Buying & Selling January 17, 2024

How to Buy a House Out-of-State

Buying a home out of state might seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little research, some careful planning and the help of a good real estate agent, you can make the dream a reality. Read on to discover some helpful tips for purchasing a house in another state.

  1. Determine where you want to live (and why)
    Not surprisingly, the first step in the process is deciding where you want to look – and why you want to look there. Are you interested in living by the beach? Being in a big city? Moving closer to family? And if you currently own a home, are you planning to sell it or rent it when you move?
  2. Get your finances in order
    Once you’ve decided on a place to look, you should begin the process of getting pre-approved for a mortgage, which will help you determine your budget. Certain cities and states are more expensive than others, and some have higher property taxes, so you’ll want to ensure that you’re completely prepared for every cost throughout the process.
  3. Find a qualified local agent
    Choosing an experienced local real estate agent is key. This person can provide you with all of the insight and knowledge that you need to make the right decision, and can also answer any questions you may have about the area (desirable neighborhoods, goods and services, schools and so on). They can even visit open houses on your behalf.
  4. Visit the area if possible
    If you’re able to, plan a trip so that you can get a feel for your chosen area and check out available homes in person. (If traveling is not a possibility for you, talk to your real estate agent about alternatives; many homes offer virtual tours, for example.) Walk through the neighborhoods that interest you and try to chat with local residents; they can offer invaluable insight on what it’s like to live there.
  5. Be prepared to act quickly
    Relocating out of state adds another layer of complexity to the home buying process, so you need to be ready to move quickly once you find a house that you like. It’s a seller’s market in many areas; you don’t want to give the seller any reason to choose another buyer.
  6. Schedule a home inspection and an appraisal
    If you’re buying a house sight unseen, the last thing you want is to discover any unpleasant surprises once you move in. Even if you are able to tour the house in person before buying it, scheduling a home inspection and an appraisal is a vital step in the process. Keep in mind that common home concerns vary from state to state (wetter climates are more prone to mold, for example), so there may be issues that you need to look out for that you haven’t had to deal with previously. If you’re unable to attend a home inspection in person, your agent should be able to help you out.

Whatever your reason for relocating, it’s possible to successfully buy a home out of state – as long as you stay on top of things and trust the advice of an expert agent.

Buying & Selling November 8, 2023

Why You Should Sell Your Home in the Fall

If you’re thinking of selling your home, you’ve probably been told that spring and summer are the best times of year to put a house on the market. Whie it’s true that more people sell their homes during the warmer months, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider an autumn home sale. In fact, there are a number of distinct advantages to selling your house in the fall. Here are a few reasons to consider listing later in the year.

You’ll have less competition from other sellers. The market is much more saturated in the spring and summer than it is in the fall, so if you decide to sell during an off-peak period, you won’t be competing as much for buyers’ attention. On the other hand, you will have the benefit of increased competition among interested buyers, since there is less inventory from which to choose. As a result, you might get more offers on your home, potentially sparking a bidding war among prospective purchasers.

Potential buyers are looking to move quickly. Autumn house hunters are often more serious than those who are idly browsing what’s out there when the market is busy. These buyers may have specific reasons for looking during the fall – perhaps they are starting a new job at the beginning of the year, or they’re motivated to get settled in a new house before the holiday season kicks off.

You might have more negotiating power. With less inventory, greater competition and highly motivated buyers, you have a better chance of being able to sell your home on your terms. That can translate to a higher asking price and/or less contingencies.

You can create an inviting atmosphere. Colorful fall foliage in your front or back yard increases your curb appeal, and a cozy fire in your fireplace (if you have one) will make viewers feel especially welcome.

You may be able to close faster. Those involved in the selling process (mortgage lenders, appraisers, inspectors) may have more availability than usual, given the quieter market – so you’re less likely to have to wait around for appointments. Plus, with less transactions to process, closings can move more smoothly and are less prone to delays.

Interest rates could continue to rise. There’s no way to predict with absolute certainty what might happen with interest rates over the next six months, so waiting to sell your current home might mean paying a higher rate when the time comes to buy a new one.

With these considerations in mind, and with an experienced realtor guiding you through the process, you can list your home with confidence during the autumn months.

Your Home October 6, 2023

Fall Design Trends: Make Your Home Autumn-Ready

The crisp air and vibrant foliage inspire creative renewal as autumn embraces our homes. This season, homeowners are reimagining their spaces with stylish, seasonal touches. From natural materials to cozy textures, let’s explore some of the most intriguing fall design trends in 2023.

Nature’s Hues

One of the most popular fall decor trends centers on mimicking nature’s hues. Echoing the shifting colors outdoors, natural materials like wood, stone and rattan bring an organic vibe inside. Dark woods provide warmth underfoot and on furniture frames, while natural stone countertops and backsplashes channel the colors of the landscape. Imperfect, textural materials like bouclé and seagrass are a great way to add depth when strategically placed throughout.

Layers of Texture

Mixing textural elements creates depth and visual interest. Velvet, leather, wool and cashmere in rich hues add luxurious softness. Knubby bouclé, wool throws and smooth velvet pillows provide irresistible texture. Switch out lighter summer linens for heavier materials that insulate and cocoon.

Sofas with Personality

Goodbye plain white sofas; rich hues and bold patterns hold court this season. Emerald green, burnt orange and mustard yellow inject liveliness. Graphic floral and geometric patterns make a statement. Distinctive sofas in vivid colors and prints become a cozy hangout spot for autumn gatherings.

Outdoor Living Extends

As temperatures cool, outdoor spaces get a second life. Outfit patio seating with weather-resistant wool throws and plush pillows in fall shades. Add a fire pit for warmth and gather around it to enjoy the fall foliage. Create a lounge-worthy area to unwind outdoors well into the season.

Layered Lighting

To set a moody, intimate tone, designers recommend layered lighting from multiple sources. Stylish floor and table lamps provide ambience without overhead brightness, while varying heights and lamp styles create depth and interest. Candles of different sizes lend additional warmth to early fall evenings.

Intentional Festive Touches

Instead of fall motif overload, trendy homeowners are aiming for tasteful accents to herald the season. A few pretty white pumpkins on the mantle or ginger jars with velvet bows subtly celebrate autumn’s arrival. The key is editing themes down to thoughtful details for a polished, festive touch.

Return to Formal Dining

As open-air barbecues wind down, formal dining rooms regain their central entertaining role. Break out heirloom china and linens for intimate dinner parties. Incorporate seasonal touches like fig branches or dried florals. With renewed appreciation, homeowners are rediscovering the splendor of this special space.

As we welcome the beauty of autumn, this year’s top trends invite us to reconnect with nature’s palette and envelop our homes in cozy textures as we celebrate the shifting seasons with thoughtful style.

Buying & Selling August 29, 2023

Buying in a Historic Neighborhood: What to Know

Owning a property in a historic neighborhood offers a unique chance to preserve and showcase your home’s historical significance. It can also be a valuable investment opportunity, since these properties tend to retain their value during slow periods in the real estate market. To better understand the pros and cons of this kind of investment, here’s what you should know.

It can be a rewarding opportunity.

Owning a historic home is a unique experience that can bring lovers of art and architecture closer to their communities and the past. In addition to owning a distinctive piece of history, you are often joining a community that’s committed to preservation. Historic properties exude compelling beauty and charm, while showcasing distinctive architectural elements that make them one of a kind. A historic property may also qualify for tax freezes, tax abatements or tax credits from local, county, state and the federal government — sometimes outright and other times applied against approved renovations. With all that said, there are some important things to consider before you invest in a historic property.

They often come with restrictions. 

Historic neighborhoods may impose restrictions concerning changes you can make to your property. Such limitations may cover everything from paint to window replacements. You will need to contact your local planning authority for approval before beginning any renovations.

Areas recognized on the National Register of Historic Places typically don’t apply these constraints. However, locations on local or state lists often do. While they are limiting, these rules do have an upside, since they help protect you from unfavorable changes in neighboring properties.

You should learn about easements. 

You can safeguard the historical character of your property by establishing a historical preservation easement. This legal provision applies constraints to potential changes to the house and mandates that future homeowners respect these rules.

You will usually pay a government body or a certified preservation group to manage the easement. The cost may be eligible for a federal tax deduction. Before investing in a historic property, check if an easement exists and understand its implications and who oversees it.

Maintenance can be costly.

Historic properties stand the test of time due to their solid construction. Many people are surprised to learn that houses built in the 1980s often degrade faster than those constructed in the 1800s, depending on the initial craftsmanship and regularity of maintenance.

With all that said, no house is immune to the ravages of Father Time. Anytime you buy an older property, you might end up with significant repair and restoration costs. If you’re considering a historic property that requires significant work, you need to think about how you will pay for repairs.

Some state historic preservation offices are willing to offer grants or tax benefits for property owners, which can assist with the upkeep and repair of registered properties.

It may be tough getting insurance and financing.

Some lenders might not be willing to finance an old house that needs a lot of work. In certain cases, you might not be able to get a regular loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. If not, you might want to consider looking into a private HUD Title 1 loan for small fixes.

You could also think about getting rehab mortgage insurance, which can cover the cost of buying the house and leave a little money left over for some of the repair work. In the right circumstances, you may also be able to get a Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation mortgage to help finance the purchase and pay for any needed repairs.

Keep in mind that some insurance providers might be hesitant to cover old houses if they believe the repair costs will be high. But, if your house is registered with the federal government and doesn’t have any restrictions, you should have an easier time getting insured. Either way, plan on spending some extra time looking for the right homeowner’s insurance policy.

Old homes are, well, old.

While historic properties have uniquely intriguing character, it’s important to remember that old homes might not be able to meet your modern needs. You may not be able to install a high-tech kitchen or a big master bathroom. Plus, any updates you make could lower your home’s value, depending on its historical significance.

With that in mind, think about what you want before you decide to buy. Are you looking for a real estate investment or a home with unique character? Can you live without the latest gadgets, and how will any changes you make affect the home’s charm and selling price? Talk to your real estate agent about your goals, so you’re not surprised by the realities of living in an older home.

Buying & SellingYour Home August 7, 2023

Determine Your Home Down Payment

One of the most important aspects of the home buying process is determining how much money to set aside for a down payment (the percentage of a home’s purchase price that you are responsible for paying at closing). You may have heard the saying that the ideal amount for a down payment is 20% of a home’s purchasing price – a fairly daunting prospect, since that amount typically represents a substantial chunk of money.

So how much should your down payment be? Truthfully, there’s no “right” answer to that question; it’s dependent on your personal situation and your preferences. But there are some steps you should take before making your decision, which we break down below.

Calculate your current savings and debt-to-income ratio. Before deciding how much house you can afford and how much of a down payment you can make, you will need to have a solid understanding of your finances. That means taking into account your savings, as well as your monthly expenses.

A helpful way to make sense of these finances is by calculating your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. You can do this by estimating the monthly amount of money you owe (credit card bills, student loans, rent or mortgage payments and so on) and dividing that number by your pre-tax monthly income. The lower your DTI percentage, the more comfortable lenders will feel providing you with a loan.

Set aside money for closing, as well as a cushion for emergencies. Closing costs account for anywhere from 3 to 6% of the balance of your loan – not an insignificant amount, by any means. You’ll want to make sure you have separate funds available to cover these costs. And as any homeowner will tell you, the move process always involves at least a few unforeseen issues. If something in your new home breaks a week after you settle in, you don’t want to be unable to pay for repairs.

Explore your loan options. There are plenty of different types of loans from which to choose, depending on your circumstances and preferences. Conventional loans are great for buyers who have a good credit score, and allow for down payments as low as 3%. Fixed-rate mortgages provide the security of having a relatively unchanged monthly payment for the duration of the loan. Government-backed loans offer specific advantages to those who qualify and might otherwise have trouble securing a conventional loan. Deciding which loan is right for you will help determine how much of a down payment you will need.

Weigh the pros and cons. There are advantages and disadvantages to paying down more or less. The higher your down payment, the lower your monthly mortgage payments; paying more down also invests more immediate equity into your home. On the other hand, if you’re a first-time buyer, getting your foot on the property ladder now might be more worthwhile than waiting to have more money to put into a down payment.

Determining your down payment is one of the biggest decisions you need to make when purchasing a home. But with some careful research, planning, and working with an experienced agent, you can find the solution that works the best for you.