Thursday, May 28, 2015

What Features Help Sell Homes: Part II

In our previous blog post, we talked about the features that are becoming less common in new homes according to Let’s turn our attention to the features you are most likely to find in new homes. (Again, our comments about what we find in the Springfield market are in parentheses.) If you are getting ready to sell your home, this list may give you some ideas of how to improve your home’s appeal.
1.      Walk-in closet (Although walk-in closets are not expected in every room, storage is always a concern.)
2.      Laundry room (Laundry rooms seem to be getting bigger to accommodate front-loading machines. People love having sinks in their laundry rooms. And an area where families can dump backpacks and shoes like mud rooms is a popular feature, too.)
3.      Low-emissivity windows 
4.      Great room (Open floor plans with great rooms and hearth rooms remain appealing to Springfieldians.) 
5.      Energy Star appliances (We haven’t had many buyers commenting or requesting energy-saving features. But usually, the greener the home is the more attractive it is to buyers.)
6.      Energy Star windows
7.      9-foot ceiling on the first floor (Higher ceilings do give a home a more open, upscale feeling.)
8.      2-car garage (Most Springfield buyers want three. Again, storage is always a concern. The more the better.) 
9.      Programmable thermostat.  (We don’t have people requesting them much, but new homes in Springfield are likely to have them.) 
10.  Granite countertop (Granite remains popular but we are seeing more and more people wanting marble.)
Do you agree with this list? Are these the features you would want in a new home? Let us know.

Friday, May 15, 2015

What Features Help Sell Homes: Part 1 put together a list of features that are disappearing from new homes—things that are becoming less and less popular nationally. We took a look at it from a Springfield perspective. Here’s what posted (and our comments).
1.      Outdoor kitchen (We don't see a lot of these in Springfield, only in some higher-end homes. We do think an outdoor living space is a plus for buyers, but an outdoor kitchen is not expected or necessarily desired. )
2.      Laminate countertop (This really dates a home. Granite is still popular as is marble.) 
3.      Outdoor fireplace (This still seems popular in Springfield. An outdoor fireplace does add to the ambiance of the outdoor living space and is more likely seen in higher-end listings. We see lots of homes with smaller pits, too.)
4.      Sunroom (This remains popular with buyers in Springfield, especially if it has heating and air conditioning. It is a real plus.)
5.      Two-story family room (Ditto in Springfield.)
6.      Media room (We usually only see media rooms in higher-end listings.)
7.       Two-story foyer (With the newer, open floor plans, formal foyers in general are becoming less common in Springfield.)
8.      Walking/jogging trails (We still find being near these nature-related amenities a real asset for sellers.)
9.      Whirlpool tub in master bath (In new home construction in Springfield, we see larger walk-in showers instead of whirlpool tubs. Higher-end homes, however, continue to have both.)
10.  Carpeting on main level (Hardwood floors continue to be the most coveted flooring on the main level. Bedrooms still tend to have carpeting though.)
What once-popular features do you find less appealing or unnecessary? We would love to hear your take.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How Much House Can You Afford?

Sometimes what you want and what you can afford are two different things. To figure out how closely they align, you need to assess how much you can actually put towards a new home.

Here are the factors your lender will consider to determine this:
  1. The down payment
  2. The closing costs associated with your transaction
  3. Your monthly mortgage payment
Down payment requirements
Most loans require a minimum down payment of between 3 and 5 percent of the total loan, depending on the type and terms of the loan. If you are able to come up with a 20 to 25 percent for the down payment, you may be eligible to take advantage of special fast-track programs and possibly eliminate mortgage insurance. There are a variety of loan programs available for buyers and even some that don't require a down payment. We can help you find a qualified lender who can help you figure out which loan is best for your financial situation.

Closing costs
In addition to the down payment, you have to pay fees for loan processing and other closing costs. They can include fees for home inspection fees and title company. These fees must be paid in full at the time of the final settlement, unless you are able to include these in your financing. When you apply for a loan, your lender will provide you with a good faith estimate of all settlement fees and an estimated total house payment based on an anticipated sale price. Of course, these numbers are only estimates.Your lender will let you know an exact figure closer to the closing date.

Your monthly mortgage payment
Most lenders require that your monthly payment be between 28 and 34 percent of your gross monthly income. They also figure in how much your mortgage payment along with all of your other expenses and financial obligations will be each month. In general, they want your total monthly expenses to fall between 36 and 45 percent of your gross monthly income. 

The goal is to figure out how much you can afford realistically. Just knowing this will save you countless hours in your search for the perfect home. We can put you in touch with a competent lender and walk with you through this process. Just give us a call.

Source: Murney Associates, Realtors

Sunday, May 3, 2015

8 ‘Don’ts’ When Applying for a Home Loan

Finding the right home is half the battle. Getting the loan is often the other. The loan process—from the time you apply for a loan to the time you close on your home—is usually 30 to 45 days. During this time, you want the variables that affect the loan, such as your income and your credit card balance, to remain constant. Even the smallest changes can cause your loan to fall through. To improve your odds of getting a loan approved—and keeping it approved through the closing, take a few precautions:

1.      Don’t change your employment status. If you’ve been in a salaried position for 10 years, don’t switch to a job with a commission structure while you are waiting for your loan to get approved. Many loan programs require that people show at least a two-year history of the same kind of work or similar pay structure.
2.      Don’t make any major purchases, such as cars or furniture. Doing this can affect your debt ratio and cause the loan to no longer qualify. Your credit picture at closing needs to be the same as the credit picture you had when the loan was initially approved.
3.      Don’t apply for a credit card, new loan, or co-sign for another loan. Applying for new accounts requires a credit rating report. Credit checks lower your credit rating, even if your rating is high. In addition, mortgage bankers have to count the new debt in the ratio, which can cause delays or change an approval to a denial.
4.      Don’t change bank accounts or make undisclosed deposits or withdrawals unless you have a complete paper trail.
5.      Don’t delay in providing all paperwork your loan officer asks for. Each step in the process has a deadline. Missing even one can cause a delay in closing and potentially put you at risk of losing the contract. 
6.      Don’t pay off collections or charge-offs before discussing it with your loan officer. Even paying off a negative debt can cause a credit score change. Again, you want your credit status to remain constant through the process.
7.      Don’t close credit card accounts or increase credit card debt. Wait until after the loan closes to make these types of changes. Changes in credit limits and scores, even positive ones, can have negative consequences before closing.
8.      Don’t pay cash for home or termite inspections. Often, these are costs paid by the seller at closing. To get reimbursed, you have to show more than a paper receipt. You have to show a canceled check or cashier’s check to prove payment.
Source: Robin Schilling, senior mortgage banker at Flat Branch Home Loans, in Springfield, Mo.
Office phone: 417.720.2007