Top Tips for Buying a Vacation Home (Part 1)

  1. Be realistic with what you can afford.  New mortgage lending regulations over the last couple years have gotten strict about borrower qualification and approval.  You’ll need 20% down, and your total monthly payments on homes and cars combined cannot exceed 36% of your income.  Additionally, don’t count on any potential rental income to help you pay for a second home.
  2. Plan for extra expenses.  If your home away from home is FAR away from Edmond, Oklahoma (over an hour) you may need to consider using a property manager or caretaker.  But having a local eye to watch over your vacation home is not the only potential expense you should plan for.  Beach homes need to be painted as frequently as every two to three years because of sand, salt, and wind.  Mountain homes may require yearly deck repairs.  What hidden expenses should you plan for with your second home?  Speak with a full time resident to find out what true costs you can expect.
  3. Avoid Timeshares.  If timeshares really ever were such a great bargain, why are record numbers of people racing to sell theirs yet struggling even to get a showing?  One of the largest scams in Real Estate today continues to be the (unlicensed) agent promising to sell your time share.  In fact, he already has a buyer ready to go for you.  All he asks is for you to pay a $1000 fee (much less than a Realtor’s commission, he’ll tell you), and once you pay the fee, Mr. Unlicensed Agent is never to be heard from again…

More vacation home buying tips next time.

4 Quick Tips for Showing Your Home in the Summer

  1. 72°.  Keep the interior temperature of your home pleasant during the dog days of summer.  Homes that are too hot (or too cold, for that matter) make potential Edmond, Oklahoma home buyers uncomfortable, inevitably shortening their visit.
  2. Mitigate odors.  Summer heat can magnify animal odors inside the house as well as in the back yard.  Clean and deodorize interior surfaces and carpets, and if Fido uses the back yard as a rest room be sure to clean up doggie piles frequently.  Garbage cans normally kept in the garage or outside next to the house should be moved well away from any potential visitor foot traffic.
  3. Keep your lawn manicured.  Curb appeal is everything, and if your lawn is overgrown or has unsightly brown spots you may be chasing buyers away before they ever spend any time inside your home.  Take care of the lawn, put away children’s yard toys, fix the fence, and by all means get that beater car down off those cinder blocks and off your driveway!
  4. Clean your windows.  All home buyers prefer more natural lighting.  Make sure windows sparkle so buyers can discover all the wonderful features and benefits that make your home special.

Top 16 “Quick Picks” for Adding Value to Your Home (Part 2)

Get ready for another eight ideas to spark your Do-It-Yourself imagination with the second part of our top 16 list of “Quick Picks” for adding value to your Edmond, Oklahoma home.

  1. Finish the basement.  Take that unused, un-inviting space and transform it with a bar area, seating, and welcoming décor.
  2. Add a deck.
  3. Do a major bath remodel.  Turn that master bath into an oasis, adding his and hers sinks, separate shower stall, and a relaxing garden tub.
  4. Paint.  Inside or outside.  It is the least expensive, greatest bang-for-your buck improvement you can do.
  5. Renovate the attic.  Of course you have to have the space to start with, and if so, add some windows and turn that unused space into a small bedroom suite.
  6. Build up.  Add a second floor and double the living space of your ranch style home.
  7. Add a bath.  No one ever said “This house has too many bathrooms.”
  8. New roof.  Keeps the inside dry and looks great to potential buyers from the street.

Top 16 “Quick Picks” for Adding Value to Your Home (Part 1)

There are lots of home improvement projects for all our Edmond, Oklahoma DIYers that add both functional value to your home today and resale value down the road.  To spark your creative homemaking, here’s part 1 of our 2 part “Quick Picks” list of the top 16 home improvement projects that add value to your home courtesy of our friends at HGTV.

  1. Home office remodel.  More and more folks are working at home.  Make your home work space more appealing to potential home buyers.
  2. Add a sun room (and in-turn add attractive, usable square footage).
  3. Renovate your master suite with an open, cozy feel.  Be sure to include some killer closet space.
  4. Family room.  Take a slice of your open floor plan and turn it into additional, inviting family space.
  5. Spruce up the yard.  Make the back yard an entertainment destination at your home by adding luscious plants, seating and maybe even a water feature.
  6. Kitchen remodel.
  7. Make sure any additions blend with the original house design.
  8. New windows help save on energy bills AND let buyers know that you have taken care of the home.

Mortgage or Marriage Certificate

No, this in not one of those chicken or the egg conversations.  I want to touch on the practical side for those Edmond, Oklahoma friends and neighbors deciding whether or not to purchase a home with their partner before getting married.  Here are three factors to consider when contemplating taking out a mortgage before turning your significant other into your wife or husband.

  1. Mortgage approval.  Banks prefer to see two supporting incomes during the mortgage approval process, even if the couple applying together are not (yet) married; more income equals better ability to repay.  However, if one of the two applicants has a poor credit score their inclusion on the mortgage application can actually hurt your chances for securing financing.  In that case you might consider having the applicant with the superior credit rating apply alone.  Of course that leaves you with only one qualifying income to support your application, translating to an approval for a smaller loan amount.  Hmm…Much to consider.
  2. Down payment.  Are you both able to equally contribute to the down payment on the home purchase?  If not, why not take the practical step of including how much each of you do contribute in the mortgage paperwork just on the chance that the relationship dissolves before anyone ever walks down the aisle.  This way everyone protects their equity, and you both can move forward confidently purchasing a home before signing a marriage certificate.
  3. Title.  How will you, as an unmarried couple take title to the property?  Divorce, and the subsequent division of property can become a very messy ordeal.  Breaking up, for unwed couples who own property together can be just as trying because the individuals are not afforded the same legal protections as married couples.  If you’re considering buying a home before marriage write up a legal contract spelling out who is responsible in the event of a break for ongoing issues like the mortgage, taxes, maintenance costs, capital gains, and more.

Mortgage Market Update

Freddie Mac surveys mortgage lenders every week, compiling the results in a report they call the Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS).  Here are last week’s results with a comparison to the previous week.

30 Year Fixed mortgages came in at 4.20% with 0.6 points.  This was a mere 0.01% lower than the previous week with no change in points.

15 Year Fixed mortgages came in at 3.29% with 0.6 points, 0.03% lower than the previous week with no change in points.

5 Year ARMs came in at 3.01% with 0.4 points.  The prior week was at 3.05% with 0.5 points.

1 Year ARMs came in at 2.43% with 0.5 points, the rate unchanging from the prior week but points actually being higher by 0.1.

Summer Moving Tips (Part 3)

This is our final installment of summer moving tips.  Check out this list for more information on making your summer move as painless and stress-free as possible.  Here we go…

  1. Children.  If summer heat is difficult on adults working outside while moving into their new Edmond, Oklahoma home, think about how it affects children.  Best advice, especially for younger children is to set up a babysitter to take care of your toddlers during moving day.  This way they won’t be underfoot among a forest of adults, and are less likely to be stepped on or to suffer adversely with the summer temps.  If babysitting is not an option, why not set up a safe play area in one of the bedrooms for children to stay put and keep themselves occupied?  How about assigning one of the older children to be the playroom monitor just to keep an eye on the others while adults get down to the business of loading and unloading the moving truck?
  2. Pets.  Summer heat is hard on our domestic pets too, but unlike children, they can’t tell us necessarily when something’s wrong.  Do you have a pet-sitter option available for moving day?  Is there a safe, cool place for Rover and Felix to be so they’re not in the way on moving day?  The last thing you want is for one of your animals to get loose outside at your new home before they become acclimated to their new surroundings and neighborhood.  No pet-sitter options available?  Just like with children you can set up one safe-zone room for your pets, or even cage them if necessary.  And lastly, with children and pets, make sure they have plenty of water, snacks, and potty breaks.
  3. Take pictures of all your electronic device wiring hookups BEFORE you unhook them prior to your move.  Make it easy for yourself when setting up shop in your new home.  DVD players, flat screen TVs, stereo systems, video gaming consoles, etc. can become their own little nightmare at the end of a long day of laboring with furniture and heavy boxes.  The last thing you want to do when you just want to sit down and turn on the tube is to struggle getting everything wired and working correctly.  Take a few quick snapshots of your wiring beforehand and setup at the end of your move will be a snap.

Summer Moving Tips (Part 2)

Here’s our next installment of summer moving tips:

  1. Transfer Utilities.  The last thing you want during a hot summer moving day is for the electricity to be turned off when you arrive at your new home.  Communicate with all utility companies to be sure everything is turned on at your new Edmond, Oklahoma home prior to move in day, and that everything will be shut off and accounts closed at the old home after you move out.  Shutting the utilities off too soon at the old home while you’re still loading the moving truck will make you just as cranky as not being able to turn on the air conditioner when you arrive at your destination to unload.
  2. Communicate your new address.  Email your new street/mailing address to everyone who may need it including family, friends, the office, and venders and service providers.  Drop off a change of address notice at your local post office to make sure you don’t miss any important correspondence or bills.  Any transitory mail will now be forwarded to your new location.  And finally, keep an eye out for mail labeled by the post office as having been forwarded, then communicate your new address to the sender so your next bill, letter, or magazine will come to you direct.
  3. Consider moving insurance to cover full value of your belongings.  This is not as much a summer moving tip as it is pertinent to all seasons and every family’s relocation.  Other insurance covering 60% of value will not replace some of your property that is more likely to be damaged in transit like large flat-screen televisions.  Evaluate your need for insurance and move in peace.

Summer Moving Tips (Part 1)

The last four months may or may not have posed some seasonal issues for folks packing up and relocating.  Now summer’s practically here and some of you are contemplating making a move to a new Edmond, Oklahoma home, and June, July, and August moves, however, tend to have their own set of unique challenges for a family including heat, dehydration, and overall planning.  Never fear!  Submitted for your review is the first part of our list of top summer moving tips.

  1. Decide if you’re going to do it yourself or hire a moving company.  Depending on your budget and motivation you may consider hiring a company to take care of all or part of the move for you.  If you’re hiring, get estimates and compare them to make sure you’re getting the service level you really need at a fair price.  You may decide you’re going to pack everything yourself but hire a company only to load the truck, drive your belongings to your new home, and unload the truck.  If you’re doing the job or any part of the move yourself make sure to have plenty of refreshments, including water and sports drinks for both your volunteer helpers and the hired hands.
  2. Start packing early.  This is especially important if moving day is in the middle of the summer heat.  Starting the packing job early accomplishes many things.  First, the more work you get done while the weather is milder decreases the amount of work you’ll have to do when the thermometer is reaching for the sky.  Packing early also helps to de-clutter your current home, which is a great boon especially if you don’t yet have a buyer lined up for it.  This leads us too…
  3. De-clutter.  This one is important.  Since you’re starting to pack well ahead of moving day, why not take the time to get rid of any of those old belongings you’ve been meaning deal with for so long.  Moving is the great opportunity to have a garage sale or donate useful items to charity.  There really is no sense moving all that clutter from one home to the next.  And if there’s anything whose usefulness is long past try to recycle it.  As a last resort, if it won’t recycle escort it to the trash.  Don’t take it to your new home!

The Price is Right (Part 2)

Piggybacking on our last blog, here are five more tips to help you price your Edmond, Oklahoma home right for your market:

  1. Beware Real Estate agents who promise they can get you the highest price.  All too often those are agents desperate for business who will tell you what you want to hear instead of what you need to hear just to get your listing.
  2. Dismiss pricing irrelevancies.  How much you paid for your home ten years ago, how much you think you need out of the sale of the home, and the many great memories of family holidays together while you lived in your home have nothing to do with how much your home is worth today.
  3. Do not over price.  You will end up significantly delaying your home sale and eventually reducing your price to reflect current market conditions anyway.  Plus, home buyers will now wonder what’s wrong with the property since it has been for sale for so long and will adjust any potential offers downward even further.
  4. Do not under price, expecting to facilitate a bidding war for your home.
  5. Chose a proven, trustworthy Realtor to work with.  Speak to family, friends, and neighbors.  Get referrals to agents they have had successful results with.  Interview agents with the plan to get to know their business philosophy, communication style, and experience.  Here’s a great list of interview questions you can use.