4 Ways to Save on Closing Cost When Buying a Home

Buying a house isn’t cheap. It usually costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition to your down payment, you also need to set aside money for other fees. Closing cost, home inspection, appraisal fee, home insurance, and property tax are just some of them.

Closing cost is equivalent to 3% to 6% of the purchase price. Considering the amount of money that is associated with buying a house, some of you are probably looking for ways save money elsewhere. The good news is that there are some things you can do to reduce closing cost.

Here are 4 ways to save on closing cost when buying a home.

Ask the seller to sweeten the deal

A desperate seller and a struggling market provide the perfect opportunity to negotiate a deal with the seller. Besides negotiating the price, ask the seller if he/she is willing to pay for the closing cost or at least a portion of it. $1,000 to $2,000 may not see much, especially if you’re buying a house that costs a few thousand dollars, but you can use the money on other things.

Negotiate fees with the lender

A lot of money is on the line with closing cost. The good news is that they aren’t set on stone. In fact, fees charged by the lender can be negotiated.

Loan officers or mortgage brokers are usually paid a loan origination fee for bringing business to the company. If you are working with a lender, try to ask him/her if there are any aspects of the fee that can be waived.

Review the loan estimate

Once your mortgage application gets approved, you’ll be provided with a detailed loan estimate. This includes a breakdown of all the fees you’ll be paying. It is important to review the document carefully and keep an eye out for fees with similar names. To prevent unnecessary fees, take time to go through each item with the lender and ask what each fee covers.

Shop around

Most buyers shop around for mortgage rates when buying a house. If you are looking to save money, you may also want to speak with some local lenders about closing cost.

Get quotes from multiple lenders to see if you can find a cheaper option. Compare offers from different lenders to see who offers the lowest rate. If one lender offers a lower rate, ask the other if they can match it. Go ahead. Pit those companies against each other.

Property Management Tips for Landlords

Managing a rental property is not an easy endeavor. This is especially true if you are new to the rental real estate business.

To help you on your path to stress-free property management, we have put together some tips that will help you become a better property manager.

Here are some property management tips for landlords.

Inspect the property regularly

One of the most important aspects of managing a rental property is to prevent problems before they occur. Not only will it save you from stress and headache, it will also help you save money – lots of it.

To avoid legal issues, we highly recommend that you inspect the property on a regular basis. This will help you catch small problems early on. Remember, it is your duty as a landlord to maintain a rental unit that is fit for occupancy. You will be held responsible if a tenant sustains injury on the property.

Fix issues immediately

Living a busy life, it can be easy to put off minor issues. However, if you fail to address problems early on, it can lead to a more complicated issue that will cause costly repairs.

Leaky faucets, for instance, are a minor problem that most people ignore. Not only is it annoying, it will also waste a lot of water. Overtime, it can also lead to mold growth. Mold may start growing on your floor, ceilings, and walls. If there is constant drip, drip, drip in the bathroom or kitchen sink, have it fixed immediately.

Exterminate monthly

Monthly extermination can cost you money. But it is important to do this at least once a month, even if you do not currently have an insect or rodent problem. This will prevent such problems from preventing. Plus, it will prevent you from losing tenants due to pest problem.

Some of you might be tempted to buy exterminating supplies in an attempt to save money, but this should be left in the hands of a professional.

Screen tenants

Finding a good tenant starts with having a great screening process. You need a tenant who will pay rent on time and will take care of your investment property.

Tenant screening process should start over the phone. Ask some questions to make sure that this person isn’t going to waste your time. Also, find out how many persons will be living in the apartment. You may also want to reach out to your tenant’s employer and prior landlord. Find out if he or she caused damage or missed any rent payment.


Valuable Tips When Upsizing to a Larger Home

Every family is unique and there is no one-size-fits all. For many families, there will come a time when their current home becomes too crowded, like they can no longer fit. A studio apartment may be fine for a newly married couple. After a few years, however, family members are jostling for space in the cramped kitchen and living room.

Upsizing your home seems like a wonderful idea. It provides more space for your growing family. But since moving to a more spacious house means bigger expenses, it requires an appropriate amount of reflection and deliberation.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when upsizing to a larger home.

Know how much you can afford

Most people consider upsizing their lifestyle as soon as they get financially comfortable. But as a homeowner, you know that buying a house is a big financial obligation. This can be a big deal since you’ll be paying for a bigger mortgage and taking on more debt.

Before you go house hunting, we recommend that you review your finances and determine how much you can borrow. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a big financial nightmare.

Think long-term

Whether you’re planning to start a family or your job has allowed you to buy a bigger property, it is always best to consider your family’s needs. Find a house that will be big enough to accommodate the needs of your growing family.

If you have kids or you’re planning to have kids, we highly recommend that you buy a property in a good school district. Of course, you want to make sure that your kids get the best education that they deserve. Also, we recommend that you look into the crime rate in the area. You want to make sure that the neighborhood you are moving into is safe and secure. You need to think long-term since you are likely to live in that house for several years.

Keep your current home in great shape

We know that you’re excited to move into a bigger house. But have you decided what you want to do with your current home? If you are planning to sell it, tackle repairs and make sure that it is in tip top shape before putting it on the market. Remember, the overall condition of your house will affect its resale value. Keeping your house tidy and in pristine condition will help you sell fast and for top dollar.

Signs That a Home Seller is Ready to Negotiate

Every home buyer wants to get the best deal possible. But most of the time, it seems like the seller has the upper hand. They get to choose whether or not to accept your offer. In some cases, they even choose from a pile of competing offers. But some sellers who tend to have a hard time selling their house are willing to negotiate.

Spotting a seller who is ready to negotiate, and using some negotiating strategies, will help you get the best price and terms.

Here are 4 signs that a home seller is ready to negotiate.

The seller offers extras

Some sellers are so eager to sell their house that they are willing to offer other inclusions like closing costs, home warranty, termite clearance or appliances. This is a clear sign that the owner is motivated to sell the property.

A rock-bottom price

Most owners believe that their home is more special as compared to other properties. As such, many of them are tempted to sell their home at a higher price. But if the house is being sold at a rock-bottom price, this could be an indication that the seller is desperate to sell the house. Perhaps the house has been on a market for quite some time. Or maybe, they have already bought a house and needs to sell their home fast.

Nobody is home

Most sellers stage the house before putting the house on the market. But if the house is vacant, that means that the seller has already moved to their new house. Or if the seller’s stuff are already packed in boxes, it means that they are preparing to move. There’s a good chance that the seller could be open for bargaining.

Buzzwords in the listing

Most people pay special attention to photos when browsing through online listings, but you may want to check on the listing description as well.

Certain words in the listing can clue you in on what the seller’s state of mind may be. Watch out for words like “needs to sell”, “priced to sell” or “motivated seller”. These are subtle hints that the seller is open to discussion.

Tips for Renting Out Your Vacation Home

You used to enjoy spending most of your time at your vacation house. The kids would build their sand castle while you take a nap on the porch swing. It was your little piece of paradise, where you could escape from the stresses of everyday life.

Now that your kids are all grown up, you and your spouse don’t get to visit the property as much as you used to. Because your vacation house sits vacant most of the year, you are considering renting the property to others.

Here are some tips for renting out your vacation home.

Determine your level of involvement

Renting out your vacation home requires time, effort and dedication. Before listing the property, you must first determine how involved you would like to be in the rental process. Do you intend to manage it yourself or just hire a property manager to handle the details?

DIYers can take advantage of certain tax benefits. Plus, they may enjoy the savings of not involving a property management company. However, this means that you’ll have to take care of collection of rental fees, renter interaction, marketing, maintenance, repair and all the other aspects of the rental process.

Set goals

As with any other business, you need to set your goals. Ask yourself, why did you decide to rent out the property? Is it to generate income? Make a profit? Do you want to use it to pay your mortgage or improve your property? Do you want to offset the expenses of ownership? By setting your goals, it would be easier for you to outline a plan to achieve your goals.

Find a dependable cleaning crew

As a business owner, it is your job to provide your guests with a clean home. Since you’re already dealing with a lot of things, you may not have time to clean and prepare the house in time for the next set of guests. As such, you might want to hire a third party cleaning service to ensure that each guest is welcomed to a clean, spotless vacation house. Remember, a clean environment is essential to the success of your business.

Lower the price

Your vacation house may provide a steady source of income in summer, but people may not be interested in renting a beach house during the offseason. Lure travelers to your vacation home by lowering the price.


Tips for Selling a Property with Existing Tenants

You have attempted to sell your house a few years ago. You cleaned your house, cleared out clutter, staged it and did some upgrades to make it stand out from the competition. Unfortunately, it remained in the market for a few months, so you decided to just rent it out. Now that the real estate market continues to recover, you are considering getting back in the market. There’s one problem, though. A tenant is currently occupying the house.

We all know that selling a house can be challenging, but selling a tenant-occupied property can completely exasperate you. Here are some tips for selling your without violating the rights of your tenants.

Inform them ahead of time

Although the place is yours, it is not right to ask the tenant to move out on short notice. Inform them of your plans, even before putting the house on the market. Talk to them personally and discuss why you need to sell the house.

Most tenants fear that they will be homeless when the house gets sold. There’s a good chance that things will work out smoothly if you communicate effectively with your tenants and give them ample time to move.

Provide an incentive

If you want to sell the property fast, then you need to get the tenant on your side. A little bit of bribery may be needed in this case.

Since it would be very inconvenient for them to have some strangers traipse through their home from time to time, consider offering a gift certificate or compensate them every time a potential buyer views the house. Also, assure them that they’ll be notified prior to showings. In case someone gets interested to buy the house, you can help your tenants move on by offering to reimburse them for the cost of the moving truck or offer to pay for the first month’s rent at their new place.

Try selling to an investor

If you really want to sell the house but you can’t wait for the tenant to move, find buyers who are willing to be a landlord.

Some people are looking to invest in a house and turn into a rental property. Yes, the number of buyers who are interested in managing a rental unit may be limited, but if you do find one, they’ll be more than happy to purchase the house since it is already occupied.

Tips for Buyers Attending an Open House

Each weekend across the country, homebuyers visit dozens of houses in the hopes of finding a property they would be happy to live in for several years.

Because real estate can be a complicated business, first time homebuyers may be confused about how to approach an open house.

Here are some tips help make your open house productive.

Plan your route

If you are viewing multiple homes in a single day, make sure that you plan your route to make the most productive use of your time. Before you leave, determine the times of showings and plot out the address of where the open houses are located. Use a map to plan out an effective open house tour.

Take down notes

It can be difficult to remember all the details, especially if you are viewing about a dozen of properties in one day. Notes will help you remember which house has ample storage space, which had rooms filled with natural light and which house has a large kitchen.

While you are viewing the house, take as many notes as possible. We also encourage you to take photos, if possible. Be sure to ask permission from the realtor before you bring out your camera. Remember, it is still a private residence.

Pay attention to its condition

When viewing properties, most buyers would head to the master’s bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen to see how it looks like. But you shouldn’t just focus on the room’s appearance. Rather, you want to see if the house is in good condition. Take a walk around the house and look at the condition of things. Don’t forget to check the exterior of the house as well.

Ask questions

This isn’t a social hour, so go ahead and get down to business after greeting the host. The agent knows a lot of things about the property and the seller. He/she is the direct line to the seller, so if there is anything you want to know, ask the agent questions.

Tips for Buying a Vacation Home

A lot of people have abandoned their dream of owning a ski, lakefront or beach getaway place when the housing market collapsed a few years ago. Now that the housing market has stabilized, some of you might be once again toying with the idea of buying that vacation house.

Whether you’re looking for an investment property to diversify your portfolio or for vacation enjoyment, you should always think through your plans before taking a leap.

Here are some things to consider when buying a vacation home.

Try it out first

You have found a lovely beach house at great resort community. You had a great time and you are looking forward to go back to that place over and over again. But before you decide to buy a property in that area, we suggest that you stay there for a few weeks to get a feel for what it’s like to live there. Also, visit the place during each season.

Get to know the place from a local perspective. This is a long-term commitment, so you need to make sure you settle on a property that you’ll enjoy for many years to come. Remember, enjoying the destination as a casual visitor is different than having to stay there a few months each year.

Know how often you will really visit

Most people who own a vacation home have the house rented out when they’re not using it. While it’s good that you’re making money out of it, you need to visit the house often to make the purchase worth it.

Make sure that the property you’re interested in is at least a few hours away from your primary residence. You want it to be close enough, so you can access it regularly. Keep distance in mind when looking for a vacation house.

Factor in the extra cost

Nothing ruins a perfect vacation home than knowing that you’re trapped in a financial nightmare. Just like your primary residence, you need to factor in the extra costs like insurance, taxes, utility bills and maintenance cost. Remember, you will still be charged for electricity, gas, water, trash removal and other fees, even if you’re not there. Also, the house will need to be cleaned and maintained regularly, so you will need to find someone to clean and maintain the house when you’re not around.

Curb Appeal Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Home Sale

curbappealDPG_5.18First impressions matter when selling your home. Potential buyers will decide whether or not they like your home even before they step foot inside the house. They are going to make judgments based on what they see on the outside. That said, it is important to keep your house clean, orderly and beautiful, not just on the inside, but also on the outside.

In the hopes of helping you sell your home in the soonest possible time, we’ll give you a list of some of the most common curb appeal mistakes seller make when listing their home. Avoid these mistakes to make an impeccable first impression from potential buyers.

Bad landscaping

Good landscaping can help boost your home’s value anywhere from 6 to 28%. Meanwhile, a bad landscaping is a big turnoff to buyers; thus, making it harder to sell. If your house lingers on the market for quite some time, it can negatively affect the value of the property.

Refusing to bury the dead

We understand that not everyone has a green thumb. But if you are on the process of selling your home, be sure to remove your dearly departed landscaping from your yard. Nothing wrecks curb appeal faster than seeing rows of dead or dying plants.

A bad paint job

While painting the house takes a lot of time and effort, it will give your home a more cheerful appearance. If you don’t have the time or patience to paint the entire exterior, you should at least touch up the paint of the front door. Or better yet, repaint the trim.

Doing nothing

A lot of sellers spend a lot of time staging, decorating and updating the interiors of their home. While an updated kitchen, bathroom and staged rooms are mostly appreciated by potential buyers, they may not be interested to look inside your home if the house looks messy and unkempt on the outside. Take time to clean and freshen up your home’s exterior to give buyers the impression that your house is well cared for.


Tips for Screening Potential Tenants

screentenantsA bad tenant is every landlord’s worst nightmare. Late payments, property damage and lease default are the biggest and most costly problems a landlord can face. All these can be avoided if you screen your tenants before letting them move into your property.

As a landlord, you can sleep easy at night knowing that your property will stay relatively undamaged and will get paid on time.

In this blog post, we’ll give you some tips that will help you weed out the good tenants from the bad. Here’s how to screen your potential tenants.

Run a background check

Checking up on your potential tenant’s past may not be fun, but a background check can help you learn more about the person and assess whether the applicant would be a good tenant. The more information you have, the better decisions you can make.

You may want to pass on a tenant who has history of unpaid rent, recently been evicted or a serious criminal record.

Perform a credit check

It’s a good idea to order a copy of the tenant’s credit report. This will show you details about the tenant’s previous credit history, and will indicate if the person has gone through bankruptcy or history of paying bills or rent late. You want a tenant who is financially responsible.

Number of people that will be residing in your property

Allow a maximum of 2 persons per bedroom. This is what the law dictates in many states in the country. Plus, the more people means more wear and tear.

Reason for moving

It may seem like this is none of your business, but try to ask anyway. This can tell you a lot about the tenant. Be wary of tenants who are moving because of a bad relationship with their prior landlord or an eviction. If the tenant says he/she intends to move the next day or next week, there’s a good chance that they are having some issues with their landlords. Changing jobs and needing a bigger place for their family are good reasons for moving.