Home Warranties Provide Buyers and Sellers With A Peace Of Mind

If you are a homeowner, you probably know all-too-well how costly home repairs can be. And, thanks to Murphy’s Law, appliance break-downs seem to happen at the worst possible time—like when you are selling your home. For this reason, it is in the best interest of all home sellers to consider purchasing a home warranty.

A home warranty offers many advantages to the home seller, the least of which is a peace of mind that your major home appliances are covered in the event of a break down. Most home warranties cover both parts and labor of your home’s most vital systems and major appliances. This protects the home seller from potentially large, unexpected repair bills and also allows the buyer to purchase the home with more confidence. Additionally, a home warranty is usually for the term of at least one year, so any unforeseen repairs/replacements are also covered well after the home has been sold. A home warranty also provides a competitive edge over those homes without warranties because it communicates confidence to buyers. This can add up to a faster selling period, resulting in a more convenient process for all involved.

A home is probably the single largest investment you’ll ever make, so the last thing you want as a home seller or buyer, are unexpected home repairs/replacements. Major appliance replacement can cost you several thousand dollars, and during the process of a home sale/purchase, your budget doesn’t often allow for costly expenses. A home warranty is designed to protect you from these types of expenditures. Furthermore, it is convenient for home sellers because a home warranty offers after-sale liability. While an inspection may find many faults that are covered by a home warranty, it cannot account for latent problems that are beyond an inspection’s scope, or problems that occur down the road. In most cases, a home warranty will cover these expenses, alleviating potential financial burdens for the seller once they have sold the home.

When considering a home warranty, it’s important to ask the right questions. Warranties vary from one company to the next and there are also many different types of coverage available. Your Realtor should be able to help you with this process. First and foremost, you should identify which components of the home will be covered by the warranty. It’s also important to attain annual costs and the charge for service calls. You will want to ask what the total dollar limit is on the warranty and what the limits are for the individual items that are covered. Many home sellers purchase home warranties, which are then passed along to the homebuyer when they move into the home. As a homebuyer, you may want to look into whether or not the coverage can be renewed once the warranty has expired.

According to American Home Shield, one of the largest home warranty companies in the nation, the average home warranty customer uses their warranty plan 2.3 times. Furthermore, the number of home warranties is increasing with every year because homeowners are becoming more informed of their benefits. Eventually home warranties will become commonplace, as buyers and sellers realize the advantages they offer. Ultimately, what it comes down to is that a home warranty is a very simple, cost-effective way to purchase a peace of mind for both homebuyers and sellers alike.

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Top 10 qualities to look for in an agent

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Buying a home is one of the most significant financial and emotional purchases of a person’s life. That’s why it is so important to find an agent that can not only help you navigate the home search process, but one who can also answer your questions and represent your needs from start to finish. Most importantly, your agent should care about your happiness and ensuring that you find the home that best fits your needs.  Here are some qualities to consider when selecting a real estate agent:

    1. Someone you like. More than likely, you will be spending a lot of time with your agent, so look for someone that you enjoy interacting with.
    2. Someone you trust. One of the best ways to find an agent who you feel you can trust is to ask friends and family for a referral. Another way to do this is to interview different agents and ask for client references.
    3. Someone who listens. While your agent can’t read your mind, they should be able to make educated recommendations and offer advice by listening closely to your needs. Make sure you talk to your agent about your priorities, what types of features appeal to you, as well as any factors that could be deal breakers. This will arm your agent with everything they need to help find you the perfect home.
    4. Qualified and experienced. Make sure your agent has the qualifications and experience to meet your specific needs. For example, some agents have more experience with short sales, while others might be experts on certain neighborhoods or types of housing.  Your agent should also be fully trained in contract law and negotiations.
    5. Knowledgeable. A great agent is someone who is out in the neighborhoods, exploring communities, visiting listings, performing marketing analyses, and collecting all the information that you need to make an informed, confident decision about your real estate needs.
    6. Honest. Your agent should be upfront and honest with you about every aspect of your home search process – even if it involves delivering bad news. The best real estate agents are more concerned about finding the right home for their clients, not just the home that brings in the fastest commission check.
    7. Local. Every community is different and all real estate is local, so it’s important to find someone who really knows the local market and can provide you with whatever information you need to familiarize yourself with a particular area.
    8. Connected. A well connected agent will have relationships with lenders, inspectors, appraisers, contractors, and any other service provider you might need during your home search.
    9. Straight forward. You want an agent who will work hard to help you find the best home, but you also want someone who will be straight forward with you about the process, the market reality, and what is realistic for you.
    10. Committed. Your agent should be in it for the long haul, meaning that they’re looking out for your best interests every step of the way, no matter how long the process takes. The best way to find an agent with these qualities is by asking around. In all likelihood, someone within your circle of friends or family will have experiences to share and professionals to recommend. You can also search for agents based on area, so you know you’re getting someone who is knowledgeable of the neighborhood(s) you’re interested in. Click here to learn more about the buying process.

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Party Like It’s 2018!

 

Just a few months ago most people thought mortgage rates were heading to 5% and now they are back to where they were a year ago.

 

You probably saw this week’s news from the Federal Reserve declaring that they would not raise their Federal Funds rate for the rest of 2019

 

(just three months after saying they would raise rates at least twice this year).

 

While this is big news, even bigger news for mortgage rates is that the 10-year Treasury yield just hit its lowest point since January 2018. One thing we’ve learned from our Chief Economist Matthew Gardner is that mortgage rates follow the 10-year treasury (not necessarily the Fed Funds rate).

 

Last Spring it looked like mortgage rates had bottomed out and they steadily climbed through the Summer and Fall of 2018. It looked certain that they would hit 5% around January.

 

Instead they started dropping. Now with the 10-year Treasury at a 15-month low, they just dropped a little more and they are back to where they were a year ago.

 

Great news for buyers! Party like it’s 2018!

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Are You Better Off Paying Your Mortgage Earlier or Investing Your Money?

Posted in BuyingSelling, and Living by Guest Author 

Photo Credit: Rawpixel via Unsplash

Few topics cause more division among economists than the age-old debate of whether you’re better off paying off your mortgage earlier, or investing that money instead. And there’s a good reason why that debate continues; both sides make compelling arguments.

For many people, their mortgage is the largest expense they will ever incur in their lives. So if given the chance, it only makes logical sense you would want to pay it off as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a mortgage is also the cheapest money you will ever borrow, and it’s generally considered good debt. Any extra money you obtain could be definitely be put to good use elsewhere.

The reality is, however, a little less cut and clear. For some homeowners, paying off their mortgage earlier is the right answer. While for others, it would be far more advantageous to invest their money.

 

Advantages of paying off your mortgage earlier

  • You’ll pay less interest: Each time you make a mortgage payment, a portion is dedicated towards interest, and another towards principal (we’ll ignore other costs for now). Interest is calculated monthly by taking your remaining balance, the length of your amortization period, and the interest rate agreed upon with your lending institution.

If you have a $300,000 mortgage, at a 4% fixed rate over 30 years, your monthly payment would be around $1,432.25. By the time you finish paying off your mortgage, you would have paid a total of $515,609, of which $215,609 were interest.

If you wanted to lower the total amount you pay on interest, you don’t need to make a large lump sum to make a difference. If you were to increase your monthly mortgage payment to $1,632.25 (a $200 a month increase), you would be saving $50,298 in interest, and you’ll pay off your mortgage 6 years and 3 months earlier.

Though this is an oversimplified example, it shows how even a small increase in monthly payments makes a big difference in the long run.

  • Every additional dollar towards your principal has a guaranteed return on investment: Every additional payment you make towards your mortgage has a direct effect in lowering the amount you pay in interest. In fact, each additional payment is, in fact, an investment. And unlike stocks, bonds, and other investment vehicles, you are guaranteed to have a return on your investment.
  • Enforced discipline: It takes real commitment to invest your money wisely each month instead of spending it elsewhere.

 

Your monthly mortgage payments are a form of enforced discipline since you know you can’t afford to miss them. It’s far easier to set a higher monthly payment towards your mortgage and stick to it than making regular investments on your own.

Besides, once your home is completely paid off, you can dedicate a larger portion of your income towards investments, your children or grandchildren’s education, or simply cut down on your working hours.

 

Advantages of investing your money

  • A greater return on your investment: The biggest reason why you should invest your money instead comes down to a simple, green truth: there’s more money to be made in investments.

Suppose that instead of dedicating an additional $200 towards your monthly mortgage payment, you decide to invest it in a conservative index fund which tracks S&P 500’s index. You start your investment today with $200 and add an additional $200 each month for the next 30 years. By the end of the term, if the index fund had a modest yield of 5% per year, you will have earned $91,739 in interest, and the total value of your investment would be $163,939.

If you think that 5% per year is a little too optimistic, all we have to do is see the S&P 500 performance between December 2002 and December 2012, which averaged an annual yield of 7.10%.

  • A greater level of diversification: Real estate has historically been one of the safest vehicles of investment available, but it’s still subject to market forces and changes in government policies. The forces that affect the stock and bonds markets are not always the same that affect real estate, because the former are subject to their issuer’s economic performance, while property values could change due to local events.

By putting your extra money towards investments, you are diversifying your investment portfolio and spreading out your risk. If you are relying exclusively on the value of your home, you are in essence putting all your eggs in one basket.

  • Greater liquidity: Homes are a great investment, but it takes time to sell a home even in the best of circumstances. So if you need emergency funds now, it’s a lot easier to sell stocks and bonds than a home.

 

Misael Lizarraga is a real estate writer with a passion for teaching real estate concepts to first time buyers and investors. He runs realestatecontentguy.com and is a contributing writer for several leading real estate blogs in North America.

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The Whole Story

Metro Denver has 2.1 months of inventory on the market. This means that, at the current pace of sales, it would take just over 2 months to sell every single-family home currently listed for sale.

But that’s not the whole story because inventory levels vary drastically depending upon the price of the home.

When we take a closer look at months of inventory broken down by price range this is what we see:

• Under $400,000 = 0.9 months
• $400,000 to $500,000 = 1.8 months
• $500,000 to $750,000 = 3.1 months
• $750,000 to $1,000,000 = 4.2 months
• Over $1,000,000 = 7.7 months

These numbers represent great news for move-up buyers because they can sell in a strong market and potentially move up to a market that is market that is not as strong.

 

              Below is a short video with a recap of our annual Market Forecast presentation!

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How’s 2019?

A lot of our clients are asking how 2019 is starting off.

Here’s one thing we notice…

There are more homes to choose from, which is great news for buyers.

In January alone 4,821 homes came on the market in Metro Denver.

That is a 14% increase compared to one year ago.

At our annual Market Forecast, we predicted a more balanced market in 2019, so far it looks like we are trending that way.

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Below is the recap of our Denver Annual Market Forecast!

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More Choices

Great news for buyers! There are more homes to choose from. It seems there is relief from the days of drastically low inventory levels.

Compared to a year ago, residential inventory levels are up:
• 9% in Northern Colorado (Larimer & Weld Counties)
• 45% in Metro Denver (wow!)

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You can get many more fun facts like these plus get our predictions on the 2019 market by joining our annual Market Forecast. Just click the link below!

https://www.eventbrite.com/o/windermere-real-estate-12011801121

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2019 Economic and Housing Forecast

What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.

The U.S. Economy

Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.

Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing.  Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.

The U.S. Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market.  In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.

Existing Home Prices

We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017.  In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.

New Home Sales

In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.

That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates

In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.

In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling.  We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.

I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.

Conclusions

There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating.  In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.

That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.

Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.

Originally published on Inman News.

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Make a Statement With Your Bookshelf In the New Year

There comes a time in life where gifts take different forms during the holidays. Toys are replaced by tools and appliances. Games are supplanted by gift cards and gear for grander hobbies. Clothing ranges from stylish to functional, but typically reflects real-life necessities over fantastical dresses or costumes. But for many, books remain a timeless gift, offering windows into worlds we know well or have yet to discover. Approaching the new year is a wonderful time for any lucky recipient to reorganize their collection and make a statement.

Start with a blank canvas. Take everything off your shelves before you decide to start putting your books back on.

Mix it up. Don’t have all of the books vertical or horizontal (but never stack anything on top of vertical stacks). Layer them on top of each other in different ways on all of the various shelves. Bigger books on the bottom of stacks, smaller ones on top. Place your most attractive books at eye level.

Accessorize. Add items in between, in front, and on top of books. This can mean collectibles, candles, small plants, pictures, you name it. You can use a variety of shapes and sizes, but try to keep all non-book items to the same theme/color.

Leave Space. Adding just a little bit of space between items gives space for the eye to breathe and helps your book and collectibles to stand out.

Little details. Don’t follow the same pattern on each shelf otherwise, it could end up looking too stiff. Try to zig-zag your way down (or up).

Add color. If you’re ready for a full-fledged redo, paint the back of the bookshelves to add dimension and character before styling. If you don’t want to permanently color your bookcases, try fabric or wallpaper. For example, if you have glossy accessories, choose a metallic wallpaper to turn your bookshelf into a shimmering showpiece.

Have too many books or don’t feel like accessorizing? No problem. Color code your books ROYGBIV style to make a bold and fun statement in your room.

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Top five words of advice for a buyer today

Do you want to find your perfect home for a fair price and make your move in a reasonable amount of time? With inventory lower than it was four months ago and buyers coming out of the woodwork to take advantage of the tax credit before it ends, you may want to think about what you can do to prepare so you’re ready to take action when the time is right for you.

We asked a few of our Windermere agents what top five pieces of advice they would give to a buyer in today’s market.

Top five by Bruce McKinnon Windermere Mukilteo

    1. Get pre-approved with a “known” lender.

 

    1. Learn the market. Pay attention to price per square foot, be realistic on pricing and observe short sales and foreclosures.

 

    1. Understand “showing” protocol such as scheduling viewing appointments and a respect for privacy.

 

    1. Identify your location preference. Initially focus your search there for efficient time utilization. Think about your ideal community, neighborhood and school district.

 

    1. Mini buying process overview. For example, to minimize surprises, get a five minute explanation of offer, inspection, appraisal, closing, etc. by a professional or two.


Top five by Erin Mitchell Windermere Bellevue Commons

 

    1. Work with a great agent that specializes in the area that you want to live. Meet with them prior to looking at homes to make sure you ‘fit’ each other’s personalities, they really listen to your wants and needs and that they ask you questions about what is important to you.

 

    1. Ask your agent for a good referral to a great loan officer. Call them now and get pre-approved.

 

    1. Make a top 10 list of the most important things you want in a home. If you find one that has at least eight of them, strongly consider the home.

 

    1. When you find a home that fits, your agent will run a market analysis to determine appropriate value. Value is not always price related.

 

    1. Write a good offer that includes a fair price, good terms and is realistic. If you want the house, buy it. If there is more than one offer, use an escalation clause in the offer.


Get pre-approved with a “known” Lender

Learn the market (e.g., price / sq ft, be realistic on pricing; short sale and foreclosure observations)

Understand “showing” protocol (e.g., appointments, respect for privacy)

Identify location preference (e.g., to initially focus search for efficient time utilization — community, neighborhood and school district  – where possible)

Mini Buying process overview (e.g., 5 minutes – to minimize surprises — offer, inspection, appraisal, closing)

 

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