Friday, September 12 2014
Selling an elderly or deceased relative’s home can be one of the most selfless tasks anyone is ever called upon to do—and not just because it’s hard to let go of a place that has so many loved ones’ memories. What frequently adds to the emotional component is the condition of the house. Although your Aunt Elda might have loved the shag carpeting and the harvest gold kitchen appliances, those features can be counted on to turn off today’s typical home buyer. Bearing in mind that selling a home is first and foremost a business proposition, it’s frequently necessary to apply a few quick fixes to transform the storehouse of one family’s cherished memories into an appealing place destined to house another’s.
Ask: What Dates the House?
If a house reminds prospects of grandma’s place, unless they’re in a determinedly DIY frame of mind, they’ll move on to the next property on their list. Don’t let them overlook the many positive features of the house just because of a few old fashioned details. Scout out items that make the house look dated—and clear them out of there! Remove worn or discolored carpeting, then either replace with a bound carpet remnant or two, or leave the floors exposed. Selling a home can hinge on a few minor things like replacing old cabinet knobs and light fixtures with more modern versions, or repainting walls in neutral colors.
Replace Kitchen Appliances
Our elders may have drilled into us the wisdom that it’s wasteful to get rid of perfectly good appliances, but homebuyers may not be swayed. For selling a home in today’s market, replacing appliances can be an easy way to inject new life into an old kitchen (even if the rest of the kitchen will need further updating by its new owner). But before splurging on any appliances, consult your real estate agent about what type of appliances buyers expect in this price range. If the place could make a perfect starter home for a young family, inexpensive white appliances might be just as strategic as the stainless steel models.
Or…Embrace the Vintage Charm!
Realistically, sometimes it would take too much money to update an inherited house. If that’s the case (and time is not an issue), turn the problem into a positive by embracing the house’s vintage charm! Old is just the wrong way of viewing antique…and one person’s dated can be another’s classic. If you’re dealing with a home that could double as a set for TV’s “Mad Men,” consider playing up the ‘60s theme with furniture, curtains and even vintage magazines you find at thrift stores or yard sales. Kiplinger.com finds that today’s buyers particularly appreciate eat-in kitchens—so why not add a period-appropriate dinette set to emphasize that space? But don’t forget to thoroughly clean carpeting, curtains and other items that may hold odors. Selling a home may mean capturing the look of a bygone era—but never the smell!
A dated family home will sell faster and appeal to more buyers when you’re willing to make the right strategic changes. Spending just a little time and money can transform an overlooked house into one that demands a second look—that invites a new family to make it the site for another lifetime of memories.
Thinking of selling a home in the Evansville this fall? Calling me today for a price assessment is a solid first step! You can call me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, June 04 2014
Homeowners who had been bracing themselves for sharp rises in mortgage interest rates must now be scratching their heads. As the online Mortgage News Daily put it last week, “…rates have been extraordinarily sideways, and right in line with the lowest levels in 11 months.”
Since historical averages are still significantly higher, it’s no wonder that most observers still believe the greater likelihood is for rate increases. But recent Fed happenings show a crack in their avowed determination to let that happen by tapering off purchases of mortgage-backed securities. The hemming and hawing is notable. It’s all pretty much up in the air.
In any case, one thing I can guarantee is that mortgage holders will benefit if they take advantage of savings opportunities when they present themselves. Among current possibilities—
1. Refinance Your Mortgage
Mortgage holders who haven’t already refinanced should at least consider doing so. Refinancing means taking advantage of the still historically low interest rates—often the most meaningful step in reducing your monthly mortgage payments. Before deciding to refinance, make sure that the mortgage costs involved will be less than the resulting savings. If you agree with the prevailing wisdom that it’s unlikely we will see a significant drop in interest rates in the near future, today’s levels still look inviting.
2. Cancel Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
According to the National Association of Realtors®, mortgage down payments have fallen over the past decade. Their figures show that the average mortgage down payment in 2013 was 10% – compared with 16% just ten years earlier. Homeowners who put down less than a 20% deposit are typically required to take out Private Mortgage Insurance. But once the Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio falls below 80%, homeowners can ask for the PMI insurance to be removed—and they should, because the lender isn’t responsible for keeping track of that for them. If you are close to the 20% threshold, it may be worthwhile to make a one-time payment that will reduce the principal below 80%.
3. Extend the Length of the Mortgage
Many homeowners have made significant reductions in their principal by opting for shorter-term mortgages. But should rising interest rates make a property you are trying to buy unaffordable, extending the length of the mortgage can reduce monthly payments to a more comfortable level. Although over the long term this will end up costing significantly more in interest, moving from a 15-year mortgage to a 30-year can sometimes be the right move—especially when the property at stake represents one of the terrific values currently out there.
While interest rates in Evansville may rise or fall or, as we’ve seen lately, hold surprisingly steady, sudden leaps or plummets are unlikely…and with a little preparation, unpleasant future surprises in interest rates are avoidable. Thinking of buying a home in Evansville this summer? Call me today to start laying the groundwork! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, April 21 2014
Buying a home in Evansville is sort of a modern day adventure. At first there’s the intrigue of figuring out the advantages and disadvantages between the neighborhoods and listings competing for your attention; then there are all the challenging, sometimes exhausting—then, ultimately, exhilarating steps that lead to home ownership.
But even after the previous owner has handed over the keys, there’s more to come: a few extra steps new homeowners can decide they wish to take. Here are five of those—things you can choose to do after buying a home:
Who knows how many people have a copy of those keys? It’s a good idea to change the locks on all exterior doors, because it’s not just the previous owners who have had access to the property; there may also have been guests or tradespeople with access to the keys. By installing new locks, you can be sure that you are complete control of the keys to your new home.
While the previous homeowners are obliged to leave the home in reasonable condition (usually “broom clean”), consider scheduling a professional cleaning crew before you move in. If your budget and schedule allows, it can be a plus to know some serious deep cleaning has been performed on counters, plumbing fixtures, carpets, etc.
After buying a home, it’s usually possible to transfer utilities into your name without having to live through a break in service. Contacting all utility companies ahead of time will ensure that the transfer is orderly and scheduled in a manner that will be convenient to your move. It’s also an opportunity to be sure that utility bills have been fully paid before closing on the property.
#4 Store the Settlement Papers
At the end of the process of buying a home, a host of details come fast and furious, making it doubly easy to misplace things—even important things, like copies of the papers you execute during settlement. Later, when it’s tax time (or in the future should you sell the property), you’ll save yourself a lot of desperate rummaging if you’ve prepared a secure place to keep them from the start.
#5 Take Photos of Your Household Items
It’s important to keep an accurate list of your household contents in the case of theft, fire or other mishap—records to act as verification of your belongings and their condition. Buying a home is the perfect time to take that inventory. Go from room to room snapping digital pictures of everything you own. It will never get easier!
Like anything worth doing, buying your new dream home probably came with its own set of stresses. But it should stand as one of the most rewarding financial moves you will ever make. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Evansville this spring or summer, do give me a call! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, April 16 2014
It’s one of the skills a successful local rental property investor needs to cultivate: if or when to sell. With property prices on the rise, some Evansville landlords may in fact be asking themselves whether now is the time to cash in. Especially for most everyone whose rental property investment was made during the last few years, it’s already been a profitable gambit. According to the Case Schiller Index, by last year’s close, property prices across the nation had risen at the fastest rate in the previous nine years.
But if—and then when—to sell a rental property can be a tough call. As a relatively illiquid investment, it takes a great deal more commitment than the decision to sell a stock or cash in a bond. But sometimes there are circumstances that can make the decision a little easier. For instance:
Everyone’s tax situation is different, and the tax environment is subject to change. Even if that weren’t the case, there are some years when personal finances mean that a sale would be a much better idea than others. As with any substantial financial decision, your accountant or other financial advisor will have the relevant input.
Our area has already benefitted from some of the fruits of the national real estate recovery – but that alone doesn’t answer whether this spring is an opportune time for you to consider selling your area rental property. We currently face a shortage of listings and there are many buyers and investors in the market. Call me today for a comprehensive property evaluation—the key piece of information that will help you decide! You can reach me on my cell phone
812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, March 26 2014
It just might be that a groundswell is spreading throughout the home-buying public. In Evansville, smaller houses that used to be difficult to sell are rising in popularity, and I can guess why.
First, a little history. Back in 1950, what we would consider smaller houses were the rule: the average square footage came in at just 983 (try to imagine the ‘average’ family with 2 kids, 2 adults and Lassie all shoehorned in there!). By 2006, that figure had blown up to 2,248 square feet—and we all know about the bigger McMansions—just in time for the financial meltdown. Within the next few years, for the first time ever, the upsizing trend had begun to reverse. Only three years later, average square footage was 2,135.
In terms of size, today’s buyers and sellers are meeting in a much more balanced market. Smaller houses are no longer automatically spurned. In fact, smaller houses are the first choice for a growing number of buyers. Why?
When you really analyze it, a surprising amount of housing space is seldom used. Lifestyle changes dictate that formal dining and living rooms are much less frequently occupied. And it’s a fact that we only use a small percentage of the things that we own, so in actuality, some of many homes’ area amount to extremely high-end storage space. By getting rid of some of that unused stuff, the space it takes up can become unneeded.
The old rule of thumb nationally is that property taxes average about 1% of the value of a home. Smaller houses mean lower tax bills.
Maintenance bills can be substantially lower in smaller houses. It varies greatly by age and style, but one estimate has it that annual maintenance bills usually run between 1%-3% of total value.
Whether your hire help or handle it yourself, a smaller home can be much faster to clean. This may be less true when clutter is allowed to take over, but for those who are vigilant clutter-clearers, it means freeing more time for doing the things that you love. If you are paying someone else clean your home, it can easily equate to significant savings over the course of a year.
According to the American Psychology Association, money is the largest single contributor to stress. Nearly three-quarters of Americans admit that financial problems are their biggest source of stress. Purchasing a smaller house with an accompanying smaller mortgage can directly translate into a mellower quality of life.
A smaller house may not be for everyone, but today’s buyers are considering the advantages with a much more open minds. If you are giving some serious thought to buying or selling a home, let’s talk about the wide range of possibilities on the local market today. We are experiencing very low inventories right now. This plays out to the advantage of sellers. You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com