Features That Home Buyers Identify as Must-Haves in Their Dream Homes

10 Things American Dream Homes Have In Common
Courtesy of David Tsay, Elle Décor
Adapted from article authored by Jessica Cumberbatch Anderson

According to the Property Brothers (Jonathan and Drew), the following features are must-haves for home buyers. And no, granite countertops aren’t on the list!

1. Open Living Plan with Clear Sight Lines

gallery-1459969230-open-living-space-copyright-c-2016-by-sb-publications-llc-interior-photography-copyright-c-2016-by-david-tsay-1According to the Property Brothers (Jonathan and Drew), compartmentalization is a thing of the past. “Ninety-nine percent of homeowners want open-concept living,” they say. “This is better for families keeping an eye on their kids, better when entertaining and even better for making rooms feel bigger.”

2.  Ample Kitchen Counter Space

counter spaceYou can never have enough counter space in a kitchen. Whether it’s a breakfast bar for serving food or additional prep space for cooking, ample kitchen counters add huge value.

3. Separate Pantry

pantryA pantry is a kitchen must-have. Not only does it help you display all your foods without having to open multiple cabinets, but it’s also an efficient use of space.

4. Kitchen Island

kitchen islandA kitchen island is a functional component of your kitchen, as well as a focal point. An island gives you more cabinets (on both sides), breakfast bar seating and additional counter space. Not to mention it also offers the opportunity to showcase kitchen design like two-tone cabinets.

5. Mega Storage Everywhere

mega storageFamilies have a LOT of stuff so you can never have enough storage. Think: organization systems in your closets, storage racks in the garage and even built-ins above and below your wall-mounted TV. Find creative ways to add storage without cramping your space.

6. Master Suite with Master Bath and Walk-In Closets

master suite w bath and walk in closetsOur busy, often hectic, lives makes a serene and relaxing master suite a necessity. A spa-like bathroom with double sinks and spacious walk-in closet(s) is music to most of our ears.

7. Deck or Patio for Outdoor Entertaining

deck or patioA cost-effective way to add square footage to your home without doing an addition is by adding a deck or patio. Extend your indoor living outside. Many new brands of outdoor furniture and decor are so comfortable and stylish you would swear it was meant for indoor use.

8. Energy Efficient Fixtures and Appliances

energy efficient appiances“We all love saving a little money, and it’s even better when it’s helping the planet,” Jonathan and Drew say. Energy-efficient fixtures and appliances are definitely a way to save a little on monthly expenses, and a bonus is that conservative use helps the planet. We live in a technology age and energy-saving solutions for a home are more important to homeowners than ever before.

9. Two-Car (Minimum) Garage

inimum 2 car garageA garage is not just for your car these days. Having the space to fit a car plus a bonus room is always a huge feature for buyers. Utilizing the extra square footage as a workshop, game room or even storage can add great value.

10. Low-Maintenance Landscaping

low maint landscapingMost of us work long, hard days and the last thing we want to do on the weekend is yard maintenance. Make use of artificial grass, as well as minimal shedding trees and shrubs, to minimize your yard labor and maximize your time to relax.

If your current home is lacking these important features, perhaps it’s time to let us help you find a new home.  We’re pros at helping our buyers find the perfect home with all the features important to them, in the area in which they wish to live, and at a price they can afford.  Call us at 817.635.1141 to discuss your housing needs.

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What Do REALTORS® Look For When Buying Their Own Home?

Turns out that the pros look for the same things the general public looks for! However, they place more importance on future resale.

The following are comments and advice from the pros, courtesy of HouseLogic:

Be Willing to Compromise for Your Priorities

One veteran real estate agent knew exactly what she wanted in her home: ranch style, three bedrooms, high ceilings. But you know what she bought? A two-story Colonial. Why?  The home’s location and price trumped style.

Her advice: Make sure your practical and functional priorities don’t get lost in all the home buying hoo-ha. You can always add the hoo-ha, but you can’t make a home fit all priorities, such as location and price.

Dig Into the Details

You certainly want to find out if the house had a newer roof, good siding, and a newer furnace. However, agents typically go deeper to uncover a home’s not-so-obvious maintenance costs.

For example, check the sewer line to make sure there aren’t any tree branches or other debris clogging up the works.  Know what is and is not covered by homeowners insurance.  And find out how old the appliances are.  Sellers are only required to fix what the inspector finds is broken; they’re not going to upgrade working appliances for you.

Focus on Lifestyle

Some agents want a home that “grows” with his/her family. Multiple bedrooms and baths, large yard, and an eat-in kitchen.

Others find that a condo affords them the perfect lifestyle. Not wanting to commit to yard upkeep, not interested in spending time on exterior maintenance, and being able to leave and travel on a moment’s notice are some of the lifestyle options available to condominium owners.

One agent who was interviewed for this article says her millennial clients aren’t forward-thinking about their lifestyles. Some are childless and say they don’t care about schools, pools, and tennis courts. Then they become parents a few years later and have to move. “Once they have kids, the first question they ask is about school districts, and the second is about where the parks and pools are,” she says.

The pros’ bottom-line advice: Think of your lifestyle preferences and how those might change in the next few years.

Filter Your Choices Through the Lens of Resale

All the real estate pros we talked to emphasized resale. Don’t buy or build something unique that you can’t resell.

Don’t overspend for the neighborhood if you buy a home priced higher than average for the area. If the home is not in line with the neighborhood’s average price, you’ll have a tough time trying to sell it and get your price a few years down the road.

Other advice from the pros: Watch out for unfixable flaws that could affect resale. Issues include what’s next to the home (such as vacant land that could be developed), high-traffic businesses, noisy power generation stations, a cell tower, etc.  Check out lot issues (i.e, steep driveway or poorly graded lot that sends rainwater into your foundation.

Of course, a home isn’t just about resale. It’s just one factor to consider. Remember the first point: Be willing to compromise for your priorities. If the home meets your priorities and you’re going to stay there awhile, then resale might be where you compromise.

Don Kelly website bannerAll the experts advise a potential buyer to start the process with a discussion with an experienced mortgage lender.  The Brandee Kelley Group’s preferred lender is Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank.  Don and his team go above and beyond for their clients every time!

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Buyers: Don’t Make These Mistakes in a Seller’s Market

Preparation is key to successfully buy a house in a hot market.
Courtesy of Zillow, Laura Agadoni author

When you’re looking for a home and the market favors sellers, you need to have a plan to avoid making mistakes.

Home buyers in north Texas need to bring their “A” game — buying a house in this hot market isn’t for the indecisive.

Here are six common mistakes many buyers make when shopping in a seller’s market.

1 – Not making your best offer

New Home
We all want to buy a home for as little money as possible and when we see the listing price of a home, we normally want to make an offer lower than asking price. However trying to get a deal when you’re in a seller’s market is not smart strategy.  You, Mr and Mrs Buyer, need to come in with a strong opening offer.

2 – Waiting too long to put in an offer

Analyzing a home purchase in a seller’s market is also poor strategy. If you wait too long, you’re probably going to miss the house you’ve fallen in love with. 

Once you’ve determined the type of home and location you want, your price range, and finally find a home that meets your qualifications, make an offer. Don’t wait, because the competition for desirable homes is fierce.

3 – Not working with a seasoned agent

Agent Stands Out 1

If you have an experienced agent on your side, you’ll have a better chance of getting the home you want. Working with a knowledgeable pro saves you time and stress, as these agents know the ins and outs of the process. They’ll provide expert advice and insight in helping you get the home you want.

4 – Not having a mortgage loan preapproval

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In today’s real estate market, prequalification is absolutely paramount. A buyer has zero advantage if they do not have the cash to purchase without a mortgage and haven’t taken the time to get a preapproval from a lender.

The preapproval process involves submitting a mortgage application, complete with supplying verifying documents. Presenting your preapproval to the seller reflects a strong intention to move forward with a home purchase.

5 – Not being prepared for a bidding war

negotiating
If there is ever a time when a bidding war could be imminent, it’s during a seller’s market. In a hot market, you might want to set your search below your max budget to leave room to bid higher in case of an over-asking bidding war.

6 – Not learning from your mistakes

It’s easy to get frustrated if your offers are declined and you keep losing houses you’ve fallen in love with. Learn from your last transaction(s) so you can get what you want.

For expert mortgage advice and consultation, contact our preferred lender, Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank.  Don’s number is 817.247.4790.

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Home Buyers: Don’t Wait for the Perfect House!

Home Buyers: Don’t Wait Forever for THE ONE
Courtesy of Realtor.com
good enough
When you begin your home search, you can drive yourself crazy searching for your dream home. Perhaps you’ve found several houses that have come close, but you can’t seem to find that PERFECT home you’re dreaming of.

To borrow a line from the Rolling Stones: You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes … you get what you need. Right???

Here are three questions to ask yourself and the answers will help you determine whether it’s time to settle on a home that might not be what your dreams are made of.

  1.  Are my expectations realistic?

Everyone has a dream home. But the truth is—that dream home may not exist, at least at the price you want to pay.

There is no such thing as a perfect home. There’s always going to be something not so lovable in each house you view. The key to finding the right home is setting realistic expectations.

Make a list of your dream features and amenities before you start house hunting—but be realistic on which features are deal breakers and those that would simply be nice to have.

2.  How many properties have I viewed?

You’ve looked at online listings, and toured a number of them with your Realtor. If you’ve looked at more than 8 to 10 homes without finding the “perfect” house, you may be confused as to what you’re actually looking for. When you find several homes that come close to what you want, make a list of each property’s strengths and weakness, and then get ready to compromise.

3.  What am I willing to compromise?

If you’ve set realistic expectations and looked at more than a few houses, it’s time to start making some tough decisions. It might feel like settling, but make sure you’re not compromising on something you’ll regret later. One compromise you should NOT make is on location. You can update and adapt a house, but you cannot change its location.

THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE

If you’ve spent months searching for a home, especially in a competitive market, you might feel the pressure to choose something—anything—just to achieve homeownership.

In that scenario, it’s OK to keep looking. When you’re deciding on a home, you should always consider the current market. If your expectations are realistic and you’re still having trouble finding a home, don’t settle—especially if you’re in an active market. Homes sell quickly in a seller’s market and you need to stay in the search so you don’t miss a window of opportunity.

The Brandee Kelley team are experienced Realtors and are your best assets in your home search. We’ll work with you, provide advice and assist your search until you reach our mutual desired conclusion: Your (close to) perfect new home!
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For expert mortgage financing advice, we highly recommend Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank. Don and his team are experienced and a trusted resource for our clients.
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Thinking of Downsizing? What To Consider

Four questions to consider if you’ve thought of downsizing.
Adapted from Realtor.com

ar135596153409763When is the time to “right size” to a home that’s better suited to your needs? Well, if you’re in the 60+ crowd (or have a parent in that age group), there are plenty of things that can go into that decision. Maybe you’re finding yourself in a (more or less) empty nest. Or maybe you want to travel more and maintaining your big home and lot is a hassle while you’re gone. Or all the maintenance on your current home is more than you can or want to handle. And maybe—just maybe–you want to simplify your life.

Downsizing doesn’t mean you must compromise on the lifestyle you want. In fact, when you make an informed decision on how best to achieve it, you may find the freedom offered by living in and maintaining a smaller home offers huge rewards!

So if you’re thinking about downsizing, ask yourself these questions first:

Q: What kind of lifestyle do I want after I downsize?

For some, it’s a matter of living a simpler life focused on family. Or travel more—or live in a low-maintenance, age restricted community with high-end upgrades and social events. Decide what you want to achieve from your move and you’ll be able to narrow down your housing options.

Alex Haigh, a Realtor® with Illustrated Properties in Stuart, FL, says many people come to South Florida for the warmer weather and amenities, and he’s seeing more seniors who are still working—because they enjoy it or want to have an extra cushion in their budgets.

Debra Whitfield, a Realtor® in Charleston, SC, who specializes in working with seniors, sees her older clients making two types of moves.

“The first move are retirees looking to enjoy their freedom, so they come down to Charleston to find active adult communities where they meet like-minded people that they can befriend easily,” Whitfield says. “The second comes after retirees have enjoyed their freedom for 10 years or so and they decide to move one last time to live closer to family to have the physical, emotional, and spiritual support they need.”

Q: What should my buying budget look like?

If you’re planning to retire soon or have already entered those coveted golden years, you’ll likely be on a fixed income. Downsizing might net you a decent profit, especially if the home you’re buying next costs considerably less than the one you’re selling. Consider other expenses as you age: medical bills, health and life insurance, travel, estate planning, final expenses, and home maintenance. The common rule of thumb: Spend no more than 30% of your monthly income on housing. But in theory, it should be a lot less if you’re downsizing.

Q: Have I built up enough equity in my current home to make a profit?

DownsizeHomeFor most homeowners, the answer is yes. This is if they’ve held on to their properties long enough to have positive equity that will be sizable enough to put a large down payment on their next home. Unless you have a significant amount of debt to pay off, chances are you’ll see enough profit from your sale to buy your next home outright or bring a sizable down payment on closing day.

Many downsizing buyers have an advantage in bidding wars since they walked away with a profit on the sale of their old home. They have the funds and solid credit history to pay all cash or provide a large down payment.

Q: Will I be able to find another home that’s affordable in a seller’s market?

Downsize-Your-Home-In-Retirement-300x177Many agents advise their sellers who have the financial means to buy their next home first before selling their current one. It’s possible to either take out an equity line of credit on their current home or a home equity conversion mortgage to finance their purchase, then pay off the loan when they sell their former home.

In a tight housing market, sellers who buy their next home first gives them control over finding the perfect property instead of being rushed to find whatever happens to be on the market after their current house is under contract.

If you’ve considered downsizing or purchasing a new home that better suits your needs and lifestyle, contact Brandee Kelley to determine what your current home is worth and discuss what you are looking for in your new home.

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For questions and concerns about financing options, contact Don Kelly with Affiliated Bank. Don is the Brandee Kelley Group’s preferred lender because he is knowledgeable, ethical and very experienced in guiding you into the very best loan option available.

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Shopping For a New Home–Shop For a Neighborhood, Too!

Your New Neighborhood – What To Consider
Adapted from Zillow

neighborhood appealWhen shopping for a new home, you obviously want to find the RIGHT home, but you also need to find the RIGHT neighborhood.

Consider your lifestyle and interests: Where do you work, how do you get there and how much time are you willing to spend on your commute? When it’s time to relax, do you like to walk the dog, browse the shops or hit the clubs and cafes? Are there good services, amenities and schools?

When you’ve identified the type of lifestyle that’s important to livability of your home, it’s time to see how the neighborhoods stack up. Drive through neighborhoods you’re considering. Visit the parks.  Check out traffic issues. 

Smart home buyers look toward the future of the neighborhood, because neighborhoods are always changing and housing values change right along with them. When you’re house shopping, include in your “must haves” one in which you’ll feel comfortable in today and also become a smart investment tomorrow.

Some things to consider:

  • Constant construction.  A new urban-village-style mall a few blocks away can increase your home’s worth by tens of thousands of dollars; a six-lane highway through the former pasture next door, not so much. Check with the local planning commission, or just ask around.
  • Too many for-sale signs.  Are people selling because of a change in lifestyle (a new job, kids in college, changing interests) or because the neighborhood has taken a turn for the worse?
  • Too many rentals.  Even the neatest, nicest renters rarely treat their living quarters as if they owned them, and absentee landlords are often no better. Sadly, neighborhood deterioration is a contagious condition.

CREATE A BUYER LOCATION CHECKLIST

Area amenities
riverlegacy
Evaluate nearby parks and open spaces, chic shops and trendy restaurants. Don’t forget libraries, grocery stores and all the businesses that make a neighborhood convenient.

Local schools
arlington hs
Even if you don’t have children, this may be the single most important marker of a good neighborhood. That’s because many homeowners do have kids, which means they’re concerned about low crime, safe streets, good schools and the other amenities that help good neighborhoods stay that way.

Community services
Learn about taxes, traffic and major construction projects that will impact your quality of life in a particular neighborhood.

Commute times
TrafficCongestion
If you drive to work, learn about traffic flow, especially during weekday rush hours. And if public transportation is important to your family, find out if it’s convenient for your family.

Proximity to frequented locations
Get a map of the city and put a dot on the places you will frequent: Work, shopping, schools, etc. You may be able to purchase a home outside of the city or farther away for less, but gas prices are not going to be getting any cheaper. Maybe that more expensive house closer-in could be a better deal after all.

Economic stability
Generally speaking, a healthy mix of residential neighborhoods (property taxes) and businesses (sales and payroll taxes) sets the stage for vibrant, well-funded communities. Cities with colleges and government services are most likely to remain stable.

Crime ratescrime
Love the house, like the local amenities, but would you feel safe walking around at night? There are plenty of resources online to help you determine the safety of your new neighborhood.

 

If you’re considering a move, you need expert guidance on mortgage financing.  Contact our preferred lender, Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank and take advantage of his expertise about mortgage lending.
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The team members of the Brandee Kelley Group have in-depth knowledge of northern Texas neighborhoods.  Selecting the right neighborhood can be confusing, but we’ll help you identify the very best neighborhoods that suit your desires and needs.  Call us today at 817.635.1141.
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6 Reasons To Buy A Home in 2016

6 Reasons to Buy a Home in 2016
Courtesy of Realtor.com, Kimberly Dawn Newman author

As we move into the New Year, there is a lot to celebrate. A variety of financial vectors have dovetailed to make this the perfect storm for home buyers to get out there and make an (winning) offer. Here are six home-buying reasons to make the jump advantageous right now!

#1: Interest rates are still at record lows

low mortgage ratesEven though they may creep up at any moment, it’s nonetheless a fact that interest rates on home loans are at historic lows, with a 30-year fixed-rate home loan still hovering around 4%.

It’s entirely possible we won’t see interest rates this low again. While housing prices are high in some markets, the savings in interest payments could easily amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage.”

#2: Rents have skyrocketed

This one luxury apt downtown dallas_FotorNationally, rental rates going up, up, up, encouraging renters to get into the home buying market. In many metropolitan areas, monthly rent is comparable to that of a monthly mortgage payment.  Apartment dwellers are choosing to invest those monthly chunks of money a home of their own, and enjoy all the benefits that home ownership offers. 

#3: Home prices are stabilizing

For the first time in years, prices that have been climbing steadily upward are stabilizing, restoring a level playing field that helps buyers drive a harder bargain with sellers, even in heated markets. Local markets vary across the nation, but in general, buyers have the opportunity to capitalize on stabilizing pricing.

#4: Down payments don’t need to break the bank

down paymentProbably the biggest hurdle that prevents renters from becoming homeowners is pulling together a down payment and saving funds for closing costs. However, there are a variety of programs to help home buyers with that obstacle, like the new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Home Possible Advantage Program, which allows for a 3% down payment for credit scores as low as 620.

#5: Mortgage insurance is a deal, too

mortgage insuranceIf you do decide to put less than 20% down on a home, you are then required to have mortgage insurance. A workaround to handle this, however, is to take out a loan from the Federal Housing Administration—a government mortgage insurer that backs loans with down payments as low as 3.5% and credit scores as low as 580. The fees are down from 1.35% to 0.85% of the mortgage balance, meaning your monthly mortgage total will be significantly lower if you fund it this way. In fact, the FHA predicts this 37% annual premium cut will bring 250,000 first-time buyers into the market. Why not be one of them?

#6: You’ll reap major tax breaks

Tax laws continue to favor homeowners, so you’re not just buying a place to live—you’re getting a tax break! The biggest one is that unless your home loan is more than $1 million, you can deduct all the monthly interest you are paying on that loan. Homeowners may also deduct certain home-related expenses and home property taxes.

Give Brandee Kelley a call at 817-635-1141 to discuss this advantageous set of circumstances and how we can help you with that new home purchase!

Don & Bank card with borderPlease feel free to contact Don Kelly at Affiliated Bank to discuss the various loan programs and lower down payment options that may pave the way for you to enjoy the American Dream of home ownership!

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