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Decorating Tricks for Hiding Kids’ Messes While Selling Your Home


Keeping the house together during the selling process is a challenge. Making sure everything is just right for showings and open houses can be exhausting and overwhelming Throw kids into the mix, and things can get downright chaotic. Fortunately, a few small decor choices can help conceal kid clutter—changing your “for sale” sign to “sold.”

Hide in Plain Sight

With overflowing toy boxes and tea-party set-ups overtaking the living room, it may be unrealistic to banish all kid stuff to other rooms. Instead, make use of your furniture’s built-in compartments and drawers. Have a storage ottoman next to the sofa? Fill it with everything from action figures and dolls to coloring books, art supplies, stuffed animals and more. Divide the credenza in the family room so that your little ones can store toys behind its closed doors. Accent the open shelves with ceramic vases, family photos, decorative carafes and other appealing decor items.

If your built-in storage is already in use, opt for two or three woven baskets with lids instead. Place them wherever you want, whether it’s next to the loveseat or on the bottom shelf of a console table. Buyers will be too busy appreciating your home’s cleanliness and open floor space to think about what’s inside.

Hide Within Reach

Families in smaller living spaces might consider another strategy—underbed and attic storage. While the underside of your child’s bed may be already home to all sorts of tchotchkes, encourage kids to neaten it up with rolling plastic or rattan storage bins. Discreetly stow away everything from dress-up clothes to seasonal clothing in multiple containers. Slide them out of sight, then help your little one make the bed with an oversized quilt that conceals what’s hidden below. The best part? These containers can still be used after moving into the new bedroom or playroom.

For toys that are too big to fit in this space, such as kids’ teepees and play tents, consider collapsing them and stowing behind a dresser. If the dresser has legs that makes it easy to spot what’s behind it, opt for a chest instead.

Rotate Toys in Longer-Term Storage

Consider storing bins of toys longer-term and swapping them out every few weeks. In addition to the attic and basement, the back corner of a deep closet is a great place to stack storage tubs filled with everything from building blocks and board games to miniature cars and pull toys. Strategically hide them behind long coats so a quick peek inside the closet doesn’t give anything away. Better yet, switch out the storage tubs for suitcases. Rotate the toys in storage every few weeks–kids will have renewed interest when they come out of hiding.

Minimize and Add Some Style

Rather than attempting to conceal every toy, consider downsizing. Prior to the first showing, help your little one sort through toys, determining what still gets played with and what doesn’t. Sort into “keep,” “donate,” and “throw away.” This streamlines the cleanup process and makes it easier to stow away what remains. Bonus? You’ll have less to move when the time comes. For every item your children give up, consider rewarding them with small change or a trip to a favorite restaurant or ice cream shop.

For kids’ areas like bedrooms and playrooms, embrace the playful nature and just add a little style. Choose bookcases and desks with useful cubbies and shelves, and dress up the space with vibrant and unique artwork. Inspire imagination in potential buyers (and keep the space useful while your home is on the market) by choosing a few colorful supplies and knick-knacks to display.

Strategically rearrange home decor to hide kids’ messes while your house is being shown, and potential buyers will see a clean space that they’ll want to make their own.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

More Americans Are Saying It’s Not A Good Time To Buy


It is not exactly surprising, given the stunning jumps in both home prices and mortgage rates, but Americans have never been more bearish on buying a house.

Just 30% of adults surveyed by Gallup said now is a good time to buy a home, down 23 percentage points from a year ago. That is the first time the share has been below 50% since the question was first asked in 1978. (The results are from Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance poll, which was conducted April 1-19.)

Home prices are up 34% since the start of the pandemic, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index. The record increase in prices was fueled by mortgage rates, which set more than a dozen record lows in the first year of the pandemic. Rates, however, have shot up more than two full percentage points in just the last few months.

Home affordability is nearly the worst its ever been. Due to higher prices and interest rates, the mortgage payment on an average home is now nearly $800 more than just before the pandemic began.

The supply of homes for sale is also still historically low, and even the usually busy spring market has done little to boost inventories. Demand, especially from the millennial generation, is strong, but buyers are stepping back due to the costs. Home sales have fallen for five straight months.

“All major subgroups of Americans are significantly less positive about the housing market now than they were a year ago,” the Gallup report says. Those who were more positive about the market last year seem most dejected, with larger declines among Midwest residents, suburban residents and upper-income Americans.

By age, about a quarter of young adults age 18 to 34 say now is a good time to buy, down from 42% a year ago. For those age 35 to 54, 28% say the market is favorable, down from 52% a year ago. Older adults are slightly more positive, with 35% saying now is a good time to buy, down from 61% in 2021.

Activity in home sales is still strong on the higher end of the housing market, where there is more supply.

Despite higher mortgage rates, most still think home prices will rise further. Analysts vary but most believe the current double-digit annual gains will shrink to around 4% to 6%. Consumers have long been bullish on home prices, except following the Great Recession and the subprime mortgage crash between 2008 and 2012.

While Americans may be pessimistic about the current state of homebuying, more than ever now think real estate is the best long-term investment. About 45% choose real estate, while 24% pick stocks, and 15% say gold. Real estate used to trail gold when Gallup first asked this question in 2011, but since 2014 it has been the winner.

  • Just 30% of adults surveyed by Gallup said now is a good time to buy, down 23 percentage points from a year ago.
  • That is the first time the share has been below 50% since the question was first asked in 1978.
  • Home prices are up 34% since the start of the pandemic, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.

What Does a Real Estate Agent Do for Sellers?


When you’re trying to sell your home, you want to work with a realtor who will help make things as simple for you as possible while getting you the maximum amount of money.

If you’re a relatively new real estate agent and you’re wondering what sellers want from you, they want you to be their advocate above everything else. They want to be able to trust you, transparency, and to feel like you’re minimizing the headaches they might experience during the process.

A great seller’s agent should be adept at what they do in multiple areas, including the following.

Pricing

One of the best things a seller’s agent can do for you is to price your home properly. Pricing a home is often described as an art and a science.

Agents use science in terms of comparable sales that happened recently. The art comes in through knowing the local market, having experience, and also using a sense of intuition.

A good agent can find that price balance that will keep a seller competitive and make sure they’re getting what their home is truly worth.

An agent will create a comparative market analysis, which reviews homes nearby that are on the market, pending, or might have recently sold. Your agent might have sold some of these comps or maybe, at a minimum, have seen them in person.

You may also be wondering how an agent is any better than an online valuation model. In reality, there is a relatively high error rate with these tools. For example, according to Zillow, its online calculator estimates around 20% of the actual value 87.6% of the time, leaving a big margin for error. These tools can’t account for the nuances and variables that an experienced agent can, when pricing a home.

Great sellers’ agents are also present for inspections and appraisals to ensure there’s no spinning from the buyer’s agent. For example, if an inspector says a house will need a new air conditioning unit in five years, the agent for the buyer could spin this by saying the A/C is bad. A seller’s agent can prevent this from happening.

Getting Your Home Ready

Getting a home ready to hit the market is about more than cleaning it up. Listing agents know how to maximize what you can get for your property.

A listing agent can go through and find improvements you need to make, and they can also recommend people who can help you get them done.

Before you make any of the improvements your agent suggests, they’ll go over the return on your investment you might expect.

Along with repairs that could be needed, the agent can stage it if needed. Staging can include removing anything unnecessary from furniture to clutter. The agent will know how to help potential buyers visualize themselves in the space and picture their belongings there.

Once your home is picture-perfect, your agent can hire a photographer to take professional photos.

Marketing Expertise

A skilled seller’s agent will be great at marketing. They know what buyers are looking for and how to get your home in front of them and make it appealing.

Your agent showcases your home on the MLS and social media. They also do traditional marketing like open houses and distributing flyers.

Screening Buyers

Trying to sell a home is time-consuming and stressful enough without dealing with unqualified buyers. Your agent will work on your behalf to ensure no one is wasting your time. Even a buyer who is truly interested in your home might not have the financing.

Agents are earning money through a commission, so it’s in your best interest and theirs to screen out and eliminate unqualified buyers.

Your agent can work only with pre-approved buyers who have already gone through a financial verification.

Overall, a good seller’s agent can offer you a lot of value, and many of the things they do you can’t or perhaps wouldn’t want to do yourself.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

Just How Accurate Are Those Online Home Value Estimates?

If you’ve ever gone online to check out the value of your home or to make comparisons, you aren’t alone. Online home value estimators can be a handy tool in some cases, but you have to understand their limitations.

Zillow’s Zestimate is perhaps the most well-known estimator, but Redfin has one too.

Below, we talk about what you should know about home valuation tools, also known as automated valuation models or AVM.

What is an Automated Valuation Model?

AVMs are computer-driven algorithms and formulas that use basic property features paired with pricing trends and local market information to create a value range or an estimated value for a home.

There are some cases where a lender might use an AVM to quickly get a potential estimate of the value of a property.

All the AVMs use their own formulas and may pull data from different databases. As you might imagine, the estimates’ reliability and accuracy depend primarily on the quality and integrity of the data they’re pulling information from.

There are a lot of underlying assumptions made with an automated model.

For example, AVMs work on the assumption that all properties are in a similar condition to one another. There’s no way for these automated algorithms to consider if a home is in poor condition or if upgrades have been made.

Due to the fluctuations in the figures AVMs come to, lenders will set policies on whether they’ll use them and, if so, which they’ll use.

How Do Zillow Zestimates Work?

Zillow’s well-known Zestimates are based on what the company says is a proprietary algorithm. Zillow reports the estimates include data from public records and data users submit.

The company doesn’t claim that they’re 100% accurate. If all the properties within a small radius are similar, the prices are more accurate because there are less likely to be major variances throwing off the algorithm.

If the estimates come from a neighborhood with older homes, they’re likely to be less accurate. Some homes will have been improved and maintained over the years, and others won’t have been.

The accuracy of a valuation is measured using an error rate. An error rate calculates how often the algorithm is wrong. More specifically, how often the value of a property as measured by the AVM is very different from the sales price of a home.

The Zestimate gets within 5% of a home’s actual sales price more than 82% of the time. It’s within 10% of sales price more than 95% of the time and within 20% nearly 99% of the time.

That can sound pretty accurate at first, but it’s less impressive when you figure out how many tens of thousands of dollars these variances can represent.

The Zestimate median error rate goes up to nearly 7% for off-market homes. If a home hasn’t been sold lately, there’s not much data that an AVM can pull on it.

Over time, the algorithms tend to get more accurate. Zillow says that it will make offers to buy homes at their Zestimate price in some markets, or at least it did when Zillow Offers was operational, which it recently announced was closing down.

Realtor.com Offers Three Figures

Realtor.com takes a different approach when it offers online users home value estimates. The company pulls estimates from data provided by different companies it partners with. There are three estimates so that people can see the picture of how much their home is worth is more variable than what they might get from just one figure.

Redfin vs. Zillow

Redfin and Zillow are two competing tools for estimating the value of a home. They can sometimes give different figures for the same property.

Overall, Zillow’s Zestimate seems to be more accurate. The median error rate is a little lower than what’s calculated for Redfin, including both on-market and off-market properties.

Redfin is very transparent, though, which is an advantage it has. Redfin provides a lot of information on how they get their figures.

You have to remember that while these tools might give you a general idea of how much a home is worth, they’re not the same as an appraiser.

Before a lender signs off on a home loan, they require an appraisal. Appraisers do a walk-through and then write a report. They will also include market data and comparable properties, so this will be much more accurate than what you see online.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

The Worst Parts of Buying a House

It’s normal to romanticize buying a house. It’s one of the biggest things you do in life, and you may have dreamed of the time when you could become a homeowner. While there’s a lot to be said for the upsides of purchasing a home, that doesn’t mean it’s not a tough process.

Particularly in the current market, buying a house can be frustrating and demoralizing.

Sometimes, knowing to prepare yourself for letdowns and challenges can help you make a smarter decision overall.

According to homebuyers, the following are the worst parts of the process with that in mind.

Dealing with High Prices

Home prices are at historic highs right now. Certain markets are more affected than others, but almost across the board, this is true.

There are many reasons for the high prices, from inflation and supply chain issues to low inventory.

It’s tough because what someone could have afforded in the market that existed just a few years ago isn’t today’s reality.

Avoiding Overbuying

In line with the high prices buyers are facing universally right now, you have to make sure that you’re not overbuying. What happens to many people when they buy a home, particularly if it’s their first time, is that they let emotion take over.

You might have gone into the process with a clear budget, determined to stick with it.

Then, you get into the heated, competitive marketplace and fall in love with a home out of your budget.

You might develop an emotional attachment to that home, and you could spend either more than you can afford or more than it’s worth.

Keeping your emotions in check is one of the most difficult parts of buying a home for a lot of people.

You have to remind yourself repeatedly to stick with the facts rather than emotions.

Being in a Bidding War

Bidding wars are everywhere right now, as you might realize. Some people put in a full-ask, all-cash offer for a home and are promptly outbid. It’s such a competitive marketplace, and the emotional component can again come into play.

If you’re part of a bidding war, it’s easier to get caught up in what’s going on at the moment and pay more than you should. You might theoretically be the winner, but you could be the loser because you’re paying more than the house is worth.

There can be significant financial consequences of overpaying for a property, no matter what the market is like right now. Mortgage lenders only give loans based on the property’s actual value, not what you want to pay. Even if you bid the price up, that doesn’t mean that’s the loan you’re getting.

At the same time, if you keep getting outbid, it can also make you feel frustrated and like you’re never going to find a home. Plus, if you’re renting, you’re continuing to put money toward that.

The Paperwork

The paperwork that comes with getting a mortgage and buying a home is challenging.

Just how complex and burdensome the paperwork is can vary depending on the type of loan you’re trying to get and your financial situation.

If you’re self-employed, you’re probably going to find the loan process is the worst part of buying a house. You have to show years of bank statements and tax returns.

As you wait to finalize your loan, you might feel anxious about everything. Your loan might not even be finalized until a few days before closing, and there’s uncertainty as you feel like you’re in limbo.

While there are certainly downsides that come with buying a house, the reward will be worth the sacrifice if you take your time and make a good financial choice.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

Signs You’re Overpaying for a House

Unfortunately, overpaying for a house is a common issue among buyers right now. The market is incredibly hot across the country. The demand for homes is high, and the supply is low. Many people are trying to buy houses only to find themselves in bidding wars.

Bidding wars can make it more likely that you overpay for a house.

When you overpay for a house, you’re going to spend more on everything, including the down payment, the closing costs, and the thousands more you pay in interest over the years.

So how do you know you could potentially be overpaying? No matter what your emotions are telling you, the following are signs and red flags to watch out for in the process.

The Listing Price Is Different From Comps in the Area

If you find a home that you feel is what you’re dreaming of, but the listing price seems out of line with the sales of comparable properties in the area, it’s potentially a red flag.

It could be that the seller priced their home based on the values of neighboring homes instead of what they’re selling for.

Working with an experienced real estate agent who understands the current market can help you a lot here.

You have to look beyond the value of a home. You have to consider the community, the local school district, and many other factors. Again, your realtor should already understand these factors and be able to negotiate on your behalf with these in mind.

Homes in the same neighborhood should be similar in price. There will be variance based on things like size, but generally, the features will be similar enough that you can use comparables as a good guide.

Online Estimates Are Lower

Online valuation tools have their flaws, but they’ve gotten significantly more accurate over the past few years.

If you go online and valuation tools value a home lower than the list price, you could be in the danger zone for overpaying.

Of course, you have to keep everything in context, so maybe the kitchen is recently remodeled, in which case the home might have a bit of a higher value.

The Listing Price is Similar to Homes No Longer on the Market

This red flag can take a little more research to figure out but if you’re looking at a home with comps similar to sellers who have taken theirs off the market, keep this in mind.

An agent will have access to homes that were taken off the market. If the asking price on these unsold homes is similar to what you’re looking at, it could be overpriced.

It’s Been on the Market for a Long Time

If a home has been on the market a long time, you could be at risk of overpaying. A home that’s priced too high doesn’t get showings or interest and then doesn’t get offers. You need to think carefully about why other people might be passing on the home.

Of course, if you’re in the situation where you’re in a bidding war, it can be different. You might be at risk of overpaying simply because you’re caught up in the emotion and the competitive element. If you’re going well beyond your budget simply because you end up in a bidding war, it’s probably time to take a step back and reassess.

No matter the value of a home, if you pay more than what you can comfortably afford, then you’ve ultimately overpaid.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

Six Ways to Ensure Your 1031 Exchange is Successfully Completed

Whether you are an investor or a real estate broker, selling investment or business real estate can be an expensive venture unless you are prepared to conduct a 1031 exchange.

Section 1031 of the federal tax code dictates that no gain or loss shall be recognized upon the sale of a real estate property held for business or investment purposes, as long as the seller purchases a replacement property of equal or greater value. This can be a solid opportunity, potentially, to preserve the gain and accrue additional wealth. However, the 1031 exchange can be a tricky process that has frustrated many amateur and professional real estate investors alike.

So, to help potentially avoid having your 1031 exchange blow up, here are six steps to consider as you advise a client on undertaking and entering into a 1031 exchange:

Step 1: Know the applicable deadlines. The IRS requires an investor to identify a replacement property within 45 days, and to close on the target property within 180 days of selling the relinquished property. That doesn’t leave much time to hunt for the right deal, but it’s enough time. Working with an expert 1031 exchange investment firm like Kay Properties can help investors successfully complete their 1031 exchange within these timelines.

Step 2: Get educated about acceptable types of replacement properties. The IRS requires an exchanger to reinvest in a “like kind” property. However, “like kind” does not necessarily mean the same type of property. There are a variety of options available. For example, if you are selling a duplex in San Diego, that doesn’t mean you need to replace it with another duplex. The 1031 exchange allows investors to replace relinquished real estate with a variety of asset types. It can be a medical building, single-family home, multifamily apartment building, raw land, self-storage facility or any other investment real estate. The type doesn’t matter as long as it is held for investment or business purposes. Ideally, investors should know what they are looking for in a replacement property well before going into escrow on the property they are selling. Again, working with a 1031 exchange investment firm like Kay Properties can greatly reduce the stress and confusion surrounding 1031 exchanges.

Step 3: Narrow down the options while in escrow. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen 1031 exchange investors in a desperate panic once they hit day 30 of their 45-day window with not a single replacement option identified for their exchange. This is an extremely stressful position. But don’t worry, this article should help spare you the anguish.

One good strategy is to locate five to 10 potential replacement properties as the closing date of the property you are selling gets closer. But be prepared that as you move through escrow, many of the new properties you have identified will likely be acquired by other buyers or will not prove to be satisfactory under the scrutiny of some due diligence. That’s why developing a short list of potential replacement properties prior to relinquishing the original asset can be one of the most important strategies for preventing having your 1031 exchange blow up!

Step 4: Make sure your financing is lined up ahead of time. Investors will often call me in a panic because they’ve located their replacement property, but they cannot access the financing necessary to purchase the asset. It is important to make sure that they have the financing lined up before closing on the property being sold to spare themselves from a stressful and potentially expensive predicament. That’s one reason fractional ownership structures for 1031 exchanges can be attractive for investors wanting to complete a 1031 exchange. For accredited investors, a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST) investment may be a suitable option. In addition, DSTs have a non-recourse financing component baked-in to each investment so the investor does not need to sign for a loan. A DST may be an ideal opportunity for an investor looking to a 1031 exchange to be a passive, turn-key solution with required financing already established.

Step 5: Have a backup property identified just in case. The IRS code allows investors to identify replacement properties using different rules. The most common rules used are to either identify three properties for their 1031 exchange or identify real estate valued at up to 200% of the property that’s being (or been) sold. This means there is room for back-ups. Take advantage of the opportunity. An exchanger should never leave an empty space on their ID form, which is submitted and filed with a qualified intermediary. More often than not, the exchanger’s primary option won’t work out … even if it looks like a sure thing! Also, I have often seen unscrupulous sellers exploit the buyer’s 45-day time clock in order to press their back against the wall, forcing the exchanger into an inferior negotiating position. Backup property options can strengthen the exchanger’s negotiating power by providing additional options.

For accredited investors, a DST can be an excellent option for a backup strategy. DST properties are already purchased, stabilized, and can potentially provide monthly distributions to investors. There is no negotiating and the due diligence is already complete. Additionally, an exchanger can often close on a DST in three to five business days. I often recommend my clients use a DST as a backup ID if there is room in their exchange and it is appropriate for their situation.

Step 6: Make sure to start to negotiate a 1031 contingency in your purchase and sale agreement. Many buyers are willing to allow a 1031 contingency that will permit the seller to extend escrow on the property being sold if the seller can’t find a replacement property. For example, try to negotiate a clause that extends escrow for you by including an additional 30 days if you are unable to identify a suitable replacement property. This can be a quick and easy way to buy additional time should you have difficulty locating the right 1031 exchange investment.

Bottom Line: a 1031 exchange can be a potentially great tool for building and preserving wealth, but it can be a daunting process if not properly prepared. If you decide to do a 1031 exchange, make a point to start early, get educated, narrow down their options, line up financing, have a backup ID, and negotiate for more time in case they need it. When appropriate and if they qualify as an accredited investor, use a DST as part of your 1031 exchange strategy. There are no guarantees in real estate, so it is always best to plan ahead when considering a 1031 exchange.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

Five Red Flags You Can’t See In A Tenant Background Check

Consider the consequences of renting your property to someone with a history of evictions for non payment of rent or a habit of writing bounced checks. Or the effects of allowing someone who has a criminal record or several collection accounts to live on your property. What about a terrorist or sex offender?

It only makes sense that a conscientious landlord would want to know everything possible about a prospective tenant before renting to them. But sadly, there are many property owners who do not take the time to properly screen their applicants. If they choose to rent based on feelings rather than facts and don’t run a tenant background check, they risk paying the price in the end.

In addition to the information revealed on a person’s background check for tenants, there may be red flags that become apparent as you meet with the candidate and go over their application.

#1 The applicant can’t or won’t give you contact information for their current landlord, employer, or personal references. What are they trying to hide? Perhaps these people have negative information or experiences with the candidate that could negatively influence your decision as to whether you’ll want to rent to them or not.

#2 The applicant provides suspicious pay stubs. If your applicant has not supplied employer contact information, you should ask for their most recent pay stubs to verify their employment. It is imperative that you check all the basic information on the pay stub closely and look for any discrepancies in the numbers, formatting and overall quality. This is a long-used scam that has become more popular with the rise in the number of websites that offer fraudulent pay stubs. Self-employed applicants should supply a tax return document with proof of earnings and income.

#3 The application omits information or is inconsistent. Carefully review the application for omitted information or inconsistencies. The profile on the reports should match the person who filled out the application. Make certain that the date of birth, employment history and most importantly, the Social Security Number match the person’s profile.

#4 The deposit check is greater than the amount you are asking for. Always ask for a cashier’s check or money order in payment for the security deposit and first month’s rent. When an applicant wants to pay the deposit or even their monthly rent in cash, it might be an indication that they run a non traceable business or have an illegal occupation.

Be suspicious if they ask you to accept a deposit check in an amount greater than you are asking for with a request for you to refund them the overpayment. Never accept more money than the specified rent for your property and do not accept an out-of-state cashier’s or paper check, especially if it is for more than you are due. This is a well-known scam that will leave you without your money and without a tenant.

Someone who wants to pay the deposit in installments probably lacks the income to rent the property. It may also be that they are not planning to make those additional payments at all. Do not sign a lease until you know that you will receive the security deposit in full before the move-in date. Keep in mind that there are a few cities that have passed “Renter’s Choice” bills which may allow tenants to pay their deposit in payments, but you can still incentivize tenants to pay the deposit in full.

If they are allowed to postpone paying the full security deposit, you may never see that money or the rent for the following months. Should you begin the eviction process, they know that it will be several months before they must vacate the premises. In the meantime, they are living in your property rent-free.

#5 The applicant insists you use a copy of the credit report they provide. Beware if the applicant tries to give you a copy of their “credit report” rather than have you order your own. This could be an attempt on their part to keep you from seeing their true financial history. With today’s technology available to anyone, it is surprisingly easy to create a favorable credit report that will lead you to rent to someone who is not a reliable tenant. Note, New York has recently allowed tenants to furnish their own credit reports, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t pay for and run a credit report yourself. Always verify.

Position Realty
480-213-5251

How to Save for a Down Payment While You’re Renting

Rent prices continue to rise throughout the U.S., which creates a disheartening and discouraging scenario for many people.

As of February 1 2022, median rents for one- and two-bedroom units are up 26% since last year.

One-bedroom rentals are at an all-time median high right now.

High rental prices coincide with a housing market that’s overheated. Demand, inflation, and reductions in home construction have led to record-setting home prices. Potential homebuyers are being priced out, requiring them to stay in the rental market, putting pressure on rent prices.

For renters, it can seem like a difficult cycle to break—how can you save for a down payment when such a large chunk of your income is going toward rent? Homeownership feels unattainable for a large portion of the population.

It’s decidedly not an easy issue to work your way out of, but it is possible.

Figure Out What You Need

The first thing you can do is start to crunch the numbers. If you have a concrete number for the down payment you need, it will be easier to work toward your goals. If you don’t have a plan in mind or a set number to work toward, you’re going to feel scattered, and it will be much harder to get out of the rent cycle.

The down payment will depend on the type of loan you hope to get and where you plan to buy.

There are mortgages with a down payment as low as 3%, giving you opportunities to save up in a shorter period of time.

You may have to pay for private mortgage insurance if you don’t put down 20%, however.

You have to think about other costs that you’ll need upfront money for to buy a home. These costs include closing fees and the costs of moving.

Open a Dedicated Down Payment Savings Account

Once you have a concrete number in mind and have explored the mortgage options available to you, and know which you’d like to ultimately get, you can create a savings account. This account will only be for your down payment and nothing else.

It should be liquid but separate from anything else so that you aren’t tempted to spend the money in it.

Deal with Debt

You’re going to need to find ways to cut costs if you want to put more money aside to buy a house. Cutting your debt is going to be one way to do that.

If you have a balance on a credit card with a high interest rate, you might try to do a balance transfer. You can transfer the expensive debt to a card with a zero-percent interest period.

If buying a house is your goal, try not to add any more debt during this time.

To qualify to get a mortgage, you’ll have to meet the debt-to-income requirement.

Find Ways to Cut Back

It’s hard to give things up, but if you’re putting a fair amount of money into your rent, there’s not a lot you can do about that unless you’re willing to move.

You’ll have to find other ways you can cut your costs. That might mean skipping meals out or delivery food or going through your subscriptions to see what you can eliminate.

Think About Moving

We mentioned moving above, and you may not be willing or able to do it, but if you can, cutting down on what you’re paying for rent is one of the best ways to have more money to put toward a down payment.

If you can’t move to a smaller or less expensive home, you might try to renegotiate your lease with your landlord, or you could get a roommate. If you can move, along with getting a smaller place, another option is to move outside of the center city area, if you live there currently. Typically, the further out you move from the central area of your town or city, the lower the rent.

Explore Assistance Programs

Finally, many mortgage lenders have programs and loans for first-time homebuyers that cover part or all of a down payment. There are also grants, which require you to complete a homebuyer education course before you get the financial assistance.

If you work in certain fields, like as a first responder or teacher, homebuying assistance programs are often available.

A lot of lenders are looking to reach out to underserved communities to help them make homeownership a reality, so make sure to explore everything that’s out there.

Position Realty: 480-213-5251

What Sellers Should Know About Pets and Showings

Buyers and their agents need to feel welcome to look at the property at their leisure without danger or distractions. So while you adore your sweet-tempered pit bull rescue, he could turn territorial, barking and growling at potential homebuyers. And it could cost you the opportunity to sell your home.

Think of buyers as guests and work to make them feel comfortable as they consider your home for purchase. If you have a protective dog or one that isn’t well-trained, drop her off at doggie day care when you know your home is going to be shown. Or call a pet sitter on call who can take your pet for a long walk while your home is being shown.

If you must leave the dog at home, don’t expect real estate professionals to handle your dog. They are not dog trainers and should not be expected to risk a dog bite to show your home to buyers. This is where crate-training can be a huge advantage. At least your dog is secured and more inclined to relax while your home is being shown.

What you should not do is leave your dog loose in the backyard. Not only does the buyer not have access to part of the property, but your dog could bark so much that the din drives the buyer out of the house. Also, don’t leave your dog at the neighbor’s. It’s just as bad if the buyer believes a noisy dog lives next door.

Housecats can also repel buyers. Most homes aren’t designed with a convenient place for the litter box, so cat owners do the best they can. Owners get used to the smells of catboxes and fishy foods, which could be offensive to buyers who don’t have cats.

While buyers aren’t afraid of being cat-attacked, cats can still be startling — they appear silently without warning and they jump on furniture and counters. And if you’ve taught your cat to jump on your shoulders, you can imagine what could happen to an unsuspecting buyer.

Exotic pets can be showing-stoppers, too. Birds are gorgeous, but a puffed-up screeching cockatoo can be intimidating and dangerous. Imagine a buyer bringing small children who can’t resist sticking their fingers in the cage and quickly get rewarded with a nasty bite from a very strong beak.

When you’re selling a home, keep in mind that the first two weeks on the market are crucial. That’s the time you want your home to be pristine and move-in ready. You don’t want any noise, smells or stains that could put buyers off.

Sell your home faster and for more money by making your home as inviting and accessible as possible, so that buyers have no barriers to overcome. Accessibility to your home is just as important as price, condition and location.

Position Realty: 480-213-5251

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