Samson Kimani's Blog
As the new year approaches, you may wonder what changes are ahead for you and your family. If you have been thinking about selling your home in the coming year, there are a few pretty good reasons to do so. Read on, and you may find some new real estate goals for the new year.
There’s Not A Lot Of Inventory
If the inventory is low, you’ll find that it’s a great time to put your home on the market. Your home will sell a bit faster and attract more buyers. If the market is particularly busy, you may get an even better price than expected for your home.
People Want Homes Fast
Certain times of year bring a bit more urgency to the market. Employees may be more apt to have transfers within their company. Families may be looking to move in before the start of the school year. These situations can get your home off the market fast for the right price.
The Seasons Of Real Estate Are Different
While we typically think of spring as starting in late March, spring in the real estate world actually begins in January. Once the holidays are over, it’s believed that people are ready to make moves with their properties. This early season holds especially true in warmer climates. It’s thought that the earlier in the year a home is listed, the more it will stand out on the market. If you’re listing a house in a warmer climate, keep in mind that people who are looking to escape cold climates are looking to buy in the early months of the year.
Keep in mind that if you do live in a colder climate and plan to sell and your property has some great outdoor space, you may want to wait until a warmer time of year to sell.
The Lower The Price Of The Home The Faster It Moves
If your home is on the lower end of the price spectrum, you may be able to sell whenever you’d like., These home are attractive to first-time buyers and move fast off the market. They’re great for starter homes, fixer uppers, and house flippers.
The bottom line is that in a hot market there may be no wrong time to sell. If you speak with a REALTOR® and they believe the time is right, and you’re itching to move on to another property you should. Real estate agents have the knowledge and experience that can help you to find the right time to sell as well as the sweet spot for pricing your home.
Buying your first home is exciting! And scary! But you don’t have to fear the process if you take the time to become fully prepared for homeownership. Below are the seven primary keys to preparing yourself and smoothing the process.
How to Know You’re Ready
- Determine how much you can afford. The first step to homeownership is figuring out what fits your current budget. Note that although your income may go up over time, buying a home, speculating that you’ll make more money and can afford a bigger payment is a recipe for disaster. In general, you don’t want your housing costs (mortgage payment, insurance, property taxes, HOA) to be more than 25% of your take-home pay.
- Research which mortgages can save you the most money. A conventional loan, with at least 20% for a down payment, lets you avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). That’s an extra reduction in monthly outgo, so strive to hit that mark. If you can’t afford twenty percent, put at least ten percent down. Less than that means your monthly outflow is higher in both the mortgage payment and the PMI. You’ll also pay more interest over time. You’ll save the most by putting more down and reducing the life of the loan to 15 years or fewer even though your monthly payment is higher. Remember that closing costs and moving take a chunk out of your saved-up cash, too.
- Get pre-approved. Any lender can “pre-qualify” you for a loan, but those aren’t guaranteed. They’re just an estimate based on your self-reported income and assets. Pre-approval takes more effort, but the numbers accurately reflect the size of the mortgage you qualify for and what you can pay for a house. Find a great real estate agent. Once you’ve set your maximum budget and have a pre-qualification letter, your real estate agent can work with those numbers to find you the perfect home. Make sure you choose a qualified buyer’s agent that represents you, not the seller. You also want someone experienced in helping first-time buyers. Typically, the seller covers all the agent’s commissions, so you’re getting their expertise for free!
- Discover the right neighborhood for you. Buying the right house in the wrong neighborhood leads to buyer’s remorse and dissatisfaction. You need to decide what you want in the neighborhood, not just the house. Do you need playgrounds? A school your child can walk to? Other families nearby? Culs-de-sac instead of through-streets? All of these are important to consider before making a decision.
- Lock down the house. When you know where you want to live and find a house there, don’t fudge when making an offer. With the guidance of your agent, submit a solid offer that the seller respects and will consider, but leave room to negotiate. When you receive a counteroffer, consider it carefully and request concessions such as asking the seller to leave the appliances or furnishings. Your offer is legally binding, so you want to take care with what you include.
- Know what to expect once you get the keys. In addition to your monthly payments of principal and interest, property taxes, insurance, and HOA dues, owning a home brings other costs. These include ongoing maintenance, repairs, lawn care and landscaping. If your new home is considerably larger than where you currently live, you’ll also have increased utility costs to factor into the mix.
If you’ve worked your way through the first items on the list and you’re ready to find the right real estate agent, reach out today.
When you’re buying or selling a home, you may hear the terms, “assessed value” and “market value.” There are few things that you should know about these terms. First, they cannot be used interchangeably. The assessed value is generally much less than the market value. If you’re buying a home, you probably would rather see the assessed value of the home as a price! If you’re selling, the same holds true for the market value of the home for you.
Market Value Is Used Differently Than Assessed Value
The market value is how much your home is worth on the market currently. The definition is exactly as the term sounds the home is looked at by an assessor and given a value. The assessed value is used to determine property taxes, among other things. As you can imagine, the assessed value can become a point of contention for many homeowners especially when it comes to paying their tax bills. Many homes end up being assessed at a higher price than their current value, bringing tax bills to higher levels. The market value is what the home will sell for when it is listed for sale.
Be careful when searching for a home to buy. Many sites list the assessed value along with the price of the home or estimated market value of the home. You don’t want to get these numbers confused when budgeting and searching for the perfect house.
If you’re getting ready to sell your home, pay little attention to the assessed value of the home. That is not what your home will sell for.
The market value is a good reason to hire a realtor to help you sell your home. Realtors are experts in finding the market values of homes. They will even do something called a CMA (comparative market analysis) for you to help you determine the right price for your home to sell at. This is where comparable properties in the area are examined for their selling prices and all the perks of your home and neighborhood are considered. The market value is determined by the price of the homes that have recently been sold in the area based on the location of the home and how close it is to certain amenities like schools, parks, and the probability of future construction.
Finally, know that the market value and the appraised value of a home have a lot to do with how much a lender will give you to buy the property. Every home that is being bought must go through an appraisal, to protect the lender from overpaying for a home.
Whether you’re buying or selling a home, knowing your value terms can really be a help in understanding the sweet spot for pricing a property
Generally speaking, taking a family vacation can "recharge your battery," give you a new lease on life, and enable you to get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose. That's the ideal scenario when everything falls into place. However, if you're one of those families that are always looking for a new place to explore every year, then your vacation experiences may become more hit or miss.
While a little research can often go a long way, online brochures and articles tend to put a positive spin on what may or may not be an ideal vacation destination. Even customer reviews can give you a false impression of the desirability of a tourism spot. Just because a couple people had an especially good or bad experience in a particular tourist town, does not mean you're going to encounter similar types of service, weather, prices, crowds, or ambiance.
Online reviews, tourism information, and vacation blogs can provide you with helpful insights into the desirability of a vacation spot, but every time you try a new resort, vacation rental, or tourist attraction, you're gambling on whether or not you and your family will like it.
Since time away from work and vacation budgets are usually limited, it makes sense to do everything possible to increase the odds of planning and having a great vacation! Visiting the places you're considering staying at before you make reservations there is one method of choosing a location you'll probably love. Sometimes recommendations from close friends or relatives can provide you with some solid vacation ideas. While anonymous online reviews and blog posts can lead you down the wrong path, recommendations from a trusted friend or family member have much more credibility.
One method of ensuring a higher level of quality control over your accommodations, amenities, and -- to some degree -- your meals is to buy a vacation home. If you can find an affordable cabin, beach house, or ski chalet in a location you like, then you'll always know what you're getting in terms of living space, ambiance, environment, and local attractions. You can prepare a certain percentage of your meals at your vacation home, which can control your food expenses and make going out to dinner more special.
Another advantage of returning to the same vacation spot (and home), year after year, is that you become familiar with the best places and times to enjoy restaurants, golf courses, beaches, ski slopes, hiking trails, nightclubs, or whatever you enjoy doing on vacation. When you find the ideal "home away from home" to spend weekends, vacations from work, and school breaks, you'll always know exactly what you're getting and will have a higher degree of control over your environment and your overall vacation experience. One final advantage of owning a vacation home is that you can defray your mortgage payments and maintenance costs by generating rental income during the times you're not using the house.
Each year, flooding causes more than eight billion dollars in damages to homes in the United States. Despite that, many affected homeowners go on to sell their houses so that they can relocate. When your home has damage from a tropical storm, heavy rains, or rising water from a hurricane, here are ways to help your home retain its value.
The crucial first 48 hours
Do your best to minimize the damage. If you know flooding is possible, use sandbags around the foundation, board up windows, fill in crevices around vents and pipes with expandable waterproof insulation. After damage occurs, in the first two days, it is essential that you go through this checklist as quickly and thoroughly as you can.
- Protect yourself. Flood water often has contaminants and dangerous materials, mold and bacteria. If your flooding includes back-up sewerage, this is especially crucial. Wear industrial-quality gloves, rubber boots, masks, and other protective gear.
- Make lists of the damage. Walk around your home and write down everything that is affected by the water. Separate the list by those items attached to your home and those that are separate such as furnishings and personal belongings. These could be very long lists, so write down everything.
- Take photos of all the damage with your smartphone or digital camera. Capture images of the walls, floors, cabinets, outlets, doors, windows, and ceiling if water leaked in from above — document everything.
- Contact your insurance company. They will send out a catastrophic storm damage adjuster to assess the damages. Even if FEMA may cover the costs, ask your insurance adjuster to document everything as well. Compare their list to yours to make sure nothing is left off. Your insurance company may be able to help you restore and repair much of the damage. Professionally mitigated and restored damage makes a tremendous difference when you go to sell your home.
- Once you've documented everything, remove anything that retains moisture from the house. These include carpet and padding, fabric, bedding, furniture, clothing, drywall, and insulation. Doing so lowers the opportunity for mold to take hold in the house. It only takes mold 48 hours to begin germinating, so time is of the essence.
- Rent a dehumidifier to dry out your home. If your HVAC system is unaffected, run the air (heat or cold depending on outdoor temperatures) to help dry things out, too.
- Using a utility knife, cut away and discard any damaged or wet drywall or wallboard and any damp insulation behind it. Spray the remaining walls and the framing of the damaged walls with a solution of nine-parts water with one-part bleach.
Repair or Sell "As-Is."
Make all repairs that your insurance or FEMA covers. If other repairs remain, you might decide to fix them yourself or sell your home just as it is. If you completely restore your home, it likely will sell for more. But if the return on your investment isn't high enough, you may end up losing out in the long run. Here is where you need the advice of a professional. Your real estate agent can help you determine which items to repair and which won't give you any return. Remember, though, that if your relocation is time-sensitive, whatever sells quicker can save you in the long run.