Paying cash

Paying cash for a home may not be a reality for everyone.  It has, however, become a reality for more people than you might expect.  A National Association of Realtors study shows that 30% of all residential sales today are cash purchases, and as high as 70% of investor purchases are cash only.  So what’s the attraction of paying cash up front when you have the option of borrowing?  Here’s a list of eight great selling points for the Edmond and Greater Oklahoma City cash purchase:

When home shopping:

  1. Cash offers are more attractive to sellers because they infer fewer obstacles like mortgage approval contingencies that can delay or derail closings.
  2. Sellers are more likely to accept a lower sales price with cash offers.
  3. Buyers do not have the stress associated with waiting for loan approval.

During the closing process:

  1. Cash closings mean less paperwork and potentially faster accepted offer to closing times.
  2. Cash buyers save money on closing costs, appraisals, private mortgage insurance, title insurance, and mortgage fees.

Over the long haul:

  1. Cash purchases save home buyers money that would have otherwise been spent on mortgage interest.
  2. A cash purchase means instant 100% equity in the new home.
  3. Cash buyers never have to worry about missing a mortgage payment, or losing a home to foreclosure.

Colorado Floods

Anytime our country suffers from a natural disaster there is an accompanying risk to life and property.  The Colorado floods last week were no different, and many Coloradoans now find themselves homeless in the aftermath of the devastation, their pursuit of the American dream seemingly on hold.

As Real Estate professionals we make it our business helping people find their dream homes.  Now we have the opportunity by reaching out to those we have helped realize their dreams in the past – our Edmond, Oklahoma clients, neighbors, friends and family – to contribute to the relief effort in Colorado.

So take a moment and visit the Red Cross website.  Every contribution, big or small helps Colorado families get back on track and pursuing their dream home dreams again.

The Consumer Opinion Plateau

Earlier this year the national outlook on the housing market was improving.  Consumer opinion in Edmond and around the country was substantiated in large part to low interest rates and signs of a rebounding job market.  Lately we’ve seen mortgage interest rates starting to climb before leveling off just this week in the wake of the record lows of late 2012 and early 2013.  The plateau in Real Estate today is reflective of the trending rates, but rates aren’t the only factor affecting consumer opinion or consumer practiceExperts suggest the crisis in Syria, and pending debt ceiling and budget debates are having a moderate impact on mortgage applications and signed purchase contracts.

This week’s average rates:

30 Year Fixed came in at 4.50% with 0.7 points, which was actually 0.07% lower than the week previous with a similar decrease of 0.1 in points.

15 Year Fixed came in at 3.54% with 0.7 points, which was 0.05% lower than the week previous, with no change in points.

5 Year ARM were at 3.11% with 0.5 points, 0.11% lower than last week, no change in points.

1 Year ARM were at 2.65% with 0.4 points, 0.02 lower than last week, no change in points.

5 From Buffet

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, has made his fortune investing in the stock market.  Needless to say, the man who is the best in the business at putting money to work has shed some light over the years on Real Estate as an investment, and it’s useful advice for all our Edmond and Greater Oklahoma City area friends and neighbors.  Here are a few points gleaned from an article on Mr. Buffet featured on DailyFinance.com by Tara-Nicholle Nelson.

  1. “Homes increase in value over time” as a basic premise is sound.  Mr. Buffet says the housing bubble and crash was caused by investors who saw Real Estate as an investment that would only appreciate.  Thus prices became artificially inflated, and banks handed out hollow mortgages based on sketchy qualification practices…then the crash.  Mr. Buffet goes on to say home prices will go up and down like any investment, AND will trend upward over time because the dollar becomes worth less.
  2. Buy low.  We’ve heard this one before, but here’s the kicker—
  3. Don’t wait too long to buy.  At historically low interest rates, and equally low sales prices, Real Estate is still a great investment.  And as the country continues to recover home prices and interest rates are finally inching up.  If you wait you’ll pay more.
  4. The smart way to purchase a home is using a fixed mortgage, with affordable payments, where you hold onto the property for the long hall.  Side note: Mr. Buffet has lived in the same Nebraska home for what we would all consider the long haul.  It has five bedrooms and he bought it 52 years ago for $31,500.
  5. The social goal of America should not be to put everyone in their dream home.  It should be to put everyone in an affordable home.

Getting the Grade

Regarding your children’s homework, studies have shown a quiet dedicated space, especially for younger children, is better than sprawling out on the floor in front of the television.  Makes sense.  Minimize distractions, maximize focus.  So whether your kids do their homework at one end of the kitchen table or at a desk in their bedrooms, here are a few more tips for making your Edmond or Greater Oklahoma City home more homework friendly without creating more clutter.

  1. Mimic the school setting.  If your children study in their rooms, set up a desk with a nice broad and flat surface as their work area.  Consider mounting corkboard above the desk where your child can post school and sports calendars, homework papers, etc.  How about a bookshelf to store favorite titles as well as supplies like extra paper, pens and pencils, calculators and more.  Utilize fashionable room dividers to hide homework stations in dining room corners.
  2. Computer station.  Computers, and in a broader sense technology, continue to play a larger role in ours and our children’s daily lives.  As well, your children are likely to use computers in whatever career they choose to pursue after high school and college.  So whether your children share your computer at home or they have their own provide a comfortable workspace where online resources can be accessed with enough room for other study materials.  As a side note, place your computer workstation in a central location where it will be easy to supervise children’s online activity.
  3. Consider storage bins for larger or maybe less frequently used extra school supplies.  Items like poster board, construction paper, graph paper, etc. come in handy, especially for that last minute school project.  Avoid the ten pm run to Walmart for project materials by keeping extras on hand in handy containers that when not in use can be easily stored under the bed and out of the way.

Ugh, Time to Unpack!

The movers, like Elvis, have left the building.  Beds are assembled, the family is exhausted, and it’s getting late.  You are finally all moved in to your new Edmond or Greater Oklahoma City area home, and all in all you have to admit it was a job well done.  Everyone has earned a good night’s sleep.  See you in the morning…

You wake, and even though it was your first night in a new home you slept straight through till morning.  Then you sit up in bed, and that’s when your heart sinks.  Your first thought is you’re surrounded by moving boxes.  Your second thought is no better: every room in the house is inundated with boxes, and suddenly you’re not quite so ready to attack the day.

Here are a handful of tips to make the insurmountable unpacking job seem less like a mountain of work:

  1. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so your unpacking job doesn’t have to be completed in 24 hours.  If you keep this in mind the task at hand will be less stressful and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
  2. Unpack essentials in the kitchen and bathroom first.  When nature calls there’s no time to search for toilet paper.  Unpack needed toiletries, hand soap, towels, and the first aid kit for the bathroom, and like handy essentials for the kitchen so you’re prepared when break time comes around.
  3. Take care of the family/living room next.  Sketch out where furniture goes first instead of moving these bulky items more than you have to.  Unpack enough to where you feel like you at least have one room in your new home where everyone can congregate together comfortably, with seating for all, and without fear of a tower of boxes falling on them.
  4. Assist children in the placement of heavy furniture, bookcases, etc. in their rooms, then empower them to unpack and set their rooms up to their liking.
  5. You may very well have set all the family beds up on the first night.  If not, why not have a family campout in one room by pushing mattresses together on the floor and starting your unpacking challenge out as an adventure?

New City, New Home

You’re all moved in, mostly unpacked, and you start your new job in your new city on Monday.  The problem is that was last Monday.  Or was that two, five, or ten Mondays ago?  For some reason – whether it’s the nature of your business, or maybe you’ve just always been a shy person – it’s been difficult to turn your new house and your new city into a new home.  If you’re moving into Edmond or the Greater Oklahoma City area, or you’ve already been here for some time, here are some tips to get plugged into your new community and start turning all those neighbors and coworkers into friends and extended family.

  1. Volunteer.  If you often find it difficult to step out of your comfort zone for your own benefit what about for someone else’s benefit?  Check with local food share programs, churches, etc. for opportunities to donate your time helping others and you might just discover a personal connection with other local like-minded people.
  2. New to you.  Visit new restaurants, patronize local small businesses, or take a different route home.  This small step outside your normal routine forces you to see what else is out there.  You never know, you might discover your new favorite after-hours hangout, sushi bar, or pizza parlor.
  3. Join a club, take a class.  Fitness can be fun, and a social opportunity.  So you’re not into lifting weights.  So what?  What about ballroom dancing, fencing, yoga, or a spinning class?  Try something new, meet someone new.
  4. Old habits.  What activities did you participate in in your old city?  Why not pick up where you left off?  If you used to play on the company softball team, does your new office have a team?  Do you like live music?  Check with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for sports leagues, non-athletic social opportunities, and events supporting the arts.

Showing a Home With Pets

Selling your Edmond or Greater Oklahoma City home can be stressful for you and your family.  You’re hoping to get your asking price, you’re hoping it only takes weeks and not months to see an offer.  There’s keeping the house clean and in tip top showing condition.  Then there are the actual showings

And don’t forget your pets.  Cats and dogs (and parakeets, and hamsters, and fish oh my!) can add to your stress when trying to present a home in the most positive light to all buyers.  Here are some great tips on successfully showing your home with pets, and reducing your stress and theirs.

  1. Make sure your Realtor includes a note in your MLS’s showing instructions letting visitors know there are pets in the home and any special instructions regarding keeping them safely inside the home and for keeping pet participation during the showing to an unobtrusive minimum.
  2. Daily clean cat boxes and the back yard or dog run for pet deposits.  When you receive word of a scheduled showing check again for any last minute clean up needs.
  3. Post friendly reminder signs on any doors behind which animals are being kept safely from getting underfoot.  Keep dogs outside in pens if at all possible.
  4. Remove or minimize any residual signs of pets in the home.  This means pick up and put away toys, bones, food and water dishes, AND vacuum frequently for animal hair.  Mitigate any persistent animal odors, and shampoo carpet stains.
  5. And the number one best suggestion for showing a home with pets is to take Fido for a walk, or Fifi for a drive while visitors are touring your home.  This may not always be a feasible solution, but if buyers don’t have to worry about pets getting loose, or how cute the new puppies or kittens are they will give more attention to the finer selling points of your home and less to details that may negatively affect a purchasing decision.

Red Flags for Buyers

MSN Money published an interesting article on red flags for buyers looking at purchasing an existing home.  The idea here was to highlight issues for the home seller, whether under their control or not, that have the potential to give buyers a reason to walk out of your Edmond or Greater Oklahoma City home before they even take a look.  Here are four red flags for buyers according to the article.

  1. Back yards, specifically non-family-friendly backyards.  Are you in a family oriented neighborhood occupied with lots of young couples with children?  If so, those are the types of families that are also likely to be looking to move into the neighborhood; they are your potential buyers.  If you’re lacking grass and space due to xeriscaping or a yard dominating pool it might be a turn off for families with children and pets who need room to play.
  2. Cracked foundations.  Even when a seller pays to repair foundation problems this can be a hard sell.  Foundation warranties aren’t always enough to put buyer concerns to rest.  In the back of their heads at some point the shoe will be on the other foot when they need to sell the home down the road.
  3. Personal belongings.  This one is completely under the seller’s control yet often overlooked.  Personal belongings can not only distract buyers from the finer selling points of the house, but they can get a buyer’s mind concocting stories about the character of the people who live there.  Help buyers focus on the home.  Start packing up photos, knick knacks and keepsakes, valuables, and hobby collections.
  4. Dirty homes.  Makes sense, huh?  If a buyer’s first impression upon stepping into your home is the overwhelming odor of cigarettes and pets, or if they can’t take that first step without stepping on fast food wrappers, laundry, or stacks of newspapers and mail, then you’re just listing your home, you’re not really selling.  But of course even a pig sty will sell if the price is right…