Three Home Amenities Likely to Grow in Demand
Courtesy of NAR/Better Homes and Gardens
Certain features that home buyers now consider “nice-to-have” may soon move into the “must-have” category in the near future.
According to a recent blog post by BH&G Real Estate, the following three amenities will most likely grow in demand among home shoppers.
Home owners are spending more of their income on utility bills and that will motivate them to want to find homes with more energy efficient, cost-effective appliances. Energy Star-qualified appliances are on the rise, as are smarter appliances like dishwashers and washers. Homebuilders say that energy efficient homes and appliances are a top priority of new home buyers.
2. STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCE ALTERNATIVES
Stainless steel appliances have dominated the market, but home owners seem to have a love-hate relationship with them, primarily because they are difficult to keep clean. White ice and slate are increasingly growing in popularity. Slate is being touted as an easy choice to blend in with other black, white, or stainless steel finishes. It also resists fingerprints and washes easily. Classic white appliances offer a bright and fresh appearance, pairing well with white cabinetry and contrasting beautifully with darker woods.
3. SMART HOMES
More homes are expected to be controlled via mobile devices in the coming years. Appliances and home systems can be turned on, off, or programmed via phones and tablets. Smart refrigerators are emerging that have built-in apps that can create grocery shopping lists and smart ovens can be remotely controlled to start dinner or check on the status of what’s cooking. Surveys reveal that more home owners want the ability to control and monitor their appliances from anywhere.
The Brandee Kelley Group LOVES houses and each team member strives to keep up-to-date on all matters pertaining to real estate, including housing trends. Please feel free to contact us to discuss your housing needs.
UNDERSTANDING HOME EQUITY LINES OF CREDIT (HELOC)
Adapted from REALTOR.com
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) isn’t the easiest type of loan to understand.
And there are some misconceptions about HELOCs that can get homeowners in trouble, or deter them from using the loan at all. The following are some common myths about HELOC’s that will help you understand how they work:
Myth #1 – A HELOC is not a second mortgage
A HELOC is a second mortgage UNLESS you use it to refinance your first mortgage. A HELOC comes with a lot of paperwork and closing costs, although not as involved as those associated with your first mortgage. Just be clear about the terms—you are putting your house up as collateral in order to access a line of credit.
Myth #2 – Once I get a HELOC, the line of credit can’t be lowered
Your HELOC’s credit line is not a guarantee, even if you already have it. If your house value plummets and you lose equity, your lender has the right to modify the agreement to adjust for the drop in value. And if your credit score drops significantly, the lender can reduce your credit limit.
Myth #3 – My HELOC works as cash reserves
- You have a limited draw period in which to take out funds.
- The bank can change the agreement if conditions change.
- The bank can freeze or cut back your HELOC amount.
- You must pay interest on any funds you withdraw.
- Your HELOC will come with specific terms and conditions from your lender that you need to evaluate.
Most lenders do not offer 100% financing. A common loan-to-value (LTV) financing with a HELOC is 85% and other lenders may cap it at 70%. Each lender is different, and how much of a credit line you will have access to depends upon the terms of the HELOC given to you by your lender.
Remember that the more you draw from your home, the more you have to pay back, with interest.
A HELOC is not free. You will have closing costs, and while they are small compared to those for your primary mortgage, that doesn’t mean they’re cheap.
With most HELOCs, there is a minimum draw required at the closing. And there is often a certain average balance required, which requires you to pay something in interest each month. Most HELOCs come with an annual fee as well as a cancelation fee. These fees, while not large, should be considered. You should know how much you are paying to access your home equity.
In conclusion, a home equity line of credit is a valid option for generating extra funds, as long as you are aware of all the terms and conditions.
As always, consult with an experienced mortgage professional for questions about financing that involves your home. Don Kelly at Affiliated Mortgage is our preferred lender, and he will provide you with the correct information about all matters pertaining to home financing.
ENGAGE WITH A REALTOR® AND A MORTGAGE LENDER
Before you start searching for a new home and/or put your current home on the market, you need the services of a REALTOR® who knows your market. An experienced agent will give you realistic advice on what you can expect in selling your home and finding the home of your dreams at a fair price.
You also need to engage with a knowledgeable mortgage expert, as financing options play an important role in a dual transaction. Understanding options that are available to you can help you in the decision-making process.
PLAN YOUR FINANCES CAREFULLY
Should you buy first, then sell—or vice versa? Both have their risks and rewards. SELLING first makes getting a mortgage easier, but it also means you’ll need to find a temporary place to live. BUYING first means moving will be easier, but it also skews your debt-to-income ratio, making it harder to qualify for a new mortgage.
Whichever option you choose, make sure you’re prepared to accept the consequences: having to store your household belongings and rent temporarily, or undergoing the financial burden of two monthly mortgage payments.
Even if you’ve planned to sell your home first and are prepared to rent while searching for a new home, know that even the best-laid plans go can go awry—and you still might end up juggling two mortgages.
When it comes to buying and selling real estate, all sorts of unplanned and unforeseen events can happen to derail even the best of plans. Your buyer may not get approved for his financing. The house you’ve made an offer on may not pass inspection, or an inspector may find repairs that need to be made, resulting in delayed closings. Perhaps the seller of the home you’re buying isn’t ready to move out when you need possession of your new home.
KNOW THE FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS AVAILABLE TO YOU
If you choose to sell first, the process is relatively straightforward; you’ll simply incur the temporary cost of a rental home. However, there is the option of a rent-back agreement, where you negotiate with the lenders and buyers to remain in your current home for a defined period of time after closing, usually in exchange for a lower selling price or rent paid to the buyers. This can relieve some of the pressure of buying and closing on your new home, but many buyers cannot or will not agree to this arrangement.
If you’re buying first, your REALTOR® can suggest ways to decrease your financial risk. The two most popular options for buyers are:
1. Contract contingency: Buyers can request that their new home purchase be dependent on the successful sale of their old home. This is sometimes successful in a Buyer’s market, but in a highly competitive market, this is likely not an option. The entire Dallas/Fort Worth real estate market is indeed very competitive right now, so you are better off obtaining a Bridge loan.
2. Bridge loans allow you to own two homes simultaneously if you don’t have funds for a second down payment. This option is especially attractive if you planned to sell your home first and use the proceeds to buy your new home. It functions as a short-term loan, and usually is repaid at the closing of your original home.
DON’T LET FEAR RUSH YOU
If your home has sold but you haven’t found a new home that you really want, don’t let anxiety push you toward a bad decision. You are better off to plan on a short-term rental so you’re not forced into making a quick decision on a home purchase. And don’t let anxiety force you to accept an offer that you feel is too low just because your finances are strained by two mortgages. If you have a temporary apartment set up, you’re less likely to compromise.
The team members of the Brandee Kelley Group know that buying and selling a home simultaneously can be stressful. We help clients in these situations every day, and we can help you. Call our office at 817-635-1141 to schedule an appointment to discuss your housing needs. You may also visit our website at http://brandeekelleygroup.kwrealty.com/ to find out what your current home is worth and search the MLS for homes for sale with all the criteria important to you.
Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank is truly a local expert in mortgage financing. Feel free to contact Don with any questions you have about mortgage qualifications and interim financing relative to your financial circumstances.
By relying on our expertise, planning for the hurdles you may encounter, and learning the options available, you CAN sell your current home and buy the home you want.
With so much information readily available online, you may wonder why you need to work with a real estate agent. Can’t you buy or sell a home on your own?
Some buyers and sellers may have attempted this in the past and the transaction went OK. However, real estate is MUCH more complicated than it used to be, and each transaction is loaded with legalities, contracts, paperwork and potential problems that could cost you time and money.
So if you’ve wondered if working with a REALTOR® is worth it, here are just a FEW reasons why it’s the smart thing to do:
1. EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE
You don’t need to know everything about buying and selling real estate if you hire a real estate professional who does. Why would you NOT want to work with a REALTOR® who has training and experience backed up with a proven track record of successful real estate transactions? Hiring a pro saves you precious time and helps you steer clear of mistakes that could cost you money or lose the house of your dreams.
2. AGENTS ARE BUFFERS
If you list your home with a REALTOR®, she will filter phone calls from prospective buyers and set appointments for and monitor showings of your home. Agents provide feedback on those showings and make recommendations about marketing your home based upon that feedback.
3. NEIGHBORHOOD KNOWLEDGE
An effective REALTOR® possess intimate knowledge of the neighborhoods in which they work. If you are consulting with an agent to list and sell your house, she will provide you with comparable sales data based upon facts that you will not have access to. For example, you may know that a home down the street was on the market for $350,000, but your agent will know it had upgrades and sold at $285,000 after 65 days on the market and after twice falling out of escrow.
4. EXPERT PRICE GUIDANCE
Contrary to what some people believe, a REALTOR® does not select prices for sellers or buyers. She guides her clients to make the right choices based upon market data. If you are a buyer and you submit an offer on a home, your agent will advise you with a negotiation strategy based upon the current market supply, the condition of the home, any other pending offers and other factors that influence a fair price to all parties.
5. IN-DEPTH KNOWLEDGE OF MARKET CONDITIONS
Real estate agents can disclose market conditions, which will govern your selling or buying process. Data such as the average per square foot cost of similar homes, median and average sales prices, average days on market and ratios of list-to-sold prices, among other criteria, will have a huge bearing on what you ultimately decide to do. An experienced and knowledgeable agent will provide all the relevant data, factor in your preferences and wishes, and improve your chances of having your offer accepted and/or listing your home at the very best price point.
6. PROFESSIONAL NETWORKING
REALTORS® network with other professionals and provide expert marketing exposure to qualified buyers and sellers. They also maintain an active database of clients who are looking to buy or sell, and will market your home to these qualified clients.
7. NEGOTIATION SKILLS AND CONFIDENTIALITY
Top producing agents are skilled negotiators. They can remove themselves from the emotional aspects of the transaction, unlike most buyers and sellers who are trying to negotiate the terms of contracts by themselves. Effective REALTORS® are not messengers, delivering buyer’s offers to sellers and vice versa. They are professionals who are trained to present their client’s case in the best light and agree to hold client information confidential from competing interests.
8. HANDLING VOLUMES OF PAPERWORK
One-page deposit receipts were prevalent in the early 1970s. Today’s purchase agreements run 10 pages or more. That does not include the federal- and state-mandated disclosures nor disclosures dictated by local rules. One tiny mistake or omission could land you in court or cost you thousands of dollars.
9. SUPPORT AFTER CLOSING
Even the smoothest transactions that close without complications can come back to haunt buyers and/or sellers. If a problem or question arises days or months after the closing, one call to your agent can straighten out the confusion. Good agents with excellent reputations stand by their clients, ready to assist before, during, and after the sale.
10. DEVELOP RELATIONSHIPS FOR FUTURE BUSINESS
Referrals from previous clients are the lifeblood of any successful REALTOR® and it gives your agent strong incentives to make certain that her clients are happy. She’ll be there for you when you want to work with a professional agent again. A proactive agent who cares about her clients will maintain contact with you, either through occasional correspondence, a friendly phone call or periodically mailing market updates to keep you informed and to stay in touch.
The team members of the Brandee Kelley Group are committed to giving you professional representation when it’s time to buy or sell a home. We’ll serve you with integrity and top-notch support through every step of the buy/sell process.
For years, the open-concept kitchen has been touted as the ideal kitchen arrangement. In fact, it’s rare to find newer houses that don’t have kitchens open to some kind of adjoining family room or living area. But……… is it right for YOU?
The basic argument for opening the kitchen to living areas is interaction between the family and the cook. After all, we spend a lot of time there! But some homeowners are having second thoughts about open kitchens, because they find they don’t multi-task well. Would you welcome a few walls and doors to keep your kitchen separate from the rest of the house?
The following are REAL comments from REAL people on a recent home builder’s forum. Clearly, these comments reflect different points of view on this topic, and we thought you would find them interesting.
PRO OPEN KITCHENS:
“An open concept kitchen is ideal for entertaining! You can chat with your guests and chop onions at the same time! You can monitor your children or watch TV while whipping up some homemade ravioli!”
“My open kitchen allows me to interact with my family when I’m preparing a meal. If my kitchen were closed, I would feel isolated.”
“I grew up in older houses with small kitchens that were totally closed off from the rooms around them. It always seemed like an open kitchen was the dream. When I bought my first house, the kitchen was open and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and I like being able to interact with my family when I’m there. My kitchen is a gathering place for my family.”
“My kitchen is open to my family room and I like it, but it’s definitely a distraction when you’re trying to watch TV or hold a conversation on the couch while the dishwasher is rumbling or pots and pans are clanking a few feet away.”
“My mom’s house has a kitchen that’s closed off to the rooms around it, and the biggest hassle, she says, is when she’s entertaining and has to carry all the dishes and things to the dining room down the hall. It’s not as convenient.”
PRO CLOSED KITCHENS:
“I knocked out a kitchen wall in my old house and built a family room addition. Instead of looking out my kitchen window and seeing trees, I created a view of my family room. I had young children at the time. I fell for the “I can be in the kitchen and see the kids” trap. Now that the children are grown and I downsized to a smaller home, I decided to keep my kitchen walls. I need my wall!”
“They used to design kitchens so the smell wouldn’t go through the house when you were cooking.”
“I know it is personal preference, but I just don’t like the huge, open interiors that you see in almost every home that’s been built in the last 10+ years. I love for a home to have rooms, real, separate rooms. A big kitchen is great, but I don’t want it open to the family room.”
“No, please, go sit down and watch TV or something and I’ll call you when dinner’s ready. I’m nervous enough trying to put the meal together, with everything cooked to perfection. I can’t talk, entertain guests and cook at the same time.”
“My kitchen is my personal space. Leave me alone!”
These comments clearly show that what’s right for one is not right for all! So tell us — do you love open kitchens? Or would you rather have some privacy?
No matter what your taste in kitchen design, the Brandee Kelley Group can help you find the home of your dreams with a kitchen that’s just right for YOU! Call us today at 817-635-1141 to start your new home search!
You’ve probably heard of Tiny Houses. This new housing fad seems to be cropping up in the news almost daily. Designed as a backlash against yesterday’s McMansions, Tiny Houses are being marketed to homeowners who want to rid themselves of clutter and return to a more economical and easy style of living.
Tiny Houses typically are built on a chassis with wheels, similar to a mobile home, and transported to the owner’s site. Other houses are a bit larger and wider, constructed as modular units, and then situated on a standard block or slab foundation.
While most plans are well designed, everything is tiny! Kitchens are small and usually part of the abbreviated living area. Bathrooms are, well….. small. Tiny bedrooms are often situated as an open loft above the first floor and frequently accessed by a ladder! Interior storage space is limited, and every nook and cranny houses a shelf or cabinet in which to store your few possessions. And Tiny Houses typically do not have a central heating or cooling system.
As a primary residence, Tiny Houses seem to appeal to millennials, couples with one or no children, or empty nesters who want to trim back on material possessions and travel for extended periods of time.
However…… most Americans love their spacious homes and don’t want to lose the advantages that space provides. Historical statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau bear that out: In 1973, the average square footage of homes was 1,525 square feet. That figure rose to 2,277 square feet in 2007. And in 2014, average house size rose to 2,463 square feet, indicating the preference for larger homes by the majority of homeowners.
It appears that large homes are indeed in demand! And what’s not to love!!! Large homes offer:
– Great entertaining space for friends and family
– A guess room or extra space to house overnight guests
– “Breathing room”, providing a private space to busy family members
– Large kitchen with plenty of pantry, storage space and food preparation area, often open family living areas with a breakfast bar for informal dining.
– Spacious kitchens also offer plenty of storage space to house all the cookware, utensils, small appliances, china and serving dishes.
– Large and abundant closets, and who doesn’t need that!!! American’s have a lot of stuff, and a livable home offers plenty of space to store it.
– Spacious laundry area
– Large bathrooms
– Roomy bedrooms, offering privacy and usually accompanied with private bathrooms
– A spacious yard, patio and/or deck area, porches and pools
– A garage! Tiny Houses do not have garages.
– Kids—and all the stuff that comes with them! Sports equipment, hobbies and crafts, trophies,
collections, digital equipment, clothing and footwear—you name it, it comes with kids and
you need a place to house it all.
For some American families, Tiny Houses might be an acceptable weekend get-away spot, but they can’t possibly offer the convenience and pleasure that a larger home brings.
If your home is feeling a bit cramped and you realize it’s time to make the move up to a larger home, call us today. The Brandee Kelley Group will help you find the perfect home that meets your needs and we’ll get your current home sold, all in one seamless transaction. Visit our website HERE.
For information on current mortgage rates and products, please contact Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank. Don is the Brandee Kelley Group’s preferred lender because he delivers expert knowledge and service to his clients.