Helpful Holiday Tips

The Clock is ticking, time to get your home ready for the holidays. Getting it ready means more than simply decorating, especially if you are hosting a holiday party. Before you deck the halls, take time to get organized. Be the host everyone will be talking about, for all the right reasons!

Holiday Checklist

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AskHomesale.com provides real estate advise and information for home buyers, home sellers, and homeowners alike. Askhomesale.com is part of the Prudential Homesale Family. The Homesale Family of Companies is the leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Maryland, South Central and Southeastern PA real estate markets.  Prudential Homesale has more than 25 offices with over 1,000 REALTORS®. Prudential Homesale’s footprint includes Maryland real estate offices in Baltimore City, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Westminster, and Timonium.  Pennsylvania real estate offices include York, LancasterWyomissing, Chambersburg, Gettysburg, Harrisburg, and Schuylkill Haven.

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Helpful Holiday Tips

Should you buy a home over the holidays?

buying-over-the-holidaysConsidering that the cold, shorter days of winter are upon us and the holiday hustle and bustle is lurking right around the corner – would this really be a good time to buy a home?  Yes, it could be!

Home sellers tend to avoid this time of year due to the weather and holidays, but also because conventional wisdom says that buyers are otherwise occupied.  Those sellers who do attempt to sell are usually highly motivated.  Determined house-hunters can take advantage of this urgency and could find the home of their dreams at a fabulous price.  Read on to discover some other great reasons…

Home inventory could work for or against you.  At this time of year the inventory of available homes is less than at other times of the year.  If you are very particular, you might have trouble finding the right house.  Should you be lucky enough to find your dream home, less competition from other home buyers and typically lower winter-market prices might mean you have more room to negotiate for a great deal!

Better interest rates, means better mortgage terms for you.  The drop in demand this time of year (December thru January), results in fewer requests for mortgage money.  In response to this slowdown, Lenders will sometimes offer lower rates and quite possibly even cancel a few of their normal fees.  Do your homework, shop around; find a lender who is willing to work for you!

Speaking of working, the same applies to the real estate professional you choose.  Carefully select a Realtor who will be highly-motivated and available to help you accomplish your goal before the end of the year!

Faster home closings are historically more conceivable in November and December.  Fewer overall transactions and lenders, who want to close their books at the end of the year, could be the inspiration needed to close transactions more quickly for people buying homes at this time.

A tax deduction for your mortgage interest can be another valid reason to buy a home before the year end.  Speak with a tax professional to determine if a mortgage interest deduction may be applicable to your circumstances.

Planning and effort is what creates your future.  Complete some of your holiday tasks ahead of time, focus on your year-end home shopping.  Find your new home and settle in before the holidays have passed.  When the spring and summer buying frenzy hits for everyone else, you’ll already be relaxing and enjoying your new home!

Begin your home search now!

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 Tips for home buyers - http://www.prudentialhomesale.com/find-a-home/buyer-resources

Should you buy a home over the holidays?

Real Estate: Buy or Sell First?

buy-or-sellWhen it comes to home buying, the ideal situation would be to find a new home, just as you receive an offer on your existing home. You would then be able to close concurrently and move into your new home a few days prior to closing on your previous home. This does happen more often than not, but anyone looking to buy a new home needs to consider all the possible scenarios.

Should you buy or sell first? There are many schools of thought on this subject. Ultimately, it depends on you and your situation. For instance, can you afford to pay two mortgages in the event your previous home does not sell by the time you move? Would you consider a bridge loan (a short-term, high interest loan that let you borrow against the value of your old home to covers the bills until you secure the new, larger loan)? Are you willing to move twice to find the home of your dreams if you sell first and can’t find the dream home fast enough?

This is where the advice of a real estate sales professional is invaluable. Real estate sales professionals know the current market conditions. They are trained and experienced in working with home buyers and sellers to determine an ideal time to buy and sell.

It is generally less stressful to sell your home first, because you won’t have to worry about owning two homes at one time. The market will dictate how long it will take your home to sell, as will your location and the time of year. As a rule of thumb, it is a good idea to put your home of the market as far in advance as possible when purchasing a new one. But, since interest rates are low and confidence is returning to the market, there’s a good change your home will sell faster if priced properly. (Again, your real estate professional’s advice is critically important here.) In that case, you may want to purchase a new home first.

What if your present home sells before you find a new one, putting pressure on you to find the right house for you more quickly? You may then decide to make an interim move or request to rent back your home for a specified amount of time as you continue to look for your new home. Those may be worthwhile options if you have your heart set on a specific location or type of home or if you are purchasing a home that is under construction.

If you buy a home before selling your present home, you may end up with two mortgages. Under those circumstances, you may be able to apply for a bridge loan to assist you in making two mortgage payments until you sell your first home. Your real estate sales professional can assist you in finding a lender.

So should you buy or sell first? This is a challenging question regardless of real estate cycles, yet your own circumstances and a knowledgeable real estate professional will help you make the right decision.

 

AskHomesale.com Provides tips for Homeowners, Home buyers and Home Sellers

Real Estate: Buy or Sell First?

Down Payment Tips

downpaymentMany people dream of owning a home but don’t think it’s possible because they lack the resources for a down payment and closing costs. Here are tips for securing that down payment.

1) Borrow from your retirement account: Many people have been investing in a 401(k) plan or traditional IRA for years and first-time homebuyers may borrow up to $10,000 for their down payment without incurring a penalty. For those self-employed or if your employer allows it, you also can borrow up to $50,000 from your current 401(k) and pay yourself back over five years at a low interest rate.

2) Ask family: Sure, you may be too proud to ask for money, but if relatives can help you and your family move into that dream home, isn’t it worth it? If you do get help from a family member, the lender will ask you to sign a gift-letter form, attesting to the relationship. The lender may also require your relatives to explain where they got the money and prove that they are financially able to make such a gift.

3) Look for down payment assistance grants: Down payment assistance and community redevelopment programs offer affordable housing opportunities to first-time homebuyers, low-income and moderate-income individuals and families who wish to own a home.

4) Come to a lease/purchase agreement: Homeowners who can’t sell their homes in this market may consider a lease/purchase agreement, where you rent the home you want to buy and a percentage of your rent is applied toward the down payment. If you go this route, make sure you get a contract outlining all the details so both parties are protected.

5) Add it to the wedding registry: Several mortgage companies allow those getting married to set up a down payment registry. This is a great way to celebrate the joining of two people in matrimony.

6) Cut back and save: If none of the other ways will work for you, there’s always the old fashioned “saving for a rainy day.” Try putting aside 10% of each paycheck and make your meals instead of going out for them. If you’re married, save the money you would spend on birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents and put it toward your house. You also may need to forget that vacation this year.

These sacrifices may seem significant but they will be worth it once you’re inside your own home.

DId you enjoy this article? Find more tips for home buyers at the link below.

http://askhomesale.com/category/for-buyers/

Down Payment Tips

INFOGRAPHIC – Confidence in the Market Jumps Sharply

Confidence in the real estate market is on the rise, and millennials still believe in the American Dream. However, there is a knowledge gap that calls for advice and guidance from real estate professionals. Consumers have their eyes on interest rates.

Prudential Real Estate Q2 2013 Consumer Outlook Survey Infographic

Prudential Real Estate, an HSF Affiliates LLC company, and Prudential Homesale Services Group released results of their second quarter Consumer Outlook Survey indicating that millennials are increasingly optimistic about residential real estate. A full 80% of respondents ages 25-34 said their perception of the housing market is “favorable” or “somewhat favorable,” representing a 9 percentage point increase from the Q1 study.

Among all respondents, the national survey also found that confidence in real estate and home values jumped sharply, reaching 83% vs. 77% in Q1 study and 73% at year-end. Confidence is highest in both South and West regions at 84%.

“Young Americans, like the majority of survey participants, are feeling much better about homeownership,” said Earl Lee, chief executive officer of HSF Affiliates LLC and president of Prudential Real Estate. “People are looking optimistically at housing for all right reasons – a place to feel secure, build a future and raise a family.”

Among all respondents, 70% said that finding the right home and community is crucial to family happiness. Millennials were even more emphatic about the emotional side of homeownership: 93% favor a home for “more space for my family,” while only 75% view it as “financial security to borrow against.”

“Consumers are mindful of the challenges faced during the real estate downturn,” added Earl Lee, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC and president of Prudential Real Estate. “Though homeownership makes a solid, long-term investment, a home should never be considered a siding-clad ATM.”

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Mortgage and Rate Watch
On securing a mortgage loan, consumer sentiment continues reflecting the challenges people face through strict underwriting guidelines and credit-score requirements:
•    57% of respondents said securing a mortgage is more difficult than it ever was prior to the market crisis.
•    Nearly 40% said lenders are “overly cautious” when it comes to mortgage financing.
•    Anxiety and fear of losing a real estate opportunity are respondents’ main emotional challenges in seeking home financing.
•    With rates rising recently, 71% said they are encouraged to buy a home now rather than later. It is worth noting that 78% of respondents indicated that homeownership is valuable regardless of shifting rates.

While 65% of respondents said they watch rates closely, there is confusion about recent rate trends. Among those who claim to watch rates closely, 43% believe that rates are holding steady or falling, though rates have risen so far this summer.

The knowledge gap calls for advice and guidance from real estate professionals to help people make the best choices. Of survey respondents, 63% indicated that a good agent can help them make the right choices about the type of home and community they want. And having a trusted source of information and guidance is important to 64%.

“Our survey shows that Americans who are looking to find and purchase a home remain positive about their prospects, and they’re looking to the guidance of quality real estate agents to navigate the entire process,” said Stephen Phillips, chief operating officer for HSF Affiliates LLC. “Home buyers are more informed than ever with their Internet searches and ongoing research; however, there’s a critical need to transform that information into analysis and advice that helps consumers make the best home-buying and selling decisions.”

The full survey details are available upon request. An infographic illustrating survey findings can be seen above.

Prudential Real Estate Outlook Survey Methodology
Interviews with 2,600 Americans who are “in the market” to buy or sell a home were conducted online by Edelman Berland in June-July 2013, Respondents are aged 25-64 with a household income of at least $50,000, and either recently bought/sold a home or are considering buying/selling a home. The margin of error is ± 2.0% for all respondents.

INFOGRAPHIC – Confidence in the Market Jumps Sharply

Home Ownership Matters

July 2013_Ecard

Home ownership does matter. It has a significant impact on net worth, educational achievement, civic participation, health, and overall quality of life. Plus, it helps create jobs, lots of them, right in your community. Did you know that for every two homes sold in the U.S., one job is created?

A few more perks of home ownership:

Increased Equity
As you pay down your mortgage, you own more of an increasingly valuable property. Sometimes you can borrow against this equity for home improvements or other investments.

Appreciating Investment
The real estate market does fluctuate, but over time the value of your property could appreciate.

Tax Benefits
Interest and closing costs are big expenses. However, when you file your taxes, you may be entitled to deductions based on points and interest paid during the year. This can be a very significant benefit especially in the early years of ownership when you are paying more interest.

Successful Children
Studies show that children of homeowners are more likely to graduate from high school and college, have better overall grades, and fewer behavior problems. They are likely to someday become homeowners as well.

Stronger Communities
Homeowners are more likely to maintain their homes, become involved in solving local problems, be part of community groups, are more likely to vote, and will remain in their homes 4 times longer if they own it.

Stronger Families
Homeowners are more likely to attend church, belong to parent-teacher groups, read local newspapers, and have less alcohol and substance abuse problems.

Stability, freedom, privacy
Owning a home has a significant impact on overall quality of life, including health, happiness, and security. Homeowners tend to have a greater sense of control over their lives.

Home Ownership Matters

Live in Your Dream Home Forever.

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To most, the phrase dream home brings to mind a home filled with fantasy amenities, custom trims, top-of-the-line appliances, the latest in home technology, swimming pools, and much, much more.  For smart homeowners, it now means a home that you can live in forever!  A home that can accommodate you and your young family, through a hectic mid-life, and finally to coping with the physical limitations that can sometimes accompany getting older.

Universal design, sometimes called lifespan design, is a term used to describe this type of home design. This design combines the best of accessible, ergonomic, and green design.  It creates spaces that can be used by everyone and are also appealing to all.  It doesn’t stigmatize any particular group of users.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the specifics of universal design, breaking it down by rooms in your home.

Entry and General Living spaces

  • A 3’-wide gently sloping, no-step entry – allows entry for wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, etc.
  • Lever-handled Front Door – easier to grip and open
  • No changes in floor levels through main area of the home – increases safety, eliminates tripping
  • Pocket doors where possible – Provides privacy and gives sense of extra space
  • Handrails on both sides of staircases
  • Open, spacious floor plan with 5 ½’ hallways (4 ½ ft. standard)
  • Rocker panel light switches are easier to “flip”

Bedrooms / Baths

  • One bedroom and full bath located on main floor – Can serve as a study or office until later in life
  • Mirrors – placed to been seen from sitting or standing positions
  • No-slip flooring material in bathrooms
  • Curb-less shower prevents tripping and allows wheelchair access
  • Securely anchored grab bars in shower ensure safe mobility, can double as towel bars
  • Molded shower seat looks attractive, can be handy for children and seniors

Kitchen / Utility Room

  • Paddle-handle faucet – easier and more convenient to use
  • Pull-out work boards at varying heights to accommodate standing or sitting positions
  • Main floor laundry room
  • Small rolling cart for workspace and to eliminate unnecessary walking
  • D-shaped drawer pulls are easier to grasp and pull open

Mechanics

  • Keyless locks use a remote control or keypad that is user-friendly
  • Smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide alarms that provide both audible and visual signals
  • Circuit breaker panel on the main floor rather than basement or garage is easier to access
  • Universally designed appliance controls with obvious symbols and colors to help clarify written instructions
  • Switches and controls are placed at easy-to-use heights, more convenient to more people

Consider these design ideas when you are contemplating building a new home or buying your dream home, or even if you choose to remodel your current home.  A few simple design choices now can make life a lot easier later; for you, your children, aging parents, even house guests. 

Live in Your Dream Home Forever.