Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Meet Bob and Linda

Bob and Linda were looking to refinance their mortgage but had no idea what their home was worth. Thanks to Neighborhood IQ they were able to use the same tools as the big banks, find the true value of their home, and negotiate a better deal for themselves... all for free. Visit NeighborhoodIQ.com today for more information and to find out what your home is truly worth.

When to Refinance Your Mortgage

Refinancing has the potential to turn out to be one of the best financial decisions you have ever made if it shortens the term of your loan, reduces your mortgage payment, or assists you in building more equity in a quicker fashion. Refinancing can also help to get your debt under control when managed correctly. With all of the benefits that refinancing has to offer, it makes sense to use it as a valuable tool.
What many people don’t consider carefully is when they should refinance. Just because mortgage rates are low at a specific time doesn’t mean that it is a good idea for every homeowner. You should first think about your reasons for refinancing. After you have clarified the reasons, the next thing you need to consider is if the timing and circumstances are right. While there is no “perfect” time to refinance, there are better times than others. One of the most important things to be sure of is whether or not you plan on remaining in the house for many years to come. Otherwise, refinancing doesn’t make sense.

Consider these situations that make refinancing a good idea now: 

Your credit score has improved. Your current mortgage rate was determined by many factors, including your credit score at the time. It can be a great idea to refinance if your current credit score has improved a great deal. Credit scores that were considered to be average many years ago may be regarded as high now. This means that you can get a better rate. It is wise to keep track of your credit score closely while making your decision to refinance.

Interest rates are low. Naturally, this is one of the most predominant reasons to refinance your mortgage. Many lenders agree that a savings of 1% is incentive enough to refinance. Lowering your interest rate can help you to save money, build equity in your home, and decrease your monthly mortgage payment. Keep in mind that refinancing multiple times simply to get a lower mortgage rate may lower your overall financial benefit because you will be paying multiple closing costs. The last thing you want to do is leave a trail of closing costs behind you with every refinance. 

You want to change your adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate. When your ARM rate increases and is higher than a fixed-rate mortgage, it makes sense to convert in order to lower your interest rate and remove the possibility of an interest rate hike in the future.

You are able to pay more every month. If you don’t have a strong need to lower your monthly payment, you can refinance to a loan with a shorter term. Yes, you will pay more every month, but you will also own your home a lot sooner and pay less interest overall.

You need to cover a big expense. Paying for your children’s college or remodeling your home may be reasons to refinance, although this is not highly recommended for most homeowners. Before you add years to your mortgage to pay for these expenses, make sure that the reasons justify refinancing.

Remember that a smart homeowner is always looking for ways to reduce debt, build equity, save money and eliminate their monthly mortgage payment. Considergetting a free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ to find out yourhome’s worth to aid you in the decision of whether or not to refinance, andwhen.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to Price Your Home to Sell

Homeowners want to get the best value for their home, and this involves strategic planning. Getting your home sold involves three things: location, condition and price. You can’t control the location, but you do have the ability to control the price by improving the condition. While it may seem easier to take the price you paid and simply add a markup, the resulting price probably won’t reflect the true market value of your home.

The first two weeks that your house is on the market are the most critical because it will be exposed to an audience of ready and active buyers. If your initial price is too high, you will lose these potential buyers. The listing price of your property will make or break you. Simply put, if you price your home right, the buyers will come. But you need to know what your home is worth—not what you think it is worth. Here are some tips to help you in pricing your home to sell:

Work with the market. Instead of focusing on where the market has been, focus on where it is going. Look at comparable house prices in your area to get an idea of where the market is and go from there.

Figure out the fair market value of your home. More than just the value of your home, the fair market value is the price a buyer will pay and the seller will accept. It is much more powerful than what your home is simply worth; it is the right price. The best way to determine the fair market value of your property is to use a comparable market analysis to compare your house to others who have just sold or are still on the market.

Think like the buyer. This is a great selling technique because it allows you to put yourself in the buyer’s position and ask “Would I buy this house?” Be rational and look at your home from an outside point of view.

Realism goes a long way. If you don’t own a mansion but price it and market it as one, you will have a problem getting serious offers. Be honest with yourself about your home’s condition and value.

Leave room for negotiation. As a seller, you want to get your money’s worth. Buyers don’t want to pay more than they should. The price you quote should have some leeway for negotiating. But be careful because if you quote unrealistically high, potential buyers will pass you by.

Act quickly. Adjust your price if you have received feedback that your price is too steep, and do it without hesitating.

If your home is in great condition and part of a marketing strategy but it still lacks offers, it is probably overpriced. Signs that prices are too high may include a lack of second showings, or many showings but no offers.

A little research can mean an easy selling experience while maximizing your money. Even though buyers have a separate and not equal opinion of our house’s worth, you need to know that value of your home outside of the fair market value. To assist you in pricing your home to sell, you can geta free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ and find out what your home is really worth. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Why Selling Rental Property is a Good Idea

The New York Times ran an interesting feature in March. The writer asked if rental property was really as safe and profitable as one assumed it was. She mentioned the story of a retired couple who had just invested in some property and mentioned the risks linked with their investment. Problematic tenants, costly repairs, and a long period of inoccupancy are some of the problems landlords face with rental property.

Renting is a profitable enterprise if you stick to your investment property for more than a few years. Inflation eats away your monthly mortgages while rents keep on rising. Initially, it will be very difficult to find tenants who are willing to pay rent that is more than your monthly mortgage – but down the line it will become easier. There are more than a few people who have been earning a large portion of their income by renting out properties.

There are many upsides to renting your property. The most attractive of them is having an asset. You are building equity that is being financed by someone. At the same time there are many downsides and risks to owning a rental property. The most common of these are:

(1) Problematic tenants

As a landlord, you will have to prepare a strategy to deal with tenants who do not pay rent on time. You may also have to be prepared to confront those who may make changes in your house without your knowledge.

(2) Emergency repairs

You are responsible for emergency repairs. You are in trouble unless you have a sound plan on how to deal with these repairs.

(3) Natural disasters

You will have to ask yourself if you can afford to rebuild your house following a natural disaster such as hurricane Sandy. Although housing insurance will cover a bulk of the costs, you will still end up spending more than you can imagine.

(4) Taxes

More rent income means more taxes. A large part of the monthly income that you get now will be going into your taxes

(5) Housing market and inoccupancy

Are you prepared to pay monthly mortgages for your investment property if the housing market starts marching south? What will you do if you fail to find a new tenant?

Unless you are prepared to deal with the above mentioned risks, it is perhaps a better idea to sell your rental property and invest the cash in more productive endeavors such as education and skill-development.

It is hard to sell an investment property, but it offers high profits. You can get an online value report on how much your rental property is worth. There are many websites that offer free home value reports, such asNeighborhood IQ. Taking that report as a base, you can put your property on sale. The government charges a higher tax on the sale of rental property. There is a way to avoid this if you want to stay in real estate after pocketing in the profits from selling your old property and investing the rest of the money into the new property.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

How to Successfully Market Your House

The housing market is not always booming, and it may take some work to even peak a home buyer’s interest so that they will attend a showing. This is why marketing your home to get the word out and generate interest in your property is so crucial. A successful marketing strategy will enable your home to sell faster and for more money.

But what does a great marketing strategy entail? Well, if you are not selling your property yourself, you need a real estate broker to handle all of your advertising for you. Some types of advertising are ineffective and turn out to be wastes of time and money. But luckily, some marketing tactics are extremely effective. Let’s look at some of them below.

Successful advertising techniques:

“For Sale” sign- A good, simple sign is singlehandedly one of the best ways you can advertise your home. The sign should have a phone number to call, a web site link, the company name of the broker and a phrase such as “by appointment only.” This is all you need to create an effective sign that will peak interest. Be sure to use a new, two-sided sign that makes a good first impression. And refrain from putting up the sign until you are absolutely certain you are selling.

Classified ads- Before the internet, classified ads were one of the most popular ways to gain home buyers’ interest. They are still a classic way to advertise. These ads are inexpensive and they reach many prospective buyers.

Listing statements- Also known as property statements, listing statements are data sheets that are given to interested buyers who tour your home. They contain more information than a classified ad, and a good listing statement will take people through your home and emphasize the special features room by room that they may not take note of otherwise.

The internet- Many brokers have web sites that they use for their listings. Classified ads on the internet mean that you will reach a great deal more potential buyers, especially since some people fully rely on the World Wide Web.

Open houses- An invaluable sales tool, open houses are great hands-on approaches to getting your property noticed. Buyers want to be enticed by sight and touch, and an open house can definitely help. There are two types of open houses: brokers’ opens and weekend open houses. Your listing agent should schedule both types for maximum effectiveness.

Multiple listing service (MLS)- Composed of local real estate brokers and agents who pool their listings, this service gives your home wide exposure to a host of buyers who work with other MLS members.

Word of mouth- You can’t beat this old-fashioned advertising technique that is powerful and free. Networking by telling everyone you know about your property for sale could pay off in the long run.
While you are focused on a marketing strategy for your home, it’s not too late to find out the value of the property you are selling. Check out a free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ and find out thatmagic number!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Turn Your House into a Goldmine – Buyers Just Cannot Say No

When a buyer enters the real estate market, they are looking for a house that they can fall in love with. As a seller, your job is to function as a catalyst so that the buyer ends up finding their dream house in your place. Your buyer does not care if you are unaware of how the real estate market works – they are concerned with something more fundamental and mundane – finding the house of their dreams. You just need to understand what the buyer wants. It needs some psychological skills to know what exactly a buyer is looking for. Present your home to them in their own terms and they won’t be able to say no.

You do not need a degree in psychology (although it may help) to understand the buyer’s mindset. Put yourself in the buyer's shoes. Ask yourself, “What am I going to look for in my new home?” Ask your family and friends. You will notice they are mostly looking for a house that is bigger than the previous one, and which does not require maintenance. Therefore as a seller, your task is to make sure your house appears bigger and better to the buyer.

There are several ways to make your house look bigger. If you remove everything but the most essential furniture, you will immediately notice a difference. Get rid of small items and clutter, open the windows, turn on all the lights when the buyer comes to visit, and paint your house with warm, welcoming colors.

Maintenance is a major turn-off for buyers. Pay attention to plumbing and upgrade wiring and electrical switches. If you can convince the home buyers that your house is maintenance-free, you can easily add a few thousand dollars to the online value report which buyers today use to find the true worth of a house. One such report is available on Neighborhood IQ and you can see the real worth of your house there, click here to see what your home is worth... for free.

In addition to these two essentials there is a third effective method to make your house irresistible to buyers – dressing up. Surveys have shown that dressed houses sell quickly. One such survey in California found a dressed house stayed in the market for only 13.8 days, compared to 30.9 for undressed houses.

It is advisable to hire a professional dresser, if you have indeed decided to sell your house. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has calculated the value of a house goes up by 8 to 10 per cent for sellers who spend about 1 to 3 per cent of the home value on dressing up.

While spending money, do not invest in themes. Very few people will like the theme you have chosen. You can instead focus on the kitchen, or you can create a curb appeal. The use of fancy colors gives an appearance of luxury. Last minute inexpensive dressing up – placing fresh flowers inside your house – can be useful. To conclude, if you can spend some time with decoration magazines to find out what is trending, you can easily add a few thousand dollars to the value of your house.

Friday, July 5, 2013

10 Common Mistakes that Home Buyers Make

Declining home prices and low mortgage rates are great reasons to buy a home right now. While you may be eager to purchase a new house, you shouldn't act too impulsively. You could forget to do certain necessary tasks in your hastiness.
When armed with the right information, you can effectively crunch your numbers and reflect on the big picture as well as your property choices. If you are about to become a home buyer, you need to avoid these common mistakes that many people make, especially first-time home buyers:
  1. Failing to anticipate the costs- There are numerous expenses to buying a home, and many are not prepared budget-wise. Consider all the fees associated with closing costs as well as any necessary repairs or maintenance. Also, you may have an increase in utility costs.
  2. Not knowing your credit score- You can get lower interest rates on your loan when you have a good credit score, so find out what yours is as soon as you can. The lower your credit score, the higher your costs of borrowing will be.
  3. Not taking the time to find the right real estate agent- You need a knowledgeable agent who takes your needs and desires seriously. They should also be patient if you are first-time buyer. The right agent has your wants in their best interest.
  4. Buying when you expect to move too soon- If you are planning to relocate for work or move closer to family, buying is a bad idea. If you aren't willing to stay put for five years, don’t buy.
  5. Failing to get a home inspection- Simply put, you need to know what you are buying. You should hire a professional inspector to avoid buying a lemon of the house. Otherwise, you may be buying someone else’s problems such as electrical issues, mold, poor insulation, termites or plumbing problems, to name a few.
  6. Assuming a foreclosure is a great deal- These homes owned by banks or lenders aren't always the bargain that you think you are getting. While the price may be low, the house may need extensive and costly repairs, especially if it has been sitting vacant for a long time.
  7. Overbuying- Spending and borrowing the maximum amount for your home could wind up being a bad idea should the unexpected occur such as a pregnancy or illness.
  8. Not assessing your financial situation- When you don’t examine your finances, you misunderstand what you can afford. This can lead to spending beyond your means.
  9. Buying a home right before the purchase of a car- This could lower your credit score and will also affect your debt-to-income ratio, which is a key factor in the loan-qualifying process.
  10. Accepting verbal agreements- It should go without saying that you need to get everything in writing.

If you aware of the above mistakes, you can potentially avoid any headaches during the home buying process. Common mistakes are usually the result of rushing, so take your time when searching for a home, making an offer and closing the deal. Awareness is the first step in the avoidance of missteps.

Not knowing the value of your home is yet another mistake that you don’t want to make. In order to make sure that you get the best deal for your money, consider getting a free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ. It will give you the peace of mind that you need.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Home Selling Mistakes: Make Sure You Avoid These

It is very easy to be swayed by real estate agents who promise you a fortune for your house. The longer your home stays unsold on listings, the lower its price goes. Many sellers are aware of this but they still make some common mistakes that either fetch them lower prices or results in a delayed sale. Here are the five most common mistakes sellers make when selling their home:

(1) Overpricing the house

This is not the 20th century. An average person with an elementary knowledge of internet can get a detailed report online. Your buyer can easily get an accurate home value report at Neighborhood IQ, click here to get a free home value report. Your real estate seller may be promising you a million dollars for your place, but if similar homes in your area are selling for half-a-million, it is unreasonable to expect someone to turn up and pay the double amount for your house. Talk to several real estate agents. Get their estimates. Find out what price houses similar to yours are selling in your neighborhood to make an educated assessment.

(2) Getting the wrong real estate agent

Many people hire the first real estate agent they meet. A lot of sellers do not even care to visit the office of the real estate agent they are hiring; instead they hold their first meet at home. This probably explains why a large proportion of houses go unsold through the expiry of their listings. The real estate agent you have hired may be an impressive talker, but only his previous clients can tell you about his record as an agent. Talk to them.

(3) Not using the internet

Nine out of ten people looking for a new home first search on the internet. You are missing out on a lot of potential buyers if your “For Sale” house is not searchable on the internet. There are plenty of websites where you can place an ad for your home with some beautiful pictures of it. Buyers often want to look at a few images of the house before a personal visit.

(4) Not taking photographs

Hire a professional to capture photographs of your house and then upload those images on the internet. Remove or blur all personal details from the photographs before putting them online. You can also hire someone to make a 3D map of your home. That will raise confidence in your buyers.

(5) Targeting the wrong customer

Do you own a four-bedroom house? A young guy in his early 20’s is not the right customer for two reasons: (a) that house is too big for him, and (b) he cannot afford it. There are exceptions but we will not bother about them. Most of the time it is a couple with children that will like your house. So make sure you target the right audience.

Are you making these five home selling mistakes? It’s not too late to change. Use the tips given above and your house will soon be sold at a good price.