Mortgage Minute: Buying a New Home While Selling Your Current

Welcome to our Mortgage Minute series, where our partners over at Midwest Lending break down the particulars of home financing, and bring a personal touch to the lending industry, as only they can.

Do you remember what it was like to buy your first home? If it has been several years, you might be pleasantly surprised just how much easier it is today! The days of signing piles of paper while waiting weeks for a decision are over thanks to today’s online mortgage technology.

That’s not likely the only thing that will be different this time around, however. For this purchase, you’re also juggling the sale of your current property, while you shop for your next home. So how exactly does that work?

You may end up feeling like a juggler, with too many balls in the air. And while it will be a little more tricky than last time, rest assured that your Midwest Lending mortgage professional will do the heavy lifting for you.

Timing Matters

Ideally, you’d want to use the equity from your first home as a downpayment for your new home, right? Passing those funds from one place to another would make this whole process a cinch.

Unfortunately, rarely will a transaction happen so seamlessly, and that’s partly due to market conditions. If you are in the market to buy your forever home, research your local real estate market first. Look at both the area where you are selling, and the areas you are considering your next purchase.

When considering the selling side, talk to your real estate agent about how long comparable properties have been sitting on the market. This information is useful for determining how to price your home competitively, while still making a reasonable profit. It is an easy trap to fall into, listing your home too high, only to drop it several times before you get an offer.

Considering the purchase of your new home, you’ll also want to research the market. Decide which areas you might want to purchase in — that way, when your current home is under contract, you’ll know precisely where to make your own bid. Of course, you’ll also want to have talked to your Midwest Lending mortgage professional ahead of time, so that you can be sure you are properly pre-approved for this new offer.

Regarding Contingency Offers

A sale and settlement contingency offer is when you use the proceeds from your current home to fund the purchase of your new home. Of course, this means that your offer is dependent on the sale of selling your existing home.

While ideal for you as the buyer, it’s not a very attractive deal for the seller of the home you hope to purchase. If another offer comes in from a buyer with a proper pre-approval letter and no contingency, they will often win the bidding war.

Sellers can even entertain other offers after they’ve accepted a contingent offer. In order to facilitate a “non-contingent” offer, you may want to consider a bridge loan. 

Bridge Loans

A bridge loan is a short-term loan used until a person secures permanent financing, or removes an existing obligation. It allows the user to meet current obligations by providing immediate cash flow. Essentially, you agree to “rent” your current home. That way you can sell your home and still live in it for 2-3 months while you shop for your next home. While the option is not always available, it’s definitely worth looking into.

There are many moving pieces when it comes to buying a home. Luckily, you have a team available to take care of all the details. Your dedicated Midwest Lending loan mortgage pro will work with you and your realtor to make your next purchase quick and hassle-free. Contact us today to learn more!


Buying a Home in Your 20’s

Navigate your way to any online lending or real estate source, and you’ll no doubt be inundated with articles about how young people are completely stressed out about buying a home. Heck, we wrote one back in June.

The problem with simply throwing out statistics regarding today’s youth — and their hesitancy toward jumping into the market — is that it does very little to actually help or guide this group of extremely capable buyers. So let’s take a look at what is truly important to consider when purchasing property in your 20’s.

Look past the negativity surrounding the current state of the housing market and today’s student debt levels. The truth is, according to a recent study, four out of five members of Generations Y (born between 1984 and 1995) and Z (1995 – 2015) are certain they want to be homeowners. Additionally, members of Gen Z are twice as likely to be saving or plan on saving for a home by age 25.

Generations Y and Z often come out of the gate with more earning power than their societal predecessors, along with a more evolved sense of financial savvy. They know they need to build credit and save for a down payment. But what else must they consider to ensure that their dreams of homeownership become reality before they turn 30?

Consider Your Career: How established are you in your current job — is it your career, or a stepping stone toward something greater? Is your role likely to change in the near future, through advancement, relocation, or otherwise? You want to make certain that if you do buy, you will be able to stay in the home long enough to recoup your transaction costs, and build some equity before selling.

Consider Your Lifestyle: Do you currently live in the city, state, and country where you want to live? Do you have access to all of the amenities you need to enrich your personal life? Do you want a white picket fence in the suburbs, or a condo just blocks from a bustling downtown? Remember, you’re not just buying four walls and a roof — you’re securing a community of your own. Make certain it’s the right one for your way of life.

Consider Your Future: Looking to tie the knot within the next 3-5 years? Hear the pitter patter of little feet coming around the corner? Maybe you just need space for the three puppies you’ve been waiting to adopt. The point is, right now this decision may seem all about you, but life changes pretty quickly. Take all possibilities into consideration, and make sure that whatever you buy, wherever you buy, the property remains suitable for everyone in your life.

Every individual, no matter their age, faces the prospect of homeownership with different backgrounds and personal circumstances. They key is to surround yourself with the right people, who can help you make the best decision for YOU. First, find yourself a home financing expert. Then, align yourself with a real estate agent who truly cares about you and your future. Only then can you feel fully comfortable taking this very big, but very manageable step toward stability and security.


The Real Estate Market is Going Back to School

If you’re like us, you made the mistake of blinking — in that instant, summer came and went. Labor Day? Done. Vacation season? Merely a memory. Now the kids have gone back to school, causing some parents to shed tears, and others to quietly sigh in relief.

Now fall beckons, with promises of pumpkin spice and sweater weather. What to do with all this peace and quiet? While most consider spring and summer as the premier real estate seasons, there is still plenty of life left in the market as autumn approaches. So whether the house seems a little too quiet — or you are secretly reveling in the silence — now may be the perfect time to learn your most important home buying lessons.

A is for Availability: Many parents have more time on their hands in fall, as they’re not balancing babysitters and summer sports tournaments. That means more time for online home searches and open house visits. Plus, now that everyone is back from vacation, there tends to be an uptick in market listing activity after Labor Day. As a fall buyer, you will likely face less competition for desired properties, and will draw even more attention from your dedicated real estate agent as the season begins to slow.

B is for Benefits: Tax benefits, to be exact. If you can close on a new home before year’s end, you will be eligible for a few attractive tax deductions come April. Deductible items include closing costs, property taxes, and mortgage interest. Even if you close on your new home in December, you can deduct property taxes and mortgage interest from your entire year’s earnings.

C is for Crunch Time: Most homes go on the market in spring or summer, and some will inevitably still be there come fall, much to the chagrin of their owners. That means that the seller likely has a little extra motivation to get the deal done. As the holidays approach, sellers are eager to close so they can move on to planning parties and events. They also may be looking to take a gain or loss for the current tax year. Just remember: when a seller is motivated to close, the buyer often can seize the upper hand when it comes to negotiations.

Call d’aprile properties today. We’ll help you get pre-approved, and make sure that you are ready to become a homeowner this fall!


Finding Real Value

Looking to sell your home in the near future? How do you gauge its worth? There are several factors that determine how much value a given home has on the market, such its location, and the popularity of the neighborhood surrounding it. Unfortunately, those factors are mostly out of your control.

What is under your control is the condition of the property. If — like 70% of American homeowners — you believe your house is your biggest asset, it makes sense to take into account the sales value that any additions or renovations will add to your home, even if you aren’t in the market to sell right away.

Certain home projects will always add value to a home, such as a newly renovated kitchen or bathroom, or the addition of a room or story. But many homeowners sink large amounts of money into projects that are merely trendy at the moment, and may find it more difficult to get a return on their investment.

Let’s look at a few home additions that are very popular today, and see what impact they may have on your home’s market value.

Hardwood Floors – Valued for their stylish look and charm, wood floors are a popular alternative to the carpeted floors of old. Their true value lies in their durability, and the relatively easy manner in which they can be cleaned. However, your best bet is to use soft, neutral colors, as more vivid hues and patterns may be a turn off for potential buyers.

Verdict: Definitely adds value.

Outdoor Kitchens – A classy add-on that benefits both resident and guest, outdoor kitchens have exploded in popularity in recent years. They allow homeowners to entertain friends and family, or simply eat family dinners outdoors without making too many trips in and out of the house. The right amount of outdoor space is key, and homes in warmer climates will definitely benefit even more from an alfresco alcove. The most important factor in regards to value is to make sure that you don’t fall prey to adding too many bells and whistles that cause the construction cost to outweigh the added market value.

Verdict: Likely to provide value (if not overdone).

Wine Rooms and Cellars – This one may completely depend on the size/style of the home. Many potential buyers will see a wine room or cellar as a ‘wow’ factor, adding a touch of class and luxury to an upscale residence. But for homes with less square footage, or who reside in more modest neighborhoods, it may be difficult to justify such an expenditure. According to realtor.com, wine cellars rank highly among home buyers who have incomes greater than $150,000. Others may simply see it as wasted space.

Verdict: Maybe. It all depends on the home, and the right kind of buyer.

When it comes to determining the true value of your home, your best bet is to call your dedicated d’aprile properties agent, who will run a free comparative market analysis for you. Only then will you know how your home stacks up against others in your neighborhood.


What to Expect When You’re Inspected

Congratulations! You’re through the marketing phase of selling your home and you’ve found the perfect buyer. The contract has been signed, and the closing table is within sight!

The Contract Phase is the final step before home closing. Typically, during this period the buyer will order a home inspection to be performed. Home inspections are a vital part of the real estate process, and oftentimes the contract will be contingent on the final results. The more you know about the inspection process, and how it affects you as the seller, the more confident you can be moving forward with your transaction.

Items identified during a home inspection might seem minor when looked at individually, but collectively they can add up to major headaches in the form of delayed closings, repair costs, or even a renegotiated sales price. Follow these few simple tips to help ensure that your inspection goes smoothly.

Be prepared: Inspectors are required to enter every area of your home, so make sure that they have easy access to any attic or crawlspace. Remove any additional clutter that may block the inspector’s view. And if your home is vacant, make sure that all utilities are still turned on and working. Yep, they need to be checked too!

Let your agent meet the inspector: You may feel the need to be present during your inspection, to ensure that things go smoothly. Take our advice: make yourself scarce. Trust your real estate agent to be present, and to handle any questions that may come up. If you try and shadow or constantly engage the inspector, you can delay the process. You also may make the buyer uncomfortable, as it is their right to attend the inspection.

If it’s broken – fix it:  Don’t hide anything, as the inspector will find it. Concealing even the smallest defects makes you look deceitful, and will cause the inspector to wonder what else you’re hiding. If you feel that a given defect is serious enough to affect the process, have it fixed ahead of time.

Get the upper hand:  If you do have concerns about the condition of your home or property, hire an inspector yourself to check out your home prior to listing it for sale. You’ll get an honest opinion on any repairs and improvements that may affect your sales price. Talk to your d’aprile properties agent about these items for additional advice on what changes will have the greatest impact on your home’s value.

Don’t worry, you’ve got this! Put your faith in your d’aprile properties real estate professional. Their job doesn’t end once the contract is signed. In fact, that’s when their most important work begins!


June is National Safety Awareness Month

“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment.” –Nelson Mandela

 

Observed every year throughout June, National Safety Month is focused on reducing the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities. With the proper education, and a general awareness of the space and people around us, we can help protect not only ourselves, but ensure the well-being of those who matter most.

We are constantly reminded of the importance of adequate safety measures at work. But how many of us can honestly say that we have done all that we can to prevent accidents in the home? After all, home is where you go to feel safe, where you can exhale after a long day, and get away from the hustle and bustle that life often brings with it. But it is also where you likely spend the majority of your time, and the familiarity you have with it can cause you to let your guard down, and miss potential hazards that are right in front of your eyes. 

According to The National Safety Council, 169,936 Americans died in preventable, injury-related accidents in 2017 — and more than half of those occurred in the home. Perhaps even more troubling is that the number of nonfatal, preventable injuries in the home — those that required medical attention — grew to 47.2 million in 2017. That is roughly one out of every seven individuals who live in these United States.

At d’aprile properties, we know a thing or two about the sense of security that comes with home ownership. So in the spirit of National Safety Month, we offer some simple tips, in order to create awareness about potential risks that may exist within your household. For more information, head over to the NSC’s Home Safety page. You can also find an abundance of eye-opening information over at rospa.com, maintained by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

  1. Fire Safety: Keep portable heaters and candles away from furniture and curtains. Position them in a safe spot where they cannot be knocked over.
  2. Electrical Safety: Never overload an electric socket, and have your wiring installation checked at least once every five years by an approved contractor.
  3. Heating Safety: Be sure to keep your fireplace and chimney properly cleaned and inspected, and routinely check the pilot on gas cookers and water heaters to make sure it has not gone out.
  4. Safety with Medicines and Cleaners: Keep medicines in their original containers, clearly labelled, and consider keeping all in a lockable cabinet.
  5. Garden Safety: Wear appropriate clothing, sturdy shoes, and protective eye cover when mowing or gardening, and always stay on the lookout for plants and berries that may be poisonous or can cause an allergic reaction.
  6. DIY Safety: Be realistic and don’t tackle a job unless you really have the ability. A competent, qualified person should always carry out gas and electrical renewal or repair work.

This June, make sure that your home will always remain a source of safety and contentment for you and your family.


May 18 is Armed Forces Day

 

Memorial Day is fast approaching. A national holiday that results in a three-day weekend, we are easily and readily reminded each year to honor and remember those who have fallen in the line of duty while protecting their country. 

But the third Saturday in May often comes and goes without much fanfare, despite the significant effect on our personal freedom that this day on the calendar represents. Saturday, May 18 is Armed Forces Day, dedicated to the men and women currently serving in all branches of our military. In 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced that Armed Forces Day would take the place of other individual branch celebrations, so that our country might unite in support and recognition of our military members and their families.

Each year, Armed Forces Day centers on a unique theme designed to highlight the hard work and dedication of our service members. The theme for 2019 is “For the Nation. For the People.”

Many choose to show their respect through small acts of kindness, such as a thank you card or a bouquet of flowers sent to someone they know who has dedicated their lives to protecting our independence. Others choose to volunteer by spending time with veterans in retirement communities. Yet some choose simply to adorn their front porch with an American flag, or plant red, white, and blue flowers in planters on their front steps. No matter how you choose to show your respect and admiration, the smallest act could have an enormous impact on the men and women serving our country.

At d’aprile properties, we proudly support our military, and wish to say thank you to all our military personnel for the sacrifices you make every day for our freedom!

Image by Pexels from Pixabay


The Time to Buy is Now

 

Looks like it’s becoming harder and harder to be a renter in the US.

The latest rent report from RENTCafe is in, and while the news is not so good for those who currently rent their home, it is very positive for those looking to own in 2019. The national average rent in March was $1,430, which is up 3.2 percent over the same period last year. That is an increase of $44 dollars a month on average, all across the country!

Rents are also up in 92 percent of the nation’s biggest 253 cities. That includes Chicago, Indianapolis, and Milwaukee. Only 2 percent of these cities saw rents decrease over the year! In case you don’t like doing math (which we totally get, by the way), that comes out to…five cities. Yikes.

At d’aprile properties, we look to educate our clients, ensuring that they understand not only the home buying process, but all of the benefits of home ownership as well. Because the truth is, saving money is just the beginning.

 

PRIDE – A renter simply cannot experience the sense of pride and freedom that comes with home ownership. The homeowner has no landlord, no rent payments, and no one to answer to. A homeowner gets to decorate and maintain their home however they may choose, experience the joy of owning a pet, and relax in their own yard with a feeling of accomplishment.

PRIVACY – It’s hard to put a price on peace and quiet. As any renter will likely tell you, sharing walls with other tenants can be awkward at best, and downright annoying at worst. Plus, a landlord can at times have unfettered access to your living space. Owning a home provides safety and security, as well as peace of mind.

POTENTIAL – Perhaps the most significant benefit of homeownership is the opportunity to build equity. Keep this in mind: even if you’re currently renting, you’re still paying a mortgage. It simply belongs to someone else. Owning your home means that each month you’ll be putting money toward your own valuable investment, instead of in your landlord’s pocket.

We would love to be a part of your home ownership dream. Get started by clicking on our logo below. We’re here for you every step of the way.

 


Let Spring Into Your Home!

Photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

Is winter over yet? Officially, spring began on March 20th. While the weather is a little slow to catch up, it’s the perfect time to embrace the season and give our living spaces a little refresh.

Here are some things to consider when getting your home ready for spring:

Clean Things Up

You either love spring cleaning, or you dread it. Either way, it’s a great time of year to refresh your space by washing away the signs of winter hibernation. It doesn’t have to be all ammonia and baseboard-scrubbing; start with small projects like cleaning out the fridge or freezer, then move up to larger tasks like floors and windows. Breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces can help avoid feeling overwhelmed. Open a window for some fresh air and to vent out the smell of cleaning chemicals while you’re hard at work.

Decluttering is just as important as cleaning, and you’ll be amazed at how different a room can feel after getting rid of the things that don’t bring you joy. Similar to cleaning, break organizing down into smaller bits at a time. You don’t want to be done for the day, only to realize your bed is still covered with all the boxes of clothes you’re going to donate.

 

Long Days, Warm Nights

You’ve made it past daylight saving time – are you prepared for all the extra daylight that spring brings with it? Sunlight affects our circadian rhythm and is a factor that tells us when it’s time for bed. Darker mornings make it easier to stay in bed in the morning, and a little bit harder to fall asleep at night. Winter’s darkness gave us time inside to relax and decompress before bed, but the late sunset of spring can make it difficult to feel tired on time. If you find yourself staying up later with the extra sunlight, make sure you are still taking the time to unwind after a long day. A nighttime routine centered on relaxation can help give structure to the end of your day so you don’t find yourself lying awake at night.

With the temperatures beginning to rise, turning the thermostat down a few degrees before bed can actually help prepare you for a deeper sleep. If you are a hot sleeper, don’t forget to change out warmer sheets for a set that breathe well and keep you comfortable. If you still find yourself warm, a mattress that sleeps cool is worth the investment and will keep you enjoying sleep for seasons to come.

 

Bring the Outside In

Outside your home, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming. But how do you bring the feeling of spring into your home? The simplest way to bring the outdoors in is to include some plants in your home decor. Easy-to-maintain options that will bloom this spring include violets, lilies, and hard-to-kill succulents. Plants are a great way to embrace the season and let some refreshing color into the home while on a budget. You can also use spring colors, such as pastel greens, sky blues, or sunshine yellows in your decor to really brighten up a room and give it a spring feel. The ultimate way to refresh your space and bring some color in, however, is to repaint. An accent wall is a simple way to change the entire feel of a room and use bold colors in your living space. If you choose a bold spring color such as yellow, make sure you will be able to tie your room’s decor to the accent wall for the rest of the year.

There’s no doubt that we welcome spring with open arms. Taking a little extra time to prepare your home for spring, however, can make a big difference in enjoying the season.

 

 

 

 


Tips to Get Your Property Sold Quickly

Please welcome our newest guest-blogger, Suzie Wilson! As the creator of happierhome.net, Suzie has a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes, a talent she has crafted over 20 years as an interior designer!

When your home is on the market, it’s like it’s going on a date. It has to look its best. That’s because buyers can be extremely picky, often looking at 10 or more properties before settling on the right one. Who can blame them? After all, this is likely the biggest investment of their lives, one for which they’ve probably saved up for years.

So, just what do you need to do to get an offer? Before you throw your hands up in despair, here are some suggestions that have worked wonders for other sellers, and could do the same for you.

Stage It

According to a realtor writing for the Balance, it’s all about illusions that generate the mood you want buyers to feel when they walk around the house, involving a wide variety of props such as mirrors, plants, lamps, throw rugs, fruit baskets, and cookbooks. The idea is to make each room tell its own story, and you may want to hire a professional to do it right, which Angie’s List notes usually costs $150 to $500.

Upgrade the Landscape

One expert says it could increase the value of your property by a whopping 150 percent. That’s quite a return on investment if you keep costs down, and there are ways of doing that while creating the perfect yard. Just the basics will make a huge difference, and that means trimming and watering the grass, mulching the periphery, and adding color through flowering plants.

Give It a Paint Job

You may not have to if your house already has a fresh coat in the right color. That would be blue, at least according to a survey cited by a contributor to Forbes. Rooms that evoke the sky and sea can help a home fetch almost $5,500 more than similar properties on the market. Dark or style-specific shades have the opposite effect, actually shaving money off the expected sale price.

Redo the Trim

This can also add significant value to your home and get it off the market quicker, but only if done correctly in a style that matches the overall decor. Some popular options include crown molding, which lends a touch of elegance, especially in rooms with high ceilings. Ditto for the right window and door casings.

Tackle Minor Repairs

Take a walk around the house from room to room and spot anything that doesn’t look right, including scratches on the hardwood floor, poorly-attached fixtures, and dripping faucets. Make a list of everything you see and take care of each item one by one, calling in the professionals if the job is too big for you to handle. Shoddy DIY can actually undo your efforts.

Add Some Space

Not literally, of course, but through decluttering and centering your furniture so there’s ample room to move around. Begin by removing items that don’t really belong where they are and putting them in storage – particularly anything personal – as visitors want to envision themselves in the house, not the previous occupants. Some experts recommend taking photos of each room so you can examine them more objectively.

Clean Thoroughly

A dirty home tells the buyer it’s not well maintained at all, and that could put the kibosh on a sale when you’re so close to sealing a deal. Besides, getting it spick and span isn’t all that hard once you’ve finished the decluttering, as long as you follow the right tactics. Do it room by room and clean from the top down, with special attention paid to the kitchen and bathrooms.

Once all this is finished, it shouldn’t be long before you have an eager buyer ready to sign, and for more money than you thought you would get.

That cash will come in handy at the new place.

** Suzie Wilson is proud to announce that her debut book, The Ultimate Guide to Prepping Your Home for an Open House, is COMING SOON to online retailers and bookstores near you! Filled with tips, tricks, and other advice based on her 20 years of experience in interior home design, the book will set you and your home up for success.

All images courtesy of Pixabay.