Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14

A Home for the Holidays: 5 Reasons to Buy Now!

by Desi Sowers

Buying a home in the midst of the holiday season might sound like a crazy idea, but the truth is there are good reasons to purchase a home this time of year.  Here are 5 good reasons to purchase a home during the holidays:

- Less Real Estate Market Activity - With lots of family, school and work activities happening during the holidays, fewer real estate transactions are taking place.  Because fewer people are looking for houses, there is less competition for buyers.  And with less competition, buyers have more leverage when negotiating purchases.  People selling homes during the holidays must often lower asking prices or make other concessions to sell.  So, if you buy this time of year, you might get a bargain!

- Highly Motivated Sellers:  If someone is selling their house at the end of the year, it’s because they need to.  Usually sellers avoid the end of the year due to shorter days and cold weather, so if they are selling this time of year they are likely under pressure and motivated to make a deal.

- Lower Interest Rates: Because of limited demand during the holiday season, there is greater competition among lenders so there is a general trend of lower rates. 

- Tax Perks: Buy a house before the end of the year and you can deduct any points you paid upon closing.  You can also deduct property taxes and mortgage interest.  Learn about the tax benefits of purchasing a home and find out if it is to your advantage to buy before year’s end. While your decision to buy a home shouldn’t be made solely for tax reasons, you certainly want to take advantage of the perks that exist!

- Faster Closings: Everybody involved in the home buying/selling process has incentive to complete transactions before the end of the year.  Lenders want to close their books, Realtors want to receive their commissions before the new year and sellers are anxious to move on.  Since everyone is so motivated, and there is less real estate activity, closings should happen quickly and efficiently.

So, if you’re thinking of buying a house anytime soon, don’t wait for the holidays to be over. Contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328 and start your home search today!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Selling-to-Millennial-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Debunking-the-20-Down-Payment-Myth

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

Selling to Millennial Homebuyers

by Desi Sowers

Generation Y, better known as millennials are buying homes. In fact, per the National Association of Realtors’ 2017 study of generational housing trends, millennials (those born between 1980-2000) make up the largest portion of the buyer market at 34%. That being said, when selling your home, it would be wise to think about the wants and needs of millennials as potential buyers.  Here are 7 must-haves for selling a home to millennials:

  • Updated kitchens and baths –  young homebuyers have been saving for a down payment and budgeted for mortgage payments, but they want move-in ready homes.  Updating kitchens and baths are expensive, so unless they are specifically looking for a fixer upper, they are going to want these rooms in particular to already be updated.
  • Location, location, location - millennials are not only facing higher gas prices, but they are more environmentally conscious.  They are looking for homes in areas that have easy access to public transportation and a good walk score.
  • Great Rooms – there was a time when a formal dining room was on every buyer’s wish list. But this generation of buyers prefers a great room with combined kitchen and living space.  And because of how younger homeowners entertain, they prefer an open floor plan for easier flow throughout the house.
  • Home office – millennials make up a huge portion of our work force. Working from home has risen in popularity by 80% over the past ten years.  So, having a home office is definitely a must for most young buyers.  Even if you have a room staged as a bedroom, it would be prudent for your agent to point out that it could be used as a home office.
  • Low maintenance – young buyers want low maintenance homes.  Things like wood floors and granite countertops appeal to them because they are both attractive and easy to take care of.  Smaller yards are their preference as well. They want to spend their free time relaxing or traveling, not doing yardwork and cleaning.
  • Technology – this generation life without the internet and cell phones.  Good service is vital to them.  Many millennials don’t even use a landline.  You may not be able to control the strength of cell service at your home, but you can be sure that young buyers will be asking about it.
  • Energy efficiency – With a growing interest in protecting the environment, younger buyers look to buy "green homes".  While energy efficiency is not the top reason to purchase a house, it can certainly be an advantage when dealing with millennial buyers.

If you are a millennial looking to buy a home in the New River Valley, let Desi Sowers help you find the perfect home to suit your needs and desires.  Call her today at (540) 320-1328!

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Welcome-to-the-New-River-Valley

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/To-Renovate-or-Not-to-Renovate-Should-You-Fix-Up-Your-Home-or-Sell-it-As-Is

Debunking the 20% Down Payment Myth

by Desi Sowers

You are ready to purchase your first house.  Your credit score is great.  You know you can afford a monthly mortgage payment based on your budget.  You are sure you will be approved for a mortgage loan.  But that down payment!  How the heck are you supposed to come up with 20%?  Don’t despair, because the truth is, you don’t need a 20% down payment to purchase a house!

Saving for a down payment on a house can seem overwhelming for many people.  Keep in mind that it can come from various sources.  Funds can come from bank accounts, stocks or mutual funds, an inheritance or a gift from a family member.  Some people will even use assets from their retirement portfolio.  Requirements regarding where the money comes from for your down payment depend on the loan type. Also, purchasing a primary residence usually requires a lower down payment than if you are purchasing a second home or buying an investment property.

The myth about down payments is that 20% is the norm. While that may have been true in the past, it’s not anymore.  The fact is that in 2016, the average down payment was just 11%, per the National Association of Realtors.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t even consider buying a home because they still think they need 20% down.  The NAR 2017 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile found that 39% of non-owners believed they needed more than 20% for a down payment, while 26% thought they needed to put down 15-20%.  Not true!

So now that you know you don’t have to have 20%, perhaps buying a home seems more within reach.  But there are still some things you should be aware of before taking that first step toward homeownership. Various factors are at play in determining if you should take on a mortgage with lower down payment.  For example, the less you put down, the larger your mortgage payment will be each month.  That is because you will have a larger loan amount, possibly a higher mortgage interest rate and the added cost of mortgage insurance.  So, while you don’t have to come up with more cash, your monthly costs go up.

Once you have educated yourself about the requirements, you can make informed decisions about your budget and how much you can afford.  Don’t let the 20% down payment myth stop you from pursuing your dream of home ownership! 

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Help-for-First-Time-Homebuyers

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-a-Home-is-a-Sound-Financial-Investment

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Top-Ten-Things-to-Look-for-When-House-Hunting

Help for First Time Homebuyers

by Desi Sowers

Are you ready to buy your first home, but worried you won’t be able to come up with the cash required for a down payment?  Don’t fret my friends!  There is help out there for you.  The Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) has a down payment assistance program (DPA) in the form of a grant, and it just might be the best shot for a first-time homebuyer.  The DPA grant can provide eligible first-time homebuyers with the funds needed for their down payment.  If you qualify for the DPA program, you may receive a percentage of the purchase price to help with the down payment. You can check out the guidelines and requirements for your eligibility here.  Here is more information to help you determine if this program is right for you:

  • Maximum grant will be 3 - 3.5% of the purchase price, based on the down payment required for the eligible VHDA loan.
  • Buyers must have household incomes at or below program limits.
  • Down Payment Assistance Grant may be used with eligible VHDA loans only.
  • Grant funds may NOT be used in combination with other down payment assistance resources (including FHA Plus).
  • Down Payment Assistance Grant has no repayment.
  • VHDA’s eligible first mortgage must be locked on or after the program implementation date.
  • The eligible first mortgage must be locked prior to reserving the grant funds.
  • All borrowers receiving this grant are eligible for a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC). Borrowers must apply for an MCC through an approved MCC lender and receive an MCC commitment/approval prior to closing.  (And MCC is a dollar-for-dollar credit against your federal income tax liability. 
  • Other program requirements may apply.

A video tutorial is available to help you with the process of understanding and applying for the DPA Program.

Desi Sowers can also help you understand how you CAN afford to purchase your first home!  Give her a call at (540) 320-1328 and start your search for your first home today!

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Buying-a-Home-is-a-Sound-Financial-Investment

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Negotiation-101

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Top-Ten-Things-to-Look-for-When-House-Hunting

Buying a Home is a Sound Financial Investment!

by Desi Sowers

Trulia recently reported that buying is cheaper than renting in 100 of the largest metro regions by an average of 33.1%.   Surely this makes you stop and think, “why am I paying someone else’s mortgage when I could be a homeowner myself?”  Being a homeowner allows you to build long-term wealth because it is like a forced savings account.  By paying down your mortgage, you are building equity and basically paying yourself.  So, before signing another rental lease, take a look at some other benefits of owning a home:

  • Mortgage payments can be fixed while rents go up.
  • Equity in your home can provide future financial resources.
  • You can build wealth without paying capital gains.
  • You can become a landlord yourself and not only pay your mortgage but possibly make a profit.
  • You have the freedom to make a home your own with renovations and décor.
  • You can take advantage of tax breaks..
  • You will build closer ties to your community
  • Over the long run you will have greater net worth than if you were a renter.

With current mortgage interest rates still low, now is a great time to consider buying a home.  I can help you better understand your options and why owning is better than renting.  Contact me at (540) 320 - 1328 or at Desi Sowers and we can start your home search today!

Moving Day Survival Kit

by Desi Sowers

You’ve closed on your new home and it’s time to move in!  This is an exciting time, but can also be a bit stressful.  Where do you even begin?  A good place to start is to create a moving day survival kit for yourself. It should include anything and everything that is important or of great value to you and should stay with you and not go with movers. Here is a list of “must have” items to make your move as organized and stress-free as possible:

  • Toilet Paper.  At least a few rolls. Trust me on this one.
  • Pain reliever and all your medications.  You don’t want to be searching for these necessities, so make sure they are easily accessible.
  • Toilet Plunger.  Yes, really. Especially if your new place only has one bathroom. Better safe than sorry!
  • Cash for tipping your movers.
  • A Multi-Tool.  While having a whole tool box handy would be great, there is only so much you can (and should) fit into your survival kit.  Something like a Leatherman will provide you with a way to open boxes and other small tasks…and it will fit in your pocket!
  • Trash Bags.  And clear recycling bags.  Look up where you can recycle locally and have the address in your phone so you can take packing boxes/materials there after you unpack.
  • Power Strip and Mobile Phone Charger.  There is nothing worse than discovering your phone is dying and you have no idea where your charger is!  The power strip will come in handy because you will probably clear one small area and can plug in your electronics, a lamp, a coffee pot, etc.…
  • Personal Hygiene Items.  Pack an overnight bag with your toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo etc.  That way, when you are ready to call it a day you can jump right in the shower without having to search through boxes for them.
  • All Purpose Cleaner and a Roll of Paper Towels (or two). Hopefully move-in day won’t be cleaning day, but you never know.  Be prepared.  Even if the house looks clean, you are going to want to wipe down the toilets, sinks and counters.
  • Bottled Water and Granola Bars.   You are going to be hungry. And tired.  Have water and snacks on hand to get you through the day.  Look up some Take Out Restaurants and have their numbers in your phone so you can have food delivered.
  • First Aid Kit.  Well, at least a box of Band-Aids in case you cut yourself opening boxes.
  • Note Pad and Pen.  Because you WILL come up with a list of things you need and need to do as you are unpacking and you will want to write them down so you don’t forget.
  • Scented Candles or Air Fresheners.  Even the cleanest house will smell a little musty if it has been closed up for a while.
  • Flashlight.  Some rooms won’t have overhead lights and if you haven’t unpacked the lamps yet, a flashlight will come in handy.

Enjoy your new home!  And if you haven’t found your dream home yet visit desisowers.com and start your search today!

Preparing for a Bidding War

by Desi Sowers

It is a seller's market in real estate this year and now that spring has arrived, the competition for homes is likely to get even more fierce.  If you are looking to purchase a home right now, chances are you may find yourself in a bidding war.  Be prepared!  Here are six ways to come out on top in a bidding war:

  1. Get your finances in order and get as much cash as you can.  It is never too soon to get pre-approved for a loan. In fact, the sooner the better.  Sellers will have lots of options and will be leery of those who do not have loans set in stone.  If possible, bring cash to the table.  Sellers will fear appraisals coming in low and loans falling through, so be prepared to cover the difference with cash.
     
  2. Don’t hesitate!  Be the first to make an offer, and make it a good one.  An insulting offer will put you at the bottom of the seller’s list, so it is not a good time to low ball.  Come in at or slightly below asking price so that they know you are serious about purchasing their home.
     
  3. Escalation Clause.  This is the amount of money the buyer agrees to increase the offer if there are other bids. If you offer the asking price of $400,000 on a house, but it might sell for $450,000, put in an escalation clause stating that you are willing to go as high as $460,000.  But know your limit.  Don’t offer more than you can handle.  Also, make sure the clause states that the seller can only take the winning bid up to a level just above the competing offers.  For example, if an offer comes in for $430,000, your bid would be upped to $431,000.
     
  4. Get a pre-inspection.  It will cost you a few hundred dollars, but it can help you in a super-tight market.  If you can make a bid that is not contingent upon inspection, sellers will look favorably on your offer versus the same offer from someone who has a contingency in their contract.
     
  5. Show the love!  If you have found the perfect house and really love it, don’t be afraid to let the sellers know, either directly or through your Realtor.  You can write a letter, send pictures of your family or even make a video describing why you love the house so much.  Be specific in your praise.  Sellers may appreciation the connection you feel with the house and choose you over other bidders.
     
  6. Think with your head, not your heart. Be smart! Purchasing a home is an emotional thing for sure, but emotions can get in the way of making wise decisions.   Make sure you have done thorough research of the market: look at the most recent comparable sales, compare prices from a year ago, visit local school, have coffee at the closest café and speak to potential neighbors.  Look at listings nearby.  Whatever you do, don’t overpay because you get caught up in the heat of the competition.  While the house may seem perfect for you, it is not the only house that will be perfect for you. So, keep a level head and make intelligent decisions.

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/The-Top-Ten-Things-to-Look-for-When-House-Hunting

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/How-to-Determine-if-You-are-Ready-to-Buy-Your-First-House

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Dont-Wait-Buy-Your-Home-in-2017

The Top Ten Things to Look for When House Hunting

by Desi Sowers

House hunting can be overwhelming sometimes, especially when beginning the search for your first home.  Chances are you might get caught up in the process and important details might slip by you. While the number of rooms, condition of the kitchen, and size of the yard are important, there are other things to consider before you make an offer.  This list of things to look for can help get your search off to the right start.

 

  1.      Location, Location, Location
    They say that the 3 most important things to look for when buying a home are location, location and location.  While a home might not be perfect, loving your neighborhood and neighbors can make all the difference in living with imperfection.  And face it…you can change almost anything about your house, but you can’t change its location or the people living nearby.  When you go house hunting, make sure to consider the home’s proximity to your work, the appeal of the neighborhood, when in the neighborhood the home is situated, ease of access, noise from neighbors, traffic, pets and access to parks, shopping, schools and public transportation.

 

  1.      Home Placement
    Beyond location, look at how the home is situated.  If the home is on a hill does it have a view, a walkout basement, or lots of stairs to climb? Do neighbors' windows look directly into the home? Is the yard suitable for kids, pets, gardening, or other uses? Is their safe access to the home? These are all important questions to ask yourself when determining if it is the right property for you.

 

  1.      Check Out the Neighborhood
    While it’s important for your house to meet your expectations, it’s equally important that the neighborhood meets them too. Take a drive around the development you are interested in on week days and weekends, during the day and in the evening.  Are the homes in good repair? Are yards kept clean and tidy?  Is the neighborhood safe enough for people to walk, run or bike?  Are there children playing outdoors?

 

  1.       Consider a Home’s Curb Appeal
    You want a home that is going to reflect your lifestyle. Do you live a    casual, laid-back life? Then you probably won’t want a formal Victorian or Tudor style home.  A simple, contemporary home might better suit you.  Pay close attention to exterior features.  Think about maintenance.  For example, a brick home is easier to maintain than one with siding.  Do you like working in the yard?  If not, you might not want a house with extensive landscaping.  Is the roof in good condition?  Attention to detail will help you choose the home with the best curb appeal for you.

 

  1.       Size and Floor Plan
    You may be thinking about buying your dream home. But is your dream home practical?  Do you actually need 4 bedrooms and 4 baths when you live alone? A spacious home may provide  the extra room you've always wanted for a home office or a theater room, but you'll pay higher heating bills and have higher taxes. Additionally, it will take more furniture to furnish and money to decorate. Think about how the new home space will be used and whether it will fit your lifestyle now and in the future.

 

  1.        Bedrooms and Bathrooms
    Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you will need and only    look at homes that meet that criteria.  You don’t want to fall in love with what is otherwise a perfect house if it doesn’t provide the space needed for your family.  It’s smart to consider counting an extra bedroom in that number so that you have extra space for a home office or guest room. If you think you might add on to the home later, make sure you consult an architect who can advise you on space planning and regulations.

 

  1.         The Kitchen
    For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Don’t settle for a home with a kitchen that doesn’t work for you.  Yes, you can remodel later, but at great expense.  If it’s an easy fix like replacing cabinets or countertops, get a price quote before committing the house so that you will know if it is within your budget to take that on.

 

  1.          Closets and Storage
    Older homes often have small closets and lack storage space.  As you’re looking at a home ask yourself where you will store your belongings.  Tiny closets don’t have to be a deal breaker.  There are ways to maximize storage without renovations. Newer homes tend to have lots of storage and you may sacrifice living space while having more closet space than you actually need.

 

  1.          Windows and Lighting
    While looking at a home keep in mind your preferences regarding light and privacy.  Do you want a lot of windows to provider bright, sunny rooms?  Pay attention to the locations of electrical outlets and fixtures to make sure they will meet your lighting needs. 

 

  1.            Finishing Touches
    Even a simple home can look spectacular with the right moldings, hardware, and a fireplace.  If elements like these are important to you, look for them while house hunting. 

 

You may not find everything you want in one house, but keep this list handy and you are more likely to find the home that best suits your needs and desires.  Happy House Hunting!

If you are interested in buying a New River Valley home, contact Desi Sowers at 540-320-1328, and discover the difference she can make during your family's move. 

 

Lucky Number 7 for First-Time Homeowners

by Desi Sowers

With the tax code constantly changing, first-time homebuyers need to educate themselves to understand year-to-year changes.  As an incentive to buy homes, the government provides tax breaks to existing and new homeowners.  Homeowners receive multiple tax deductions, tax credits and other breaks that aren’t available to those who rent.  If you bought your first home in 2016, it is smart to familiarize yourself with current homeowner tax breaks so you can take advantage of them and save some money.

  1. HOME MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION

The mortgage interest deduction is one of the largest home tax breaks and is a significant new homeowner tax credit.  It covers interest paid on loans of up to $1 million, or $500,000 if you’re married but filing a separate return. This deduction can especially benefit borrowers with new loans because interest changes on mortgages are typically steeper in the early years of the mortgage’s term. Don’t miss out on this money saving tax credit.  Your loan provider should send you a form 1098 which will show how much interest you paid the previous year.

Instructions For Home Mortgage Interest Deduction

 

  1. MORTGAGE INTEREST CREDIT

The federal government's mortgage interest credit provides another chance for first-time homebuyers to claim a tax break for the mortgage interest they paid. Unlike the mortgage interest deduction,             which reduces your taxable income, this mortgage interest credit directly counts against your tax bill, lowering what you owe.  To be eligible for this strategic tax break, a state or local government must have issued you a MORTGAGE CREDIT CERTIFICATE.  Typically, this certificate is issued when you originate your mortgage.  It tells you how much interest you can claim as a credit.  If you also claim a    mortgage interest deduction when you file your taxes, you must reduce the credit by that amount.   Mortgage Interest Credit Form

 

  1. MORTGAGE POINTS DEDUCTION

You can also deduct what you pay in points to obtain the mortgage loan in the first place. Mortgage points are prepaid interest that can help a borrower qualify for a lower interest rate over the life of the loan. How to Deduct Mortgage Points on Your Tax Return

 

  1. TAX FREE IRA WITHDRAWALS

Saving money for a down payment and closing costs is something many people have to do when buying a home. The IRS says you can pull funds from your IRA to help. You can take up to $10,000 from your IRA without penalty to buy a home, although you'll still need to pay taxes on the money. Your 401k plan does not qualify for the exception to the 10 percent penalty. How to Tap an IRA for a Home Purchase

 

  1. PROPERTY TAX DEDUCTION

Property taxes are one of the many advantageous tax breaks for first-time homebuyers. You can deduct property taxes paid during the year for which you're filing. If you purchase a home midway through the tax year, you can claim all taxes paid from the date of sale onward.  How to Claim Property Taxes

 

  1. HOME IMPROVEMENT TAX BREAKS

Improvements you make to a home can qualify for a tax break. If you use a home equity loan or other loan secured by your home to finance improvements, the loan will qualify for the same mortgage interest deductions as your main mortgage.  Home Improvements that are Tax Deductible

 

  1. HOME ENERGY TAX BREAKS

Unfortunately, two property-related home improvement tax credits have been eliminated as of Jan. 1, 2017. That means both credits will no longer apply beginning with the 2017 tax year.  They are: the Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit and the Residential Energy Property Tax Credit.  However, you can still claim these credits if you made qualifying improvements to your home during the 2016 tax year. Keep all receipts and contracts from the home improvements and use Form 5695 to file for this credit.

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Real-Estate-Myths-Dont-Let-Them-Fool-You

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Mortgage-Information

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Top-10-Remodeling-Projects-for-Adding-Value-to-Your-Home

How to Determine if You are Ready to Buy Your First House

by Desi Sowers

The decision to purchase your first home is not one that should be made lightly.  It is an important, life-changing decision that should be given serious consideration.  So, before you take the plunge into searching for the prefect home, here are some questions you should ask yourself to make sure that you are ready.

  1. Can I afford a home?  The first step is to determine if you can afford to buy a home based on your current financial situation.   Using a home affordability calculator will help you figure out how much you can afford by plugging in your income, debt and the amount of a down payment you will be able to make.   You will now have a number of the highest amount you can afford and what the monthly payment will be.
  2. Is it better for me to rent or buy?  The answer to this question depends upon what kind of market you are in because inventory can make a huge difference. Using a rent vs buy calculator will allow you to crunch the numbers. You can enter the current amount of rent you’re paying (or how much you would be able to pay) and the zip code where you want to live. The calculator will provide a comparison of the cost of buying a home versus renting in that area.  You will also be able to see which option is more cost effective over time.
  3. How long will I live here?  If you plan to stay in a home for a long time, it is generally better to buy versus rent. If you’re going to be living somewhere for a short term, renting might be the better option.  The reason is that when you buy a home you will likely have to pay closing costs which can total in the thousands of dollars.  In addition, most of your early mortgage payments go toward interest rather than paying down the principal, which is the actual amount you owe on the home.  A good rule of thumb is that home buyers should stay put for at least five years.  Otherwise, renting is better.
  4. Are you saving for retirement?  Retirement may seem a long way off to young home-buyers, but it is important to start saving early.  It’s not a good idea to neglect your retirement accounts in order to “save” money to put down on a house. Consider meeting with a financial counselor who can help you find a balance in saving for retirement and saving for your first home at the same time.
  5. Am I ready for the responsibility?  Owning a home is a huge responsibility.  With rentals, you can call your landlord to fix things that aren’t working in the home, but as an owner, it all comes down to you.  You need to be sure that you have the time, willingness and resources to keep up with home and yard maintenance.

 

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Dont-Wait-Buy-Your-Home-in-2017

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/How-to-Get-Out-of-Debt-and-Buy-a-House

http://www.desisowers.com/Blog/Mortgage-Information

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 14

Syndication

Categories

Archives

Each Office Independently Owned and Operated