Wheatfield First Time Buyers Find Multiple Funding Resources

In an improving residential real estate market, first time buyers may flinch at the greater loan amounts that accompany larger price tags. Lending standards have also put some first time buyers through a tougher gauntlet than faced during many previous eras. Although some easing is now beginning to take place, some Niagara Falls first time buyers can still find it difficult to secure the level of funding they seek. For them, there are a number of alternative funding possibilities that first time home buyers in Niagara Falls may wish to explore. Here are some of the assistance programs that can serve buyers as they go about buying that first home:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loan Guaranty Service is the most well-known of the programs, providing government guarantees for loans to service veterans and those on active or reserve duty. It also provides assistance to widows or widowers of veterans. Some VA loans require no deposit, and although the size of loans are limited and vary by area, the limits aim to make possible purchase of a mid-sized home. The actual loans are made by private lenders; the portion that is guaranteed by the VA protects the lender from losses should the veteran prove unable to repay the loan.

The HUD Basic Home Mortgage Loan 203(b) is a program that provides mortgage insurance to purchase or refinance one-to-four unit principal residences. Applicants who meet standard FHA credit standards and who pay the insurance premiums are eligible for approximately 96.5% financing provided by FHA-approved lenders.

The USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program is a rural development grant designed to help low- and moderate-income rural applicants purchase a home. The rural development program works with local lenders to provide 100% financing for eligible home buyers. In order to qualify for the program, an applicant must live within one of the eligible rural areas and have a total household income that does not exceed the established limits for that area.

The Community Development Block Grant is one of the nation’s oldest housing assistance programs. The goal of the CDBG is to make funds available to urban communities to be disbursed to citizens in the low and moderate income range. The money allocated to the CDBG is provided to local government authorities, who have broad latitude in how they allocate the funds to create and upgrade local housing conditions. Examples are shown in the video Role of the CDBG.

Each program has its own specific application format, which may involve completing a grant application package or simply applying for a loan from an approved lender. More detailed information can be found on each relevant agency’s website.

Securing financing is just one step of the home-buying process—though a first time buyer may be excused if they find it an intimidating one. Whether you are a first time buyer in Niagara Falls or a seasoned homeowner, give us a call: We’re here to help every step of the way!

Wheatfield Luxury Home Sales Ramp Up for a Bustling Fall Market

With summer drawing to a close (say it isn’t so!), it’s time to cast an eye towards the prospects for this year’s fall home sales market. Fall can be a great time to list a home, but it can be especially opportune for luxury home sales in Wheatfield. It’s a season that traditionally brings out serious buyers—those looking to find a home and complete the move before the holidays. If you are selling a property that falls into the luxury home category, before you roll up your sleeves and get to work in earnest, here are some broad-brush pointers real estate writers cite most often:

Make Sure You Work With the Right Agent

Before you even begin other preparations, you can make the most efficient use of your time by first being sure you have recruited the right agent. Aim for a professional who has earned a reputation for successful luxury home sales in Wheatfield. A solid portfolio is the best demonstration that you’ve identified someone with the know-how (and the right contacts) that so often make the difference in luxury home sales.

Details Matter

Even more than with an average listing, Wheatfield luxury home sales depend on every detail being well handled. Don’t just have the windows cleaned—scour the screens, too. Don’t just put out a vase of flowers in the dining room—where tasteful, think about placing them by the beds; in the bathrooms, too. Make sure the entryway is always clear at every showing. In short, sell the dream of the picture-perfect luxury home. By treating every detail with care, you validate your luxury-level asking price!

Highlight Features

You know your property best—which gives you valuable insight into the features that make your home a standout. Make a list of additions, enhancements and luxury touches you have added, and other elements that would make any new owner proud. Where is the light most magical? When do the gardens burst with color? Your agent can determine which details will have the most impact in the each of the marketing media.

Know What to Expect

With luxury home sales, it’s a good idea to always keep the nature of the market in mind. Luxury home sales in Wheatfield can happen quickly, but more often than with an average property, success can take a little longer. A good agent will let you know how long similar homes have taken to sell in your price range—it’s useful background knowledge. Most often, the key to luxury home sales is the quality of showings rather than the quantity.

If you’d care to hear more about what we can expect for this fall’s luxury home sales in Wheatfield, contact us today. We’ll be happy to share an up-to-the-minute market analysis—the best way to project the outlook for the upcoming market.

Wheatfield Virtual Tours Can Be Shot with Your Own iPhone

A newly-updated NAR survey confirms that 51% of agents with smartphones use iPhones. This fact is hardly startling, since these phones have been such a boon to the real estate business. Today’s agent can use apps to quickly scan and electronically sign documents, instantly get property details for clients, access key boxes—it’s almost hard to remember how we got along before!
But what about the 9% of homeowners who choose to go the FSBO (For Sale by Owner) route? As many a do-it-yourself home seller has learned, just planting a sign in the front yard does not constitute much of a marketing campaign. For those who will be selling a Wheatfield home this fall, creating a virtual tour is an all-but-indispensable way to take advantage of all an iPhone has to offer. For anyone who would like to shoot a virtual tour as a market aid, here’s the lay of the land:
• A Wheatfield virtual tour doesn’t need to be an all-out professional Hollywood production. You can keep matters as simple as possible using nothing more than your iPhone’s camera.
• More ambitious self-producers can invest in devices like the GoPano. This attaches to your phone: its curved mirror collects light and streams it into the camera as you walk. The free app converts the image into a moving scene which allows viewers to pan in any direction.
• If your Wheatfield virtual tour will be assembled without any add-on equipment, it’s still possible to meld your photos into panoramas using one of the many apps devised for that purpose. Just make sure the results meet your quality standards—not all apps are created equal.
• Follow the conventional tips for video shooting: in motion, walk slowly, keeping the iPhone as steady as possible. For stills, an iPhone tripod is a valuable addition. Not only does it prevent hand motion blurring; it also allows you to rotate the camera for a 360-degree view.
• Free or low-cost apps allow you to assemble your virtual tour from stills and video. Search for “real estate virtual tours” in the app store for a comprehensive list. Look for apps that have high ratings—especially those that score well on the ‘user-friendly’ scale. You can also find services through the app store that will take your uploaded images and create the tour for you.
• After you have made your Wheatfield virtual tour, if at all possible, preview the result on an iPhone, iPad, PC, and an Android device. It’s an unfortunate fact that a virtual tour that plays well on one device does not necessarily display the same way on the others. If you used an app to create panoramas, you should definitely watch it on a PC before releasing it to be sure the image quality is adequate on a larger screen.
Virtual tours in Wheatfield listings are just one part of an effective Wheatfield real estate marketing effort. Of course, the easiest way to have a professional-looking production is to forget about FSBO altogether and just call us! After all, it’s our full-time job to create and assemble a comprehensive marketing plan that gets your home sold for top dollar.

Does Assessed Value Matter When I Set The Listing Price for My Wheatfield NY Home

The answer to this question depends on the market. If the market is appreciating as most are now, our answer would be, “Sure! As long as you are comfortable with selling your home for less than what it is worth and thereby leaving money on the table.” If it is a declining market, we would say, “Sure! If you are okay with not selling your home.”

Forgive us for being a little bit flippant in the above paragraph but in the vast majority of cases like those above, that is exactly what will happen. In order to fully understand this, we need to fully understand how your tax assessment works.

Your property tax assessment is a value put on your Wheatfield home by your local government. This value is used, based on the tax rate, to compute how much you owe the local government in taxes. Most localities divide this tax amount into 2 payments broken out over the course of the year. These funds are used to pay for the services your government provides.

What most people do not know is that the assessed value of your Wheatfield home is typically computed every other year. So how does this relate to where to price the home you are selling?

When a buyer buys your home, their lender is going to require an appraisal of your property to determine what its current value is. An appraiser will only use comparable sales from the last six month or less. This is where the condition of the local real estate market comes into play.

In an appreciating market where the values are rising, home sales will most likely sell above their assessed value. If you remember, the assessed value could be as much as 2 years old. If the homes have been appreciating since the last assessment, a seller who sells at the assessed value may be leaving a lot of money on the table.

Conversely, if the market is depreciating and home values are dropping, home sales will most likely sell below their assessed value. In this scenario, a home seller who prices their home based on an old assessment takes a major risk in not selling at all. Buyers will base their offers on current market conditions, not an old assessment that might be currently inflated.

When it comes time to pricing your Wheatfield NY home for sale, please take note that your tax assessment will typically run behind the current market place. Pricing a home is truly an art. When interviewing agents, ask how they came up with a price for your home. Using the assessed value is one small part to determine home value. If the agent used it exclusively, find another agent.

If you’re looking for the right agent to help direct your sale every step of the way, we hope you’ll give us a call!

Buying a Vacant Wheatfield Home Can Mean No Disclosures

Suppose that in the course of buying a home in Wheatfield, your eye is drawn to a bank-owned home, or a home held in a trust. There are many reasons why you could find yourself buying a Wheatfield home that’s currently vacant—which can also mean that the usual owner disclosures are not to be had. There are perfectly innocent reasons why this situation develops. Suppose the sellers of the property have just inherited it. How would they know that water tends to pool under the house during a strong rainstorm? Or that unpermitted repairs were made to the electric wiring in the kitchen?

If thoughts like these cause beads of sweat to pop out all over your forehead, don’t fret. This summer we can find you plenty of alternatives in Wheatfield’s traditional housing market. But before you automatically pass on a vacant home because of unknowns in its history, you should know that, with due diligence, you can still end up with a home that is worth your money and a safe place to live!

When you consider a vacant home, the most reliable information will come after you’ve arranged an inspection. The inspector’s report will let you learn what you’re getting into before you buy—and whether it’s in safe and livable condition. Most homes that fall vacant due to circumstances like divorce or a move are well cared-for and in decent shape; others, long abandoned, are more likely to have fallen into disrepair. Without any owner disclosures, you’ll be on your own to discover potentially major issues like leaking pool equipment or pest problems.

Even after you’ve had a thorough inspection, there is still a good chance you will encounter at least some surprises. There are some elements of a home that can’t really be properly inspected—like what lies under the floorboards or behind attic walls. Since there is no former owner to sound a warning, there is always a chance that you could run into unplanned-for expenses. Truth to tell, though, this can also hold true for a traditional home if the sellers have no prior knowledge, either.

Although buying a home with no disclosures can be a great way to get a wonderful deal, it’s still a good idea to leave some extra budget for the most likely potential costs. In addition to things like insurance, unexpected repairs, and maintenance, there are other costs you might also need to cover—such as a vacancy endorsement on your insurance policy if the house will continue to stand vacant for more than 30 days after the sale.

The bottom line? If you’re considering buying a home in Wheatfield with question marks in its history, be sure you apply some energetic diligence before signing on the dotted line. You’ll be a lot more relaxed after the fact.

Thinking of buying a Wheatfield home this summer? Then it’s time to give us a call!

Wheatfield Rental Property Investments—They’re Out There!

When any investor first begins to mull over the idea of acquiring a rental property in Wheatfield, it’s usually in competition with an array of other investment types—each with its inherent pluses and minuses. Some of them are new ideas (new technology company stocks; new forms of commercial exchange)—but real estate is definitely not one of those. It may not be innovative, but being a landlord has always been one of the leading sources of passive income.

What is exciting about rental property is why it has always been recognized as a sound investment. When the income from a Wheatfield rental property is able to pay for its own underlying mortgage, it self-propels its growing equity. The rental property’s investment value grows as the loan is paid down month by month, year after year. Added to that is any appreciation in its market value.

And with the best Wheatfield rental property scenario, when rental income exceeds mortgage and other expenses, it will even throw off an extra income stream. Needless to say, choosing the right rental property in Wheatfield is worth the effort! Much of that effort involves making a serious effort to map out and project values, income and expense:

  • Neighborhood: Consider how the overall desirability of the neighborhood is likely to affect its appeal to tenants. Are there attractive amenities like parks, shopping and entertainment venues? What do the local classified ads reveal — is the area’s vacancy rate high or low? How do rental prices compare with adjacent neighborhoods?
  • Project Ancillary Expenses: Determine the historical property tax rates, and what future rate changes are being proposed. Likewise, investigate insurance costs and roll both expenses into your total monthly expense projections. You want to be sure that they are low enough that you can still make a profit from the rental.
  • Local Dish: Expert advice from Investopedia is for prospective landlords to speak with renters as well as homeowners in the neighborhood. It’s a good point: “Renters will be far more honest about the negative aspects of the area because they have no investment in it.”
  • Schools: Rental homes in Wheatfield featuring two or more bedrooms will attract families—and that means they will likely have children in school. If a school is nearby the home, it’s likely to be that much more popular with family tenants.
  • Crime: Crime-prone neighborhoods can have higher turnover and longer vacancy rates, so a bargain purchase price may be less of a bargain than you’d hope.
  • Commute: Is the property a long commute from the commercial center of town, or a quick drive? Is there public transportation? Many prospective tenants begin their housing search with their workplace as the center point. Renters will consider this before signing a lease—and you should before signing your offer!

If you are thinking of looking at rental property in Wheatfield this summer, they’re definitely out there. Call us today to discuss some of the many opportunities!

Online Wheatfield Virtual Tours & Video

In today’s Wheatfield, more and more often shopping of all kinds has become a virtual affair. Instant information is at everyone’s fingertips—nowhere truer than in Wheatfield real estate. No sooner has today’s buyer made the decision to start looking than—boom!—the laptop/tablet/iPhone is out and Wheatfield virtual tours are underway.

What’s most surprising is the key finding of the joint Google-NAR study of the growth of the web in home buying. “90% of home buyers searched online during their home buying process,was the headline highlight. That’s 9 out of 10!

What’s surprising about that?” you might be asking yourself. The answer: that data is more than two years old! And we know online searches and virtual tours have skyrocketed since then.

To capitalize on the online home search juggernaut, real estate agencies increasingly bring video to their Wheatfield virtual tours. Many video formats are being used, but the even the most basic use zooms and pans that draw prospects into the picture in a way stills cannot.

First-rate Wheatfield virtual tours, whether they include video or not, augment the buyer’s search experience. Motion makes it feel as if you’re right there, touring the house in person.

But…The negative aspects of some virtual tours using video are, unfortunately, just as clear. Slow download time and lagging video streams can lose otherwise interested prospects. In some cases the property itself forces awkward angles that make filming complicated and viewing uncomfortable. It’s simply true that virtual tours are not a good idea for every Wheatfield, NY property. They are, however, a great idea for some.

How can you tell the difference? It’s usually a question of the spaciousness of the property itself. Usually, the bigger the home, the easier it is to film a tour—and the better impression it will make on viewers. High-end Realtors® gain from producing and sharing video virtual tours on their websites, but others get strong results by just sticking with high-quality photos. Sometimes the best impression of a small dwelling will be made by a talented still photographer. When selling your Wheatfield NY home, in a well-rounded marketing plan it is the unique aspects of your property that should shape the media.

If you’re looking for an agent to represent your home in its best light, you’ve come to the right place. Call us today!

Getting a Wheatfield Mortgage is a Detailed Endeavor

Buying a Wheatfield home can’t help but be about as thrilling a purchase as you can make, whether you’re a first time buyer or an experienced homeowner. ‘Buying’ a Wheatfield mortgage, on the other hand…well, the experience may be slightly less exciting, but if your team has managed to secure a good one, it’s actually a comparable accomplishment.

In the same way that it’s the features and condition of your new Wheatfield home that give it extra value, there are multiple elements of a local mortgage that make signing on the dotted line an action you look back on with satisfaction. Having a knowledgeable Realtor® on your side is one part of making sure that happens—knowing how the process works, familiarizing yourself with the terms involved, and fully comprehending the significance of the paperwork elements is the other part. Here is a brief overview of the key elements that come into play:

· Being 100% clear about the financial terms prior to signing is the primary order of business. How much you will be paying each month, how much your interest rate is, whether it is fixed or variable, what additional costs accompany your Wheatfield mortgage—this is the ‘meat-and-potatoes’ of your loan.

· An application fee is the charge that covers the lender’s costs for processing your application. This sometimes includes the credit report and property appraisal—you’ll want to know whether these fees were included as part of your application fee.

· An appraisal fee is included to make sure your home is professionally appraised (it may or may not be part of the application fee).

· A loan origination fee includes the additional expenditures associated with your application. It’s usually presented as a percentage (point) of the loan amount.

· Title insurance covers the title search that investigates whether the property is lien-free. This also covers the legal recording costs, and indemnifies against legal costs for defending the property from future claims. It can sometimes pay to comparison shop between title companies.

· Other amounts may also be included: if, for instance, you and the seller have agreed upon certain things, those details will be listed and costs added onto the total of your Wheatfield mortgage. Property taxes and insurance may also be prorated and included in the monthly payment.

Before the closing, expect to receive a HUD-1 form—the federally-mandated settlement statement that lists all fees, charges and costs. If there is a problem, this is the time to address it. And keep this and the other papers in a safe place…and remember where they are! You’ll save time later, because some of them may be required in future financial dealings. You will also receive a final Truth-in-Lending statement, a mortgage note, and a Deed of Trust. It’s important to make sure all the due dates are clearly understood—it’s not a bad idea to list them on your own personal “To Do” sheet to keep track for your own reference.

If you are thinking of buying a home in Wheatfield this summer, it’s time to get pre-qualified now. Contact us for an introduction to an experienced mortgage broker—then we can get started with the fun part: finding your future home!

Moving to Wheatfield Means Vetting Reliable Carriers

Moving to Wheatfield NY (or moving to anywhere) is adventure enough without including one of the moving company scams that are all too common. It seems hard to believe that unscrupulous carriers can continue to operate, but the fact is, there are a lot of them out there. If you will be moving to Wheatfield anytime soon, you don’t have to worry about any of the rip-off artists if you follow some straightforward guidelines:

  1. 1. Check the FMCSA

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration runs a household goods program designed to aid consumers. Their website includes a search feature that records past complaints for known companies…but be aware that only interstate movers are listed. Along with complaint information, it lists company contact details so you will know you’re dealing with the people they say they are.

  1. Check Online Reviews

A search engine search of the company can be helpful: just enter the company name plus ‘reviews’ or ‘ratings.’ You’ll often find Yelp entries, and with luck, recent experiences by customers moving to Lewiston.

  1. Get A Written Estimate

You should be skeptical of any moving company that is willing to provide a quote over the phone or internet. This may not be evidence of a scam, but often means that you are dealing with a broker rather than the company itself. In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation red flags any over who doesn’t offer or agree to an on-site inspection of our household goods “or gives an estimate over the phone or internet”…the too-good-to-be-true estimates, demands for large upfront deposits, or failure to hand you the “Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” pamphlet (Federal regulations require Interstate movers do so during the planning stages) are all signs of trouble ahead!

  1. Insurance Issues

Before you hand over your belongings, it is a good idea to check that you’ll be moving to Wheatfield with the proper insurance. Ask the movers about their insurance policy and note the policy number. If you have any concerns, you can check with the insurance provider to confirm that they are properly covered.

  1. Use A Mover With A Physical Address

Another sign to watch out for are moving companies that don’t list a physical business address. With a brick-and-mortar base of operations, you know where to head should anything go wrong.

Moving scams can cost a lot of money—not to mention the stress that results when unscrupulous operators have all your stuff! If you’re planning on moving to Wheatfield NY this summer, please consider one of us as your local guide to our area. We’re here to offer professional real estate representation—as well as a ton of information about all things Wheatfield!

Selling Your Home in Wheatfield is a Collection of Decisions

Selling your home in Wheatfield: from the first inkling that you will be putting it on the market until you sign off on the paperwork, the process can be seen as a series of dozens and dozens of decisions. Many are not simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decisions, either; and many have answers that no one can ever prove was right or not.

From your Wheatfield real estate agent’s perspective, providing counsel on the choices when asked is an important part of the service we provide. We get to offer a deep reservoir of experience: what has worked (and not worked) before here in Wheatfield, as well as where the latest trends are pointing. Pricing, timing, marketing approaches are all areas where our input can be of immense value—can shape how quickly the selling of your home succeeds. In addition to the thunderously clear absolute imperatives like de-cluttering and removing an overabundance of personal items, there are also less vital areas where small touches can nudge prospective buyers in the right direction.

These are details that aren’t vital—details that sometimes may not even have any impact at all on some prospects—yet which sometimes come into play. Here are a few examples of touches that you can decide to consider when you are in the process selling your own Wheatfield home:

Kitchen: clean that refrigerator; defrost that freezer! You’d be surprised a many buyers open the refrigerator door (whether it’s included in the listing or not). For some reason, it seems to be a natural thing to do…even though when you’re prepping your house for a showing it’s one of the last things you think about. But taking the time early-on to do a deep cleaning and defrosting will make it simple to keep up, and the ‘newer home’ impression that results can be worth doing.

Fixtures: A little changing out of outdated bathroom fixtures, as well as knobs and pulls on cabinet doors and drawers, can make a huge difference in whether a room comes across as old and tired—or newly updated and presentable. The decisions about whether and what to consider changing can be less than obvious, so giving some thought and imagination into them will be necessary.

Presentation: Set the table? Arrange fresh floral cuttings in more than one room? Leave a note thanking your visitors for considering your home?

Decisions, decisions, decisions! If you will be selling your home in Wheatfield, NY this summer, your Realtor will be by your side, helping you make informed choices about which are worth pursuing. Starting early is the first one that’s a definite right choice…and we hope calling us for a complimentary assessment will be your second!

Housing in Wheatfield May Be Headed for a Transformation

Of the things Americans take for granted, one of the least questioned is the future availability of familiar housing circumstances: housing that’s ‘like where I grew up.’ For urban dwellers, that might be an apartment or condominium; for others, a single-family home—a house with a yard, or perhaps a farm or ranch house. It may be time to re-examine that whole idea.

Over the past few years, there has been a significant increase in multi-generational living arrangements. We read and hear a lot about the housing situation that sees many young adults now living with their parents—but that’s not the whole story. Seniors are increasingly likely to live with their children. The latest census housing data confirms that 9% of seniors now live in a household headed by their children. If you are planning to sell your home this summer, it’s worth thinking how multi-generational living is affecting housing here in Wheatfield.

In the past, multi-generational living was the rule rather than the exception. In 1900, 57% of Americans aged 65 years or older lived with other family members. Following World War II, increased education, better access to loans and the GI bill meant that more young adults could buy homes. At the same time, older adults benefited from social security and medical care which let them live longer independently. By 1990, only 17% of people aged 65 years or older lived with their families.

The recession of 2008 created a job crunch that produced the “boomerang kid” phenomenon: many young adults took longer to leave their parents’ home to seek housing on their own. Too, the growth in the aging proportion of the population has meant that many older Americans are living with their adult children. A third contributor is the increase in the number of ethnic minorities with cultural biases for more than one generation to share housing.

It’s not surprising if the result of these trends is to influence Wheatfield housing preferences. According to the American Institute of Architects’ Home Design Trends Survey, there has been a traceable rise in demand for “in-law” suites over the past year. There has also been an increase in demand for homes with a master bedroom and full bath on the ground floor—the layout most popular when older parents will be accommodated. Other features such as ramps, home elevators and non-slip floors are also gaining popularity. Den, attics and basements are all also increasingly being converted into bedrooms and living areas for younger adults and older parents.

Developers are also responding to the same trend by introducing housing best described as “multi-generational-friendly”. In 2011, national builder Lennar introduced their “Next Gen” house plan: a layout that has the capacity to become two houses in one. The attached house has its own entrance, bedroom, kitchen and living space. A connecting interior door can convert the house into one big home—but when closed, the two residences are separate. Apparently, the idea has been a notable success: Lennar now offers 50 different Next Gen floor plans in 120 communities across the country.

The return to multi-generational living seems likely to have a significant impact on the types of Wheatfield housing that will be developed in coming decades. Wheatfield houses with in-law and young adult-friendly features (such as additional rooms and bathrooms) are likely to grow in demand. Especially if you’re thinking of remodeling your home, don’t hesitate to contact us before you start. We can offer relevant feedback about how your remodel is likely to affect your sales price now—and throughout coming years.

Wheatfield Seller Financing Agreements Can Make Deals Happen!

When home prices in Wheatfield are on the rise, one side effect is that first-time homebuyers may run into a financing obstacle. Although the stricter lending standards of the past few years have been easing somewhat, it still can be difficult for some folks (younger buyers, especially) to purchase the Wheatfield home they have in their sights.

In that situation, an alternative to a traditional bank mortgage is seller financing. Many prospective buyers know little about the details that make up a seller financing agreement, and how it can–or cannot—help them secure a home.

What Seller Financing Is…

It’s as simple as the words themselves. When part or all of the purchase price of a property is carried by the current owner rather than a bank, it is considered to be “seller” or “owner” financed. Buyer and seller reach agreement on the loan details, including the monthly repayments, term of the loan, and interest rate. The security for the loan is the property itself—a fact which is documented on public records for the safety of both parties.

The Benefits of Seller Financing…

For the buyer, the principal benefit of seller financing is avoiding the requirements that are the hallmarks of traditional bank loans. Motivated sellers, who may be anticipating having trouble selling their home in a timely manner, be willing to advance a loan to buyers who do not traditionally qualify for a loan. Another benefit for the seller is having an investment which returns a fixed rate of return—one that is secured by the property. In the case that the buyer defaults on the loan the seller can foreclose on the property. With seller financing of a Wheatfield property, the buyer will often compensate for a lower-than-bank-required credit score by agreeing to pay an above-market interest rate (another inducement for the seller).

Financing Part of the Purchase Price…

In some cases, the buyer may be able to secure a traditional loan for only part of the full purchase price. In that case, the buyer can ask the owner if they would be willing to finance the missing piece. Again, the buyer may sometimes offer an interest rate that is above current market rates as an inducement. It’s often possible for the buyer to plan on refinancing the ‘missing piece’ at a later time when the credit picture has improved, hoping to lower the combined interest rate.

But, then…

These advantages are so clear, you might expect that Wheatfield seller financing arrangements would be very common. There are several reasons why that’s not true. First, owner financing can only be offered by sellers who own their property outright. Second, should a buyer fail to live up to his or her side of the agreement, foreclosing on the property can be a lengthy and expensive process—during which it’s likely that no money will be paid by the buyer in default.

In Wheatfield, seller financing can be a deal-saving alternative for buyers who may not meet lending standards set by banks, but who can nonetheless afford to service a mortgage. Not all sellers will consider owner financing—but for those who are willing to support the added risk, it can meaningfully expand the pool of prospective buyers. Seller financing is just one of many possible strategies. If you are thinking of buying or selling in Wheatfield, give us a call as soon as possible to take advantage of this summer’s market opportunities!

Wheatfield Interest Rates Dodge Anticipated Escalation

Wheatfield homeowners who had been bracing themselves for sharp rises in mortgage interest rates must now be scratching their heads. As the online Mortgage News Daily put it last week, “…rates have been extraordinarily sideways, and right in line with the lowest levels in 11 months.”

Since historical averages are still significantly higher, it’s no wonder that most observers still believe the greater likelihood is for rate increases. But recent Fed happenings show a crack in their avowed determination to let that happen by tapering off purchases of mortgage-backed securities. The hemming and hawing is notable. It’s all pretty much up in the air.

In any case, one thing I can guarantee is that Wheatfield mortgage holders will benefit if they take advantage of savings opportunities when they present themselves. Among current possibilities—

1. Refinance Your Mortgage

Wheatfield mortgage holders who haven’t already refinanced should at least consider doing so. Refinancing means taking advantage of the still historically low Wheatfield interest rates—often the most meaningful step in reducing your monthly mortgage payments. Before deciding to refinance, make sure that the mortgage costs involved will be less than the resulting savings. If you agree with the prevailing wisdom that it’s unlikely we will see a significant drop in interest rates in the near future, today’s levels still look inviting.

2. Cancel Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

According to the National Association of Realtors®, mortgage down payments have fallen over the past decade. Their figures show that the average mortgage down payment in 2013 was 10% – compared with 16% just ten years earlier. Homeowners who put down less than a 20% deposit are typically required to take out Private Mortgage Insurance. But once the Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio falls below 80%, homeowners can ask for the PMI insurance to be removed—and they should, because the lender isn’t responsible for keeping track of that for them. If you are close to the 20% threshold, it may be worthwhile to make a one-time payment that will reduce the principal below 80%.

3. Extend the Length of the Mortgage

Many homeowners have made significant reductions in their principal by opting for shorter-term mortgages. But should rising Wheatfield interest rates make a property you are trying to buy unaffordable, extending the length of the mortgage can reduce monthly payments to a more comfortable level. Although over the long term this will end up costing significantly more in interest, moving from a 15-year mortgage to a 30-year can sometimes be the right move—especially when the property at stake represents one of the terrific values currently out there.

While interest rates in Wheatfield may rise or fall or, as we’ve seen lately, hold surprisingly steady, sudden leaps or plummets are unlikely…and with a little preparation, unpleasant future surprises in interest rates are avoidable. Thinking of buying a home in Wheatfield this summer? Call us today to start laying the groundwork!

Ways to Disprove One Common Wheatfield Home Value Myth

Especially when it comes to major decisions like buying or selling your home, human nature seems to tilt toward delaying action until it’s the end result is absolutely certain. After all, nobody wants to make a life-changing move that turns out to be anything short of fantastic!

So even when you’ve outgrown your current home…or found yourself in a daily long-distance commute because work has moved…or any number of other reasons why you know you should be looking for a new house…it can be difficult to commit to such a looming decision. Adding to that is one of the most common assumptions many Wheatfield homeowners believe: that they have to spend a boatload of money to increase their home value.

The truth is: it ain’t so! You can strategically update your Wheatfield house before you put it on the market without cratering your bank account.

Items that only seem to require costly fixes:

· Make it Spacious

Adding space to a room increases any Wheatfield home value. Tearing out walls isn’t necessary when there are so many other ways to achieve the same thing. Simple options include removing built-in shelves, enlarging windows, or (the simplest) just removing “stuff” that’s hogging perceived space.

· Go Green

More and more, you can improve your Wheatfield home value by installing modest “green” upgrades. Today’s buyers may not necessarily be eco-focused—they may simply have a good sense of the increasing cost of water and power. “Going green” as a way to add home value to your area property can be no more costly than switching to low-flow toilets, adding a wifi thermostat with “smart” technology, or putting in a low cost drip watering system.

· Window Update

Have a room that comes across as outdated…or just plain ‘blah’? Consider how much extra home value a new window treatment might add. It could be as simple as installing a stylish valence over a window or two.

· Change the Doors

Remember your first apartment with its flimsy, hollow doors? A quality door can make a disproportionate difference to a property’s perceived home value. Changing out your front or back doors for more a more weighty or modern selection can be well worth the expense.

· Paint

Paint is the number one way to alter the look of a room inexpensively. Instead of painting the entire room one color, another option is to make a “statement wall” in its own neutral color that compliments a painting’s or picture frame’s palate.

These are just a few suggestions that can increase the value of your home in Wheatfield without a straining the family finances. Even in an older home, many times it’s the little touches that can make the greatest difference.

Looking for specific suggestions to improve the value of your Wheatfield home before listing it for sale? Call us today for an in-home market evaluation!

Real Estate: America’s New Favorite Long-Term Investment

For Wheatfield real estate investors (BTW, that includes homeowners and soon-to-be homeowners of all stripes), there’s some long wished-for news: the solid reputation of real estate as an investment is back! After years of falling off, the latest Gallup poll on the economy and personal finance finds that Americans are now convinced that their best long term investment is in the housing market. Real estate won out against all other alternatives: bonds, gold, stocks, mutual funds and CDs.

For the past few years, gold had been investment #1—but see-sawing gold price movements have whiplashed public sentiment. Just as takes place everywhere in the nation, whenever Wheatfield’s real estate market improves, so does its reception by potential buyers who view their home as a savings vehicle as well as a place to hang their hat. As Gallup Economy’s headline put it, Americans Sold on Real Estate as Best Long-Term Investment.

Public sentiment by itself is, of course, not reason enough to change long-term investment strategies. But when any investment class is on the rise in public’s estimation, the effect is to create competition among buyers—and further price improvement often follows. It can make a difference when it comes to Lewiston real estate.

One possibility for those selling real estate in Wheatfield this summer might be to consider capitalizing on the investment trend by including a marketing approach: one that targets investors. You can have your agent or a local property manager provide a rental evaluation for the property, along with approximate leasing fees and property management fees. Having such an evaluation at the ready lets investment-minded prospects evaluate the potential cash flow and return. It’s even possible to post the information on your sales website, and to display it along with other marketing materials at showings and open houses.

In many neighborhoods, Wheatfield real estate prices have a lot further to go to near their previous high water marks; if you look at neighborhoods individually, you can find some plum opportunities to make a sound investment. If you are thinking of buying or selling in Wheatfield this summer, contact us to discuss your ideas—and how you will make the most of America’s new Number One investment opportunity!

Summertime Open House in Wheatfield: the Timing is Perfect!

Estimates so far indicate that summer 2014 is likely to be a better than usual season for Wheatfield home sales. The past winter threw a wet blanket over all kinds of business activity, creating a perfect scenario for a sales bounce back—and that’s exactly what is beginning to show up in the stats. As Bloomberg News reported last week, sales of homes “climbed in April for the first time in three months…the biggest in six months…”

If you will be taking advantage of the uptick by listing your property for this summer’s market, having an open house in Wheatfield NY is a prime way to attract prospective buyers. With a little focus and energy, getting your home in shape can be easier than you might imagine.

The checklist is short:

Landscaping

The place to begin is with the landscaping—it frames the picture that’s the first thing buyers see when they pull up during the warm months. If you don’t have summer flowers planted, that’s okay—improvise! Purchase a few hanging baskets and potted plants. Place them along pathways, the entrance, and other places that could use a little bit of color. Hose the exterior, but if the years have been too tough, you may need a refresher coat of paint or trim. Perk up the lawn with an easy-to-apply lawn food spray; edge where needed; then mow and admire!

Get a Fresh Outlook

Give your windows a good cleaning (outside first)—it’s surprising the amount of sparkle that simple job can add to your Wheatfield open house. Air the house thoroughly as you do a deep clean where it’s needed: usually a shampoo of carpets and rugs will accomplish the lion’s share of the work. Add some summer color to your rooms with fresh throw pillows, and as your open house draws near, see where a few well-placed floral arrangements would add bright color to draw the eye.

Last Checks

Before the day of your open house, there are a few more quick checks to be made. Walk around the house. Are the air conditioner units clean? Are the gutters and rain spouts in good shape? Outdoor spaces are great selling points to make your home more attractive to buyers, and a summertime Wheatfield open house creates the perfect opportunity to show them off. There are always a few little things you’ve been meaning to attend to…now is the time!

Looking for more open house tips? Call us today if you’re thinking of listing your Wheatfield home for sale. We can discuss a marketing plan to get your home S-O-L-D this summer!

Wheatfield Home Sellers May Benefit from New U.S. Mortgage Rules

U.S. Backs Off Tight Mortgage Rules” screamed the top headline on the front page of The Wall Street Journal last week. For Wheatfield mortgage shoppers, it could scarcely have been better news. Probably.

‘Probably’ because any change is not yet a done deal, but it’s hard to see what will derail the likely full reverse of the federal establishment’s years-long tight home loan policy. Why is this suddenly in the cards? The full answer is complicated, but here is a quick (admittedly over-simplified) summary of what’s been happening to Wheatfield mortgage applicants—and what probably lies ahead.

The ongoing real estate recovery has been less of a boon to banks (including Wheatfield’s mortgage originators) than to other participants because of tightened lending guidelines. Since the economic meltdown had been triggered by the crash of too many ‘easy money’ mortgages that had been repackaged and sold to Wall Street investors, regulators created mortgage guidelines that were much stricter.

Although borrowers found it harder to qualify for mortgages, at the same time, the Federal Reserve held interest rates at such bargain-basement levels real estate sales hummed. But first-time borrowers found it hard to qualify.

But lately, observers of the national scene have been worrying. Over the past months, the gradual cooling of real estate activity may have been welcome in the sense that the torrid rate of activity had slowed from an unsustainable pace—but some economists began to fret. Even though there was still some growth, now there wasn’t enough—and that could stall the recovery for the whole economy.

Washington has decided to listen to the worrywarts: hence last week’s WSJ headline story. It reported on the first speech delivered by Mel Watt, the new boss of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants whose policies largely guide what happens when you apply for a Wheatfield NY mortgage.

Among a number of other rules, there had been in place a basic guideline calling for minimum 20% down payments (and punishing repercussions for banks who didn’t agree). But one result came as a surprise to regulators: lenders were newly fearful of requirements that might penalize them for even reasonable loans that went bad, so they became even tougher than the guidelines! Real estate loans began to dry up. It had been hoped that private lenders would take the place of Fannie and Freddie, allowing the government to gradually back out of its leading role. But the lenders sat on their wallets.

Of his decision to lighten up on credit barriers, Mr. Watt explained that he hoped “that lenders will start operating more inside the credit box that Fannie and Freddie” provide. In other words, that mortgage originators will add to the easing effect by hewing to the guidelines instead of exceeding them. If so, we can expect an influx of long-frustrated first-time homebuyers.

If you have been thinking of offering your own Wheatfield, NY home for sale anytime soon, that should be a most encouraging development!

Renting Your Wheatfield Home is a Matter of Checking Off the To-Do’s

The sunny attitude that encourages entrepreneurs to look at a box of lemons and think ‘lemonade!’ is widely admired, and it does seem to be a viewpoint that successful people cultivate. For anyone who is determined to sell their Wheatfield property—but only at a price the market is not yet willing to pay—well, the turn-lemons-into-lemonade situation is entirely apt. After all, smart investors are buying up and renting properties like yours quite deliberately because they realize that a Wheatfield rental home is not just an asset that can appreciate over time, but one that can also produce income at the same time.

Whatever your own reason for renting, when you put a rental home in Wheatfield on the market, experienced landlords tend to prepare in the same general areas:

1. Repairs and Safety

Often using a rental safety checklist, a good first focus is on heating, plumbing, and other safety issues. Especially if you have been a longtime resident of the property, remember that some operational issues that you may have grown accustomed to ignoring need to be brought up to snuff. Repairs made now will save you time and money in the long run, and will safeguard against increased damage (and worse issues down the line). Be sure fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in place, and double-check that all windows, doors, and locks are in good working order.

2. Make it Pretty!

Of course, clean the house thoroughly, including closets, fixtures, and appliances. Replace dirty carpets, polish wood floors, and remove debris and trash from the entire property (if a one-time rubbish bin rental is called for, bite the bullet!). Where needed, give each room a fresh coat of paint in neutral colors; and outside, tidy up the grass and landscaping.

3. Documentation

Plan to inspect and document your Wheatfield rental home before tenants move in; then once again immediately after they move out. It’s imperative; will serve as documentation of damage caused by the tenant if that warrants withholding the security deposit for repairs. Photos, a checklist—even a quick iPhone video—can do the job.

4. Landlord Insurance

AKA rental property insurance, landlord insurance is not the same as renters insurance, which covers the tenant’s property. A good landlord insurance policy protects you; it should cover everything from major damage inflicted by tenants to legal action they might bring.

5. Know Your Leasing Criteria

Before you prepare a rental application, it’s a good idea to pin down the leasing criteria to help determine who will be qualified to become your tenant. Some common ones:

No prior evictions…Good credit…No foreclosures or bankruptcies…

No criminal convictions…No pets…No smoking…References…

But whatever your choices, do remember to follow the Fair Housing Act guidelines.

 

6. Assemble the Docs

There are basic lease agreements and other documents available online, or you can have an experienced lawyer prepare (or just review) them. Other rental home forms you might need include credit check authorization forms, move-in checklists, and any other notices you wish to post to tenants. They’re all available online.

Sound like too much work? If so, a property management company can handle some or all of it for you—we’ll be happy to provide you with good references. And if you’ve set your sights on purchasing a Wheatfield rental home as an investment, summer is near: that means now is a great time to start!

Selling A Wheatfield Home In Summer Can Need Special Staging

As the days grow longer and the thermometer rises, everyone wants to start spending more time outdoors—to make full use of our yards and patios. But what if your Wheatfield home is going to be on the market this summer? Does it mean you have to stop enjoying yourself, stop entertaining guests, just because you want to keep the place in showable condition?

The answer is, of course, of course not. Using the outdoor spaces of your home means striking a balance between living your life and ensuring everything is in top condition when buyers come calling. It’s actually a staging opportunity, because most of your prospective buyers will be favorably impressed if your outdoor staging areas make it easy to picture themselves enjoying our beautiful Wheatfield NY summer weather.

Staging your home’s landscaping thus takes added importance during summertime, beginning with overall curb appeal. Any time of year, potential buyers are often swayed by that first impression: as they approach the house, the impact will be one they’d like their own future visitors to have. Staging an inviting front yard appearance does wonders for your selling prospects.

Make sure your lawn is trimmed and the yard edged. During springtime and fall, a 2”-3” grass length is recommended, but as the hotter summer months approach, longer grass will help shade the soil and keep roots comfy. Minimize brown spots and thin patches by giving the blades an extra half inch.

Staging walkways and driveways means keeping cemented areas free of volunteer growing things. Having weeds, clover, or anything sprouting between stones or pavement is not only unsightly, it brings to mind the work required for upkeep (a turnoff to prospects). Although chemical herbicides are popular, an eco-conscious (and penny-conscious) alternative is plain old kitchen vinegar.

The most important staging advice for the outside of the house is that it give the impression that a fresh coat of paint won’t be needed for quite a while. Cleaning it can be enough, or if not, new paint may be needed. You can opt for professional painting, but if your home is sided, or if you’ve recently (within the past five years) had your home painted, pay attention to details like windows and other smaller touchups you can easily do yourself.

If staging the back (and possibly front) yards is likely to be a really important part of marketing your Wheatfield home, give some attention to outdoor furniture. It’s expensive stuff, so if it’s going to really be a key selling point for the property, it might be worth the effort to really make the space shine. If you don’t have any outdoor furniture (and don’t plan to need any in your new house), consider hiring a stager just to handle the exterior spaces. Less expensive than a full home staging, exterior staging can make a huge difference in the overall appeal of your Wheatfield, NY home during the outdoor months.

Once you’ve revitalized of your home’s outdoor areas, keeping it in top showing condition need consist of little more than the regular weekly yard work and cleanup, a relaxing prospect for enjoying your property throughout the good weather months. And do give us a call—We’re standing by to take care of the rest!

Could Wheatfield Property Sales Actually be Made in Bitcoins?

Would you be willing to sell your Wheatfield property to a buyer who is offering virtual currency?

In recent news, there has been an influx of people who are putting their homes up for sale in Bitcoins. It may be actually worthwhile to consider the upsides, because doing so opens up your Wheatfield property to a vast new market (not to mention potentially garnering the attention of your local media and scads more traditional buyers who are in their audience).

You may have read last December’s reports about the man who tried to sell his ranch-style home in New York for $799,000 worth of bitcoins. Another seller, a 22-year-old Canadian man, put up his advertisement in March. He had the distinction of being the first one in his town to advertise a home in exchange for the popular digital currency.

Now in case you’ve been putting off trying to figure out what Bitcoin actually is, perhaps we can save you some trouble. It’s an open source and decentralized peer-to-peer payment system that allows its users to buy and sell in virtual cash.

In case that sounds like gobbledygook, in the simplest terms, it’s a system where you don’t need to have real, government-minted cash to close a transaction—all you need is an online “bank account” with enough Bitcoin to pay for its dollar equivalent. Bitcoin’s primary attraction is to those who feel queasy about the stability of traditional currency, especially those who fear inflation. Their fears are quelled by Bitcoin’s creators, who guarantee that only a certain amount of Bitcoin will ever be allowed to circulate. Apparently, many people believe them.

Bitcoin might be new (introduced in 2009), but it is gaining more and more popularity. Even businesses like Overstock.com, Virgin Atlantic, the Sacramento Kings, TigerDirect, Atomic Mall, Clearly Canadian, and Zynga now accept bitcoins. As more credible parties accept them, the more credible the phenomenon becomes.

How could it help you sell your Wheatfield property? Many people who are using the services of online advertisers are technologically savvy, and usually aware of how Bitcoin is fast becoming a popular payment system for online transactions. Compared with credit cards which generally charge 2 to 3% in transaction fees, Bitcoin fees are much lower—practically negligible. Because it currently resides in such a small market niche, that target audience is especially attentive to Bitcoin-traded products. There is also the likelihood that at least some traditional buyers who stumble across such a unique offering will find themselves intrigued enough to investigate your property further. You may even make the news. Talk about free advertising!

Whether or not you’re a Bitcoin believer—if you’re ready to sell your property in Wheatfield this summer and want state-of-the-art marketing input—you’ve come to the right place. Call us today to discuss a marketing plan that, Bitcoin or not, is designed to bring in the buyers!