Most buyers still don’t shop for a mortgage

According to a new survey nearly two thirds of all home buyers don’t bother shopping around for a mortgage. 44 percent admitted that the best mortgage is the one with the lowest rate. Experts point out that closing costs and the broader annual percentage rate are also important factors.

Finally, many confused prequalified – you will likely be able to obtain a mortgage for what you can afford – with preapproved – where you actually been approved for a mortgage.

58 percent believed that adjustable-rate mortgages were only for “risk takers” while analysts explain that adjustable 5/5 rates are ideal for those who expect to be in their home for lost than 5 years.


Adding value through special features

When looking to add value to your property it’s important to know what features are attracting potential buyers now.

  • Kitchen island: A well-designed kitchen island changes the look of the room entirely, often making it appear larger than it actually is as well as greatly improving the functionality of the space.
  • Granite countertop: Beautiful kitchens are a strong selling point these days and nothing is impressive as a granite countertop.
  • >Walk-in closet: A popular feature requested these days by home buyers, a well-designed space that accommodates additional cabinets and drawers will certainly add value.
  • Swimming pool: Back in vogue, a swimming pool is again seen as a real plus for outdoor gatherings.

Expect changes when you buy a home

Buying a home will probably be the biggest financial investment you ever make so it’s best to be prepared for what’s to come:

  • Expenses will increase with all that comes with home ownership.
  • Credit will improve as you make mortgage payments.
  • Other loans will be easier to qualify for as you now have a major asset.
  • Your home builds equity.

Buying a home will change your financial life forever.


When inheriting a house…

An excellent article on issues to consider when inheriting a house.

  • Keep, rent or sell: Competing interest among siblings may settle this one quickly: sell
  • Property investment: If there are siblings, is this going to work in the longterm?
  • Renovate/repair: If selling or renting, how much improvement is necessary?
  • Furnishings; An older home is likely to come with older furniture. How is this to be dealt with?

These are all questions that the executor must consider when a home is inherited.


Fall maintenance for your home

And just like that summer’s over: the beach umbrella and inflatable raft have been stored away and it’s time to turn your attention to the seasons ahead. Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Clean the gutters: Before the leaves fall, make sure the gutters are clean. if you use a gutter guard – a good idea – make sure it’s in good working order.
  • Attic insulation: If you’re home is older, check that the insulation has settled or shifted, leaving gaps or covering vents in the eaves.
  • Weather stripping: Consider removing or replacing the stripping around door frames with expansion foam to keep out winter drafts.
  • Remove window air conditioners: If you leave the A/C units in year round, make sure the exterior is covered with an insulating wrap.

When your house isn’t selling…

How can this be? Everything sells in California…

Well, maybe eventually. Experts agree that getting the price correct right from the start is key. Price it competitively rather than hoping to find someone willing to overpay. Competitive pricing can often mean multiple offers and a bidding war. Overpricing can mean your house just sits without any offers, which isn’t good in any market.

Other strategies include:

  • Upgrade your listing materials with high-quality photos and well thought-out descriptions
  • Improve the curb appeal so potential buyers will picture themselves in their new home
  • Tone down the interior by using neutral paint and removing personal items as much as possible

Check the neighborhood

When buying a home it’s often good to check the neighborhood at times other than weekends and evenings.

  • Is it near a school? What are the traffic patterns before and after school?
  • Is it on a bus route? Heavy commuter traffic can come as a real shock.
  • is it near a park or athletic field? Participants and spectators can easily fill up parking spaces.
  • Is there construction or planned construction in the area? Noice could certainly be a factor.

Visit at times when these activities might be taking place. Talk to the neighbors. Don’t be surprised on your first day in your new home.


Bay Area homeowners are the most equity rich in the U.S.

On the plus side of the exorbitant real estate prices in the San Francisco Bay Area is that those fortunate enough to actually own a home are the most equity rich in the United States. Currently the five zip codes of the most equity rich properties include: San Francisco 94116 (86 percent), Sunnyvale 94086 (84 percent), Mountain View 94040 (84 percent), Sunnyvale 94087 (84 percent) and San Francisco 94122 (84 percent).

On the other side, 1 in 10 homes nationwide is still “underwater,” meaning “combined value of the loans on those homes exceeds its market value by at least 25 percent” (San Francisco Business Times. Areas with the most homes “underwater” include: Baton Rouge (21 percent), Toledo (20 percent), Scranton (20 percent), Youngstown, Ohio (19 percent), and New Orleans (19 percent).

Continued job creation that are well-paying is generally considered a prime reason for the Bay Area boom.


Shopping for Homeowner’s Insurance

We all know that Homeowner’s insurance is an absolute necessity but did you know that it’s often wise to compare policies and prices? All to often, homebuyers take the advice of the mortgage lender without taking the time to make comparison. Of course, you want to make sure that the insurance is appropriate for the home and its contents.

An annual review is also a good idea, whether it’s health, auto, home or any other insurance that is being carried.

Finally, when there is a major life event or change – such as the birth of a child – this is a good time to compare policies and rates.


Looking to improve curb appeal? Grow a tree…

According to real estate agents, when done correctly, sharp landscaping can add as much as 20% to a property’s value. And planting a fast-growing tree is a great way to get started.

If your yard is small, choose a tree that will not grow too big and overwhelm the yard. On the other hand, sycamores are excellent shade trees for a large yard and grow very fast, up to 5-6 feet per year.

Finally, don’t forget the attraction of fruit trees. Not only will they add visually to the yard, they should produces fruit by the second year.