Thursday, October 30 2014
You’re about to close a deal to become a tenant. The landlord seems like a straight shooter and the place is a joy: immaculate and welcoming. Now all that’s left is to wait for the landlord’s okay after an evaluation of you as the new tenant, right?
Well, not quite. Just as the landlord should check financial or job references as part of their due diligence, you have some to perform for your own benefit. It’s up to you to assess the landlord’s system to determine whether this rental arrangement is the good fit you hope it is. Only by asking pertinent questions can you decide whether the landlord’s management style and expectations align with your needs.
1. Do you offer emergency maintenance services?
When a plumbing leak becomes uncontrollable or the heater goes out on a cold winter night, you need maintenance assistance quickly. Find out how quickly your landlord can respond—and how readily he or she answers. An experienced landlord is familiar with the inevitability of maintenance emergencies—and isn’t surprised (or put off) by the question. A great landlord is confident of the system he or she has put in place!
2. What are my maintenance responsibilities?
Lease language can be less than precise about the tenant’s responsibilities—most often when it comes to outdoor areas. A lease might vaguely state that the tenant is responsible for general lawn maintenance. Ask your landlord to pinpoint the specifics, and jot down notes that you can refer to later. Some landlords might expect mowing the lawn and weeding planted areas; others might expect you to attend to more, such as lawn treatments. Finding out your landlord’s specific expectations will give you a sense of the upkeep requirements for your end. It can’t help but minimize the possibility of any future conflict.
3. Is there a homeowners association?
As a rental tenant, most likely you won’t be responsible for any homeowners association dues. However, you might be subject to its rules and regulations. For example, if the association has strict lawn care requirements and you are responsible for garden maintenance, you should know about those details. If your landlord answers yes to this question, ask for a copy of the association rules.
4. What are my responsibilities before I vacate the property?
It’s not being overly negative to bring up the subject of the end of your tenancy. When you move out of a rental home, you want to leave the property in good condition so that you are not hit with any charges—or see your security deposit disappear without good reason. Find out if your landlord has any specific requirements, such as professional carpet cleaning or filling the holes in the wall.
5. How do I contact you on nights and weekends?
Problems with your rental unit do not always occur Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. By asking your landlord for contact information during non-business hours, you get a sense of how accessible he or she is. If he or she willingly gives you a cellphone number, you’ve probably found a landlord who will be easy to work with— and easy to track down should problems arise!
My work as a Realtor® lets me help set the stage for tenants and landlords to create a mutually beneficial relationship. If you are looking to purchase an income property taking advantage of this fall’s very favorable terms, don’t hesitate to give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Tuesday, October 21 2014
Despite what just feels like the right answer, buying a home in Evansville can be significantly cheaper than renting one. It’s one of those rare cases where, if you stop and make common sense judgments about the factors at play, the ‘just feels like’ conclusion is the opposite of the one common sense leads you to. Much of the reason has to do with short-term versus long-term considerations (buying a home starts with paying a sizeable down payment, after all); but over the long haul, the amount of cash at stake is so great it’s worth taking a hard look at this fundamental housing choice.
Four leading factors that currently come into play:
· Increased Demand Has Made Rentals More Expensive
After the subprime mortgage mess-between 2007 and 2013—something like 6,200,000 people were added to the number of tenants. That boost created enough extra demand for rental units that owners had no trouble increasing monthly rates. It’s a simple case of too little supply chased by too much demand.
· Low Interest Rates Make Homes Cheaper in the Long-Run
The current unusually low interest rates makes the tradeoff with renting an easier call. This fall, home buyers can expect to find 30 year mortgage packages at rates in the low 4% range. If interest rates rise considerably—which just about everyone expects—rental rates can be expected to rise proportionately as landlords cover the added expense. But those who buy a home lock in the lower interest rate: the ‘price of money!’
When you buy a home, your mortgage comes with a repayment schedule that shows you exactly how much you are required to pay each month until the end of the loan’s term. With a fixed rate mortgage, the monthly payment amount is an iron-clad guarantee of what you will need to budget. With a fixed rate loan, the dollar amount will usually stay the same (or even fall as the mortgage nears its end). Conversely, unless a major change occurs in the rental market, rental prices will continue going up. And the common sense of consumers knows what to expect, reflected in last month’s Mortgage Reports headline:
“Consumers Expect Rents to Rise 2x Faster Than Home Prices in 2015”
· Buying is a Long-Term Investment for Stability
In addition to the price rise factor, renters will have to keep paying rent for a lifetime—while homeowners eventually get to stop making mortgage payments. Anyone buying a home in their 30’s can expect to have paid for it before they reach retirement. That’s very good news, because their living expenses will go down around the same time they start making less money. In contrast, renting just keeps getting more expensive…which can put extra financial pressure on retirees.
If you find yourself on the cusp of renting or buying a home in Evansville, today’s rates should weigh heavily in your decision. If you find that it makes financial sense to buy, the next step is easy: give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Friday, October 17 2014
Market Watch October 2014
I have a lot of interesting information and statistics for this month’s Market Watch, but before I start that discussion I think I should share some basic real estate concepts. First, basic economic concepts apply to real estate. For example, increased supply results in decreased demand, which lowers prices. Conversely decreased supply results in increased demand, which increases prices. The catch to this basic principle is that other factors such as the general state of the economy, the job market, interest rates and consumer optimism also affect prices as well as buyers and sellers desire to buy or sell homes. With this most basic background let’s now explore some interesting trends in the market.
First, according to The Wall Street Journal, new home sales (as opposed to previously owned homes) were at their highest level in August since May of 2008. These sales were up 33% compared to August of last year. Although this is clearly good news, I think we should view this in context of very low new home construction over the past few years. Good numbers in August suggest full year totals of between 400,000 and 450,000 new home sales for all of 2014. Although this is clearly an improvement from less than 250,000 sales a few years ago, it still falls far short of the 1 million new homes that sold at the height of the real estate boom. Increased new home sales have left only a 4.8 month supply of new homes on the market.
A second fact, according to RIS Media, is that prices increased for the 30th consecutive month when compared to the previous year. This statistic seems pretty clear. Home prices continue to rise at what has remained a pretty steady pace. The median price of a home nationwide is now $219,000.
My third fact, again according to RIS Media is that in the 2nd quarter of 2014, 950,000 homes returned to a positive equity situation, meaning that these homes are now worth more than the outstanding mortgage balance on those homes. As you may recall, when the real estate market was adversely affected by the last recession many homes nationwide lost value and owners owed more in mortgage loans that their homes were worth. RIS claims that as of today, 14.9% of homes nationwide are still in a negative equity situation but that represents 2 million fewer homes underwater than just a year ago.
I think we can draw several conclusions from this data. First, the real estate market is on sound ground and continues to improve. Second, new home construction continues to recover. Third, prices continue to rise slowly. And finally inventory levels are still lower than normal and there is demand for more listings.
All of the information in this month’s Market Watch is national data although I believe that the same trends I’ve just discussed apply locally. As is always the case with real estate, demand and price for homes is always specific to one individual home. Please give me a call if you would like to discuss the value of your house or the home you are considering buying. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email: Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
If you want to do some research before we talk, the most accurate information on our local real estate market is always at FCTuckerEmge.com.
Thursday, October 16 2014
Having a home for sale as autumn swings into full bloom has more than one advantage. First off, this is definitely not looky-loo season—the majority of home shoppers this time of year tend to be serious-minded (perhaps because many are hoping to be comfortably moved in by the holidays). Whatever the reason, because many other owners will wait until spring to put up their own home for sale, if you are listing now, you can usually count on a narrower amount of competition.
A subtler reason why fall is an exciting season to put up a home for sale has to do with what can be a presentation advantage—the same reason home décor professionals like this time of year. It’s the Autumn Advantage: a time of year loaded with eye-catching decorating ideas. When the leaves start to change, it’s time to take advantage of the autumnal decorations that can make any home for sale extra inviting.
Modern Man may have cracked the atom and devised telescopes that can see to the very edge of the Universe, but it has still failed to come up with a way to spruce up a home for fall without adding a pumpkin or two. Why fight it? There are a thousand ways to use the ubiquitous squash in arresting placements. One example is to cut a generous hole in the top, then drop a fall-appropriately planted pot (think gold, red, orange and brown) through it, flowers and all. This “pumpkin plant pot” can work to add color both inside and outside any home for sale.
· Re-purpose an old Window
Where a rustic touch is appropriate, another autumnal planter idea is to find a discarded wooden window (the more thoroughly weathered, the better: decorators call it ‘up-cycling’), secure a potted plant to it, then hang it on the wall in place of a family picture (remember: when you have a home for sale, it’s recommended to remove as many of the personal mementos as possible). This “outside inside” décor trick creates a seasonal feel you can add to by embellishing further with dried leaves and berries.
· Scents of Autumn
Using scents can be central to fall decorating. These seasonal aromas can be counted upon to trigger positive memories for the visitors to your home. Scented candles are an appropriate way to add ambiance to your house. You can go further by tying cinnamon sticks around your candles, or adding a few drops of clove and cinnamon oil to your potpourri or fall arrangements (just don’t overdo it)!
· Fall: a Season for Comfort
If you’re thinking warm fires, plump cushions and plush throws to emphasize the coziness of the season, you’ll make it happen. A comfortable home highlighted with fall colors sets a scene that boosts the beauty of a home for sale unlike any other time of the year.
Whether you have already listed your home for sale, or are just now setting the stage, give me a call to put together a marketing blitz that will use the season to make that sale happen! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com