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What Landlords Can Do To Avoid Evictions

Evictions are at an all-time high. Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist and mass eviction researcher Matthew Desmond placed the number at 2.3 million for 2016, offering a combination of reasons: Soaring housing costs coupled with flatlining incomes have come together to make rental properties that much more unaffordable to average families.

More than ever, families are squeezed between the income they produce versus the rent and housing costs they must meet.

In other words, the climbing eviction rate is unsustainable.

Though there are economic and structural reasons for this uptick, there are also tangible steps that landlords can take to attenuate that rise — effective ways landlords can avoid evictions.

Adopting A Proactive Approach

Evictions are not only destructive for tenants. They also negatively impact landlords, too. Neither party benefits from the eviction process. Tenants are tasked with the challenge of securing a new home. For landlords, the eviction process can take weeks or even months of time, cost and stress. It’s in the interest of both parties to avoid this outcome.

Landlords who mishandle the eviction process may receive a countersuit, action that can bury your case into a deeper, more insipid legal quagmire. Landlords must take a proactive, measured approach to avoid this outcome. When I say proactive, what I mean is an approach that prevents evictions in the first place and that puts the risk in your favor.

Create conditions in which the landlord-tenant relationship is healthy, open, honest and, most importantly, reciprocal. Remember — landlords are bound by their obligations as much as tenants are. Even though landlords own the property, they cannot take the law into their own hands. I’ve seen too many cases in which landlords have done precisely that.

A proactive approach is one that manages the concerns of your tenant in a timely, reasonable manner. It’s an approach that reduces landlord-tenant tension. It’s also an approach that seeks to avoid a reactionary response.

In many cases, evictions take place in unnecessary circumstances. Perhaps the tenant has a reasonable case for late rental payments. Perhaps landlords can adopt a more moral approach, one that seeks to understand and come to a sensible, long-term resolution that benefits both tenant and landlord. It doesn’t always have to result in eviction proceedings. Evictions should be avoided whenever possible.

Evictions are, of course, the action of last resort — both tenant and landlord should come to that realization if a dispute, no matter how small, comes to the fore. It’s not always the fault of the tenant. Landlords should realize this and act accordingly.

Always Meeting Obligations

Of course, there are situations in which eviction proceedings are wholly unavoidable. Even then, though, landlords should reflect on how that situation has arisen.

Landlords should ensure that their tenant is of the highest possible standard. Necessary background checks must be performed before leases are signed. It’s simply not enough to take a passive, distant attitude. It never works. But conducting those extra checks can, in the long term, save you weeks if not months of time, stress and cost by avoiding the eviction process. Invest the necessary time upfront, and it always pays off.

Even when things go awry, landlords should think about how that situation has come to pass and what steps, if any, they can take to avoid the same situation developing in the future. Again, it’s often down to being proactive and tackling every potential source of tension and discord in the landlord-tenant relationship.

The perilous increase in eviction rates of late casts a wider shadow over the landlord-tenant relationship, giving us greater cause to reflect on what landlords can do to prevent this often needless outcome. Landlords must be proactive along three fronts:

1. Landlords should guarantee that their tenant comes with the lowest possible risk. Conduct necessary, extra background checks.

2. Landlords should meet their obligations and ensure the landlord-tenant relationship is healthy, free from both hostility and tension.

3. Landlords should be flexible where necessary, seeking a long-term resolution for whatever the source of tension may be.

In cases where all three strategies fail, eviction proceedings are unavoidable. In these circumstances, landlords should always conduct themselves in accordance with the relevant state and local legislation and the tenancy agreement – a professional approach that seeks to streamline the eviction process, while also protecting the landlord against potential counter suits.

Some evictions are avoidable. By appreciating that fact for what it’s worth, landlords can do more to help their situation (and tenant) in both the short and the long term.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals: What You Need to Know

Businesses from airlines to restaurants to taxis are finding themselves in hot water due to their lack of understanding the rules governing service and emotional support animals.

It’s important that organizations – and especially, small businesses – know when and how to accommodate people with service animals to ensure that everyone has the safest and most pleasant experience with your company as possible.

Service Animals
According to the Department of Justice, service animals are classified, as a dog – and vary rarely, a miniature horse – that has been “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The work task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” A service dog can be trained to assist an owner with a disability with any number of task from helping someone who is blind navigate walking streets to picking up items for someone with acute arthritis to activating a life-alert button for someone who has epilepsy.

Service animals are not required to wear any type of vest or carry certification, so they may not always be easy to identify by just looking at them. Businesses can ask if a dog is a service animal and what work task they have been trained to perform, if it is not obvious. However, they are not allowed to demand any verification for the dog or inquire about their handler’s disability.

Service dogs are also protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) and can accompany their handler to any public place – including office buildings, coffee shops and airplanes, provided they are under control and not a threat to others. Under the ADA, businesses must make “reasonable modifications” of their policies to accommodate trained service dogs. Companies can be fined for violating the rights of people with service animals.

A good way for businesses to think about service animals is as an extension of their owners. The dogs are trained to help their handlers with tasks they may be unable to perform alone. As such, businesses are not allowed to subject service dogs to any fees or restrictions that might apply to regular pets – such as cleaning or transportation fees. Hotels must also allow service dogs and their owners to stay in any room, not just “pet-only” rooms. Essentially, if a human is allowed somewhere, service animals are likely allowed there, too.

Emotional Support Animals
The rules become a bit more challenging around emotional support animals – also known as therapy animals. Emotional support and service animals are not one in the same. The role of an emotional support animal is to provide comfort to its owner and it is not trained to do any specific task. Any animal from a dog to cat or a bird or guinea pig can be considered an emotional support animal and are not covered under the ADA. These animals are considered effective in helping those who suffer from anxiety, depression or even PTSD.

To qualify, owners must receive an approval letter from a mental health professional that the animal provides a therapeutic benefit, and be able to provide that letter if a business requests it. Emotional support animals are allowed in the cabins of airlines at no extra charge and in any rental that falls under the Fair Housing Act, but that is the extent of what federal law requires.

Local laws vary for therapy animals, so it is best to check on the rules in your area before establishing your company policy. For instance, California has more extensive legislation protecting emotional support animals, but New York City isn’t so generous. For instance, in New York employers and landlords must make reasonable accommodations for support animals if you have proper documentation, but they can reject the animal if it poses a threat to the health or safety of others, or if the animal poses a danger of substantial property damage.

California creates three types of support animals with separate rules. The definition of a service dog and an emotional support animal are the same. But a psychiatric service dog is a dog trained to help a person with a mental disability. The tasks it is trained to do is waking someone with clinical depression and making them get out of bed, responding to a panic attack, or alerting an owner to erratic behavior if someone has a bipolar disorder. The protections for this level match those of a regular service dog.

If you do ever encounter a service dog or emotional support animal that is out of control – barking loudly, misbehaving or endangering the safety of other customers – it is perfectly acceptable to ask its owner to bring the animal under control. It is also acceptable to ask them to remove the animal if they are unable to control it. Just as you wouldn’t be expected to allow a human to behave erratically in your place of business, you are not expected to allow a service dog or therapy animal to act that way, either.

Three Misconceptions About Renters’ Insurance

When most people think of insurance, they likely think of some more popular types of policies such as health insurance, auto insurance, and even homeowners insurance. One form of coverage that’s not talked about as often is renters insurance. In fact, with only about 40 percent of renters holding policies, it’s not surprising that there are actually several common misconceptions people have about renters insurance policies.

To clear some things up and show why renters insurance policies can be a smart investment, here are three misconceptions and why they’re wrong:

“Renters insurance only covers your home”
Yes, easily the biggest misconception about renters insurance involves the very fundamentals of such policies. Specifically, tenants seem to think that renters insurance is intended to cover the physical structure of their homes. Since most renters aren’t responsible for these types of damages (their landlords are), they may assume there’s no need for coverage.

In actuality, renters insurance isn’t so much about your home but what’s in it. When you purchase this particular policy, what you’re covering is all of your possessions in the event that they’re damaged or stolen. Moreover, in most cases, the items don’t even need to be in your home at the time they’re damaged in order to be covered.

Other benefits of renters insurance can vary but may include things like liability coverage in the event someone is injured on your property and displacement reimbursement in the event you need to temporarily vacate your home. As a result, renters insurance is a far more comprehensive product than most people may realize.

An average renters insurance policy costs about $15 a month and can go as low as $10.

“It’s insurance, so it’s expensive”
Given the high prices associated with health insurance, auto insurance, and other policies, it’s easy to see why so many people would assume that renters insurance was equally as pricey.

That’s why you may be surprised to learn that studies peg the average renters’ insurance policy at just over $15 a month. This number can go as low as $10 a month in some areas, although prices in more storm-prone regions can be closer to $20 a month. Still, considering the benefits of these policies, it’s likely worth the relatively low price.

It should also be noted that there may be ways to save on your renters’ insurance policy as well. A popular example is the ability to bundle your renters and auto insurance policies in order to secure a discount on one or both. Additionally, with many companies now offering renters insurance policies, a simple way to save is to shop around and compare quotes in order to get the best deal.

“Your policy doesn’t cover the full replacement cost”
This one is actually true in some cases, but it all comes down to whether you have a replacement value or actual cash value (ACV) policy. While it’s true that an ACV policy will factor in things like depreciation and usage when determining how much to pay out on your claim, replacement value policies will provide you what you need to buy the claimed items new. Because of this, although your premium may be a bit higher, it’s often worth it to opt for a replacement value renters insurance policy.

Contrary to some misconceptions and myths that are out there, renters insurance not only provides important and valuable coverage but also comes at an affordable price. As a result, if you rent and don’t yet have a renters insurance policy, perhaps it’s time to protect your stuff and get covered.

Top 5 Mistakes Landlords Make with Their Investment Properties

Managing an investment property is no easy task. It may sound like big money, but if you are not prepared it can turn into a huge money pit. As a landlord, you have a big responsibility to the property as well as the tenants. One small misstep could end up costing you valuable time, energy, and money. That is why you must make sure you do your homework before jumping in. Do as much research as possible. If you look up the latest real estate trends in the area or ask a local expert, you will be able to find enough information to help you make the best decisions when it comes to your investment property. Unfortunately, many landlords want to get started so quickly that they do not think before they invest. Here are the top five mistakes that landlords make with their investment properties:

1.Choosing the Wrong Tenants

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a landlord. If you are renting your property out to a stranger, you must take the extra steps needed to make sure you get the best possible tenants in your property. If you do not know them very well, there are certain precautions you can take. Have them prepare the following:

a) Application Form: Have prospective tenants complete a written application form. This will include standard renter’s information such as names, numbers, employer, previous residences, income, etc. Each adult who will be living in the property would need to fill one of these forms out and minors can be added as well. They would sign that all the information they provide is accurate to the best of their knowledge.

b) Credit and Background Checks: Tenant screening is a great way to see how financially stable your prospective renter is. Credit reports often show if someone has been late on payments and the amount of debt they already have. A background check is very important, not just for your peace of mind, but also in consideration of the neighborhood. You would not want to rent the property out to a convicted criminal. It would compromise the safety of the area and could also bring down the property values.

c) Referrals: Asking for referrals from past landlords and current employer is a great way to go the extra mile in finding the perfect tenant. If the applicants have not be great renters in the past, then they probably would not move forward with their application if referrals are needed. A referral from an employer would also give you confidence that the tenant is gainfullyemployed and able to make a monthly payment.

2. Failing to Create a Thorough Lease Agreement

Creating a good lease agreement is where part of your research will come in handy. Many landlords will print the first form they see on the internet. Unfortunately, this form could be outdated and only relevant for a certain location. Make sure to find an application that has all your stipulations and current local regulations spelled out. Some tenants will comb through the entirety of the agreement to try to catch something that the landlord missed to exploit it. For this reason, it is very important that you create a thorough lease agreement. Be sure to add any rules specific to your property in an addendums section.

3. Lack of Communication

If you make yourself unavailable to your tenants, you are doing them and yourself a disservice. Your office should always be open and you should always be available by phone. Sometimes, home emergencies will come up and your tenants will need your ‘okay’ or your help to get the issues resolved. It can range from something small, like a door coming off its hinges, to something huge, like a flood or leak in the plumbing. The sooner you can get back to your tenants, the better for them and you. The longer you let an issue go, the more difficult it will be to fix a problem and the more resentment your renter could have for you. You want to make sure that your tenants have a good experience so that they are not criticalof you to future renters. This is especially important this day and age where you can review anything and anyone on the internet.

4. Setting the Rental Rate Too Low or Too High

Make sure you are setting the rental rate within the correct range for the property’s age and location. There is such a thing as setting the price too high and too low. If the rent is too high for the area or for how old the property is, no one will want to live there. The longer your home sits unoccupied, the more money you are losing each day. In the same vein, you do not want to set the rent too low. You may be able to get someone into the home quicker, but you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. The whole point in taking on an investment property is to make money. The best thing you can do is look at other rental properties in the area. Try to stick within the range of rental pricing you see in the neighborhood.

5. Delaying Eviction Process

If you do find yourself in the position of having to evict a tenant, try to get the process started as soon as possible. You can expect it to take about 30 days from start to finish, but many times, it is delayed because tenants will come up with excuses. As soon as you can tell there is a real issue, you should begin the process. The longer you wait to get it rolling, the longer it will take. The longer it takes, the more money you will be losing. It is important to note that the tenant is still legally obligated to pay the back rent owed to you. However, if a tenant has opted not to pay rent up until this point, you may be out of luck trying to collect it from them in the future.

Being a landlord is a tough role! If you avoid these common mistakes that most people make with their investment properties, you should have an easier go at it. The main thing to remember is that the more research and preparation you put into renting out your property, the more return you will see on your investment.

10 Rehab Tips That Increase The Value Of Your Property

You need to keep your investment property repairs to a minimum to stay profitable. You also need to keep your properties in good shape to attract tenants or buyers. There are the basic improvements, such as carpet and paint, but these can still costs thousands of dollars. The following are some inexpensive ways to improve your investment properties with very little cash.

10 Budget Rehab Tips That Boost The Value Of Your Investment Property

1. New Electrical Switch Plates

This is such a minor, yet overlooked improvement. Most rental owners and rehabbers paint a unit and leave the old, ugly switch plates. Even worse, some even paint over them.

New switch plates cost about 50 cents each. You can replace the entire house with new switch plates for about $20. For the foyer, living room and other obvious areas, spring for nice brass plates. They run about $5 each – not much for added class.

2. New or Improved Doors

Another overlooked, yet cheap replacement item is doors. If you have ugly brown doors, replace them with nice white doors (you can paint them, but unless you have a spray gun it will take you three coats by hand).

The basic hollow-core door is about $20. It comes pre-primed and pre-hung. For about $10 more, you can buy stylish six-panel doors. If you are doing a rehab, the extra $10 per door is well worth-it. For rentals, consider at least changing the downstairs doors.

3. New Door Handles

In addition to changing doors, consider changing the handles. An old door handle (especially with crusted paint on it) looks drab. For about $10, you can replace them with new brass finished handles. Replace the guest bathroom and bedroom door handles with the fancy “S” handles (about $20 each).

4. Paint/Replace Trim

If the entire interior of the house does not need a paint job, consider painting the trim. New, modern custom homes typically come with beige or off-white walls and bright-white trim. Use a semi-gloss bright white on all the trim in your houses.

If the floor trim is worn, cracked or just plain ugly, replace it! Home Depot carries a new foam trim that is pre-painted in several finishes and costs less than 50 cents per linear foot. Create a great first impression by adding crown molding in the entry way and living room.

5. Replace Front Door

You only get one chance to make a first impression. A cheap front door makes a house look cheap. An old front door makes a house look old. If you have nice heavy door, paint it a bold color using a high-gloss paint. If your front door is old, consider replacing it with a new, stylish door. For about $125, you can buy a very nice door.

6. Tile Foyer Entry

After the front door, your next first impression is the foyer area. Most rental property foyers are graced with linoleum floors. Many homes in Tampa, FL also have an outdoor porch that would benefit from new tile. Consider a nice 12″ Mexican tile. An 8ft x 8ft area should cost about $100 in materials.

7. New Shower Curtains

It amazes me that many landlords and sellers show properties with either no shower curtain or any ugly old shower curtain in the bathroom. Don’t be cheap – drop $40 and buy a nice new rod and fancy curtain.

8. Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Replacing kitchen cabinets is expensive, but painting them is cheap. If you have old 1970’s style wooden cabinets in a lovely dark brown shade, paint them. Use a semi-gloss white and finish them with colorful plastic knobs. No need to paint the inside of them (unless you own a spray gun), since you are only trying to make an impression.

Americans spend 99% of their time in the kitchen (when they are not watching TV). A fancy modern faucet looks great in the kitchen. They can run as much as $150, but not to worry – most retailers (Home Depot, Lowes, Home Base, etc) often run clearance sales on overstocked and discontinued models. I have found nice Delta and Price Pfister faucets for about $60 on sale. And don’t forget to check eBay!

9. Add Window Shutters

If you have ugly aluminum framed windows, consider adding wooden shutters outside. They come pre-primed at most hardware retailers and are easy to install. Paint them an offset color from the outside of the house – (e.g., if the house is dark, paint the shutters white. If the house is light, paint them green, blue, etc.).

10. Add a Nice Mailbox

Everyone on the block has the same black mailbox. Stand out. Be bold. For about $35 you can buy a nice mailbox. For about $60 more, you can buy a nice wooden post for it.

People notice these things and buyers love them! As a real estate investor in Tampa, FL or anywhere else in the world, staying mindful of these easy and cheap fixes can help your profitability soar.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

If your home is in pretty good shape (i.e. it’s decently updated and not in need of a total overhaul), you might think it’s ready to go on the market as is. But little things you wouldn’t expect can end up being deal breakers. And, when you’ve got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a good look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are balking.

Cords hanging from your mounted TV

This is one of those things that tends to fade into the background in a home we live in every day. But don’t be surprised if new eyes go right to those dangling cords and wonder why you didn’t take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale.

An unkempt yard

So, you had your landscapers out to clean out your flower beds, trim the bushes, plant colorful new blooms and mulch everything. And then, the night before a showing, a storm blew a whole mess of leaves into your yard. Grab that rake and make it a family affair out on the lawn at dawn. You know what they say about first impressions. Buyers likely won’t be forgiving of a messy lawn, and your house may stand out if they can see the effort made to clean it up when the neighbors’ yards are still 15-deep in leaves.

A dingy front door

Again with the first impressions. Your home may look great inside, but if the front door is chipped or faded, or the hardware is worn, your potential buyers may never get past it. This is an easy fix, and one that consistently rates high on the ROI scale.

Animals

While homebuyers in general may not mind if animals live in the home they are considering purchasing (unless there are severe allergy issues), they don’t want to see – and, especially, smell – evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the overflowing box of toys and balls. But have you considered the smell? You might not notice it, but first-time visitors likely will.

You don’t have to rehome your pets; Use these tips from petMD to make your home smell pet-free.

Cobwebs

Even if you keep a pretty clean home, there may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans or windowsills that are out of reach. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but doing a one-time, super deep clean before your home hits the market is a good way to make sure potential buyers don’t nitpick and find a reason to question the home’s condition.

Poor furniture arrangement

If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea that the way you have your living room laid out could make a difference in whether or not your home sells, remember back to when you saw the home for the first time. Were you picturing your own furniture in the space? That’s what real buyers do, and if they can’t picture how it will work because you have too much stuff in the space or it’s oddly configured – blocking a fireplace or doorway, for instance – you’re keeping them from doing the thing that could make them buy the home.

“Square footage is important to homebuyers, so when you’re selling a house it’s important to maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each room’s dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal,” said U.S. News & World Report. “A home seller can do this by decluttering, lighting up the room and especially by having your furniture strategically placed to show off the square footage. The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room.” You can learn more staging tips for arranging your furniture here.

Junk drawers and crammed cabinets

Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home are likely going to open everything and look everywhere. It’s not snooping (at least, we hope it’s not snooping!) – it’s an interest in how much storage there is in the home. You may be forgiven for one “junk drawer,” but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see the space, not your stuff.

Overfilled closets

The need to showcase the space, not the stuff, goes double for closets. “Whether it’s a hallway coat closet or a master suite walk-in, your home’s closets will have a major big impact on prospective buyers,” said Apartment Therapy. “Box up off-season apparel – or better yet, donate it – and remove extra hangers so yours looks spacious and streamlined.”

Cluttered countertops

Eliminating, or at least cutting down on, clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready, and this is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional mixer and juicer, they’re much more interested in knowing they have ample countertop space for their own stuff.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

6 Don’ts When Buying Your First Home

These are exciting times. You’ve finally outgrown apartment life or living with your parents or sharing a place with waaaaayyyyy too many roommates, and you’re ready to take the leap to homeownership. Now it’s time to prepare. As you embark on this journey, beware of six important don’ts that could potentially derail your purchase.

Don’t think it’s too early to get prequalified

So, you’re just going to go out “looking” at houses, you say? The time when you just expect to drive around a little and maybe visit an open house or two is obviously the time when you’re going to fall in love with a house and want to make a move on it right away. If you’re not already prequalified with a lender, you may not have a chance at it. Competition is fierce across the country thanks to low inventory, and well-maintained, move-in ready homes do not sit if they’re priced right. Talk to a lender now to make sure you can qualify – and learn your max budget – even if you just think you’re casually looking (because that can change in a hurry!).

Don’t wait to the last minute to check credit

As a continuation of the casually looking conversation…you want to check your credit the second you start thinking about buying a home. You never know what’s going to be on there. Even if you’ve never missed a payment and have always done a good job of managing your outstanding debt, there could be errors on your report that you’re unaware of or even something from many years ago that you didn’t realize had been reported to a credit agency. Those little boo-boos, accurate or not, could be hurting your score, and a low score could keep you from getting a mortgage at all. Give yourself time to correct errors or fix blemishes; every tick upward can help you get a better rate and make your home more affordable.

Don’t forget about PMI when calculating your monthly expenses

The idea of putting as little down as possible on your new home is attractive, especially if you’re not a natural saver. Today, that can mean just three percent of your purchase price, depending on the loan. For FHA loans, it’s three and one-half percent. The problem with making the minimum down payment is that you then have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

“PMI is a fee you pay on your mortgage until you owe 80 percent or less of what your home is worth. It’s one reason why so many experts advise homebuyers make a 20 percent down payment; if you do, you avoid the evils of paying PMI,” said Student Loan Hero. “PMI can cost between 0.3 percent and 1.15 percent of your loan annually. Depending on how much you borrow, that can mean thousands of dollars in extra costs until you can cancel your PMI.”

Don’t ignore the closing costs

Many of us micro-focus on the down payment when getting ready to buy our first home, but there is another important expense related to the purchase: The closing costs. Closing costs encompass a wide variety of fees, some or all of which may apply to you depending on where and what you’re buying. They can include everything from the application fee and appraisal to the escrow fee to the home and pest inspection to the recording fees. You’re looking at between two and five percent of your purchase price for closing fees, which can definitely add up. Many first-time buyers fail to factor this in when getting ready to purchase, and you don’t want something that could amount to a few thousand dollars or more to come as an 11th-hour surprise.

Don’t forget to factor in all the monthly expenses

New-home communities often quote a monthly payment that looks quite affordable and that can entice buyers who don’t look more closely. That’s because the payment is based on principal and interest only (Typically, you’ll see a star next to the payment that tells you there’s a disclaimer at the bottom of the page.). If you take a look at the small print, you’ll see that there are also taxes and insurance to factor in. In some cases, there is also a homeowner’s association fee. That monthly payment may not be looking so good anymore.

If you’re buying your first home and coming from an apartment or other rental property, you may not have worked things like a gardener into your monthly budget. You’ll also want to consider that if you’re going up in square footage, there could an increase in your utilities, and you may be taking on payments for things like water and trash that were covered by your rental. It’s best to have a true idea of what your monthly expenses are going to look like when buying your first home so you don’t end up in over your head.

Don’t think you can go it alone

Can you buy a home without an agent? Sure. Is it a good idea? Not usually. It could be that you are looking to buy a home that is for sale by owner. “In the industry, we call these types of sellers unrepresented,” said The Balance. “Beware if you are trying to buy a home directly from an unrepresented seller. Odds are the seller won’t know what she is doing or she might be taking advantage of you; either way, it could be problematic.”

Unless you are a real estate attorney or are otherwise connected to the industry and aware of the laws, contract issues, etc., it’s best for you to have representation, regardless of what type of home you are buying.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Phoenix Real Estate Market Report ~ May 2018

The number of new listing this month is 10,670 listings which is back in line with the number of listing back in May 2017 of 10,672 listings. The overall number of active listing is still down as compared to 21,230 listings in May 2017 and 20,808 listing in May 2018 which is a decrease of 422 listing or -2.0% In the past months this difference has been a lot wider where the number of new listings coming on the market is helping with the total number of active listings. As for the number of sold transactions, we had fewer transactions in May 2017 of 9,859 transactions as compared to 10,098 transactions in April 2018. This increase in demand during the summer buying season is causing prices to appreciate at a faster rate than in 2017. Also the low amount of active listings and the high amount of transactions the months of inventory has gone from 3.9 months in January 2018 to 1.81 months in May 2018.

The Phoenix Housing Market ended 2017 with an overall annual appreciation rate of approximately +9.0%. If inventory remain low throughout 2018 and a strong demand for housing continues we can expect the market to continue to appreciation above the national average. Historically, real estate prices don’t start to increase until March as the buying season begins and with the low inventory of homes the market has already appreciated 5.5% from an average sold price of $315,070 in January 2018 to $332,267 in May 2018. Another sign we are in a healthy market is the current percentage of foreclosures and short sales sold remains at only 1% of the total market. Since June 2017 (12 months ago), the average days on market has decreased approximately -7.5% (down from last month) and the number of sold transaction has increased approximately +4.9% (up from last month).

Since January 2018 we have seen four sharp trends: The average sold price has appreciated +5.5%, the average days on market have decreased -17.3%, the number of sold transactions has increased +62.6% and months of inventory have decreased -53.6%. Should this trend continue throughout 2018 we can expect another year of appreciation above the national average in the Phoenix real estate market. Historically, 20,808 homes for sale represent the lowest number of homes this market has seen for over a decade. This low number of homes for sale indicates we are in a seller’s market (low supply and increased demand). Property owners are not putting their homes on the market because they are holding off to accumulate additional equity from the market. Hopefully, this roller coaster will come to a slow end instead of everyone wanting to put their homes on the market at the same time.

Real estate prices will continue to increase and interest rates are planned to increase in 2018 so if you are thinking about buying a home this year will be the time to buy before you get priced out of the market. Give us a call to discuss your best buying or selling strategy, TODAY!!

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Eight Signs It’s Time To Move Up

The starter home. It was so cute and quaint and sweet when you bought it, right? But, that was before kids and dogs and overnight quests and holiday dinners that require mathematician-level logistics to finding everyone a seat in a dining room that bursts at six people.

Let’s face it: It’s probably time to move up. Lack of space is the No. 1 reason people start looking for a larger home. Families expand, lifestyles change, and the sheer accumulation of stuff can make a small home feel even tighter. “More than a third of all homebuyers last year were families with kids,” said Dave Ramsey. “And 37% of sellers age 36 and under cited cramped quarters as their reason for moving.”

But running out of room not the only reason to consider moving up.

You’ve got the equity

You may have had to scrimp and save for the down payment on your first home, but, if your home has appreciated, you may be in a completely different financial position this time around. If you’re the type who envisions paying off your home and being free and clear, moving up may not be on your mind. But, for the rest of us, having equity in our current home means greater buying power to buy something bigger or get into a neighborhood we covet.

You’re at each other’s throats

Feeling cramped and living in clutter and hating that you don’t have a space of your own or even a minute to yourself? That can create stress and leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. And, it goes against the general principle of homeownership since your home is supposed to be your sanctuary! Having some extra room to spread out and yard for the kids and dogs to play in can make a real difference in the way your family functions.

Ask yourself if “your quality of life is suffering,” said Unpakt. “This category can include many things: your ever-growing pack of dogs or cats who are driving you crazy. Your cascading piles of fabrics that you use for quilting, but just can’t keep organized in your current space. The lack of a guest room means that when family visits, you’re stuck on the couch. Whatever it might be, if your quality of life has taken a nosedive because your house is too small, well, the answer is pretty clear.”

The neighborhood is changing…and not for the better

One of the reasons you may want to start looking at a new house is because your neighborhood is starting to evolve. Maybe there are new restaurants and bars that have attracted a different crowd or plans for a huge mixed-use project that, while great for the economic potential in the area, could mean more traffic than you want in your quiet little town. Even something like a change in the flight patterns from the local airport can get you thinking about that next home.

Remodeling is price prohibitive

A good real estate agent should be able to give you an idea of what necessary (or wanted) renovations would cost to your existing home. It could be that the amount of work you would need to do on your home to get it where you want it – or get it into tip-top shape for a sale – is beyond what you want to spend. In that case, it might make better financial sense to make small improvements, put it up for sale, and put your money into a new home that better suits your needs.

You don’t want to over-improve for the neighborhood

The other important factor to consider when deciding whether to move or improve your home is how the redone home would sit in your neighborhood. You don’t want to run the risk of doing a bunch of expensive renovations only to have the home sit on the market because it’s overdone and considered overpriced.

“Weighing against renovation is the risk you’ll ‘over-improve’ your home compared with others on the block,” said Bankrate. “When you are in a neighborhood that has starter homes and smaller homes, adding a large addition or doing an extensive renovation may not yield the return one would expect.”

Everyone else has moved on

So, your kids were young and bicycles and basketball nets lined the street when you first fell in love with your home. At the time, it was everything you were looking for. But now, so many of those families have moved on, and the lively street you loved has turned rather sleepy. If you’re still holding on to the memories of what your neighborhood once was, maybe it’s time to find one that better meets your lifestyle needs today.

You’ve crunched the numbers

Presumably, a move-up home is going to be more expensive. Beyond the equity you can use to make the purchase doable, you have to consider the monthly expenses, too. “It’s not just the sticker price on the house; it’s the long-term costs associated with it,” said Realtor.com. “When you go up (in square footage), you get higher property taxes, higher utilities, and more maintenance.” And acquiring more rooms means shelling out for more furniture, too.

You can make sure you can afford a move-up home without becoming “house poor” by “using online affordability calculators to figure out how far you can stretch your dollar.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Home Inspections Can Save You Money In The Long-Run

If you’re hiring someone to inspect the home you want to buy, or you’re a seller trying to find out if there are any hidden problems that need fixing before you put your home on the market, here are five things you need to know:

1. You can choose your home inspector.

Your real estate professional can recommend an inspector, or you can find one on your own. Members of the National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI), must complete an approved home inspector training program, demonstrate experience and competence as a home inspector, complete a written exam, and adhere to the NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

2. Home inspections are intended to point out adverse conditions, not cosmetic flaws.

You should attend the inspection and follow the inspector throughout the inspection so you can learn what’s important and what’s not. No house is perfect and an inspection on any home is bound to uncover faults. A home inspector will point out conditions that need repair and/or potential safety-related concerns relating to the home. They won’t comment on cosmetic items if they don’t impair the integrity of the home. They also do not do destructive testing.

3. Home inspection reports include only the basics.

A home inspector considers hundreds of items during an average inspection. The home inspection should include the home’s exterior, steps, porches, decks, chimneys, roof, windows, and doors. Inside, they will look at attics, electrical components, plumbing, central heating and air conditioning, basement/crawlspaces, and garages.

They report on the working order of items such as faucets to see if they leak, or garage doors to see if they close properly. Inspectors may point out termite damage and suggest that you get a separate pest inspection. The final written report should be concise and easy to understand.

4. Home inspectors work for the party who is paying the fee.

The NAHI Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics clearly state that members act as an unbiased third party to the real estate transaction and “will discharge the Inspector’s duties with integrity and fidelity to the client.” A reputable home inspector will not conduct a home inspection or prepare a home inspection report if his or her fee is contingent on untruthful conclusions.

The inspector should maintain client confidentiality and keep all report findings private, unless required by court order. That means it is your choice whether or not to share the report with others. If you’re a seller, you don’t have to disclose the report to buyers, but you must disclose any failure in the systems or integrity of your home.

5. Inspectors are not responsible for the condition of the home.

Inspectors don’t go behind walls or under flooring, so it’s possible that a serious problem can be overlooked. Keep in mind that inspectors are not party to the sales transaction, so if you buy a home where an expensive problem surfaces after the sale, you won’t be able to make the inspector liable or get the inspector to pay for the damage. In fact, you may not be entitled to any compensation beyond the cost of the inspection.

As a buyer, you need the home inspection to decide if the home is in condition that you can tolerate. You can use the report to show the seller the need for a certain repair or negotiate a better price. You can also take the report to a contractor and use it to make repairs or to remodel a section of the home.

One thing you should not do when buying a home is skip having the home inspected because of cost or undue pressure by the seller. A home inspection is reasonable, it can save you money in the long run, and it’s required by many lenders, particularly for FHA loans. There’s a reason why buyers should beware, and a home inspection gives you the information you need to make a sound buying decision.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

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