6 Common Ways a Home Sale can Go Awry

The Mendosa Balboni Team knows that purchasing real estate is a very large transaction with many moving parts. There oftentimes can be a lot of excitement while envisioning your new life in this property so it is important to keep your emotions in check while you stay on track with the steps of the sale. The truth is that home sales can fall through at times and according to the National Association of Realtors, 1 in 16 deals do not close. So why do these deals fall apart? Here are some of the common reasons so that you can avoid them.

Changes in your credit
Your credit score can vary through the course of your real estate deal. A missed payment, opening up a new credit card or making a larger purchase all can have an affect on your score. Be sure to make payments timely and avoid making any significant purchases so you don’t risk your eligibility for a home loan.

Home inspection
Al home inspection is always a good thing to do, but bear in mind that no house is perfect and most will have something come up even if it is just an older water heater. Try not to panic should there be necessary repairs as it is fairly typical. For more substantial repairs, try negotiating with the sellers to see if they will accommodate you on the issue.

Failure to get pre-approved
Every buyer should connect with a reputable mortgage agent before they even begin their home search. A mortgage broker will be provide you with a pre-approval letter stating the amount that you can afford. These letters are sometimes accompanied with the offer when submitted.

Running out of funds
Your downpayment is not the only thing that you will need to have money on hand for. There are various moving expenses and closing costs that you will need to be sure you have cash for. Your lender can provide you with a good faith estimate for what you will need regarding funds that are directly related to the deal and closing.

Loss of perspective
Sometimes the smallest thing can get blown out of proportion when emotions are running high. Keeping in regular communication with your real estate agent can help dodge many of these issues. When you keep the big picture in mind sometimes the smaller issues really don’t even matter so much in the end.

Cold feet
Buyers can sometimes get very excited during the home search and offer process. Once the inspection report is complete followed by paperwork and writing checks the purchase becomes a reality. In the end don’t worry, homeownership is worth it as you build equity in the home that you will begin making new memories in.

Avoid These 6 Common Mistakes when Hiring Movers

The Mendosa Balboni Team knows that moving from home to home requires a lot of planning. There is much to do including sorting through your belongings, discarding some items while packing the rest. Even if you can hire the best moving company in existence, there are still some helpful tips on what not to do so that you can have the smoothest of moves. Here is a list to get you started.

Don’t wait til the last minute – Gathering estimates takes time. You will want to get a few to find out what they all offer for services as well as find the best price. If you wait too long you run the risk of being forced to pick one based on availability rather than price.

Don’t be cheap – While you don’t want to pay more than necessary for movers, you do get what you pay for. Quality movers who have trained staff that are licensed and insured do cost more but will always be good for peace of mind. Should there be any issues that arise, they are more likely to address them and make good on the situation.

Don’t forget to ask questions – When you are reviewing companies and gathering estimates, be sure to ask some important questions. Things like are you licensed and insured, what insurance do you offer on my belongings, how is your staff trained, or can you get references are all good things to ask.

Don’t fall for fakes – Just because you found the company online doesn’t mean they are a good quality or reputable. Here are a few red flag signs for fake movers:

  • No federal motor carrier number for interstate moves
  • Mover will not meet you at home to provide written estimate
  • Trucks are unmarked or generic
  • Avoids questions about claim process or insurance

Don’t pay in cash – Most companies will charge you at the time of delivery. For larger, out of state moves, a deposit may be asked of you but is typically small and doesn’t exceed 20% of the total cost. Avoid any company that demands cash payments.

Don’t forget to do your homework – Make sure to do some fact checking on your own about these companies.Be sure to check references, review services offered and investigate the company online. For interstate moves see if they are licensed to do so as well.

Tight Inventory Affects Pending Sales

According to the National Association of Realtors reportings, pending home sales have finally taken a slight 1.3% dip in April due to low levels of inventory. By comparison, this is 3.3% lower than last year and is also the first year over year slow down since last December.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist has indicated that the activity is weakening due to the very limited housing stock that is available. “Much of the country for the second straight month saw a pullback in pending sales as the rate of new listings continues to lag the quicker pace of homes coming off the market,” he said. “Realtors® are indicating that foot traffic is higher than a year ago, but it’s obviously not translating to more sales.”

He also shared, “Prospective buyers are feeling the double whammy this spring of inventory that’s down 9.0 percent from a year ago and price appreciation that’s much faster than any rise they’ve likely seen in their income.”

The projected forecast does not show much evidence of the inventory situation changing. Homebuilding activity has not increased enough to meet the demand while there are not many homeowners listing for sale.

“The unloading of single-family homes purchased by real estate investors during the downturn for rental purposes would also go a long way in helping relieve these inventory shortages,” said Yun. “To date, there are no indications investors are ready to sell. However, they should be mindful of the fact that rental demand will soften as the overall population of young adults starts to shrink in roughly five years.”

Yun predicts that existing home sales will be around 5.64 million this year which is up by 3.5% from last year. The national median existing home price is projected to increase by 5%.

It is certain that the real estate market is being powered by a healthy economy with many looking to jump into it and become homeowners. The difficulty remains much to do with the limited number of homes available on the market making for still a great seller’s market.

Six Ways for Homeowners to Save with Taxes in 2018

Spring is often a time when everyone has taxes at the top of their mind. For some, this can mean making final payments while others will be looking forward to receiving a nice refund check. Whatever your situation may be, one thing we all have in common is we all have to pay taxes. Here are 6 ideas that you can begin doing now so that you can take full advantage when you are preparing your next return.

Home Office – If you don’t have a home office that you work from, you might want to invest in creating an actual home office. Creating an office allows you to take a deduction in various ways. You can do the simple method of $5 per square foot or you can do a percentage of your home’s electric bills and expenses. However, you must use the room regularly and exclusively for work as well as tabulate your expenses by keeping receipts.

Solar Panels – This is one of the few credits left that available to homeowners. “You can take a credit of up to 30%, with no cap, on the equipment and installation costs of solar energy panels and solar water heaters you purchase in 2017,” says Jacob Dayan, partner and co-founder of CommunityTax.com. This equipment must be used to heat water or power your primary or second home and cannot be used for a luxury item like a pool or spa.

HELOC for improvements – If you are thinking of building an addition or doing a bathroom remodel, consider taking out a home equity line of credit. The interest is tax deductible which means that the upgrades can get a lot cheaper.

Home Improvement Receipts – Be sure to keep detailed records of improvements that you make to your home. Significant improvements like a kitchen remodel, new roof or furnace can be used against your capital gains taxes you may pay when you sell the home.

Pay Property Tax early – This can work to your advantage for whichever year you may be looking for a larger deduction. For example, you may receive a tax bill in December being due in late January. Pay it in December if you need a large deduction for that year, or pay it in January if you forecast needing a larger deduction in the following year.

Pay Points – If you plan on buying a home this year or refinancing, then you could save on taxes in terms of points. Points are also called loan origination fees or discount points which is essentially prepaid interest on the loan. If you are buying a home, then you can deduct them the year you make the purchase of the home. If you are just refinancing, then you can deduct them over the life of the new loan.

4 Great Reasons To Buy this Spring

Everyone who is debating to purchase of a home will often pay close attention to the market and wonder when is the best time to buy. As we are far into 2017, the real estate market has proven to be of good health and all signs point to now being a prime time to make your purchase. Here are 4 of the top reasons why now is a great time to make your move.

Mortgage rates on the rise
Mortgage rates have been staying around the 4% mark for the average 30 year mortgage lately. However, many authorities such as NAR, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and The Mortgage Bankers Association are all predicting that rates will increase by at least a half of a percentage point by this time next year. The bottom line is that the higher the rate, the more your monthly payment is going to be which can affect what you can afford for your new home.

Home prices are rising
In a recent report by CoreLogic, home prices have risen by nearly 7% over the last 12 months. This same report estimates the trend to continue by nearly 5% over the next year. Overall, we see appreciation happening in nearly all major markets so waiting any longer doesn’t make sense.

You are paying anyway
Some people are hesitant to make a purchase as they fear the responsibility of a mortgage. However, unless you live with someone you know for free, everyone is paying a mortgage whether it is their own or their landlord’s. When you own a property then your monthly payments are more or less a forced savings as you build equity in your home. You can utilize this equity later on or enjoy mortgage free living when your loan is fully paid.

The time has come in your life
The cost of a home will be affected by two major things – the price of the home and what the mortgage rate is. Both are on the rise so entering into the game sooner will be better. Additionally, mortgages come in terms of years so the sooner you begin paying down your mortgage, the sooner you will pay it off and live debt free.

How to Avoid Ruining Your New Yard

Many times homes will be in their best condition when they are put on the market for sale as they need to be presentable. This usually includes everything from the inside out down to the landscaping. However, it is not uncommon that the new owners can make some blunders when it comes to proper yard maintenance. Here is a list of the common mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Not reading instructions. Proper lawn care includes many things from fertilizer and weed control to bug control. Each treatment is very particular for when it is done and how much you use. Make sure to read all instructions thoroughly as to not damage your lawn or potentially harm kids or pets.

Irrigation. Keeping your lawn well watered is important for its longevity. However, watering it just enough to get it wet won’t cut it as ideally the soil should be moist 6 inches deep. A good strategy is to time how long you are watering and then take a shovel and check the soil to see how long it takes to get it moist 6 inches deep.

Improper Fertilization. Much like bug control or weed killer, there is such thing as applying too much fertilizer. Using too much can cause serious damage resulting in burning or killing grass and plants while runoff water can cause algae to grow.

Grass cutting. Don’t cut your lawn too short. This can help push the time in between mowings, but it can be a recipe for a brown lawn.

Weed killer. Weed killer is supposed to be used in smaller areas and not doused on your entire lawn in mass amounts. This can kill everything and lead to planting a whole new lawn.

Trimming and pruning. Branches can grow to areas that need to be trimmed back, but cutting at random is not the way to do it. Make sure you do your trimming where the trunk and branch come together and leave a bump. This bump will often allow the plant to recover from the cuts.

Planting strategy. If you want a landscaped yard with many plantings than that can be possible, however, don’t plant bushes and flowers too close to one another. Plants need room to grow and being too close can rob them of necessary nutrients and potentially lead to death.

Pet damage. It is tempting to allow pets to relieve themselves wherever they want in the yard. However, eventually you may notice patches of dead grass and damaged plants. If you can’t train your pet to go in one area, limit them to a run so they are confined to use just one particular section of your yard.

A Helpful Checklist for Buying a Home

The purchase of a home takes some big decision making and thoughtful planning. Long before you get to the point when you write an offer, there are many things that you will need to do in preparation. Here is a list of necessary items to do as you get yourself prepared.

Your credit
Before you make any big moves you will want to be sure your credit is solid. A good credit score is important as it will dictate your ability to get financing for the new home. There are select services online that let you to check your credit or you can typically check it directly with one of the major credit bureaus. Another option is to check it when you reach out to a mortgage lender as they will pull your report.

Fix credit if necessary
If your credit needs work then addressing issues immediately is best. Sometimes there can be bad information or mistakes on your report so check to be sure there is no false info or reportings on yours.

Estimate what you can afford
Start to get an idea of what you can afford so you can see what that will buy you. There are online calculators for mortgages that help give you an idea of your monthly payment. Don’t forget to add in homeowner’s insurance, taxes, association fees and PMI if you are putting less than 20% down.

Connect with a mortgage agent
To get a firm grasp on what you can spend on your next home, contact a mortgage lender. A lender will pull your credit report, check the available rates, mortgage products and consider your income to provide you with how much you can afford for your new home.

Obtain pre-approval letter
Once your lender tells you what you can afford they will also provide you with a pre-approval letter. This is an important thing to have when submitting your offer as it will show sellers that you are serious and financially sound to make the purchase.

Down payment
To avoid primary mortgage insurance (PMI) and get better a rate, putting down 20% is best. For most homes that can be a substantial amount so there are other options for putting down less. Regardless, saving your money is important as there are always other moving expenses and incidentals to pay for.

Work with a real estate agent
A local real estate agent will be your best resource for finding the perfect home. They will provide you with information on active listings as well as give you advice when it comes time to make an offer. We can service you locally, but if you are looking to relocate it would be our pleasure to locate a trusted realtor in your future destination.

How to Prepare for Refinancing Your Home

If it is time to either lower the interest rate on your mortgage or if you are thinking of doing a significant renovation, then it may be wise to consider refinancing your home. Before you contact a mortgage broker, consider these tips for getting prepared.

Calculate the Math

Be sure to assess your budget and overall finances before you refinance. A mortgage calculator online can help, but there are other things to take into consideration. Consider the loan term in the number of years and your age for when you plan on retiring. Opting for a 30 year loan may not be a great move if you are closer than that to retirement. There are other loan terms and packages like a 15 year mortgage term which may be more appropriate. Just make note that this will be a higher monthly payment due to the shorter term.

Check Your Credit Score

The three credit bureaus include Experian, TransUnion and Equifax and Federal law allows you to check your credit report once per year at no cost to you. It is a good idea to check your credit annually so you get learn your credit’s strengths and weaknesses. This will also give you the opportunity to fix any errors that may be on the report which can help you improve your score.

Financial Preparation

Lenders will want to know that you have credit available so paying down your debt is best. It is also a good idea to increase your savings so that you have a few months of living expenses in case of a job loss or the like. Even if you are not able to have a lot of money in savings, a refinance still can be a good option. Speak with your lender about your whole situation and they will help decide what is best.

Your Home’s Value

Lenders will want to see that you owe less than 80% of your home’s value on your existing loan. An appraisal will be conducted to obtain a fair market value. Before you embark on this process you may want to estimate yourself what your home is valued at by looking up recent sales of similar homes in your area.

Research Mortgage Lenders

Unless there is a good reason not to use your current lender, they would be the best place to start. Most mortgage lenders will want to retain your business so they will usually match the lowest rates that are available. In the end, be sure to do your own homework on rates and shop around so that you know you are get the best deal.

Pending Home Sales Recently Increase

As your real estate resource, The Mendosa-Balboni Team is pleased to share the latest trends in the market. According to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales have sprung to their highest level in nearly a year and second-highest level in over a decade. Positive activity was found widespread with all major regions having experienced healthy gains in activity.

The Pending Home Sales Index has displayed a large increase of 5.5% to 112.3 in February up from 106.4 in January. This surge was 2.6% higher than last year and is the highest point since April of 2016 and the second highest since May of 2006.

NAR chief economist, Lawrence Yun, shared that the increase in activity is a sign that spring market is nearly upon us. “Buyers came back in force last month as a modest, seasonal uptick in listings were enough to fuel an increase in contract signings throughout the country,” he said. “The stock market’s continued rise and steady hiring in most markets is spurring significant interest in buying, as well as the expectation from some households that delaying their home search may mean paying higher interest rates later this year. Last month being the warmest February in decades also played a role in kick-starting prospective buyers’ house hunt.”  

Yun anticipates there to be ebbs and flows this spring market as the supply is challenged to meet demand. Homes are going under agreement at a very fast pace particularly in the lower and mid price range markets. Housing stock is still thin and prices are escalating due to multiple offer situations.

“The homes most buyers are in the market for are unfortunately the most difficult to find and ultimately buy,” said Yun. “The country’s healthy labor market is translating to greater job security, but affordability is not improving because home prices in some areas are still outpacing incomes by three times or more because of tight supply. How much new and existing inventory there is on the market this spring will determine if sales can reach their full potential and finally start reversing the nation’s low homeownership rate.”   

Looking further into the year, existing home sales are expected to be around 5.57 million which is an increase of 2.3% from 2016. Despite prices, the median existing home sale price is expected to rise by 4%.

More details from the Pending Home Sales Index by region of the United States in February were as follows. The Northeast had an increase of 3.4% to 102.1 while the Midwest rose by 11.4% to 110.8. The South increased by 4.3% to 127.8 and the West went up by 3.1% to 97.5. In total, all major markets are showing great signs of activity.

Home Improvement Projects for Going Green this Spring

It is not uncommon that many homeowners think that improving the environmental friendliness of their home is out of reach financially. However, the reality is that there are still several things that you can do that actually save you money over time. The Mendosa – Balboni Team is pleased to share some ideas of things you can do at various budgets.

Light bulbs – LED light bulbs have gone down in cost over the past few years. Although they are still more expensive, the energy cost savings over time can make these a smart buy. Also, the greenhouse emissions that are diminished make them an environmentally responsible option. Consider switching your home’s bulbs over even if by one bulb at a time.

HVAC Ducts – Heating and cooling energy can be lost due to loose seals in your home’s duct work. Sealing the ducts can be pretty inexpensive and an easy thing to do yourself that can save you up to $100 per year in energy bills.

Replacing fixtures – Water heating is usually the 2nd biggest energy expense so updating your fixtures can help you save. A low flow or energy savings option for a showerhead will save you on both heating the water and on your water bill. Consider low flow faucets and toilets to increase efficiency and your savings.

Landscaping –  With spring approaching, so is the time to clean up your landscaping. Consider implementing drip systems for your flower beds and gardens. Seek alternate materials other than large grass areas that require less watering and are drought resistant or hold in moisture. In the end this will help reduce your water consumption and costs.

Window replacement – It can be a costly improvement up front, but a very beneficial upgrade is to replace your windows with energy efficient models. Some estimates have indicated that double-paned windows can reduce heating costs by 15%. More efficient Low E coated windows can even pay for themselves in savings in just a few years.

Solar panels – There are government sponsored tax rebates that make solar panels more affordable as they can be costly to purchase. Many will see a great return on adding solar panels to their home, but check with a local professional in the area to assess your home and if it may make sense for the investment.

There are many options for all different budgets. Begin today with green improvements and feel good about the environment while you work towards energy savings.

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