How To Write A Convincing Counteroffer

It can be a difficult decision for a seller whether or not to write a counteroffer. In addition to there being two other options, accept the offer as is or reject it and wait for a better offer, the counteroffer has the potential to push away the buyer and possibly force you to wait for another offer. But this decision can be made easier by learning how to write a good counteroffer.

The worst thing you can do when making a counteroffer is not communicating. Usually this is done through agents and not directly with the buyer, but that’s better than nothing. Try to learn what the buyer’s goals and motivations are, and craft a counteroffer that provides what they want in exchange for something else that you want. A counteroffer that attempts to assert the seller’s position is a bad counteroffer. A counteroffer that recognizes what a fair deal is in the current market conditions is a good counteroffer. In addition, don’t try to confuse buyers into accepting a bad deal with tricky wording. If the buyer can’t understand the counteroffer, they won’t accept it.

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Checklist For Hiring Contractors

If you’re planning to hire a contractor, chances are it’s because you don’t know how to do the work yourself. Because of this, it’s common to believe that the contractor knows what they’re doing and you don’t need to get involved or ask questions. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Communication is very important when dealing with contractors to make sure the job that’s being done is the job you wanted. It may require a bit of research, but you should learn how to ask the right questions to get the right contractor for your job.

The specifics will depend on the particular job you want done, but there are some things you should be doing prior to choosing a contractor regardless of the job. When looking for a contractor, get quotes from multiple people and verify all of their credentials, licenses, and certifications, as well as experience. Make sure the contractor you pick has liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. The next part is what may require some additional research, and that is defining the scope of the job and setting a timeline. If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking to be done, the contractor won’t either, even if they know how to do it. When you get the contract, make sure it contains all the necessary elements before signing. A proper contract contains all the terms and conditions, payment information, warranties, and dispute resolution procedures.

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How To Eliminate Existing Private Mortgage Insurance

Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI, is a type of insurance that many lenders require for any mortgage with a down payment less than 20%. This is the main reason a minimum 20% down payment is so widely suggested. But if you aren’t able to put 20% down and are forced to take PMI, you needn’t worry too much. It’s also possible to get rid of existing PMI in certain circumstances.

One method that doesn’t require any specific action on your part is to simply wait until automatic termination of PMI, which occurs when you reach 22% equity and are current on your mortgage payments. However, it’s possible to request to terminate it earlier as long as your equity is at least 20%. There are a few ways to do this faster. The simplest option is to pay more than the required mortgage payment. This allows you to reach 20% equity faster while also reducing your PMI costs along the way. Another way you could potentially reduce payments to speed up equity gain is to refinance to a lower interest rate. Depending on your circumstances, this may or may not increase your total mortgage cost excluding PMI, but could eliminate PMI faster. There’s one more possibility: Reappraising your home. It’s possible that your home has accrued enough value that determining the new value of your home reveals that you actually do have at least 20% equity. If you do, you can request to remove PMI.

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Investing In Real Estate Without The Fuss Of Management

Real estate is almost always a solid investment. The two major barriers are the high initial investment required and the necessity to manage the property. The former can’t really be fixed, but there are things you can do about the latter. While there is always the option to hire a property manager, this increases the investment required and can make the profits less attractive. Fortunately, there are some other options for real estate investment without being involved in management, which is termed passive real estate investment.

The other options are real estate investment trusts (REITs), real estate crowdfunding, private real estate funds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). In all of these cases, you are investing only a portion of the funds. This also reduces the barrier to entry, but at the cost of lower profits. REITs are trusts that own and manage income properties. Investors can purchase shares of REITs that pay dividends. Similar to REITs, ETFs are publicly traded; however, ETFs are traded on the stock market rather than purchased as shares of a company. Real estate crowdfunding and private real estate funds both involve a group of investors pooling money for an investment project. Crowdfunding gives each investor more choice about which projects they’re interested in, which is better for an investor who knows what they’re doing while still not putting the onus of management on them. Private real estate funds are the option for investors who just want to throw money at an investment and not be involved at all, as they are managed by professionals that choose the projects.

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When Is A Bridge Loan Right For You?

A bridge loan is a type of loan that uses equity in your current home to finance the purchase of a new home. Like nearly any loan, a bridge loan has interest and is paid off in installments. Unlike a traditional loan, though, the balance is paid off when your current home is sold. While you don’t technically need to sell your current home to pay off a bridge loan, it’s most useful in situations in which you want to both buy and sell.

Some seller-buyers will sell first, then use the sale proceeds to purchase a new home. However, this comes with potential uncertainties about how long you will be left without a home, especially if you make offers and aren’t successful. You may be staying in hotels or renting for longer than anticipated. Another option is to buy a home first using a traditional loan, then sell. If bridge loans weren’t a thing, there wouldn’t be anything inherently wrong with this. But they are a thing, and this is exactly the situation they’re designed for. While bridge loans do come with a higher interest rate than traditional loans, the length of the loan is typically much shorter. After all, most traditional loans are 15 or 30 years, and no one is going to be waiting that long for a sale to finalize. One caveat of bridge loans is that since they are based on the equity in your current home, if your equity is low, the loan amount will also be low.

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The Features That Translate To Higher Home Values

If you want to make the most of a partial remodel, look no further than the kitchen. Unless no one in the family knows how to cook, people will spend quite a bit of time there. Kitchen remodels are a great investment if you know what’s trending. Right now, that means terrazzo floors, soapstone, and quartz. Marble and granite are old standbys that won’t generate additional interest. Additionally, more avid chefs are definitely looking for less common kitchen amenities. These include steam ovens, pizza ovens, and professional-grade appliances.

Getting all new furniture may not seem like a solid investment, but it certainly can be. You probably do want to if your current furniture is noticeably old or beaten up. And while you’re at it, you should choose the leading trend, which remains the modern farmhouse style. This style is typified by comfort, neutral color schemes, reclaimed materials, and vintage accessories, while at the same time using modern clean lines. Nearly all modern farmhouse style homes use reclaimed wood and have large, comfortable furniture. Many display rustic-looking, but still modern, wrought iron accents as well as antiques.

Having a shed somewhere on the property will also bring in more money. In addition, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are still popular. Combining the two also works great. Buyers are paying more for properties with sheds converted into living space. Notably, this actually doesn’t translate to a quicker sale – for one reason or another, homes with sheds stay on the market longer, despite selling for more. If you do want to sell quickly, some inexpensive upgrades that will accomplish just that are doorbell cameras, heat pumps, and fenced backyards.

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How To Identify And Take Advantage Of A Seller’s Market

Real estate agents and experts will frequently declare that the market is either a seller’s market or a buyer’s market. There isn’t some esoteric industry secret formula, though. Figuring out whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market is actually fairly straightforward, as long as you have access to relevant data. There are three indicators of a seller’s market: low inventory, high demand, and low construction.

Of course, these statistics are interrelated. If construction has been consistently low, there will be fewer homes on the market. If inventory is low, buyers will be more competitive, driving up demand. But it’s actually low demand and high inventory that reduces construction rates in the first place, resulting in a cyclical effect. Moreover, each of them are affected differently by factors external to the cycle. So, in order for there to be a seller’s market, all three factors are probably true.

So what should you do if you find yourself under the conditions of a seller’s market? Well, if you’re a seller, everything is great — you’ll probably find a buyer, and be able to sell at a high price, as well. However, even if you’re a buyer, you can work the seller’s market to your advantage. Be aware that prices will be higher in a seller’s market, so a home that looks overpriced may actually be perfectly priced in a seller’s market. If you see something that fits the criteria you’re looking for, be ready to make an offer. It’s likely that multiple buyers are looking at the same thing you are. Make sure to get a pre-approval so that sellers know your offer is serious. In a high demand climate, sellers may get so many offers that they won’t even look at offers that don’t seem genuine.

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Buying A Fixer? Here’s A Good Loan Option

For people who don’t necessarily have a lot of cash on hand but are willing to invest over longer periods, buying a home in need of repairs is often what they look to. This may be in to live in or to resell the home later, but in either case, you may need to finance the repairs, the purchase itself, or even both if you’re low on ready cash. Fortunately, there are loans that are designed specifically for this situation. One such loan is the FHA 203(k) rehab loan.

The FHA 203(k) rehab loan can be used to finance both a purchase and repairs simultaneously, preventing the need for multiple loans, credit usage, or a line of credit. This can definitely save you money in the long run, especially if you are able to qualify for a low interest rate. There are two types of FHA 203(k) rehab loans: a standard loan and a streamline loan. The standard loan is designed for long-term, larger projects, such as renovating entire rooms. This type has no limit on the portion of the loan used for repairs, unlike the streamline loan, which has a limit of $35,000. It’s quicker and easier to access funds from a streamline loan, which makes it more suitable for smaller projects, like installing an HVAC or repairing plumbing.

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Be Sure Early Lease Terminations Are Legally Proper

Transitioning from renting to buying a home can be exciting. However, make sure not to get too excited too early before you’ve terminated the lease. It’s not at all uncommon for a renter to not want to deal with their landlord any longer than they have to, and simply leave. But that could actually be costing you money or leaving you open for a lawsuit.

Lease agreements will always have an early termination policy. It may look like ignoring the policy and ditching is just a way to skip the fees, but it’s actually not. You’re still on the hook for rent payments until the lease is actually terminated, and the early termination fee could be significantly lower. There may not even be a termination fee — the rules vary widely by region and by property manager. Don’t be afraid to talk to your landlord, either. They’re much more likely to be sympathetic to your situation if they’re aware of it. If you tell your landlord you’re terminating the lease early, the worst they can legally do is charge a termination fee.

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Don’t Skimp On Preparing Your Home For Sale This Spring

Spring is already halfway over, so if you’re planning to sell your home this season, you should get on it quickly. Especially since you may need to do some sprucing up to get a good deal. If you bought your home during or shortly before the pandemic, this may be your last chance to benefit from the spike in prices. But buyers aren’t simply snatching up any home they see, like they were during the pandemic. They’re being more deliberate, so you need your home to be appealing.

This means all the standard procedures for increasing your home’s appeal apply. These include things such as repairs, upgrades, repainting, curb appeal, and staging. In some markets, you can get away with not doing these things, or only doing some of them, because the buyers are happy to purchase a cheaper home and perform the upgrades themselves. Not the case this spring. The seller will have to make the investment, which hopefully translates to a higher price as well.

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When You Should And Shouldn’t Put 20% Down

Having a 20% down payment used to be a requirement for nearly all loans. That hasn’t been the case for quite some time, but it’s still touted as the conventional wisdom. In many cases, that may be true, but it’s not always the best idea. There are both advantages and disadvantages to putting 20% down.

If you have the money available already, it’s quite likely that the benefits heavily outweigh the drawbacks. Even though 20% down is no longer a requirement to get a loan, it is still a requirement to avoid mortgage insurance fees. Putting 19% down, for example, simply makes no financial sense at all, regardless of your financial situation. It’s also good to put down as much as you feasibly can in order to reduce the loan amount, thereby reducing your payments. The 20% mark is important if you can reach it.

If you still need to save money in order to achieve a 20% down payment, you’re going to need to crunch some numbers and also make some predictions in order to arrive at the correct solution. If you’re close to being able to put down 20%, it may be in your best interest to continue saving up to avoid mortgage insurance fees. But if you aren’t close, it may be best to simply forget about it. Even if you are definitely able to save money, by the time you get to the point that you can put down whatever 20% is now, home prices are likely to be significantly higher. In that case, it may be better not to wait. You also need to consider other costs and where you’re getting the money. If you need to take out a loan or draw on investments to reach 20%, this is probably not a good investment, unless it’s the only way you can viably make a home purchase.

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Cash-Out Refinancing A Solid Option For Home Renovations

If you’re planning to renovate your home, whether you intend to continue to live in it or to sell it at a profit, you need to think about how to pay for the renovations. Of course, it’s possible you have the cash on hand, which is great. But if not, there are a few financing options you can look into. It’s common to get a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or simply take out an additional loan. However, another option you may not be aware of is cash-out refinancing. It works by refinancing to a loan amount higher than your current loan balance, and taking the difference as cash.

The most important thing to consider when determining if you should get a cash-out refinance loan is the interest rate. It very likely won’t be the same as your current interest rate. If the rate is higher or even the same, it’s probably financially negative in the long run unless you can increase your home’s value significantly with the renovations. That’s why it’s a good option specifically for renovations. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible the rate is lower, or simply lower than traditional loans or HELOCs, in which case it’s a good financing option for any purpose. However, you may not want to use cash-out refinancing for large projects. Since you don’t receive the entire value of the new loan, but only the difference between the new loan balance and old loan balance, you’d need to increase the principal significantly to finance large projects. This could increase your interest payments by quite a bit even if the rate is lower.

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How To Prepare To Buy A Home In A Short Sale

Short sale is the term for the sale of a property when the seller owes more on their mortgage than the listing price. The extra regulations that apply to a short sale typically apply to the seller, but that doesn’t mean the buyer doesn’t need to do their research as well. Much of the homework that goes into buying a short sale property is best done ahead of time, so these types of transactions work most smoothly when the buyer is specifically looking for short sale properties.

If you know you’re looking for a short sale property to buy, make sure to find an agent that specializes in short sales, or at least has a large amount of experience with them. Expert short sale agents will have the best idea of a reasonable purchase price and what types of offers will be most attractive to the seller. You may have heard the common advice to get a pre-approval for your mortgage. In the case of a short sale, it’s best to go a step further and get a full approval. Nearly everyone who offers on a short sale will be pre-approved, so that alone won’t make you stand out, but a full approval will. And whether you’ve planned on purchasing a short sale property ahead of time or not, it’s important to be patient. Short sales typically take longer than traditional home sales. In fact, buyers often drop out of short sale negotiations because they simply don’t have the time, leaving you with less competition if you’re patient.

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What Is A Wrap-Around Mortgage?

Wrap-around mortgages are not very common, but it’s still a good concept to know in case you find it difficult to get a more traditional mortgage loan. A sale with a wrap-around mortgage has two important components distinguishing it from a regular sale: First, the seller retains the current mortgage on the property being sold. This differs from standard sales in which the seller normally pays off the remaining mortgage as part of the sale process. Second, the loan is not issued by a lender but rather by the seller. In this way, the seller is most likely planning to pay their mortgage using the money gained from payments the buyer makes to the seller on their new mortgage.

Wrap-around mortgages have both advantages and disadvantages. The primary reason to get a wrap-around mortgage is that they don’t have any standardized qualification requirements. This mostly benefits the buyer, but can also be useful to the seller if they’re having difficulty finding buyers. The primary drawback is that the buyer and seller must write up the contract themselves, since there is no lender involved. That means both parties need to be legally and financially savvy. It’s also impossible to wrap around a mortgage that doesn’t exist, so the seller needs to have a mortgage. There are also cons specific to the seller and buyer. The seller in this instance incurs the same financial risk that a lender would normally. The buyer is very likely paying a higher interest rate, since the arrangement is not worth the risk to the seller unless they are profiting.

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How To Baby-Proof Your New Home

A common reason to purchase a new home is needing more space because you are expecting kids. But just having more space isn’t going to prepare your home for all the trouble a baby can get into. By the time your kid is able to crawl, you’ll want to have finished baby-proofing your home.

Some things are probably pretty obvious, like using baby gates, locking drawers, keeping hazardous substances away, and covering up sharp edges. But some safety precautions are things you may not think about. While it’s true that babies often like soft and fluffy blankets, leaving them around loose can be a suffocation risk. When you’re in the kitchen, you’re probably used to having pot and pan handles turned towards you for ease of access. But once your kid can walk, there’s a good chance they can reach up there. Make sure to turn the handles inward. You should also acquire a latch for the oven. Bathrooms can be dangerous for both kids and adults, so you may already have taken precautions such as non-slip mats for your bathroom. But if not, make sure to get some. You may also want to get soft covers for the knobs and spouts.

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Honesty Is The Best Policy On Mortgage Applications

Some of the questions on a mortgage application may seem unnecessary, but they’re all there for a reason. Certain omissions can lower your interest rate and make your offer seem more appealing. But even if you haven’t done anything wrong — especially if you haven’t done anything wrong — you should always disclose all relevant information.

Money changes hands all the time, and the transfer doesn’t always leave a paper trail. But lenders will still find it odd for you to suddenly have additional money or fewer debts. It’s perfectly legal to ask a friend or family member for some cash to help you buy a home or pay off a debt. That money came from somewhere, though, and if you don’t list it, your lender could assume you are hiding something and deny your application.

A common lie that seems more innocuous but can actually have even more drastic consequences is stating that you plan to live in the home when you actually don’t. People do this because interest rate is lower on loans for primary residences, and they figure it’s fine because of course they can always change their mind. However, this is actually a crime. It’s considered a form of mortgage fraud.

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Preparing Your Home As A Vacation Rental

If you’re looking to earn some extra income over the summer, consider renting out your home as a vacation rental. It’s not too early to start thinking about it, especially if you want to buy a vacation rental house. Spring is the top of the real estate market and there will usually be more options available to buy. Even if you want to rent out your current house, there’s some prep work to be done first.

When marketing a short-term rental, think of it as a hotel. That’s where most people stay while on vacation, so you need to make sure it’s attractive to people who would otherwise simply book a hotel room. Advertise the amenities you have and the benefits of staying there over a hotel room. Price probably isn’t going to be one of them, but it’s still definitely something you need to think about. Pricing vacation rentals is difficult because they probably won’t be earning income all throughout the year, especially if you live there yourself most of the time. This means you may need to charge more to cover your monthly costs and retain a profit, unless you don’t have a mortgage. But you don’t want to charge so much that no one rents from you.

The other thing to consider is protecting yourself and maintaining your property. With the property changing hands between multiple tenants, you never know what could happen unless you keep an eye on it, which may be difficult if you are also on vacation yourself. Talk to property management companies to see what services they offer and for how much. You’ll want your home cleaned in between tenants, which may or may not require hiring cleaners separately from a property manager. Also take a look to see if you want additional liability insurance.

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Home Improvement Projects For The Upcoming Spring Season

Spring is the hottest season in the real estate market. If your home is in need of some improvements before selling, now is the right time. Or, even if you aren’t selling, some seasonal DIY projects can bring something new to your own enjoyment of your home.

Something that will always help sell your home is a fresh coat of paint. And if you have the time, it doesn’t require contractors. Painting is relatively easy and only takes a couple hours to learn online even if you’ve never done it before. Or maybe you aren’t selling, and simply want a new look for the spring season. In that case, pastel greens, blues, and creams are good spring colors. If you have a garden, a project that will only take up a weekend of your time is building DIY planters. Many planters are made of wood, but stone planters are more durable. Building a stone planter just requires four slabs of stone such as granite or marble, one to two tubes of stone adhesive, a ruler, and cement tape. All you need to do is make sure the slabs are positioned correctly with the aid of a ruler, apply adhesive to the inside edges, and use cement tape to hold it together while the adhesive dries. Something more on the fun than practical side is bird seed rings, which are a treat for birds, and for yourself if you enjoy feeding them. They are made by combining gelatin, corn syrup, and flour into a paste, mixing that with a bag of bird seed, then using a donut pan to mold them into a ring shape. You can then hang them outside where they will attract birds.

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What To Ask Lenders When Negotiating Mortgages

There’s plenty of advice out there telling you that negotiating your mortgage is important and that you should get multiple opinions. However, unless you know what you’re looking for, you’re probably not actually getting the best deal. On the surface, it may look like the lowest rate you can find, but it likely isn’t. You’ll often need to dig and ask the right questions.

So what are the right questions? Ultimately, you want to know the exact breakdown of the estimate. As you probably already know, interest rates aren’t based on just one factor. You may not realize that some of these factors are actually negotiable, or you may even have more information about it than the lender and be able to correct the estimate. Ask if the estimate includes any discount points. Discount points are an up-front payment that lenders aren’t going to tell you actually lowers your interest rate, rather than being just a standard fee. Discount points are negotiable, but lenders won’t mention that unless you bring it up. The estimate that a lender provides may or may not also include closing costs. Discount points and lender fees are part of closing costs, but a significant portion of them are not actually under the lender’s control. Lenders frequently underestimate escrow fees, so when it comes time for you to pay the closing costs, your fee may be higher than the estimate even if the rate is locked. Make sure to only compare costs the lender can control.

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What A Pocket Listing Is, And Why You Should Avoid Them

Most agents are probably familiar with a pocket listing, but if you aren’t an agent, you may not know what that is. Even if you do know what it is, you may not realize why they’re a problem. A pocket listing is a listing that is temporarily exclusive, before a delayed release into the open market. At first glance, this can seem like a win-win-win situation. Sellers don’t need to do as much preparation and their agent can vet the buyers for them. Buyers don’t have to deal with nearly as much competition. The agent gets double the commission by representing both sides.

However, it’s not all upside. There are also plenty of cons to pocket listings, and they may outweigh the benefits. A big problem is that pocket listings simultaneously skew the market while not being governed by the market. Not listing the properties on the market reduces inventory values, which skews both competition and prices upward, significantly hurting buyers overall. You may think this benefits the seller, but it actually doesn’t. Because the pocket listing isn’t governed by this upwardly skewed market, the buyer of a pocket listing is likely to pay significantly less than the distorted high prices. In fact, because of the total lack of competition, they’re likely to pay less than the actual market value. For the agent, being a dual agent is a lot of work and stress, and it’s only increased by attempting to make it a pocket listing. In the event the seller suggests a pocket listing, this isn’t as much of an issue. But an agent truly can’t push for a pocket listing without breaching their fiduciary duties to the seller, which include taking reasonable steps to locate a buyer. Even if it’s on the seller’s suggestion, there will always be a conflict of interest when representing both sides that the agent will need to delicately navigate.

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