Should You Remodel Your Garage?
Sometimes homeowners may consider the option of converting their garage to living space in order to expand the living space of the home. Maybe the current homeowners don’t use their garage much, or mainly use it for storage and the cars are parked outside due to space limits in the garage. Or maybe there is not much extra land to build on to extend a house so the garage becomes an easy area which when converted can allow additions to a home. Depending where the house is located and how many garage spaces are available converting a garage to permanent living space can actually reduce the value of a home.
Garages Are Still Essential Feature Of A Home
Just like reducing the bedroom count or bathroom count for a home can reduce the value of a home so can removing garage space from a home. While converting the garage space could be adding square footage to the home that additional living space may not always offset the reduction in price. If a home has three or more garage spaces then converting one of the garage spaces into living space could be acceptable as most homeowners are expecting at least two garage spaces where it is common for the neighborhood. Of course if your home is in a neighborhood where almost every home has a three car garage the reduction of a garage space would likely reduce the value of your home.
When buyers are shopping for a home they will be comparing any home on sale to similar homes in the neighborhood. Homes with fewer features as compared to other homes in the neighborhood will generally be valued less. On the other hand if you are in a neighborhood where most homes have no garage, by...
How Driverless Cars Will Change Real Estate and The Homes We Live In
Driverless or autonomous vehicles are currently on the road today making multiple trips in certain test areas. While many of these cars are test vehicles and have a human driver sitting behind the wheel to take over in case a problem happens some of them are completely driverless. Companies like Uber, Apple, Google, Toyota, GM, Tesla and more are researching and investing in driverless car technology. Driverless cars will change the face of real estate as we know it and even the very home and neighborhoods we live in will be impacted by driverless vehicle technologies. This article explores some of the impact driverless vehicles will have on where we live and work.
Will We Even Need To Own A Car?
Just as many are learning to get by without a car by using public transportation and services like Lyft, Uber or Turo driverless cars will make it even less likely someone will need to own a car. A driverless car can be parked anywhere and can be ordered on demand at a moment’s notice. Yes it will take time for the car to arrive from where it is parked to the person requesting a ride but that time is easily accounted for by scheduling ahead of time when a car is needed just like done with Lyft and Uber. The person wanting a ride will not have to worry about getting a driver who is overly tired from driving all night. With a few clicks on a smartphone app a car can be at a person’s location and ready to take them where they want to go. Driverless cars can get people to the airport or to other central transit location points so one can hop on the subway to take them to work downtown. With...
Tips For Building Up An Emergency Fund
Whether you own a house or live in rented living space having an emergency fund is smart thing to do. An emergency fund is there to help you in case you encounter some unexpected expense. As a homeowner if your furnace goes out in the dead of winter you will need to have it fixed so you don’t freeze or don’t damage your house in the from frozen pipes later bursting and causing water damage. If windows to your home are damaged by a storm having the money to get those windows replaced are critical to keeping your house safe and secure. Even as someone living in a rented home while your furnace and broken windows should be covered by the owner of the home, other things like your car breaking down, major medical expenses (flu or injury) can quickly set your budget behind. This article provides tips for how anyone can build up an emergency fund so if something bad does happen you can financially weather the challenge.
How Much and Where To Save
At a minimum people should be saving at least three months of living expenses and on the maximum side of things saving up to 12 months of living expenses gives you enough of a cushion that you won’t feel very stressed if something major does happen like a job loss. Savings in your 401(k) and IRA accounts should not be counted towards this emergency fund. Certainly you may be able to take hardship withdrawals from your 401(k), withdraw with penalty from your traditional IRA or withdraw original contributions from your Roth IRA but that does not mean you should be doing so. Most of the money in the retirement accounts will likely be tied up in...
How Artificial Intelligence Will Change The Home
With Smart Home technology taking off and smart home assistants (like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Siri) becoming more prevalent in homes the start of a new home technology revolution is underway. Homeowners can monitor and control the house heating and cooling systems, security systems, door locks, garage doors and more all from where ever they have access to internet on their smartphone. Artificial intelligence (AI) will add to that ability by allowing decisions about the home to be made without the need of direct input from the homeowner. For instance a trusted dog walker walks up to the front door during their scheduled time to take Fido out for a walk. The dog walker’s face is seen via camera which an artificial intelligence assistant recognizes and knows they are there during the correct time and allows the door to be unlocked so Fido can enjoy some outdoor time while the homeowner is away. This article explores both the positive and negative impacts of artificial intelligence for the homeowner.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
Intelligence is defined “…as the ability to perceive or infer information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied towards adaptive behaviors within an environment or context.” Basically put it means using learned information in and around us to make choices. With regards to human behavior we make choices every day based on what we know. We decide to wake up early on work days because...
Predictions For The 2019 Real Estate Market
The real estate market has been on an upward trend for a number of years now. The stock market has also been on a bull market run for a record amount of time and based on recently volatility that upwards trend is being strongly challenged. With interest rates being raised by the Federal Reserve that has pushed mortgage rates up as well which in turn is putting pressure on home pricing. With higher interest rates the price of a home will need to be lower in order for buyers to afford the home at the same monthly payment or they will look for lower priced homes that meet their requirements. This article will look at the current real estate market trends and attempt to make some guesses for the future.
Today’s Real Estate Market
In many markets average home prices have reached or surpassed the prices that were in play prior to the 2007 real estate market crash. While some may argue that today’s market is more stable since the exotic no document loans or 125% mortgages are not present that does not mean a financial house of cards does not exist that could bring both the real estate market and the stock market crumbling down. Just as happened in the past mortgage lenders are reducing their lending standards in order to issue more mortgages and that is not a good thing.
Whereas in the immediate past there were higher requirements with regards to debt ratios versus income those have been relaxed allowing those with more debt to buy a...
Should You Sell Your Home To A “We Buy Houses For Cash” Company?
You may have seen the signs in passing while driving in parts of your town where they usually say “We Buy Houses For Cash” or “We Will Buy Your Home In Any Condition”. Sometimes the signs are properly printed signs whereas others are handwritten. Also known as bandit signs since they are illegal to put up in many areas, these signs advertise to homeowners that regardless of the condition of their home they can give it to someone and get paid for it. For some it may make more sense to invest in a few repairs and sell the home as-is on the local Multiple Listing Service or even For Sale By Owner. For others though the we buy homes for cash buyer can represent a quick exit from a home that may not even be livable and is costing more money that it is worth. This article explores the cash for houses concept in more detail.
Just as in the retail market a wholesaler will buy items from the manufacturer and sell them down the line directly to retailers and make a profit along the way some of the we buy homes for cash buyers are wholesalers as well. Those wholesalers don’t intend to buy the home themselves and are merely locking into contract the option to purchase a home with the goal of finding an investor who will actually buy the home for cash at a price over what the wholesaler is in contract with the homeowner for. The wholesaler does intend to make a quick profit by re-assigning the purchase contract to another buyer and hence is the reason for their business model. Some wholesalers do allow subsequent buyers to finance...
4 Reasons Why You May Not Want To Own A House
While many strive towards the goal of owning a home, homeownership for others may be something that can hold them down unnecessarily. Owning a home means committing to a long term mortgage (for many that means 15-30 years) and staying in the same living space for a while. It means being responsible for all the upkeep and ongoing maintenance for the home. This article looks at the reasons why someone may instead prefer to rent an apartment or even a home so as not to be tied down to one place for too long.
High Transaction Costs
In order to purchase a home many need to borrow money via a mortgage loan. Mortgages typically run 15 to 30 years and depending on the interest rate the amount of interest paid over the time of owning the home can sometimes be more than the actual price paid for the home. While a mortgage interest rate deduction can help with that that still means homeowners are paying extra money for the privilege of living in a home they “own”. Additionally prior to buying the home there are transaction costs that come with purchasing the home and taking out a mortgage. Those costs include mortgage loan points, mortgage loan closing costs, real estate commissions, title insurance, title transfer fees, taxes and more. Depending on the price of the home, the total for those upfront costs can be in the thousands of dollars and more. Since home values don’t rise up very quickly (some years home values can go down) it may take a number of years for the home value to rise up enough to make up for...
The Essential Skills Needed To Survive Homeownership
Owning a home is quite a bit different than renting a place where if something goes wrong a quick call to the property manager results in maintenance coming by and fixing a problem. Yes as a homeowner you can call a plumber to fix a toilet that won’t flush or can call a handyman (or woman) to come fix a squeaky door but eventually all of those calls will quickly add up in costs. Those dollars spent on calling someone to fix a problem could be put to better use by the homeowner spending on other things they need or by simply adding it to a rainy day fund so when something major does go wrong and a professional contractor can be called in to make repairs. This article explores some of the essential skills homeowners should have in order to make sure their home is running in tip top condition.
Basic Plumbing Skills
Whether you have a slow drain or your toilet clogs up knowing which type of drain cleaner to use or having handy a toilet plunger or toilet auger (sometimes referred to as a drain snake) can save you hundreds if not thousands over the life of owning that home. Routine calls to a plumber will run a minimum of $80 dollars and up depending on your location. Drain cleaning solutions run no more than 10-20 dollars a bottle and often provide multiple uses with one bottle. A toilet plunger should run no more than 5-10 dollars and a toilet auger should cost no more than 20-30 dollars and get multiple if not unlimited uses based on the quality of the product.
With a slow drain a gel...
Great Local Cincinnati Charities To Know About For #GivingTuesday
After Thanksgiving comes Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and then Cyber Monday. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all about buying something at a discount or buying local in anticipation of the upcoming holidays of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Festivus and more. Another day for consideration is #GivingTuesday. With #GivingTuesday the idea is to contribute some money to a charity of your choosing so those who are in need can benefit as well from the holiday season. Being a personal fan of local charities I have compiled a number of local charities in this article that operate in both the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area and Northern Kentucky. Take a look at the great things these local charities are doing and consider donating to them or becoming a volunteer.
La Soupe located at 4150 Round Bottom Road Cincinnati, OH 45244 and helps people get nutritious meals. Founded in 2014 by Chef Suzy DeYoung the goal of La Soupe is to repurpose excess food (that would otherwise be thrown out) to create tasty and nutritious soups and meals for those in need. Currently La Soupe rescues approximately 5000 pounds of food per week and with that is able to feed 2000 children in and around the Cincinnati area. La Soupe recently sent 23,000 pounds of food to assist with hurricane recovery efforts in Houston, Texas.
Not only does La Soupe give soup to those in need they also sell their soups to anyone wanting to buy their delicious soups. So in case you want to make a donation...
What Happens When The Sellers Refuse To Move Out Of The Home
When buying a home the homebuyer goes in with the expectation that the homeowner is ready to sell and move to a new home, sometimes thought that may not always be the case. For whatever reason a homeowner may have second thoughts on leaving a home after the buyer has had all the inspections and appraisal done. What is a buyer to do in those situations? The answer depends on whether the seller is refusing to move before or after closing as to what actions a buyer can take and is explored further in this article.
Seller Refuses To Move Before Closing
Prior to closing the seller can outright tell their agent and the buyers that they changed their mind about selling their home and will refuse to close on the sale let alone move. The buyer’s options are limited in this case. Yes the homebuyer could sue to attempt to get the seller to sell their home but most courts rarely like to force people to sell their homes and instead are more likely to award damages to the buyer for actual losses (paying for inspections, appraisal, movers and more). Courts could also award punitive damages to the buyer in order to punish the seller for their lack of follow through on the contract. In the end though the buyer is without a house and must begin the process again of finding another home.
This is a situation that is hard for a homebuyer to avoid as there is no way to really tell if a home seller is really motivated to sell or is just listing the home on the market with no actual intent of really wanting to sell. For...
4 Helpful Tips For Buying Your Next House
Whether you are buying for the first time or buying a subsequent home there are some tips to follow in order to make sure the home purchase is a successful one. With a home being one of the largest purchases a person will make in their lifetime it makes sense to go in with full planning and an understanding of how the buying process works. Any time wasted on bad strategies are just that, time wasted that could have been saved by putting you into a home sooner. This article explores some of the strategies homebuyers should be using and ones that may only lead to frustration.
Getting Pre-Approved For A Mortgage
While this is often talked about it bears repeating, shopping for a home without a mortgage pre-approval is a recipe for frustration. The mortgage pre-approval not only gives you an idea of how much home you can purchase it also can give you an idea of your monthly payments. A $200,000 dollar house does not mean you divide $200,000 by 360 months (12 monthly payments times 30 years mortgage) and that is your payment. Your ultimate mortgage payment not only depends on the house price, but also on the taxes and insurance you will be paying for the house. So when getting a pre-approval make sure to ask your lender about the monthly payments that include principal, taxes and insurance.
Since taxes and insurance can vary on the value of the home and the location those numbers are subject to change. As a result if you do find a home that you like be sure to ask your lender to calculate the monthly payments for you based on the taxes you will be paying for that house along with the estimated...
5 Ways Homeowners Price Their Home Too High
One of the key aspects of listing a home for sale is setting the right price. Price your home too high and it will result in the home sitting on the market getting little to no attention. The longer your home sits on the market to more buyers begin to think something is truly wrong with the home and they will be less likely to want to visit. Just as with anything sales related selling a home is about generating exposure for your home and getting as many qualified buyers through as possible in order to increase your chances of getting an offer. Price the home too high and qualified buyers will know to steer away from the home since other homes in similar style and condition will be more cost effective and get them the same thing. This article explores some of the common ways homeowners get the price of their home wrong which can lead to unsold home syndrome.
Basing Your Home’s Price On The Amount Spent On Updates and Upgrades
Setting a price for your home as the price you paid for it plus adding to that any money you spent to update and upgrade the home is the wrong pricing strategy to use. If you have purchased the home while prices were at their peak that does not mean you can get the same price for it today. Homes and neighborhoods do not always go up in price. As recent history has shown us prices can go down for particular homes. Homes that have not been kept in good condition and homes in neighborhoods or locations experiencing a downturn due to any number of reasons do lose value. So pricing based on what you paid for the home plus upgrades will be the wrong way to price a home a majority of the time.
Tips For Buying A Foreclosure Home
Oftentimes buyers may hear that a particular home is a bank or government owned home which is also known as a foreclosed home. A foreclosed home is a home that the prior homeowner has stopped paying the mortgage on and the lender takes the homeowner to court in order to take possession of the home in to try and recover money that is owed to them. Foreclosed homes must go through a full foreclosure hearing in a court in order to make sure the debt is valid and the homeowner has legitimately stopped paying back on the mortgage. Once back in the possession of the mortgage lender they may or may not make some repairs if needed and will put the home on the market for a new buyer to purchase. For some mortgage loans that are backed by government mortgage programs (like FHA, VA, USDA) the government will ultimately take possession of the home and eventually sell it back on the open market.
If you are considering buying a home that has been foreclosed upon this article is article is for you as it will provide tips on how to make the best of buying a foreclosure home.
Where Do You Find Foreclosure Homes For Sale
Just as most homes are found on the Internet via the Multiple Listing System (MLS) many foreclosure homes make it to the MLS as well when being listed for sale. On occasion depending on the lender and the condition of the home sometimes homes make it to select auction sites in order to limit who can buy the home and as a result may not be found on the MLS. Foreclosure homes in very poor condition sometimes will be sold with cash offer only requirement since the condition will not meet appraisal standard for traditional mortgages.
Those who want to ultimately...
Tips For Choosing The Right Neighborhood
Finding the right neighborhood is just as important as finding the right house, as the right house in a neighborhood that does not work for you can lead to eventual dissatisfaction with the house. Neighborhoods encompass many different aspects so it pays to do your research fully and understand what a particular neighborhood may or may not offer. The perfect neighborhoods for a family with kids may not be the perfect neighborhood for an empty nest couple or a single person looking for a home. This articles looks at some of the things homebuyers should be considering in a neighborhood when shopping for a home.
The location of a neighborhood is key. Living in a great neighborhood fifty miles away from your workplace may leave you with little time to enjoy your neighborhood since you have to spend more time driving back and forth to work. So while there may be a great neighborhood fifty miles away that does not mean you should be considering it unless your employer offers benefits like working from home rather than having to come into the office every day. Long commute times can be stressful and result in many wasted hours that should instead be spent enjoying time with your family or enjoying your neighborhood.
The neighborhood location in terms of the community amenities and features are also something to consider. Being in a more rural area you are less likely to find recreation centers, shops, malls and other places to go to, but if you enjoy the peace and...
5 Smart Tips For Buying An Investment Property
With the recent boom in real estate markets all over the US many people are looking to real estate for investment purposes. Buyers are looking to buy commercial and residential properties with the goal in mind of renting out those properties and generating cash flow. Investment in real estate can generate good cash flow with better rates of returns than stocks and other similar investments. This article provides a number of great tips for the new real estate investor or the seasoned investor to make sure when the right property comes up they are ready to take advantage.
Having Your Funds Or Pre-approval In Order
While this is often repeated when it comes to buying any type of real estate it bears repeating since it is so important. In many markets real estate is selling fast (even investment real estate) and if buyers do not already have a mortgage pre-approval ready to go they will lose out to other buyers who do have a pre-approval. No seller wants to add extra time to a transaction for a buyer to get pre-approved when they get offers with buyers who may not only be pre-approved but may even be an all cash buyer.
When it comes to an offer where a buyer must get pre-approved versus a cash offer the cash offer will win every time assuming everything else is the same. Cash buyers often forgo asking for an appraisal as they are comfortable with the purchase price since they have usually run their numbers and know a good investment when they see one. If a buyer is not pre-approved that means there are two areas to cause a deal to fail, the buyer can fail to get approved for a loan and then the ...
Smart Tips For Buying A Waterfront Home
Waterfront properties for some are highly desirable either for the ability to use a boat or some sort of other water recreation vehicle or for the great views. Waterfront views can add significantly to the price tag of a luxury home with a great view of a lake, river or ocean. While waterfront properties may offer excellent views and offer more value there are still some things to be aware of when considering the purchase of a waterfront home as this article explores.
New Construction vs. Existing Home
If you are building a new home with waterfront access the build method may be different when it comes to the foundation. Depending on the condition of the sub-surface where the house will ultimately rest upon different kinds of supports may be needed to ensure the house is stable after being built. Also depending on whether the water levels can come up to or beyond the house the house may need to be raised in order to limit its exposure to the water. In order to make sure the house is setup properly from the start homebuyers should make sure their builders are using qualified engineers to analyze the ground below where the house will be built in order to make sure the right type of foundation support is used.
If you are considering an existing waterfront home then in addition to having a regular home inspection it would be wise to have a structural engineer look over the home to make sure the foundation is strong and secure so that your investment does not go floating off into the water or get damaged due to a shifting foundation. Depending on when the home was built and whether there are any plans still available that show how the house was built, the structural engineer should...
Should You Transfer Your Real Estate Into An LLC?
An LLC or Limited Liability Company is a business structure similar to a corporate form like S Corporation found in many states that allows for a business owner to run a business and limit their liability exposure to just the business assets itself. If the business owner were to be sued for something that the business did then the business owner’s personal assets should be protected from the lawsuit if they were to lose the case. Where a business owner runs a business without an LLC, then they run the risk that if they are sued a court can use any and all of their assets to satisfy a lawsuit judgment. LLCs are commonly used by small business owners, are sometimes used by real estate owners and investors. This article explores whether it makes sense to have your real estate in an LLC.
How Is Real Estate Usually Owned?
All real estate is registered to the owners (can be individual, LLC, corporation, trust and more) name with a deed. The deed is generally put in the name of the buyers as the current owners of the property and recorded at the local government office where records of deeds are kept. In order to get the best protection, deeds should be registered with the local registrar/recorder but it is not a requirement to do so when purchasing real estate with cash. If the real estate is purchased with a loan the lender will require the purchaser to have the deed registered and recorded in their name with the local government in order to put everyone on notice that the property is subject to a mortgage lien. By providing notice of a mortgage liens lenders can be assured that the homeowner cannot get too far into debt on property by asking for...
What Is An Escrow Holdback?
During the final stages of buying or selling a home generally the homebuyer will be performing a final walkthough and the home sellers should be in the final stages of moving everything out of the house. If certain repairs were not completed prior to closing or maybe the seller has been slow in moving out there are options that can be used to help protect the homebuyer and make sure the home seller completes the requirements called for by the contract. One of the options a homebuyer may be able to use is called an escrow holdback. This article looks at the escrow holdback and some of the situations where it may make sense to use it.
Escrow Holdback Explained
An escrow holdback is simply money held from a real estate transaction in an escrow account. The escrow account used is usually owned by the title company since they are a neutral party to the transaction. So for instance a home is being purchased by homebuyers for $200,000 dollars. The home sellers owe $150,000 on the mortgage and are expecting to receive $40,000 directly back to them (after commissions and closing costs). So in a transaction without any escrow holdback the title company will transfer $150,000 of the total sale amount to the mortgage company who holds the mortgage on the property being sold and then will provide the remaining amount from the sale to the sellers.
If the sellers were not able to complete some agreed upon repairs prior to closing, have not fully moved out of the house yet or caused some damage to the home while moving out for which they have agreed to repair, money can be held back from the seller’s...
Does An Open House Make Sense When Marketing A Home For Sale?
In the past when there was no Internet for marketing homes the open house was a great way to get many people into a home at one time in order to help get it sold. Advertising in local newspapers could be expensive so not many pictures of the home would be able to get published. Advertising in local magazines also would be expensive but would be generally slow since magazines published usually no more than once a month. As a result many agents would advertise their open houses or host open houses at one time in one neighborhood in order to maximize on homebuyer foot traffic.
Since the internet has taken over as the go to source for home marketing the use and need of open houses has declined greatly. This article explores why open houses are no longer commonly used and some reasons why homeowners may want to completely pass on it.
How Are Homes Marketing On The Internet Today
With over 90% of home shopping starting online it makes sense for the home seller and their agent to focus on the place where most of the buyers will be looking. Starting with a clean and de-cluttered house the pictures of a home online are what will make or break a sale. Clean freshly painted rooms that show the space available in a home make for great photographs that allow homebuyers to see the potential of a house. Using great photo gear to help take great photographs will translate into interested buyers so make sure the photographs are taken during the best time of day with the best quality equipment in order to show the features of a home.
Video is another huge selling point for many homes especially with video that help captures the flow and layout...
Buying A Home As A Single Parent
Buying a home can be a challenging task that requires plenty of attention to detail and the ability to research homes, neighborhoods and schools. There are many different housing styles, different locations and more to consider when looking for a home. Add to that being a single parent and there is a lot more that one person has to handle on their own in order to make sure they get the right home that meets all of their family needs. This article explores some tips and ideas for the single parent to help make their home buying decision easier on them and their family.
Hire A Realtor
First and foremost hiring a Realtor will set you on the right track towards finding a home. The Realtor or real estate agent helps home buyers and sellers on a daily basis with their real estate needs. It is their job to know local markets and to help get homebuyers the information they need during all crucial stages of the home buying process.
Don’t get offended though when the real estate agent starts asking for you to get pre-approved for a mortgage. While you may have a price range in mind for a home or have an idea of what monthly payment you can afford, until you go through the pre-approval process you will not know if your assumptions are correct which could lead to a big disappointment if you find a home you like and find out it was out of your mortgage pre-approval range. A mortgage pre-approval is a deep dive into your credit and income history. You may have a great job but not a very long credit history which could hinder your getting a mortgage for the amount you can truly afford. Or there may be errors in your credit report that show you...