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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

Should You Buy A Home For Your College Kid?

If you’re about to send your child to college, you’re undoubtedly suffering from sticker shock. And it’s not just from the cost of tuition and mandatory fees and books and a meal plan and parking, but also from housing. Maybe, especially, from housing. The mouse – hole your dorm – bound child will live in for at least the next year come August or so might as well be the Taj Mahal for what it costs to shelter them in much less extravagant environs.

The high cost of student housing – not just in the first year when they are typically living in on – campus housing – is just one of the reasons people are increasingly looking to purchase property for their college kids to live in. Is this a consideration for your family? We’re breaking down the particulars.

Financial savings

Yes, it may be that buying a property for your college kid to live in is a smart financial decision. “Average prices per year for housing are more than $9,000 in college towns,” said U.S. News & World Report. “In highly desirable college towns outside major cities, housing costs can be much higher. Monthly housing prices in Berkeley, California, home of the flagship of the University of California system, can reach more than $3,000, making the price tag for the academic year more than $27,000. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, outside of university – rich Boston, the four – year price for housing can exceed $100,000 as well.”

If that has you getting ready to search for homes for sale RIGHT THIS SECOND, “Don’t forget to factor in the additional costs of homeownership besides the mortgage, like maintenance expenses, homeowners’ association fees, insurance and taxes,” they said. You may find that buying a home doesn’t make as much financial sense as you think.”

Tax savings

You can enjoy a tax write – off on a second home, which could make a college town purchase much more affordable in the long run, but you have to be careful about how the property is used and the way it is reported on your taxes. “Many homeowners look forward to purchasing a second home that can be used for vacations, rental income, investment purposes or as a primary residence during retirement. Current tax laws offer several tax breaks that can help make second – home ownership more affordable,” said Investopedia. “If you already own, or are thinking about purchasing a second home, it will be in your best interest to understand the tax breaks and how they work. Different tax rules apply depending on how you use the property, for either personal or rental use, or a combination of the two.

As long as you use the property as a second home – and not as a rental – you can deduct mortgage interest the same way you would for your primary home. You can deduct up to 100% of the interest you pay on up to $1.1 million of debt that is secured by your first and second homes (that’s the total amount – – it’s not $1.1 million for each home).”

That would mean adding rent – paying tenants/roommates to the mix would be off the table. Keep in mind also that you can deduct property taxes on a second home. You will want to talk to your tax advisor about the tax situation in the state in which you are considering making a purchase.

Appreciation

Is your child attending college in an area that is appreciating nicely? It might be a good investment to purchase a property that you can sell after graduation for a nice profit, or hold onto for passive income by turning it into a rental for future college students.

Depreciation

Then again, there is the chance that entrusting your child, and your child’s future roommates and friends, with a property you own could spell financial disaster if the home is not maintained. Worried about college parties that trash the place and/or illegal activities like drug – taking in the home, which could endanger your child’s future? If you’re thinking about buying a property for your child (and possibly other people’s children as well) to live in, you need to have an honest conversation with him or her, and with yourself, about the responsibilities involved. Is your offspring responsible enough to make smart decisions and properly care for a home?

To roommate or not to roommate

There are additional questions and potential concerns around the roommate issue. Yes, allowing your child to live with friends will provide companionship that is important for college students and will cut down on your monthly costs – and perhaps even provide some monthly income. But consider these questions from Bader Martin:

“If your child will have roommates, how much do you plan to charge them and can they be depended upon to pay their share of the rent on time each month? What will you do if a roommate – renter moves out and how long are you willing to carry the mortgage without replacing the roommate? And will your child and roommates occupy the property all twelve months of the year or only during the school year? What are your potential liabilities if a roommate is hurt on the property or loses personal possessions in a robbery or fire? Are you adequately insured?”

Retirement strategies

Individual real estate markets differ widely, and what seems like a good investment in one city may be totally undoable in another. Having an alternate or future use for the property in question can tip the scales. In some cases, parents purchase a condo or townhome in the city for their college student child to live in, with the intention of keeping it in the family for the child post – graduation, for another child intending to attend the same college, or even as a place for themselves. Another growing real estate trend has parents following their child to the city in question as part of their retirement plan.

“Increasingly, parents are also considering the move as part of a long – term plan in which they also participate,” said U.S. News & World Report. “If your child goes to school in a city whose lifestyle and cultural offerings are pleasant to you as well, why not retire there? Schools from Berkeley and Cambridge to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Bellingham, Washington, can be pleasant places to retire. The property you purchase could thus be part of your long – term retirement strategy.”

Stability

Having to find a new place and move every year, find storage, and put down new deposits is a drag for anyone. Buying a home that your child can live in for his or her entire college experience provides stability as well as a fixed expense they (and you!) can count on.

In – state tuition

If your child is attending college out of state, you’re being hit with even higher expenses. “About 17 percent of students attend college out – of – state, and they pay dearly for it,” said Parenting. “The typical out – of – state tuition rate at a four – year public university is three to four times more than the in – state rate.”

For this reason, parents often explore options for in – state tuition, like purchasing a property – but with varying success. “Most states have established residency requirements designed to prevent out – of – state students who become residents incidental to their education from qualifying,” said FinAid. Buying a home in the state is a good start, but likely won’t be the only commitment that needs to be made in order to get that elusive in – state tuition. It’s a good idea to learn all you can about the requirements for the school and state in question before making a purchase for this sole reason.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

What You Should Know About Home Inspections

For many first-time buyers, buying a home can be a scary experience. They know they’ll be maintaining or improving a home with little to no maintenance experience, so the solution is to buy a home in perfect condition. So they hire a home inspector to point out all the flaws.

The problem is — no perfect home exists. Air conditioners break, plumbing pipes leak, and roof tiles blow off in the wind.

If you’re buying a home, start with a reasonable expectation of what home inspectors can do. Their job is to inform you about the integrity and condition of what you’re buying, good and bad.

A home inspection should take several hours, long enough to cover all built-in appliances, all mechanical, electrical, gas and plumbing systems, the roof, foundation, gutters, exterior skins, windows and doors.

An inspector doesn’t test for pests or sample the septic tank. For those, you need industry-specific inspectors.

Here’s what else you need to do.

1. Make sure the inspector you hire is licensed. The responsibilities of home inspectors vary according to state law and their areas of expertise.

2. Ask what the inspection covers. Some inspection companies have extensive divisions that can provide environmental for radon and lead paint. Be prepared to hire and schedule several inspectors according to your lender’s requirements and to pay several hundred dollars for each type of inspection.

3. Some inspection reports only cover the main house, not other buildings on the property. For specialty inspections such as termites, make sure the inspection covers all buildings on the property including guest houses, detached garages, storage buildings, etc.

4. Attend the inspection and follow along with the inspectors. Seeing problems for yourself will help you understand what’s serious, what needs replacement now or later, and what’s not important.

5. Don’t expect the seller to repair or replace every negative found on the report. If you’re getting a VA or FHA-guaranteed loan, some items aren’t negotiable. The seller must address them, but otherwise, pick your battles with the seller carefully.

A home inspection points out problems, they also point out what’s working well. It can help you make your final decision about the home – to ask the seller to make repairs or to offer a little less, to buy as is or not to buy at all.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How Much Home Can You Really Afford?

So, you’re getting ready to buy your first home, and you feel like you’re at the mercy of the market. And your mortgage lender. In some ways, it might even feel like they’re working against each other – especially if you’re in a really hot market in which you can’t qualify for the amount you’d need to buy what you want.

When it comes to providing pre-approvals for would-be homebuyers, lenders today are more careful than they were in the years leading up to the market crash, and that means your financial picture will be more rigorously scrutinized to determine your credit-worthiness and develop your max approval amount. Trust us, that’s a good thing. The last thing you want is to be house poor. Having a great place to live that you can’t enjoy or furnish or even leave because you have no money left won’t be fun.

“Just because a lender says you can afford a certain mortgage doesn’t mean you should,” said TIME: Money. “Consider your take-home pay – what actually goes into the bank after taxes, health insurance, and savings for retirement and college. Then add up all your monthly bills, not just debt but also things like utilities, phone, and groceries. You want to feel comfortable that you can cover all your household obligations while still meeting your other financial goals and keeping six months of expenses in an emergency fund.”

That’s why it’s so important to consider all of your monthly expenses related to buying a home. Beyond the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance that the lender, there are other line items to weave in that will help you determine your purchasing power and also help you to be comfortable from month to month.

Increased commuter costs

Are you moving out to the ‘burbs? That hour-long commute each way is going to add to your bottom line. Of course you’ll be using more gas. Will you also incur tolls? Then there is the wear and tear on your car, which could mean additional costs. You can estimate your commuter costs here.

Higher utility bills

A larger place could mean higher utility bills. Then again, more energy-efficient appliances, windows and doors, and HVAC could potentially result in lower bills, which could be a reason to look for a newer home over something older. It’s not out of line to inquire about utility bill costs from the existing owner (through your Realtor is probably best). This information could be critical in helping to make the best decision when buying a new home.

Homeowner’s association

Your pre-approval amount is an all-in number, but that number only includes principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. If you are buying in a community that has a Homeowner’s Association, your fee will be a separate cost that needs to be considered. An HOA fee can range greatly depending on your location, the number of homes in the community, and the amenities and services included.

Home improvements

You’re likely going to have a mailbox full of credit card pre-approvals and offers from places like Home Depot and Lowe’s after you close escrow – and they can be tempting. Reeeaaallly tempting, especially if you need new appliances or countertops or flooring (or all of the above). Ditto for furniture stores, because, like Lowe’s and Home Depot, those offers are often zero-interest deals. It may make sense to take advantage of one (or more) of them to make some necessary or wanted updates to your home – if you can swing the payments. They obviously add to your monthly obligations, even at no interest. And keep in mind that if you miss, or are late on, a payment, that zero interest is replaced with a much larger number, and that means you’ll face a much larger balance to pay.

Landscaping

If you’re coming from an apartment or a rental where the outside maintenance is taken care of by someone else, get ready to either: buy a lawnmower and an edger and spend your Saturday mornings in the yard, or pay someone else to take care of it.

Warranty

If you’re buying a brand-new home, you’ll typically have a warranty provided by the builder or developer, often for one year. You have the option of extending that, or buying/extending an existing warranty on an older home, and all of those options will cost you.

8 Ways To Up Your Chances Of Buying Your First Home

Between rising prices, tough loan limits, and massive competition among other eager would-be buyers, it can seem like an impossible feat to purchase your first home. Homes in first-time buyer ranges are highly coveted and stories abound of buyers having made offers on numerous homes, only to be shut out time and again by multiple offers that drive prices up and out of their budget. But, there are ways you can put yourself ahead, even if the situation seems desperate.

Work with a good REALTOR®

Everyone has a real estate agent in their neighborhood or in their family or friend group (or all three!). And, while you would undoubtedly love to give business to someone you know and care for, you have to balance your sense of loyalty against your goal. This may not be the time to entrust your financial future to a brand-new agent or one who simply dabbles in the industry in his or her spare time. You’ll likely need a seasoned agent to buy your first home, especially if you’re looking in an area where the market is highly competitive. An agent with extensive experience and good industry relationships can help find you homes that may not be listed yet and then negotiate a winning offer.

Get that preapproval

It goes without saying today that you need a preapproval to buy a house. Many real estate agents won’t even take clients out to tour homes unless they have received their preapproval amount from a lender. Even if you are just casually looking, make sure you talk to a lender before you head out on a househunt. You don’t want to fall in love with something and lose out on owning it because someone else was already preapproved and you first had to start pulling your paperwork together. Nor do you want to fall in love with a house that’s out of your budget because you didn’t know what your purchasing power was.

Talk to landlords

If there are rental homes in your target area (and there probably are!), you might have an opportunity to buy a home that isn’t even on the market yet—and might not be listed for sale anytime soon. Your real estate agent should be able to locate some homes and initiate a conversation about the potential of purchasing. Some rental home owners may want to sell but be reluctant to take the steps to update the home and get it on the market. You may be able to slide right in there, which would be a win-win!

Consider a home that needs work

You might have better luck buying a home that isn’t updated and/or staged because they can tend to stay on the market longer. But, a home that’s a real fixer-upper can be a great buy thanks to the 203(k) loan, which packages the home loan and money for needed repairs.

“An FHA 203k loan allows you to borrow money, using only one loan, for both home improvement and a home purchase,” said The Balance. “203k loans are guaranteed by the FHA, which means lenders take less risk when offering this loan. As a result, it’s easier to get approved (especially with a lower interest rate).”

There are a number of improvements that can be made with a 203(k) loan, including bathroom and kitchen remodels, additions, HVAC, plumbing, and flooring, but if you’re looking to add a pool, you’ll have to do that on your own dime. “Luxury improvements” are not allowed under the terms of the loan.

Look just outside your target neighborhood

In the city of Frisco, TX, a suburb of Dallas and one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, home prices have climbed to levels that can put even the smallest and oldest homes out of reach for many first-time buyers. In the adjacent city of Little Elm, however, home prices are lower – even though it’s also a desirable, growing city—and many of the neighborhoods feed into the preferred Frisco ISD schools. For young families that are looking to get their foot in the door and make sure their kids have access to great schools, looking just outside your target neighborhood can be a great way to go.

Consider a transitioning neighborhood

Buying in a neighborhood that is transitioning can be tricky…you’ll have to depend a lot on your real estate agent’s knowledge and your own gut to make sure you’re buying in an area that is going to appreciate—and is also going to meet your needs now. The current state of the the neighborhood might not fit that dream home idea you’ve had in your head, but, if you’re in it for the long haul, you could be making a smart move by looking in an area that isn’t exactly top of your list in its current state. The obvious draws of buying a home in a transitioning neighborhood are: more affordability or more home for the money, and the possibility to make some money as the neighborhood changes.

“Getting a lot of bang for your buck is one of the benefits of buying in a so-called transitional neighborhood,” said LearnVest. “Keys to finding such a place: “The area’s proximity to public transportation is one of the most revealing factors. Pinpoint your favorite trendy neighborhood – and then take the local train or subway one or two stops past it. That’s how you’re most likely to spot emerging areas because they’re already linked to established routes of transit.” Also, a neighborhood “that’s adjacent to a much-desired one is much more likely to gentrify than one that’s surrounded by less prime areas.” Paying attention to decreasing local crime and DOM (days on market) for real estate listings in the area, and noting whether there is a vibrant art scene in the area, are additional tips to locating an up-and-coming neighborhood.

Raise your budget

Some people get a number in their head and decide that’s the most they’re comfortable with spending. Say you’ve decided you can’t spend more than $300,000 on a home, but you’re not having any luck finding anything in your target neighborhoods and you’re not willing to look elsewhere. Consider this: Is your preapproval from your lender higher than that magic $300,000 number? If so, consider upping it. That $20,000 difference could open up your search to numerous additional properties, and would cost you only about $100 per month. Bring a lunch to work instead of eating out a couple days a week or skip one night out at the movies and dinner per month and you’ve got it covered.

Go back to your lender

If you’re already looking for homes at your max approval amount and not having any luck, have a conversation with your lender. There might be a way to reconfigure your loan options to get you more money to spend.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

What To Do When Your Home Isn’t Selling

When sellers start the home-selling process, no one wants to think “What would happen if my home doesn’t sell?” But before you panic, recognize that there are many things that you can do so you don’t wind up in that position.

Tip 1: Understanding the real estate market and the value of your home will help you avoid this dilemma. The first key point is to get educated about the market. Read your newspapers, online real estate sites, and consult with the best experts in real estate for your area to determine the sales price.

While all that may seem basic, you’d be surprised how many sellers rely on emotion to dream up a selling price for their home. Some have done little, if any, research on even their own neighborhood. Instead, their strong ties to their homes cause them to imagine that their home should sell for the price they want. Or they base the selling price on how much they owe which is, of course, of no significance to buyers.

Tip 2: Fix up your home. Most buyers don’t want to purchase a big list of must-do fixes in order to live in the home they just bought. Yet, some sellers think that it’s a waste to spend money on a home that they’re moving out of soon. That’s quite a predicament. Both sides have valid points but buyers might be in a stronger position. The seller wants out and if the home is a mess, many buyers will simply move on to the next best house.

Yet, if a buyer wants it badly enough, he/she might agree to purchase your home but it’s guaranteed you’ll take a financial hit as the buyer will want to discount the price for the problems that need fixing. In the end, you might have to fix the issues before the sale anyway. So, starting with a house that is in relatively good order is the best way to begin. Read some of my other columns to see which renovations give a good return.

Tip 3: If you need to sell your home, don’t pull it off the market because you think the season isn’t right. Buyers who need to buy a home will keep hunting through all the seasons. There may be some slow times but if people need a house, they’ll keep looking even in the unlikely times.

Tip 4: Consider incentives. Yes, you can make your home more appealing by tossing in some incentives. It’s best to speak with your REALTOR® about which incentives are best for you to offer. Even practical incentives can help get buyers to your home to view it. These incentives can help encourage the buyer to move forward, especially if other challenges arise.

Tip 5: Stage your home. This is not the same thing as fixing up your home. Fixing up your home includes daily maintenance and repairs. Staging your home involves using experts to make your home showroom-ready–like a model home. I know you might say that all your friends tell you that you have fantastic taste but, trust me, if you’re serious about selling your home, then it’s worth at least having a consultation with an expert in the industry.

Here’s why: They are trained to stay on top of the trends that have mass appeal. They also offer a fresh set of eyes on your home. They might easily point out something that you never saw before because you’ve been living in your home for a long time. They will look at your home from an “outsider’s” perspective and that’s exactly what you need.

Taking the time to, at least consult with experts, allows you to gain knowledge and information about your home and the market place. What you do with that is up to you, but it may just be the difference between a For Sale sign and a Sold sign hanging outside your home.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

The Probate Real Estate Sale Process Explained

The process of selling real estate (real property) through probate or trust is a series of court-regulated steps that must be carefully monitored and managed. Deadlines are unforgiving, documentation is specialized and the court’s oversight must be honored throughout the marketing, offers, negotiations and sale of the property.

In addition to the personnel of the court, the sale generally involves the Executor or Administrator of the estate, the attorney representing the estate, a real estate agent representing the seller (the estate), one or more buyers who place bids with the court and the buyers’ real estate agents. Each of these individuals must follow the guidelines and deadlines of the court.

Because of the involvement of the court, probate and trust sales have a vocabulary all their own. They also involve various disclosure documents and contracts that are not used in other real estate transactions.

If you are selling or buying real property through such a transaction, your real estate agent should be experienced in probate and trust sales and be able to explain the language, the documentation and the steps in the process. Clear communications are vital.

To help you understand the probate and trust sale process, here is a list of some of the steps involved in a typical transaction:

Appointment of the Administrator or Executor of the estate.

In most cases, the decedent’s will names an Executor who is designated to handle the distribution of assets, including real property. If no Executor is named, if the named Executor is unwilling to serve or if there is no will, the court appoints an Administrator to carry out these duties. The Executor or Administrator is the person who has the authority to list and sell the property; the sale cannot proceed until that person has been identified.

As provided in the Independent Administration of Estates Act (IAEA), the Executor establishes a list price for the real property. The price takes into account the appraisal by the Probate Referee and is usually determined with the assistance of a real estate agent experienced in probate and trust sales. The property is then listed for sale through that agent/broker.

The real estate agent markets the real property to the public as aggressively as possible to attract the highest offer. This generally involves a number of approaches, including signage, newspaper advertising, listing on one or more real estate websites and hosting open houses for other real estate agents and potential home buyers. The real estate agent will also schedule appointments to show the property to interested parties who inquire directly.

While buyers of probate and trust real estate may be looking for a bargain, their range of offers are limited by the court. An accepted offer must be 90% or more of the Probate Referee’s appraised value. Once a buyer is found, the real estate agent assists the seller in negotiating terms that are satisfactory to both parties.

When the property has an accepted offer, a Notice of Proposed Action is mailed to all heirs, simply stating the terms of the proposed sale. The heirs have 15 days to review the notice and pose any objections. If there are no objections, the sale may proceed without a court hearing.

If the Executor/Administrator does not have full independent powers under IAEA, or if one of the heirs poses an objection to the Notice of Proposed Action, notice of the sale must be published in a generally distributed local newspaper (unless the will does not mandate such action).

The attorney for the estate then applies for a court date (the “confirmation hearing”) when the sale will be executed. The court date is usually within 30 to 45 days of the date the application is filed. A copy of the application and details concerning the sale are mailed to all interested parties.

Even after the court date has been set, the real estate broker should continue to show the property and advertise the home to potential buyers in the hope of securing an “over-bidder” and thereby raising the sale price.

During the court confirmation hearing, the previously accepted bid may be overbid by another interested party. In such a case, the overbidding party must appear at the hearing with a cashier’s check (no personal checks accepted!) in an amount totaling at least 10% of the minimum overbid price in order to successfully overbid. The minimum overbid is determined by the following formula: 10% of the first $10,000 plus 5% of the balance of the accepted offer.

EXAMPLE: A property is listed at $200,000. The accepted offer is $175,000.
The minimum overbid is calculated as follows:
Accepted offer = $175,000
+.10 x $10,000 = $1,000

+ .05 x $165,000 = $8,250
Minimum overbid = $184,250
x .10 = $18,425 amount of cashier’s check

If there is more than one over bidder, the highest bid ‘wins.’ The winning bidder gives a cashier’s check to the Executor/Administrator and escrow is opened. Escrow will close approximately 30 to 45 days from the court hearing.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

How Much Do Home Alarm Systems Affect Resale?

Home alarm systems can be particularly hard to calculate into resale value or return on investment (ROI) because their job is to prevent loss rather than achieve gains. You purchase a home alarm system with the hope that you never need to use it.

The reality is that a burglary is reported to police every 14.5 seconds. But robbery isn’t the only thing that alarms can save you from. Smart alarms can detect smoke and hazards.

More than ever, homeowners want to feel safe in their homes. A built-in alarm system may be just what it takes to get your house off the market.

1. Alarm Systems Aren’t as Expensive as They Used to Be

According to HomeAdvisor’s survey, most homeowners invest between $330-$1,040 when purchasing and installing home alarm systems. However, with the advent of smart, connected technology, home security is more affordable than ever.

Products like the Nest Cam Outdoor monitor your home in 1080p high definition video that you can access from your smartphone 24/7. This monitor also has a two-way audio feature, meaning you can use your voice to scare off intruders or give live instructions to a delivery service. Smart products allow you to monitor your home yourself, which cuts down the cost of hiring a security company to do the monitoring for you.

Smart products send security alerts right to your phone, allowing you to act fast and take control. Monthly security subscriptions on smart products are usually a fraction of the cost of subscribing to a traditional security service.

2. Add Resale Value

Owning a safe and secure home is appealing to every home buyer, from frequent travelers to families. That means pre-installed cameras, smoke detectors, and smart locks can be huge selling points. The more convenient and easy-to-use the security, the better.

One of the most desired security features for homeowners is motion sensor lighting over the driveway. Not only does it scare away late-night intruders, it also helps homeowners navigate in the dark. Buyers want added safety and convenience in their everyday lives, and the right security system can provide both.

3. Home Security Lowers Neighborhood Crime

In 2016, Rutgers University released a study that found that neighborhood crime rates dropped significantly when alarm systems were installed in multiple neighborhood homes.

Burglars are less likely to break into homes that are protected with home security, and that fact carries over when applied to entire neighborhoods. Safe neighborhoods are highly desirable to homeowners and can help your home sell faster and at a higher price.

4. Alarm Systems Can Reduce Your Homeowners Insurance

If you financed your home with a mortgage, you are most likely required to have home insurance. While the price of home insurance varies, most companies offer discounts to homes with security systems.

With a home monitoring system installed, you can save up to 20% on home insurance. Those savings can amount to hundreds of dollars per year or the cost of the security system all together.

5. They Save Money in the Long Run

Burglaries can cost you, not only in the possessions stolen from your home, but also in the damage that many homes incur during a burglary.

Most burglars enter homes through the front or back door or first-floor windows, usually breaking them in the process. The cost of fixing a broken window or kicked-in door can be even more expensive than the valuables taken.

It was found that when burglars enter homes with security systems, they are much more likely to leave quickly, taking fewer items with them.

While security systems aren’t foolproof, they do offer the benefit of safety and security. Whether you’re installing a system for yourself or for future homeowners, the peace of mind it offers is the ultimate ROI.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Hey Millennials, Lennar Will Help Pay Your Student Loans

A new loan from national homebuilder Lennar is raising hopes for millennials, and raising eyebrows from some in the real estate industry. The loan seeks to make homebuying a reality for millennials who might otherwise think they have to wait until their student loans are paid off.

The idea is this: Homebuyers use Eagle Home Mortgage’s Student Loan Debt Mortgage Program; Eagle Home Mortgage is a subsidiary of Lennar. Through this program, borrowers “can direct up to 3% of the purchase price to pay their student loans when they buy a new home from Lennar,” said the builder in a news release. That can add up to $13,000 in student loans, depending on the sales price of the home, and payments “can go toward loans from universities, community colleges, trade schools and other ‘certificate-granting programs’, but can’t be used for loans that parents have taken out to pay for their child’s education.

Sounds like a great deal for millennials. But is it a fix-all?

“Financial planning and student loan experts caution that the plan unveiled last week by Lennar just swaps student debt for mortgage debt,” said CNBC. “Jason Delisle, a student loan expert at the think tank American Enterprise Institute, said Lennar’s student loan payments struck him as a price cut marketed toward debt-laden millennialism,” they added. “Why not just give them a discount on the house?” Delisle asked.

There’s also a question about where the money is coming from and what the long-term implications could be. “There’s no free lunch,” Allan Roth of Wealth Logic, a financial planning firm in Colorado Springs, told them. “If a for-profit company wanted to make a charitable contribution, then they would make a charitable contribution. This money has to come from somewhere.”

CNBC floated the idea that the price of the home could be increased to cover the cost, however, Lennar clearly stated in its news release that, “Lennar contributes the 3%, which does not increase the price of the home or add to the mortgage loan balance.”

Of course, for millennials who have been looking for their way in to the market, the response may just be, “Who cares?!” According to the New York Federal Reserve, the average outstanding student loan balance is $26,700. “That’s one of the reasons that millennials are buying homes in lower numbers than young people have in previous decades,” said the South Florida Business Journal.

And when you also consider that the down payments under this program can be as low as 3 percent, and “buyers may also be eligible” for additional programs, like those that can help with closing costs, it sure seems like a millennial win.

“Americans are more burdened than ever by student loans, with $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans spread out among 42 million borrowers,” said Jimmy Timmons, President of Eagle Home Mortgage. “Particularly with millennial buyers, people who want to buy a home of their own are not feeling as though they can move forward. Our program is designed to relieve some of that burden and remove that barrier to owning a home.”

Buyers have to meet credit and income requirements to qualify for the Student Loan Debt Mortgage Program, and the maximum loan amount is $424,100, which covers dozens and dozens of attached and single-family options across the country from Lennar.

Most of them, not surprisingly, are in the suburbs. But is that an issue for millennials, who conventional wisdom (and many industry experts) have said is off millennials’ radar? Not so fast.

“Americans aged about 18 to 34 have become the largest group of homebuyers, and almost half live in the suburbs,” said Bloomberg. “The shift to suburbia may surprise those who’ve chided millennials for being more interested in pricey avocado toast than in saving for a home. Much of the generation delayed marriage, childbearing and home ownership after graduating with heaping student-loan debt and entering a weak job market. As more millennials overcome this, many want the life of their baby-boomer parents – the kids, the house in the ‘burbs and the beefy SUV.”

In fact, if you look closely at millennial homeownership numbers, you’ll see that, while “there’s been an increase in the number of young adults in urban areas” over the last 10 years, it’s “largely due to a 32% increase in births between 1978 and 1990, according to Dowell Myers, professor of demography at the University of Southern California,” said TIME. “He says that upswing has led people to believe that there’s been a real change in millennials’ preferences, when really there were just a lot more young people born 25 years ago.

A Harvard study by its Joint Center for Housing Studies – “which used data from the census and the Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as its own analysis — found most stereotypes associated with millennial home buyers were not true,” said the Los Angeles Times. And key to those findings were millennials’ geographical preferences. “The evidence suggests…that homeownership decisions by younger households have much more to do with affordability than location and lifestyle preferences,” study authors said.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

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