2018 Hurricane Season started June 1st until November 31st 2018. Here are some tips to prepare for the hurricane season. TIP: Don't wait until last minute when there isn't enough time and everything is gone.
The Hurricane Season started this Friday, June 1st 2018. They added 3 more days to the tax saving holiday this year and it will now last until the 7th. This is the perfect opportunity to prepare yourself with some necessities, whether you are staying or will try to leave during a storm, these can be useful anyway.
You should try to be self-suffient for at least 3-4 days depending on how long power outages last and delivery schedules. Florida was directly hit by Hurricane Hermine in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017. Stock up on some necessities.
Some items you may want to focus on purchasing are flashlights, batteries, fuel containers (filled with gas of course), coolers with reusable ice packs, generator, and plenty of bottles water. You may also want to buy enough charcoal so you can still cook, if the power is out for several days, on your charcoal grill. Coolers should be primarily used for the most important items, such as meats, dairy, etc. Having plenty of bottled water certainly won't be a negative thing. :)
You may decide to evacuate if there are warnings of a particularly bad storm, such as Hurricane Irma, but make sure you plan ahead. Don't wait until the last minute to fuel your cars or buy food and such. Plan ahead as much in advance as possible, you'll thank yourself later.
The forecast for the Hurricane Season is slightly above average, according to meteorologists. This is not a need to be afraid, the media thrives on "fear porn". Plan ahead just in case, and you should be ok.
Any questions? Let me know. I am also a full time Realtor in the Fort Lauderdale area. Contact me anytime. Email: Soldbyfoster@gmail.com
Check out the Air & Water show in Fort Lauderdale this weekend! May 5th & May 6th 2018. May 5-6, 2018 • Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida
Presented by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau
Check out the Air Show Displays Open
This event is on May 6, 2018 9:00 am
The Ford Lauderdale Air Show displays and exhibits located on State Road A1A north of Sunrise Blvd will feature simulators, interactive exhibits, and much more. The displays will be open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
There will be parking to the event at the Galleria Mall on Sunrise Blvd will be offering parking for $20 on a first come, first served basis. You can also take an Uber/Lyft/Cab to the event.
All Performers will be performing, LOL, Saturday May 5th & Sunday May 6th from approx 12:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. Coolers are allowed on the beach, however, no alcohol. They have advised that beach umbrellas are OK, but tents and such are not allowed.
Here is a map of the event and where there is available parking.
Here are some frequently asked questions available at their website at Fortlauderdaleshow.com
Frequently Asked Questions
Hey, my name is Martin, and I have been a Realtor for over 7 years. I wanted to share several tips that I have learned over the years, that might make your home search a better experience.
Everyone is so busy these days and often find it difficult to balance life and then add the home search process to that busy schedule. I want to offer a few tips that will give you the best chance in finding your dream home and also help minimize the time that you spend on your search.
Searching through properties online and visiting the homes in person is usually the most time consuming processes that you will encounter. When you work with a good real estate agent, things like negotiating and filtering out properties will be taken off of your plate for the most part.
Alright, let's get into the 5 tips to making your home search more efficient.
1) Mortgage Pre-Approval.
I know you have heard this one before. When you get pre-approved for a mortgage at the start of your home search, you get a chance to figure out how much of a home you will qualify for and get a glimpse at what your monthly payment could be. The very first step, before you actually visit homes in person, is to contact a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage.
This will count as an inquiry on your credit, but it will need to be done anyway. When you go over the numbers with your mortgage professional, you get in depth knowledge of what you're qualified for and what your monthly obligations will be. This will also help you in your home search because you will learn what type of mortgage is best for you. There are Conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, FHA 203k renovation loans, Homepath loans, conventional renovation loans, etc. The list goes on and on. A few questions to ask yourself are: Do I want a single family home or a condo? How much of the total cost of the house can I afford to put down? For example, an FHA loan requires 3.5% down payment on the loan, which is one of the lowest down payments you can put on a home. FHA might be a great option but there are a few trade offs. A few of the trade offs are a monthly mortgage insurance premium (typically on any loan less than 20% down payment), majority of Condos are NOT FHA approved or their approval has expired, and the fact that many sellers will prefer a buyer with a conventional loan because FHA has stricter guidelines.
Is that a lot of info? There is a lot more and could take a whole article by itself. Consult with a mortgage professional for the best options for you.
2) Find a Real Estate Agent that cares!
Choosing a real estate agent is a very important part of the process. There are many of us out here. So how do you choose who to work with? Online reviews can be one option. But even more importantly, you will want to work with a Realtor whom is going to take your home search seriously and be able to communicate with you in a timely manner. You don't want to be searching for a home, find the perfect home for your family, and then have to wait a few days for the Realtor to respond, right? Right!
Real estate agents not only have knowledge of the areas, but with the technology today, we can often learn a neighborhood within a few hours, which used to take years. Even more important than knowledge of a particular neighborhood is the real estate agent's knowledge of the actual process and their negotiation technique. What good is a real estate agent if they cannot articulate your offer to the seller?
3) Narrow Your Home Search.
Searching for a home can definitely be confusing and overwhelming. Do you know what neighborhoods you want to focus on? If you don't, this can certainly help you a lot in your home search.
Take a look around the home you currently live in. How do you like the layout? Are the bedrooms a good size for you? If your current bedroom is a 10' x 10' and that's way too small for you, then you probably don't want to visit a home for sale that has the same size bedroom, right? Have you thought about exposure? Do you want the front of your home to face south? East? West? North?
There are many things to consider. Many times when one of my clients send me a dozen homes, I'll help them go through the list before we even schedule to go there in person. Many things can be overlooked. A Realtor, like myself, is used to looking at data, photos, and maps online. We can often analyze a property and compare it to the criteria we learned from you.
Also, please don't say, " I'll buy anywhere. Any town, condo or house, etc." You'll be quickly overwhelmed with hundreds of properties to sort through.
4) Plan your day and be available.
From my experience, most showings will take 20 - 30 minutes per house with travel time. Every situation is different of course. Unless you are visiting 5 listings in the same condo, which would take a lot less time, you want to make sure that you are able to visit those properties. I go by this simple rule of thumb, if you are in a house for less than 5 - 10 minutes, it probably means you don't like it. However, if you spend more than 20 - 30 minutes in a house, this might be a good fit for you.
So, once you find a home, and put in a winning purchase contract with your real estate agent, there is paperwork to do. There are several events that you will need to make yourself available for. these include paperwork (Although many of us can save you time by sending it to you to sign electronically), inspections, and closing. The faster documents can be signed, mortgage documents sent to the lender, and inspection scheduled, the faster your process can be completed.
Please keep in mind that there are a number of listings here in south Florida that do require about a 24 hour notice to show a property.
5) Don't buy ANYTHING!!!
Your mortgage professional will probably warn you of this, but I'm going to give you a heads up too. Don't buy Anything! Don't make any large purchases until AFTER the closing on your new home. There, don't say I never told you so.
Having new credit inquiries or debt to income ratio changes can absolutely sabotage your home search. Don't go to your favorite furniture store in Florida and charge all that new furniture on your credit card. Don't go buy or lease another vehicle, do not take out a new credit card or loan. Do not do it.
Just because you get a pre-approval letter does not mean you are in the clear. Just because you get a clear to close from your mortgage company, does NOT mean you are clear (well yes it does, but sort of not. HaHaHa.) Sometimes the lender will have to do another credit pull just before closing, even after the clear to close they can do it. All i'm saying is Don't Do It. LOL. :)
During the home buying process you want to be mindful of what you spend and what can negatively impact your credit score. Also, understand that getting a "credit score" through credit karma or other online tools, does not always mean it is a FICO score. Many of them are the"Advantage Score". FICO is what is used by most financial institutions. If your credit profile is altered before closing, it could cause an increase in the interest rate you will pay throughout the life of the loan or dismantle the deal altogether.
Thanks for reading! If you found this info helpful or have any other questions, feel free to email me at Soldbyfoster@gmail.com.
Foster Group Real Estate
Fort Lauderdale, FL
This is a topic that I wish we did not have to talk about, but it is reality. I will go over a few "extremes" but it is not meant for people to be overly paranoid about everything. Some of these tips you may find helpful and are fairly easy to implement. Many will not seem too likely and are only used in certain cases, such as when you go out of town. Let's go over a few and comment below any ideas of your own.
1) Home Security System:
I'm not just talking about a home alarm system that you can purchase and pay a monthly service fee to. These are very helpful and definitely recommend if you can afford it, however, many people cannot afford those. There are many other things you can do in with or without a professional home alarm service.
2) When you go out of town:
3) Surveillance Cameras:
5) Bonus Tips:
I know, some of these tips may be a little over the top. This is not a suggestion to live a paranoid life, just be aware of certain things. It is much better to take simple but intentional precautions than to deal with a problem as a result of being careless. If you found this helpful, let me know your thoughts.
Foster Group Real Estate
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Homeless Veterans To Get Some Relief. Florida To Receive $$567,928 To Provide Permanent Residence For Vets.
Finally, veterans that are homeless will get some relief! The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs have announg that 325 local public housing agencies will receive aid to help homeless veterans.
The housing choice voucher will help veterans obtain decent affordable housing in the private real estate market. HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson said, "Our nation's veterans deserve more than a life on the streets. There is no greater responsibility than to end veteran homeless and to make certain that those who have served our nation have a home that they can call their own."
The supportive housing assistance announced is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA.
Homeless veterans are assessed by VA medical centers before they are referred to local housing agencies for vouchers.
This is definitely a start to start helping our homeless veterans.
Here's the list of Florida agencies that will be receiving funding thus far:
Pasco County Housing Authority – Tampa – $217,871
Tallahassee Housing Authority – North Florida/South Georgia Health Care System – $18,272
West Palm Beach Housing Authority – West Palm Beach – $72,039
Alachua County Housing Authority – North Florida/South Georgia Health Care System – $38,701
FloridaIndian River County Board of County Commissioners – West Palm Beach – $15,001
Citrus County Housing Services Division – North Florida/South Georgia Health Care System – $14,831
City of Pensacola Housing Authority – V16/Gulf Coast Health Care System – $34,437
Ocala Housing Authority – North Florida/South Georgia Health Care System – $13,302
Palatka Housing Authority – North Florida/South Georgia Health Care System – $16,092
Flagler County Housing Authority – North Florida/South Georgia Health Care System – $18,643
Gainesville Housing Authority – North Florida/South Georgia Health Care System – $18,447
Hernando County Housing Authority – Tampa – $59,628
Housing Authority of the City of Jacksonville – North Florida/South Georgia Health Care System – $30,664
Florida Total – $567,928
The american dream of home ownership. While most people would love to own a home, there are some pros and cons.
Owning a home rather than renting your home does have some pretty sweet advantages, but some of the responsibilities can often times be bittersweet.
1) Bills never end. I mean never.
Well, bills don't end no matter if you rent or buy a home. But, there are certainly more responsibilities when you own a home versus rent a home. When you are renting a home you are typically just responsible for paying the rent and utilities. When you own a home, you will need to pay taxes, mortgage, any repairs and maintenance, home owner insurance vs renter insurance.
When you own a home, you are responsible for the roof, landscaping, appliances, a/c, furnace, and any other main functions of a house that the landlord would usually pay for if you were renting.
2) You're stuck there, whether the market gets better or worse.
You can't just up and move once your lease is up. That house is yours up until the time you sell the house and hopefully have enough equity in the home to make a profit, or at least break even after paying the costs associated with selling a home.
If you move to another area, or start a new career, it might be a good idea to rent for a while first, so that you can get to know the area and get a feel for your lifestyle.
3) Tax breaks when you own your home.
This is the part where I tell you to double check with your cpa. :). There are some tax advantages to owning a home. One of them is the mortgage interest deduction, this is the interest that you pay on your monthly mortgage payment, there is a deduction for that. Some other tax deductions are the property tax, upgrades that are energy efficient, and home office deductions.
The current tax law also gives a break to capital gains when you end up selling your home. There are some minor restrictions that you might want to check first. However, there is a $250,000 exemption for single and $500,000 exemption if you are married. This means that you won't have to pay taxes if you bought the home for $300,000 and sold it for $350,000. This is an important tax exemption when you go to sell your house.
4) Do whatever you want! The house is yours.
Unlike renting a property, owning a home means that you can virtually do any modifications that you want. When you rent a home, you will need to have the permission of the owner to make modifications to the house. This can be as simple as painting the walls to renovating the kitchen. Feel free to make the house exactly how you want it to be. That's really cool!
5) Pride of ownership.
Buying a home feels great! It's nice to know that you actually own the home you live in. You don't have to worry about moving if you don't want to or the landlord putting the house up for sale just when you start to get comfortable. You can plant your feet down, modify the house to your liking, get to know the neighbors well, and get involved in your local community.
Paying rent is usually more expensive than paying to mortgage, taxes, insurance, and interest on a home. Instead of paying the landlords mortgage when you rent, you'll be paying down your own mortgage and hopefully building some great equity along the way. When you pay rent, you don't build any equity and instead, just help the landlord pay down the property that they own.
Hope this helps!
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me.
Everyone wants to get a good deal right? Of Course! We all look for when anything is on "Sale". Black friday is after all, a huge day for consumers to shop.
When the market is HOT, like it is right now, it can often be much harder to get a bargain on the home you want to purchase. When there is a lack of inventory on the market, that usually diminishes the buyer's negotiation leverage. It's not impossible to get what you want, just know that you may not be able to get a "steal".
Spring market is upon us and this is when most people start looking to buy their first home or to upgrade into a larger home. There's often a fine balance between beating the competition when looking for a home, and getting the price and terms that you want. Just be prepared that you may need to offer full price (sometimes over list price) on those high activity homes in a desirable location.
Here are 4 reasons why YOUR deal may backfire on you.
1) Low balling your offer to the seller.
If you are visiting a home with your real estate agent and you see that there are other people waiting to see the home or many agent business cards inside the home, chances are that there may be a bidding war. Sometimes sellers will intentionally price their home on the lower end of the fair market value to generate high interest and competition. If a home is overpriced for the local market, it will likely just sit there with no offers, and very few showings.
It is important to get pre-approved for a mortgage and discuss the monthly payment you will be comfortable with, as well as qualify for. This will help you get prepared for when you do actually make an offer on a home for sale. In this highly active south Florida real estate market, it is almost certain that you will experience multiple offer situations. If you really love a home and aren't want to make sure that you have the best chance of being the winning offer, don't clutter up your contract. Cluttering up your contract could mean asking for too many closing cost credit, asking for too much time to close, asking for too many personal items, etc. Keep your contract as simple as possible. The seller will not only look at the price of your contract, but the terms as well.
Some the the contract terms that a seller may find appealing would be a quick closing date, no home to sell contingencies, little to no credits at closing, and even purchasing the home "AS IS". Ask your Realtor to send a nice personal email with your offer introducing you to the sellers. This can often allow your offer to stand out from the rest.
2) Asking for too many repairs after a home inspection.
It is a great idea to hire professional home inspectors before you actually close on a home. However, don't ask the seller to fix every little thing that is wrong with the home. The truth is, every home is going to have many little things wrong with it. Focus on the health and safety issues, very expensive projects like the roof, and you should be fine.
When a buyer starts asking for a long list of repairs to be made by the seller, that can usually cause your deal to be dead. Especially if the seller has back up offers or are confident that they can easily get another offer from a buyer.
3) Don't assume you will get an REO or a Short Sale for dirt cheap!
Many foreclosures, REO in Realtor lingo, will need some work done. Although the "TLC" could be mostly cosmetic, you may assume that you can really get this property for much less than the asking price. Sometimes this is true, but keep in mind, most distressed properties are already listed lower than the average market price.
Short sales and foreclosure properties are almost always sold "AS IS", when I say "almost" i mean 98.68%. I made that up. This just means that the bank has decided that they have already listed the property low enough that the buyer should assume any repairs associated with the property and if it is a short sale, the seller most likely does not have the extra cash to make those repairs. You can still have a professional home inspection done, buying a home AS IS does not mean that you are not allowed to have a professional home inspection completed. The AS IS clause just means that you shouldn't expect the seller to repair anything or give you credits on the contract.
4) It's smart to work with a Realtor.
Some people think that they can possibly save a few bucks if they go directly to the seller rather than working with a buyer's agent. This is almost always not the case. The commission is not a cost that is typically paid for by the buyer. The seller pays that out of their proceeds. If you decide to go without your own agent, the seller's agent will get that commission anyways, although it could be at a small discount to the seller, you are not going to get professional representation.
So now that we got the cost of professional real estate agent service out of the way, let's talk about navigating the real estate transaction. Although we are not real estate attorneys, we help coordinate many aspects of a home sale. From the negotiation of the contract and terms, to inspection items, making sure title work is done, market knowledge, and making sure all the little details are taken care of during the process.
Everyone thinks that they can just go online, to a website and pull up comparable sales and analyze properties that way, but they don't have as much information as real estate agents have available to them. A few buyers also think they are master negotiators when buying their first property or even several properties. The reality is, a real estate agent like myself have hundreds of hours of real estate training and various tools. We have professional training in managing real estate transactions, negotiating, property issues, etc. Not only do we have the training and tools, we have EXPERIENCE. Experience paired with knowledge is unbeatable. You want a great real estate agent on your team. We do more than just open lock boxes.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or if I can help in any way, please feel free to reach out to me. I can be reached at Soldbyfoster@gmail.com.
Foster Group Real Estate, LLC
Realtor, GRI, SRS, SFR
Relocating to another state can be a complicated and stressful endeavor. I'm going to go over a few tips and ideas that I experienced myself, moving from Illinois to Florida. You may want to leave your current state or move to another city in your state for a variety of reasons. You may be fed up with the weather where you live, maybe it is too cold, cloudy, hot,, etc. The taxes might be too high or you might want to move closer to family and friends (or move farther away. haha.)
1) Save up some cash!
Moving can be very expensive. You'll need to plan for a moving truck, trailers to take your car, maybe hire a moving company, down payment on a new house or a rental property. You also need to keep in mind some expenses that you normally wouldn't think about. Make sure you have at least a few hundred dollars set aside to switch your driver license and your car registration/license plates to the new state. Here in Florida, I paid about $500 to get my Florida driver license and switch over my suv to Florida auto tags. Some utility companies may also require a deposit if you are moving to a new area. I had many utility accounts in Illinois, however, the water company here in Florda wanted about $200 in deposit. If you don't have a job position lined up before you move, you may need to put some extra money towards rent.
2) Research! Research! Research!
Moving to another area or another state can bring on a lot of uncertainty. It is important to do as much research as possible when moving to another area. You will want to know how the job market is, the taxes, the atmosphere, the weather, the home prices, the rental prices, insurance costs, the local restaurants and entertainment activities, maybe even the crime levels. The absolute best way to learn about an area is to actually take a trip there and actually do some exploring. I would recommend a minimum or 3 -4 days of actually exploring. Don't just go for a weekend, go to a few restaurants, and then believe you know enough about the area to actually move there. There is a plethora of information available online through websites and videos, it's just not the same as actually getting on the ground and seeing the area for yourself.
3) How do you find employment?
The ideal situation would be to land a job before you make the big move. This can be difficult if you are not physically present. Are you prepared to make multiple trips for job interviews if you get them? It can get quite expensive taking multiple flights, paying for hotels, car rentals or taxi services. Recruiters from companies may not always wait for you to group interviews together. Some may be willing to do phone and video interviews first, just don't count on that too often. There are usually dozens of people applying to job postings, at the least. It is beneficial to make sure your resume and cover letter are well done and will stand out to companies. Some companies might also be wary on hiring someone from out of town, especially over a local with similar qualifications. Obtaining employment out of state can certainly be difficult, don't let that stop you!
4) How to find a place to live when you are out of state.
One of the services that I offer as a Realtor, to out of town clients, is that I can go to available properties and send clients a video and photos of a property, so they get a better feel for it. It's really difficult to get a feel for a home by only looking at photos online. Get in touch with a Realtor that will make sure they are available for you, to see homes as soon as possible. It doe not make financial sense for you to book a trip every time a possible home comes on the market. You may just need to put in an application without actually visiting a home in person. Even if you are able to book a flight right away, the property may be gone by the time you can get there. Buying a home out of state will usually require you to have a lot of cash saved up OR to have a job lined up in order to get a mortgage, that's if you plan to purchase a home. A smart option would be to rent for a year or two before deciding to purchase a home in your new city.
Getting a rental can be challenging as well. Be prepared to have a credit, background, and eviction report pulled (Possibly one of these, all 3, or even more). Landlords may also want to see bank statements,, pay stubs, tax returns, and proof of a job offer. This can be different in each situation and landlords usually have there own requirements, some might be less strict with their requirements.
5) Setting up your new life.
Now that you have hopefully found employment, got a rental under contract, and planned out your move, it's time to hit the road. I had sold my house with the furniture. It did not make sense for me to spend thousands and do all that work to transfer all of my furniture. I just packed up what I could take, put my dogs in the back seat, and filled up with gas tank. That might be an option you want to consider, unless you have a lot of expensive furniture. Just renting a moving truck with a trailer for your car will likely cost thousands of dollars.
Getting to know your area can take some time. You may want to meet people, for that I recommend looking for local groups and getting involved in community activities. If you plan to visit family and friends in the state you came from, you'll have to set aside some money to do that now. Moving to a new state is not easy, especially if your funds are limited. If you really focus, you can get it done.
If you have any questions or know someone that may want to move to Florida, please email me at Soldbyfoster@gmail.com I would be happy to help.
Foster Group Real Estate, LLC
Some Florida residents are still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma that occurred in September 2017. Approximately 37% of the claims filed with the insurance company, have been reopened. This has been since the hurricane to mostly allow policy holders to submit documentation regarding their claim. The estimated damage amounts have been a total of almost $8 Billion.
Citizens' representatives can be reached to answer questions and address concerns by calling the Citizens Claims Resolution Unit at 866-411-2742, ext. 7794, or by emailing ResolutionUnit@citizensfla.com.
Citizens has paid out over $600 million in closed insurance claims so far. Most of the claims that are still open likely have to do with disputes over repair costs or documents still needed. A little over half of the cases have been closed with payments. Some claims are not satisfied because the damage does not exceed the total cost of repairs from Hurricane Irma.
It is important to not only have coverage for windstorms in Florida, but to also consult with your insurance professional and confirm the details of your coverage. If you live in a condo, you will want to check with your home insurance provider on your "loss assessment" coverage, actually in any association. The loss assessment insurance is in the event that the Condo association or Homeowner association is not covered for certain things, to help you reclaim most of the special assessment that you are charged as the homeowner.
Looking to buy a home in Florida or have any questions? Give me a call at 954-646-8778.
It's Spring time! Here in south Florida, that means that the HOT weather is right around the corner. :) Whether you are thinking about selling your home or staying there for a while, these 5 tips for spring maintenance will enhance your home regardless.
These tips will be especially useful if you will be listing your home for sale. However, some of these tips should be done anyway, to keep your home in top condition.
1) Yes, Spring Cleaning.
I'm sure you keep your home generally clean. This is a good time to really do some deep cleaning, particularly areas that don't always get attention. Now is a great time to pull out your appliances and do some good cleaning behind them. Pull out things like the refrigerator and the oven. Food, pet hair, dust, etc can still get behind these items. It is best to do this more than once every spring (maybe do this quarterly?) Clean out that attic, clean the inside and outside of all your windows and doors, and tackle those ceiling fans and window blinds. Clean out the gutters, have the driveway and/or the roof power washed, and clean out/organize your cabinets and drawers. Sorry for making such a large list, now get to work.
2) Home Maintenance.
You haven't changed out the filters in your furnace and A/C in a while have you. I knew it. These ideally should be changed or cleaned every quarter at a minimum, ideally once a month. Step outside and take a look at your home overall. How's the landscaping look? Look for any damage outside of your home and inside, this would be a good time to address anything that needs to be fixed. Get those home projects started that you've been putting off for a while. Take a weekend and paint your home.
3) Organize & Minimize Your Closets And Other Storage.
How many items of clothing are in your closet that you don't ever wear? Now might be the time to donate those items to free up some space. Go through your attic and other storage to figure out what items you don't need anymore. Now is a great time to hold a garage sale! If you are selling your home, you will thank me later. Getting rid of clothing and other items that you no longer use, will make packing and moving 10x easier on you. You'll feel better getting rid of some of the clutter, and even better if you are donating some of the items to people who are in need. There are other methods to get rid of extra items, including furniture. Post some items on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Let Go, and apps like Next Door.
4) Curb appeal.
How does your home look on the outside? Now is a good time to not only do some power washing, but to also tend to your garden. If you live in up north, then you know how the winter can take a toll on your landscaping. Here is Florida, you might want to look at getting your yard ready for the annual plantings. Get a corn broom to sweep off your driveway and patios. Did I mention cleaning those dirty windows? You'll feel so clean because your house is clean, you know, kinda like how you feel when you get your car clean.
Don't just organize your closets and kitchen cabinets, organize everything! Yes! Go through your drawers, cabinets, paperwork, and de-clutter your office space. Get all your paperwork ready to file taxes too. Did I mention actually cleaning out the inside of your fridge and microwave?
There are a few tips for spring cleaning. If you have any questions about getting your home ready for the market, please contact me at Soldbyfoster@gmail.com. I would love to answer any questions you may have.
It's time for you to get out of that rental and finally buy your first home. Here are a few tips to consider when preparing to buy your first home. First time homebuyers have a very exciting, and sometimes stressful process. Remember, knowledge is power and having an intelligent real estate agent is very helpful as well.
These tips will help you have the most pleasant home buying experience possible. There are steps that you can take to have a smooth experience.
Save for a downpayment and determine how much you would be comfortable paying each month:
Conventional loans with 20% down are the standard type of mortgage and money down to avoid paying a mortgage premium insurance. Getting a mortgage with less than 20% equity in the home will result in the need to pay mortgage insurance each month. A lower mortgage amount will result in a lower monthly payment amount as well. There are many other financing options that you can discuss with your preferred lender. FHA is a very popular mortgage option because you can get into a home with as little as 3.5% down.
Determine what you would like your monthly payment to look like. If you are paying $1,500 per month for rent and you don't want to pay much more than that per month for your new home, be mindful of things like purchase price, property taxes, insurance cost, and your monthly interest amount. Interest on your mortgage is different than a mortgage premium insurance as discussed above. The best way to calculate what your estimated monthly payment amount will be is to calculate the proposed purchase price over a 30 year term (which is the most popular option as opposed to the 15 year term), what your APR will be each year based on what your total mortgage amount will be. For example; if the mortgage amount is $200,000 ($160,000 after the 20% down payment) and the interest on your mortgage is 4%, then the yearly interest you will pay is about $6,400 or divide that by 12 months to get your monthly payment ($6,400/12 = $533 per month). Principal is easy to calculate, just divide the purchase price by your loan term (30 year mortgage for $160,000 would be $5,333 per year. Or $444 per month for principal). Now that we have Principal & INterest for a total of $977 per month, it's time to add taxes and insurance. Let's say the taxes are $3,000 per year, that's about $250 per month. Insurance, depending on where you are located, can be somewhere around $100 per month. So now we have a basic estimate of what your monthly payment will be. (Principal=$444. Interest=$533. Taxes=$250. Insurance=$100. Total P.I.T.I is $1,327). Not too bad right? This is based on putting 20% down and getting a conventional mortgage for a 30 year term. Your monthly payment will change depending on factors such as down payment, taxes, insurance amount, and purchase price.
When you are thinking about buying a home, you might want to check your credit to get an idea on what kind of mortgage programs and rates you will qualify for. Many credit card companies offer a free look at your FICO score each month without doing a "hard credit pull". A hard credit pull is what happens when any lending or credit card institution pulls your credit to determine your credit worthiness, which stays on your credit report for several years.
Do NOT open any new credit cards or loans during your home buying process, under any circumstances. This is important because it will not only show up as an inquiry, but could bring your credit score down. This also means not buying furniture or financing it until AFTER closing on your new home. Many people have had their transactions compromised because of new credit activity. Also, of course, do not miss any payments and make sure you are not late on any of your payments. Don't go buy a car either, until after closing.
Determine where you want to live in Florida:
Finding the right city or neighborhood in Florida is just as important as finding the right house. Do you have a certain school district that you want to make sure you are in? This is important to narrow down your search to factors like this. Drive through neighborhoods before buying to check things like traffic, activity, and noise levels. You don't want to buy a house that is right next to train tracks if you know that will bother you. Also check how close amenities are that you use. Is your favorite grocery store close enough to your new house? How close is your favorite barber or doctor office?
These can be important factors in convenience and being happy where you live.
Negotiating your home purchase and not sweating the small stuff:
Just about every home you look at will have things wrong with it. Once you get a professional home inspector in there, you will likely find many things that could be repaired. The important thing is to not worry about things unless they are health and safety issues. Cosmetic aspects are things that can be easy to change and you can update things like paint colors, flooring, fixtures, etc over time.
The things you really want to make sure you are happy with is location, layout, and foundation. Those are the things that you really cannot change. It's not very easy to just pick up your house and move it. :)
Make a strong offer but don't go over budget:
Buying a home, especially your first home, can be a very emotional experience. Sometimes you just absolutely love the location of a home and you might also be crazy about that new kitchen the sellers had put in. That's ok to put in a strong offer in a competitive and inventory limited market. However, don't over extend yourself where you will be struggling to make payments as that will lower your quality of life.
These are a few quick tips about buying a home. There are tons of useful tips and information that I would love to help you with. Give me a call if you are thinking of buying a home in the Fort Lauderdale area. I can be reached at 954-646-8778 or send me an email to Soldbyfoster@gmail.com.
Foster Group Real Estate,
GRI, SRS, SFR
Many people don't know how the two credit rating companies work. First is the one most people have heard of, and that's FICO. FICO stands for "Fair Isaac Corp." they are the ONLY scoring method allowed for mortgages. Vantage score is often used when you get your free credit score through places like Credit Karma. Although it is a legitimate scoring method, a vantage score is currently not very helpful for you if you are looking to purchase a home, get a loan, or credit card. That's not fair right? Well, there are different scoring methods for both. FICO says they should remain the way they are, VantageScore Solutions, LLC says that the process should be more inclusive. Vantage Score aims to broaden the qualifications when scoring a credit background.
A provision was just approved by lawmakers to de-regulate banks and require the the largest mortgage finance companies, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, to be required to consider credit scores other than only a FICO. While vantage score is used in some loan sectors, FICO is the only one that can be used if the loan is going to be sold to Fannie or Freddie (which they hold about half of all mortgages in the United States).
The Federal Housing Finance Agency or FHFA, is reviewing these details. The FHFA regulates both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It's basically up to the FHFA to decide whether a credit scoring method other than FICO will be allowed to be used for Mortgages sold to Fannie and Freddie.
The CEO o Vantagescore Solutions, LLC says that the banks rely on the FICO method which is an out dated method of credit scoring. They also believe that people with very limited credit history should be scored. That might not be such a good idea, especially when dealing with housing. Some members in congress don't agree with the proposed bill. Some lawmakers say that FHFA is put in place to regulate the mortgage process and the process is there for a reason. They make a great claim saying that a balance in credit worthiness is important so loans are not given too freely and end up with more foreclosures.
What do you think? Should FICO's credit scoring method continue to be the only scoring method able to be used when getting a mortgage? I'm fairly neutral on the idea. I do believe that a competing scoring method could be very helpful to many people. However, giving mortgage access to people with very limited credit history could be very risky.
Let me know your thoughts. Any questions? Please feel free to reach out to me at 954-646-8778.
Buying a home is exciting! But finding out issues with the house on your one year anniversary is not so exciting. You want to protect your largest investment with the peace of mind of knowing any hidden issues with the house. So here are 4 reasons why i believe you should most definitely get a home inspection.
Don't rely on looks:
Some of the most gorgeous, well kept homes, can have some serious underlying problems. The sellers might have just had their kitchen remodeled but don't know about a roof leak. Some of the most important aspects of a home are the foundation, plumbing, and electrical. You simply cannot always notice electrical problems or bad wiring from walking through a home. Home inspectors typically will not go that deep in the home inspection and check the wiring inside of walls. However, they can text the outlets and inspect the inside of the electrical box, and often offer insight into any abnormalities that they may find. Home inspectors will also go up into attics to inspect for rodents, water damage, mold, etc. Usually you will not go into the attic, or even want to, when looking at homes. For a few hundred bucks, depending on the size of the home, it's well worth it to hire a professional home inspector.
Peace of mind:
Wouldn't it be nice to know that your whole house has been professionally inspected when you move in? Yes, you will most likely always find out many small things that are wrong with the home that you normally would never notice. It is best to find problems, and potential problems, as early as possible so that they can be repaired without extensive damage done. In South Florida, termites can be an issue for some homeowners. It is important to check for these things so they don't become a problem for you later on. Windstorms are a big concern in the south Florida real estate market, so checking to see if any roof tiles are damaged or loose, would be beneficial. Throughout the home inspection process, this is a good time to ask your inspector for some useful home maintenance tips.
Negotiating with the seller:
So you visited the house with your real estate agent and you absolutely loved it, and you gave the seller a strong offer on the house. However, you may find through the home inspection that the electric box is known to be a faulty brand, or there is mold underneath sinks or in the attic, you can use these things to negotiate with the seller. Typically any "repair" requests to the seller should be in the form of a closing cost credit or ask the seller to repair the damage themselves, before closing. If you are buying with a mortgage, most lenders don't want to see repair items on a contract. It generates a red flag to them about the condition of the property.
Know your home:
During a home inspection, you may learn many smaller issues with the home, which most homes will have a number of items that would be beneficial to fix. The home inspector may advise on the condition and expected useful life of the air conditioner. Now, this might not always be a negotiating tool if it is an "older" a/c or furnace, but it is nice to know so you can budget to replace it a few years down the road. Knowing that in 6 or 7 years you may need to replace the roof, is going to save you frustration, rather than finding out by water dripping into your home or mold growing inside of your home.
There are 4 reasons why getting a home inspection when buying a home could be helpful to you and save you money in the long run. There are more details you need to know about the home buying process in Florida. I work in the Fort Lauderdale area. Things like flood insurance, windstorm insurance coverage, hurricane windows and doors, and the coastal construction control line are things you want to know! As always, please reach out to me at Soldbyfoster@gmail.com or 954.646.8778 with any questions.
Congrats! You've made the decision to put your house on the market (or at least look into it). There are many factors to consider in the process, including who to hire and how to get your home ready to sell.
You are entering a very competitive market, while it is a little bit better for sellers right now, you should still hire a professional Realtor, like myself, to help you get the best results!
Think of it as your "House" instead of your "Home". Let me explain:
You may have many great memories in your current "Home". Maybe it is the first house you purchased with your family, raised kids in the house, remodeled it to suit your personal wants and needs, and maybe you are just comfortable there. To make clear decisions throughout the home selling process, you want to leave most of the emotions out of it. De-personalize your home, this includes taking family photos off of the wall. You want any buyers walking through your home to feel like it is theirs. The last thing you want is buyers walking through your home and to feel like they are taking a home from this happy family.
TLC and maintenance:
Florida is a competitive market, specifically south Florida. A Realtor like myself will have more leverage to negotiate on your behalf if there are things like a new a/c unit, fresh paint, new roof, hurricane windows or hurricane doors, etc. Now would be the time to patch and paint any holes in the walls from family photos. You might want to check and replace broken screens, faucet leaks (check underneath all of your sinks), damaged window blinds, and this is a good time to replace any light bulbs that don't work. Clean your fridge and inside of cabinets, buyers do like to look in those.
Keep your home ready to show:
This can be a challenge, especially if you have pets. It is important to keep your house ready to show, the more accommodating you are with showings will help you get the most potential buyers to see your home. You don't want to have to delay a showing for 24 hours because you need the time to clean your home. Make sure any prescription medications, firearms, jewelry, and cash is safely put away and out of site for showings. Simplify your closets and cabinets so they look much neater and are easy to tidy up.
Hire a competent agent:
There are many ways to choose a real estate agent. You may have a friend that refers an agent to you, you may find one online, some may call you and send mailings to your home. Whichever agents you call, it is important not to just choose an agent because of their large company or brand recognition. The truth is, we all have the same tools. Larger companies typically will hire anyone with a real estate license. This doesn't mean that there aren't great agents with large companies, this just means that that's not where they all are. As a smaller real estate company, I can tell you that if comes down to the individual agent. You want to hire a Realtor that has a good personality because they are going to be representing your home and dealing with the public and the buyer's side. The real estate broker that you hire should be very responsive. Responsiveness is crucial to getting your home sold. I have seen many agents that don't respond promptly to showing requests or offers, it can definitely hurt the sale of your home. You also want the real estate agent that you hire to know the recent sales in your market, attention to detail in paperwork and your listing on the MLS, and professional looking photos and a video tour. I love making videos showcasing a home. It is 2018, virtual tours do not compare at all to HD video tours and social media marketing.
Pricing your home according to the current market value:
Don't listen to Zillow! If I had a dollar for every time someone asked about Zillow zestimate, I would have like a $100. Haha. Realtors, like myself, will sit down with you and review your recent market activity in a comparative market analysis. It is important to compare location and upgrades in other homes on the market. It you overprice your home, it will not matter what kind of fancy marketing that a real estate agent does for your home, people won't see it. Strategic pricing is imperative to getting your home sold for the highest amount of money without having your home on the market for a year. Email me with any further questions about getting your home ready for the market Soldbyfoster@gmail.com
Hire a cleaning crew or spend a weekend cleaning your home:
Everyone love a clean home, I hope. This would be the time to do your spring cleaning. Move furniture to clean underneath it and clean the furniture itself. Shampoo any carpeting in your home. Wash off any scuff marks on wall or even paint the whole wall with fresh paint. When buyers are looking in Fort Lauderdale, they are looking for a home that they have to do minimal work to.
Buyers look at everything. They will see your showers and bath tubs, they will see your toilets, your cabinets, and closets. When selling your home, make sure to clean your window blinds, refridgerator, microwave, ceiling fans, and inside of kitchen drawers as well.
If you are thinking about selling your home and have any questions, feel free to send me an email with your info to Soldbyfoster@gmail.com. I would be happy to help! I can also help you sell or purchase a home in the Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise, Pompano Beach, Hollywood, and Plantation real estate markets.
Foster Group Real Estate
Serving South Florida
Mortgage rates in the U.S. rose for the 8th straight week, from 4.10% in March 2017 to 4.43% in March 2018. This is the highest that interest rates have been since January 2014. The 15 year mortgage rate increased from 2.85% to 2.46%. It is expected that there will be a few more interest rate hikes this year due to increased optimism about the economy's strength, says Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chairman.
How does this affect you buying a home? Well, this means it will cost more. With increased housing prices, lower number of homes on the market for sale, and higher interest rates could cause problems for new home buyers. Hopefully wages will continue to increase. Tax cuts have helped millions of Americans keep a little more of their take home pay. But will it be enough?
New home purchase contracts are down almost 5% from where they were last year. While that may not seem like a large number, it equates to thousands and maybe tens of thousands of home buyers. Interest rates have always gone up and down depending on the strength of the economy and the housing market. It's all about supply and demand.
In reality, it's always best to buy "now" because the interest rates are bound to go up. As the economy continues to strengthen, so will mortgage rates. Talk to a mortgage professional to determine what financing program will work best for you. Keep in mind your monthly income minus expenses. The major expenses that lenders take into account are car payments, any loans, credit cards, etc. Try to keep those under 45% of your gross monthly income, as a general rule. However, if you are self employed or on an independent contractor basis, you will have to show 2 years of tax returns and the lenders will calculate that after expenses.
What are your thoughts about the housing market? Do you think interest rates will continue to go up? Interest rates had reached about 18.45% in the 1980s. Now that would be bad.
Any questions about real estate? Feel free to give me a call at 954.646.8778 or email at Soldbyfoster@gmail.com
Credit cards can be a very useful tool for many people, but can easily turn into a long lasting problem. Credit cards can be used when you need temporary assistance, buy large tickets and pay them off over time, and earn reward points. When used strategically, you can earn points, cash back, and airline miles and pay the credit cards off each month to avoid interest on your purchases. This is not technically financial advice, just some things to think about.
One mistake that many shoppers make is opening department store credit cards to get an additional 15% off or so on their purchase. That can be great if you are careful and don't let a balance build up. Most of the credit cards that save you 15%-20% have very high interest rates, the interest rates can be anywhere between 20% to 30%, which defeats the purpose of the original savings.
Final thought before we get into the top 15 cities with the most credit card debt. (Source: Credit.com). Not only is being debt free a huge stress relief, keeping your credit card balances low will help you with other financial endeavors. Credit scores are directly affected by the percentage of your credit card utilization to credit limit. Generally, if you keep your balance below 25% of your available credit, this will help your overall FICO score. Try to keep your balance to credit limit ratio under 50% (the lower the better). Being mindful of your credit score will help you save money in the future, whether that is getting a mortgage, financing a car, or....ummmm....getting another credit card. Don't buy what you can't afford.
Top 15 Cities with the most credit card debt as of 2018.
1) Washington D.C. : The median income in our nation's capital is $46,536. So the average credit card balance of $7,442 might not seem that bad since they have a decent median income.
2) Dallas/Fort Worth: Just one of several cities in the Lone Star state that made the highest credit card debt list. Their median income level is $33,621 and have an average credit card balance of $7,171.
3) New York City: "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere!" What's that you ask? Credit card payments, that's what you can make here. The average New York City credit card debt is $7,145. With a median income of just $38,951.
4) Houston: "We have a problem." Credit card debt here is an average of $7,121. With a median income of $33,244 this makes Houston the 2nd highest city in Texas with the highest credit card debt.
5) San Antonio: $7,070 average credit card balance in The Alamo City. San Antonio's median income level is $29,124. Let's get those credit cards paid down Texans!
6) Baltimore: B-more in debt? The average credit card balance in the Home of the Nfl's Ravens is $6,985 and their median income is $41,241, The city made the top 25 list for best job markets in 2017. Congrats B-more.
7) Atlanta: Are they racking up their credit card balances on peaches in the state of Georgia? Median income in ATL is $32,658 with an average of $6,907 in credit card debt. Also made the top 25 list of best job markets for 2017.
8) San Diego: This is an expensive city to rent in. Yeah it's always sunny, so we'll look on the bright side. The median income is $32,656 and the average credit card balance is $6,848. Stay classy.
9) Seattle: While being one of the cities with the highest rents and highest cost of living, Seattle has an average income of $40,482 and a median credit card balance of $6,729. But hey, Amazon is there right?
10) Denver: Average credit card balance of $6,720 and median income of $37,049. At least they're not in a mountain of debt.
11) Philadelphia: Philly. Eagles. They won the super bowl (FYI). The median income here in the city of brotherly love is $36,962.
12) Chicago: Chi-Town! Let's not mention the high taxes here in cook count/Illinois. High property taxes, high income tax, groceries tax, pop tax, vehicle tax, tax tax tax tax tax tax....you get the picture. When I lived there, I nearly had to charge up my credit cards to pay the taxes there. The windy city tax burden is about $30,000 per taxpayer. Yikes, that is not including the state of Illinois or Federal debt. Credit card balance average is $6,649 here with a median income of just $35,329. Hey, keep voting in the same people and this is what happens.
13) Los Angeles: L.A.'s average credit card debt is $6,632 and median income is $30,944. Just like many other highly taxed states and cities in the U.S. , residents are not as happy and fleeing the city.
14) Miami/Fort Lauderdale: Home sweet Home. Average credit card debt in SoFlo is $6,615. Median income is about $28,396. With so much to do here and the ocean, it's hard not to splurge on surf boards and margaritas. No, don't use your credit cards for that.
15) San Francisco: It's California so of course it's one of the most expensive cities to live in and has a high cost of living. Credit card debt average in the City by the Bay is $6,533 and the median income level is $44,304. So I guess the higher income helps with the high cost of living and taxes. Not really.
So there's the list of the top 15 cities with credit card debt. Try to be careful with those credit cards. They are easy to swipe because you don't have to worry about the cost right away and you don't physically see cash leaving your hands. Best to save up the cash for those large purchases or just pay the credit cards off every month.
Let us help you with your real estate needs. Call at 954.646.8778 or send us an email at Soldbyfoster@gmail.com
Congrats! You want to sell your home. Here are some ideas that will help you NOT sell your home. Follow these steps, and you will succeed in not getting a good offer for your home. This is not real advice, just for fun.
1) Price your house way above fair market value!
Since real estate values can fluctuate depending on supply and demand, you want to make sure that you price your home much higher than comparable properties in your area. The house down the street just remodeled their kitchen and have granite counters, stainless steel appliances, brand new hardwood flooring? Price yours higher! Is the neighbor across the street putting on a new roof and just had new windows installed? Good that just made your home even more expensive. Your neighbors upgrades bring down their value.
2) Don't allow buyers to see your home!
If you want to sell your home quickly and get the most potential buyers in your door to preview your home, be very strict with your schedule for allowing showings. Forget letting potential buyers in your home most hours of any day! Make your home available for showings only on Saturdays between 11:00 a.m. to 1:00p.m (for example). That way "only the most serious buyers will come."
3) Keep your home messy!
When potential buyers visit your home, forget about leaving a wonderful first impression. The messier, the better. You don't want your home to show too well, because then you might get too many offers. That smell? Forget about it! It adds character.
4) Take bad photos and no video!
Showcasing your home online with High Quality photos is a big mistake if you want to sell your home fast. If you want multiple offer near or above your list price, then go ahead, make your home look great online. Video tour? Why not use the ancient way of a virtual tour. There's no way that potential buyers would want to see a video walk through of your beautiful (not so beautiful) home. Having a high definition video tour would set your listing apart from the competition anyways, and you wouldn't want that.
5) Stay home during showings and follow the buyers and their Realtor around. (LOL!)
Have you heard that it is best to let a buyer walk around your home with their Realtor only? That's nonsense! Buyers don't usually feel as comfortable checking out the home when the sellers are there, and that's ok because we don't want them looking in your cabinets and seeing your collection of Spaghettio's. Walk right behind them during the showing to make them feel extra comfortable viewing your home. Ask them personal questions for extra points. 😃
6) Don't negotiate at all when you get an offer to purchase!
That buyer thinks they can buy your home!!! No way! Don't budge on price or work with them on Anything. Your terms and price or the highway. We'll prepay your tolls. HaHa
7) Don't remove your pets.
People love to walk through a home for sale and have the seller's dog yappin' away at them the whole time. (I can't hear myself think with my own dogs yelling at me). Calm down doggy. What's that smell? cat box. No one like to smell a dirty cat box.
Yes. It will most likely make the housing prices higher, wherever they choose to go, out of the short listed 20 metro cities. 19 of them are in the United States, while the other in is Toronto.
We have all heard about the major tax breaks that major cities are offering to Amazon, if they set up shop there. Cities like Newark in New Jersey, offered up to $7 Billion in tax incentives. Newark is a city that has struggles economically for a long time. Wherever Amazon chooses, it could bring up to 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investments. Oh, and real estate prices would likely go up.
The 20 cities that have been chosen as finalists are Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County in Maryland, Nashville, Newark, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Raleigh, Washington D.C., and Toronto. C'mon Amazon, you know you want to come to South Florida.
Jeff Bezos started Amazon in Seattle, Washington in 1994. Check out his story, it's really interesting, with his not so flashy Honda. He was humble. Amazon narrowed down their list from 238 to just 20. And now, end of January 2018, Atlanta is a top contender. Amazon had started out selling mostly books. Now, you can buy almost anything, and have it delivered in 2 days with Amazon Prime.
Now, the downside of companies like Amazon are that it does hurt some small businesses. As with all major corporations, people look for convenience and low prices. It's always important to support your local small businesses.
Chicago has offered that Amazon would be able to keep $1.32 billion of the personal income taxes paid by it's workers annually. Really Chicago? How about let your citizens living in your already overpriced city/county keep more of their own hard earned money? Thanks to the terrible leadership in Chicago, that's what they think of their hardworking residents. They just don't care.
Whichever city Amazon chooses, hopefully it will help their economy. While it will most likely raise real estate prices, it will likely help decrease the unemployment rate of that city.
NEW YORK – Jan. 19, 2018 – When Arlington, Va., resident Jesse Shapiro wanted to diversify his investment portfolio with real estate, he recognized quickly that he didn't want to buy a place in the Washington area.
"Housing costs in this region are prohibitive, and I didn't want to risk buying something that's 10 times the median price of a home in other parts of the country," Shapiro says. "At the same time, it can be difficult to invest long-distance if you don't know enough about other real estate markets."
With the help of Roofstock, an online real estate investment platform, Shapiro and his wife purchased a single-family house in a suburb of Raleigh, N.C., in January.
The decision to buy locally or long distance is one of many to make if you want to join the world of real estate investors. The first essential decision is to determine whether you want to buy and flip a property or invest for long-term appreciation and cash flow from rents.
According to the National Association of Realtors' 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, investment home purchases rose 4.5 percent in 2016 to 1.14 million, up from 1.09 million in 2015. The survey found that most individual investors bought property to generate income in recognition of the demand for single-family house rentals.
"If you want to invest in real estate, you need to know your strategy," says Rick Sharga, chief marketing officer of Ten-X, an online real estate marketplace based in Irvine, Calif., that owns Auction.com. "Most people focus on buying property cheaply, but if you plan to become a landlord, then price is less of an issue. In that case, cash flow is most important, and you want to buy something that will be ready to rent quickly and for more than your costs."
There are 19 million single-family house rentals in the United States, according to "Landlord Land," a white paper produced in February by Irvine, Calif.-based ATTOM Data Solutions and Reno, Nevada-based Clear Capital. The vast majority of the rentals – 79 percent – are owned by small-time landlords with only one or two properties.
Beyond the local market
Everyone is naturally more comfortable investing in a local market, but sometimes you can't get a reasonable return on your investment, says Greg Rand, chief executive of OwnAmerica, a Charlotte-based brokerage for investors of single-family rental homes.
"The yield is what matters with real estate investing, and if the property prices are too high or the rent isn't high enough, you can't get a good return," Rand says. "For many people, that means investing in a place that they are semi-comfortable with, such as a place where they have vacationed or have some kind of connection."
It's essential to understand the characteristics of any market before you invest, such as the trends for job growth and population growth, Rand says.
"Historically, 70 percent of people buy an investment property within an hour of their home because it's convenient and they know the area," says Gary Beasley, chief executive of Roofstock in Oakland, Calif. "That's fine if you live in a market with good rental demand, and there's no danger of a recession. But it makes more sense to diversify with an investment in another market, just in case job growth declines and rental demand drops at some point."
Roofstock recently developed a "Neighborhood Ratings" index that compiles information on a variety of factors such as income, crime, schools, property values and the nature of the housing stock to help investors compare neighborhoods when buying remotely.
"We sell single-family homes that are tenant-occupied and provide investors with 3-D tours, a home inspection and demographic projections that help break down the geographic barrier to investing," Beasley says. "We have advisers in different markets, as well as data to make it easier for investors."
A real estate agent can help you evaluate the market and will also know about whether rents are going up or down, Sharga says.
Beasley says investors are particularly interested in buying in less costly markets, such as Florida, Atlanta, Texas, North Carolina and Las Vegas, especially when they live in high-cost housing markets.
"When you invest in rental property, it's best to start modestly with a property on the fringes of development that's not super-expensive but is in the path of progress," says Dave Hawkins, managing broker of McEnearney Associates in Alexandria, Va.
Hawkins purchased two townhouses as an investment when he was in his 30s with the goal of using the properties to pay for college tuition for his children.
"We bought places where we could drive, so I could handle the property management," Hawkins says. "It's important to talk to a Realtor who can give you advice about the neighborhood and what could impact it, such as businesses moving in or out and plans for public transportation."
Do an analysis
Although some investors pay cash for their property, many finance the purchase.
Beasley says the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) guidelines require a 20 percent down payment for an investment loan. Typically, the interest rate is slightly higher on investment loans, such as 4.5 percent when owner-occupied loans are at 4.0 percent.
"Roofstock provided the underwriting information I needed to invest long-distance, including market analysis, appraisals and home-inspection reports," says Shapiro, who picked his investment property by looking at a variety of factors, such as the estimated value if he would need to sell within five years, the forecast for the rent and information on the property's tenant.
"When I reviewed the return on investment I included the cost of financing the purchase," says Shapiro, who made a 25 percent down payment on the approximately $100,000 property.
Shapiro shopped for a loan and ultimately chose his own lender, although Roofstock also provides investors with a list of potential lenders.
Rand says investors must do a cost-benefit analysis, starting with an estimate of the annual rent, minus 5 percent for anticipated vacancies. They should then subtract all expenses, such as taxes, insurance, homeowners association dues, property management fees and maintenance costs, estimated at 10 percent of the gross rent to generate your net operating income.
The return on your investment is calculated by dividing your net operating income by your mortgage payment. For example, if you purchase a $100,000 property and your profit is $6,000, then your return on your investment is 6 percent. If your property goes up in value, then your return on your investment is even higher.
Hawkins says that your financial evaluation should also include the property condition and estimate of when you may need to replace appliances, heating or plumbing systems or the roof.
Oh, the management
If you're a local landlord, you can manage your property yourself if you have the time and the skills to maintain it. Alternatively, if you have a roster of good contractors, you can avoid the fee for a property management company. However, you also then need to screen your own tenants and handle their rent payments.
"You need to have the right attitude to be a landlord," Hawkins says. "It can be a hassle and inconvenient, so if you want to avoid that, you should hire a property management company."
Most long-distance investors need a property-management company to handle tenant issues and maintenance. Typically, property management companies charge a percent of the rent, Rand says.
He says technology has made it easier for people to invest long-distance, because there are national property management companies with branches in multiple markets that can connect automatically with tenants and owners.
Roofstock provides investors with a list of two or three property managers in the market where they are purchasing a home, including their fees. The chosen property manager then coordinates directly with the investor.
Although real estate investing can be profitable, there are four main pitfalls investors should avoid:
The coverage you'll need
Rental properties require a landlord insurance policy, also known as a dwelling policy, which is typically a little costlier than a traditional homeowner's insurance policy, says Laura Adams, a senior insurance analyst for InsuranceQuotes.com in Austin.
"Insurance data shows that rental properties have more claims and higher dollar claims than primary residences," Adams says.
A typical landlord policy covers physical damage to the property for a covered disaster, such as a fire or a hailstorm, along with personal property belonging to the owner, such as a lawn mower or furniture.
You also need to find out whether you need flood insurance and whether insurance rates are particularly high in the area where you intend to invest, such as along the coast of Florida, because high insurance premiums will cut into your profit.
"Liability coverage is included in a landlord policy because of the potential of being sued if a tenant or a guest is injured on the property," Adams says. "Landlords may want to look at all of their assets that could be at financial risk and purchase an umbrella policy for added coverage."
Landlords can require tenants to buy renter's insurance to cover the tenant's personal property and to provide their own liability protection.
Adams suggests that another option could be to place the property in a limited liability business structure to increase your personal protection.
"If you place your investment property in a business structure, then the only assets at risk are those within the business, not your other assets," she says.
Know the local laws
Whether you are investing in property long-distance or locally, it's important to make sure you are complying with local laws and with the rules of a homeowners association.
"If you have a local lawyer and are investing long-distance, you can ask your lawyer for a referral to someone familiar with local laws," says Jeff Bell, chief executive of LegalShield in Ada, Okla., a company that provides legal services in every state for a monthly fee.
A real estate agent will know whether a market is landlord- or tenant-friendly, says Sharga, who adds that it might be best to invest someplace else if your area is unfriendly to landlords. The expenses
Potential expenses to consider when investing in rental property
It's tempting to do a quick estimate of how much it costs to buy a property and how much you can charge for rent.
But here are other expenses to include in your calculation:
Tips for becoming a successful landlord
Curated from: http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article.cfm?id=361326
Copyright © 2018, Concord Monitor, Michele Lerner
Curated from https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/what-happens-if-i-view-a-home-without-a-buying-agent/?iid=rdc_news_hp_carousel_theLatest
After searching through pages of online listings, you've compiled a master list of every open house you're interested in touring. You're ready to start attending open houses, but you don't have a buyer's agent—aka someone to represent your best interests every step of the way. Is that a problem? A buyer's agent will help you navigate the process of buying a house, but do you need to hire one to actually tour the houses you're interested in?
The short answer is that it's not absolutely essential from the very start, but it's a good idea to hook up with a buyer's agent as soon as possible. A buyer's agent's job is to assist home buyers in all matters during the journey of buying a house, including finding the right property, negotiating the offer, and even dispensing advice if problems arise during escrow.
"They should guide you through the entire process," says Ryan Hardy, a broker with Gold Coast Realty in Chicago. "A buyer's agent's job is to make sure you're getting a fair price, and nothing is being overlooked."
Do you need a buyer's agent to view an open house?While most real estate agents recommend you call and book with them ahead of time, they're used to people coming to them with a list of houses they're interested in and calling later to set up an appointment.
If you're already working with an agent, you don't have an obligation to call him or her up to tell them you have checked out a house, but it's a good idea to do so, says Hardy. "It's best to keep them informed, so they can do their job effectively."
If you have one on speed dial already, give him or her a call, to let them know you've found a place. They can start making inquiries. If you don't, ask around—friends can typically recommend someone they trust who has helped them.
What happens if you view a home without a buyer's agent?There may be a listing agent on the premises, especially if it's an open house. But experts say you should still seek out your own representation. If you attended the open house without a buyer's agent, you might feel obligated to contact the listing agent, but it's common practice for buyers to have their own agent representing them.
"You aren't required to use the real estate agent who was hosting the open house," says Deb Tomaro, a broker associate with RE/MAX Acclaimed Properties in Bloomington, IN. In fact, Tomaro recommends that buyers always find their own agent, because it's not up to a seller's agent to represent your interests.
Find homes for sale on
"The name on the sign in front of the house you like represents the seller," she says. "They have taken an oath to represent that person's best interests. They cannot lie to you, but they also aren't necessarily able to 'fight' for you, because they can't fight for the buyer and still represent the seller's best interests."
"The real estate market is based on cooperation between realtors," Hardy explains. "Buyer's agents and seller's agents work together, no matter what company or brokerage they work for."
Jeanne Sager has strung words together for the New York Times, Vice, and more. She writes and photographs people from her home in upstate New York.
Martin Foster | 847-284-6166 | Soldbyfoster@gmail.com
Curated from http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/things-to-never-do-when-buying-home/?iid=rdc_news_hp_carousel_theLatest
Buying a home is exciting and terrifying. After all, this is the biggest financial move most people ever make. As such, there's a lot of room for error, and even tiny mistakes can translate to tens of thousands of dollars.
The lesson here: Even the most intrepid home buyer should get some guidance not only on what to do, but also what not to do. Look no further than this list, which highlights the most common mistakes buyers make so you can avoid the same fate.
1. Don't shop for homes without an agent
By all means, start out by looking online at pictures of pretty houses—the more the better. It's a vastly useful way to get the lay of the land. But when it comes time to get serious about buying a house, you should find a professional to help you out.
Think of a buyer’s agent as a fairy godparent who’s here to turn your homeownership dreams into reality. This person will guide you through every step of the home-buying process—from finding the right property and writing a winning offer to negotiating home inspection repairs and sailing through to closing.
“You want an advocate who is going to look out for your best interests in the transaction,” says Bellevue, WA, real estate agent Holly Gray.
2. Don't meet with just one mortgage lender
Once you’ve found a real estate agent, your next step should be to get pre-approved for a home loan. To do that, you’ll have to meet with a mortgage lender and provide a good amount of paperwork, including two years of W-2 forms, two years of tax returns, and proof of funds for the down payment (among other documents).
That mountain of forms is one of the things that prompts many to meet with only one lender, says Richard Redmond, mortgage broker at All California Mortgage in Larkspur and author of “Mortgages: The Insider's Guide.” That's a potentially big mistake!
Redmond recommends getting at least three quotes from different lenders so that you can survey your options and find the best loan for you. If you don’t feel like doing the legwork of shopping around yourself, you can use a mortgage broker—basically an intermediary who presents you with options from a variety of lenders. The caveat is that you'll likely have to pay a broker's fee for the person's service (usually 1% to 2% of the total of the loan).
3. Don't understate your budget
It might sound strange, but a number of home buyers make the mistake of hiding their true budget from their real estate agent.
“Some people are afraid that their agent is going to make them buy the most expensive house that they can afford, so they understate their price range,” says Daniel Gyomory, a real estate agent in Northville, MI.
However, if you're not upfront with your agent about your price range, you might miss out on a great house.
“If you tell me your budget is $300,000 maximum but you’re actually willing to pay $400,000, I may not send you listings that could actually be a good fit for you,” Gyomory explains.
4. Don't hold out for the 'perfect' house
People throw around the words “dream home” a lot. (Heck, we’re guilty of it.) However, here's the not-so-harsh truth: “There’s no such thing as a perfect house,” says Gyomory. And that's why he has clients create a list of “musts” and “wants” to identify their criteria and focus on what really matters to them.
5. Don't make ridiculously lowball offers
You obviously want to get a bargain, but you could lose out on a home that you love by making an absurdly low offer. In fact, a recent survey from Inman found that 15% of real estate agents say the third-largest mistake people make when buying a home is offering too little for a property (that’s behind not talking to a lender first and waiting too long to make an offer).
“When you overlook market data and make a lowball offer, you’re pretty much slapping the seller in the face,” says Gyomory. And if you offend the seller, the person might not even be willing to make you a counteroffer.
Bottom line: Trust your agent to help you assess the value of a house and write a winning offer, says Karen Elmir, a luxury real estate agent in Miami.
6. Don't forget to budget for closing costs
The home seller will chip in some money at settlement; however, as the home buyer, you have the (unfortunate) pleasure of shouldering the lion’s share of the closing costs. Your mortgage lender should be able to give you a rough estimate of your closing costs once a seller accepts your offer, but as a rule you can estimate that they typically total 2% to 7% of the home's purchase price. So on a $250,000 home, your closing costs would amount to anywhere from $5,000 to $17,500.
7. Don't make big purchases before you close
Once you have found the right house and get the seller to accept your offer, your loan still needs to go through underwriting in order for you to obtain the mortgage. One thing underwriters do is look at your credit score from the three major credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion—to make sure your credit hasn’t changed since you were pre-approved.
Therefore, you'll want to avoid taking on any new debt while you’re in the process of buying a house. Purchasing a car with an auto loan or maxing out your credit cards, for example, could hurt your credit score, which could potentially raise your loan’s interest rate or—in the worst case—get your mortgage application rejected. (In other words: Bye-bye, new house.)
Daniel Bortz is a Realtor in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC, who has written for Money magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, CNNMoney, and more.
Martin Foster | 847-284-6166 | Soldbyfoster@gmail.com
There are many things to consider when you are selling your home. We'll go over some of my recommended topics to go over before listing your home. First, Here are some questions you should discuss with your family before signing a listing agreement.
I advise my sellers to make their home as neutral as possible. That means taking down your lovely family photos, all those magnets and To-do lists on the refrigerator, etc. It has to be done. Why, you might ask. It's simple. You will want the prospective buyers that are viewing your home to feel "At Home". It is rather difficult when they see your happy family on the wall with Fido. Home buying is a very emotional process. Let's make the new buyer feel like it is their home.
Marketing. Make sure your agent is going to take a substantial amount of beautiful photos to showcase your home. If the photos are sub par or very few, that won't generate much interest to visit your home. You know? Keep in mind, there are likely hundreds of homes in your area that you will be competing with to find that "Perfect" buyer. It's 2017, and an advanced agent like myself, uses the technology available. Let's start with High Definition Video. This has replaced the Virtual tours. There is only so much a buyer can see while looking at the (beautiful) photos. Video will give them a sense of the layout. There's also social media, we can't forget that.
Finding a qualified buyer.
This is important. We're hoping that the buyer's agent that shows your home, will be bringing a pre-approved buyer. Let's fast forward to you signing a contract with a buyer that has offered you an acceptable price and contract terms. It is important for your agent to verify that the buyer is in fact pre approved. Check with the lender if the letter is still valid, whether the buyer has a home to sell first, and if there are any items on their credit they need to correct. It is also important to not accept a price that is much higher than comparable properties, if it is too high, it might not appraise. Therefore, the buyer might not get loan approval if your home does not appraise for the contract price.
Pricing your home to sell
We all want you to get as much money as possible. Pricing your home is one of the most crucial aspects of selling a home. There's an art to balancing the pricing. We don't want to list it too low, because then you will get less money right? We also don't want to price it too high, because then you will get less money. Wait....what? Yes, pricing your home too high, above current market value, may lead to selling for even less than you could've in the beginning! It's true! Homes get the most activity in the first 30 days on the market, I even believe that the first two weeks are the most important. If you price your home too high, it will likely sit on the market for too long. When a home is on the market for an extended period of time, buyers tend to think there is something wrong with it and no one wants it. This gives them a negotiation edge. Working with your Realtor on strategic pricing will help you Win. We all like to win.
There are many things to consider when selling your home. Choosing the right agent, a marketing strategy, fixing your home, being inconvenienced, finding a new home, pricing, negotiation, etc. Don't forget, make sure any defects in your home are disclosed to the buyer before a contract. These could include foundation issues, water problems, electrical, plumbing, property easements, tax increases, fire history, and many other things. These are some of the important issues that a great agent will guide you through.
Any other questions? Please feel free to call me at 847.284.6166
Foster Group Real Estate, LLC
Martin Foster | 847-284-6166 | Soldbyfoster@gmail.com
After Christmas, many people put the empty boxes their expensive gifts came in out on the curb. What do you think that says to potential burglars? It screams, “I just got a brand-new TV! Come and rob me!”That’s just one example of some unwise habits homeowners have. If those owners are sellers opening their doors to the public for showings, habits such as these put them in even greater danger. The above example is a good warning to give to your clients now, since we’re in the holiday season. But use it as a jumping-off point to have a deeper conversation about safety — and to show that your safety knowledge is an asset to sellers.
Consider using this checklist (you can request it as a customer handout on my website) during listing appointments to better prepare prospective sellers and show your value as a real estate professional. We spend a lot of time telling sellers how we’ll market their home, and while that is obviously important, we rarely address their true concern: how to keep their home safe while it’s open to the public. Touch on these 10 anti-burglary tips so your clients will know that you have their best interest at heart.
National Snapshot of Burglaries
A burglary is committed every 20 seconds, with nearly 1.6 million such crimes nationwide annually, according to the FBI’s 2015 Crime in the United States report. That’s down 7.8 percent from 2014. Total property crime, which includes arson, larceny theft, and motor vehicle theft, reached nearly 8 million instances in 2015, down 2.6 percent from 2014.
When your clients are opening their doors to the public for showings, they need to take extra precautions. Share these suggestions to help them keep their belongings safe.
December 2016 | By Tracey Hawkins
Via: Realtor Mag
Thinking of buying a home? Consider this
Buying a home for the first time is one of the most critical decisions you will ever make. It is like gambling; you can win or lose a good deal. But here are a few facts that you can look before buying your first home that can help you in making a calculated decision.
The factors that influence the decision to buy a home vary from case to case. Some have extra money that they want to invest, while some are looking for a place to live in. Whatever your case may be, there are a few tips to select the best time of the year that will help you find a house in cheapest price.
If there are no pressing needs or pressure to buy a home urgently, the best time of the year to buy a home is during the Winter. Winters are a difficult time to maintain a home due to the harshness of the weather. Furthermore, winter is the holiday season, people want to spend time with their families and there is less probability that a potential seller will get a decent buyer at that time of the year. Your offer can get more attention when the competition is least.
Here are a few tips.
Lay special emphasis on the following points in a pre-buy inspection:
So you're ready to buy a house. Now what do you do?
There is so much involved in the home buying process. It's very important to work with an agent that understands the process and is willing and able to guide you through it. Your agent should be able to answer any questions that you may have and be able to help you get prepared for what could happen during a purchase. What could happen? Well, there are often many complications in a home purchase. These could be involving home inspection issues, contract terms, financing, legal issues, etc. Many times, these issues can be corrected. It is important for your agent to be able to help you navigate anything during a home purchase.
Now let's get started. You know what areas you want to live, you have an idea of what type of house you would like, and you know what monthly payment you would be comfortable with. Reach out to your agent and give them as many details as possible regarding what your ideal home would be. Then your agent can advise you on what homes are available matching your needs and help you with your expectations. The agent can set up a search for you directly in the MLS. This is often the most accurate search, since other real estate websites pull their data from the MLS (multiple listing service).
You might be curious about what type of mortgage you would qualify for. What price can you go up to? What type of mortgage would best fit your needs (conventional, FHA, VA, etc)? What's the interest rate? What are my costs for the mortgage? These are all questions that an exceptional mortgage professional can answer. Call a mortgage pro and start the pre approval process (the majority of it can usually be done quickly over the phone).
Great! Now you're pre approved through your mortgage professional! Now that you and your agent know what type of house you want & your pre approved, it's time to go visit some available homes for sale. While you are visiting properties, take notes and ask questions. When you find the home that you love, you will prepare an offer with your agent.
Congrats! After negotiations between your agent and the seller's agent, your offer has been accepted by the seller. Now it's time to schedule a home inspection & forward the contract to the real estate attorney that you have selected to represent you. You will also send the agreed earnest money to the listing office or attorney. In Illinois, there are usually 5 business day to schedule an inspection and for your attorney to review the contract and request any modification. Then there is an additional 5 business days to resolve any Inspection/Attorney review issues, if any.
Once the mortgage process is completed, title work is done, inspection items are corrected, any village inspections are done, transfer stamps paid, etc. Your mortgage professional will issue a "Clear to Close" and the attorneys will schedule the closing. Then you will do a final walk through with your agent right before the closing. At the closing table, you will sign about a million documents (Just Kidding). Now that everything is signed, funds have transferred to the seller, and title company approves...
You get the keys!!! ....And maybe pop champagne with your agent. :)