Spring Is Real Estate’s ‘Rush Hour’ — Here’s How to Prepare

Spring Is Real Estate's 'Rush Hour' -- Here's How to Tell If You're PreparedThe most popular time of year to buy a home is in the spring. This means that if you’re preparing yourself for getting into the real estate market, you may be experiencing a time crunch. If you’re ready to put your home up for sale in time to take advantage of the season, here are few things you’ll want to think about.

Have You Cleaned Up And De-cluttered?

Spring is not only an optimal time to put your home up for sale, it’s also an ideal time for spring-cleaning! Instead of leaving all of the de-cluttering to the time when you know you’ll be moving, prepare now by discarding anything that you don’t want to move. This will not only make your packing more streamlined, it will also make the basic cleaning duties like vacuuming and dusting a little easier to carry out.

Are You Prepared To Move?

A home can sit on the market for a few weeks or months, and it can also sell on the first day. You’ll want to have a game plan for moving beforehand. Determine a plan for yourself and your family so that you can start looking for a home to invest in or at least rental property. You don’t want to lose out on a good offer by not being prepared. Make sure you know where you’re going before getting into the market.

Do You Know The Market Conditions?

Spring is certainly the most popular time to buy, but if your home isn’t priced right, it may linger longer than you’d expect. If you’re selling on your own, you may want to take a look at the MLS listings to determine what similar homes are selling for. It can also be a great idea to utilize the services of a local real estate agent. They will have background knowledge of the market and be able to do the tough negotiating for you.

With spring being the best time to sell, it’s important to de-clutter your house ahead of time and be aware of the market conditions you’ll be dealing with.

Feeling ‘Priced Out’ of the Market? Here’s How You Can Still Buy a Great New Home

Feeling 'Priced Out' of Your Local Market? Here's How You Can Still Buy a Great New HomeIf you’re trying to buy a new home, few things are more frustrating than a hot real estate market. When home prices are climbing fast it can feel like you’ll never be able to save enough for your down payment. Here are a few ways that you can get in – even if you’re feeling priced out.

Start Smaller And Upgrade Later

If you’re a single professional or a young couple, it might be wise to start with a smaller starter home. While a townhouse or condo might not feel as large as a detached house, they are more affordable options. Starting small allows you to build equity in your home. This, plus your increased earning power as you work for longer, can open up more home options later.

Another benefit of starting small is that you’ll already have a home. If the local real estate market experiences a quick change, you won’t need to scramble. You can plan to buy a larger home – that ‘perfect’ house – when the time is right.

Bring In Family As Investors

Do you have family members who might be willing to provide a loan or financing? If so, start the conversation with them to see if they are willing to co-invest in your new home.

There are many ways to bring in family as investors when you buy. They can provide a straight loan of funds to increase your down payment. Or if they want to be less involved, they can co-sign your mortgage, which will allow you to borrow a larger amount. In many areas, a family member or investor can also be a legal co-owner of the house or the property it sits on.

Make Use Of Experienced Professionals

Finally, don’t forget to ask the local experts for more advice. Real estate agents and mortgage brokers are in-tune with the local market. They spend each day helping buyers like you understand the options available. If you’re short on ideas, a real estate professional is a great place to start.

It can be tough to stay positive when you’re feeling priced out of the local real estate market. But with a little ingenuity and planning, you can get out of the rental market and into a great new home.

5 Things You Should Do Now Before Selling Your Home

5 Things Nobody Tells You About Selling Your First HomeIt’s often so exciting to think of buying a new home that homeowners forget about the sale. But there are a lot of details involved in putting a home on the market. Whether you’re just considering selling or you’re ready to put your home up, here are some things you might not know about the process.

Marketing Strategy Is Important

The days of putting a sign on the front yard and waiting for buyers are gone. It’s important to have a strategy that will successfully highlight your house. Whether you decide to make a website, use social media or invest in a professional photographer, ensure you’re prepared to put your home out there.

The Right Price Is Everything

You have the ability to change your asking price at any time, but it’s best to hit the market with a price that is both reasonable and competitive. This will not only prevent your home from lingering on the market, it will make it more likely you’ll get the offer you’re looking for.

Fixing It Up Is Important

You might want to avoid minor fix-ups before selling your home, but maintenance issues can impact the offers you’ll receive. Instead of leaving these for the next homeowner, put time aside to do paint touch-ups, repair doors or insulate the windows so the small things don’t affect your offer.

Prepare To Pack

It’s great to receive an offer on your home, but packing up can be one of the most stressful aspects of moving. Instead of leaving this to the last minute, do some preliminary ‘spring cleaning’ to discard the stuff you won’t use and pack up the stuff you won’t soon need. This will make moving out a little smoother.

Be Ready For An Open House

It can be a pain to stage your home and leave on short notice to accommodate an interested homebuyer, but a good open house is one of your best bets for selling your home. This means your house should be clean and clutter free all the time so only a few last-minute fix-ups will be required.

There are a lot of things involved in selling your first home, but by completing the little fix ups and choosing the right price, you’ll be well on your way to an interested buyer.

Benchmark Mortgage

Selling Your Home? 5 Key Questions to Ask

Trying to Decide Whether or Not to Sell Your Home? Here Are 5 Key Questions to Ask YourselfSelling a home, especially one with sentimental value, is never an easy decision to make. There are many factors that go into determining if the home is ready to be listed and if the seller is actually ready to part with it.

Answering some simple questions can go a long way to help you decide whether or not it’s time to sell.

How Much Work Does The Home Require?

Some houses and condos are ready to hit the market immediately, but others have serious problems that would need to be disclosed to interested parties. It may not be wise to try and sell until all major issues are repaired.

What Is The Market Like In The Area?

Have similar homes in the neighborhood been selling quickly for a lot of money or have they been sitting on the market for months with no buyers? You should look into the current market trends to determine how much you would be able to sell for so you don’t lose money on the transaction.

When Is The Best Time To Sell?

Every city is different and the time of year can have a major impact on the market. A local real estate agent will have a strong comprehension of the best time of year to list the home, which could provide some valuable time to get it ready.

Will You Be Happier In A New Home?

Sometimes deciding to sell a home can become so overwhelming that people forget to ask themselves whether or not they will be happier in a new home. If the answer is a resounding ‘yes’ then there should be no question about selling.

Should A Real Estate Agent Be Involved?

It may seem easier for sellers to eschew the services of an agent to save a little money, but the nightmare that can follow without the assistance of somebody who has the time and experience to show and promote the home may not be worth it. Talk to local real estate professionals to see if there are any that feel like a good fit.

If you have been debating selling your home but still aren’t sure whether or not it’s the right time, call us today.

4 Mistakes Made by First-time Home Sellers And How To Avoid Them

4 Terrible Mistakes Made by First-time Home SellersMany factors go into selling a home for the first time. Some can make it a stressful process, and there are a few things you should avoid for a successful sale. If you’re putting your home on the market and hoping for quick success, here are some common mistakes you’ll want to be sure to bypass.

Pricing Your Home Too High

It’s entirely likely that there’s an amount you have in mind when it comes to selling your home. But it’s important that your asking price is in line with the market conditions and what’s being offered. Instead of winging it, check the local neighborhood listings and see what similar homes are selling for so yours won’t be left to linger.

Forgetting The Small Repairs

After you’ve put your home up for sale and have arranged an open house, one of the first things people will notice is the small repairs like paint chips or loose doorknobs that haven’t yet been fixed. Instead of letting this negatively impact the offers you’ll receive, complete the little fix-ups before you schedule your open house so potential homebuyers are not turned off.

Missing On Marketing

There are so many avenues for selling a home these days that it can be hard to know which way to go. However, it’s best to consider all of your options and utilize social media to widen the audience you’ll attract. Keep in mind that if you’re investing in a website or brochures, it’s important to hire a good photographer to show your home in its best light.

Selling It On Your Own

Hitting the market on your own can be rife with a lot of questions, so as a first-time seller you may want to consider the services of a real estate agent. It’s just important to ensure that the person you choose is qualified and has experience in your community so they can steer you in the right direction and offer helpful advice.

Selling a home for the first time can be a stressful thing.  But by utilizing the right agent and having reasonable expectations, it may be off the market before you know it.

Benchmark Colorado

Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a Wedding

3 Key Reasons Why Buying Your First Home Is Like Planning a WeddingYou may not see the connection right away, but buying a home and planning a wedding are two experiences that require certain skills and challenge you in similar ways. Check out the three key similarities below!

1. Budget

Whether you’re buying your first home or planning a wedding, you are likely facing one of the biggest financial obligations of your life. That’s why, in both cases, it is essential that you pick a realistic budget and stay within it.

Sounds simple, but in either case it can be difficult! Unexpected obstacles may force you to spend more than you planned, or you may find yourself wanting to overspend as you find things that would be “just perfect” additions even though they don’t fit your budget. These temptations can be expected, but it’s important to remember the big picture. When it comes to your budget, pick it and stick with it.

2. Details

When it comes to a home purchase or a wedding, there are countless details to consider. It’s not a simple, pre-packaged purchase. There will always be big decisions that you have to make and if you overlook something you may regret it later on.

Some decisions that you face will be similar in both experiences: Does the location work for you? Does it work for your friends and family? What is the parking situation? Is it appropriate for the climate? Will you be satisfied with your decision in the long-term?

Other details will be more unique to the situation: Do you need a cocktail hour? Do you need a walk-in closet? What style of photography would you like? Is there too much traffic noise?

Either way you’ll have lots to think about, and you’ll become acutely aware of ‘the little things.’

3. You’ve Got Style

Both your wedding and your home say something about you. They’re a reflection of your personal style. When being presented with so many choices that are particularly catered towards your personal taste, you’ll learn what you like and what you don’t. However, you’ll also learn what it is that you absolutely need, and what you’re willing to budge on.

Whether you’re choosing a wedding dress that is both gorgeous and functional for your ceremony or deciding whether or not you need an extra bedroom in your home, you’ll learn what it is that you’d want in a perfect world, and what is absolutely necessary for your current situation.

Benchmark Colorado

3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is the Ultimate Long-Term Investment

Growing Your Wealth: 3 Reasons Why Real Estate Is the Ultimate Long-Term InvestmentWhile many people may be hesitant to consider real estate as a viable long-term investment, owning property has a steady historical track record and isn’t as volatile as other investment markets can be.

Any investor who hasn’t seriously considered it as an option should take a closer look at the benefits of owning real estate and why it is the ultimate long-term investment strategy.

It Becomes A Consistent Source Of Income

Investing in rental property has the added benefit of being able to show regular returns in the form of rental income. Unlike other long-term investments that require a level of patience in order to profit, real estate can provide a large sum return in the future while still providing financial benefits on a monthly basis.

An Investment That Anybody Can Participate In

Many forms of investment require a level of skill or familiarity in order for first timers to jump straight into it with any level of confidence. Real estate is one investment that anybody can enjoy, thanks in part to the insight that can be gained from family and friends who have gone through the same process.

The level of knowledge that’s required to invest can be gained with some simple investigating to learn more about local areas that have increased in value and the kinds of homes that are popular. A real estate professional can take that information and add to it, providing invaluable expertise to the process.

Consider It To Be A Guaranteed Retirement Plan

Saving for retirement has become harder to commit to as each year goes by. Money being left in a savings account or an easy to sell investment can be dipped into at any point, leaving very little when retirement starts to roll around.

Using property as a long-term retirement plan requires a level of commitment to the investment and upkeep to the property that guarantees there will be something tangible to bank on later in life.

While investing in real estate may seem simple, especially when compared to other investment markets, it’s still recommended to consult with a professional before making any decisions. A local real estate professional will have a level of knowledge about which areas will be the wisest to invest in depending on how long in the future you are looking to sell.

Benchmark Mortgage

3 Reasons Why You Should Buy Your Retirement Home BEFORE You Retire

Buying for Retirement: 3 Reasons Why You'll Want to Buy Your Retirement Home Before You RetireMany people dream of buying their ideal retirement home after their career has come to a conclusion. With all that extra free time, it seems like it’d be the most logical time to shop around.

However, many real estate professionals strongly recommend that their clients find a retirement property before they’re off the payroll. While it may seem like a big time commitment to find a new home while you’re still busy with your work, there are several significant financial benefits to purchasing your retirement home before you actually do retire. Here are our top reasons why.

It Makes Your Mortgage Easy

When you are employed it is easier to get approved for a mortgage. If you wait until after you retire to buy, you may not have the income require to qualify for the mortgage that you need. Don’t limit yourself! Buy while you’re still employed to keep your options open.

It Leaves You With More Spending Money

Buying a new home while you have an income provides you with more security with your expenses, such as mortgage payments and planned upgrades or renovations. Having an income can also mitigate financial stress should you run into any unexpected expenses after closing.

It Leaves You Ready For Reality

You may think you can accurately predict the expenses of your new home, but if you buy the property before retiring it gives you time to get to know the true amounts of your monthly payments. This can help ensure that you have enough saved to retire and live comfortably in your new property, with no surprises for your budget. You’ll be in a better position to create a financial plan once you know the reality of owning your new home.

An Added Bonus: It Can Be An Income Property

If you decide to purchase your retirement home before you retire, you don’t have to move into it right away. You can rent it out as an income property until you’re ready to settle in. This will not only help cover mortgage payments but will also allow you to see what the monthly expenses are for the property.

This will also prevent you from having to deal with a move while working. You can wait until you do finally retire before packing up your current home and moving into your new one.

Contact us today for more advice to set yourself up for the future.

3 Money-Smart Reasons To Downsize Your Home

3 Money-Smart Reasons To Downsize Your HomeLiving big isn’t necessarily living better. Apartment buildings, townhouses and multiplexes have become the new normal for increasing numbers of individuals, couples and families. It’s clear that for many people, smaller spaces are smarter, too.

This attitude is more than just a trend. According to TIME Magazine, multi-family dwellings like condominiums accounted for 40% of new construction in the United States in 2014 and the movement shows few signs of slowing down.

The change isn’t surprising when considering the benefits to moving, especially when it comes to sheer cost-savings. Whether residents are spending less cash or conserving their valuable time and resources, they’re going to see a difference in their bank accounts.

Here are three money-smart reasons to downsize that can lead to big savings.

1. Reduced Maintenance

Maintaining a single-family dwelling can be difficult. Clearing gutters, painting walls, weeding the garden and other unpleasant tasks have serious costs, as residents are forced to invest their valuable time and resources into these recurring chores.

Switching to a smaller space means less maintenance, which can lead to serious savings. Multi-family dwellings typically have a building manager who is responsible for upkeep, leading to serious savings.

2. Heating, Water and More

Utilities are much less costly after downsizing. The less square footage a home has, the less electricity, water and other utilities it will require. Residents have the potential to save hundreds of dollars in costs.

There’s also an added benefit if there are shared utilities divided between other residents of multi-family dwellings. Splitting subscriptions or services like Internet and cable can lead to much lower prices.

Moving to smaller spaces makes these invoices less expensive, which gives residents a bonus every month.

3. Location is Key

Apartment buildings, condominiums and other compact dwellings are often located in central areas close to useful services and businesses. This convenience is a major cost-cutting reason that encourages many people to move.

The Nielsen Company actually found that 62% of millennials would choose to live in communities that combine residential homes and businesses. By being closer to things they value, residents save themselves time, a valued commodity.

Why Moving is a Smart Move

These three money-smart reasons are major factors into why people move into smaller spaces. It’s hard to resist saved time and resources, reduced maintenance, lower utility bills and increased convenience. Learn more about potential savings from your local mortgage professional today.

Real Estate Roundup: The Top 5 Apps to Use When Buying or Selling a Home

Real Estate Roundup: The Top 5 Apps to Use When Buying or Selling a HomeWhether you are buying property, selling property or both, the process can be challenging, stressful and even overwhelming at times. Just as you may use various mobile apps to streamline and simplify other aspects of your life, you can also use some well-designed apps to improve your overall experience when you are buying or selling property. These are some of the best apps for you to use as you move forward with your real estate plans.

iBank

This app is not free for you to download, but the small fee that you pay to use iBank may be well worth paying for. This is an app that you can use to track your bank account balances and living expenses. Financial strain is one of the most significant sources of stress for those who are moving, and this is an app that you can use to ease your money management challenges.

PowerOne FinancePro Calculator

The property that you choose to purchase will impact your budget in a number of ways. The most obvious difference will be a change in your mortgage payment, but there are other expenses that will change as well. For example, there will be changes to your property insurance, property taxes, homeowners insurance and more. This is an app that will help you to better estimate your total housing expenses.

GoodReader

You can accumulate a mountain of paperwork when buying or selling property, and GoodReader is an affordable app that will help you keep track of the paperwork. You can scan the items into the system and keep them stored for easy access and portability.

Home Scouting

Do you know about the Home Scouting app? This is a property search app that buyers can use to get details about property listings while on the go. It can also be used to help you learn more about other listings and their prices that your own home may be competing with when you list a property for sale. Find it in the App Store on any iPhone or Android device. It’s free and easy to use. Use “homesweethome” when it asks for an activation code.

Although property search apps like Home Scouting are a good resource for general information, working with your trusted, local real estate agent is always a better option when you are seriously considering a property purchase. Your agent may also offer a local app that you can download to access the most current, relevant property search data.

ScannerPro

When you need to scan documents to send digital copies of them, ScannerPro is a great app to use. This is an affordable app that works with your iPhone or iPad. Essentially, it creates a photo image of your documents, and you can then transmit them or store them as desired.

Buying real estate can be cumbersome and complicated, but it does not have to be. Working with a trusted mortgage professional is always the first step to buying a home.