4 Common Pitfalls To Purchasing A Foreclosure Property

Due to the mortgage crisis that our country faced over the last several years, there are continually more and more foreclosure properties that are being put up for sale everywhere you turn. Of course, this can be very tempting for homebuyers as people can sometimes get properties for 30% or even less on the dollar.
However, if you are considering a foreclosure property for your next purchase, then there are some common pitfalls that you will need to avoid along the way to protect yourself and your future asset. Let’s review some areas to be aware of before making any serious offers.
1. Avoid Making Emotional Offers: When you are planning on putting a bid down on a property, you need to be extremely confident with the home’s current condition, its true market value, and what will be needed to fully restore the property.
Too many buyers will think that they found a slamming deal and fear that they will lose the home to another bidder. So instead of taking the time to truly do their homework and complete the proper inspections and analysis, they can end up locking up a property for more than it’s actually worth.
2. Estimate Neighborhood Values: Consider what other comparable properties are selling for and talk to a real estate agent who has a working knowledge of the area. In fact, it’s a wise decision to thoroughly review these questions and any other recommendations your Realtor may make:

  • Is this neighborhood a desirable location and how are crime rates?
  • What schools would be available for my kids or future buyers?
  • Were there any other foreclosures or investor sales that could negatively affect the future value of my home?
  • How long do I plan on living there and how could that affect things?
  • What type of appreciation should I expect?

3. Get Preapproved: Before you even start looking at homes, you must get preapproved on a mortgage in order to know exactly what you can afford. Sadly, many buyers can miss out on some phenomenal deals or spend hours of wasted time because they avoid this step. Show banks that you are a serious buyer and have your financing in place!

4. Get Professional Help: Not only should you seek the expertise and of an experienced Realtor, but you may also need guidance from a real estate attorney or financial consultant as well. Each professional can ensure that you are making the right choices throughout the process and can protect you from any issues you may come across along the way.

Remember that there is a lot more than meets the eye when you are trying to buy a foreclosure property. Negotiating with the banks, filling out paperwork properly, and undergoing all the necessary inspections can be a very detailed and tedious procedure.
Therefore, we encourage you to give us a call today to get started. Our agents have years of experience assisting other clients with buying foreclosures for their next home or investment property. Discover how we can help you to make a smart and profitable investment as well!

Should You Buy A Rental Property For Your College Student?

If your college student is getting ready to live off campus, buying a rental property or condo may be an option worth considering. Of course, with high rental costs and the opportunity to create a tax shelter for your hard earned money, this is a strategy many parents have found to be beneficial.
An investment property is an excellent opportunity to put your money to work for you, and may even help offset some of the income invested into your child’s education. However, there are various factors you should consider before making any final decisions.
1. Long term goals – Although appreciation rates may be favorable, it is important to discern how long you intend to keep the property. Within a few years your son or daughter will be finished with their education, and you will still be left with a property to care for.
Some individuals would rather keep the home as an investment and continue to rent the property out to new students. Additionally, this may be a place that you will plan to use for future visits or football games long after your child is done with school.
The problem with solely relying on strong appreciation rates is that you may not be able to command the price you desire a few years from now. So unless you are prepared to hold onto the property for a longer time period to make the investment worthwhile, this may be something worth reconsidering.
2. Maintenance & management – Next, purchasing a rental property is a big investment, so you want to ensure that your property is kept in good condition. Although your son or daughter may be extremely reliable, you may need to consider other friends or roommates that will have to share in on the rent.
Are you comfortable with trusting in 2 or more college students to watch after your property? Also, it may be required to pay a property manager (especially once your child graduates) to help manage the home if you live at a distance.
Finally, it will be important that you can find reliable contractors to take care of any maintenance hassles and ensure that the property remains in tip top shape.
3. Cash flow & taxes – After carefully reviewing the first 2 points, you may still feel that a rental property for your student is well worth the investment. If this is the case, then there are a few things you must know about finances.
First of all, be sure that you are buying smart. Work with a qualified agent who knows the area and can help direct you to the best deals. They will be able to help you figure out projected rental income and appreciation rates as well.
After factoring in taxes, insurance, maintenance, associate fees, your mortgage, etc. you will want to make sure that you have some cash flow for extra profit and to cover unexpected problems that may arise down the road.
This will also make your investment pay off more in the long run and can free you up to invest in future properties as well. For those who are married, you must be aware that there is a limit to how many itemized deductions you can write off if your gross income exceeds approximately $240K.
Therefore, though it is possible that you can include the taxes and mortgage interest as deductions on your second property, this is something you will still need to review with a tax professional.
Finally, be aware that the property can also be susceptible to capital gains tax once you are ready to sell. Either way, you will still be eligible for some depreciation on your home and to write off a portion of your maintenance and utilities, so there are always good reasons to buy.
All in all, buying a rental property for your college student can be a wise investment for you and your family. We strongly advise that you take time to sit down with your financial advisor and/or tax pro to discuss the options available to you. For further guidance on locating a property, please contact us using the information listed above.

Read This Before Buying Homeowner’s Insurance

In order to guard yourself from risk and liability, it is essential to invest in a homeowner’s insurance policy that will give you the protection you need. Although such policies are not a requirement by law, any mortgage company will require this as a stipulation to receiving your next home loan.

Types of Policies

Several types of plans are available that include various optional riders dependent on your particular needs. There are specific policies for old homes, mobile homes, condos, and anything from basic protection to high liability coverage. However, a majority of owners will invest in something know as an HO-3 policy, because it offers protection for both the dwelling as well as your contents that are available in your home.
For example, the HO-3 policy will guard the outside of your property from any of the open perils (i.e. threats or dangers) to your home and also named perils for your contents. However, there will be a list of specific issues that the policy will not protect you from (such as earthquakes or water damage). Uncovered perils may be added at an additional cost.
On the other hand, others may be interested in reviewing the options available with the newer HO-5 policy. This coverage takes the HO-3 a step further by providing open peril policies for both the home and also contents. So essentially you would be protected for more items within your house, without having to prove that damage occurred under one of the named perils.

Other Important Factors

Next, there are liability limits. In the event that damage would occur, this amount would provide the coverage necessary to help restore your home. However, please keep in mind that this is not the same thing as the home’s actual value. There are other things that you need to consider such as the land, possessions, living expenses (if you need to rebuild), or other structures that are located on your property.
Therefore, take the time to assess what type of limit you would need to help cover the total loss in the event of a major catastrophe. Also, be sure to revisit your policy from time to time as the property appreciates, and/or you consider making changes and additions to the property.
Finally, it’s important to review the differences between actual cash value and replacement costs. For those who have a lot of contents that hold a high value, it may be better to consider replacement cost coverage, which could be worth the added price. This will provide a brand new replacement for all covered contents.
On the other hand, for people who are less concerned with replacing everything at market value with comparable items, may want to consider actual cash value protection for household items which will take into account depreciation.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg when considering a homeowner’s policy. Other things that can be considered include:

  • Jewelry Coverage
  • Personal Articles Coverage
  • Umbrella Coverage
  • or Liability Claims Protection

Therefore, take the time to schedule an appointment with a qualified agent to discuss your needs and review what else may be available. Please contact us now for referrals and to obtain more information on how you can get started.

Get The Best Price On Your Next Home Purchase!

One of the most important aspects to buying a home is to ensure that you purchase for a fair price. Since there are certain key steps that you must follow in order to make a sound decision, it pays to have a knowledgeable Realtor on your side who will be able to help obtain the best and most realistic asking price for a property.

Determining Market Comparables

For example, one of the first ways that your agent will discover the price of a home is by researching local market comparables. In most cases, they will be able to bring up a list of properties sold over the last 6 months within a 1 mile radius. Properties should also not be bigger than 20% of the subject size.
Additional features to consider would be the neighborhood each home resides in, structural differences, bedrooms and bathrooms, overall condition and other amenities such as a pool, a/c, or garage. Other factors, such as if a particular home sold for much lower due to foreclosure is something your agent can uncover as well.

Houses That Have Not Sold

Next, many homes could be on the MLS for 6 months or longer without ever selling. Others that are comparable could have been taken off the market after not getting enough offers or being listed for too high. This is valuable information, because you may be able to get a particular property for a substantial discount or it may not even be worth pursuing.

Neighborhood Reputation & Appreciation

When it comes to buying a house, this is one of the most important reasons to work with a Realtor. Since your agent will have a familiarity with various local market trends and statistics, you will be able to learn what makes a particular neighborhood desirable and also which areas to avoid.
A lot of things can affect a home’s value such as the school district, crime levels, or even other properties located nearby (such as those burnt in a fire or properties that were a bank sale). In fact, sometimes these factors can even differ from block to block!
Your agent will also help you to assess the appreciation rates for various neighborhoods and future development plans that could affect home prices, so that you can get a decent indication of what to expect down the road. This can be extremely valuable information dependent on how long you plan to live at the said property and the length of time the home may need to sit on the market.

Appraisals & Inspections

After you place an offer on a property, you will have the opportunity to get an appraisal and home inspection as further due diligence. Even with an agent, there are sometimes issues that may arise with a property that could affect the home’s value that you were not even aware of.
Some of these problems could include structural issues, plumbing or electrical, termites or insects, mold or even water damage to name a few. Obviously many of these things could impact the price significantly and would either have to be fixed by the seller or renegotiated to get a fair price.
In conclusion, there are a lot of areas to consider when choosing a home and getting a fair price on a property. Since this is one of the biggest purchases you will ever make, it is crucial that you protect your interests and ensure that you are getting the best deal possible.
In order to get started researching homes in our local area, contact us right away using the information located above. We look forward to serving you as you search for your next future home!

3 Things To Consider Before Listing As FSBO

If you’re looking to sell your home in the near future, you may feel inclined to list it as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) before working with a Realtor. For many, this is considered one good way to cut back on costs and possibly earn a little more profit on the sale.
However, there are certain aspects you may want to consider before going down this path. Statistically, over 80% of FSBO’s end up being listed with a Realtor at some point. Therefore, it pays to take the time to fully assess whether or not this is the right plan of action for you.

Properly Marketing Your Property

First of all, listing a home for sale can be a very time consuming and difficult process. Unfortunately, this typically is not as easy as posting a sign in the yard and setting up a classified ad in the local newspaper. There is certainly a lot more than meets the eye.
For instance, many FSBO websites will tout that you can obtain a wide exposure to buyers nationally, but this pales in comparison to the results that you can expect from big named sites like Realtor.com, which only agents can post to.
Next, your agent will have a lot of expertise with implementing online real estate marketing strategies that will gain you a ton of locally targeted searches. And in fact, nearly 90% of all searches for real estate related inquiries start online.
Realtors will also have a strong network of both agents and buyers that they work with on a regular basis. This is a business where it pays to network. More contacts equals greater exposure.

Asking Price & Showings

For starters, a lot of FSBO’s will start at the wrong asking price. This is by far one of the most important factors that goes into marketing your home, so you want to do this properly off the bat. But, without being fully invested in your local market and understanding the current trends, it can be difficult to price the home accurately.
As alluded to in section one, selling a home can be a lot of work. Most individuals these days have to juggle a full time job, family obligations, recreational activities, household chores, etc. Where do you find the time for fully investing into the sale as well?
When the opportunity would arise for interested parties to view your property, you would need to schedule individual showings, open houses, inspectors, appraisers, etc., while also trying to stage and maintain your property’s appearance. Miss out on a good opportunity for matching schedules and you can quickly lose interest.

Negotiations & Contracts

If you get to the point where you negotiate with a buyer, it is much more difficult to handle this aspect without a qualified agent. Selling your home can be a very emotional undertaking, so it is easier to set unrealistic expectations, or to even concede on more than necessary when you don’t have a 3rd party buffer.
During most real estate transactions, both the buyer and seller will typically have a set of concessions and contingencies. For a majority of buyers, they will expect to have some type of a financing, inspection and/or termite contingency.
This is set up for their protection, in order to complete their due diligence on the home before moving forward to closing. If other issues are found, this may even been grounds for further negotiation or eventually walking away from the deal.
Or you will be expected to lower the price, fix the issue or offer a concession on something else in order to alleviate the problem. Likewise, you want to ensure that the buyer is not overstepping their boundaries or that you are pressured into giving away more than is reasonable.
In summary, it’s worth taking the time to carefully consider these 3 areas before making any final decisions. If you still decide to take the FSBO route, we sincerely wish you great success. Also, please feel free to share our information with a friend and to bookmark our page for future reference as well!

Investing in Real Estate vs. Stocks

When it comes to investing in land/real estate or stocks, there is no one size fits all. Although both vehicles have proven over the long run to provide excellent returns when handled properly, each person will have their own unique goals, risk tolerance, and capital that they are willing to spend.
Additionally, this is where a financial planning specialist may offer useful insights as well. You may have heard the advice to not put your eggs all in one basket. Therefore, it may even be beneficial to consider pursuing both forms of investments to better leverage your profits.
So our goal is to offer an overview of both sides of the coin in order for you to start forming your own opinion. All in all, it is most important that you proactively take your financial future into your own hands and only pursue the path that you feel will be the best for you and your family.

Benefits of Investing in Land or Real Estate

Many very successful people started out their investing careers in real estate. Plus regardless of what happens in the economy, it is factual that people will always need a place to live. Homes very rarely decrease in value when they are well maintained and purchased correctly.
In addition, land can be an extremely lucrative investment since the world’s population continues to increase, and as a result the demand for land used by residential, commercial and retail entities is always on the rise as well.
With real estate you are offered something that is tangible and can be easier to calculate your due diligence. In other words, after reviewing the property specs with appraisers and inspectors, you have a fairly good idea of what you are getting into.

Downside of Real Estate Investments

First of all, there is typically a lot more time and energy invested in managing your investments. Whether you are renting your property out to tenants or keeping your lots clean and free of debris and coding violations, this is something you will be much more actively involved in.
Next, real estate always has some sort of cost involved. Regardless of what you decide to do with your properties, you will still be responsible for taxes, insurance, utilities, repairs/maintenance and possible a host of other expenses. Plus you can end up overspending and losing your shirt.
Finally, you have to have the proper investment strategy in place. Although real estate has historically been a strong hedge against inflation, you always need to consider your own local trends so you can properly leverage your investments to realize a strong ROI.

Benefits of Investing in Stocks

Unlike real estate, this is an investment that can be essentially placed on autopilot. Aside from keeping an eye on your portfolio for rises and dips, you can leave the management and operation of each entity up to the professional staff. You own a piece of each company without having to work for it.
Even with the Great Depression and other scares that we have witnessed over the last century, stocks have historically proven to be the best return on investment for those who hold on through the tough times and invest their returns properly.
Additionally, it typically doesn’t take a huge upfront investment to get involved in the market, and this is very beneficial for those who don’t have a lot of cash on hand. As long as you choose the right companies, earnings will continue to increase. Selling your stocks is also infinitely easier than listing a property or land for sale as well.

Downside of Stocks

On the other hand, the greatest benefits of stocks can sometimes be the most detrimental weaknesses. For example, though you do not need to actively invest sweat into each company, you are also leaving your finances in the hands of a management team that dictates how things operate.
Therefore, if business takes a nosedive so do your stocks. Some will recover while others may crash and burn. Also, this can be a very emotional game. Especially for those who are getting closer to retirement, the couple scares that we have witnessed in the last decade caused many people to pull out at huge losses.
Finally, stocks can be a lot more unpredictable, especially if you are jumping on the bandwagon of rising trends or promising starter companies. Though some may end up being a homerun, you are always listening to the speculations of gurus or your own gut feeling. Alternatively, real estate can typically be more accurately measured.
In conclusion, it important that you take the time to assess the investment opportunities that are available to you before making any decisions. It is important to look out for your financial future and well being, and we’re here to support you along the way.
If you need more information about how you can get started investing in real estate or land, and want to discover the options available in our local area, take the time to contact us today. We look forward to doing business with you!

4 Keys To Saving For Your Future Home

In this video, we will explore some things to consider when you’re getting ready to save for your next home purchase.

What To Know Before Buying Your Next Fixer Upper

If you’re looking to buy a fixer upper here are some rules to follow:

  • Pick the right location!
  • Know Your Stuff
  • Make sure you consider the time and cost associated with doing a rehab
  • What are your financing options?

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