Real Estate Tips

5 Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home

  • Are you ready to buy a house?

    Are you ready to buy a house?

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For some, home ownership seems to be a natural part of life. After all, many individuals don’t want to rent forever and when the market is right, there are a lot of individuals that jump at the opportunity to make a purchase.

But, how are you supposed to know when it’s the right time to make a purchase versus when it feels right to make a purchase?

Luckily, there are 5 questions you can consider and, depending on the answers, use to guide your decision as to whether home ownership is the right decision for you.

  1. Do my finances support my decision to purchase a home?

No matter how badly you want to be a homeowner, you simply can’t decide to make such a significant purchase if your finances aren’t in order. Of course, feeling financially secure will be different for different people, but you should have enough money for a 10% down payment as well as for mortgage insurance depending upon the amount of your down payment.

If you haven’t saved for a down payment, it’s unlikely that you’re ready to purchase a home. But if you have, you can answer “yes” to this question and continue considering the following questions.

  1. Will I be in this area for awhile?

In the past, staying put for just three to five years was enough to purchase a home. But nowadays, you should want to stay put for at least seven years to consider home ownership.

Primarily, this is because there are a lot of associated costs with purchasing a home including closing on the sale and moving, among others. And, when it comes time to sell your home, you’ll lose even more money.

So, if you aren’t willing to settle down or can’t count on settling down depending on your job and unique situation, it’s probably best not to buy.

  1. What are the standard costs of ownership?

What will you be spending, and how does this break down on a month-by-month basis? The simplest way to determine the standard costs is to calculate your home price minus your down payment into a mortgage calculator.

You can even plug in costs like property taxes and homeowners insurance to get a more accurate picture.

  1. What hidden expenses are there in homeownership?

While most homeowners understand the standard costs they can expect, few understand that there are many hidden expenses as well.

Hidden expenses include everything from homeowner association fees, routine maintenance costs, and significant expenses like a new roof or a new paint job. You can’t plan for all of these costs, so having a comfortable savings account is necessary to ensure that should something arise, you can handle it.

  1. What’s going on in the market in my area?

Even if you’ve answered “yes” or “I’m prepared” to all of the questions above, there’s one more you have to consider: what’s actually happening in the market where you live?

Home prices in some cities are skyrocketing at the moment whereas others are remaining more stable. Meanwhile, those who are renting may experience an increase in their income but in all likelihood, their rent is increasing as well.

Consider the market in your area and by doing so, you can better determine whether or not a home is the right investment at this time.

If You’re Ready to Purchase a Home, United Real Estate Can Help

If you’ve read through this article and are convinced that now is the right time for you to buy a home, the team at United Real Estate can help.

As a national leader in the real estate industry, we have the experience and expertise to assist with all of your needs. Contact us to purchase your dream home, today!

10 Quick Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Sale

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How does it sound if you could sell your home for top dollar and do it more quickly than you thought possible? For most homeowners, it sounds like a dream come true and with proper preparation, it can happen for you as well.

Below, we’re going to share 10 quick tips to ensure your home is ready for sale and that once it is, you’ll get the most money possible for it.

  1. Disassociate Your Attachment to Your Home

Whether you’ve raised your kids in your home or have other associations making it difficult to let go, the first step in preparing your home is to take yourself and your family out of the equation. This will make it easier to prepare if you’re able to view it as just a house rather than your house.

  1. Pack Up Everything Personal

Have photos of your family everywhere? Some priceless family antiques that you love showing off? If you do, know that while you love them, potential buyers won’t. You want all buyers to envision themselves in your home so getting rid of everything that’s personal will help them do just that.

  1. Cut the Clutter

If you haven’t moved before, you’ll quickly realize how much you have in your home that you don’t need or use. If you haven’t used something in over a year, pack it up, donate it, or throw it away. This includes collectables, random items on countertops, books, and more.

  1. Rearrange and Reorder Your Cabinets and Closets

Let’s face it: buyers are going to look in all of your cabinets and closets to see not only what kind of space you have, but to snoop as well. And if your cabinets are a mess, it might leave the wrong impression. However, a quick reorganization and reordering can fix that.

  1. If Necessary, Put Some Belongings in Storage

If you have a lot of furniture cluttering up your space, it’s often best to remove some of it and put it in a storage unit. Not only will your space appear larger, but it will show better as well.

  1. Remove Anything You Want to Take With You

If you’ve hung your grandmother’s chandelier in the entryway and want to take it with you, you don’t want to leave it in place and have a buyer fall in love with it and get hung up on it in the final negotiations. This means that if you know you want to take something, it’s best to remove it early so you don’t run into any issues.

  1. Make Any Necessary Minor Repairs

Minor repairs can add up to one more significant negative impression. By making quick fixes like patching holes, replacing cracked tiles, painting walls neutral colors, and fixing faucets and drawers, you can prevent buyers from developing any doubt as to why they should want your home over others.

  1. Clean, Clean, Clean!

No buyer wants to walk into a dirty home, they’ll assume this is how you’ve taken care of it for years! Make sure the whole house sparkles from the windows to the sidewalks, carpets, grout, rugs, and even the towels on display in the bathroom.

  1. Scrutinize and Double Check Your Work

Once you’ve done steps 1 through 8, it’s time to take a step back. Put yourself in your buyer’s position. Ask yourself questions like: would you want to enter your home? Would you be impressed with each room as you enter? Do rooms pull you in? If the answer is no to any of these questions, do your best to identify problems and correct them.

  • Do Your Part on the Outside, Too!

Curb appeal matters. This means it’s time to clear the sidewalks, mow the lawn, paint faded trim, trim your bushes, and ensure your house number is clearly visible.

Looking for Assistance Selling Your Home?

Preparing your home is only half the battle when it comes to selling your home.

And, when you’re looking for consummate professionals that can work with your home preparation to sell for top dollar, United Real Estate can help. Contact us today to get started!

6 Tips to Make Spring Cleaning a Breeze

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With Spring comes a lot of great things, warmer weather and outdoor activities to name a few. And, of course, the always-dreaded Spring-cleaning craze.

Of course, Spring-cleaning is a vital part of any healthy and orderly home. But sometimes, knowing where to begin is so overwhelming it can be difficult to find the motivation to get started.

Today, we’re going to discuss 6 tips to streamline and simplify your Spring-cleaning to ensure that when it comes down to it, you can spend more time outside and less time organizing and scrubbing your home.

  1. Organize Your Closets

Closet organization should be one of the first areas you tackle during Spring-cleaning. Rid yourself of unused clothes and accessories and organize the rest according to use or another system that works for you to streamline your daily routine as well.

  1. Clean the Furniture

Winter means messy stains on rugs and furniture alike. To clean your furniture, place a plastic bag or liner between the cushion and fabric to protect the cushion from the stain. Then, use cold water to blot the stain as best you can or use a spot cleaner to remove the stain more quickly.

  1. Clean Your Carpets

Typically, you’ll only have to clean your carpets twice a year, especially in high-traffic areas. However, there are preventative measures you can take to prevent visible dirt and odors on your carpet.

Removing shoes and wearing socks instead of bare feet prevents oils on your feet from attracting dirt on the carpet. And, when you use a top-load vacuum, you can pull the dirt inward and remove pollutants that would otherwise remain on your carpets.

  1. Clean Tiles Throughout Your Home

Whether in your bathroom or in the kitchen, cleaning tiles should always been done with a cleaner with a neutral pH. Or, you can simply mix baking soda and water to clean grout regularly and prevent deep, permanent staining.

  1. Clean Area Rugs

Unlike carpeting, area rugs must only be cleaned every four or five years, or possibly even every 10 years if located in an area of your home that isn’t frequented often. You can treat stains at home with club soda but if you have deep, set-in stains, it’s best to call in an expert.

  1. Clean the Rest

You already know that cleaning is vital, but deep cleaning is even more important. Clean everything from light bulbs to windows and even your silver, making sure that everything is spic and span! Then, kick back and enjoy the warm weather to come!

Spring-Cleaning Provides Regular, Vital Maintenance to Your Home

Spring-cleaning isn’t’ just for your family and your health, it’s for vital maintenance that will keep your home looking great for years to come! And, come time to sell your home, you’ll be glad you took such great care of it come every Spring!

Are you ready to sell the home you’ve loved and cleaned every year? Contact us today to get started!

10 Real Estate Terms You Need to Know

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When it comes to buying and selling homes, part of walking the walk is talking the talk. After all, it will be difficult to search for and land your dream home or sell your current home if you aren’t quite sure what all the terms mean.

Below, we’re going to detail 10 of the most important real estate terms you’ll encounter as you look to buy or sell your home. And by learning them all, you’ll have the tools you’ll need to go through either process with confidence.

  1. Buyer’s Agent vs. Listing Agent

In any home-related deal, there are two agents: the buyer’s agent, who represents the buyer, and the listing agent, who represents the seller. Both will get a percentage of the final sale price of the home as their commission, meaning that you don’t pay your realtor regardless of whether you’re buying or selling.

  1. Fixed Rate vs. Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Many individuals, including you, might need a mortgage to purchase a home. Fixed rate mortgages have a fixed interest rate for the entire loan (which is generally about 30 years) whereas adjustable rate mortgages have variable rates (which are generally 5, 7, or 10 years).

  1. Pre-Approval Letter

If a buyer needs a mortgage, it’s important to seek pre-approval from the bank to determine how much they’ll lend. This will determine which properties buyers can consider and show sellers whether or not a buyer is qualified.

  1. Listings

Homes that are on the market are commonly known as “listings.” Listings will provide vital information about a property such as the price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, and other details.

  1. Inspections

After making an offer, it’s essential that a buyer gets an inspection on the home they’re interested in. An inspector will evaluate potential issues like plumbing, electric, heating, appliances, the foundation, and more.

  1. Appraisal

Lenders require property appraisals to determine the home’s value. Typically, appraisals are based on the sale prices of homes that have sold in the area as well as the current condition of the property.

  1. Contingencies

Contingencies are included in offers on a home and specify conditions that must be met in order for the deal to get through. Of course, there are other contingencies as well, including:

  • Financing Contingency – Demonstrates a buyer’s loan approval.
  • Inspection Contingency – Demonstrates inspection results.
  • Appraisal Contingency – Demonstrates the appraised value in comparison to what you’re willing to pay.
  1. Offers

Offers are often made by agents or attorneys to show sellers the potential offers being made by buyers on a property. It’s common for sellers to counter an offer as well.

  1. Closing Costs

There are several fees that come with purchasing a home, commonly known as closing costs. Often, closing costs total 2 to 5% of the purchase price of the home (not including a down payment).

  1. Title Insurance

Once a seller has accepted an offer, buyers should receive a home title report that shows whether or not the seller has rights to the title and there are no liens on a home.

Looking for Assistance in Buying or Selling Your Home?

An agent is an indispensable resource when it comes to buying and selling homes.

And, when you’re looking for more than just terms to negotiate on your dream home or obtain an offer on your current home, United Real Estate can help. Contact us today to get started!

Show Your Home Some Love With Regular Maintenance

  • Love Your Home

    Love Your Home

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You go to the doctor, dentist, and other health professionals regularly to give yourself a routine check-up and your home’s needs are no different. In fact, routine maintenance is a vital component of keeping your home in tip-top shape regardless of the season or reason.

Of course, maintenance can be costly depending on what you’re doing. However, the risk of not showing your home some love with regular maintenance is much more expensive in the long run.

So, what kind of regular maintenance should you be doing to your home to make it as livable and sellable as possible? You’ll find the answers you need below!

Monthly and Seasonal Maintenance is the Key to Any Loved Home

There is an endless list of common maintenance practices you can do for your home, but who has the time for that?

If you want to show your home the kind of love it deserves as easily as possible, there’s going to be monthly and seasonal maintenance you’ll want to do.

On a monthly basis, you should:

  • Clean the Furnace – Dust can build up in the furnace, forcing it to work harder and costing you more money in electricity bills.
  • Check the Water Softener – Most water softeners won’t need salt every month. However, it’s important to check so you can replenish levels as necessary.
  • Clean Faucets – Mineral deposits can build up on faucets and showerheads rather easily, causing decay. Regular cleaning can eliminate this problem.
  • Run Water and Inspect All Tubs and Sinks – By inspecting tubs and sinks for debris, you can eliminate clogs before they become problematic. And, by running the water in guest bathrooms or other areas of your home you don’t frequent, you can prevent issues with your water.

Of course, there are also steps you should take to prepare for winter in the fall, including:

  • Exterior – Raking, aerating, inspecting the roof, powerwashing windows and siding, cleaning out gutters, draining exterior plumbing, repairing missing siding, and mending cracks in exterior walkways or driveways can help prevent damage during the winter.
  • Interior – Inspecting your heating system, checking the fireplace, sealing off doors and windows, and replacing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will prepare you for the winter ahead.

When the long winter is over, there’s some regular maintenance for the spring as well, including:

  • Exterior – Inspecting the roof, refinishing the deck, cleaning out gutters, hanging the air conditioner filter, cleaning windows, and powerwashing windows and siding is essential for spring maintenance.
  • Interior – General spring cleaning, replacing the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, inspecting and pumping the septic tank, inspecting bathrooms for calking issues or general deterioration, and vacuuming lint from the dryer vent are interior measures you’ll want to take in the spring.

United Real Estate is Your Resource for the Best Home Maintenance Tips

When it comes time to sell your home, the maintenance you’ve shown your home over the years truly shines. And, by following the simple tips above, you can keep looking great for years to come.

Ready to sell the home you’ve loved and maintained? Contact us today to get started!

Information from: http://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/advice/maintenance-repair/home-maintenance-checklist/

Home Repairs That Reap Rewards

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When most homeowners hear the words “home renovation,” they immediately think to gut and renovate their kitchen or one of their bathrooms. After all, this is what buyers want and what will produce a higher price tag come time to sell, right?

Perhaps, but these types of home repairs surprisingly aren’t those that generate the greatest return on investment.

Of course, your home repairs might be different depending on the age of your home and any renovations you’ve already made. However, the five home repairs discussed below are those that you should keep in mind whenever you’re considering selling your home or making some updates and getting a return on money well spent.

Home Renovations Designed With ROI In Mind

The best home renovations are those that are low-maintenance, high-quality, energy efficient, and competitively priced. With that in mind, the following five repairs are those you can count on for years to come to generate valuable rewards when it comes time to sell your home:

  1. Steel Front Doors (101.8% ROI) – A steel front door does more than just add to your home’s curb appeal. In fact, it also adds to your home’s energy efficiency! The best part is that any of these doors can be easily painted to match the rest of your decorative scheme, making it both a beautiful and functional investment.
  1. Wood Deck Addition (80.5% ROI) – Not only does a wooden deck increase your living space, but it also promises an impressive return on investment! Better yet, you can enjoy your time relaxing, entertaining, and dining on your deck until it comes time to sell your home.
  1. Converting Your Attic (77.2% ROI) – Picture your attic. Is it just sitting empty, wasting space? Probably. By converting your attic into an additional bedroom or any additional space, you can add serious value to your home without having to rearrange its current layout.
  1. Replacing Garage Doors (82.5% ROI) – Just like a new front door, a new garage door significantly improves curb appeal while generating an excellent return on investment. Choose from countless styles and finishes to add extra appeal that matches your home’s exterior and enhances its overall appearance.
  1. Replacing Your Siding (84.3% ROI) – By replacing your current siding with fiber-cement siding, you’re making an investment that looks great and resists termites, moisture, rot, and fire, all while promising excellent stability. This small investment is of a great quality too, meaning you can expect to get most of your money back when you sell your home.

Need Additional Selling Advice for Your Home? United Real Estate Can Help.

If you’re considering selling soon and aren’t quite sure where to invest money to generate the greatest return on investment, United Real Estate can help.

As a national leader in the real estate industry, we have the experience and expertise to assist with all of your needs. Contact us to sell your home, today!

NOTE: Statistics from http://www.houselogic.com/photos/home-improvement/best-home-improvement/slide/steel-entry-door/#wood-deck

What to Know Before Using Gift Money as a Downpayment

  • Can you use gift money for a downpayment?

    Can you use gift money for a downpayment?

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Between its inception in 2008 and the end of 2013, crowdfunding- “the practice of raising funds from multiple individuals via the web”- became a $5 billion industry, according to a 2013 study by the World Bank.

While crowdfunding campaigns have been used for everything from producing a new product to making potato salad (seriously, the guy raised $55,000), they are now being used for something much more personal. People nationwide are now turning to crowdfunding sites to help them buy a house.

Many of these sites are targeted toward couples about to tie the knot. They work much like traditional wedding registry sites in that the couple registers online, creates a list of options for their guests to purchase, and then shares the site with their friends and loved ones. But instead of a toaster, the options include things such as $150 toward closing costs or $300 toward a down payment.

There are other sites that are more targeted to those already in their home and looking to renovate or remodel. Users can upload pictures or blueprints to share their vision with their friends and family and add options such as $100 for paint or $200 for a new fridge.

While this may be a good option for some, there is also debate over the tactfulness and even the legality of using others to fund your new home purchase.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when working with customers who have or are considering using these sites.

  • Gift funds must be properly documented when using them toward a down payment.
  • You will not qualify for a tax deduction for contributing to one of these sites. It is a gift, not a donation.
  • The money may be required to sit at the bank for 60 days before it can be used- just like cash would.

This is a guest post from our friends at Supreme Lending. Learn more about what their offering at SupremeLending.com.

http://www.infodev.org/crowdfunding

http://blog.credit.com/2014/08/can-you-crowdfund-your-mortgage-93992/

Start the New Year off Right: Invest in a United Real Estate Franchise

  • Invest in the Future

    Invest in the Future

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If you’ve ever thought about starting your own real estate business, look no further. No matter which area of property sales, purchases or rentals you’re looking at, you’ll find real estate franchises from United will offer you the best way into the real estate business, whether you are experienced in this field or not. We continually provide fantastic agent training, unsurpassed technology and a suite of tools that are tailored to your level of expertise.

Three top reasons to invest in a United Real Estate franchise are:

  • We are a recognized and highly regarded business with a long history in real estate and offer you an opportunity run your own business which will succeed now and in the future.
  • Our franchisees receive business tools and support that give them an edge over competitors, ensuring brokers will outperform their rivals time after time.
  • Our leadership team has the professionalism and experience to help grow your business. You’ll find it easy to recruit top agents to your fast-growing real estate business, in whatever area you decide to operate

Contact United Real Estate now to discuss setting up your new franchised real estate business and find out area availability.

Helpful Hints for Holiday Home Sales

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During the winter people are often preoccupied with family, gift buying and avoiding the cold, which can make selling a home during the holidays difficult. Since purchasing a home is often not at the forefront of most people’s minds during the month of December, it is all the more important to market your home appropriately.  Although home buying is often in the decline during the holiday months, keep your spirits bright with these holiday home selling tips!

  1. Hire a photographer to take impressive photos of your home.  Most buyers will start their search for a home on the web, year-round. But this rings even more true during the winter months, as buyers are trying to avoid the cold weather. Give a great first impression of your home with photos that will entice buyers to come visit your home in person.
  2. Decorate for the holidays, but don’t overdo it. Keeping decorations simple will help avoid looking tacky.  Avoid offending potential buyers by displaying general winter decorations, rather than those that pertain to a specific religion. Outdoor wreaths are a nice way to welcome people into your home.
  3. Provide welcoming treats for guests. Help guests feel cozy in your home by providing treats like cookies, coffee or hot chocolate when they enter from the cold. Homebuyers who can picture themselves in a home are more likely to make an offer.
  4. Market to motivated buyers. Those buying a home in the winter typically have a reason to be doing so – job relocation or military placement, those looking to purchase before the tax deadline or college students/staff. Even though traffic may be lighter, the buyers are likely more motivated.
  5. Price your home competitively. With fewer buyers looking to buy home during the winter months, it’s likely that there will be more buyers than sellers. Price your home competitively to help keep your home at the top of customer’s minds.

Need help selling your home? We’ve got agents around the country who can help you with buying or selling your home. Contact us to get started.

Clean Up Your Mess

  • Is your home welcoming?

    Is your home welcoming?

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If you’re selling your house, don’t forget this easily missed step. Wedding photos, utility bills, over packed closets and even pet supplies can give potential buyers a little too personal look into what living at your property would be like. Don’t scare off buyers with tchotchkes, clutter and personal affects.

Before you list your house, do these 10 quick things:

  1. Pretend your home is a hotel room – remove the extraneous items you wouldn’t find in a hotel room. Photos, clothing, books/magazines, excessive décor etc.
  2. Look at the space from a buyers eyes – what can you remove to make the space look bigger?
  3. Find the hottest trends. Take a look at style magazines and see what the latest décor trends are, see if you can integrate a few of these techniques into your home.
  4. Consider buying or renting furniture. If you don’t have the appropriate furniture for renting, considering investing in it for a better showing.
  5. Clean up. Make sure the house smells as good or better than it looks. Odd smells or pet dander can be a turn off for many buyers.
  6. Neutralize it. If possible, eliminate polarizing colors, prints and even furniture. The more distinct your style, the less likely it will match with the buyers.
  7. Mow your lawn. Make sure your yard is in the best condition it can be. You don’t want to eliminate buyers before they even enter.
  8. Cars count as clutter too. If you have extra vehicles or unusable garage space, move the vehicles while showing the home.
  9. Invite buyers in. Adding flowers, fresh paint, wreaths or seasonal décor to your home’s entrance will give buyers a pleasant welcoming.
  10. Get rid of garbage. Empty your trashcans, recycle your newspapers and remove anything that could leave a bad taste in buyer’s mouths.

While there are hundreds of things you can do to make showing your house easier or more successful, this list should give you a good start. Remember, create an environment the buyer can picture themselves in.