As potential home sellers put their plans on hold due to the widespread impact of the coronavirus, available inventory of for-sale homes shrunk, making the landscape a little more challenging for buyers. If you're currently in the market for a home, you can expect more competition, but there are strategies you can implement to help make your offer stand out among the rest. Consider these suggestions from Homes.com National Speaker and real estate professional Rebecca Donatelli:
Get in touch with the listing agent. Talk to your agent about how they'll communicate with the agent representing the home seller. Have them ask questions about the home's availability and if there are other offers on the table...and what they may be like. The listing agent may be unable to share this information based on the seller's request, but it's worth trying. Donatelli also recommends finding out about the seller's preferences in terms of timeline and title company so that you can be as accommodating a buyer as possible.
Make a straightforward offer. The fewer contingencies associated with the offer you make on a home, the better. In these trying times, sellers will gravitate to a deal with simple terms. Also keep in mind that it's not always about price—the best offer will be the sum of the terms that work best for the seller, says Donatelli.
Be quick. In a seller's market, you need to be ready to move fast, otherwise, you'll be overlooked for another offer. Talk to your agent about their availability for showing homes, and how much they'll be able to do virtually...which can save you both time.
Help expedite the review process. Once you make an offer, there can be a lag as the seller and their agent start the review process—especially when multiple offers are present. Donatelli suggests working with your agent to create a one-page outline that highlights the terms and contingencies to add to the front of your offer package. This will allow the seller and the listing agent to get a quick view of your offer in order to move things along.
All-cash offers are extremely attractive in a seller's market, so if that's an option you can provide without overextending yourself financially, it may be worth considering.
If you've noticed unusual signs of damage around your property, pests may be to blame. Rodents, insects and other types of pests can wreak havoc on properties and cause unforeseen damage that ends up resulting in costly repairs.
Here are four signs to look for to determine whether pests are damaging your home:
The sudden feeling that the floors in your home are unstable could be a sign of a pest problem. This may be especially true if you have hardwood floors that are damaged because of termites. You might notice the boards curling on your floor as damage persists. Flaking and crumbling may also become noticeable as your floors continue to deteriorate from the damage. Crushed-looking wood at structurally significant points can be another obvious sign of a pest problem.
Tap Test Failure
Damage that's impossible to see can sometimes be detected by performing a tap test on wood surfaces around your home. Wood that's solid all the way through should produce a thudding sound when tapped, and any hollow sounds could mean that termites or other pests are wearing away at the wood. Hollow sounds also mean that significant portions of your wood have already been lost. Calling a termite treatment specialist and contractor to repair the damage can resolve the problem.
If lights, appliances or other equipment around your home that's powered by electricity start to fail, you might have a pest problem on your hands. Lights that dim or completely go out, as well as appliances that don't have as much power or fail to turn on when plugged in, could mean that pests are damaging the wires. Rodents are known to chew through wires, which can also create a fire hazard in your home.
Tubes that appear to be made of mud may be visible in your yard and even on the side of your home. These tunnels are often constructed by organ pipe mud dauber wasps to store their larvae. Termites are also known to build tunnels that look like mud but are made from a combination of soil and wood along with a substance consisting of their saliva and feces. You might find these lining walls and floors, acting as a sure sign of infestation if you find them in your home.
Learning about the signs of pest damage will make it easier for you to act quickly to resolve the problem. Pest damage isn't always obvious, and taking the time to perform a thorough inspection will allow you to stay on top of any situation that may arise.
Source: Meghan Belnap/RISMedia's Housecall
Being the first person to own a newly built home can be a source of immense pride and enjoyment. Having the chance to build a house to your exact specifications gives you a great opportunity to move into a home that you can enjoy for many years.
As a potential buyer of a new home, there are some important things to keep in mind throughout the research and building process that will help make the process simpler. To help ensure you're fully prepared, here are four things homebuyers should know about new construction homes:
There Are Lots of Options
It's easy to miss when you walk through a completed home, but the number of options available when you're constructing a new home is staggering. If you're buying a home in a new development, you can simplify this decision-making process by choosing from certain pre-selected packages. Of course, you can choose each option individually, keeping in mind that this will take quite a bit of time and could result in an unexpected finished product if you don't have a decent handle on interior design.
There's Time Involved
New construction homes don't just pop up overnight. Most new homes take a few months to build, meaning you need to have a plan for where you'll live in the meantime. To be sure, the end result is more than worth the wait. It's important, though, to keep in mind that the waiting period will likely be longer than if you buy a pre-existing home. To help maintain your excitement, you can drop by the building site on occasion to check out the construction progress.
Home Warranties Are Encouraged
There's no doubt that home builders work hard to produce the best homes they can. However, that doesn't mean that a home warranty is not a smart idea, even when the home you're protecting is brand new. If one of your appliances should turn out to be a lemon, for example, you don't want to have to pay to replace it when you're already working hard to pay down your mortgage. Before you move into your new home, it's important to understand the warranties that are available to you so that you can take advantage of the options that are best for your situation.
It's Good to Have a REALTOR®
Even when buying a new construction home straight from the developer, it's a good idea to have a REALTOR® to represent you. A real estate professional can help make the paperwork process much easier and ensure that you've completed all the small details to make your transition into your new home far smoother. Plus, a REALTOR® will ensure that you're getting a fair price and you didn't miss any details that could turn out to be problems later on.
It's Totally Worth
Even when the completion of your home seems a long way off, the reality is that moving into a new construction home is usually worth all the effort involved. Knowing that you're the first family to make memories in a home serves as a daily reminder of the hard work that has gotten you to this point. Plus, with the right planning in place, buying a new home can be as simple as buying any other home!
If you're looking for a new home, you probably already know that a mortgage lender will consider your credit score, percentage of available credit used and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. If your score is too low or your credit utilization or DTI ratio is too high, the lender may charge you a high interest rate or reject your loan application altogether.
Buyers often run into trouble because they don't understand a key fact about how mortgage lenders vet candidates. A lender checks a borrower's credit when an application is submitted, and again shortly before closing. If a borrower uses credit cards to buy furniture and appliances or to pay for moving costs, the person's credit score, utilization ratio and DTI ratio may rise enough to cause the lender to raise the interest rate or decide not to grant a mortgage at all.
How to Protect Your Credit and Get a Mortgage
While you're in the process of house hunting, it's important to keep your credit in the best shape it can be and to avoid using credit cards as much as possible. If you normally use credit cards for food, clothing and entertainment, don't. Use cash or a debit card, or don't buy certain things at all. If you must make an important purchase, ask yourself if you can live without it until after you've closed on your home.
If you receive a letter inviting you to apply for a new credit card with a low introductory rate or rewards, it can be tempting, but you shouldn't apply while you're looking for a new home. Too many hard inquiries in a short period of time can hurt your credit score. You shouldn't apply for an auto loan while house hunting for the same reason.
Make Sure You Have Enough Savings
You'll have to save money for a down payment, but you shouldn't put all your savings toward that. If you do, you'll be left with no cushion to deal with any unexpected bills for things such as medical treatments or car repairs. You also won't have funds readily available to buy furniture and appliances before you move into your new house. That means you may be tempted or forced to use credit cards, which may jeopardize your ability to obtain a mortgage.
Don't Lose out on Your Dream Home
Even if your mortgage application has been approved, that doesn't mean the decision is final. The lender will check your credit again before you close on the house. A sudden rise in credit card balances and a higher utilization ratio and DTI ratio could cause the lender to change its decision and to reject your mortgage application. Set aside money for any planned or unexpected expenses you may encounter so you can avoid using credit cards as much as possible until you've closed on your new house.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.
Buying and moving into a new home is exciting, but it also requires a lot of attention to detail, from closing the deal to figuring out the logistics of getting all your belongings from point A to point B. Amid all the excitement, planning and unpacking, many new homeowners overlook one essential factor: the security of their new house.
If you're moving, consider these six tips from the home security experts at ADT to help keep your family and your property safe and secure:
Change the Locks. You never know who lived in your property before you moved in. Do yourself a favor and change the locks regardless of the situation.
Transfer or Invest in a Security System. There's no better way to ensure your home is secure 24/7 than installing a home security system. Burglar-proof your house by adding video surveillance and motion sensors for complete security. If there's already a security system in the house, have it properly looked over and reactivated. If you'd like to bring the security system that you're currently using to your new house, consider relocation services.
Install Indoor and Outdoor Lighting. Don't stand out as the "new neighbor" by being the only dim house on the street at night. Keep your family protected by making your house look occupied at all times using light automation.
Keep Your Outside Area in Excellent Condition. Did you know burglars see the exterior of your property as a bullseye? If your lawn is unkempt or you have large shrubbery, burglars will see that as an invitation to break in.
Talk With the Neighbors. Having trusted neighbors can immediately make living in a new place much safer. They may be able to help keep your house look occupied while you're away by simply picking up the newspaper, shoveling your walkway, etc.
Remind Your Kids to Be Cautious. Moving to a new neighborhood means a lot of unfamiliar faces for you and your family. Make sure your children are aware that they should never let a stranger into the house, leave the garage door up when they come in or go exploring too far until you're more familiar with the area.
By taking care of these security measures when moving, you can turn your focus to truly enjoying your new, safe home.