A Property Inspection Shows What You’re Getting Into

»Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off

You’ve successfully located the home that fits your wish list! The listing agent says the home is in “great condition!” Financing is pretty much a done deal! Time to relax!

Er—maybe not just yet.

When you are buying a home, among the scores of thoughts that might be racing through your head (“Is this the best one for the money?” “Will everyone be comfortable in it?” “Will it be enough house over the long haul?”), one you definitely don’t need is “Will this house become a money pit?”

The home that looks perfect may well be exactly that—but if not, you certainly don’t want to find yourself pouring hard-earned dollars into repairs that become apparent only after you have signed. Surprises are fine for birthday parties, but to avoid the sort no home buyer needs, getting a professional property inspection is the most direct way to tell if there are any significant underlying issues.

To alleviate the worry, you should make any offer conditional on a home inspection…then order up a professional property inspection done by an experienced home inspector.

When a home inspector arrives at the property, he or she will invite you along on the tour. However, you don’t have to accompany the inspector to some of the less-accessible areas like the roof, attic and crawl spaces (unless you want to). The inspector will likely start outside, checking for any suspicious areas that may allow water to penetrate, then move indoors for a thorough investigation of each room in the house. As the inspection moves along, definitely feel free to ask questions as they crop up: after all, inspector works for you!

It’s important to remember that any property inspection is not 100% certain to uncover every possible defect: a home inspector, no matter how experienced, is not clairvoyant. But you will receive a thoroughgoing assessment of the potential likely problems with the home’s systems—as well as an opinion on the condition of the home. You may be able to renegotiate your offer should conditions warrant it.

 Property inspection costs tend to differ depending on the size and condition of the home, and usually take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours to complete. Often, the verbal assessment made at the time will be very informative. Later, you’ll get the fuller detailed written report. If the inspection reveals a deal-breaking flaw, you will have saved yourself from a bad investment. Less commonly, more detailed property inspections could be in order—especially if you are also ordering sewer line, pool, fireplace or other specific inspections. Most inspectors offer discounted rates if subsequent inspections are in order.

Property inspections are not intended to offer warrantees or guarantees, but an experienced  home inspection is the next best thing. It’s something most homebuyers find makes their purchase a lot less stressful. If you’re looking at buying a home in the Evansville area this fall, call me today to discuss the market. And once you find a likely new home, I can recommend several of our most experienced and reliable property inspectors. You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com

read more

School Districts Rate Highly in Home Buying Survey

»Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off

Residents don’t have to have children at home to know when we’ve gone through the familiar back-to-school rituals. Just turn on a radio or TV, step into a retail store, or drive past a school and the calls to educational muster are evident. At the same time, it’s hard not to be reminded how significant education is when it comes to home buying—how likely it is for schools to be on the forefront of many buyers’ minds.

Most people know intuitively that top-notch schools carry significant weight in the searching and home buying processes—but the result of a survey done by realtor.com has spelled it out in black-and-white. Their research reveals that more than 60% of buyers consider school district boundaries during their home buying process. It’s a surprisingly weighty number.

The depth of interest that buyers registered was also illuminating. The same survey uncovered the fact that prospective homebuyers are willing to spend more—and give up other features—in exchange for a house located in a preferred school district. For example, many buyers said that they are ready to ignore access to shopping malls and parks to be in a district where their preferred school is located.

Prospective buyers are likely to also factor in the impact the same phenomenon could have on a property’s resale value down the line. That could be part of the reason why more than 23% of respondents said that are willing to pay 1-5% over their budget to be in a preferred school district boundary. Another 20% said they would pay 6-10 % above budget, while 9% would pay as much as 11-20% more!

When queried about which factors weigh most heavily on their home buying preferences, over 90% said that school district boundaries are either “important” or “somewhat important.” Only 7.4% said that school districts are “unimportant” or “very unimportant,” while 2% classified them as “neutral.”

This level of unanimity should be of interest to anyone about to embark on their own home buying expedition—whether or not they have children of their own. It’s hard to ignore the proposition that when you go to resell a house in the future, its school district may carry the same importance to home buyers down the line. If today’s buyers give such importance to school district boundaries, it may not pay (to borrow Wall Street’s famous phrase) to “fight the tape.” In any case, it always pays to ask questions, do some neighborhood research—and to call me when you’re looking to buy or sell in Evansville!  You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com

read more

Evansville Real Estate News Letter for July 2014

»Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off

The halfway point of the year is a good time to see where we are this year compared to last year.  Before we look at this year compared to last I think it is important to remember how strong last year was.  Both unit sales and dollar volume increased over 21% last year.  This was by far the biggest year over year increase we have ever had.  It is not surprising that our results this year have been much more mundane.  Unit sales this year have declined by 6.3% while average prices have increased just over 2%.

     While I would never say I’m happy with a reduction in sales, the truth is I’m not really that disappointed.  Increases like we saw in 2013 are clearly unsustainable.  A moderate decline in unit sales this year demonstrates that the market has fully recovered from the housing recession.  I believe that by the end of this year we will be closer to 2013 levels than we are now.  There are two specific reasons I feel this way.  One is that the last two months of 2013 were very weak compared to the first ten months. The second is that the first two months of 2014 were significantly slower than the March through June period.

     The two biggest factors affecting the housing market going forward are job growth and inventory levels.  Job growth has clearly been sluggish for the past few years but has begun to show some improvement in recent months.  Inventory levels are still significantly below historical levels.  The best way to increase inventory is to build more new homes.  I do believe that construction levels will continue to increase but not as fast as fast as the market demands.

     Over the second half of the year I do not expect to see the dramatic monthly swings we saw earlier this year.  I expect inventory levels to remain a challenge and I believe that if job growth improves, so will real estate sales.

     If you are in the market to buy a home you must be prepared to make an offer on a home as soon as it is listed and you had a chance to see the home. Homes that are updated and priced right sell within days. If you are in the market to sell your home you are in a good position. We have very low inventories. In either case, if you are buying or selling, call me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email at RolandoTrentini@FCTE.com

read more

For Sale by Owner Can Be Risky Business!

»Posted by on Jul 2, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off

When you determine to sell your house, one of the first choices that comes up is tactical: do you try to sell it yourself as a “For Sale by Owner” property—or do you enlist a real estate agent? Since your object is to maximize your profit, you might think that most thrift-minded home owners would decide to eliminate the agent’s commission and do the work themselves. But that’s not the case.

The majority of sellers ultimately team up with a real estate agent. Sometimes they go the For Sale by Owner route first, but after testing that method, change courses. The statistics show that the selling price of Realtor®-assisted home sales is higher (a $40,000 difference, according to the latest study) which certainly would explain part of the reason. But other factors come into play, too:

1.Pricing:   If you aren’t immersed in the area’s real estate business five to seven days a week, there’s no way you can have the intimate knowledge about the current market that comes with daily work in the field. A real estate agent comes armed with extensive knowledge of the local market and all the changes that have brought it about. It’s extremely important to price your home correctly to sell it on the first go-round. It’s a demonstrated fact that the longer a home sits on the market, the lower its final sale price.

2.Time and Energy:   A For Sale by Owner sign in the front yard means you are in charge, 24/7! That’s despite any other demands on your time—for example, your job! One of the benefits of using a real estate pro is that selling your property is our singular focus: our job! It means marketing, networking, working with buyers. Doing whatever it takes to get your house sold is our first priority. Lacking the same kind of time and resources, a For Sale by Owner seller is at a clear disadvantage in the competition to sell houses. It’s a marketplace where one missed buyer can mean the difference between a listing that turns into a sale…and a listing that turns stale.

3.Objectivity:   The house is yours: you designed or decorated it; you’ve fixed and painted and mowed and swept it. If you took your work seriously, you feel at least some pride in how it’s presented. Unfortunately, that’s a problem. Lacking objectivity in the sales milieu can be one of the biggest hindrances to actually selling your house. It makes it hard for you to negotiate—to see and acknowledge the flaws a buyer sees. And it can make buyers wary of even wanting to negotiate with you in the first place. Either factor can prove costly. Separating owner from sales agent opens communication. It’s a relief for everyone!

4.Paperwork:   This is the most obvious point. If you choose to wade into the paperwork/deadline process yourself, you’d be wise to count on needing a bit of extra attention from a good real estate attorney—if only to avoid potential litigation down the line.

5.Security:   It’s unfortunate, but putting your house up For Sale by Owner in can make you a target. Less-than-honest folks are out there—creeps who may specialize in sellers who might not follow the proper measures for letting people into their homes.

If you are looking into selling your own home this summer, I’d like to offer you a complimentary property evaluation. Whether or not you decide to go the For Sale by Owner route, it’s sure to be well worth discussing what to expect from today’s market! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com

read more

How a Home Buyer Makes the Most of a Seller’s Market

»Posted by on Jun 30, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off

 

Wasn’t it just yesterday that we seemed locked into a classic home buyer’s market in Evansville? Bad economy, bad job numbers, tanked real estate values were all we heard about…until it eventually shifted. Over the past year or so, it’s become a very different landscape. If you’ve been out looking to become a home buyer, it’s possible that you’ve found yourself putting in offers on multiple houses…and also possibly watching from the sidelines as another home buyer walked away with a deal. If this isn’t a true seller’s market, to you the difference may not be apparent.

In any case, when a prospective home buyer in Evansville finds themselves vying for one of the plum homes that are now appearing in this summer’s listings, there’s no need to passively watch as others get the nod. If you are sure of the value of the property you are going for, there are straightforward tactics for improving your chances of winning the day:

-Offering at or above list price is the time-tested way to give you the best shot of getting your contract accepted over bidders who offer less than list. Real estate prices are again on the rise, increasing your likelihood of being able to recoup the extra money if you decide to sell several years down the road. Look at the comps with your agent to determine what an aggressive—yet realistic price—will be.

-Ask your real estate agent what the recommended earnest money amount would be; then double or triple that deposit amount. It’s a sure way to signal that you’re a serious and financially able home buyer. This tactic has the advantage that it doesn’t really cost you anything in the long run, assuming you hold up your end of the contract. It is a way to stand out from other home buyers without actually spending more.

-In a buyer’s market, it’s almost expected to ask for add-ons like fixing a staircase or leaving the swing set. But in a seller’s market, you can beat the competition by not asking for extras beyond what is offered in the listing. Home sellers may be fully occupied with many outside details (like looking for their own next home!) and often assign high value to an offer that looks uncomplicated.

-Along the same lines, another way to set yourself apart from every other home buyer is to offer to give the seller more than the usual time to move out of their house. Many other bidders won’t think of this—but it can make the deal if the sellers are having to cope with difficult deadlines for their own move.

Above all, don’t let yourself get discouraged. The right house is out there, and you will get an offer accepted! Particularly in a seller’s market, any home buyer will be rewarded by just remaining patient and cool-headed. First step if you will be looking to buy this summer: call me today to get started! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com

read more

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

»Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off

For real estate investors (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 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 real estate.

One possibility for those selling real estate 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, 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 Evansville this summer, contact me to discuss your ideas—and how you will make the most of America’s new Number One investment opportunity! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com

read more

Interest Rates: All Quiet.for the Moment

»Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off

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 mortgage holders will benefit if they take advantage of savings opportunities when they present themselves. Among current possibilities—

1. Refinance Your Mortgage

Mortgage holders who haven’t already refinanced should at least consider doing so. Refinancing means taking advantage of the still historically low 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 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 Evansville 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 Evansville this summer?  Call me today to start laying the groundwork! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com

read more