Category Archives: Real Estate

VA Loans Post Record Year in 2013

The Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced that the number of loans it guaranteed reached a record high in 2013.

The VA guaranteed almost 630,000 mortgage loans in 2013 according to Mike Frueh, the director of the VA’s Loan Guaranty Program.

An overall tight lending environment is making VA loans more attractive to current and past service members.

VA loans do not require a downpayment. Roughly 90 percent of all VA loans for home purchases are made with no money. These loans do not require private mortgage insurance to be purchased, as with most other high loan to value mortgages.

States that have seen the largest increase in VA loans within the past year are Arizona (up 40 percent in 2013 over 2012), Ohio (30 percent) and Connecticut (30 percent).

Sources: The New York Times and REALTOR®Mag

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Tips for Choosing the Right Real Estate Agent

Buying real estate is complex, and it’s important for you to select an agent who is competent, honest and knowledgeable, and will represent  your best interests throughout the entire process of either buying or selling a property.

Here are some key areas to look for when selecting an agent:

Experience
Ideally you want an agent who works in the business on a full time basis, and closes at least five to ten sales per year. The more closings an agent has under their belt, the better prepared they will be to help you through the many twists and turns of a real estate transaction.

Time to work with you
You want an agent that will spend the time with you that will be needed. If an agent seems too busy, maybe you should look for one that’s less busy.

Location
Generally you will be better served if you pick an agent that has sold a number of properties within your neighborhood. They will be most familiar with the property values and issues unique to your neighborhood. Additionally they will often have a pool of prospective buyers that are interested in the area.

Help you protect yourself
You want to pick an agent that will help you to make smart decisions. This agent should be well-versed enough to advise you on a number of issues, such as, financing, negotiations, inspections, closing and etc. 

Someone you feel comfortable with
The working relationship between you and your agent will be one that will usually last several months from beginning to end, so make sure you feel comfortable with who you choose. 

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Real Estate Search Links for Monroe & Rhea

These links will give you access to the most current property listings from the Knoxville Area Association of Realtors MLS system. The information is updated on a daily basis, so check back often.

Monroe County
http://idx.diversesolutions.com/link/308224 

Rhea County
http://idx.diversesolutions.com/link/308238

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Here’s How Most Buyers Find a Real Estate Agent

Most buyers find their real estate agent in one of the following ways (listed from most common to least common):

1. Referred by a friend, relative or neighbor

2. Website

3. Used agent previously

4. Saw contact info on a For Sale or Open House sign

5. Meet agent at an open house

6. Referred by another agent

7. Personal contact by agent

8. Employer or relocation company referral

9. Office walk-in

10. Internet search engine

Source: National Association of Realtors®

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Learn These Real Estate Terms

These terms are handy to know terms when you are involved in either buying or selling real estate:

Disclosure Statements
These are most often prepared by the person selling a property. They can include a property condition disclosure, a lead based paint disclosure (for properties built prior to 1978), and a septic disclosure to name a few. You should ask for copies prior to preparing a written offer.

Good Faith Estimate
A lender is required to provide a borrower this document at loan application. It provides the borrower a breakdown of their loan costs, closing costs and downpayment required. It also gives an estimate of the total monthly payment. The numbers from the Good Faith Estimate and the closing statement should align fairly close, if not you should ask questions.

MIP
This stands for Mortgage Insurance Premium. If your obtaining a mortgage with a loan to value greater than 80%, then the lender will require mortgage insurance in most cases. The premium is usually paid as part of your monthly house payment. For some loan programs a portion of the premium is collected when the loan is funded. 

Lien
This is a claim by someone or a company on a property, usually for money owed. In Tennesse a Deed of Trust is filed with the Register of Deeds in the county where the property is located. This document reflects the terms of the loan, and is a matter of public record. 

Buyer’s Market
This is a a term used when the market is in the buyer’s favor. The buyer usually has the advantage when it comes to negotiations. A buyer’s market occurs when there are more homes for sale than there are buyers to purchase them, thus forcing sellers to me more aggressive with pricing. Usually homes take in excess of six months to sell in this type of market.

Seller’s Market
This term is used when there are not enough homes available for the number of buyers looking to purchase. This environment gives the seller the advantage when it comes to negotiations. In this type of market you will see home prices on the rise as many properties will receive multiple offers. In this kind of market, homes that are priced right and in good condition may only be on the market for a few weeks.

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Most For Sale By Owners Lack Success

Selling a home For Sale By Owner (FSBO) is not an easy task, that’s why most FSBO’s end up hiring a REALTOR®. Nationally the success rate of FSBO’s is very low. Over 80% of all FSBO’s end up hiring a REALTOR® to get their home sold in the end.

Why is it so hard to sell without a REALTOR®?

1. Determining the right listing price – Pricing a property correctly is probably the most important step when placing your home up for sale. If your home is not priced right, then you stand a slim chance of selling in a competitive market. A REALTOR® will have access to the sales data, plus their experience to best advise you on a proper listing price.

2. Buyer’s want your commission savings – One of the things most sellers don’t understand when deciding to go the FSBO route, is that many buyers know you are marketing you own home in order to save the commission, and they want a part of that savings. Many of the buyers will take 5% right off the top regardless of whether the home is priced well or not.

3. Availability for showings – It’s hard for many homeowners to be available to show their home at the time buyers want to look. Buyers can come at all hours of the day and night. Most serious buyers are looking at a number of homes within a given time period and are not willing to rearrange their schedule to accommodate an unworkable seller. One advantage of having a REALTOR® is they can take care of all showings, thus freeing you up to keep your life as normal as possible during the selling process.

4. Showing to unqualified buyers – It’s a waste of your time and the buyers if they are unable to obtain the financing needed to complete the purchase. If a REALTOR® is involved, in most cases only pre-qualified buyers will be looking at your home.

5. Negotiations & inspections – This is an area where an inexperienced seller can put their self at great risk. When your dealing directly with the buyer you can be put of the spot with answering questions and making decisions without thinking them over carefully. You might unknowingly commit to something without understanding all of the cost and time considerations. Negotiating buyer inspections on your home can be tricky as well. These are areas were a REALTOR® will look out for your best interest.

While it’s not impossible to sell your home on your own, you can see there are many pitfalls along the way if your not experienced. By hiring a REALTOR® studies have shown that you will usually sell your home for a higher price, and you will have someone on your side to make the process much easier.

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Considering a Real Estate Career?

As one works each day in real estate, every day is a new day. Boredom is not an option and meeting new people is a must. In addition, real estate agents gain invaluable skills such as marketing, sales, operations, negotiations and networking. Most real estate agents operate as independent contractors, which mean they decide their own business model and set their own schedule.

Working at a local real estate firm adds value to the community by helping fellow residents and new neighbors realize their dream of home ownership. Not only can it be personally rewarding, but practicing real estate is also a great way to network and meet new people in the community.

If you think that you might be interested in a real estate career, go to www.TopOfKnox.com to find out more.

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Tips to Ready Your Home for the Market

Before you decide to list your home take a look at these areas to see if changes are warranted:

1. Curb appeal – This is your first chance to make a good first impression with a buyer. Stand in the street and take a hard look at your home’s exterior. Are the shrubs overgrown, is the lawn neatly trimmed,
should you add some flowers, do you need a new mailbox and etc. You want to have landscaping that’s welcoming, looks great and will keep the buyer interested.

2. Exterior – Walk around the outside of your home and make an assessment of the condition of its exterior. Do you find some damaged trim, do you need to paint, are the window screens in good order, do you find areas that need to be caulked and etc. If the buyer finds the outside of your home to be in good repair, then you’ve set the stage for a more favorable showing on the inside..

3. Kitchens – They can often make or break a sale. You want the buyer to walk-in and fall in love with your kitchen. Take an objective look at your kitchen; could it use some improvements? It could be as simple as a fresh coat of paint, or all the way up to a full blown renovation.

4. Baths –  A nice bath rates high on a buyers list. It much like the kitchen in that you can simply improve it with a fresh coat of paint or do a full renovation. Many small improvements on a bath can have a great impact, such as, new lighting, new towel bars, a new sink and the like.

5. Decorating – You may love the color schemes in your house, but many buyers may not. You want to have your house decorated so that it appeals to the masses, not a select few. Generally neutral color tones work best.
 
6. Pets – Pets bring unwanted issues when trying to sell. If at all possible try to find a good temporary home for your pet while your house is on the market. If that’s not possible, at a minimum remove your pet from the home when it’s being shown.

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