HAVE HAMMER WILL FIX

fix it

So you are one of those very talented and handy people. You can fix anything; some of your skills you learned from your parents, some of you seemed to have learned through osmosis but whatever way you have acquired your handyman skills you know they can be put to use in one of those homes you find that has been thrashed. Whether it’s a foreclosure, short sale or has been a rental, you have the ability to take all things ugly and make them beautiful again.

There is much to be said for “sweat equity” but there are some things that must be considered when deciding to purchase a home in need of repairs.

1. What type of financing are you getting? If it is FHA, VA or USDA you need to back up the horses. All of these types of loans require the property to be in habitable condition. There can be no holes in walls, no missing flooring, no peeling paint inside or out, no broken windows, sometimes even torn screens are a problem and unpermitted rooms have some challenges as well. There is one type of loan, FHA, that offers a special program called a 203K loan. That is where you can borrow additional money for the repairs but you MUST hire a licensed contractor to complete the work. That pretty much defeats the purpose of the “sweat equity”.

2. How much is needed in repairs? Does the foundation need to be replaced? Does the roof need to be replaced? Will you have to tear out the kitchen cabinets? Some of these repairs can be beyond  your expertise and must be completed by a licensed contractor. Then you must ask yourself again; “Am I defeating the purpose of the fixer?”

3. Have you put your pencil to the paper? When everything is all said and done, how much money will you be spending just to purchase the materials? How much of your time will you invest in the repairs? How much money will you need to spend on rent before you can even move into the house? All of these costs MUST be considered and calculated. Often times you can make more money per hour at your regular job. Then is the “sweat equity” worth the amount of time you will need to invest in repairs?

The long and short of this is you must analyse this carefully. Many clients have discovered by the time they invest the money and time into the home that appears to be a bargain, it will cost the same as the home that is move in ready.

Don’t be lured into a trap. Do your homework. Make educated decisions and…….

Happy House Hunting!

WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT SOLD A YEAR AGO?

Real-Estate-For-Sale-InternetDid you know that according to the National Association of REALTORS 90% of all buyers begin their search for a home online. And if you are reading this blog you are probably in the 90%.

 

So let’s talk about where to search for a home or property online. There are so many sites to look at how in the world do you decide? Do you look for the paid advertisements that pop up on the first Google Search Page? Do you go to the ones you have seen advertised on your Facebook Page? Do you search the one you saw advertised on TV? Most people will search all of the above. Trulia, Zillow, Redfin, eLookyloo and others. But the reality is some of these sites are manually inputting listings, some are pulling from other sites and some are actually pulling directly from the Multiple Listing Services. But buyer beware!

 

It is not uncommon for our clients to call and say hey I found this wonderful foreclosure home on a specific site. It is always our pleasure to look up the homes but then most often we have to inform our clients the home they want was sold over a year ago. This is one example of a site that doesn’t keep their inventory current. It always is upsetting when they think they have found the bargain of the century but it is a prime example of why clients need to use a reliable and dependable site.

 

The good news is we have just that site! Your REALTOR will always be able to set you up with a personal website that will populate with every new listing the minute it comes on the MLS AND email you a link to each listing! This is known in some MLS’s as a Client Portal. That service will give you everything locally listed. There is also another alternative. That is a REALTOR owned site known as REALTOR.com. This site will populate every home listed in an area even if it is listed by an out of area MLS. Just think having the online world of accurate information at the tip of our fingertips. If you are using REALTOR.com you can then easily send a link to your REALTOR and ask for more details. This is the ultimate experience of shopping in your PJ’s. What a way to go.

 

Once you have selected all of the listings that interest you then you can get together with your agent, go over all of the listings to find out which ones really work for your needs and select the very best homes to view in person. What a great way to optimize your time and energy.

Happy House Hunting!

 

SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT HOME

It’s like searching for Nirvana………You can always get close but it takes a master to ultimately reach perfection. Builders have experimented over the years with floor plans that suit the majority of home buyers during that era, only to find that as times change, needs and desires change. The perfect home in the 1950’s had 3 bedrooms and 1 bath, in the 1960’s 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, in the 1970’s a formal living room, dining room AND family room, in the 1980’s an office was added to the mix, the 1990’s began to see the “great room” with an open floor plan and this continued on into the 2000’s. Now we are seeing the Next Gen home for the multi-generational family. What will be next? The buyers will dictate that of course but only time will tell.

As you begin your home search keep some of these trends in mind. It may help you decide what you need for your family. Of course always remember that the outdated floor plan will be less money. Look at the possibility of taking something old and making it new if you are a handy person. Conversely if you want something that is modern, up to date and move in ready, be prepared to pay a premium price.

Now back to that “perfection”. As I mentioned builders have been trying to perfect their floor plans for years, while they always get pretty close to what the public wants or needs, it is never perfect. The owner builder, who designs their home from the ground up, always finishes and says “Why didn’t I do that?” My point here is you need to decide what is most important to you and then work through your list with each home that you like, narrowing it down to the one that has the closest to everything you want.

For some helpful tips on how to do this take a look at some important questions to ask yourself.  This will help you and your agent in determining which homes to show and ultimately which home to buy.

Happy House Hunting!

Important Questions

CHOOSE A NEIGHBORHOOD

neigh-changing

Where do you want to be? A phrase coined by RE/MAX International, and used by so many REALTORS®. When searching for a home in a small community it is not such a difficult decision, but when searching for a home in a large city or an area that is spread out into a number of smaller communities, then you must think about the “where” before you can even begin your home search.

Many factors play into the decision about “where” to live. Here are a few for you to ponder.

1. How close is it to my work?

2. If living in a bedroom community like Tehachapi, how much time will it add to my commute?

3. Where is it in relationship to the kids schools?

4. What school district is the home located in?

5. Can the kids walk to school or will it require busing?

6. How much time does the bus ride add to the day?

7. Are there other children in the neighborhood?

8. Are the kids involved in after school sports or programs that will require extra driving time?

9. Is it a gated community and do you want to pay the additional fees?

10. If you are located in a large city, will your commute be with the traffic or against the traffic?

11. Are there CC & R’s or other restrictions that may not be what you desire?

12. If you are a senior would you prefer a development with no children?

13. Are the lot sizes compatible with your time and desire to care for a yard?

14. Does the neighborhood appeal to you?

If you are searching for your home and have the time to research areas online you can find very helpful demographics such as the average age of the homes, average income of the homeowners, crime rates in the area, school district ratings and and so much more. It is wise to make the time to do this as you wouldn’t want any surprises after you have an accepted offer.

Once you have narrowed down the search it is advisable to drive the neighborhood. Not just during the day but at night, in the evenings, in the early morning hours and any other time you can just cruise through. Those drives will tell you a lot about the neighborhood and the habits of it’s occupants.

Need more insight on where to find demographics? Feel free to call “The Team” at RE/MAX Tehachapi. (661) 822-8888. Ask for Diana or Laura Lynne.

Happy House Hunting!

FOLLOWING A BUDGET

So you have been pre qualified through a reputable lender for $250,000. That’s easy enough. Now it is time to go out and find a house for $250,000 and place an offer on the house.

Maybe Not! It is wise to review your budget before making any decisions on how much to spend on a house. Sometimes just because the lender says you can afford a payment, it doesn’t mean you really feel comfortable with that payment. Lender’s qualifications are based on specific amounts that will allow you to pay for utilities, groceries, auto insurance, gasoline and other essential items. They also take into consideration that a family will spend a certain amount of money for extras, such as eating dinner out, taking vacations, paying for your children’s gymnastics, karate or other things. Unfortunately, they use an amount that is straight across the board.

Here are some things you may want to consider when deciding whether or not to spend the full amount you qualify for:

1. Do you commute to work and therefore use more gasoline than other families?

2. Do you have jobs that are odd hours which makes life easier if you eat out more than once a week?

3. Do your children do more than normal extra curricular activities?

4. Do you own an RV or a boat and like to spend weekends playing at the lake?

5. Do you give charitable gifts that are over and above the national standard?

6. Do you have a child or children in college that is not funded through other means?

7. Do you eat healthy and organic foods only that may cost more than the normal amount a family spends on groceries? (By the way, good for you if you do!)

8. Do you have commitments to care for elderly parents in your monthly expenses?

9. Are you looking in a gated community that has Homeowners Fees?

All of these items and more can affect your ability to repay a mortgage. They are things you should consider before making a final decision on your purchase price.

Then the next thing is to set your price and stick to it. It is so easy to say “If I just raised my price by $25,000 I could get so much more.” It is a trap that many fall prey to during their search. The problem is that could raise your payment by as much as $200 a month depending on your interest rate. If you decide to do that you MUST look at your budget and determine which of your “extras” you can give up. Don’t let someone else talk you into spending what you are not comfortable with spending. Not a lender, not a family member and definitely not your REALTOR®.

The last thing I want to say about this process is a quote I have heard many times.

“You don’t want your house to OWN you; You want to own your house”.

Happy House Hunting!

GETTING PRE QUALIFIED

Many years ago my husband and I were driving around looking at houses and picturing our family in homes that we loved. We were dreamers, wandering around with stars in our eyes, living in a world of make believe. When suddenly we drove by the classic “Leave It To Beaver” house. We had grown up in the era of that old TV show where life was perfect and even the trouble maker Eddie, came out ok at the end of the show. It was a perfect world that we all would strive for as we went through life. So when this house had a for sale sign posted out front we went crazy. We couldn’t dial the phone fast enough when we got home. We called the listing agency on the sign and promptly set up an appointment to see the home. Once inside it was even better, we were living the dream life on the hit TV show. We would finally be that perfect family. We might have a few spats or disagreements but it would always work out perfect in the end.

Can you see where I’m going with this? We had a psychological connection to a house that made us think we would soon be living in that house and experiencing the perfect life.  Can you imagine our disappointment when we found out we simply had too many bills to even consider buying another house. Even if we could sell our house for enough money to raise the down payment, our income didn’t come close to allowing us to live that “Leave It To Beaver” lifestyle. Our hopes and dreams were dashed. It was the downfall of the marriage, the family and everything else we had hoped for. Well okay maybe we shouldn’t go that far but let’s consider how the situation could have been better. What if the listing agent had said “Have you been pre-qualified?” What if the agent had not agreed to show us that house without knowing whether or not we could make the payments? What if we had been better educated? Would it have helped us live our perfect lifestyle? Of course not but it would have kept us from having our hopes dashed.

Before you ever even step foot in a house you are in love with, make sure you get Pre Qualified with a reputable lender.

Your agent that you have chosen will have a number of recommendations for you. And of course be sure you interview several lenders. Make sure you are comparing Apples to Apples when you get cost quotes. Don’t settle for just any  lender. Ask your agent for references, ask your friends and family for references and then make sure that “new pair of shoes” are a good fit for you and your needs.

If you need a referral to a lender be sure you call The Team today. We can give you the pros and cons of many “big” lenders as well as some local lenders. We look forward to helping you with all your real estate needs.

REALTOR® vs. REAL ESTATE AGENT

“They’re all alike”, “Used Car Salesmen”, “Only in it for the Money”, “Taking Advantage of People”. All of these are things you may have heard said about Real Estate Agents. Unfortunately, sometimes these statements are dead on. There are real estate agents that fit these descriptions. They are plentiful and may just live in a place near you. Is there any way to assure yourself you are not working with one of these people? Well of course you will want to do your interviews of agents in order to determine you have found a good fit, BUT there is another way you can do yourself a Big favor.

CHOOSE A REALTOR. Did you know that REALTOR is a registered trademark? Did you know that in order to use that trademark you must be a REALTOR?  Did you know that a REALTOR is different than a real estate agent? Did you know that in order to become a REALTOR you must subscribe to a Code of Ethics? That’s right way back in 1913 a group of licensed agents got together and decided to upgrade their profession. They established a group of agents that wrote the REALTOR Code of Ethics*. To this day any agent joining an Association of REALTORS must take the oath to follow this Code of Ethics. They are required to read it, agree to it and abide by it. And what if they don’t abide by it? Well did you know you have the right to file a grievance against the REALTOR? That’s right they may be stripped of their title as a REALTOR and not allowed to use the registered trademark

So what is the first question you should ask when interviewing an agent that will help you with the largest purchase or sale you may ever make in your life? Of course you should always ask, are you a REALTOR? And which Association of REALTOR do you belong to? Make sure it is a local Association so you have the ability to seek help in your area if and when you may need it.

*Click Here to read the REALTOR Code of Ethics.

Always know that when you work with The Team each and every licensed member is a REALTOR with the local Tehachapi Area Association of REALTORS. Helping you to find just the right fit for all your Tehachapi Area Real Estate Needs.

CHOOSING A REALTOR®

CHOOSING A REALTOR®

You know when you go shopping for a pair of shoes. You don’t just see a pair you like and buy it. You shop around, you try them on, you walk around in them and you see if they are comfortable. You want to make sure you combine fashion with comfort so you can feel good in your shoes. Well selecting a REALTOR® is quite the same thing. You shouldn’t just pick a REALTOR® based on looks, production or pricing. You should take time to meet with them. Take time to make sure they “fit” just right and that you are not only fashionable but comfortable with them. Each one of you is unique in your own way and each one of you has different needs. You may be the logical thinker and require an agent that you know will face problems head on, give you the straight scoop and then move on the solve the next problem. You may be the emotional personality and need someone that will act as if you are their child, wanting to protect you from all dangers. Therefore handling each problem with “kid gloves”. Helping you work through the issues at hand with a calm and peaceful voice of reason. Or you may fit somewhere in between those two and need an agent that will walk the line with you. Understanding when you are in logical thinking mode and when you are in the emotional mode. Handling each problem as it occurs in the exact manner you require.

How do you find this agent? Well there are a number of things you can do to help with this big decision. After all you are making the largest purchase of your lifetime and the right person in control of the situation will make all the difference in the world.

First you can ask your friends and family for a referral. Almost everyone knows someone that has purchased a home. Ask them for their honest opinion about how their agent handled things throughout the transaction. Just remember that person may or may not be the right agent for you. You must take the time to find out so the next step is to get an appointment with that agent. Interview them just as you would if you were hiring a babysitter or an employee. Meet them in person or at the very least over the phone. Ask them how they would handle specific situations. Ones that you may have experienced in the past. Or if this is your first time buying or selling, find out if they often work with “Property Virgins”. Make sure the agent has an outline for their process whether you are buying or selling. Make sure they go over the steps with you in a way you understand. If your agent “talks over your head” and you don’t understand what they are saying, they most likely are very knowledgeable but may not know how to communicate effectively. If they brush you off every time you ask as question, they may not be patient enough for your needs. Don’t expect them to know the answer to every question you have but make sure they offer to refer you to the right source for the answer, or will take time to get the answer for you. If you are buying make sure the agent will be available to help you and show you homes at a time when you are off work. For example if you work weekdays and your agent doesn’t work weekends…….you have a problem. If you are only available in the mornings on weekdays and your agent works a second job…….you may have a problem. Most agents do have to take some time off, just as anyone that works, but be sure they are flexible enough to work with you as long as you make an appointment in advance. And do just that! Always make an appointment with your agent. You wouldn’t just walk in to your doctor’s office and demand to see your doctor. The same with your attorney or any other professional. A true REALTOR® is a professional and deserves to be treated as such. There are also some good websites that have lists of questions you can ask your REALTOR® before you hire them. Try these sources: How To Find, Interview & Hire a Real Estate Agent
10 Questions You Should Ask Your Realtor
Or just Google the question and find many more sites with sample questions.

And then once you choose an agent…..stick with them. A good agent will be able to find a way to show you every home that fits your needs, or if they are selling your home, will have you in every online marketing site that will help bring you the highest amount of money in the least amount of of time.

I promise you if you contact The Team, they will work with you to determine if they are the right REALTORS® for the job. Call us today and set up your appointment!

HANDLING YOUR EMOTIONS WHEN BUYING OR SELLING

If you are a logical person such as an engineer, then you probably won’t have any problem dealing with the ups and downs of a real estate transaction. You will have the clear mind that understands and doesn’t get upset if and when something goes wrong. You will simply sit down with your REALTOR and come up with the best solution for the problem. That’s the way the logical brain thinks. And the logical minded person certainly can’t understand why the emotional thinker has such a hard time when a problem arises. But let’s talk about the emotional buyer or seller………

In a real estate transaction there are approximately 135 pieces of paper that must be read, understood and signed. If you are getting a loan then there are probably another 50-100 on top of that. With so many facets to these transactions the margin of error or certainty that a problem can rear it’s ugly little head is great. To an emotional person even one problem is enough to throw them over the precipice that is looming before them. They worry over every little thing, endure many sleepless nights and probably take their frustrations and anger out on those innocent people that are constantly around.  Here are some tips that may help calm those emotional fears:

 

1. Know going into the transaction that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it just takes longer to understand why it happens. A bad inspection may be telling you not to buy that house, a problem with the buyers loan may be giving you as a seller extra time to find the right replacement property. We don’t always know the why, but the solution always follows right behind the problem.

2. Keep regular sleeping/waking hours. Getting a good nights sleep usually takes away the majority of the stress. Have a glass of warm milk before you retire.

3. Get some form of exercise everyday. Even if it’s just stretching your legs and arms while sitting in a chair. Exercise gives clarity of mind and releases those feel good endorphins.

4. Make a list of everything you are responsible for and check things off the list as you go. Seeing progress always makes you feel better.

5. If you don’t understand something in the transaction process, ask your REALTOR to help you. If they can’t help they can direct you to the person that can help

6. Set aside a small portion of your day for a quiet time. Meditation, prayer or just deep breathing for a period of 5 minutes will help.

7. Go to a movie or read a good book. Lose yourself in a different storyline. Get out of your life and live someone else’s for a few hours. It will help you relax and even give you something else to ponder for a time afterwards.

8. And FINALLY:  Let Your REALTOR do the worrying! That’s what they get paid for. It is their job to keep things running smoothly and solve the problems that occur. If you have done your interview right then you have hired the person that will take care of it.

As always contact any one of The Team if you have questions about this or any other Real Estate Subject. We are as always, Here To Help. We are invested in you and plan to be your “Source” for all of your Tehachapi Valley Real Estate needs, before, during and after your transaction.

CalBRE Lic. --- Jack Williams #00419592 --- Diana Williams #00986318 --- Laura Lynne Wyatt #01443357