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Taking a vacation during the summer may get you wishing you could have a home of your own in your favorite travel destination. With interest rates still low, it may be the perfect time to buy that vacation home you’ve been dreaming of. Before starting your search, here are a few things you should consider:
Review your finances. Ask yourself, do you plan to tap the equity in your home? And do you have a cash reserve to cover both the normal and unexpected expenses that come along with home ownership?
Get pre-qualified for long-term mortgage financing. The loan process is similar to that of your primary residence. Having that experience may help you feel more comfortable when applying for a vacation home loan. A down payment of at least 20% is typically required, so be sure you are financially prepared for the purchase.
Research the location you are looking to buy in and talk to people in the area to learn more about what the area has to offer and why they chose to live there. The home values in your vacation spot may be very different than the homes around your primary residence. Analyze these home values and understand what your budget will buy you. Doing this before you start your search will better prepare you for what to expect.
Choose the type of second home you want. Are you looking for a single family home with more privacy? Or a resort-style condo with lots of amenities? Consider the type of lifestyle you live while you are on vacation. Is it different than when you are at home? If you will want to spend a majority of your time at the vacation home you will want to focus your search on what the actual property offers, whereas, if you will mostly be out exploring the area, perhaps location should be the top priority. It is also important to consider what you want to do with the home when you are not using it. Will you need to hire someone to maintain things like landscaping? Are you interested in renting it out to others? Talk to your REALTOR® about typical rentals in the area to see if this option makes sense for you.
Make sure you use a REALTOR® who specializes in vacation properties. If you are looking to purchase a second home, contact your Semonin Realtors! We can connect you with the right REALTOR® in your desired area!
Many home improvement projects are easy and inexpensive and can be completed on a weekend. Here are a few simple projects you might want to add to your to-do list:
Update your hardware. Adding new, up-to-date hardware to cabinets and drawers gives them a fresh, new look. You can even go for a little extra impact and replace faucets, light switch covers, and interior doorknobs.
Add a ceiling fan. A ceiling fan can pay for itself by creating less need for air conditioning and making the room more comfortable.
Replace window treatments. This is one of the easiest ways to add a completely new look to a room. Shop around for designs that reflect your personal taste and you will find your living spaces to feel much more like home.
Add garage storage. Explore using shelving, hooks, and hangers to provide more storage space. Removing things like shovels, rakes, and sports equipment off the floor can make it easier to navigate throughout your garage and find what you’re looking for.
Install molding. Crown molding adds an elegant touch to any room, and is a feature that you’ll find to be popular among buyers when it comes time to resale.
Dress up the front door. Your home’s entrance is the first thing people see when they come to your home, so make it stand out! Adding a coat of fresh paint to your front door, touching up the landscaping, and finishing with some new door hardware plus a welcome mat can do wonders for your home’s curb appeal.
Replace lamp shades. Giving your lamp a face-lift with a new shade is a quick and easy way to redecorate. It can be fun to explore different styles and colors to find the designs that best represent your desired aesthetic.
Weekends are never long enough, but you may be surprised at just how much you can accomplish in a few short days, and just how big of an impact all those little projects can make on your home!
Home inventory levels are at historic lows. There simply isn’t much for buyers to choose from, and what is out there is FLYING off the market. Many buyers are facing competitive multiple offer situations, being outbid by another buyer, simply not finding what they need, or not even getting the chance to walk through a property before it’s under contract. There is one solution that many buyers may not have considered, but definitely has its own unique perks—new construction.
Everything is New! When moving into an existing home there’s a chance that hidden costs will arise. A fresh coat of paint, upgrading fixtures, making repairs big and small—the costs can really start to add up. A new home requires less maintenance and already has your preferred design aesthetics, because you were able to pick them out! Which leads us to our next advantage of building your own home:
Design Control. When you build new construction, you design every detail of the house from the ground up. You can literally hand-select everything; the layout, the kitchen cabinets, where electrical outlets are installed etc. No one but yourself knows how you live in your home, so building your own home helps ensure that you will use 100% it. If you don’t have a use for a formal dining room, you don’t have to have one! No wasted space, no unwanted features. When you build, it’s all up to you (and your budget, of course).
It can be better for you and the environment. Many people don’t consider that a new home can literally keep them healthier. A new home is less likely to have the health concerns or toxic materials of older homes (asbestos, mold, lead paint, etc.). New homes are also built with sustainability in mind and are more energy efficient, making them better for the environment and saving you money on energy costs.
Building a home takes time and patience, however if your timetable allows it, you will probably find it to be well worth the wait. Just remember to stay disciplined with your budget, choose a builder you can trust, and think of the level of satisfaction and accomplishment you’ll feel when you spend your first night in the finished product.
When it comes to selling your home it is important to view it as the product it now is. To sell your home in the shortest amount of time and for the best possible price, you will want to avoid these common mistakes some sellers make.
- Not understanding the current market conditions can make it difficult to determine a good asking price for your home. Realtors are well versed in the local market conditions and can help educate you on the things you need to know to decide the best asking price.
- Overpricing a home is a common mistake some sellers make when they try to sell their home without the help of a Realtor—one that will only help sell more reasonably priced homes in the neighborhood.
- As a seller, you are legally required to disclose any defects that you are aware of. Undisclosed issues will likely be discovered anyway during a home inspection, causing a deal with a buyer to possibly fall through and leave you back at square one. It is important to have everything out on the table from the start to avoid potential problems happening later in the selling process.
- Not taking the time to prepare your home can keep good offers from rolling in. Thoroughly clean and declutter your home and remember that first impressions are critical so keep the exterior of your home tidy and well maintained to maximize curb appeal. While your home is for sale it is also a good idea to avoid creating strong cooking smells in case any impromptu showings come up, and removing any pet odors is an absolute must!
Call your Realtor to walk through your home with you and point out items that require your attention in order to make the selling process as successful as possible.
Once upon a time, buyers found their dream home and then went in search of a mortgage. Today things have changed. The market is more competitive, and buyers who arrange their financing first have a distinct advantage. This means finding a lender before you start looking for a home.
1. Talk to several reputable lenders.
Keep in mind that there are all kinds of mortgages available with different rates and different features. Meeting with multiple loan officers will help you navigate through all the options.
2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Unlike pre-qualification, which is simply a quick estimate of your borrowing potential, pre-approval is a formal approval of a specific mortgage amount – typically the maximum you can borrow. And you’ll receive a Good Faith Estimate of your closing expenses. By initiating the mortgage process early, you’ll be in a better position for your search and purchase.
3. Shop with confidence.
Once you’re pre-approved, you’ll know exactly how much house you can afford, and you’ll have an edge over other buyers in multiple-offer or negotiating situations.
Already pre-approved? It pays to compare! HomeServices Lending wants to offer you a $50 Reward Card just for getting their second opinion. CLICK HERE for details!
Our annual awards ceremony is a time of celebration. On the morning of Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, the Semonin family gathered together and took the time to recognize and congratulate our agents on their many successes in 2015. As we looked back at the last year, everyone left the ceremony excited and motivated to do our very best throughout 2016. Here is a look at our top agents of 2015. Congratulations to all!
Visit our Facebook page for the full photo album!
UNDERSTANDING HOME WARRANTY vs. HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
Homeowners Insurance protects your home and personal items from things like theft and fire. But what if one of your home’s major components or systems needs major replacement? When it comes to things like plumbing, electrical, heating or airconditioning, water heaters and appliances, a home warranty can come in handy. A home warranty covers these types of items and will help to offset costly repairs if they fail or need repair.
A home warranty will provide repair or replacement service for the length of the warranty agreement, which typically lasts for the first year you own the home. To attract more buyers, the seller will often provide a home warranty and pay its cost at closing, but the buyer can also choose to purchase a plan if the seller does not offer it.
An important factor to consider before buying a home warranty is the age of the home. If the home is 10 years old or older, chances are some issues could arise that justify the cost of the program.
Semonin Realtors® partners with 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty to provide comfort and peace of mind to our buyers and sellers. 2-10 HBW is a premier and reputable home warranty provider that has protected more than 5.5 million new and pre-owned homes. To learn more visit www.semonin.com/homewarrantyservices
For many of us, the holidays are the time of year dedicated to spending with family and friends. For some, this is the only time of year that allows for such precious family time. Being able to see our families every day can be a gift, and for many home buyers having the option to do so can impact the home they purchase.
This holiday season, lets take a look at how the family and friends of recent home buyers influenced 1) the type of home they bought, 2) the primary reason they bought, and 3) where they bought.
According to the 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers recently released from the National Association of Realtors, this year 13% of all buyers purchased a multi-generational home—a home that had adult siblings, adult children over the age of 18, parents, and/or grandparents in the household.
WHY did buyers purchase a multi-generational home?
- 22% of buyers did for the health and care taking of their aging parents
- 14% reported they purchased a multi-generational home for cost saving reasons
- 12% of buyers did it so that children or relatives over 18 could move back into the house
- 8% chose a multi-generational home so they could spend more time with aging parents
- 8% did because of children or relatives over 18 that never left home
The PRIMARY REASON for buying a home
From relocating for a job to downsizing after retirement, there are many reasons why people decide to buy a home, the number one reason being that buyers (30%) simply desire to own a home of their own. For 7% of home buyers, staying close to family, friends, and relatives was the primary reason for their purchase. For single females, this number was even higher at 9%. On the selling side, the primary reason 16% of people decided to put their home on the market in 2015 was so they could move closer to family and friends.
Deciding WHERE to buy a home
Even if the primary reason for buying a home was unrelated to family and friends, 35% of home buyers claimed that their neighborhood choice was influenced by how convenient it was to friends and family. In fact, for single females this was the second most influential factor when it came to choosing which neighborhood to live in.
Whether this holiday season makes you may wish you lived next door to your family or across the country from them, you’ll likely understand how family and friends impact the decisions of so many home buyers.
SOURCE: NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS, 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers
Open houses have been a long running tradition in real estate. It gives the chance for buyers to view a home in a relaxed atmosphere. Having a Realtor present also gives buyers the opportunity to get a feel for the market, ask questions about the home and the buying process. From those who are just beginning to think about buying a home, to the people who are have already spent weeks house hunting and eager to make an offer, buyers with all kinds of motivations make their way to open houses. No matter what buying decision stage you are in, here are some tips for making the most of an open house visit.
1. Take the time to plan. Typically, open houses are available to view between 2pm and 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Instead of wasting precious weekend hours driving around looking for balloons tied to open house signs, research properties online and make a list of properties you want to see and sort them in order of location. Begin with the visiting open houses in the area you are most interested in before you hit up your next favorite area and so on. When making your game plan, keep in mind that you should allowing enough time to see each home.
2. Take a thorough tour. Sometimes wandering around someone else’s home can feel a bit uncomfortable. The key is to be polite as you make sure you see the entire home. In other words, don’t be afraid to open doors to explore every room and closet, but don’t be opening dresser drawers and sifting through the seller’s undergarments (after all, those more than likely won’t be included in the purchase of the home).
3. Come prepared. Bring a notepad, camera, and tape measure to each open house so you can assess the home thoroughly and jot down your pros and cons of each property. After a day of visiting different properties it is so easy to get back home and realize it is all just a blur. Whether you’ve visited one open house or six, having your notes, photos, and videos to jog your memory can be incredibly helpful. Keep in mind that, in many cases, the home is still someone’s private residence, so be courteous and always ask permission before taking photos and videos of the property.
4. Ask questions. The real estate agent hosting the open house is there as a resource to you! Many people are apprehensive to ask questions or even make eye contact with the agent in fear of being sucked into a pressuring sales pitch, but don’t let your fear keep you from making the most of your open house visit. If you have a question about the house, the neighborhood, or the market, ask it! The agent is in the market and more than likely knows the answer, and knowledge is power in the buying world. Many buyers in the early stages of the buying process have met their agents at an open house and gone on to build long-term buyer/agent relationships.
5. Look beyond the property itself. Flipping through photos of a home is a great online resource for home buyers, however, they rarely paint of picture of what surrounds the home. Attending an open house gives buyers a chance to see what lies beyond the property including nearby parks, schools, restaurants and shopping. Take time to notice neighboring properties as well to get a feel of what and who you might be living by.
Super Semonin Weekend
November 21-22, 2015
The Largest Open House Event in Our Region!
Semonin Realtors ® selects one weekend a month that we call a Super Semonin Weekend. It is a weekend we focus upon as a company to hold as many open houses as possible. We encourage visitors to register for a drawing to win your choice of an APPLE iPad or a $500 Gift Card to Lowe’s, Kroger or Target! LEARN MORE »
Whether you’re a recent empty nester or your home has become too much to manage, nearly everyone reaches a point in their life where its time to downsize. If you are planning on moving to a smaller home keep in mind these helpful insights.
Take your time.
It simply isn’t logical to think you can successfully downsize from a home you’ve spent years living in in only a week or two. Downsizing is more than just a weekend of organizing, it is a process that deserves a few months of preparation. Sorting through decades of keepsakes and housewares takes diligence and time, so giving yourself plenty of time is crucial.
Make a trash and recycling plan.
Depending on the scale of your downsize you may need to schedule a junk pickup or have a dumpster delivered. Whatever your plan may be, keep in mind you are less likely to recycle or donate things if you have easy access to a colossal trash receptacle in your driveway.
Cut back on unsentimental items.
Old shampoo samples and extra pots and pans are much easier to toss out than that old rocking horse you bought for your son’s second Christmas, so, save rooms like bathrooms and kitchens for a day when you don’t have the heart to throw out the more sentimental items. You should be able to move these rooms more quickly than others and it will feel good when you can cross them off your list. If you come across something in the kitchen that means something to you and your family tradition, such as that special plate you pulled out every for year for Santa’s cookies, consider passing it along to your children or grandchildren instead of keeping it in the back of your cupboard.
Pass on the memories.
All those school projects, dance recital outfits, sports trophies, and artwork you’ve collected from your children over the years may have seemed very important once, but now they are most likely just collecting dust in the closet. Instead of going through these keepsakes alone and deciding what to keep and throw out, invite your children and other family to come over and sift through the family relics together. Reminiscing on old memories can make for a very entertaining afternoon full of laughter. Tell everyone in advance they are welcome to keep anything they’d like and everything else you will throw out or recycle. Memories are precious and valuable, so you should be encouraged to buy yourself a large plastic bin to keep those treasures most important to you. This way your children are reassured that you don’t want to throw away their memories, you just want to find a new home that works better for your current lifestyle.
Are you really going to wear that again?
Some clothing hoarders justify their behavior with the thought “everything old will eventually come back into style,” but when your downsizing it is good to be a bit more discerning. With very few exceptions, like a formal dress or other special occasion outfit, you should get rid of any items you haven’t worn in the last 1-2 years. If you are recently retired there is no need for several suits and work outfits. As for all those t-shirts and sweatshirts you’ve collected over the years, how many do you really need? Choose a select variety of apparel to keep and donate the rest. Chances are a year later you most likely won’t even remember having owned some of it.
It is astonishing how much paperwork can accumulate over time. You have probably dreaded going through that file cabinet full of pay stubs, tax reports, receipts, and other records for years. Take a day (or a couple) to tackle all that paperwork and try to trash the majority of it. The IRS says tax filings must only be kept for seven years, so anything before that is safe to throw out. But remember to protect yourself from identity theft by running documents through a shredder.