HOA Drama and Other Issues Buyers Wish They’d Considered Before the Deal Closed

Tags

, , , ,

 | Sep 6, 2019 |Terri Williams is a journalist who has written for USA Today, Yahoo, the Economist, U.S. News and World Report, and the Houston Chronicle. Follow @Territoryone

person holding pen in front of contract 

Being a first-time home buyer is exciting. After you finish signing a gazillion documents and the keys are finally placed in your hands, there’s an undeniable sense of accomplishment and pride. However, not long thereafter, buyer’s remorse can set in. New buyers might wonder if they made the right decision or if there were warning signs that they missed—or outright ignored.

Everyone hopes that life after closing on a house will be smooth sailing, but some unsuspecting buyers end up in turbulent waters. The following anecdotes outline missteps that first-time home buyers can make and, most importantly, how to identify those red flags before you’re locked into the sale.

No room to grow

Many of the first-time homeowners Chicago-based real estate agent Jonathan Self speaks to say that they underestimated how much space they would need.

“The family expanded faster than they had planned, and they now need to move without owning the house for enough time to reap any benefit of price appreciation,” he says. “Life happens, but you want to make sure you’ve had four to five years minimum in the home at the normal rate of appreciation—and that’s just to break even.”

To avoid having to move because of a lack of space, buyers should ask themselves the following questions: Is the size of your family going to change? Is there a chance an older family member will need to move in with you? Do you have space for a dog, if you want one?

Some first-time homeowners get tripped up by perfectly staged homes.

“Finding the right home isn’t just the sexy, fun stuff like finish selections,” Self says. That’s why you need to consider how much space you and your family will really need down the road so you can stay put.

HOA drama

First-time homeowners would do well to understand the pros and cons of a homeowners association before moving into an area that has one. That’s why Self goes as far as going through the HOA’s meeting minutes with his clients who are considering living in one of these communities.

“Neighbors are always an X factor, and as agents, we do what we can to investigate. But your best bet at spotting any internal HOA drama is to check out those meeting minutes and budget line items,” he says.

A lack of HOA meeting minutes or transparency with the budget is also a big red flag.

Becky Beach, a business owner and blogger at MomBeach.com in Austin, TX, says her HOA dues are $500, but a lack of communication means she and the other homeowners do not know what the money is going toward.

Living in a community with an HOA suits many buyers, but you want to know what you’re in for before signing on the dotted line.

Rushed to buy a home

Aleka Shunk, founder of the blog Bite Sized Kitchen, warns first-time home buyers against a hasty home purchase like the one she made.

While searching for a home in New Jersey, one of her friends sent a flyer from neighbors looking to sell their home. The Shunks loved the home and the area, and the highly motivated sellers wanted to move within six weeks. One of the sellers was an agent, and preferred that the Shunks didn’t use an agent on their behalf—and also said the home would be sold as is.

“I found a local inspector who said there were a few small problems, but overall the house was in good shape,” Shunk says. “I also hired a lawyer to handle the legalities.”

However, a few months after moving, the problems started.

“I woke up to no water in the bathroom faucet, and then a neighbor informed me that the water was gushing down the driveway,” Shunk says. Water was flowing from the ceiling in both the garage and living room. After a week of frigid temperatures, two pipes burst—to the tune of $40,000 in water damage. The cause of all of these problems? There was little to no insulation throughout the house.

“We were just so excited and could not wait to get into our own home,” Shunk says. “However, because we rushed, we did not have time to ask many questions.”

It took three months to fix all of the damage, and the family is saving up enough money to properly insulate the house. The lesson: Don’t rush into buying a home, and always get a second opinion.

DIY real estate transaction

Many buyers—first-time or not—underestimate the value of having a real estate agent represent them. You may be capable of combing through online listings, but navigating the negotiations, paperwork, and legal stipulations that arise during a real estate deal requires experience.

“This is a big transaction, therefore, it is very helpful to have another qualified person speak and deal on your behalf,” says Mark Cianciulli, a real estate broker and founder of The Crem Group in Long Beach, CA.

For example, he says, even a home being sold as is can be negotiated—especially one like the Shunks’ that came with major problems.

“Because we did not use an agent, we did not know the right questions to ask,” Shunk says. “What does ‘as is’ even mean?”

While she did use a lawyer and got a home inspection, Shunk says she trusted the seller to ensure that everything was taken care of.

HP_logo.pngGive us a call today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

Consider this: When to refinance?!

Tags

, , , , , ,

person holding piggy bank

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Refinancing your mortgage is something most homeowners consider at least once throughout the lifespan of their home loan. It allows you to pay off your previous loan by applying for a new one that has better financial advantages. While there are many good reasons to refinance, here are five common ones.

  • Scoring a lower interest rate. The number one reason homeowners decide to refinance is to secure a lower interest rate on their mortgage. Not only does this save you money in the long run and decrease your monthly payment, but you can start building equity in your home sooner.
  • Using an improved credit score. Even if interest rates have not dropped in the market, if you’ve improved your credit score over the last few years, you may be able to reduce your mortgage rate.
  • Shortening the loan’s term. If interest rates are decreasing, there is a chance you may be able to get a shorter loan term with little to no change in your monthly payment, allowing you to pay off your loan sooner.
  • Switching from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate. If you chose an adjustable-rate mortgage with great introductory rates when you initially financed your home, that rate may increase significantly over the years. By switching to a fixed rate while interest rates are low, you can protect yourself from future increases.
  • Cashing out home equity. If there is a big purchase or payment on the horizon, such as funding a wedding or going back to school, your best option may be to use the equity you’ve built in your home to borrow money at a lower cost.

Give us a call today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

abundance bank banking banknotes

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Must-Have tools for Homeowners!

Tags

, , , , ,

flat lay photography of hand tools

Photo by suntorn somtong on Pexels.com

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects.

  1. Cordless drill. A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month.
  2. Drain cleaners. Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.
  3. Shop-vac. No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.
  4. Loppers. Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.
  5. Flashlight. You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!

Give us a call today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479

tool set on plank

Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Which down payment strategy is right for you?

Tags

, , ,

abstract blackboard bulb chalk

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.

THE DOWNSIDE

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.

THE UPSIDE

The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.

THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.

Have any questions? Give us a call today!

Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

TOP TIPS FOR HOUSE HUNTING ONLINE

Tags

, , , , ,

man in white shirt using tablet computer shallow focus photography

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hunting for a new home online is a great place to start your search, but it should not be your end all be all. Good listing agents are excellent at highlighting the best features of the home, but keep in mind there may be more than meets the eye. To make the most of your time and efforts and gather a well-rounded picture of home listings online, keep the following three things in mind.

  1. Stay up to date. When you start your search, make sure you find a site that pulls up-to-date listings directly from the multiple listing service (MLS) where real estate agents actively post their most current homes for sale. Many online resources update less often or fail to remove listings that are off the market, making it more difficult to sort through the clutter.
  2. Pictures can be deceiving. Real estate photographers are experts at showing a home in the best possible light. Many use tools and strategies to boost appeal, such as a fisheye lens to make areas look larger and creative editing to make colors and textures really pop. But, often listings will not contain photos of unappealing parts of the home, like small closets or outdated bathrooms.
  3. See it to believe it. Once you find what appears to be your dream home online, call up your real estate agent and schedule a showing. You want to take the opportunity to vet the home in person and explore every part of it before beginning the offer process. Your real estate agent will help you cover all your bases and will ask questions you may not have thought of.
person giving keys on man

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Have any questions or are you ready to start your new home search in 2019? Give us a call today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside. 904-515-2479

 

WHAT TO REPAIR BEFORE YOU LIST

Tags

, , , , ,

man holding black board with white paint painting wall

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

Repaint walls.

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure cover any walls with scratches and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat.

Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas. If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!

Refresh the landscaping.

Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the in. Clean walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees, install outdoor décor pieces and fill in mulch and gravel.

Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds. Improve your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. Updating cabinetry, repairing or replacing countertops, and installing new faucets and sinks may be worth the investment.

Have any questions or are you ready to sell your new home in 2019? Give us a call today!  Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com

Easy Landscaping DIY Projects

Tags

, , , , ,

garden walkway view

Photo by Jonas Ferlin on Pexels.com

Ever get the itch to do a DIY project? Whenever we do, our favorites involve getting outdoors and mixing up our landscaping features.

Whether it’s as simple as installing some lighting or a little more time-consuming like re-plotting plants, a fresh look for the lawn always gives your home a fresh look as well. Here are our top five easy landscaping projects!

Create a pathway.

To guide you and visitors throughout your yard and link different areas together, install a pathway. You can use materials from a variety of materials, including reclaimed pallet wood, flagstones, gravel, and more to add texture and color.

Add a wall or border.

Installing a flagstone, rock, or brick wall around flower beds or trees adds a sleek, clean look to your landscaping and helps separate different sections of your yard.

Install a water feature.

Nothing says zen quite like the sound of trickling water as you relax in your backyard. You can start simple with by purchasing and installing a small feature powered by a solar panel or create a larger focal point in your yard by installing a waterfall wall or small pond.

Light your way.

An easy way to transform your yard is to strategically use lighting. Place cool-colored lights high in trees to recreate a moonlight feel, use pathway lights to naturally guide the eye, or highlight objects or plants.

Plant upwards.

Expand your yard space by drawing the eye to the sky with a trellis fence or screen made of wood or metal. Once you install your trellis, select your climbing plants and vines and get to planting.

Source: Easy Landscaping DIY Projects

Why You Need to Make Home Buying Your New Year’s Resolution

Tags

, , , , , ,

happy new year decorative plate

Photo by JESHOOTS.com on Pexels.com

Losing weight, starting an exercise plan, or giving up on smoking are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions for a vast majority of individuals. But have you ever thought that buying a home should be in your New Year’s plan? Let’s face it, you have been dreaming about moving into your own home for such a long time. You even have plans for the kitchen cabinets and a backyard where your kids can play with your dog. But somehow you have not been able to convert your dreams into reality. It is finally the time to stop postponing your decision and start the home buying process….welcome to 2019!

 

Buying a home is a great New Year’s resolution

If you have been living in a rented place for a long time, isn’t it the right time to stop making the bank account of your landlord happy? It’s time to treat your family to a place that it can truly call its own!

 

Benefits of home ownership should spur you into action

There are so many benefits of buying a home that it would take a full article to describe each one of them. But just the fact that you can have your own home with the same (or less) monthly payment that you are now paying as rent should be reason enough to spur you into action. You would need money to put forward in the form of down payment but this money helps in building equity into your home.

 

Mortgage rates are going up and so are the prices of properties. Waiting any longer will only make it that much more difficult for you to buy a home. If you make home buying as a New Year’s resolution, the first step is to contact The Hanley Home Team to help you create an achievable action plan. Give us a call and let’s make it a GREAT 2019 together – www.HanleyHomeTeam.com 904-515-2479 Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty

7 Ways Downsizing Saves Money

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

pexels-photo-723876.jpegDownsizing is hardly a dirty word these days, especially as Baby Boomers begin to question the size of their home, and more Millennials are finally making their way into the world. Home ownership is a good investment at any size, and if you’ve ever wanted to free up some cash for the rest of life’s joys (travel? new hobbies? investing?), downsizing can be a great way to rightsize your budget. Here are seven ways downsizing can foster a little more financial freedom:

1. Utility costs. If your gas and electric bills have been climbing year over year, consider the pleasant surprise of heating and cooling 1,200 sq. ft. instead of 3,500. Controlling the climate in empty spare bedrooms is pointless when you don’t need the room. What’s more, you can count on fewer houseguests with less space, and this, in turn, can decrease utility costs.

2. Maintenance costs. How big is that lawn? How many rooms need to be refreshed with a coat of paint? How many windows do you need to wash, and what about the size of that driveway that must be repaired and sealed?

3. Insurance. Your insurance bill is based in large part on your appraisal, and if your new home is smaller, your insurance bill should shrink as well. (This can vary based on location and levels of coverage, of course, but you would be hard pressed to insure less for more!)

4. Property taxes. Much like insurance, tax rates tend to be based on a percentage of assessed value. Here’s a few more dollars back into your wallet.

5. Repairs. How many toilets do you need to have fixed? Appliances? Light fixtures to keep lit? The smaller home has fewer leaking faucets and a smaller roof to replace. Your overall spend on maintenance goes down when you have less home to maintain.

6. Furniture. Downsizing is a perfect opportunity to sell excess furniture and find keep only those pieces well-loved or essential for your new smaller space.

7. Hosting and entertaining. When you’ve got that sprawling home, your place is ground zero for out-of-town guests, relatives, and holiday parties. As your space shrinks, so does your annual hosting and entertaining budget. Besides, if you really want to throw a shin-dig, you can take some of that downsizing cash and pick a perfect venue.

Looking to downsize and redirect that extra cash? Get in touch: Kevin and Jennifer Hanley, REALTORS The Hanley Home Team of Keller Williams Realty Atlantic Partners Southside 904-515-2479 http://www.HanleyHomeTeam.com