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Buying or Selling your home, please contact Realtor Gurdeep Shergill @ 559-349-1481 or http://gurdeepshergill.blueroof360.com   CALBRE#01887739

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SELLER’S TIPS

1. A Home Sold but Not Bought

When you put your home on the market, getting an offer can be easier than finding a house you’d like to purchase. This can put you in the position of nearly having your home sold without a new place for your family to go. One way to avoid this is to research new homes before putting yours on the market. You can get all your research together so when the time comes, you can make informed decisions quickly. If your home is already getting offers, consider accepting one with a longer timeline for closing or making the acceptance contingent upon you finding a new home. In extreme cases, you can even rent your home from the buyer until you’re ready to move. Contact me to discuss what timelines are best for your situation so you can enjoy a smooth transition.

2. Depersonalizing Your Home

As you prepare your home for buyers, you need to help them envision their family living in the space that your family loves. Though it can be hard, it’s important to remove a lot of the uniqueness your family brings. Store those beloved family photos until it’s time to unpack your new home. While lively wallpaper and paint colors may be perfect for your family, replace them with neutral tones for others. The last thing you want is a buyer passing on your home because they thought one room was “just too green.” Upgrade to hide the years of use; new appliances, carpets, and countertops are all possibilities to get more interest and higher offers. Each home is different, so contact me for a personal consultation.

3. The Smell of a Sale

Odors are tied to memories, people, and emotions. When you put your home on the market, you’re encouraging strangers to walk through and not only look but also smell around. Most homes have some odor which can be neutral or even pleasant, but it’s hard for someone who lives there to identify it. Ask a friend to walk through and describe what she smells in each room. Some rooms, especially those with pets, will need professional carpet cleaning or replacement along with deep furniture cleaning. When buyers are coming, bake something with strong, pleasant smells like chocolate cookies or cinnamon bread. To skip the baking, slice (and serve) pieces of citrus. Your buyers will love the aroma, and you’ll love the offers. When you’re ready to start the process, contact me for an individual consultation.

4. Curb Appeal

Did you know most home buyers make a decision about whether they like a home within 12 seconds of stepping out of their car? Curb appeal can make or break a sale. Invest time in all the lawn maintenance you’ve been putting off. In the summer, this means mowing and watering the lawn. In the winter, it means shoveling regularly and discarding broken branches and other debris. If you have a garden, spend some time weeding and beautifying the area. A new layer of mulch can make it look new. For a low maintenance option, create beautiful rock gardens. Anything that lets buyers enjoy the exterior will impress. Don’t forget to replace broken shutters and repaint as needed. Contact me for an individual consultation.

5. Painting your Home to Sell

Repainting your interior walls before putting your home on the market is a low cost way to increase the appeal and perceived value of the house. Choose a light, neutral color like brown, tan, or beige. Never paint the walls white as this is actually a harsh tone that makes rooms look smaller. To make your job easier, paint all the rooms the same color. You can paint the ceiling the same as well, but if it’s a few shades lighter, it will pop more. In fact, the lighter color actually makes the ceiling look higher and the room bigger. If you have time to paint the rooms differently, opt for reds, oranges, or yellows in the kitchen, light yellows or tans in the bathroom, blues or browns in the bedroom, and darker browns in the home office. Each home is a little different, so contact me for an individual consultation.

6. New Bathroom Look

A bathroom that looks old and outdated can be a huge turnoff to a buyer. But you don’t need to invest in a remodel to get buyers to invest in you. Replace the toilet and vanity if they look dingy, which can often be done for less than $500. Install white lights above the vanity and lay down a new bath rug that matches the new towels. Deep clean the tub and consider refinishing it for extra shine. If you can make the buyer feel as if she is walking into a spa, you’re sure to impress. Get a new shower curtain and tie it back with ribbons. Light a few candles with peaceful scents and roll washcloths into a decorative pile beside the sink. It is amazing what a thorough cleaning and new linens can do to a bathroom. Contact me for an individual consultation and even more ideas.

7. Shooting Your Home

When your home goes on the market, the first thing buyers will look through is your online photographs. From there, they will usually decide whether it’s a home they want to see in person… or not. Capturing your home’s essence on camera is crucial. An investment in a professional photographer may pay off, but a good real estate professional can often get good photos without one. To get ideal photos, they may ask to minimize the amount of furniture so the shots enhance the size of the room. Positioning the camera in front of an expanse of floor rather than behind a piece of furniture or half wall also does the same. Shooting in natural light is best, but repositioning lamps if necessary to brighten corners with white light can add great impact. Aiming the flash at the ceiling when taking pictures also enhances photos; reflected light is more similar to sunlight. You agent may want to try different angles and different times of the day, to find the most ideal shooting conditions. Contact me with questions regarding highlighting the best features of your home.

8. Tiny Treasures

In many homes, there is one space that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose. The tiny room with slanted walls on the top floor or the teeny space below the stairs is often used for storage. If you can convert these areas to usable space, you have one more feature to add value to your home. If you can fit a comfy chair and install some shelves filled with books you’ve created a library. Add a chair and a computer to a closet with a waist high shelf and you have an office nook. Install wall shelves in any open corner in the bathroom to stylishly store linens. Every space has the potential to be a selling point. Contact me for an individual consultation to help your home reach its potential.

9. Selling with Kids

When you have kids and a home for sale, maintaining a buyer friendly environment can be challenging. Give yourself one full day to declutter for every room in your home. After you’ve finished, put as many things in storage as possible, especially large children’s toys. Anything that you can do without for a few months should be gone. For things that are staying, create an organization system. Plastic storage bins that stack are perfect for accessing and stowing toys quickly. If you have a diaper changing station, work to make it as minimalistic as possible. Put the diapers, wipes, and other necessities in a nearby drawer so they’re out of sight. Use baby blankets and stuffed animals to add color to the room, but again, less is more. Contact me for a personal consultation to help simplify this delicate procedure.

BUYER’S TIPS

1. Budgeting for Home Ownership

As the largest and likely most important purchase you’ll ever make, home ownership requires careful budgeting. This includes planning not only for a down payment and a monthly mortgage, but also taxes, repairs, and other costs through the life of the home. You’ll have to hire at least one inspector and appraiser before making an offer, then be prepared to pay 2-4% of your mortgage in closing costs. After the move, you’ll have to pay property taxes, which can rise over time. You’ll also need insurance, possibly a homeowners association membership, and certainly utilities. Budgeting for routine maintenance and repairs is also prudent. Even with these costs, when making a “smart” purchase with the help of an outstanding real estate professional, homeownership is often a sound financial investment. To learn more about how to prepare, contact me for a private consultation.

2. Professional Help When Buying a Home

Working with a real estate agent is essential to getting the best price on your home, but that’s not the only professional you’ll want to find. Many home buyers find it useful to talk to several mortgage brokers to ensure they get the fairest rate and payment plan. If you’re planning significant renovations, a contractor that you trust can help keep your improvement dreams alive. Even if you want the home as is, you’ll need an inspector and appraiser to give you an assessment of the true value and hazards of the home. Finally, to guide you through the paperwork, you may need a real estate lawyer, which many states now require by law. When you’re ready to start building those connections, reach out to me for a private consultation.

3. Evaluating Re-Sale Potential

When buying a home, you don’t always think about the selling it. Yet a typical home buyer will stay put for a little over ten years, then move on to greener pastures. What your once-new home will be worth at that point depends on its location, structure, and condition, among other things. Ideally, the home will be situated in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood, yet be close to roads, shopping, schools, and other attractions. Inside, the layout and structure are key. More bedrooms mean more value, as well as additions and amenities desired in your geographic area, like pools, enclosed porches or patios, etc. High quality construction materials can keep it as good as new with only minimal maintenance while you own the home. Contact me to discuss a potential home’s value to you and to your future buyers.

4. Buying a Fixer-Upper

You may not be a true home flipper, but you may be willing to invest a little TLC into a needy home. This could be a great money saving idea or a huge mistake. If the changes are superficial, such as repainting and even retiling, a motivated buyer can be successful. If electrical or foundation repairs are needed, that’s likely best left to the professionals. Be realistic about the amount of time you can invest and when you want to have the redone areas of your home ready for use. A home inspection can reveal fairly accurately how much you’ll need to change to have your dream home, so plan on fixing all the problems the inspection turns up before embarking on a large upgrade. Contact me for a private consultation to estimate what you can invest both in money and time.

5. Buying in Winter

When there’s a chance of snow and chilly weather, fewer buyers are touring homes, meaning home sellers are often more apt to close at a lower price. Take advantage of the time with careful home evaluation. As you walk through a home, listen for the sound of the heating system. If it turns on several times during your tour, the home is likely losing heat, indicating poor insulation or drafty doors and windows. You also can, and should, ask to see recent utility bills to get a sense of how much it will cost to keep your family comfortable during the chilliest months. Drive through the neighborhood the day after it snows to get a sense of how quickly the roads are plowed and driveways shoveled. For more ideas on what to look for, contact me for a private consultation.

6. Buying in a Fast Market

In many areas, homes are spending only two weeks on the market before being swept up by an interested buyer. It’s time to act fast, but not hastily. Before you begin to look at homes, talk to a mortgage broker about getting preapproved for a loan. When you find the home you want, you can make a reasonable offer without waiting on the bank. Skip low-ball offers completely, as these will be dismissed compared to the other quick offers. As much as possible, try to look past cosmetic defects in a home. Landscaping and a new coat of paint are easy beauty fixes. Contact me so that I can keep an eye on MLS listings, letting you know about new properties you may be interested in before they are even posted on public sites.

7. How to Lose a Preapproval Offer

Damaging your credit worthiness is easier than most people imagine. Before you apply for a home loan, you’ve likely worked on increasing your credit score, but after you are pre-approved for a loan, a bank can still revoke their offer. This means things like buying a car or furniture on credit can cost you a home deal. Anything that increases the amount you owe puts your potential loan in jeopardy, including co-signing on someone else’s loan. Banks also look carefully at your accounts, so unusual deposits or withdrawals are red flags that indicate you may not be as financially reliable as they thought. Similarly, job changes are dangerous, so work to close your new home deal before making any major changes. For more tips, contact me for a private consultation.

8. Buying a Neighborhood

When you buy a new home, you’re purchasing more than the plot of land and house. You’re also buying into the community surrounding your home. Before choosing an area, step back and evaluate what you value. Do you want to be near local nightlife? Parks and family oriented places? How far are you willing to commute? Do you want neighborhood parties or neighbors that leave you alone? When you’ve found a likely home, talk to the neighbors to see what the area’s really like. Look up crime statistics. Visit the neighborhood at different times, including during the day, the evening, and at rush hour. You may find your little oasis has some hidden faults. Contact me for a private consultation and an in depth look into different local neighborhoods.

9. Skipping Buyer’s Stress

Buying a home is an emotional and anxiety ridden process. Even after finding a home and making an offer, you’ll worriedly wait by the phone for the seller’s response. Ready to take some of the stress out? Start by scheduling a private consultation with me. Rather than having you wait in the dark, we’ll talk through what the home buying process entails and what reasonable timelines for each step are. Knowing what is happening behind the scenes will help calm your nerves. While the seller considers, you can focus on other things like packing your home or just spending time with the family. Or you can opt to strategize for various outcomes. We can decide what our immediate response will be to each of the seller’s possible actions. That way, the lag time is minimized. Contact me to start the process and get answers to those nagging questions.

Here’s how to clean up your credit so you get the least-expensive home loan possible.
Getting the loan that suits your situation at the best possible price and terms makes homebuying easier and more affordable. Here are seven ways to boost your credit score so you can do just that.

1. Know your credit score
Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and the higher, the better. They’re based on whether you’ve paid personal loans, car loans, credit cards, and other debt in full and on time in the past. You’ll need a score of at least 620 to qualify for a home loan and 740 to get the best interest rates and terms.
You’re entitled to a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the major credit-reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Access all three versions of your credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. Review them to ensure the information is accurate.
2. Correct errors on your credit report
If you find mistakes on your credit report, write a letter to the credit-reporting agency explaining why you believe there’s an error. Send documents that support your case, and ask that the error be corrected or removed. Also write to the company, or debt collector, that reported the incorrect information to dispute the information, and ask to be copied on any materials sent to credit-reporting agencies.
3. Pay every bill on time
You may be surprised at the damage even a few late payments will have on your credit score. The easiest way to make a big difference in your credit score without altering your spending habits is to diligently pay all your bills on time. You’ll also save money because you’ll keep the money you’ve been spending on late fees. Credit card or mortgage companies probably won’t report minor late payments, those less than 30 days overdue, but you’ll still have to pay late fees.
4. Use credit carefully
Another good way to boost your credit score is to pay your credit card bills in full every month. If you can’t do that, pay as much over your required minimum payment as possible to begin whittling away the debt. Stop using your credit cards to keep your balances from increasing, and transfer balances from high-interest credit cards to lower-interest cards.
5. Take care with the length of your credit
Credit rating agencies also consider the length of your credit history. If you’ve had a credit card for a long time and managed it responsibly, that works in your favor. However, opening several new credit cards at once can lower the average age of your accounts, which pushes down your score. Likewise, closing credit card accounts lowers your available credit, so keep credit cards open even if you’re not using them.
6. Don’t use all the credit you’re offered
Credit scores are also based on how much credit you use compared with how much you’re offered. Using $1,000 of available credit will give you a lower score than having $1,000 of available credit and using $100 of it. Occasionally opening new lines of credit can boost your available credit, which also affects your score positively.
7. Be patient
It can take time for your credit score to climb once you’ve begun working to improve it. Keep at it because the more distance you put between your spotty payment history and your current good payment record, the less damage you’ll do to your credit score.

10 Inside Tips From a Designer Who Specializes in Small BathsGot a small bathroom to renovate? Go wild with texture and colors if it’s a rarely used guest bath, but stick to clean and simple in a master bath.
That’s the word from designer Jamie Gibbs, who transforms incredibly small New York City bathrooms into beautiful spaces. “I liked being shocked by details in a little space, especially if it’s not going to be used much,” Gibbs says.
His small-bath secrets:
1. Avoid textures in bathrooms that get daily use. In a heavily used bathroom, anything with texture becomes a collection spot for mold, mildew, and toothpaste. Say no to carved vessel sinks or floor tile with indentations.
2. Be careful with no-enclosure showers with drains right in the floor. These Euro showers allow for a feeling of openness, but the average American contractor doesn’t know how to waterproof the floor for them, Gibbs says. The tile seals can be compromised if not installed correctly, causing the materials to decompose, and water to leak underneath.
3. Use opaque windows and skylights to let light filter into all parts of the bath. A long skinny window with frosted glass means you don’t have to burn high-wattage light bulbs. Make sure water condensation will roll off the window into an appropriate place (i.e. not the framing or the wall) to avoid future maintenance issues.
4. Look for fixtures that have a single handle rather than separate hot and cold taps. “Space-saving gearshift faucets are a very good choice in small bathrooms,” says Gibbs. You’ll also save money by not having to drill holes in the countertop for the hot and cold taps.
5. Save space with wall-mounted toilets and bidets, but be aware that the water tank goes into the wall. That’s fine if space is such a premium that you won’t mind going into the wall to make any repairs. But if you share a wall with a neighbor, that’s a different issue.
6. Use a wall-mount faucet to make a reduced-depth vanity work in a small space. “I can get away with a 22” vanity instead of a 24” vanity with a wall mount faucet,” Gibbs says.
7. Check the space between the handles and the faucet of any space-saving fixtures. “If you can only get a toothbrush in it to clean, you’ll save space, but it’s functionally stupid,” Gibbs says. Make sure the sink is functional, too. If you’re using a vessel sink, make sure it’s large enough and not too high. “If it’s too high, you’ll knock it so many times that the fittings will come loose,” Gibbs says.
8. A pedestal sink is all form and no function. “It’s a great-looking sink, but there’s no place to [set] anything,” Gibbs says.
9. Wall-mounted vanities seem like they’re space savers, but they create dead space between the vanity and the floor — a space that often accumulates junk and never gets cleaned.
10. If you’re comfortable with it, go European and put up a glass walls between the bathroom and bedroom to create the illusion of space. Or put bathroom fixtures in the bedroom just outside the bath.

Do you ever wonder why your mortgage statements sometimes come from different companies? There’s a reason for that, and it’s called the secondary mortgage market.

The process of applying for and maintaining payments on a mortgage can be complex — primarily because of what happens behind the scenes. To make it even more confusing, the company that originally lent you the money to buy your new home will likely sell your mortgage in the secondary mortgage market to an investor.
What’s the secondary mortgage market?
This is where investors — such as Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, pension funds, hedge funds, other mortgage companies, and banks, for example — purchase assets or loans, including mortgages, as well as the bonds that finance these assets.
While lenders tend to hold high-balance loans in their portfolio, they usually sell most mortgages because that’s the easiest way a lender can generate cash to make new mortgages. Without the secondary mortgage market, lenders wouldn’t be able to originate as many mortgages as they do.
Investors like snapping up mortgages because they’re backed by a tangible asset that you can see and touch, and that builds value over time — your home. Generally, house values go up, but in the event that they don’t and a borrower defaults, the equity in the home, or your down payment, is intended to cover this loss. This is why most lenders restrict a mortgage’s loan-to-value ratio, or LTV, to 80% of the house value.
Does this sale affect me, the borrower?
Yes, and it starts at the application process. But you shouldn’t be worried; it’s nothing you haven’t probably already heard about, especially if you’re been doing your homework. (And law protects you from abuses by the new owner of your loan).
For a lender to be able to sell in the secondary mortgage market, the loans need to meet the requirements of the investor buying them; it makes sense that investors are willing to pay more for higher-quality mortgages.
In essence, mortgages are underwritten so that they can be sold for the best possible price. This is why underwriting guidelines can be strict and why lenders want to see proof of employment and income to make sure you can afford to repay the loan without stretching your budget.
The interest rate you’re offered also reflects the price that investors will pay for your mortgage — and lenders use all kinds of info such as credit score and debt-to-income ratios to determine your overall mortgage-worthiness (read: likelihood of repayment). It’s easier to sell a mortgage in the secondary market when an investor is confident the borrower is unlikely to default.
What happens to borrowers who can’t repay?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) works to protect someone who is struggling to pay the mortgage. Even though a new company now owns the loan, this company still has to follow standards to collect on a delinquent mortgage. To prevent servicer abuses, servicers are required to reach out to borrowers to help them solve the problem through options such as a loan modification or short sale before foreclosing on a loan. Servicers are also required to inform borrowers about interest rate changes and balances, for example, so that there are no surprises.
Will the terms change once my mortgage is sold?
Mortgages can be modified, but not unless the borrower and lender both agree on the new terms. The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which also is enforced by the CFPB, prohibits lenders and servicers, as well as any subsequent companies that own your loan, from changing the terms of your mortgage without your consent.
Unless you ask that the interest rate or another term on the note be changed and the lender or new owner agrees, or you agree to a change the lender or new owner proposes, the new owner of your mortgage can’t make any changes.

Preventing Fraud

Use Common Sense

We use a variety of technologies and techniques to help ensure that our products and services are secure. You should protect yourself, too, by making an effort to protect yourself when you use your personal computer or conduct business online.

Here are some of the steps you can take:

  1. Don’t give out financial information such as checking account and credit card numbers—and especially your Social Security Number—on the phone unless you initiate the call and know the person or organization you’re dealing with. Don’t give that information to any stranger, even one claiming to be from Chase.
  2. Don’t pre-print your driver’s license, telephone or Social Security numbers on your checks.
  3. Report lost or stolen checks immediately. Also, review new checks to make sure none has been stolen in transit.
  4. Store cancelled checks—and new checks—in a safe place.
  5. Notify your bank of suspicious phone inquiries such as those asking for account information to “verify a statement” or “award a prize.”
  6. Guard your Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) for your ATM and credit cards, and don’t write on or keep your PINs with your cards. You should also guard your ATM and credit card receipts. Thieves can use them to access your accounts.
  7. Be creative in selecting Personal Identification Numbers for your ATM and credit cards, and Passwords that enable you to access other accounts. Don’t use birth dates, parts of your Social Security or driver’s license numbers, address or children’s or spouse’s names. Remember: If someone has stolen your identity, he or she probably has some or all of this information.
  8. If you receive financial solicitations that you’re not interested in, tear them up before throwing them away, so thieves can’t use them to assume your identity. Destroy any other financial documents, such as bank statements or invoices, before disposing of them.
  9. Don’t put outgoing mail in or on your mailbox. Drop it into a secure, official Postal Service collection box. Thieves may use your mail to steal your identity.
  10. If regular bills fail to reach you, call the company to find out why. Someone may have filed a false change-of-address notice to direct your information to his or her address.
  11. If your bills include suspicious items, don’t ignore them. Instead, investigate immediately to head off any possible fraud before it occurs.

2015 Mortgage Rate Predictions 

In recent years, mortgage rates have remained relatively low, although they’ve slightly risen above the extreme lows they hit after the 2008 housing crisis. So, what will the mortgage rates in 2015 be like?

Interest rates are hard to predict, but the Mortgage Bankers Association expects the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to rise gradually to around 5 percent by the end of 2015 as the U.S. economy grows and the job market improves. All economies are tied together, and due to the economic and political turmoil in other parts of the world, U.S. mortgage rates will likely not rise much more than that.

Many analysts predict that lenders will likely begin to loosen credit standards that were put into place after the housing crisis. Because standards were so loose prior to the housing crisis, lenders have been much more strict on mortgage loan standards, but 2015 may see a change in that trend.

 Escrow Basics 

When you decide to purchase a home, the word “escrow” comes up often. You may or may not know what it actually means, but it will become an important part of the home buying process. In the homebuying process, escrow happens, or opens, when the buyer and seller sign a purchase agreement, and the buyer puts down a deposit. Escrow protects all parties involved by making sure that no funds change hands until all conditions in the agreement are met.

Escrow requires a neutral third party such as an escrow officer from an escrow company or someone from a title company. The duties of an escrow officer include: following the instructions given by the principals and parties to the transaction in a timely manner, handling the funds and documents in accordance with the instructions, paying all bills as authorized, closing the escrow when all terms and conditions have been met, distributing the funds in accordance with the instructions given, providing an accounting for the closing, and providing a Settlement Statement.

After escrow opens, the contract dictates how the homebuying process is handled. The escrow officer opens escrow by collecting the contract and the buyer’s deposit. The escrow holder has the obligation to keep all the funds and documents safe while they are in the possession of the escrow holder, and to disburse funds and/or convey the title only when all the provisions of the escrow have been complied with.

Generally, the contract factors in contingencies for homeowners insurance, home inspections, financing, repairs and other tasks to be accomplished by the buyer and/or seller before the transaction can be completed. When each contingency is met, the buyer and/or seller sign a contingency release form. Once the loan is funded and all the contingencies have been met, the title is cleared, the buyer inspects the property, and the parties prepare for the closing.

Once all the paperwork is signed and all conditions in the contract have been met, escrow closes and the escrow officer records a new deed in the buyer’s name, the seller gets paid for the home, and all other monies are disbursed.

The escrow officer maintains contact with the lender. In the processing and closing of escrow, the escrow holder is obligated to comply with the lender’s instructions. Paperwork and documents cannot be interpreted or explained by escrow officers, so it’s important for both buyers and sellers to ensure that they understand all paperwork and conditions involved in the transaction.

Spring Cleaning Checklist
The arrival of spring brings with it many new projects and the time to tackle annual spring cleaning.Here is a spring cleaning checklist that will help keep your home in great shape:

  • Clean out your attic, garage, storage room, and closets. Throw away or donate unwanted items.
  • Put away winter items such as gloves, boots, coats, pants, etc. to make room for a warmer wardrobe.
  • Power wash the exterior of your home, windows, porch, deck, patio, driveway, and sidewalks.
  • Clean outdoor furniture and light fixtures.
  • Clean out gutters.
  • Put a new coat of stain on wooden decks and sheds.
  • Check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Wipe down doorframes, walls and baseboards.
  • Clean out sliding door tracks.
  • Lubricate all door hinges.
  • Deep clean carpets or have the professionally cleaned.
  • Clean under furniture and appliances.
  • Dust and clean blinds and shutters.
  • Dust indoor light fixtures.
  • Clean out the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Clean out your pantry, cabinets, and drawers and discard expired spices and other food.
  • Reseal and repair grout in bathtubs and showers.
  • Go through medicine cabinets and safely discard any outdated medications.
  • Wash and dry shower curtains and liners.
  • Rotate and/or flip mattresses and clean comforters, bed skirts, and pillows.
  • Wash or dry-clean rugs.

Fresno hits top 10 in home list price jump

Published on 01/21/2014 – 9:39 am
Credit/Written by Business Journal Staff
Local list prices rise by nearly 24 percent. Local list prices rise by nearly 24 percent.
Realtor.com, an
 online real estate site operated by Move, Inc., released its National Housing Trend Report for December 2013, showing that Fresno came in 10th on the nation’s top 10 of metropolitan statistical areas for the greatest year-over-year price increase for homes.
Median list price in Fresno increased by 23.8 percent year-over-year in December.
Ken Neufeld, an agent with London Properties in Fresno, said he is not surprised at all by Fresno making the top 10 of median list price increases. “The rebound has been phenomenal,” Neufeld said.
He said about 30 percent of last year’s home sales were cash sales. The added competition of cash buyers further served to drive prices upward, Neufeld added.
The cash sales are not subject to appraisals, which can slow the sales process, he said.
The jump in Fresno home prices has already had the effect of slowing winter sales and helping build back inventory, which had been severely short.
Neufeld said he believes Fresno is now in a more stable market.
While monthly December figures indicate a shift into winter’s slow season, prices and housing demand for the full 2013 year closed in stronger positions compared to 2012.
Data from realtor.com shows the national median list price for December 2013 is 8.1 percent above the levels observed in December 2012.
On a month-over-month basis, December 2013 showed the first significant signs of the usual seasonal winter slow down.
“Bidding wars and all-cash offers left many home buyers empty handed after the summer home buying season,” said Errol Samuelson, president of Realtor.com in a release. “In fact, many buyers remained in the market throughout the fall in an effort to get ahead of the competition, extending the summer season and making housing indicators resilient to usual seasonal patterns.”
Samuelson said the market is still showing significant demand, but in order to have a strong home buying season, sellers need to put their homes on the market.
While December data is strong, other factors could impact consumers when it comes to 2014 housing. The National Association of Realtors’ Confidence Index results recently highlighted concern about the effect of the Qualified Mortgage rules that came into effect in January 2014, which may further decrease credit availability. Another fear was the impact on consumer finances of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act this month.
Top 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the greatest year-over-year list price increases for December:
Stockton-Lodi      47.3 percent
—————–          —-
Detroit, Mich.     41.1 percent
———–                —-
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc     29.6 percent
——————-        —-
Las Vegas, Nev.     29.3 percent
——————-        —-
Reno, Nev.    28.7 percent
——–                   —-
Los Angeles-Long Beach     28.5 percent
———————–    —-
Riverside-San Bernardino     26.7 percent
—————            —-
Orange County, Calif.    26.1 percent
—————–          —-
Oakland       24.9 percent
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Fresno          23.8 percent
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Home Buying Steps
Step 1: Go shopping for a mortgage. It may seem backwards to shop for a mortgage before you shop for the house, but there are several reasons for doing this. First, you’ll find our how much you can borrow, which has a lot to do with how much house you can buy. Be careful not to let the lender you push you into a monthly payment you don’t feel comfortable with. There are no “rules” here – only you know how much you can comfortably handle.It’s okay to be a little stretched, at least at first. Most people “grow into” their mortgage payments. But it’s also very easy to get in over your head. Stay away from “alternative” loans – like interest only mortgages. If the value of the house goes down after you buy it (not unreasonable in today’s market) you’ll end up owing the bank more than the house is worth.Shopping for a mortgage will also help if you can get “pre-approved” for the amount you’d like to borrow. This means the lender has looked over your credit and financial statement and agreed to lend you the money. Sellers like pre-approved buyers because there’s less risk the deal won’t go through.
Step 2: Find a good lawyer. Ask around. Check them out on the Web. Make sure you at least talk to them on the phone and ask them how much they charge: this should be a fixed fee. Ask as many questions as you can, but you probably away won’t get more than 5-10 minutes. Lawyers bill by the hour, so they don’t like to give time for free. You’re looking for someone who is honest, direct and takes the time to explain things.
Step 3: Find out what houses are selling for in your area – and how much you’ll have to pay for what you’re looking. Look at selling prices – not asking prices. You can get these from a real estate agent or from your local paper or town/county government. When you find a house roughly like the one you want, as for three “comparables” – recent sales of houses that are roughly your target house.
Step 4: Come up with a down payment – usually 15-20 percent of that price. (This is the hard part.) You may not have to put that much down (see step 1) – some lenders will go for 10 percent or even zero. But these loans are riskier and usually more expensive. Besides, without a down payment, you don’t own even a piece of the house. The bank owns the whole thing.
Step 5: Find an agent. You don’t have to have an agent, but the real estate industry has pretty much locked up the supply of houses in the hands of agents. Ask around. Check on the Web for your state’s real estate licensing board to make sure they’re registered and don’t have any complaints or suspensions.You’re trying to find someone you can trust, so the first time you catch them stretching the truth, find another one. Real estate agents speak their own language: what you or I would call a broken down shack becomes a “fixer-upper with charm.” (At all times, remember that the agent on both sides of the transaction is paid by the seller.)
Step 6: Now find your new home. (Pick up at Step 3 were you left off.) When the time comes, don’t fall in love with the house. You may not get it. Based on the other houses you’ve seen and recent sales of comparables, make a reasonable offer. You don’t have to offer asking price, but if you “lowball,” the seller may tell you take a hike. Find out, if you can, what the seller’s circumstances are. If they’ve been waiting for years and are holding out for the best price, you may not have much room to negotiate. On the other hand, if they’ve already bought another house, they may be more “flexible.” Tailor your offer accordingly.
Step 7: Wait for a reply. If you’ve bid lower than the asking price, expect a “counter offer” higher than your bid. This can go a few rounds until you settle on a price.
Step 8: Once your offer is accepted (congratulations, by the way), you may be asked to put down a “binder” (a deposit of, say, one percent) until the contract is signed; some states give you a grace period of a few days to change your mind and walk away form the deal. Or you may go straight to contract. This process varies from state to state, something you want to ask your lawyer about before you get started. Before signing a contract to buy the house, go to step 9.
Step 9: Call your lawyer. The seller’s lawyer will send the contract to your lawyer for review. Read it carefully yourself. There are “standard” clauses, but there’s no such thing as a “standard” real estate contract. (You may hear many people try to tell you this.) Understand what each clause says even if you don’t follow the language in it. This is why you want an attorney who takes the time to explain things. If he can’t or won’t, that’s not a good sign.Go over the “contingencies” very carefully. The contract is not the final sale: it says “if all goes well” you agree to buy the sellers house at the closing. The “all goes well” conditions are the contingencies. What if you don’t get a mortgage? Without a contingency, the contract says you have to buy the house anyway. (This is a common contingency.) Others: The house has to conform to local zoning laws, the seller has to have clear title, there are no “major” problems like a faulty foundation, etc. These are negotiable: you can try to put whatever you like in the contract and the seller is free to cross them out before they sign.The contract will also set the closing date, which is also negotiable. You need time to get your mortgage approved and close up your old home, the seller needs time pack up and to move.Step 10: If it all checks out, sign the contract and hand over a big check – usually at least 10 percent of the cost of the house, depending on the terms of the mortgage. You maybe able to find a lender who will hand you a “no money down” loan but we don’t recommend it. Because this is a riskier loan, lenders usually have to charge you a higher rate to cover that risk.You give the down payment check to your lawyer – but they don’t get to keep it. Your money goes into escrow – neither you nor the seller own it until the deal closes. If something goes wrong, you may or may not get it back. If the sale is canceled because one of your contingencies wasn’t met, you should get it back. If not, be prepared to lose all or part of your down payment – even if you don’t buy the house. You may have cost the seller another buyer by signing a contract and then not following through.Step 11: Submit your mortgage application, along with an application fee. If possible, get the lenders to “lock” your rate until the closing date. By law, lenders are required to give you an estimate of all closing costs. All in, these can run anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000. Review all the fees before you sign the loan contract. Some common closing costs include: attorney fee, title insurance (in case the title proves faulty), appraisal fee (for the lender’s benefit, not yours – to make sure you’re not overpaying with their money), home inspection, partial property taxes (if you close in the middle of a month), courier fees, mortgage “points” (a percentage of the loan amount), government recording fee, transfer taxes.After a week or so, call the mortgage company to confirm that they have all the pieces of paper they asked for in the application. If you’ve locked in a rate, you want to make sure the process isn’t delayed by some missing document; don’t expect them to call you if it’s not there.Step 12: Show up at the closing and sign the papers. Don’t forget to bring lots of blank checks: you’ll usually have to write separate checks for each of the closing costs. If you’d like, you can also ask to hold the bank check for the purchase price before handing it over to the seller. It’s probably the biggest check you’ll hold in your life.Congratulations! You’re now in debt beyond your wildest dreams! If after a few days or weeks you find yourself thinking you’ve made the biggest mistake of your life, don’t worry: it’s called “buyers remorse” and lots of new homeowners contract this disease. Give it time, watch your mortgage principal go down, figure out how much you’re tax deduction is saving your and enjoy the freedom of not paying rent into someone else’s bank account.
Approved for a Mortgage? Leave your Credit Alone!
Being approved for a mortgage can be a lengthy process in itself, but once you’re approved, it doesn’t mean you are 100% guaranteed the mortgage loan. One of the most important things you can do while approaching your closing date, after being approved for a mortgage loan, is leaving your credit alone.Most lenders order a second credit report for the mortgage borrower just a few days before closing. Do not open any new accounts or credit cards. Do not buy a car. Do not buy anything such as furniture for your new home using credit while you are waiting to close on your new home.New credit lines and maxed out credit cards will lower your credit score. If you were right on the edge of being approved when you qualified for your mortgage loan, even small credit changes can cause a lender to reject your application at the last minute.Just opening account without even using it can be a mistake. Many retailers will offer discounts to those who open a credit line with that retailer. While going through the mortgage process prior to your closing, avoid taking advantage of these discounts, as it could affect your ability to close on a mortgage approval.If you are buying something for your new home, use cash whenever possible during this period. Charging up your credit cards will change your debt-to-income ratio, which can affect your mortgage qualification at the last minute. It’s always best to purchase these items, especially when using credit, after the closing.Once you’ve been approved for a mortgage, hold off on doing anything at all that can affect your credit to ensure a smooth closing.

When a family decides to sell their home, nothing is more frustrating than having it sit on the market month after month with no offers. Some easy tips can give you the advantage over other homes in your area, and make your home sell quickly.

  1.) Get rid of the clutter. Buyers that walk into a cluttered house will automatically assume you don’t have enough storage space. Get boxes, pack up all the clutter and store it at a friend’s house or at rental storage. A cluttered house will not show well, because all buyers will see is the clutter, not the floor plan or your great tile job. Don’t just throw it into the garage either, because they will look there, too.

2.) Clean, clean, clean. Hire a house cleaner service if you have to, but get that home sparkling, especially your bathroom and kitchen. Clean grout, scrub floors, shine faucets, clean the oven, etc. etc. And dust! Get under that furniture and get rid of dust bunnies. People will look under, around, and inside of all parts of your house.

3.) Get rid of that funky smell. You may not notice the smell because you are used to it, but if you have pets, a smoker in the family, or a dirty house with mold, your home does smell. Get rid of all offending odors or your prospective buyers won’t even look past the front door. Put some cinnamon sticks to simmer or bake cookies to put that cookie smell in the air before a showing. When a buyer comes in and instantly connects your house as a home, motivation to buy will be much stronger.

4.) Fix it. We all have little jobs around our house that we put off doing until we have no choice. However, buyers will automatically see the dollar signs for the work they have to do that you failed to complete. Your offer amount will go down. Look things over, paint, fix the leaky faucet, but get those repairs all done.

5.) Think beige. You may love your purple bedroom and navy living room walls, but chances are buyers won’t love it. Buy paint and think shades of beige or white. Make it neutral so buyers can imagine their furniture in your home.

6.) Look at your house from the street. Are your flowerbeds overgrown? Shrubs need trimming? Peeling paint? Cracks in the sidewalk? Plant flowers, pull weeds, put out fresh mulch, prune trees, make the outside look inviting, so buyers will give your curb appeal a passing grade. Make sure the front door has a fresh coat of paint.

7.) Highlight the special things about your house. Do you have great built-in bookcases? Then paint them white. A great stone fireplace? Arrange your furniture to focus there. Fabulous tile in the kitchen? Clean off those counters and make it shine. A great view? Open those windows. Let buyers see what is special about your home.

8.) Make your backyard into a haven. If you have an outdoor space, such as a deck or patio, make it a great living space. Put plants, a great furniture arrangement that calls the buyer to have their morning coffee or backyard barbeque there. Outdoor spaces that are tastefully decorated will be considered like an extra room to a prospective buyer.

9.) Light that fireplace. According to realtors, a fireplace is the most requested item in a home. If you are lucky enough to have one, make sure you have it burning when a seller comes by. Call attention to the fireplace by the use of carefully chosen artwork. Don’t use a small picture over a large fireplace. Think about scale.

10.) Think about furniture arranging. If you have a room that has that bowling alley feel where all the furniture is straight lines with a walkway in between, consider a new arrangement. Remove furniture if a room feels too crowded. Add lighting where it is needed. Don’t push the furniture against the walls. Consider the sofa on an angle as that can really open up a floor space. Place your bed on the first wall buyers will see when they stand in the doorway, so they see it first.

11.) Don’t make it personal. Remove personal items like family portraits, trophies, or souvenirs from trips that don’t fit your décor. A buyer wants to imagine living in your home, and with personal items everywhere, this can be difficult.

12.) Make it fit. Large rooms can handle large furniture. Smaller rooms need smaller furniture. High ceilings cry out for taller furniture.

13.) Think character. Add architectural details when possible, such as crown molding.Put up a new mantle if yours is outdated. Make sure your stairway is sparkling. Do whatever you can to make your house look grander than the competition.

14.) Make the rooms fit the purpose. Does your dining room feel like a place you would feel like sitting down to a meal? Set the table. Put out nice linens and place settings. Put candles on the table or fresh flowers. Is your bedroom warm and relaxing, like a place you’d love to curl up and take a nap? Put a throw across the end of the bed. Buy bedding that looks luxurious. Take out the exercise equipment and computer from the bedroom. Pare down the number of knick-knacks. The goal with a bedroom is relaxation. Make your bathroom feel like a spa with candles and fluffy white towels.

15.) Go to other open houses in your neighborhood and see what your competition is doing to make their house inviting. If they have a great kitchen, go home and play yours up by adding a tile backsplash or new flooring. Most buyers look at more than one house in a neighborhood and you want your house to stand out above the rest.

16.) Clean out the closets and cupboards. A closet that is stuffed looks small and cramped. Make your storage areas look neat and roomy.

17.) Don’t overprice your home. If it is too high, it won’t sell. In addition, homes that have been on the market too long scare buyers away.

18.) Open the curtains. A dark room will not be inviting. If your home is being shown at night, turn on your lamps in the living room, leave on the lights in the bathroom and kitchen. Think LIGHT.

19.) Think clean floors! Clean the carpets. Replace stained carpet. Fresh carpet will automatically give you a higher selling price. Put down new vinyl or tile in the kitchen if yours is outdated.

20.) Walls, walls, walls….Take down wallpaper if it has been there more than ten years. If it is that old, it’s probably going to make your home feel dated. Paint the rooms that need it. Shine the tiles on the bathroom walls. Don’t let buyers be put off by dirty walls with smudged fingerprints.

21.) Choose a good realtor and insist on an open house. Choose a realtor that sells full-time, not someone who does it part-time. A realtor that has a proven record will sell your home much more quickly. An open house will get buyers into your home that might not have looked at it otherwise. The people who tour your home may be just looking to spend time on a Sunday afternoon, but you never know who they might mention your home to later.

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