6 Real Estate Marketing Considerations

You’ve decided it’s the right time, for you to sell your home. While this decision may be based on a variety of considerations, the first decision, the homeowner needs to make (next), is selecting the right agent, for him. One should thoroughly interview prospective agents, and discuss, in advance, considerations, philosophies, perspectives, systems, approaches, etc. One of the most important discussions should be about how one might market the particular property, in order to achieve the homeowner’s needs, concerns and objectives, with the best results. This article will briefly examine and discuss 6 real estate marketing considerations, alternatives, and options.

1. Conventional advertising: Traditional, or conventional advertising/ marketing approaches, include using newspapers, sending postcards, mailings, etc. Over the past decade, there has been far less attention to these methods, because of buyer’s reading policies, widespread use of the Internet, costs, etc. However, this is still a needed, necessary, useful format and media, especially if done, with professionalism and focus!

2. Social media/ internet: There are many popular real estate websites, including: Trulia, Zillow, Realtor.com, MLS, real estate broker sites, etc. In addition, there has been a widespread emphasis on effectively using Social Media, etc, which garners widespread focus and attention. The advantages of this method, include attracting potential buyers, and minimum costs.

3. Word of mouth: Wise Realtors realize, the best form of marketing, is word of mouth! Superior real estate agents, have a following, and references from former clients and customers, generally, produce the finest results!

4. Open Houses: There are two types of Open Houses: 1) Broker’s Inspections; and 2) Consumer Open House. One promotes these, via a combination of the previous 3 methods, as well as by using well – situated signs. The basic advantage of these, is it permits lots of exposure, and there is an adage which states, the more potential buyer views, the better the possibility of a sale!

5. Staging: Certain homes might benefit from the services of a Professional Home Stager. Homeowners should discuss this, with their agents, including the benefits, costs, needs, options, etc.

6. Niche marketing: Does the specific house, fit into a particular niche? Are there, perhaps, certain groups of buyers, who might have a better chance of being attracted to this home? How might one focus on this group, if applicable?

Houses don’t sell themselves. Real estate professionals proceed with a quality, overall marketing system, and customize the best one, for the particular client’s property!

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

How Can Realtors Help Find Your First Home?

Most people don’t realize it but curb appeal is so important when selling a home. Think about it, are you more inclined to buy a run-down beat up old house that you have to put tons of time and effort in to getting it running again? Wouldn’t you rather buy a beautiful home you were excited about and could already see yourself living in?

Generally speaking it is a good idea to have a polished house ready for showing. If you have to paint it, do so. People are more attracted to buying newer things that are already in good condition to eliminate the work for them. This relates to many different areas of the house, but the exterior of the house is most important because it is the first impression your potential buyers are going to have of the property.

Also it is a good idea to have your lawn mowed and your landscape finished. This is going to create more appeal because it will bring your property to life and make it look more put together. You will be able to give them imagery of what it will be like. This creates opportunity for conversation to get to know the potential buyers and have them get to know you.

It is important to have a well maintained driveway because that is one of the things that frames your house. Your house can look years younger if your driveway is in good shape. It is also one of the first things they see when they arrive at their showing. Anyone appreciates a new waxed walk way or pressure washed driveway.

Driving up to a house even if it isn’t the best house in the world will profit majorly just from the condition it is in and showing the potential buyers it is worthy of their residency.

All of these things are going to help your house sell for more money than it would without curb appeal. The better it looks, the more eye-catching it is going to be. The more eye-catching it is, the more people are going to be attracted to it. The more attracted to it people are, the more interest there will be for people to buy it. And the more interest there is, the faster it will sell.

Curb appeal is majorly important in selling a home not only to show that the house is worthy of being kept in good condition, but also to be selling something that has quality and can hold value.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Finance and Hobbies

Are your hobbies costing you an arm and a leg

Hobbies can give us a sense of release from our day to day issues; the satisfaction one gets from pursuing a pleasure whether it is collecting stamps, bank notes, beer labels, or any of the stuff which people describe as collectable, boating, sport, car racing, or whatever.

If you are going to have a hobby you really need to make sure it is not costing you more than what you can afford and that it is not at the expense of your retirement fund.

There are ways of keeping costs down with your hobby; take whatever it is you collect. You can list your duplicate items on eBay or other auction sites. It will also give you an estimate of the kind of demand there is for your particular kind of collectable.

It is also important to realise that something is only worth whatever someone else is prepared to pay for. If you cannot find a buyer for whatever your collection is then it is not worth anything.

There are some things that are sentimental however, things which may not have any monetary value but are priceless to family such as old photographs or heirlooms.

These may not have cost you anything to acquire as they may have been handed down through the generations or have been given to you but that is not so with a lot of collectables which are acquired with a passion which can be described as hoarding.

Unless someone has an unlimited amount of spending money all of this stuff must be at the expensive of something.

People will often go without to finance their hobby such as not owning a car, not contributing to their retirement fund, or not spending money on much needed house repairs.

A collector who owns a huge collection of beer labels, 30,000+ I believe proudly boasts about it to everyone who visits. It is anyone’s guess how much he has spent acquiring this collection but the saddest thing is that he is not contributing to his retirement fund and therefore missing out on the government incentives.

The old excuse of „I might die before retirement and so someone else will get my money,“ has been used several times, but then someone else will inherit his beer label collection and if something financial crops up such as a huge medical bill he will not be able to afford it, and it is doubtful if he would be willing to part with his collection even if a lot of money was offered for it.

The same is said for any other activity that is a hobby. The old saying of „Pay yourself first“ rings true because sooner or later a person who mismanages their finances will eventually find that it catches up on them.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Real Estate 101 – Listing Agent vs FSBO

The number of property owners selling their land independent of a realtor has seen a sharp decrease in recent years. In fact, it has dropped six percentage points over the last decade, according to the latest numbers from Chicago-based National Association of Realtors. As of the beginning of 2007, a mere 12 percent of all real estate transactions were for sale by owner, or FSBO.

One factor influencing the statistics may be owner frustrations with a fluctuating housing market. Owners have other things working against them, too. They cannot register property in the MLS listings, one of the most popular search tools for property shoppers. It takes a real estate agent to get property included on that list. Realtors may also have more connections and more techniques, experience and training that could net higher offers.

Property owners, on the other hand, will know more about factors like the home’s specific strengths and weaknesses, the neighbors and the schools. They may, however, shy away from pricing their house high and may agree to come down too quickly. From mid-2005 to mid-2006, five percent of real estate transactions were closed by realtors who took over a FSBO that fizzled. Only one percent of transactions within the same time frame were sellers who started with realtor representation and later switched to FSBO, according to the NAR.

FSBO transactions – particularly when handled by first-time sellers – have been said to sit longer, sell for less, cause more headaches and increase confusion. So why would sellers even want to try? The average real estate commission is about six percent and many property owners see FSBOs as a way to pocket more cash. In reality, however, NAR statistics show that homes generally go an average of about 16 percent higher when sold by realtors.

For sellers absolutely determined to go it alone, there are a few key points to remember. There are some Internet web sites available now that are very professional in appearance and offer FSBOs an alternative to the elusive MLS listings. Plenty of high-quality photos are crucial with any marketing, and Internet marketing is undoubtedly one of the most effective methods. Many of these FSBO listing web sites will now offer extra perks, like yard sign rental and print advertising.

It is important to be patient, price your home fairly but also allow a little wiggle room for the inevitable price haggling and be extra cautious to avoid unqualified buyers. This can help prevent deals from falling through. To get a deal in the first place, however, sellers must market their property and don’t shy away from offering incentives like a decorating allowance or paying the fees of the buyer’s agent. Among the buying community, FSBOs are notoriously associated with great deals. Make sure you arm yourself with the tools to avoid becoming a casualty of that mindset.

FSBOs also have a reputation for misleading buyers on such things as the true condition of the house or the severity of the house’s problems. This is not always intentional. Many homeowners really don’t know the extent of the damage and do not intend to mislead. This is where a crackerjack home inspector can come in handy. Not only can a home inspection help justify the home’s price, but it can also set the buyer’s mind at ease and perhaps help close the deal faster.

Another good reference tool is a local competitive market analysis. This can help ensure that a FSBO is selling for what it is truly worth. The lender’s desk is the worst possible place to find out that a seller overcharged for a home, but it happens all too often.

Realtors are immensely more experienced and knowledgeable in all things real estate – from selling techniques to legal matters. However, at the very least, a seller would be wise to bring in a real estate lawyer to ensure the legality of the transaction. It is also a good idea to involve a bank, as opposed to the seller alone, in the process of handling escrow funds.

FSBO transactions can be smooth if the seller has related experience. FSBOs can save money if the seller avoids backing down on price too much. If, however, the seller finds themselves stalling with no end in sight, it is best to turn to a realtor as soon as possible. The longer a house sits unsold on the market, the worse position the seller will be in. It looks bad to potential buyers and they will wonder why the home hasn’t sold. In reality, it may simply be a matter of ineffective marketing on the seller’s part. Time is money, and a house sold on commission is better than a house not sold at all.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

How a Foreign National Can Buy Real Estate in America

Opportunities for real estate investment for foreigners is wide and varied in the United States. It doesn’t matter where you’re from and what currency you’d be using to purchase a property, you have a property waiting for you.

There are generally three kinds of real estate investment available to foreigners. These investments include the commercial estate investment and residential property investment. Residential properties are further classified into single family properties, apartments or condominiums and recreational properties. Regardless of what kind of real estate you are interested in, there are all sorts of tax ramifications, financing options and legal requirements that you have to deal with.

Why Should You Invest in the U.S. Real Estate Market?

You’ve probably heard of the increasing number of foreign real estate investments in the United States. This is not surprising. With the troubles that the real estate investment market is facing in the United States, greater opportunities in real estate investment were opened to foreign investors.

With the dollar’s value in its all time low, foreign investors are finding real estate bargains all over the United States. There are no shortages of deals in this market. More and more distressed properties are being sold everywhere and foreigners are pouring in millions buying these foreclosed or distressed properties. The United States real estate has become a fairly attractive long-term investment for foreign investors.

In November of 2006, the National Association of Realtors released a report entitled „Foreign Investments in U.S Real Estate: Current Trends and Historical Perspective“. The report showed that there has been a steady increase in foreign real estate investment in the United States. This is especially after the euro and the loonie became stronger in the face of the continuous devaluation of the US dollar. Prime bargains were opened to foreigners. Many foreigners have now looked into the possibility of retiring or settling in the United States.

If you’re a foreigner, you would find a lot of reasons why you should invest in the United States real estate market. Aside from the fact that the floating exchange rate has given you a lot of leverage over the bargaining table, the financial market is a pretty good reason why you should invest in the US real estate.

The financial market in the United States in relation to the real estate market is quite liberal and the restrictions against foreign investors are pretty reasonable. This is ideal for foreign companies that are seeking to invest in the real estate market in the United States in order to avoid tariff restrictions and are considering setting up an office or a company in the United States.

Furthermore, despite the devaluation of the US dollar and the wide foreclosures of a lot of property, the real estate market remains to be stable, though slightly shaky, due to foreign investors‘ capital appreciation. Domestic real estate buyers may not necessarily share the same opinion, but the market has remained to be strong for foreign real estate buyers. This may be largely credited to the fact that there is minimal risk for them.

Why are Foreign Real Estate Investments Safe and Profitable?

There are a lot of investments you can make, but the safest you can make right now is investing your money in real properties. This is another good reason aside from the fact that you can make a pretty nifty profit, if you like, particularly now with the widespread property foreclosures and seemingly continuous US dollar devaluation. This is especially true if you are going to use the euro or the loonie when making your investment.

But why is US real estate investment safe for foreigners?

It is undeniable that stock investments are not a safe avenue at this point. The recession has not only affected the US economy; the same recession has greatly affected worldwide stock investments. Stocks values are dropping. It is also a fact that even without the current economic situation, stock values fluctuates.

On the other hand, real estate investments are pretty stable if you would compare it to stock investments – or even bond or mutual fund investments. With real estate investment, you’d be putting your money in an investment that would grow in value as years go by.

What are the Benefits of Foreign Real Estate Investment?

US state government supports foreign investments and along this line has formulated various tax breaks to encourage foreign investment on real estate. Many of these tax breaks are not available in many countries. In fact, most countries would frown at foreigners owning real properties within their territory.

Foreign real estate investment in the United States is open to everyone. As long as you can afford to buy the property or at least comply with the mortgage requirements and payments, you can secure for yourself a pretty good property in the United States. Again, with the current economic situation of the United States, this is the perfect chance for you to make an investment.

Another great benefit that you can take advantage of is the availability of mortgage financing. Lenders have opened their doors to foreign investors who are looking into purchasing a property. So, you don’t have to actually deplete your bank account. You can actually secure a mortgage loan and gradually pay it off.

I’m Canadian, What Are My Financing Options?

There is a steady increasing rate of Canadian real estate investors in the United States; and accordingly, the government has made certain that they have attractive financing options available to them.

If you’re Canadian – or if you’re a foreigner – you’d find a lot of reasons why you should buy a piece of real property in the United States. For Canadians, the parity of the currencies or the apparent devaluation of the US dollar is a pretty good reason itself. But how do you finance your purchase?

There are various financing options available to you depending on which state you are in. In Arizona, for instance, you’d get favorable financing terms if you are purchasing a property for recreational purposes, that is, you do not derive any income or benefit from your purchase or ownership. You will be required, however, to sign up a disclosure agreement and give a 30% down payment for your loan. To qualify though for a loan, you may be required to show availability of liquid reserves for a period of three to six months. You may also be required to present a minimum of 3-month bank statement.

If you are purchasing a property for investment, you’d probably meet stricter terms. Requirements may be more stringent. For instance, you could be required to give a down payment of more than 30% and you may be required to show one year worth of liquidity reserves.

Regardless of your reasons, if you feel like you can fulfill the requirements of a financing loan, you can then proceed to actually applying for a mortgage loan. Also, keeping yourself updated with the financing terms flux may be a wise idea.

Understanding the Tax Ramifications of Real Estate Investment

The first foreigner to have ever bought a real estate property in the United States was Peter Minuit. This opened the doors to foreign real estate investors. After a couple of centuries later, foreign real estate investment has grown into huge proportions, accounting for billion-of-dollar worth of industry.

The low risk attached to US real estate market, the availability of countless properties, and the steady market liquidity attract foreign investors in droves. The initial snag, however, is the process of understanding the legal ramifications of foreign real estate investment.

What you have to understand is that foreign investment in the United States can take a lot of forms. A foreigner has various options. He can acquire direct interest. He can acquire an interest in the real estate through a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company. The latter is the typical structure used by foreign investors.

Limited partnership or Limited Liability Company offers financial protection or indirect asset protection, especially in cases of bankruptcy, law suits and taxes. Foreign investors are generally taxed on the property as if they hold the property in direct interest.

Ideally, you should secure the services of a real estate accountant to help you out with the tax ramifications, but it would help if you, at least, know the basics before you actually talk to an accountant.

There are tax consequences that you have to deal with when you buy a real estate in the United States. You would need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number which you will use with all your tax transactions. Your investment in real estates can be treated as a portfolio investment and will be accounted for as an investment income which can either be fixed or a periodic income. This is typically taxed at 30% on gross revenues. This tax though does not apply though to all foreign investors. Tax rates would vary depending on the tax personality the foreign investor opted for. For instance, a corporation would be taxed differently.

Other things that you should take note of are availability and requirements of tax refunds and state tax laws on real estate properties as they may differ from federal laws, among other things.

By knowing all these things, you may save yourself from a lot of hassles when you finally approach a real estate accountant. You’d be in same wavelength when you finally get down to talking business. It is, however, very important that you secure the services of an accountant. You’d have an easier time dealing with the taxes ramifications. You’d also have assistance ensuring that you comply with all the accounting aspect of your investment. This is especially true if you are purchasing a real property for investment purposes.

Do You Need to Secure the Service of a Real Estate Lawyer?

If you are considering buying a property in the United States, you need to secure the services of a real estate attorney – someone who could help you with the legal issues concerning your purchase. It is tempting to forego securing the service of a lawyer to save money, but this could cost you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure that you have an experienced and trustworthy lawyer to help you out. Make sure that you have thoroughly checked out his credentials, profile, history of successful cases handled by him, and other factors that would influence your decision. You could check online and look for a lawyer working within the state where you are considering purchasing a property.

Functions of a Real Estate Lawyer

There is no actual distinctive function for a lawyer in a real estate case. However, you would really need the assistance of a lawyer for various tasks. A real estate lawyer would review the sales contract for you. He would also check on the title and other documents relating to the property. A lawyer would also review your mortgage contract and make the necessary adjustments or corrections. You could also get him to review with you the legal and tax issues concerning the purchase. A real estate attorney could also make the necessary adjustments relating to various expenses and costs involved in the purchase. He would assess your eligibility for tax refunds and draft the documents and statements relating to this.

Putting it simply, a real estate lawyer will be your watchdog. He would guide you through the whole process of purchasing a real estate in the United States in order to make sure that you will be legally protected. You will have a capable and trustworthy liaison to help you out with the contract. He will also face legal disputes if any arise.

Tips on How to Invest in Real Estate Successfully

Now, if you’ve fully bought into the idea of real estate investing in the United States, you might just want to know how to go about investing in real estate successfully. If you want to be successful in this venture, the first thing that you have to avoid is overanalyzing. Of course, it is a good idea to carefully think through your actions but it is a bad idea to overanalyze your investment to nonexistence. You might lose a great opportunity.

Before you purchase the property though, it might be wise to check the property value. If it sits well with you and you can reasonably afford the property, go ahead and make the purchase.

If you are considering the property for a quick flip, make sure that the property is in perfect condition and in good area. This is to ensure that you could double or actually triple your return of investment. If you can inspect the property yourself, do so. If not, a good and trustworthy agent can help you with this task.

Another important thing to remember when you’re buying real estate is good financing. You should take your time to carefully consider all your financing options. Foreign investors can email in their queries to various lending institutions. It is a good idea to make sure that you’ve had their terms and rates on paper because they tend to change these terms and charge you with a lot of junk. Your real estate agent can help you with reviewing the escrow charges.

The bottom line, however, is that it is very important that you do your homework before you actually buy a real property. Investing in real properties in the United States can be profitable especially during these times. In fact, it may be the wisest and most perfect investment you can make right now.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Tips On Picking "Sleeper" Real Estate Property

Real estate investing is all about perception. Your perception of where the market is going, in conjunction with where it’s actually going. The aim, as always is to buy low and sell high.

You want to buy a cheap tract of dirt and sell it as a high priced piece of developed real estate, after it’s appreciated enough to turn a tidy profit. Selling the property is an art in and of itself.

Buying an initial tract of dirt lends itself to some solid, rational guidelines:

First, look at trend lines for housing prices in your area. While most housing markets are in decline (and the housing markets in Florida and California are adjusting from more than a decade of over-valuation), there are markets where the housing prices are going up. This is a decent leading indicator that there’s a market for expansion.

Second, look for job related news. Home purchases require a steady source of income. New employers moving into a city, or a government branch office opening up are a strong indicator that good, well paying jobs are likely to come up. Where well paying jobs roost, home purchases follow.

Related to this, talk to your local city planning office. Are there recent purchases of „right of ways“ to lay down sewer lines? Is the local telephone cable making plans to run out fiber optic lines – a „must have“ trend in new home construction. These things point to areas where home growth is immanent. Other big tip offs are school bond issues (found in your local news paper) and new parks being opened up.

Before you look at the land, check out the adjacent commercial real estate usage. Look for „family friendly“ or „residential friendly“ commercial properties: Houses that are close to grocery and clothes shopping tend to fetch a higher price than ones that are farther away. If there’s a movie theater nearby, or plans for an elementary or middle school, factor that into the size of the homes you build, and what their amenities will be; buyers looking for those features are looking for „mover upper“ homes – with a bit more floor space, and two (or three) bedrooms for the kids. Other spots to look for are anchor stores, like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. These companies spend millions on surveys of purchasing patterns before buying a store location; if they’re buying a plot of land, you’ve got about a year to a year and a half window to look into nearby real estate for single family residential and rental residential properties.

You can even flip this on its side – if you can talk to a group of commercial real estate investors, building a shopping center as the nucleus for home development is also a viable combined strategy. This also applies to highly urban areas. Many downtown areas that have been abandoned by businesses can be converted to apartment buildings, and some of the older housing projects are being torn down for mixed-use spaces with combined commercial and residential areas. In particular, you can often get block grants to help with the financing on projects like this, and there are programs from HUD that can help out a great deal with „urban renovations“.

Another source to investigate is the demographics in your area. Look at the US Census figures (and local county figures) for median age, and median birth rate per capita. You want to invest in areas where the population is growing already. High skews in the ’40s and ’50s indicate that you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to retire soon, and retirees are highly prone to selling properties off. Places to watch carefully are most of the urban parts of California, and great swaths of the rural Midwest, where demographic trends have been changing entire towns since the 1950s as the country’s population has shifted to urban areas.

If there’s a local planning council, or urban development council, make it a point to get the minutes of all the meetings from the past year. The city council offices will have them on file as a matter of public record. Also try to get into the next range of meetings as an observer. Discuss with the city and county managers where they see housing and construction trends moving. What you’re looking for is real estate that will be desirable in two to three years; look at road planning atlases, and look for all the data you can find. Also look for real estate that will be scenic – lake front property is as close to a guaranteed bet as you can get in real estate investing, particularly if there’s a lake that’s at the „far end“ of a development axis. Likewise, if there’s land that the city council is looking to acquire for parks, buying the adjacent lots now means you’ll be able to sell them later.

Lastly, talk to the professionals in your communities. Talk to architects who can tell you if they’re busy or not. Maintain professional contacts with engineers, bankers and attorneys. They will usually know about projects well before the general public. Also make a habit of reading the local newspaper’s business section. Often times, the first clue that a business may move in to your area is buried at the bottom of a column on page 8.

Using the guidelines suggested above will help you to find „sleeper“ raw land properties. These „sleeper“ properties are perfect for the buy low, sell high strategy used by successful commercial real estate investors.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

New Beginnings – Buying A Home

Buying a home often represents a new beginning, whether you are moving to a different area of town or moving to a new city or state.

There are many steps involved in buying a home, and the process can seem overwhelming. Whether you are a first-time home buyer or have bought and sold many times; the process is complicated and ever changing.

The first step is choosing a realtor. Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®; the term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. They can assist you by guiding you through the process; providing objective information for you, helping you find the best property, translating real estate lingo into terms you can understand; and they will act as your agent throughout the process.

When interviewing agents to assist you with your home purchase, make sure you understand how they will be representing you. Are they working for the seller? Are they dual-agents, or do they work as a buyer’s agent? You’ll want to make sure they are representing you, and only you.

The next step is to have a conversation with a mortgage professional. Working with a reputable mortgage broker is essential to a hassle free closing. It is the mortgage professional’s responsibility to provide financing for your new home.

Schedule an appointment early in your house hunting process. Your broker will work with you to identify any credit issues that need to be addressed prior to closing on your new home. Based upon the information presented to them, they will also let you know how much of a loan you qualify for. This information is vital to you and your Realtor when shopping for a home.

Your first appointment with your broker will entail providing financial and historical information for the Loan Application. This information will include but is not limited to the following:

– 2 Year Employment History

– If you plan to use a VA Loan your Certification of Eligibility

– If you plan to use a VA Loan and are relocating your Orders

– 2 Year Rental or Mortgage History

– Vital Statistics for you and your spouse (Birthdate, Social, Kids, Assets, Liabilities, etc)

– Last 2 Years W-2s

– Last 2 Pay Stubs

– Last 2 Bank Statements

– Last 2 Quarterly Retirements Account Statements

Your broker will pull a tri-merged credit report to review your credit history. This report shows everything reporting to each credit bureau (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Not all creditors report to all three bureaus so your scores may vary. The lender will use your mid-score when evaluating which loan programs you qualify for.

Should your credit report show derogatory information reporting, your Broker can assist you with credit repair options to improve your credit worthiness.

The only liabilities that will be counted in your Debt-to-Income Ratio will be those that report to the credit bureaus. So, regular household bills like utilities, auto insurance, cable do you factor into the mix. If you do not have a minimum of three trade lines reporting, some financing programs allow you to use standard monthly bills in lieu of revolving trade lines like credit cards.

Once all of this information is obtained, your Broker will be able to calculate the amount of loan you qualify for. Many factors are considered when qualifying you for a loan:

– Gross Income

– Liabilities

– Interest Rate

– Loan Type

– Payment

The standard Debt-to-Income Ratio should fall between 40-45%. When discussing your financing options, it is important to know where you would like to keep your PITI payment. You may qualify for more then you feel comfortable paying each month.

Once this number has been determined, and all documentation has been provided, your Broker can shop your loan with many lenders and qualify you for the loan program that will suit your unique circumstances.

At this point, your Broker will put together a Good Faith Estimate. This document will show you estimated costs involved with closing your loan. If you are using a VA Loan there is a funding fee that is built into the financing. It will also estimate your monthly payment based on current interest rates for the loan program you are qualifying for.

Now that you know how much you qualify for and the payment you feel comfortable with you can shop for a house within your budget.

Your Broker will advise you not to make any new credit purchases or apply for new credit until your loan closes as this will affect your credit score and Debt-to-Income Ratio.

Once you have your initial meeting with a mortgage professional, you should decide where you want to live. If you are getting ready to move to a new area, use the internet as a starting point. Research schools, demographics, crime statistics; research any and everything that is important to you. A sampling of some web sites to get you started:

Scorecard http://www.scorecard.org generates a pollution report card at the county level, giving information on such topics as air and water quality.

School Matters – shows academy performance http://www.schoolmatters.com

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s http://www.epa.gov/epahome/commsearch.htm Has a tool that allows visitors to search a community by ZIP code for environmental facts about the area, including pollution statistics, the location of hazardous-waste sites and information about the area’s watershed.

Zip Skinny http://www.zipskinny.com Enter your zip code to see U.S. Census data and comparison with other zip code

If you need assistance finding this information, a Realtor can provide this information for you or tell you where you can find it. Also, most Realtors have comprehensive relocation packages they can customize and send or email it to you.

After you narrow down the vicinity you want to live in, you’ll want to drive around and see if you still like the area. No matter how much research you do on the internet, nothing takes the place of seeing a neighborhood in person. Pay attention to the upkeep of the neighborhood and look at the surrounding traffic. Does it have the components you are looking for? Is it close to shopping, close to work, close to schools? Does it consist of families, or singles, or working couples? Does it seem safe? Are the homes tidy and well-maintained? Are the streets quiet?

Once you decide on the area, then you can start looking at potential homes. Remember, first focus on the location of the house. From there, focus on the floor plan; whether it is a ranch, bi-level, 2-story, etc. The two things you can’t change in a house are the location and the floor plan; almost everything else can be modified. Different floor plans suit different needs; you may want a ranch with no steps, you may want a bi-level and the kids to have their bedrooms in the basement; you may want a two-story with the bedrooms on the 2nd story and for the main level to be the living area.

In- person property searches can take an afternoon or months, some people like the first house they see, and others see 75 before they find the perfect house. As you walk through a potential house the first time, see if you can imagine yourself living in it, will it fit your lifestyle and all of the things that are important to you. As you leave the house, decide on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest rating, where it fits within the range. If it is a 2, discard the info on the house. If it’s a 7 or 8, put it in a „keep pile“. If you spend a couple of days looking, you should be able to narrow it down to your top 3 or 4. You’ll want to look at your top houses again, this time with a more critical eye. Is there anything you missed the first time? Do you still like it? Drive the neighborhood during different times of the day and on different days of the week. Make sure you like the neighborhood, ask questions of the neighbors. Most people are very eager to tell you about the area and why they do or do not like living there. Remember, location, location, location. Ideally you want to buy in an established neighborhood; and you don’t want to fall in love with the most expensive house on the block. You always need to think about resale. If all of the other houses are 3 bedrooms, and the one you love only has one bedroom which is all you need; you may want to think twice about it. Are you going to be able to resell it?

Then, after you have decided you have found your perfect dream house, have your Realtor do a comparative market analysis, CMA, for you. The purpose of this research is to see what comparable houses have been selling for in the same area during the last several months. No matter how much you love it, you want to know if it is priced fairly. If it is overpriced or under-priced, either way you’ll want to know. Remember, the more informed you are the better. The CMA will provide information that can help you decide on your beginning offer price.

The next step is to have your Realtor write an offer with the terms and price you want to offer. Before writing the offer, you’ll want to discuss the purchase price, earnest money, what’s included with the property, closing date, and all types of other pertinent details with your agent. All of these details should be included in the offer. Once the offer is written and you have signed it and written an earnest money check, the Realtor presents the offer along with your prequalification letter to the listing agent who is representing the seller or in some areas it is customary for your agent to present it directly to the listing agent and the sellers at the same time The response to your offer can have several different outcomes; (1) no response from the seller (2) acceptance by the seller with no changes to the offer (3) a counteroffer from the seller which can including anything from the price, to the closing date, to the inspection dates, to the earnest money. Anything in the offer can be subject to a counter. The response from the seller will determine your next move. Ultimately, you and the seller want to come to a joint agreement on all facets of the offer and this will be signed by both parties and detailed out in the counteroffer. In today’s market conditions, many buyers are asking sellers to pay for their closing costs, as well as a home warranty. As a buyer, make sure you thoroughly understand the offer and all of its components. Once it is signed by both the buyer and the seller, it becomes a binding legal contract enforceable by law. In many states, Realtors are required to use state approved legal contracts and forms, and you can get always have a lawyer review the contract.

Once the contract becomes accepted, then you and realtor really start to work. The title commitment (or abstract) is ordered and you, your Realtor and your lender will receive a copy of it. Your agent will help you read through it to make sure you understand the requirements and exceptions that come with the property. This is a very important step, as the title company will be issuing an insurance policy guaranteeing that you have clear title to the property.

Once you have an accepted contract, your Broker will update your application per the contract and submit your file to the lender’s underwriter. Depending on how long it took to find your house, the lender may require you resign the loan documents. The underwriter will review all of the documentation and verifications provided by your broker. Depending on your personal situation the underwriter may ask for additional information or clarification regarding your credit history. This is called a CONDITIONAL LOAN APPROVAL. This means, as long as you can provide the additional documentation, the underwriter will approve your loan.

The most common items on a conditional loan approval list are:

– Letter of explanation on credit history

– Pay off old credit accounts or proof they were paid

– Provide proof of home owners insurance

– Update the title insurance with the lender’s information

– Provide updated pay stubs and bank statements

– Appraisal of the property

– Lock the interest rate

One of the most important steps in the process is to lock in your interest rate. Each lender has their own set of requirements for locking a loan. The rate you were quoted on your Good Faith Estimate is only an estimate based on market conditions at the time of your prequalification. Locking your rate will be a decision you and your Broker will make together prior to closing your loan. Rates are currently at a 28 month low, however rates are subject to change daily, and often times multiple times a day.

From the time your Loan Application is submitted to underwriting until closing can take appx. 21 days. Timing is often times dictated by the time of month you plan to close, how long it takes to gather the Loan Conditions, and the closing date on your contract.

While your loan is going through underwriting, you and your Realtor will get the inspections scheduled. General inspection, structural inspection, termites, radon are just a few of the inspections that can be scheduled and these vary from area to area of the country. As an example, In the Rocky Mountain area you may want to have a structural inspection because of the expansive soil and underground mines; in the Midwest you may have to have an inspection for termites. Your Realtor can suggest the appropriate ones for your area. Remember, this is one of the most expensive purchases of your life, you want to know the condition of the property you are buying. Safety concerns and other major ticket items that come up during the inspection can result in a laundry list of items that a buyer may ask to have repaired or replaced. The seller doesn’t have to agree to fix anything, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If a contract is going to fall apart, it is usually because the seller and buyer can’t come to terms on inspection items, or it is due to the buyer not being able to qualify for a loan.

If your financing gets secured, if the property appraises correctly, if you come to terms on the inspection(s), if the title (or abstract) looks O.K., and if you get your home insurance secured, then chances are you will close on the property and the property ownership will get transferred to you.

One last thing that should be done before closing, is to conduct a final walk-through of the property. This isn’t a chance for another inspection, but the buyer should make sure that nothing has changed in the property from their last walk-through and the buyer will want to confirm that any personal property negotiated as part of the contract is still there. As an example, if the offer included the refrigerator and washer and dryer; these items should still be in the property during the walk-through. If the property had storm windows on all of the windows, then they should be there during the walk-through.

When a successful closing occurs, it’s the result of a team effort between you, your realtor, your lender, the seller, and the seller’s lender. It’s a perfect way to start a new beginning.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Security Cameras in Nursing Homes – Useful or Wasteful?

To install or not to install?

This question is at the forefront of debates concerning the management of nursing homes. At present, the issue of whether or not to put security cameras in nursing homes and where these should be placed is extremely controversial and is far from resolved.

Merits of Installing Security Cameras in Nursing Homes

The most important argument in favor of security cameras is their deterrent value against abuse and substandard care. These security cameras have been given the moniker „granny cams“ and are said to be a positive step in reducing the potential for elderly abuse. Experts believe that granny cameras could singlehandedly restore public confidence in nursing homes because they give family members instant access to recently stored footage. They can, thus, closely monitor the well-being of their parents or grandparents.

Security cameras retail for at least $630 and may go up as high as $1,590. On top of this, there is a $20 monthly fee for accessing the server and another $10 monthly to upload images via a data-only line.

Drawbacks of Installing Security Cameras in Nursing Homes

Not surprisingly, the strongest opposition to the use of granny cams comes from the industry itself. Nursing-home operators and staff consider video surveillance a needless invasion of privacy. They fear that security cameras would make it so much harder to retain good staff and attract new ones. Moreover, they believe that use of security cameras will compromise a patient’s dignity, particularly when bathroom and bathing activities are filmed and then reviewed by security. Another argument used is the additional expense. After all, a nursing home would need not just one, but several, security cameras distributed in strategic places throughout the nursing home.

The Debate Continues

While not trifling, however, the costs of purchasing the equipment and the installation expense are comparable to the cost of updating housekeeping, food, or recreation services. This means that the purchase and installation of security cameras should be treated as necessary an overhead cost as staff salaries, for example.

Additionally, experts believe that security cameras help nursing home operators minimize their legal responsibility should an employee or a nursing home resident be found guilty of abusive behavior. By having digitally captured evidence on hand, nursing home owners can thereby reduce unnecessary and groundless litigation.

At present, a dozen state legislatures are actively considering passing the granny-cam legislation. Existing laws mandate that an operator must inform the staff ahead of time of the presence of cameras and their respective placements. Otherwise, video surveillance may be considered illegal. There are no law expressly prohibit the use of security cameras. What prevents their wide use, however, are practical barriers in the form of pricing and vehement opposition from the nursing-home industry.

So, to install or not to install security cameras?

Nursing-home operators vehemently answer „no“ while experts openly advocate their mandatory use. If you are a nursing-home owner, the added institutional cost would mostly likely make you cringe. If you are one of the many in search of a nursing home for a loved one, your answer to this question should dictate your choice of nursing homes. However, do not make it your only consideration. Check the facility’s history of deficiencies and citations from formal regulatory inspections.

It will be very difficult for this controversy to be resolved speedily because it is an issue that hits too close to home. It simply is not possible to put a price on safety, or negotiate dignity.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Purchase A Home With Free Downpayment Assistance Grants

First-Time Home Buyers Assistance

Florida Housing is a State Financing Corporation created over 20 years ago to help Floridians obtain safe, decent housing that might otherwise be unavailable to them. Their „First-Time“ Homebuyer Program provides low interest mortgage loans and financial incentives throughout the year, for eligible homebuyers who haven’t owned a home as a primary residence within the past 3 years.

Program Highlights

The program offers low-interest 30 and 40 year fixed-rate loans, downpayment and closing costs assistance as well as access to credit counseling.

Teachers, firefighters, healthcare workers, police officers, as well as active duty and veteran military personnel could be eligible for lower interest rates.

Eligible applicants include individuals who:

 have never owned a home,

 don’t claim their mobile home as real property,

 haven’t owned a home as their primary residence within the past three years,

 have established credit worthiness,

 have an annual income that does not exceed program limits.

Downpayment Assistance

Florida Housing offers two downpayment and closing cost assistance programs in the form of second mortgage loans, and one in the form of an upfront cash assistance to help eligible homebuyers cover their downpayment and closing costs.

Downpayment Assistance

Programs: Offers Up To:

(Income limits apply)

FLORIDA ASSIST PROGRAM $10,000- Applicants with annual income at or below 80% Area Median Income

ASSISTANCE FOR MODERATE INCOME (HAMI) $5,000-Applicants with moderate income

The City of Orlando offers a Downpayment Assistance Program, available to low and moderate income first-time homebuyers for the purchase of a home within the City limits of Orlando. Depending on the gross household income, assistance may be $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000.

Teachers and public safety personnel, who are moderate income, may qualify for $20,000 of assistance. City of Orlando employees, teachers, and public safety personnel who are purchasing homes within the city limits of Orlando do not have to be first time homebuyers. Purchasers must occupy the property as a principal residence for at least ten (10) years. The downpayment assistance becomes a grant once the period of affordability has been satisfied.

Orange County provides funds to qualified first time homebuyers for down payment and closing costs associated with purchasing a home. The program provides assistance to qualified low and moderate income persons in Orange County on a first come, first ready basis. The program also requires that potential homebuyers complete a pre-purchase and post-purchase education program.

The buyer must:

 Meet the income requirements. Annual household income cannot exceed 120% of the area median income.

 Provide at least $1,000 of their own funds.

 Complete a home buyer’s education seminar.

 Secure first mortgage financing.

The property must:

 Be new or existing and located in Orange County, outside the city limits of Orlando.

 Not exceed a sales price of $219,000.

 Receive competitive fixed rate financing.

 Be fee simple ownership.

The assistance:

 Maximum ranges from $20,000 to $35,000 depending on household income.

 The County’s assistance is provided to the buyer’s closing agent at closing in the form of a soft second mortgage at 0% interest which is forgiven after fifteen (15) years if the home remains owner-occupied.

 In addition, the total first mortgage and Orange County’s second mortgage may not exceed 105% of appraised value.

Home Buyer’s Education Program

All participants requesting down payment assistance must attend a free Homeowners Education workshop. This provides education and technical services to assist eligible low and moderate income families in the process and procedure connected with the purchase of an affordable single family fee-simple housing unit. Homebuyers Education addresses such topics as choosing a realtor, qualifying for a mortgage, inspecting a house, contracts for sale, home maintenance and credit issues.

The Orange County Finance Authority is a government organization that provides mortgage financing with lower interest rates than what is available in the market. Their financing products reduce long-term mortgage costs. Plus, if eligible, you may obtain additional down payment/closing cost assistance from other sources along with this financing!

In order to qualify for home financing, certain eligibility requirements must be met:

 You have not had an ownership interest in a primary residence during the previous three years. (Unless the property is located in a federally designated „Targeted Area“.)

 Property must be owner-occupied for the term of the loan or until the property is sold.

 Have the legal right to permanently reside in the United States

 Meet credit and loan requirements

 Do not exceed the income & purchase price limit

 Veterans can waive First-Time Homebuyer Rule

City of Kissimmee Community Redevelopment Agency offers financial grants to new homeowners within the Community Redevelopment Agency district (CRA), in order to provide economic support to the downtown businesses. It is designed to attract new residents to targeted areas within the Community Redevelopment district. There will be no income limitations placed on the granting of these funds.

Funding will be granted based on establishment of owner occupancy of the subject property. The grants will be given on a first come, first served basis after certain qualifications have been met.

The agency offers financial grants to eligible employees of employers in the CRA Overlay District on a first come, first served basis to be used towards the purchase of a home. Plus, there are incentives for Teachers to be used towards the purchase of a home in the CRA Overlay District on a first come, first served basis.

Osceola County provides funds to qualified first time homebuyers for downpayment, closing costs associated with purchasing a home, and financing with lower interest rates than what is available in the market. The program provides assistance to qualified low and moderate income persons in Osceola County on a first come, first ready basis. The program also requires that potential homebuyers complete an education program.

The buyer must:

 Not have owned a home in the last three years.

 Attend a Home Buyers Orientation Session and complete a Home Buyers Education Program.

 Have a minimum of $1,000 to contribute toward the costs of buying a home.

 Have an annual income that falls within the area median income guidelines as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Additional terms may apply.

The property must:

 Must be located in Osceola County.

 New home or existing homes must not exceed $200,000. If within the City of Kissimmee homes must not exceed $240,000.

 No mobile homes.

 Manufactured homes must have DCA insignia seal.

 Must be a single family home, condominium, town home or villa.

The assistance:

 Maximum ranges from $39,000 to $69,000 depending on household income.

 The Loan is provided to the buyer’s closing agent at closing in the form of a soft second mortgage which is forgiven after ten (10) years if the home remains owner-occupied.

Repayment of the loan becomes due if:

 Borrower defaults on the first mortgage.

 The house is sold refinanced with equity cashed out.

 The house is rented, leased, subleased or ceases to be owner-occupied prior to the end of the loan period.

 No Home Equity Line of Credit borrowed against the property.

Home Buyer’s Education Program

All participants requesting down payment assistance must attend a free Homeowners Education workshop. This provides education and technical services to assist eligible low and moderate income families in the process and procedure connected with the purchase of an affordable single family fee-simple housing unit. Homebuyers Education addresses such topics as choosing a realtor, qualifying for a mortgage, inspecting a house, contracts for sale, home maintenance and credit issues.

SHIP Program (State Housing Initiative Partnership)

The State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) Program provides funds to produce and preserve affordable housing through the creation of a partnership between the public and private sectors. The funds are derived from the collection of documentary stamp tax revenues, which are deposited into the Local Government Housing Trust Fund. Based on a population-based formula, SHIP funds are distributed to local governments each month.

These funds are available to Home Buyers through the Downpayment Assistance programs above.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

What You Need to Know About Buying House in Summer 2018

The sunniest time of the year when sun is shining brightly is surely a great time for exploring new neighborhoods and visualizing future patio parties during viewings. If you are planning to buy home this summer then it is important to understand the housing market prior starting any serious shopping. You must have to know what housing market is like for buyers now and what you can do to end up the best home with best price that fits right in your budget.

Owning a home is an investment in your future and with that in mind you wants to make sure that you are making educated decisions so that you could get the best possible deal. Housing market in 2018 should be just as strong this summer as it’s been all spring. List prices and existing home sales have risen this year but there are perks to house hunting right now, too. We present you some of the facts and tips to help you get the most out of this year’s summer housing market.

SUMMER MARKET FACTS

DURING THE SUMMER PRICES DROP: Although summer is busy home-buying season but still it is not crazy as prices drop from May through October. Anyhow if you hang out until late August then you could find a really great deal-that is when nearly 14 % of listings get a price cut.

Private Mortgage Insurance Is GETTING MORE Reliable: PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance getting cheaper after PMI lenders MGIC and Radian lowered their rates this spring; it is great financing news for homebuyers. That’s going to cause most of these PMI companies to be competitive with each other which in result going to bring them all down. Less than 20 % of down payment makes the home buyers to get PMI. It means it will be cheaper for some buyers to get into homes sooner.

HOMEBUYING TIPS FOR SUMMER 2018

DON’T DISCOUNT OLDER LISTINGS: At the times when homes are flying off the market within days due to strong competition, it is easy to think a listing that’s a week or so old is a red flag. But keep in mind that it is not always the case. It is often because buyer got cold feet and pulled out of a deal on a perfectly good house. But thanks to the assumptions home buyers make about older listings in busy markets, the delay can cause the price to come down.

There are just more of these in market. The number of homes in market is shrinking but still there are 8.3 % more fixer-upper among them than there were six years ago. If you are dead-set against a fixer-upper to be prepared to move quickly then there is only ever going to be a couple of options at a time. And when new listings come up it’s going to be pretty ferocious.

GET TO KNOW THE NEIGHBORHOOD: The plus point of competitive market it gives you temptation to make an offer on any available property that fits your criteria but if it’s in the wrong neighborhood, you may never want to purchase the house. It is better to take some time and do community scouting before making an offer. You can even find out what your future neighbors have to say about the area by communicating with them.

MAKE THE STRONGEST OFFER: To stay in the market make the strongest offer, even your offer is not the highest because now is not the time for low ball-offer. No doubt, coming up with cash offer could be tough for many home buyers but there are some ways to make a strong offer that don’t require gobs of money. Substantial eventualities like a shorter closing or inspection period and writing a great offer letter can help make your offer stand out.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

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