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Real Estate Info

Fri Apr 21

Common Appraisal Myths

An appraisal is an important part of many real estate transactions. An appraisal is typically done if a buyer requires a mortgage loan to purchase a property. The appraisal is done by an appraiser (who is licensed), and it's based on multiple data gathered during an inspection by the appraiser. When it comes to appraisals, there are many myths or misconceptions around them. Whether you're looking to buy a home, looking to refinance a current mortgage, or you're looking for more information about all that goes into real estate transactions, here are some of the most common myths when it comes to appraisals.

An Appraisal is the same as a Home Inspection

While both an appraisal and home inspection provide important information to all parties, the two are not the same. An appraisal is done to determine the value of a property, generally for the benefit of a lender. The appraiser will inspect a property for improvements and deficiencies but only to determine the overall value of a property. A home inspection, on the other hand, is an inspection, but its main purpose is to look at the 'guts' of a property, assessing the overall condition, and inspecting the major systems, appliances and structure to determine the shape of a property. The appraisal is done to determine the value of a property; a home inspection (which isn't required) is done to determine the overall health of a property.

Assessed Value, Appraised Value and Market Value are all the Same

For many properties and in many states, the idea that the assessed value, appraised value and the market value are equal is understandable. But, in many areas and instances, this isn't the case. Assessed value is determined by an assessor (who works for a city, town or county) and is usually used to levy taxes; if the assessor doesn't actually physically inspect the property, s/he won't know if any improvements (remodeling projects, interior updates, additions, etc.) have been done. The same can also be said if nearby properties have not been reassessed for a long period of time or they don't reflect the area's current real estate market. Appraised value is determined by an appraiser, and is a result of a detailed physical inspection of a property and research done on the neighborhood and any nearby recently sold properties. Market values are consumer-driven and can be influenced by a buyer - if a buyer is willing and able to pay more for a property, then the market value is what the buyer is willing to pay. While all three values can be similar, all three also have the chance of being vastly different.

The Appraiser is Hired by the Buyer

An appraisal is required when a home is being purchased with a mortgage loan; a current homeowner is looking to refinance his/her existing mortgage; or when someone is selling a home to someone that is not an all-cash buyer. The appraisal acts as a security for the lender to understand the value of the property when making the loan decision. Due to federal changes several years ago, although the lender orders the appraisal, the lender does not hire a specific appraiser; the appraiser comes from a 'pool'. For the majority of property transactions, the buyer is responsible for the cost of the appraisal (sometimes a seller will cover the cost of the appraisal, but this is unique, and for the most part the buyer or borrower pays the costs through the lender). There are times when a seller may want to get an appraisal to get an idea of a home's value before listing the property - in this case, the seller would hire the appraiser and pay for the appraisal.

The Appraisal Varies Whether it's For the Buyer or Seller

Typically, an appraiser has no vested interest in the price of a property - s/he doesn't represent any particular person. The appraiser should complete an independent and objective appraisal, simply performing the service of determining a property's appraised value. Appraisals can be done for a number of reasons: insurance, home loans, tax losses, estates, liquidation and net worth. Because of this, depending upon the purpose of the appraisal, the market value and appraised value can vary, but the appraiser does not complete an appraisal in favor of the seller or the buyer.

Appraisers Use a Formula to Determine the Value of a Property

The way in which appraisers determine the value of a property is very detailed. An appraiser will analyze all aspects of a property: location, condition, size, proximity to amenities and other facilities, and s/he will also consider the recent sale prices of comparable properties in the area. Other items that are considered in the appraisal: number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the floor plan functionality. The appraiser does a visual and physical inspection of the interior and exterior of the property. S/he will take into consideration the type of flooring in a home; the materials used in the kitchens, bathrooms, and other rooms; the siding and any other recent upgrades. An appraiser will also consider things that need to be repaired, and other miscellaneous items. Far from a specific formula, appraisers use a lot of data to determine the appraised value of a property and an appraisal can take a number of hours to complete depending on the size of a house and complexity of the property.

 

Pet Friendly Homes

Wed Apr 21

If you are one of the many homeowners looking to list your home for sale, how do you stand out to the millions of pet parents searching for their dream home?

Whether a dog person, a cat person, or someone who prefers the company of another pet species, 99% of pet owners say that they consider their animal to be family. When finding a home, 95% of animal owners believe it is important that a housing community allows animals.

study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there are many aspects of the home buying, selling and owning experience that have been greatly impacted by our love for our pets.

This should come as no surprise, as $72 billion was spent on pets in the U.S in 2018. NAR’s PresidentWilliam E. Brown shed some light on the impact of pet owners and their home search.

“It is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership. REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

The Power of Pets When Choosing the Right Home

  • 89% of pet owners say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction
  • 81% of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation
  • 31% of animal owners have refused to put in an offer on a home because it wasn’t a good fit for their animals
  • 19% of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet
  • 12% percent have moved for their pet

New home builders have actually begun installing retractable pet gates that tuck away neatly inside door jams as a highly requested feature in new homes to attract pet-parents.

So, if you are a homeowner looking to sell in today’s pet-friendly environment, point out the features of your home that will attract pet owners:

  • Fully fenced in backyard – (91% of pet owners ranked this as the most important feature of a home to accommodate their pet)
  • Locations of dog parks/walking paths/pet-friendly beaches in the area (71% ranked this as the top feature of any neighborhood they would consider)
  • Proximity to veterinarians/groomers/pet supply stores (31%)

GREAT TIME TO PURCHASE

Mon Mar 21

The Housing Market is Doing Just Fine

There are some that think that housing affordability is a challenge. Historically, that’s not true. Others think that home prices are approaching bubble values. If we look back over the last sixteen years, that is also not the case. As a matter of fact, the numbers show that the U.S. residential real estate market is doing just fine.

Here are two articles and excerpts that make this point:

The Housing Market Is Finally Starting to Look HealthyThe NY Times

It has been an excruciatingly long time coming, but the housing sector in the United States is finally getting healthy. Thank millennials and thank homebuilders who are starting to produce more of the starter houses young people demand.”

Why the U.S. Housing Market Is Good and Getting Even BetterThe Street

“Interest rates are so low now that a family can buy the median-priced U.S. home on income of less than $45,000 a year -- about $11,000 less than the median household income. And half of America's houses are cheaper than that.” 
There are those worried that all this positive talk resembles what was being said in 2004 and 2005. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains the difference very simply but effectively:
“The havoc during the last cycle was the result of building too many homes and of speculation fueled by loose credit. That’s the exact opposite of what we have today.” (emphasis added)

Remodeling? Recoup Your Investment When You Sell

Fri Mar 21

Remodeling? Recoup Your Investment When You Sell

Before you pour your savings into a new kitchen and a rainforest shower for the master, think about whether or not you'll be able to recoup your investment when it comes time to sell. 

If you have equity in your home, you can make improvements, but don't go over the limit of what other buyers can spend for a home similar to yours in your neighborhood. 

While it's tempting to make your home more beautiful, you have to consider the rest of your neighborhood. If most residences in your neighborhood are three-bedroom single-story homes, buyers are unlikely to shop in your area for two-story four-bedroom homes. 

Buyers want to shop for a home where there is the most selection of homes that fit their criteria. If they want a swimming pool, they're going to look in neighborhoods where many homes have pools. They won't be aware of your home if you have the only pool in your subdivision.  

That's why over-improving for the neighborhood is a bad idea. Not only will you not get your money back for some updates, your home my be harder to sell because of them.  

Another reason buyers don't tend to pay as much for updates as you might think is broad differences in taste. Your updates may include choices your buyer wouldn't have made because of several reasons:  

You only improved one or two rooms, leaving the rest of the home looking unfinished. 

Your updates were too radical, such as cold minimalism in a traditional setting. 

Your updates masked a problem but didn't solve it, such as a kitchen that's too small. If the kitchen is still too small after you've put in granite counters, don't expect buyers to care. 

You failed to do necessary repairs and updates that were less visible than the new décor but buyers noticed anyway. 

Your updates are beautiful but require a lot of cost and upkeep. 

Buyers want to make a home their own, and don't want to be distracted or confused by design statements that they don't agree with. Enjoy your home while you can, but make sure your new look can be easily depersonalized when it comes time to sell. 

Don't expect to set a listing price based on what you've put into your home no matter how long you own it. Your home will be worth market value no matter when you sell, whatever the value is for that point in time. 

All the improvements in the world won't change that basic fact. Your home and the improvements you make are only worth what willing buyers say they will pay. 

Before you begin renovations, talk to your Realtor and your lender. They will help you develop a reasonable plan for updates that will add value to your home. 

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