogether. You will typically get your earnest money back and move on to another home. This contingency is known as a general inspection contingency. This contingency is always recommended by your buyers agent but there are several different types of inspections that might be available to you such as a "Specific Inspection Contingency". This is much more limited. If the buyer finds a defect in the house the buyer will give the seller three days in which to agree to make the repairs. Once the seller responds, the buyer has two additional days to decide whether to accept it or to terminate the contract.

Read more: 8 Important Questions to Ask Your Home Inspector

Most contingencies are of the general variety. However, what a lot of buyers don't know is that they have the right to choose their own inspector. Of course your buyers agent will give you options, referrals and references on whom to choose but it is ultimately up to you whether or not you choose that real estate inspector.

The inspector is working for you, the buyer, not necessarily the seller or any agent involved. You want someone that is not going to be an alarmist, meaning they won't scare you out of buying the home, but they will honestly and un-piously talk to you about the home, any issues that might arise and how to repair them or best proceed in the real estate transaction. While they cannot give any legal advice or even real estate transaction advice, they can offer their own expert advice on the property itself and its integrity.

Read more: How Much Does it Really Cost to Own a House?

You should always accompany the inspector when they tour the home. They will look at crawl spaces, foundation integrity, roof, attic, electrical, plumbing and make sure all the appliances work and make notes as to what may not be working and what could potentially be a hazardous issue. It is extremely important to pay attention as this is the ammunition you will need to go back to the seller asking for repairs, replacements, money off or if you choose to cancel the transaction.

The next time you need a home inspection it's perfectly fine to go with the buyers agents recommendations but understand that you have the authority to choose whomever you want.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mirasol Country Club Amenities Expansion Palm Beach Gardens Florida

We're pretty excited around here about Mirasol's first phase of the facilities enhancement plan in its final stages. Several members are already beginning to enjoy the amenities and the new Clubhouse. The membership office has moved back into the clubhouse and the satellite office will remain as the sales center for leasing. Starting in late May, the club will host a series of group tours for the first phase.

Mirasol's facilities enhancement was approved back in 2015 and construction began in June. The enhancement plan includes construction on the golf practice facilities, the clubhouse, the spa, tennis courts, fitness facilities and the pool area. The project was split into two phases that although began at the same time, is designed to reduce disruption in membership. Members are enjoying on-site amenities such as dining, tennis, spa and fitness facilities in the midst of the redesign.

The first phase is the expanded clubhouse which will open in different phases. The upstairs of the clubhouse has been transformed to an expansive welcoming area and lounge overlooking the 19th hole. It will have an extended ballroom area and the upper-level West hallway lead to the new signature restaurant Solstice. There will be a reception area and membership office as well. The lower area will be home to the expanded Ladies Card Room and an expanded Grille Room with outdoor bar and seating area.

The Men's Locker and Card Room will remain intact for now and will open to the new coed card room, also accessible from the ladies locker room. Members will be able to enjoy a quiet space in the new library across from member services.

In the second phase, construction will include two new facilities and an expanded family pool area. Currently the tennis facility is separate from the Esplanade, home to the spa and fitness center. Members will have access to the tennis courts during construction, fitness room and spa on-site.

There is a new Mirasol Club and Association 2016 fee schedule currently available. If you'd like a copy of this please contact my office today and I would be happy to email you the PDF.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Mortgage and the Self-Employed

There are a lot of perks to being self-employed. You get to make your own decisions, be your own boss, and determine your hours. However, if you are self-employed and trying to buy a home, you may come across some obstacles.

If you are self-employed, you will need to prove your income with tax returns rather than using a “stated-income” loan. Your loan will be based on your last two years of tax returns, which could consequently show reduced income for some self-employed people.

Related: Great Mortgage Calculator for Understanding All the Details

If your income increases between years one and two, the lender generally averages the two. If the second year’s income is lower, the lender will sometimes use the second year’s number.

People who are self-employed generally try to write off as many expenses as they can for tax purposes. However, this tax strategy could be detrimental when applying for a mortgage loan. Since mortgage eligibility is based on net income, all those business deductions could ultimately count against the borrower. If you foresee a home purchase in your future, you may want to consider what you include in your tax deductions.

In addition to proving income, borrowers have to prove their business exists. For some lenders, two years of income tax returns are sufficient. However, other options for verification may include a statement from an accountant, a business license, or copies of 1099 income statements.

If you run your own business, having a year’s worth of mortgage payments liquid and in reserve in a savings account can boost your prospects for a mortgage loan.

If you don’t have two years of solid tax records or don’t have enough in savings, but you still want to purchase a home and feel you are financially ready, you may want to consider a qualified co-signer to help you secure a loan. Make sure the prospective co-signer also has his or her own finances in order. Borrowers who have less than two years of records will need to have a strong co-applicant on the transaction. Usually, lenders look more favorably on someone who will also occupy the home with you.

John and Susan wanted to buy a new house but had only been self-employed for 2 years. So far, their business was doing great and continuing to increase in profits each year. The bank was able to take this past history and project that if things kept going as such, they would make even more next year, however they only approved them for what they currently made and required a lot of documentation to prove eligibility. 

Being Self-Employed is great but refinancing or getting a mortgage can be a little tricky, however it's not impossible. The best thing to do is find a mortgage broker that you trust and can offer the best service and options for self-employed  applicants. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fair Housing in Real Estate - What to Avoid

Fair Housing Act is a federal act in the US intended to protect the buyer or even renters from discrimination. It makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent or negotiate with any person because of that person's inclusion in a protected act.

This means that even if you're not a real estate agent you cannot discriminate based on someone's race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or physical or mental disability. This is protected under federal law but state and local protections can also include a variety of extended classes including LGBT, citizenship, someone's age, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, income or political ideology.

Discrimination means that you treat someone differently based on their inclusion in a protected class. You can't deny renting to or selling to someone because they are a single woman, a person of a particular nationality or income other than if they cannot afford it based on term requirements.

Related: How Hard is it to Buy a House if You're Single?

Even suggestions could be perceived as discriminatory regardless of whether they are well intended or not. Real estate agents cannot make certain statements such as, "this would be a great house for a young couple," a person with children or even ask simple questions on whether or not they are married. This can cause a legal headache. However, landlords are able to ask who will be on the application and the rental agreement but may not ask their status. If you're going to ask one renter a question you'll need to ask it as a general rule but again, not discriminate against a particular protected class. You cannot rent a one person because they are white and then deny someone else because they are African-American if they both can afford the property and pass necessary checks.
Disabilities are also an interesting protected class.

In 2014 alone over half of the housing discrimination complaint have something to do with a disability. These are extra protections that landlords need to be aware of to accommodate renters. Disabilities can include a wide range of mental or physical disabilities but landlords and sellers cannot ask whether a person has a disability which could include people with visual, hearing and mobility impairments, mental issues, HIV, AIDS or even a history of disability. You can only ask questions that could be asked of every applicant or tenant. It simply not a good idea to walk the line on this and to avoid any questions that would cause a renter to question your intent on particular questions.

Families is another protected class. There are certain stipulations that can limit children in particular situations such as communities that require only 55 and older residents. Sellers, real estate agents and landlords cannot specifically state that an area is "kid friendly" or recommend someplace that's close to a school however, they can state that the property is within a certain distance from the nearest school and talk about general school ratings. This is not stating whether or not the property would be appropriate for children but if families with children are looking, this might be something of interest.
Advertising a particular property can be discriminatory if it appears to favor or even exclude particular groups. Real estate agents often have a hard time avoiding "steering" certain people to a particular area. They need to stay as unbiased as possible and as general as they can. However, there are certain guidelines that are in place to the general well-being of most people. This includes "maximum Occupancy Guidelines". Certain codes require no more than two people per bedroom. The Building Officials and Code Administrators state that there must be 150 ft.² for the first occupant to 100 ft.² for each additional resident. "Every room occupied for sleeping purposes by one occupant must contain at least 70 ft.² of floor space, or at least 50 ft.² per person occupied by more than one person." [Source]

It's a slippery slope but if agents, sellers and landlords do their homework and really try their best not to get into any awkward situations, most of the time everything's fine, but you just never know. How can homeowners avoid this? Using a great property manager or agent to do the job for them. Homeowners don't have to do the research on what to do and what not to do and their agent can handle it all.

Need an agent for Palm Desert Real Estate? Contact Tina Droessler! Image by Alachua County Flickr