AT HOME IN ALASKA

 

May 4, 2018

I'm Keto Friendly! Let's find you a Home!

Posted in Tips for Buyers
Feb. 7, 2018

Misconceptions About Buying A Home Are Blocking Eligible Buyers From Becoming Homeowners

Some potential buyers face roadblocks on the road to homeownership. But according to a recent report from Urban Institute, many of those roadblocks are self-created in the form of misconceptions about what it takes to purchase a home. According to the report, a whopping 80% of are either unaware of how much is required for a down payment or believe they need to save 5% or more of the total purchase price in order to make a purchase (with 50% believing a lender either expects or requires a 20% down payment in order to approve a mortgage). This information, of course, is false. There are plenty of lenders out there that will approve loans with either no or an extremely low down payment (in fact, according to the National Association of Realtors' Realtors Confidence® Index , 61% of first-time buyers in 2017 made a down payment of 6% or less.) With so many potential buyers out there operating with false information, it's no wonder so many renters (53%, according to the Urban Institute Report) consider saving for a down payment a major obstacle on the way to homeownership.

The Takeaway

If you're considering buying a home but holding back because you don't think you can afford a down payment, do some research. Look for no or low interest payment lending options like FHA loans. The reality of owning a home might be closer (and more affordable) than you think!

Jan. 23, 2018

Home Sellers Doing It “By Owner” (FSBOs) Are At An All-Time Low… And For Good Reason

According to the 2017 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, FSBOs remain at an all-time low of a paltry 8%... and for good reason. According to the report, FSBOs typically sell for significantly less than homes represented by an agent. Agent-assisted homes sold for a whopping $60,000 more on average than FSBOs, with a median price of $250,000 compared to FSBOs $190,000. This huge discrepancy is likely behind the vast majority of sellers seeking qualified agents; in 2017, seller's use of real estate agents hit an all-time high of 89%.

Data Source: Realtor.com

But sellers aren't the only ones seeking out agents. Because of historically low inventory (according to Realtor.com's recent Housing Shortage Report, inventory is the lowest it's been in 20 years) and the uncertainty of working with FSBOs, buyers are flocking to real estate agents to assist with their home search, with buyer's use of real estate agents also hitting an all-time high in 2017 if 87%.

The Takeaway

Whether you're buying or selling, the best option is always to work with a real estate agent - and the declining presence of FSBOs on the market just confirms it. So do yourself a favor and find an agent.

Dec. 27, 2017

Top 4 REAL Reasons We Buy a Home

We often talk about the financial reasons why buying a home makes sense. But, more often than not, the emotional reasons are the more powerful or compelling reasons.

No matter what shape or size your living space is, the concept and feeling of home can mean different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the emotional reasons why we choose to buy our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones.

1. Owning your home offers stability to start and raise a family

From the best neighborhoods to the best school districts, even those without children at the time of purchase may have this in the back of their minds as a major reason for choosing the location of the home that they purchase.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers you not only safety and security, but also a comfortable place that allows you to relax after a long day!

3. You have more space for you and your family

Whether your family is expanding, an older family member is moving in, or you need to have a large backyard for your pets, you can take this all into consideration when buying your dream home!

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and style

Looking to actually try one of those complicated wall treatments that you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Or maybe you want to finally adopt that puppy or kitten you’ve seen online 100 times? Who’s to say that you can’t in your own home?

Bottom Line

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that make a house a home.

Dec. 24, 2017

2018 Market Outlook via Edward Jones

Dec. 20, 2017

Rents Are on the Rise: Don’t Get Caught in the Rental Trap!

 

There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top benefits is protecting yourself from rising rents, by locking in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.

Don’t Become Trapped 

A recent article by Apartment List addressed rising rents by stating:

“Rents are up 2.7% year-over-year at the national level. Year-over-year growth continues to fall between the 2.1% rate from this time last year and the 3.4% growth rate from October 2015.”

The article continues explaining that:

“Despite the seasonal slowdown, rents are still up year-over-year in 89 of the 100 Largest cities.

Additionally, the Urban Institute revealed that,

Over a quarter of renters, or 11.1 million households, are severely cost burdened, spending at least half their income on rental housing.

These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, including groceries and healthcare.

It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent 

As we have previously mentioned, the results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia shows that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 6.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 57% less expensive in Detroit (MI) and 37.4% nationwide!

Know Your Options

Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. A nationwide survey of about 24,000 renters found that 80% of millennial renters plan to eventually buy a house, but 72% cite affordability as their primary obstacle. Aside from affordability, one in three millennial renters have concerns about their credit scores, and another 53% said that a down payment is an obstacle.

Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream homes. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!

Bottom Line

Don’t get caught in the trap that so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Let’s get together to determine if you can qualify for a mortgage now!

Dec. 16, 2017

Wait Til You See How This Family Transformed Their Home For The New Star Wars Movie. It’s Incredible.

If you’re a fan of the Star Wars epic, you’ve probably seen the newest trailer for Episode 8, which came out this December 15th. If not, here it is…

Via Star Wars

When it comes to sci-fi, there are all sorts of fan clubs. There’s plenty of costumes, role playing, and giant Comicon conventions. Each genre has members that live, eat, breathe (probably some other activities I don’t want to mention) around their obsession. But on occasion, you get some fans who create a real marvel with their home. And that’s what you’re about to see now. Behold, the home that transformed into a Star Wars style starship...

That’s quite a house to begin with.

Someone REALLY likes Star Wars. I like Star Wars too, but this takes it to a whole new level.

Behind these doors is the home's main feature: a Death Star theater.

The hallway makes me wonder if some fans are actually trying to show up George Lucas.

Another feature is the automatic pocket doors leading into the theater. Our clients wanted the doors to operate quietly, because doors that go “psssshhhhh” when they open are from Star Trek, not Star Wars. Did you hear that? No? Mission accomplished!http://www.dillonworks.com/theaters/Edit: Reddit user u/Big_Brain_on_Brad posted this article that interviews the homeowners: http://www.electronichouse.com/article/designing_the_death_star_theater/C154/

The detail is amazing and intricate. I bet it must feel like you’re flying through space while watching a movie.

It belongs to Vic Wertz and Lisa Stevens, who used to run the Official Star Wars Fan Club. They went so far as to commission Doug Chiang, a designer who worked on Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Episode II: Attack of the Clones, to help design the theater.

No kidding; this theater is in someone’s house! This is NOT your father's Death Star theater... unless, of course, you happen to be Luke Skywalker. DillonWorks in Mukilteo, WA (near Seattle) fabricated this custom home theater with automatic doors and twinkling star fields.http://www.dillonworks.com/theaters/Edit: Reddit user u/Big_Brain_on_Brad posted this article that interviews the homeowners: http://www.electronichouse.com/article/designing_the_death_star_theater/C154/

Here’s what the initial concept looked like. They definitely nailed it.

CHIANG! - The owners of this residence commissioned Doug Chiang who produced the original concepts for the theater. Who better than a Star Wars designer to design a theater based on the Death Star?http://www.dillonworks.com/theaters/Edit: Reddit user u/Big_Brain_on_Brad posted this article that interviews the homeowners: http://www.electronichouse.com/article/designing_the_death_star_theater/C154/

The surround sound is probably so good that you have to check for cracks in the drywall after a lightsaber battle.

(The films are projected from a Runco VX5C 3-Chip DLP Projector installed in the back of the room.)

See the guy on the left? That’s either a replica of the frozen Han Solo, or the last guy that got too sucked into the scene. Told you the sound was good.

With this bounty hunter keeping an eye on things, good luck getting in without an invite.

I know a lot of Star Wars fanatics. But few are as imaginative with their obsession as this couple. Their costume parties must be a sight to behold.

Dec. 12, 2017

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success!

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.” 

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”

Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market!

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.

Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract.

Bottom Line 

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in their market on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Let’s talk about how we can make your dreams of homeownership a reality!

Nov. 30, 2017

Renting or Buying…Either Way, You’re Paying Someone’s Mortgage

There are some people who have not purchased homes yet because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich,”

READ MORE

Nov. 30, 2017

7 Secrets About Short Sales You Need To Know Before Making An Offer

Are you interested in buying a short sale? Even if your aren’t, and you’re in the market to buy a house, you should know about “short sales”. There’s always a chance that a house you fall in love with will be subject to a short sale. So, do you avoid a short sale like the plague? Or do you roll up your sleeves and make an offer?

You Probably Know This, But Just In Case

A short sale is when a homeowner sells their property for less than the amount they owe. Not that the homeowner can just agree to a price and sell you the house for any old amount. They will need approval from their lender. Not too many years ago, short sales weren’t really something you’d see on the market. Then the market tanked, and it became a solution for many people who owed more than they could sell their house for. It was a better alternative than foreclosure, for homeowners and for lenders. At this point, short sales have been around for a quite while. And they keep on showing up. Maybe not as much as they have in recent years, but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Unless the market goes back to the heydays of the early 2000s. Which means you need to at least be aware of them, and know whether or not you want to deal with trying to buy one. So, let’s get into some seven things you should know in case the house you want to buy is a short sale.

1. Not Every Short Sale Is A “Deal”

A lot of buyers say that they want to go after short sales, because they want to get a good deal. Just because a house is being sold “short” (for less than the owner owes), does not mean it’s a good deal. If there are equal options for you to choose from on the market that are not short sales, it may not make any sense at all to go after a short sale. You really should only go after a short sale if you are getting a good deal. Or, if there are no other options, that are as good or even better, for about the same price. It isn’t worth the hassle.

2. Even If It Is A Deal, You’re Going To Pay For It

You’re going to pay for it in patience. Lots and lots of patience. Which boils down to time. And time is money. The time you’re waiting for a short sale to be approved could cost you in many ways. Just to name a few:

  • You might miss other opportunities you would have liked to go after.
  • You might incur costs because you need to line up temporary housing while you’re waiting for the deal to close.
  • You could spend money on due diligence (inspections, mortgage process, etc.) all for nothing, if the sale never goes through.
  • Your mortgage rate could go up during the process of waiting.

Lenders have gotten a bit better and quicker about the process at this point. When this trend first started, they were swamped, and it was all kind of new for everybody. So it took time. Now that the kinks have been worked out, it can happen more quickly. But not necessarily. There is no way to know how long it will take. Err on the side of caution, and plan on it taking anywhere from six months to a year. But it’ll probably be more like between three to six months. Regardless, it will almost always take longer than a straight up sale between you and a homeowner who does not need to sell their house short. So, again, the deal better be worth your time and patience.

3. Expect To Buy It “As-Is”

Almost every seller in the world wants to sell their home “as-is”. Meaning they want to negotiate that the buyer won’t further negotiate any issues that are found in a home inspection during the process. But the reality is, it’s pretty rare for a homeowner to sell their home truly “as-is”. There’s almost always some sort of concession or repair made, once a buyer does their home inspection. No matter how firm the seller wants to be, or how good of a price they gave the buyer, it happens. And sellers will typically agree to some, or even all of the requests made by a buyer. It’s just easier than losing the deal. But it isn’t always just home inspection issues. It could be something related to permits, or certificates the town requires, for instance. In a short sale, the lender isn’t going to step and fix anything, or consider a credit for repairs usually. And they aren’t going to get any permit or certificate issues resolved. It’s hard enough getting them to agree to the lower-than-owed price they accept. So don’t expect it. Don’t even hope for it. And the owner probably isn’t in any financial position to do any repairs, given their situation. And frankly, they probably are pretty much checked out at that point anyway. They want nothing to do with what you want. They get nothing out of it. Unless they are that desperate to just get this chapter of their life over with, and somehow figure out a way to make some repairs. Point is, expect to take on whatever problems the house comes with… Which means, again, it better be a pretty good deal.

4. Don’t Be Surprised If The Lender Counteroffers

Unfortunately, not all real estate agents or homeowners even get the lender on board with the fact that they’re trying to sell the house short. So, you could negotiate what seems to be a great deal with the owner, only to have their lender come back and counter your offer for way more than the house was even listed for. So, let’s say the house is listed for $250,000. You negotiate it down to $225,000. But then the offer is submitted to the lender for approval, and they counter at $325,000...probably because they are owed that much. This strikes a lot of buyers as crazy. How can a lender do that!? The house was listed for less! Well, they weren’t in on the process when the owner and agent made those decisions. Now they are. It might take some time for them to come around. Many buyers get so frustrated that they back out of the deal because of the lender not coming to agreement on the price. Only to see the lender eventually lower their expectations and accept an offer for the price the buyer had offered... or even less! So, it might make sense to just hang in there and wait the bank out. Stand your ground. Be patient. Wait. Or, let another buyer or two loosen the jar lid, and throw offers at the property. Let them get frustrated and get the lender to see the light. Then step in with your offer after one or two other buyers failed to get from offer to a closed deal. But that does take patience. And some amount of strategy. And there is no guarantee…

5. The Deal May Never Be Approved

Whether or not a short sale is approved is out of your control. There are a lot of factors. One of the most frustrating things is that a lot of owners who are trying to sell short do not put in the effort they need to. There’s a lot they need to supply in terms of information. And their motivation is minimal. Beyond that, they are stressed out and probably depressed. So there are times that the homeowner delays the process, if not kills the process altogether. It can get to a point where they progress too far, and fall into foreclosure. And that process can drag on for quite some time. Sometimes, owners feel it would be even better to just get foreclosed. It buys them more time. And a short sale, while better for them than a foreclosure, is no bed of roses. It is still going to negatively affect them. And a lender could simply not agree to a short sale. Maybe the owner is in better financial shape than they feel is necessary to approve a short sale. Or perhaps they just decide it makes more sense to foreclose. It can be frustrating. Your hands are tied. There’s a lot of hurry up and wait. And very little you can do to get anyone to move faster. Even constant follow-up, complaining, or threatening to kill the deal will not make the process move faster. So, just be prepared that you could waste your time, all for nothing. And you will spend money on your end of the process that will never be returned.

6. Be Prepared To Move Fast

When and if a short sale is approved, the chances are that the lender will give you a short time to actually close the deal. So, while they could take months and months just to say yes...they might give you two weeks to close the approved deal. And if you don’t, it could throw the process back into review. The biggest hassle here is with your mortgage (if you are borrowing money to purchase). Your lender needs some time to get your loan approved and “clear to close”. You could be super diligent and get as much of your mortgage process done months ahead of the short sale being approved, but there is still a lot that needs to be done in the final stages. So make sure you’re working closely with your lender, and be good about getting them everything they need ahead of time.

7. Hire A Real Estate Agent Who Is Okay Working With Short Sales

It’s so important to work with a real estate agent who is willing to be in it for the long and hard haul… Not every agent wants to deal with short sales. This is understandable. Agents don’t get paid more for dealing with this type of sale. In fact, they often get paid less. And they are more work. And they are less of a guarantee. And agents work with very little guarantee that their efforts will result in compensation as it is. So, do be aware of this, and thoughtful about it. So, when you hire a buyer’s agent to work with you on a short sale, you need to also be in it with them for the long and hard haul! It is the right thing to do. And it will pay off… Because so many buyers give up on getting a great deal on a short sale because an agent will persuade them to avoid going after one altogether, or encourage a buyer to move on if the process is taking too long. Again, not judging...they have valid reasons for being that way. But it is important for you to know. One thing your buyer’s agent should do before you make an offer on a short sale is to assess whether the listing agent on the property knows what they are doing. Many do not. And in those cases, you might as well not even waste your time. As scary as this all may sound, short sales aren’t something you need to avoid. Just know what you’re getting into beforehand. And be patient. You will pay for the deal in patience, but knowing what you know now, it should be worth every penny of patience you pay.