ASK YOUR REALTOR: Questions for Home Buyers

With the advent of modern real estate websites today’s home buyer is much more educated about the home finding and buying process than ever before. They are tuned in, plugged in, and logged on from the get go, but despite those facts there are still some real world questions to consider before selecting an agent.

In the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers recently released by the National Association of Realtors, 81% of first-time buyers said the benefit of having an agent was that the agent helped get them educated about the buying process, and more than 50% of all home buyers said their agent pointed out features or faults of a property that they may not have noticed on their own.

Finding a qualified and experienced REALTOR® is the first big hurdle, but once you’ve found one you like there are some very good questions to ask:

1. What should I expect?
Not having unreal expectations can save you a lot of headache and heartache throughout the buying process. Talk to your prospective agent about how long the different parts of the process might take, discuss when you will have items you need to address. A well organized agent will be able to give you good general guidelines on time frames and materials to make the timing flow as it should.

2. Do you know a good mortgage broker, home inspector, painter, or other service provider?
A recent survey by the NAR showed that almost half of home buyers thought they received a list of service providers better than they one’s they could find on their own. Fact is a local agent should know a number of people in the home services industry to help you prepare and care for your future home.

3. Are you objective?
Having an agent who not only has your best interests in mind, but who also has an objective and detail oriented mind can be a real asset. A good deal of this virtue comes from simple experience; is a good reason to work with a well seasoned REALTOR® who knows not only the industry but also the area. Is it a good idea to ask for more money to cover repairs, are these repairs necessary, how much to offer — all these are the types of points that will need a skilled negotiator.

4. What did I forget to ask?
Is this one kind of like wishing for more wishes? Not at all! An agent with history will know many of the home buying pitfalls to steer you clear of to begin with, and they will also likely have a lot of information to share that you might not even realize you needed. It’s never a bad idea that once you are working with a REALTOR® that you fully make use of their knowledge – ask questions! A good agent will have answers!

In the end, even if you are working with an agent, every decision is yours to make but having a qualified real estate professional on your side can be a real life saver. Consider all these questions when looking for a REALTOR® to help you in your search for the perfect home and if you want to start finding homes in the meantime please visit my website for the best homes in Boise!

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Boise Bug Blues

Summer time means a lot of things to different people. Warm afternoons shared with friends and family, swimming, fishing, barbeques… bugs. BUGS?! Yes, that’s right it’s Summer again and that means the bugs are back to pester their way into our otherwise lovely time.

From ants and wasps to the notorious mosquito, insects can be real party poopers. Here are some tips to help you control these nuisance creatures and make a more comfortable Summer!

Start from the ground up. The better you take care of your lawn, the better chance you’ll have fewer bugs. Tall grasses and unkempt flowerbeds are a haven for our pesky friends.

Collar the canines. It doesn’t have to be the traditional collar really, there are a multitude of great products that will help keep your hound flea free – making you both much more comfortable!

Standing water. Empty an standing water than you can, don’t leave empty containers out gathering the rain as shallow warm waters are a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Have bird baths or kiddie pools? Change the water out at least once a week; this will cut down on pests.

Oil change! Get natural. Bug repellent doesn’t have to be stinky or chemical based. There are a number of plant oils that bugs hate! Mix distilled water, spearmint, and orange oil then spray your arms, legs, and other exposed areas to help keep biters at bay.

Old reliable. Fly-tape. It’s not pretty at all but it will do the job to keep flies on the patio down or even to help round the up if they get in the house. It’s a last ditch suggestion but they can work!

Redneck TV. Your good ole bug zapper. This handy device is best used at night but will work all hours helping keep all kind of flying insect populations down; depending on the company you keep may very well be the most entertaining part of your next get together.

Lets not get kill crazy. Bugs can serve a real purpose in the magical circle of life…but that doesn’t mean you want them dive bombing your Aunt Tilda’s potato salad this weekend. I hope these tips will help keep the bugs from bugging you!

Got your own bug solutions? Ever tried the pennies in a zip-loc to keep flies away (does that work?!) ? Tell me about them here on this blog or visit my Facebook fan page to leave your ideas!

By the way, if you are looking for the best homes in Boise you don’t have to search very far. Visit my Integrity Group Real Estate to start finding the homes you’ve been looking for!

This can save you thousands of dollars but don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret…

Have you ever dared to look at the total amount of interest you’d pay if your mortgage went to a typical 30 year term?  Yikes!  Want a few simple ways to cut that interest down to size? Found this great article written by Barbara Bayer that I thought some of you might enjoy.

Send in extra money to pay down principal 

In the mid-1970s, Marc Eisenson coined the term “banker’s secret,” which promoted a cost-saving idea: Pay more than required on your monthly mortgage, and you’ll save a pile of money. Eisenson says, “It was a secret that bankers knew, but didn’t share with their customers.”

Here’s how it works. If you take out a $200,000 30-year mortgage at an interest rate of 6%, and hold it to term, you’ll pay a total of $382,537.97 for your home, including interest of $182,537.97. However, if you send in just $100 each month in additional principal, you’ll save more than $49,000 in interest over the term of the loan.

There’s another huge perk: You’ll pay off the loan five years and five months ahead of schedule. This strategy puts you in total control of the restructuring process, and there are no fees involved.

Another way to pay off your loan early is to use a bi-weekly payment plan. Banks and third-party companies can implement this plan for you, but they’ll charge hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees. We don’t recommend you pay for the service unless you lack the self-discipline to make the payments yourself.

With this strategy, you make half your monthly mortgage payment every two weeks, which equals 13 payments a year instead of 12. With bi-weekly payments on a 30-year $200,000 loan, you’ll save more than $49,000 in interest over the course of the loan, and pay it off approximately five years earlier.

Other ways to easily do it yourself:

  • Make one additional mortgage payment per year at any time.
  • Divide your monthly payment by 12, and add that extra amount each month when you pay your mortgage.

Recast mortgage for lower payments

If you want to lower your monthly payment and have at least $5,000 to contribute, you can request a mortgage recast. In this scenario, you don’t change the interest rate or term of your mortgage, you change the principal balance, and the term begins anew.

Here’s how it works: After 10 years of paying your 30-year mortgage with a 6% interest rate and a monthly payment of $1,432.86, your balance is $200,000. With a mortgage recast, you contribute an additional $20,000, and have a new principal amount of $180,000, with the same remaining 20 years to pay it off at 6%. However, your new monthly payment is $1,289.58, for a savings of $143.28 per month.

There’s a small fee for this service — approximately $250. The bank gets nothing out of this except retaining your loyalty, so they don’t promote it. It’s up to the lender whether it’ll do it, so all you can do is ask. It’s also likely to be a lengthy process. You have nothing to lose, however, except a higher monthly payment.

Refinance your loan

The most common way to restructure your loan is with a mortgage refinance, where you replace your current mortgage with a new one at a lower interest rate. If you took that same $200,000 balance on your 6% mortgage and refinanced into one with a 5% interest rate, you’d reduce your monthly payment from $1,199 to $1,074, saving $125 monthly.

Refinancing may be challenging to get approved for in a tight lending environment, where you need stellar credit scores and a steady job history. You’ll also need to pay closing costs, which can run 3% to 6% of the loan amount.

These tips are appropriate if you’re current on your mortgage and have extra money. Struggling home owners should consider the government-sponsored Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) for mortgage restructuring.

 

 

A strong work ethic and trustworthiness will set you apart…

I can’t tell you how exciting it is when I receive feedback from a client like this.  I am not only a proud broker but in this particular case a proud mom.  What a joy it is for me to have both of my daughters as licensed real estate agents working for Integrity Group.  I began my journey in real estate prior to having children and now am fortunate to have them both working by my side.
A client testimony ~   May 2012
“Kristina Cleaver was enthusiastic and helpful from start to finish, and ultimately due to her perseverance in searching, she found me the right home.
I would recommend her to anyone! She would serve the experienced home-buyer or investor just as well as the first time home-buyer. Mentored by a seasoned real estate agent with a wealth of experience, Kristina brings enthusiasm and persistance that is unique to her along with the resources and information of someone who has been in the industry for years. Another notable aspect, and perhaps the most important, is Kristina’s demonstrated level of trustworthiness. This is paramount in reducing stress and time for the buyer or seller, where certain items can be delegated to her that one may feel uncomfortable in leaving unguarded.
I strongly recommend Kristina to anyone dealing in real estate. Her strong work ethic, perseverance, pleasant personality, and trustworthiness set her apart in an excellent way.”
A. Chiles
For all of your real estate needs, call the agents you can trust at 208.890.8390   Visit our website here for more client testimonies.  Contact Kristina direct at 208.890.1204

Monopoly in real life…

With vacancy rates, mortgage interest rates, and property prices still low many people are considering starting their rental portfolio.  In order to start your rental property business, how do you finance your first home and get started?

If you can buy as an owner occupy and live in the property for 12 months you can get the best financing. Currently you can get a loan with as little as 3.5 percent with FHA financing and often times the seller may help with closing costs. After a year you can purchase your next property, live in it, and rent out the original. If you are thinking about your financial future and have time on your side this is an excellent way to get started.

If you want to buy a rental property without occupying, you will need 20 to 25 percent as a down payment for most loans and decent credit.  If you have cash or CD’s this may be a good time to convert your liquid assets into an investment property and increase your rate of return.

Now is a very good time to buy investment property. With some thoughtful planning and a little hard work you can increase your income stream and plan your future retirement.

For more information about purchasing and financing investment properties in the Boise, Eagle, Meridian, or surrounding Treasure Valley area contact me at this link or call me at 208.890.8390.  I’m always happy to assist with your real estate needs.


Stop staring at it…

You’ve stared out that window for months since it’s been cold and wintery.  Now it’s time to make that backyard living space dream come true.

Go ahead, get your fingers dirty and soak up some of the vitamin D while you’re at it.  I hope you live somewhere like the Boise area that is enjoying some fabulous spring weather today.

I hope you’ll find some garden inspiration from this article.  Click here to read.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Feel free to comment here or contact me to chat about the Boise, Eagle, Meridian, or Star real estate market.

First Impressions…. is yours good or bad?

Recently, I viewed a new listing on our local database that featured a small bathroom, toilet seat up, used towels on the floor and other items I will refrain from mentioning. A couple of minutes to “tidy up” and stage a home before taking the marketing photos can go a long way in making a great first impression.   Great photos will result in more showing appointments.

Since most homebuyers begin their shopping on line,  care and attention to detail should be given to each homes photos. Studies have shown that you’ve got only a few seconds for  prospective buyers to look at the house before they click the mouse and move on. The photography is critical.

My suggestions to my sellers prior to taking photos is to first make the house sparkle like a brand new penny.  Another important part of preparing a home for marketing is to remove clutter. Sometimes a few staging items can add a lot of punch and make a room look fresh and new.  There are plenty of places to find affordable items to liven up a room without breaking the bank. You might even find staging treasures in your closets and garage.

Often what’s in the picture will inspire a potential home buyer to schedule a walk-through or not to. This can be  as important as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms for the initial preview. I like my sellers to create a warm and cozy atmosphere that transmits into the photos we take. Adding fresh flowers, scented candles, and playing some soothing music does make a big difference.

Fortunately, I have a love for selling homes  and photography so it’s a great combination.  It’s like a glamour shot for your house with staging instead of make up for the model.

Be sure when hiring a Realtor to market your home, that you entrust  it to someone that has attention to detail in mind.  It can make the difference between SOLD or for sale.

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog.

If you need help marketing your home in the Boise, Meridian, Eagle, or Star area,  I’d love to be of assistance.   Click here for more contact information.