Refinancing – When and How to Do It

Refinancing – When and How to Do It

  Have you been thinking about refinancing? Are you confused about if you should refinance? Or do you just need to know how to refinance and what’s involved? Well, I’m a Realtor, not a mortgage professional, however, I can give you an overview and things to expect when refinancing. Typically, you want to refinance when the current interest rate you qualify for is lower than the one you currently have. Notice what I just said. Just because you had some low interest rates pop up in an ad on your Google feed does not mean that is the rate you would be getting or that there won’t be other charges to inflate the rate or overall cost. This is where talking to a trusted, local professional can be very helpful. I am not slamming online companies. I have actually had some good experiences with them. I have also had some bad experiences with them – but I have had bad experiences with local banks as well. Anyway, I digress. However you go about checking a rate, make sure to ask all the questions: What interest rate do I qualify for? What type of loan is that based on? Does that loan and rate assume I am paying points? What are the other fees associated? How much will I need to bring to closing? If you remember the loan process when you purchased your house, that is the same thing to expect with a refinance. The only thing I have experienced that is slightly different is that you do not have a hard closing date to shoot for so you will only have a general timeframe of when you will close. The only true date to consider is that your interest rate is only locked for a certain period of time. There are typically several people you will communicate with through the process. A loan officer, processor, an underwriter, a title company, and perhaps even an assistant and someone from the corporate office. In a perfect world, all of the necessary paperwork and documentation would be requested of you immediately upon applying for the loan. The reality is, that is rarely or never the case. As the processor and underwriter go through the process of gathering and approving, there will likely be other documentation they will need to make the final decision and approval. When any of these people ask you for any kind of document, feel free to ask questions, however, chances are, if you want the loan, you will have to provide the information they request. You will have an appraisal done on the property so be prepared to be available to allow access to the appraiser when...

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Here Comes the Sun

Here Comes the Sun

  While it may not seem like the sun will ever shine again and the temperatures will rise, it is happening. The days are already longer. Soon we will see buds popping up out of last year’s mulch, lightning bugs will appear and I will be scratching mosquito bites. Here comes the sun, and with it, home buyers! What can you do to make sure your house looks the best for potential buyers? I have written a lot about how to make your home look great and if you are in the market to sell, you have probably read everything about big projects and must-do’s. So, here are some quick tips for when you getting ready and once you are on the market. Exterior A potential buyer will park and walk up to your house. Take that same route and take a broom with you. Clean up driveways, sidewalks and porches. Some people may not think this is a big deal but it may be one of the first things a buyer sees. Afterall, they will be looking for the address and if your mailbox is in the front, they will see it. Clean it off and, if necessary, apply a fresh coat of paint. Clean up any landscaping around it to make sure it is neat. Above all, just make it neat and clean. You don’t have to plant new things in the ground and wait until everything is blooming. A few nicely placed pots with colorful annuals can dress up an otherwise dull exterior, both in the front and the back of the house.   Interior Pack closets. You’re moving. Start to pack. People need to see space in closets One of the most common requests from Buyers is STORAGE! Don’t make it look like nobody lives there, just make it look like there is plenty of room for everything the Buyer would need to store. De-clutter kitchen. Kitchens have a way of accumulating things we think we need or use on a regular basis. Coffee makers, blenders, toasters, spices, candy jars, fruit and vegetable holders, all seem to make their way onto the counter and never leave. This makes it look like there is not enough counter space or cabinets. If you truly do not use it every day, get it off the counter. If you don’t use it much at all, you may be able to pack it away, otherwise, put it in a cabinet but make sure to be thoughtful in the things you keep handy. Buyers will look in every drawer and cabinet and you want to make sure things are clean, organized, and spacious feeling. Floor space. Toys, shoes, bags, etc. tend...

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Home Renovations

Home Renovations

  Anyone who has lived through home renovations knows that the process is not the most pleasant thing ever. The contractors get to your house early, probably about the time you are getting ready, getting the family ready, and/or trying to get out the door to go about your day. They are noisy and messy and sometimes they have no regard for your property. Hopefully the end result is worth the hassle. Getting a good contractor is key to a good home renovation experience. But what type of home renovations are the best? What will give you the most return – biggest bang for your buck? Let’s check it out.   Kitchen             We’re not talking a total gut job here. Do a facelift. If your cabinet doors aren’t quite modern enough, leave the boxes and just replace the doors. Refresh with new knobs and pulls. Replace counter top with a less expensive solid surface option. You may consider new appliances if yours are old or don’t match. Paint and call it a day. Bathrooms             Some people are opting to remove bath tubs and have extra-large showers instead. While this is not necessary for resale, you may personally enjoy it. Just remember, if you remove any bathtubs, make sure there is at least one in the house. You could remove a complete buying sector from looking at your house if there is no bathtub. The master bath is the bath with the most value-add, however, a small powder room could be a very inexpensive cosmetic update and have a lot of impact. Master baths with nice vanities, solid counter tops and unique storage solutions are all the rage. Again, unless you have a 1950’s house that hasn’t had the shag carpet removed, you may be able to get by with some minor updates. A new faucet and a coat of paint can really change the look of a vanity. A new framed mirror or medicine cabinet can transform the entire space. Exterior When you are looking to do updates, not much has the bang for the buck like a good cleaning and fresh paint. A lot of exteriors could use a pressure washing. Painting trim and shutters can really freshen the look of a dull exterior. If you really want to change the look but not get into a serious renovation, try adding some stone veneer or cedar shake if the home style allows. This small detail can magically change the appearance with not a lot of cost. A trend that we are continuing to see is outdoor spaces so consider adding a covered or screened patio or deck. You will likely get a lot of use out...

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Waiting for a Snowstorm

Waiting for a Snowstorm

  If you have lived in Tennessee long enough, you have experienced the agony or joy (however you look at it) of waiting to see if we actually get snow or not. You plan, you prepare. The kids are out of school, you take your work home with you, you stock up at the grocery store and you dig the shovel and the sleds out of the depths of the garage. Then you wait. And wait. It gets cold. The kids get excited. They watch out the window for the slightest sign of white stuff falling from the sky. You’re waiting for a snowstorm but nothing happens. The sun comes out, warms up the roads and all that preparation and excitement was for nothing. That can, unfortunately, be how waiting for an offer on your house feels. You do so much to get your house ready to sell. You check off the to-list, hire the handyman, declutter, and tell your family that if they so much as sneeze in the house after it is clean, that they are not to show their face in your presence. Ok, maybe a bit of an exaggeration. However, by the time you have planned and prepared, the waiting for an offer can be excruciating. So what can you do? What do you tell your kids when the snow doesn’t come after all the hype? Is it really the weatherman’s fault or are some things (like Mother Nature) out of their control? Those people get a bad rap. I mean, I feel it too, but they do their research, follow the patterns and if, at the last minute, the wind turns or global warming decides to show its face, there’s not a lot they can do to make it snow. The most they can do is keep you updated as weather changes so you can make the appropriate changes to accommodate her. So, when you prepare to sell your house and you do everything right but it still doesn’t sell right away, is it the real estate agent’s fault? Hmm, well, maybe not. Maybe, like Mother Nature, the market turns. It shifts, rates change, the government shuts down, suddenly 5 other houses on your street go up for sale. Any number of things can happen to cause a shift and your house not to sell. Sometimes, the best you can do is stay updated as to the current market and make the appropriate changes to accommodate it. That’s not to say that there is not a human element. Just like the meteorologist, the real estate agent could have been wrong or gave you bad advice – after all, they are human. When you are...

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Dude Looks Like a Lady

Dude Looks Like a Lady

Not everything is as it seems these days. In music, this is true in songs like Dude Looks Like a Lady and Funky Cold Medina, genders were not what they seemed. In real estate, lipstick on a pig is probably the description that would best describe what I’m talking about. Sometimes we can get very caught up in the exterior. We love the facelift the house has or that the flooring is all new. We may even be buying a brand new house and love that we won’t have to deal with all those issues like in a 75-year old house. Well, not so fast. Not everything may be as it seems and there may be more – or less – than what meets the eye. This is why it is so important to have two people on your side. A great Realtor and a great home inspector. First, your Realtor has likely seen a LOT of crazy things in their experiences and can warn you as to some of the things they have seen in the past. Second, they will (hopefully) be very honest with you and help you be realistic and see the house for what it is, not just what it seems to be. This can work the opposite way as well. Your agent may know that you really want a solidly built home and that getting an older home with “great bones” would be better for you than a new construction home that was built in a few months, based on known quality issues of the builder. A great home inspector will make sure that you know the true condition of the property, not just if things are operable or not. They will check everything from the foundation to the roof and everything in between. They can check for mold, radon, and structural issues. You need not be alarmed by all the little details since all houses have issues,  but listen to the warning signs. If there are red flags in the inspection report that could be continuous issues, take heed. You don’t want to get into a money pit, no matter how good the house may look. Bottom line is, you can change cosmetic items in a house to make it be what you are looking for – and at a fairly minimal cost depending on your needs. It is much harder and costlier to fix a house that is sliding down a hill in the backyard because the structure has not been properly maintained. Do your research, hire professionals, and don’t get fooled by the dude that looks like a...

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Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

  Baby it’s cold outside! Have you turned on the heat yet? Chances are, unless you live in Florida or Arizona, the answer is probably, “yes”. A lot of people think that they should wait until Spring to sell their house. They ask me if it’s best to wait until the holidays are over and the weather warms up. Not necessarily. There are a few reasons why you may want to test the market now. Lookie-loos don’t go out in the cold. That’s a Realtor term – haha. People that are just kicking tires, not serious buyers, are typically not going to browse around when the weather is bad. They are more likely to stay inside and look online. They also have too many things going on with the holiday season to fill their time so they don’t have time to window shop for houses. Therefore, most people that see your home will actually be serious, qualified buyers. Houses feel “homier” in the cold months. If you have a fireplace, it’s a great time to use it. If you have twinkle lights or holiday decorations, they all make the house feel cozier and more like a home. Warning: Don’t go overboard with decorations. The house still has to look spacious and too many decorations can make rooms look smaller, cluttered, and be distracting for potential buyers. There are less daylight hours. You may think this is a bad thing, however, if you are still living in your home, buyers will only have so many daylight hours in which to view your home and you will only be incovenienced with showings during those hours. Fewer houses are on the market. This automatically gives you an advantage versus waiting until the Spring when you have a lot more competition. You may be out of town. If you are travelling, you may be more open to showings at any time because you won’t be there anyway. You can clean before you leave and not have to worry about tidying up. Certainly there are negatives: There may be less showings. Because there are typically less buyers in the market at this time, you will likely have less people see it and, therefore, it may take longer to sell. Your holidays may be interrupted. A lot of folks travel for the holidays. Some think about moving closer to their relatives and since they are in town, they want to see houses. This may mean that they want to see your house on Christmas Eve or the day after Thanksgiving when your house looks like Cousin Eddie is visiting. Landscaping can look drab. While the inside of the house may be warm and inviting, the outside may look...

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