Choosing The Right Listing Agreement

When listing your home with a REALTOR®, you will be required to sign an agreement.  This document will outline all of the agreed upon terms, including the asking price of the property, the REALTOR’S® commission, length of the agreement, cancellation policy (if any) and other details that will govern how the listing is handled.  As a homeowner, it’s important to choose the right listing agreement to fit your needs.

Evaluate Your Options

When you decide to sell your home, talk with several different REALTORS®.  Speak with them over the phone, meet with them in person, ask for references or do anything that you can to get a feel for how they do business.  In real estate, punctuality is a must.  The REALTOR® that you choose should return your calls, answer your questions and should provide a listing agreement that coincides with any verbal agreements that you may have had regarding the listing.  For instance, if you tell your REALTOR® that you only want to list your property for six months, make sure the listing agreement reflects six months and not one year or longer.  In addition, make sure that your asking price is the same in the agreement as you agreed upon in earlier discussions.

Exclusive Right-To-Sell Real Estate Agreement

This contract is the most common in the real estate industry.  With this agreement, the REALTOR® will earn a commission regardless of whether they sell the house or you sell the house yourself.  Always make sure you understand what you are signing.

Open Real Estate Listing Agreement

This type of contract allows a homeowner to list with more than one REALTOR® in a non-exclusive manner.  The agent responsible for presenting a buyer who purchases the property will receive the commission, which means REALTORS® will compete to see who can sell the house first.  If the owner eventually sells the home without the help of a REALTOR®, they are not required to pay anyone a commission.  An Open Listing Agreement is not common with REALTORS®, but it is one option to consider.

Exclusive Real Estate Agency Listing

This type of agreement requires that the homeowner list their property with only one real estate agency.  Unlike an Open Listing Agreement, where the homeowner can list their property with multiple REALTORS®, an Exclusive Agency Listing entails only one agency being granted permission to list the home.

Read The Fine Print

Before signing any type of contract, homeowners must read over every detail to ensure that it represents the full agreement between themselves and their REALTOR®.  Some things to consider include the length of the contract.  Some REALTORS® prefer to have a minimum of one year to list a property, but the homeowner will have the option to negotiate.  Some owners prefer a shorter term, such as one to six months.

Every real estate contract should outline a cancellation policy, which will provide details surrounding a release and/or fees and penalties.  Some agents will offer a cancellation policy that allows the homeowner to cancel the contract by providing a 30-day written notice at any time.

 

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The Home Remodels That Will Most Increase Your Selling Price

So you are ready to sell, but you know that there are a few things in the home that could stand some updating in order to increase your selling price.  Your remodel budget is limited, and you are wondering where to spend it.  The good news is that there are some solid answers.  But there are certain remodeling jobs that can increase your selling price more than others.

Whether you are getting ready to sell or simply want to remodel now for the best value when you do sell later, these are the remodels that give you the best return on investment.

The Kitchen

Remodeling the kitchen is one of the most important things you can do in your home, especially if the kitchen is dated.  It is often one of the first rooms a potential buyer will see, and it should make an impression.  The kitchen is often considered the soul of the home, and most people spend a good deal of time here.  Upgrades to countertops, cabinets, and appliances are one of the wisest investments you can make in your home.

The Bathrooms

Second only to the kitchen, the bathroom is the room in the house where dated fixtures or flooring can cost you a sale.  People want a bathroom that is clean, comfortable, and modern, a place of privacy and peace.  Spending money on a bathroom remodel will almost always be the best way to spend your money, and you will see it in your selling price.

Curb Appeal

Getting people in to look at your house is the first step.  Spending some of your remodel money on the exterior of the house and the landscaping is the best way to do that.  Improving the look of the house from the outside means you can bring more people in to look and to buy.  There is no underestimating the importance of curb appeal.

An Addition

With a small house, adding on square footage can mean adding a lot to the selling price.  If you can swing it, an addition is a smart way to make your house worth a lot more money.

Remodeling your house now for a better sale price later is a smart move.  The sooner you do it, the more you will be able to enjoy it before it is time to sell and move on.  With these smart remodels, you will make maximum profit.

 

A Nice Home Or A Nice Neighborhood: Which Matters More?

When you start shopping for a home, you probably have a very specific image of what you would like that home to look like.  You probably also see the perfect neighborhood surrounding that perfect home.  Every buyer sets out with an image of the house they want to own, but in reality compromises are often necessary in order to stay within your budget.

Compromising On The House

There may be certain things that are non-negotiable when it comes to your new home, such as the number of bedrooms or a two-car garage.  But as you take a look at the homes that are within your budget, you may discover that it is not likely you will get everything on your wish list.  But the great thing about owning a home is that you have the power to remodel it at any time.  Once you are in your new home, you can renovate or even add on if necessary to create the home you really want.  And if you have managed to stay below your budget, you will even have the extra money each month to make some of those changes.

Compromising On The Neighborhood

So you’ve found the house of your dreams, but the neighborhood isn’t precisely what you were hoping for.  Too much traffic, some houses that are becoming run down, or many other issues can mar the area your house is in.  In most cases, you will have to accept that you cannot change the neighborhood, and this means that you have to decide if the problems are things you can live with or not.

In some cases, buying in a run-down neighborhood can be a strategic move.  If many people are buying up the houses and improving them, then your home might one day be worth a lot more.  However, you must realize that this is a risk and it might not work out that way.

Another thing to bear in mind is that if you choose to buy the nicest house in the neighborhood, you may have trouble selling it down the line.  If other houses in the area are available for less, why would anyone buy your expensive house to get into the area?

So Which Matters More?

In the long run, when it comes down to choosing between the right house and the right neighborhood, you should choose the right neighborhood.  While you can change your house for the better, you can’t count on your neighborhood changing; in fact, it might get worse.  So choose the best neighborhood you can afford even if the house there isn’t perfect.

 

Buying A Home With Past Credit Problems

Buying a home can be both exciting and stressful but, for those with past credit problems, the process may also seem intimidating.  The good news is that many lenders have adapted to the idea that many hopeful homeowners simply need a second chance, which means that past credit problems no longer have to define your future.

Credit Blemishes

When life unexpectedly takes a turn for the worst, it’s not always possible to come out without a few bumps and bruises.  Every day, people are faced with late or missed credit card payments, mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcy proceedings, auto repossessions and even civil judgments that will affect their credit reports for years to come.  Whether it’s from a job loss, injury or just a simple case of temporary hardship, credit blemishes are often a part of life.  The good news is that they no longer have to prevent you from becoming a homeowner.

Give Yourself A Little Credit

After experiencing a credit problem, most lenders will want to see an attempt to rebuild your credit through a steady payment history with a new account.  This can be accomplished by applying for a credit card and maintaining a responsible use of the account.  If you aren’t approved for an unsecured card, you can always apply for a secured credit card.  Either will rebuild your credit over time and will help to show lenders that your past credit problems are just that – in the past.

Clean Up Your Credit Report

Before applying for a home loan, make sure that you check your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.  Every 12 months, consumers can request a free copy of their credit report from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.  If anything is incorrect or found to be inaccurate, filing a dispute with the credit reporting agency can help to get the information corrected before speaking with a lender.

When you apply for a home loan, the lender will access your credit report for the purpose of determining your creditworthiness.  In an effort to ensure that you have the best possible chance at being approved for the loan at the best possible interest rates, making sure that your credit report is accurate is a must.

Save Up For A Down Payment

Some homebuyers often qualify for a mortgage with down payments as low as five percent (three percent for FHA loans), but those with past credit problems may be required to shell out up to 35 percent or more for a down payment on their new home.  A buyer who pays a larger down payment obviously has more vested interest in the home and may, thereby, be less likely to default on a loan.  If you have past credit problems, check with your lender about specific down payment requirements and start saving!

Creative Financing Options

If you’ve exhausted all of your conventional efforts and are still turning up empty, don’t give up just yet.  Alternative financing is an option that many homebuyers use to purchase a home.  Your REALTOR® can provide you with details regarding any lease purchase and/or owner financing properties, which may require no credit check, no bank qualifying, a low down payment and competitive interest rate options.

 

How Much House You Can Afford

There are a number of factors that can contribute to the affordability of a house and, as a potential homebuyer, it’s important that you know what type of mortgage payments are within your budget.

Debt-To-Income Ratio

As a homebuyer, your first consideration will be the amount of your monthly mortgage payments.  If you owe a lot of debt, lenders may consider you to be a high credit risk, which makes debt-to-income ratio a leading factor in determining how much of a house you can afford.

Most lenders will discount any loans that you will have paid off within one year when determining how much of a home you can afford.  As a general rule, your mortgage payment should not exceed 25-30 percent of your monthly take-home pay.

Loan Term

Although you will end up paying more interest in the long run, you will find that you can afford a more expensive house if you request a loan term of 25-30 years, compared to a shorter term of 15 years.

Interest Rates

When you look at an interest rate, all you see is a number.  Hopefully, it’s a single digit that’s comparable with current market rates.  Most homebuyers already know that their interest rate affects their monthly payment which, in turn, is determined by the borrower’s income.  Lower interest rates mean that you can afford a larger principal loan amount, which means a more expensive house.

Credit History

Because your past credit history will play a large role in determining your interest rates, it will also impact the affordability of a house.  For instance, a buyer who pays six percent interest will save a considerable amount of money over a buyer who pays eight percent interest on their home loan.  It may not seem like much now but, when averaged over time, the savings could be tremendous.

Down Payment Amount

Believe it or not, the amount of your down payment will not only show the lender how serious you are about buying a home, but it will also affect your ability to afford a particular house.  For instance, if you were to qualify for a home loan of $200,000, but your dream home was currently listed for $250,000, a down payment in the amount of $50,000 would get you into the home.

The above scenario is just an example, but it does show how a down payment can affect the price of the home that you are able to afford.  Some lenders may only require a five percent down payment, but you are free to pay as much above that as you wish.  A larger down payment can also reduce the principal loan amount, which thereby reduces the monthly mortgage payments.

 

When Is The Right Time To Reduce The Price

Every homeowner must set an asking price when listing their home on the market, but what happens when you don’t receive any offers?  Just as it’s important to know when it’s time to sell, it’s important to recognize the right time to reduce the price.

Supply & Demand

If a lot of homes are currently listed on the market or your home is overpriced, it may be time to consider a price reduction if you hope to stay competitive.  If five different stores sold your favorite soda, what would motivate you to buy from one over the others?  If you are like most, the cost would be a leading factor.  The same is true with home buyers, who are looking to get the best value for their dollar.

Hurry Up & Wait

If your home has been listed on the market for what is considered to be a lengthy time for your area, it may be time to consider a price reduction.  This is especially true if you are in a hurry to sell, which may be the case if you are planning to purchase another house upon selling yours.  In some cases, a homeowner will make an offer on another house and that offer will be contingent upon selling their current home.  When this happens, the homeowner is likely to be in a hurry to sell so that they can honor the terms of their new agreement before it expires.  Real estate can often be a waiting game, but sometimes it may be necessary to hurry up the process, through a price reduction, if you need to complete the sale.

Market Value Fluctuations

We all know how the market fluctuates.  If you own real estate, property values can go up one year and fall the next.  If your house is currently listed and the property values have fallen, you may want to consider reducing the price in order to remain in the running with potential home buyers.  If your house is priced far above market value, most lenders would refuse to approve a loan for your asking price.  Having an appraisal would be one way to know how much your home is worth.

REALTOR® Recommendations

If you’ve hired a REALTOR®, you obviously trust him/her to guide you through the process of selling your home.  If your REALTOR® suggests a price reduction, it may be in your best interest to consider it.  Nobody knows the business like a real estate agent.  They know what buyers want and, in most cases, what they are willing to pay.  If you’ve trusted a REALTOR® enough to hire them, trust them enough to value their opinion.

 

How To Buy A Home With A Low Down Payment

Purchasing a home with a low down payment is important for a number of reasons, including the buyer’s ability to have extra cash left over for closing costs, decorating expenses, upgrades and/or other essentials needed to turn their new house into a home.  Thanks to the level of competition between mortgage lenders, it’s now easier than ever to buy a home with a low down payment.

First-Time Homebuyers

There are a lot of perks to being a first-time homebuyer, including the ability to get in the door with a low down payment.  Many lenders will ask for a down payment as low as five percent (three percent for FHA loans) to those looking to purchase their first home.

A first-time homebuyer is someone who has rented their previous home(s) or has never purchased a house on a permanent foundation.  Individuals who have owned manufactured homes may also be eligible for a first-time homebuyer loan, but the final decision is up to each individual lender.

FHA Loan

This type of loan is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and allows for a smaller down payment than many conventional loans.  In addition to offering down payments as low as three percent of the total purchase price, FHA loans often carry lower interest rates and are easier to qualify for.  This type of loan is ideal for first-time homebuyers, individuals with past credit problems or even those who wish to purchase a second home.

Provide Your Land As Collateral

If you own the land that you intend to build on, many lenders will use the land in place of a down payment.  In other words, you build a house on the land that you already own, and the lender gets both if you default.  This is why individuals who own land often choose to build, while using the lot in place of a big down payment.  In addition, many lenders are more willing to approve a loan if the land is already owned by the buyer.

Owner Financing

When a seller lists their home, they have the option of considering owner financing.  In this situation, a buyer provides a down payment to the seller and signs an agreement to pay for the home (plus interest) over a preset number of years.  Owner financing typically requires a lower down payment, which can be any amount that the buyer and seller agree to.  Because there is no bank qualifying and no credit check, a seller can extend the offer on any terms that they wish.