Here's a small sample of what's happening.
Sep 16th, 2015
Suffering from Real Estate Depression?
Once upon a time there was an apartment for sale. It was big and beautiful (after you painted over the lime-green living room) and in my friends’ building. And we could afford it. This was five years ago in the postcrash lull. Without casting blame, let me just say this: We didn’t buy it. And the two or three other great places we saw? We didn’t buy those either. If you’re commiserating right now—and many people are—your jaw has likely dropped as home prices rose at unprecedented rates, your American dream dashed: You, too, may have real estate depression. For those of us who still obsess about homes that got away, we present some professional psychological advice. Go forth and mourn Don’t say, “Meh—no big deal.” It is a big deal. Per Freud’s interpretation of dreams, a house is “the representation of the human person as a whole.” (Take it with a grain of salt: “Those with entirely smooth walls are men; but those which are provided with projections and balconies to which one can hold on, are women.”) “Homeownership is a right of passage,” says Elizabeth Carll, a former real estate agent and a psychologist in Huntington, NY. “And now you’ve lost it.” It’s OK to be bummed. It’s a bummer. Don’t feel ashamed Anger, anxiety, loss, guilt: Real estate causes an “avalanche of emotion,” says Cynthia Cummins, a San Francisco Realtor@ and a blogger. Cummins’ renter friend “fell to pieces” as she watched San Francisco’s market rise for 30 years. “It pulled away from her to the point where buying wasn’t possible,” she says. Her friend developed the “shame of not being a homeowner.” It’s harder when, ahem, your extended family clucks at your mistake. Tell them that you share their frustration, but don’t let that frustration lead to shame. Choose productive regret Yes, there is such a thing. “Unproductive regret”—ruminating, blaming—“depletes your happiness and overall feeling of satisfaction in your life,” says Sherry Helgoe, a California-based therapist who works with real estate agents. Productive regret means examining what led to your real estate–less situation, so you can learn from your mistakes. So why didn’t you buy that house? Fear of change? Not enough savings? Unwillingness to compromise on space or location? Poor relationship communication? Perhaps a husband’s intransigence and overly pickiness? Ask and answer these questions, to prepare yourself to buy next time. Set new goals Now that you’ve mastered productive regret, set new—realistic—real estate goals, re-examine your values, and rejigger your priorities. Maybe you’re willing to move farther away, or to a smaller home. Maybe, says Cummins, “you figure out how to make the space you’re in work for good.” Celebrate the home you live in Be nice to your current dwelling. Buy some flowers. Paint a room. Spend a little down payment money on it. Find its attributes. Affordable? Near a decent coffee shop? Safe? Nice neighbors? Bing Crosby was right: Accentuate the positive. Adds Carll, “find a way to instill hope. It doesn’t mean that your whole life is on hold; it just means that buying a house is.” Here’s one way, if you’re a renter, to celebrate: “A house is a bottomless pit,” says Carll. “There’s always something to do and to spend money on.” “The whole American idea of homeownership being some sort of necessary ring to acquire in order to be a grown-up or be successful or be fulfilled,” says Cummins, “is a really outmoded idea.” Remember: Real estate does not a fulfilled person make. Don’t torture yourself Take a break from obsessively poring over listings (may we recommend realtor.com’s News & Advice section?). “You’re only setting yourself up for disappointment,” says Carll. Also, don’t start every conversation with your friends in the apartment-that-got-away building with, “If only I had bought that apartment.” “If we’re living in the past or the future, it can be pretty depressing,” says Cummins. Says Helgoe, “If ‘I didn’t buy a house in time’ is your repeated thinking, you begin to miss out on the other positive areas of your life.” Practice radical acceptance In the words of one of the great gurus of our time, Queen Elsa: “Let it go.” Allow yourself to privately seethe. Until, every six months or so, you yell at your husband, “I’m going to be mad that you were so picky about real estate for the rest of our lives!”Read More →
Aug 26th, 2015
Is Your Pre-approval For Real?
If a lender tells you that you can be pre-approved in just a few minutes, you might want to stop and run in the other direction—fast. A real pre-approval involves much more than just a loan application and credit report. Here’s what a traditional pre-approval includes: You’ve submitted an application with a lender. You’ve authorized the lender to pull your credit report. You’ve provided all requested supporting documentation. Lender has specifically reviewed all supporting documentation, including your tax returns and every piece of financial documentation. Lender has determined you meet all credit guidelines based on the financial strength of your credit, debt, income, and assets. Lender has communicated to you what monies you need for closing and total mortgage payment, as well as all suitable programs for which you qualify. Lender has run automated underwriting on your scenario. Nearly all the residential loans being originated to Fannie Mae’s or Freddie Mac’s standards must pass automated underwriting through Desktop Underwriter (DU for short or Loan Prospector, LP). Each loan is carefully run through an automated underwriting system whether you’re looking for a conventional mortgage, FHA mortgage, or even a jumbo mortgage. If your loan does not pass automated underwriting, it’s more than likely your loan won’t move forward. It’s absolutely critical in the information-gathering stage—after the lender determines how much you can afford (this calculator can help you estimate that)—that the automated underwriting is run to see if your loan gets the green light. Most loans do “pass” in each system, provided the lender has done the proper loan analysis and used the numbers from the supporting documentation you provided. Are you pre-qualified or pre-approved? If there is any step in the bullet points above that is not completed, then you are not pre-approved. Good lenders who know what they’re doing will typically ask you a series of questions before you apply to determine whether or not you meet the credit score requirements, down payment requirements, and the debt and asset requirements. In other words, you can’t get pre-approved without getting pre-qualified first. Oftentimes, real estate agents want you to be pre-approved before even showing you a home. A pre-qualification, on the other hand, is simply a verbal conversation with your loan professional about your financials—that’s it. It holds no water in a real estate purchase contract offer situation. However, a pre-approval letter conveys to the home seller you’ve done your legwork and, more importantly, you have the ability to perform as a home buyer. How strong is your pre-approval? Did your lender ask you a series of questions about your credit score, credit history, income assets, and monthly obligations? Did it feel like your lender was grilling you with questions about your finances? This is a good sign you have a professional in your corner. A good lender will question everything to better understand you and your finances and to determine if you can qualify. Most loan officers need at least a few hours after having the complete application, credit report, and documentation to review your figures, especially if there is any of the following: A foreclosure, short sale, or bankruptcy in the past seven years A previous loan modification of any kind in the past seven years High consumer debt payments such as income-based student loans, car loans, credit cards, tax, or alimony Gyrating income 2106 unreimbursed expenses on your tax returns Any and all self-employed income Investment property scenarios Or anything the lender deems to be complex Any lender or mortgage broker that offers a pre-approval letter and a quick cursory review of your financials is gambling with your money, which could end up costing you your earnest money down the road, especially if the underwriter later determines something in your financials does not jibe. Be smart and give the time the lender requests for doing a solid pre-approval and analysis. Don’t put the house before the finances This is undoubtedly an “aha” moment, as the allure of real estate is far more fun and exciting than the idea of getting a mortgage. Let’s be honest: Putting together tax returns, debts, pay stubs, and other financial documentation for most consumers is not the most pleasant thing in the world to do. However, picture this: For whatever reason you haven’t been pre-approved yet, because work, family, and life got in the way. Then you find a house one Sunday afternoon that you “must have” and offers are due the next day, on Monday at noon sharp. You call a lender, or one the real estate agent recommends, and demand it pre-approves you on the spot for you to get your offer in for consideration. This is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it reckless to ask the lender to do a cursory review of your financial documentation, but it also sets you up for more questions and conditions later in the underwriting process because the lender did not have the time to properly examine your financial profile in the early stage. This is why it’s better to get your finances lined up before you even start looking at homes. That includes checking your credit reports and credit scores ahead of time to see where you stand (you can get your free credit scores on Credit.com). You will be glad you did—many times over—once you do find a home that is a fit for you.Read More →
Feb 26th, 2015
Saving for a Down Payment on a Home
According to the Realtors® Confidence Index, 35 percent of recent mortgages were made with a down payment of 20 percent or more. Moreover, Realtors® reported that because of tight underwriting standards, buyers who pay cash or put down large down payments generally win against those with lower down payments. With lending restrictions making it difficult for some buyers to enter the market it’s more important than ever to have your finances in order and enough money saved for a down payment. For first-time buyers the most common sources of a down payment are savings and gifts from a relative or friend. However, many factors like rising rents and debt make it difficult for consumers to save up for that down payment. Not sure what you need to do? Contact one of our experienced Realtors at KLM Properties, they can help guide you in the right direction! Go to www.klmproperties/agents or call us at 304.296.1533.Read More →
Jan 6th, 2015
What your buyer's agent does for you
There are many things that we as real estate professionals do behind the scenes, when buying a home here are a couple of things your agent can do for you: HELP ARRANGE FINANCING - Assist in locating sources of mortgage loans, help you examine what you can afford and how much you can spend, help compare financing options, provide information on incentives that are available EDUCATE YOU ON MARKET CONDITIONS - Educate you if it is a buyers’ or a sellers’ market, show trends and days on the market for similar property and give statistics on percent of list price the sellers are currently receiving. These are just two examples of how we can help you make an informed decision. For all things real estate contact us today.Read More →
Oct 22nd, 2014
12 Tips for Buying Your First Home
Make sure you’re ready to buy, both emotionally and financially. If you expect to relocate in a few years, this may not be the right time for you to buy. If you don’t have cash for a down payment, closing costs and other expenses, you may be better off waiting. Look at your life, your career, your finances and your future expectations, and determine whether buying a house is the right move at this time. Find the right team. The difference between deals that close and deals that don’t are the professionals involved. You want to make sure you find a real estate agent who will move quickly when a new listing goes on the market, as well as an agent who will advise you honestly on preparing your offer. You also want a mortgage professional lined up before you start looking. “The lender is the most important person to closing on time,” Simon says. Get your finances in order first. Some real estate agents won’t even show homes to prospective clients who don’t have a mortgage preapproval. You definitely should meet with a mortgage broker or banker (better yet, several) at the start of the process to find out how much house you can afford and how much cash you’ll need to close. Do all the math. Just because a bank says you can borrow $200,000 doesn’t mean you should. If you have credit issues, realize that this part of the process could take several months. Calculate each and every cost. The purchase price and the mortgage payment are just the beginning. Don’t forget homeowner or condo fees, homeowners insurance and real estate taxes. Plus, you’ll need to budget for utilities, repairs and maintenance. Don’t spend all your cash. Avoid emptying your bank account for your down payment and closing costs. There will always be unexpected repairs. Plus, it costs money to move, change locks, put down utility deposits and buy things you never needed before, like a lawn mower. When you look at houses, focus on the right things. Don’t be distracted by the owner’s odd décor, paint colors, dirty carpet or anything that is easy to change. Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are easy to add later. You can’t easily add another bedroom, a better location or a more functional floor plan. If you’re buying in a condo or homeowners association, know the rules. How your association is run can make a big difference in how much you enjoy life in a development. You’ll want to know about all rules and restrictions, from pet ownership to who can use the pool. Condo buyers also want to investigate the association’s finances because a poorly run association can mean big assessments later. Visit your favorite neighborhoods at different times. Most neighborhoods are quiet in the middle of the day. As Glen Craig writes at the personal finance blog Free From Broke: “You need to see what the area is like on a Saturday night. Are there kids and such all out driving with music blasting? What’s it like in rush hour in the morning or in the evening?” Talk to the neighbors. Ask about the neighborhood and about the houses you’re considering. The neighbors will know if there are foundation problems. They’ll also know about barking dogs, petty crime and the size of utility bills. Consider which contingencies you’re willing to waive. In the ideal scenario, a purchase offer is contingent on a satisfactory home inspection, approval of your mortgage and an appraisal that equals the purchase price. In most parts of the country, a buyer is smart to keep all those contingencies in the contract. But in a competitive market, you may be competing against buyers who have agreed to waive contingencies. “You never want to [agree to waive them] unless you’re sure you’re 99 percent safe to do it,” Simon says. Be ready to move quickly once you find the home you want. Good homes that are well-priced nearly always sell quickly. It’s OK to take some time to think before you make an offer, but you might not want to wait a few weeks. Your agent can provide invaluable advice here. Know what’s important to you. No house will be perfect, so where are you willing to compromise? If you want a specific school district, are you willing to accept a smaller house? If you want to be near the water, could you be happy with a condo? Are you willing to accept a longer commute to get a larger house?Read More →
Sep 5th, 2014
The Numbers Don't Lie
When it comes to buying a home, one big decision is whether to use a REALTOR® or not. Statistics have found that 88% of buyers polled by the National Association of REALTORS used a real estate agent or broker in 2013. That percentage has gone up steadly since 2001. The reason? REALTORS have a vast wealth of information to help you make a smart, educated decision. We invite you to Take the Buyer’s Journey With Us ….KLM Properties knows the way!Read More →
Jun 17th, 2014
Ways to Improve Getting a Loan Approved
Ways to Improve Getting a Loan Approved Here are five tips to help you get a loan approved by the bank. First, understand the preferences. Do research online about the different types of loans and map out a plan on how you’re going to pay it back as quickly as possible. Second, ask questions. Call your bank after finding a loan you are interested in. Make sure you ask about different requirements that the loan has and make sure you have all the proper paper work to apply for the loan. Different banks have different requirements for their loans. Third, know your limitations. Check your credit score frequently in order to have an accurate assessment of your score. Review your credit scores and make sure there are no mistakes. Mistakes will result in a lower score and will make getting a loan tougher. Fourth, make a checklist. Make a list of all the paperwork you need before applying for a loan. Making a list will make the process go a lot smoother. Fifth, have the right expectations. It is best to be fully prepared when applying for a loan and know that it may take some time. Your main goal is to secure a loan that you will be able to payback at a reasonable time. By following these steps, hopefully the process will go by much smoother. And for all things real estate, go to www.KLMproperties.comRead More →
Mar 24th, 2014
Home Sales Are Up From Last Year!
Ending home sales declined in October but remained at a healthy level of activity and are above year-over-year levels for the second straight month, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, decreased 1.1 percent to 104.1 in October from an upwardly-revised 105.3 in September, but is 2.2 percent higher than October 2013 (101.9). The index is above 100—considered an average level of contract activity—for the sixth consecutive month. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says despite October’s modest decline, contract signings have remained at a healthy pace now for six straight months. “In addition to low interest rates, buyers entering the market this autumn are being lured by the increase in homes for sale and less competition from investors paying in cash,” he said. “Demand is holding steady but would be more robust if it weren’t for lagging wage growth and tight credit conditions that continue to hamper those individuals looking for relief from rising rents.” The median existing-home price1 for all housing types in October was $208,300, which is 5.5 percent above October 2013. Monthly median price growth has averaged 5.8 percent in 2014 (through October) after averaging 11.5 percent last year. “The increase in median prices for existing-homes has leveled off, representing a healthier pace that has kept affordability in-check for buyers in many parts of the country while giving more previously stuck homeowners with little or no equity the ability to sell,” says Yun. Yun says evidence of rising home prices allowing more willing homeowners the ability to sell can be found in NAR’s annual survey released earlier this month, which revealed that the typical seller over the past year was in their home for 10 years before selling—an all-time survey high for tenure of home. NAR also recently released its economic and housing forecast for 2015 and 2016. Yun is forecasting existing-home sales this year to fall slightly below 2013 (5.1 million) to 4.9 million, and then increase to 5.3 million next year and 5.4 million in 2016. Yun expects the national median existing-home price to rise 4 percent both next year and in 2016. The PHSI in the Northeast inched 0.5 percent to 87.9 in October, and is now 3.4 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index slightly declined 0.6 percent to 100.6 in October, and is now 3.0 percent below October 2013. Pending home sales in the South decreased 1.0 percent to an index of 118.3 in October, but is still 3.9 percent above last October. The index in the West fell 3.2 percent in October to 98.1, but remains 4.1 percent above a year ago. The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.Read More →
Feb 18th, 2014
It is Important to Winterize
Winterizing your home This winter has been especially cold but it’s not too late to winterize your home. Here are some affordable tips for getting your home winter ready. Service Your Heater - Every winter you should make it a point to have your heater serviced. Not only does this ensure your heater is in good working order but will alert you to any issues early on. There really isn’t anything worse than the heater breaking down during a winter storm. If you get your heater serviced on a regular basis it will help save you on your monthly utility bill as well. Change Your Filters - If your home has filters for your A/C & heater unit, make sure to change them every summer and winter. Once these filters get clogged up, your A/C or heater unit has to work much harder to warm up or cool down your home. Anytime your unit has to work harder, it means you are going to end up with a hefty utility bill. Filters are very inexpensive and can be picked up at Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot or any other home improvement store. Reverse Your Fan - If you have a ceiling fan in your home, make sure to put the fan in reverse. When you put your ceiling fan in reverse it pushes the warm air down. Pushing the air down helps to keep the home warm and requires almost no electricity at all. If you are unsure of what direction reverse is on your fan, simply look at the fan blades. When the fan blades are counter-clockwise, you know that your fan is in the right direction. Take Care of the Pipes - During the winter months it’s fairly easy to end up with frozen pipes. Believe me when I say you do not want to end up with frozen pipes! Take a trip to your local home improvement store and ask for material to wrap your pipes. Make sure you are aware of where your pipes are located (basement, crawl space, etc.) as the home improvement store will ask you several questions to ensure they are setting you up properly. If your pipes are prone to freezing, let your faucets drip to keep the pipes from freezing. Turn Down the Thermostat - Turning down that thermostat can really help you save cash every month. Keeping the thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and around 62 degrees in the evening will give your heater unit a break and can easily save you up to 50% off your monthly utility bill. Humidify To Lower Thermostat -Yes, you read correctly; humidifiers can equal lower heating costs. The heat our bodies feel is a combination of temperature and humidity. In other words, the more humid the air, the warmer you feel. If you add humidity to dry, heated air in the winter, you can set your thermostat lower and still be comfortable. When selecting a humidifier, take into account the purchase price, operating costs and maintenance costs of the unit. Some models consume more energy than others, so choosing a model that is right for your home and budget is important. There are several different types of humidifiers. Some of the most popular types of humidifiers are warm mist humidifiers, steam vaporizers, cool mist humidifiers, impeller humidifiers, and evaporative humidifiers. Many people prefer cool mist humidifiers because, unlike vaporizers and warm mist humidifiers, they don’t have a heating element inside. Whether you choose a warm mist or cool mist humidifier is a matter of personal taste. Either way both types raise the humidity level and will make your home more comfortable. The cool mist humidifier is the most effective in adding moisture to the air: it works faster, doesn’t make the room hot and lasts longer. Also, with a cool mist humidifier there is no risk of being scalded with hot water or steam. I prefer warm mist humidifiers. Hope you stay warm this cold season! Don’t forget to check out www.klmproperties.comfor all of your real estate needs.Read More →