3 Extreme Home-Buying Tactics to Get the House You Want

What can you do if you fear the seller of your dream house will go with another buyer … or if they already have?

shutterstock 84704197 f8021e 900x350 - 3 Extreme Home-Buying Tactics to Get the House You WantToday, in many markets, homes move quickly, often with multiple offers. Some homes, called “pocket listings,” sell before even hitting the market. It can be an all-out war for competitive buyers, and some will go to great lengths to win.

Here are three tips for going the extra mile to make sure you come out the winning bidder.

Make your offer a “sharp” offer

If the market is competitive and you really want the home, you need to let the seller know you’ll do whatever it takes to win it. In some cases, buyers will make what we call a “sharp” offer. In this situation, a potential buyer will match the highest and best offer, and raise that offer price by five percent — or sometimes even 10 percent.

Offer to buy out the winning buyer

I’ve seen remorseful buyers, frustrated after losing out in a bidding war, track down the winning buyer and negotiate with them. In this scenario, the losing buyer offers to pay the winning buyer their earnest money deposit (sometimes up to three percent of the purchase price) plus any expenses, in return for letting them take over the purchase.

Write a letter to the new homeowners once they close

If you can’t try to snag the home from the wining bidder, there is one final option. Knock on the door or write a letter to the new owner. Explain that you missed out on the home and that you would like to purchase it directly from them. In this case, you’d have to make them an incredible offer — one that would cover their sales and moving costs, and put money in their pocket. If you hit the right number, you just might motivate them.

When all else fails, it’s time to move on. There will be another house — there always is. Take the loss and chalk it up to experience. When the next great house comes along, be the first to see it, get the first offer in the door and make your offer irresistible.

Barbecue and Fire Pit Safety for the Summer

178700 850x565 outdoor fire pit on patio - Barbecue and Fire Pit Safety for the SummerThroughout the United States, the summer months are those months where millions of Americans find themselves enjoying the outdoors or chilling in the backyard. With summer comes barbecues and evenings outside, sitting beside the fire pit. It’s important to remember that barbecues and fire pits require a certain amount of safety when in use. To help you in your summer celebrations, keep these safety tips close by when using a barbecue or fire pit this summer.

men and grill - Barbecue and Fire Pit Safety for the Summer
Barbecue Tips

Grilled food is a true treat, especially when you don’t want to cook inside during the warm summer months. Grills should always be used outside, in a well ventilated area. To ensure safety, grills should be stationed away from the home, deck railings and away from any low hanging tree branches or plants.

The most important thing to remember is to never leave the grill unattended, especially if you have children and pets. The second most important safety item is to remember to keep the grill clean by removing grease and fat buildup. You can also clean or replace any trays that sit below the grill and collect food waste, oil and other grill debris.

64a61d5671aefad1ce823a067a43d434 - Barbecue and Fire Pit Safety for the SummerPropane Tips

Propane can be found in both liquid and gas form. Naturally odorless, an additive is added to the gas to give it a distinct odor to help people identify when the gas is around. Propane, when stored under pressure, is a liquid. When you hook up a propane tank to a gas grill, the tank is opened which allows propane gas to leave the tank and power the grill. Liquid Propane is very cold, so cold that it can cause freeze burns if it comes into contact with skin.

Storing propane is an important part of propane use. A propane tank should always be stored and transported upright, and proper propane storage requires the tank be in a temperature controlled area. If you store a propane tank in an area that’s susceptible to high temperatures, there is a risk of the pressure release valve opening and releasing gas, which is a fire hazard.

When transporting propane, make sure the pressure release valve is closed and that there is cap or plug over the valve outlet. Tanks should always be transported in an upright position, sitting on the tank’s foot. During transport, the tank should be secured, even if it’s empty. You can secure the tank with a safety strap, the seat belt, or some kind of other container to prevent the tank from tipping over.

It’s important to remember not to transport more than four propane tanks inside an enclosed vehicle at one time. You can carry more than four if you are transporting the tanks in the bed of a truck and they are secured to prevent escape.

natural boulder fire pit gas ring landscaping network 9229 - Barbecue and Fire Pit Safety for the SummerFire Pit Tips

Sitting beside a fire pit, enjoying a drink, roasting marshmallows, or just listening to the crackle of the wood can be some of the most enjoyable and memorable moments of the summer. Fire pits are a great outdoor accessory, but they do require an amount of safety to operate. A fire pit should be at least 10 feet away from any structure or combustible surface. Unless the owner’s manual says it’s ok, do not put a fire pit on grass, a wood deck or in an enclosed deck/porch.

When it comes time to light the fire, be sure to always burn dry, seasoned wood that was cut at least six months earlier. In order to prevent sparks, keeps logs no longer than three-quarters of the pit’s diameter. When starting the fire, don’t use gasoline, lighter fluid or kerosene as these are not meant for fire pits! Use a fire starter or newspaper and kindling.

Do not light a fire in windy conditions, and it’s important to remember to stay up-to-date with burn bans or burn ordinances in your area. If the pit is located in an area near trees or bushes, pick up any leaves or combustible material from around the pit before starting your fire. Keep a bucket of sand, a fire extinguisher or a garden hose nearby in case things get out of control.

Shared from Real Estate Advisor

5 Ways Families Can Ease the Stress of Moving Day

A little extra planning can go a long way.

Family on the move 1d1879 900x350 - 5 Ways Families Can Ease the Stress of Moving DayMoving is stressful. So stressful, in fact, that mental health experts rank it right up there alongside divorce, death of a loved one, job loss and major illness as one of the most stress-inducing life changes people encounter.

Sure, there’s the thrill of a new house, but that’s often partnered with the uncertainty of new jobs, schools and social circles.

While no one can promise your transition will go without hiccups, a little extra planning can help relieve some of the stress. Before the moving truck pulls up to your house, consider these tips to ensure your moving day goes as smoothly as possible:

1. Make it a kid- and pet-free day

You love your children. You adore your puppy. You’ll love them even more if they’re not underfoot on moving day. Hire a sitter to watch your children, preferably off-site. Pets need to be put in a room where they will not be in the way of the loading process; even better, board them. This alleviates stress for your kids and pets, and you’ll feel better knowing they are somewhere safe so you can focus on the move.

2. Save some space

The last thing you want on moving day is to have your moving truck unable to park because there’s no space anywhere near your house. Many cities will give you a permit to block off a parking spot in front of your home (the process varies by city, so check with local officials). If there’s no official means of blocking space for the truck, talk to neighbors in the days leading up to your move, or try to hold the spot by parking your cars or friends’ cars there.

3. Pack an ‘open me first’ box

These supplies will serve you during the last days at your old home and during your first days in your new one. Fill the box (or boxes) with bedding, towels, toiletries, toilet paper, a change of clothes for each member of the family, medications, soap, shampoo, pet bowls and food, and favorite toys and activities for the kids. If your morning isn’t complete without a cup of tea, include a kettle, tea and mug; granola bars, trail mix or a box of cookies might also be a nice pick-me-up on unpacking day.

4. Be available

Even if you’ve hired professional movers, it’s in your best interest to be at your old house until all items have been moved out. Questions will inevitably arise, and you’ll want to be the one giving the answers. This also allows you to make one final trip through the house to make certain everything – even the skis tucked in the garage rafters and the toolbox in the back of the hall closet – gets loaded onto the truck.

5. Clean up – or pay someone else to do it

After the movers finish the heavy lifting, you need to do a final cleaning at the old place and, likely, a deep cleaning at the new house. Make sure you have all the supplies you need – after the truck has been loaded is not the best time to have to head to the store to buy mops and sponges. An even better way to remove the stress from moving day: hire a professional to come in and do the work for you.

Shared from Zillow Blog

U.S. construction spending hits biggest gain since 2007

page11construction*750xx3000 1688 0 156 - U.S. construction spending hits biggest gain since 2007U.S. construction spending is on a roll toward a $1 trillion volume in 2015 marking the best year for construction volume since 2007.

Construction volume in April, the latest month for which data are available, was up 9.7 percent over March to the tune of $81 billion. The data from the U.S. Census Bureau uses the monthly data trends to project the volume for the year.

If the $1 trillion threshold is crossed, 2015 will be the best year for construction volume since before the recession.

Monthly jumps in construction spending showed good progress. While residential showed no change from last year, it was up 8.5 percent from March. Non-residential construction was up 14.6 percent over 2014 and 6.8 percent over May. Multifamily was up 25.7 percent over last year, and single family was unchanged.

Office commercial and lodging led the increases gaining 26.2 percent and 25.5 percent, respectively, over March.

Public sector residential construction was up 26.7 percent over 2014 and up 14.7 percent from March. Non residential public construction was up just 3.1 percent over last year, but 16 percent over March.

Street and highway construction was up nearly 40 percent from March, reflecting construction starts as winter ended.

Shard from Nashville Business Journal

3 Strategic Moves for Competitive Home Buyers

When sellers are getting multiple offers, buyers must play smart to win.

shutterstock 105773432 dee7b3 900x350 - 3 Strategic Moves for Competitive Home BuyersIf you’re a prospective home buyer who has been making offers for many months without being accepted, it’s time to up your game. After all, while making lots of offers helps you learn about the market, the goal is to actually purchase a home, right?

Once you’ve found “the one” and you’re ready to get serious, it’s time to put your game face on and beat out the competition. Take comfort in knowing that most winning buyers are uncomfortable, nervous and financially stressed out at this point. It’s par for the course, but if you’re in it for the long haul, know that it will all eventually work out.

Here are three strategies for making an offer that sellers will pounce on.

Find out what’s important to the seller and give it to them

You want what the seller has, so you have to figure out exactly what they want — and then deliver.

Find out through the listing agent what their story is. Why are they selling? Have they found a home already? Are they moving out of town? Try to put yourself in their situation and imagine what you would want if you were them.

If you find out that they are in contract to purchase a home, for example, tempt them with a quick and clean sale to ease their stress. Have your inspection and appraisal done in a week, and remove all your contingencies quickly so the seller knows they have a sure thing with you.

If they need to find a new place to live, but must sell their current home first, offer them a “rent back” after the closing. This allows them to stay in their home knowing the money is in the bank, their debt relieved, and they don’t have to move twice or feel under the gun.

Make your loan a non-event

By now you should be working with a good local mortgage professional. Hopefully, this is someone recommended by your real estate agent.

The buyer’s loan is the biggest unknown for a seller. By the time you make this offer, your mortgage professional should have your entire file in place and updated.

If you’ve done this, the only unknowns are the appraisal and the title report, which come later. Be certain that the seller knows you have gone to great lengths to get your loan lined up, and that you are a sure thing. With the input of your mortgage professional and real estate agent, make your offer non-contingent on financing. That way, you are as good as cash. To cover yourself, make sure to order and complete the appraisal early on.

Overpay for the home

For someone who has not experienced and bought a home in a hot market, this probably sounds like the worst advice. But most buyers in competitive markets end up paying top dollar once they are in the drama of a bidding war.

It’s these buyers who have been beaten out over and over that make competitive markets strong, and it’s the nature of the beast. While it’s never good advice to pay more than you should, it’s easy to understand the mentality of the buyer in this situation.

Work closely with your agent, determine what price would take you over the edge, and know whether or not you could have an appraisal issue. Many buyers before you have gone through this process, and you got this far for a reason.

Buyers in hot markets find themselves in competitive situations because they not only want what everyone else wants, but also what’s in limited supply. While we can never predict what’s going to happen, if you are in the game for the long haul and plan on financing with a 30-year fixed loan, chances are you’ll be glad you made the effort.

Shared from Zillow News

Budget Friendly Curb Appeal Ideas Done in a Day

fibreglass 15 masonite textured fibreglass avantguard 1panel spanishcedar croxley - Budget Friendly Curb Appeal Ideas Done in a Day88 percent of homebuyers begin the process online, looking at pictures on the listing site. Good photos and real curb appeal help entice buyers to check out your house in person. You want to make a great first impression, so don’t feel scared to make a statement — you want buyers to fall in love with your house. The fixes below are minor and budget friendly enhancements that can be done in a day to help make your house more inviting and appealing, and help get potential buyers to schedule a showing!

92180b1da2311d61cc8d06c9c7b624d4 - Budget Friendly Curb Appeal Ideas Done in a DayGlam the Front Door

The entry is a huge focal point for potential buyers, especially when it’s one of the first things they see. Create appeal by cleaning the front door — wipe it down, remove dirt, update the color with some paint. The front door should play off a home’s interior: add a kick plate, swag or a seasonal wreath to reflect the interior style of the house.

Create Symmetry

It is known that humans find symmetry beautiful – symmetry is attractive to the human eye, especially in nature. Symmetry is also appreciated in the design world for its familiarity, balance and it works with every style. Using symmetry to entice potential buyers is a quick and cost-friendly tool to the home seller: compose light fixtures, plants and front-door accents based on symmetry to create welcoming and inviting entryways and boost the house’s curb appeal.

Makeover the Mailbox

If you have a mailbox, it can be a great way to accent your house and add a little touch of personality. If you’re going to replace the box, pick one that mimics the style and trim of the house. You also have the option of dressing up a mail box by painting the post to match the house’s exterior color, or you can surround it with flowers or other plants.

slide4 mobile - Budget Friendly Curb Appeal Ideas Done in a DayAdd Outdoor Lighting

A quick, easy, and budget friendly way of adding appeal to the outside of your house is to add outdoor lighting. Outdoor lighting adds a little something extra, and it can also provide safety and security. Homeowners have many options for lighting, from wired to solar, and lights can be purchased at many retailers and hardware stores. Install landscape lighting along paths and trees.

Patch Up the Grass

Pets, animals, weather and other events at your house can take a toll on your yard’s grass, and most buyers will notice a lawn that looks like it’s on its last leg. Cut out any dead spots and replace with sod, or, if you have time, replant with seed. If you live in a non-drought area, turn on the sprinklers: a lawn needs at least 1″ to 1 ½” of water per week and should be watered deeply 2-3 times per week.

7280C91E 9077 45FA 9B7D 1C2A4D466E5E - Budget Friendly Curb Appeal Ideas Done in a DayInstall Window Boxes

Window boxes can be a really budget friendly way to liven up the outside of a house. They help play up windows, and they can add a pop of color by way of plants or flowers. For a traditional look, choose boxes made of copper or iron, and pick painted wood for more of a cottage feel. Use a window box to play with flowers that will suit the lighting in the yard and the color scheme of the outside.

Renew Planters and Beds

Poorly maintained planters and flower beds can be a big letdown to potential buyers – especially when many view poor upkeep as an indication of what a house may look like inside. Be sure to prune overgrowth, pull weeds, plant extra flowers and add new mulch to restore life and color depleted by the sun and harsh weather. Adding a border around flower beds or along paths can be a great addition, and budget friendly. If your yard already has a border, clean and restore pieces that are worn or upgrade the stone altogether.

Another budget friendly fix you can do in less than a day is pressure washing any dirty siding, decks, patios, driveway or sidewalks. A pressure washer can be rented at any home improvement store for a small amount, and freshly washed pavement and siding can help make a home look revitalized. If you’re limited on outdoor space or have no yard, add some color by creating a container garden. These small gardens are easy to maintain and can easily be transported to your new residence once the sale is finalized. As a seller your top priority is getting the most out of your house — concentrating on small and easy fixes that are budget friendly can really help give your house that pop so many buyers look for.

Shared from Real Estate Advisor


Buying beats renting, but not by much in these places

Real estate prices are rising, but buying a home still makes more financial sense than renting.

rent vs buy - Buying beats renting, but not by much in these placesRight now, homeownership is 35% cheaper than renting on a national level, according to a report from Trulia. Last year, it was 33% cheaper to be a homeowner than a tenant.

Home prices have risen slightly faster than rents over the last year, the report found. But at the same time, mortgage rates remain low, providing a nice financial advantage to buyers.

In Honolulu, it’s a much closer call.

It’s 16% cheaper to buy than rent in Hawaii’s capital, but once monthly homeowner’s association fees (HOAs) are taken into account, the favor swings to tenants as it becomes 1% cheaper to rent, according to Trulia. The median monthly HOA fee in the city is $438, the second highest in the country behind $575 in New York City.

San Jose, Calif.; Lancaster, Penn.; Sacramento, Calif. and San Francisco rounded out the top five markets where buying offers the smallest edge over renting in the country.

Californians tend to have a smaller financial gain when it comes to buying a home: six out of the 10 housing markets where buying has the smallest benefit over renting are located in The Golden State, the report showed.

Rising home prices bring higher down payment requirements and closing costs, which means buyers in California need to have more cash on hand, said Ralph McLaughlin, housing economist at Trulia. “It would take a lot longer for a homebuyer to break even from the costs.”

On the other side, buying tends to provide more financial favor to those in the South. Sarasota, Fla., offers the biggest edge to buyers where it’s 55% cheaper to buy than rent this year, according to the report.

But just because it’s cheaper, doesn’t mean people are flocking to become homeowners. The homeownership rate fell to 63.7% in the first quarter of 2015, according to Census.

Saving for a 20% down payment is a big obstacle, McLaughlin, said. “Even though we are a few years out of the recession, it can still take quite a while to save up for a down payment, especially when rents are high.”

Low mortgage rates are a key factor in the calculations, and if rates start to rise, some markets could see a shift toward renting, according to McLaughlin, particularly San Jose, Lancaster and Honolulu.

“If interest rates make a significant increase, then it will make those market even more attractive to renters because it adds costs to home buying process,” he said.

The report analyzed the estimated median home value and rent in the 100 biggest housing markets in March and assumed a 3.87% 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment, itemizing tax deductions at the 25% bracket, and the buyer remaining in the home for seven years.

Here’s where the gap between buying and renting is narrow:

150512144025 buy home harder list custom 1 - Buying beats renting, but not by much in these places

Shared from CNN Money

5 Things You Absolutely Must Do Before Buying a Home

Think you’re ready to start your homeownership journey? Be sure to get all your ducks in a row first.

shutterstock 222123841 734942 900x350 - 5 Things You Absolutely Must Do Before Buying a HomePurchasing real estate can be a complex process, and it’s essential for people who want to make a smart wealth-building decision to buy the right property that suits their long-term needs. To prepare yourself for this life-changing event, be sure you take the following steps before starting the process.

Make sure you plan to stay a long time

Real estate purchases and sales have some of the highest transaction fees of any type of assets, so target a hold date of at least seven years — if not 10 or more. Otherwise you’ll be losing equity on each transaction.

If you don’t think you’ll stay in the property for a long time, keep looking until you find a property that you can call home, or keep renting until you decide you’re ready for a commitment.

Get your financing in order

Meet with a lender and have them pull your credit report about six to 12 months before you start the purchasing process. This way if there are any derogatory marks on your credit, you can work toward clearing those issues.

Also, have the lender qualify you based on your income and credit so you know the price range you can afford. Check anaffordability calculator first so you can go in with a general idea how much you can spend.

The lender can offer valuable advice, such as risky behaviors to avoid until you close escrow on your home. You’ll want to be sure you don’t make any large credit purchases, or transfer savings around between accounts. In addition, it’s essential to keep a consistent full-time work schedule, and make on-time payments for any loans, bills, or rent.

Find an agent

Ask friends and family, and do some online research to find a few real estate agents who know your area well and have good references. Interview at least three and discuss your plans with them.

The agent you choose should have at least five years experience in your local jurisdiction and be a full-time sales professional. It helps if they can show you that they’ve closed five to seven deals each year for several years. Verify that their license is in good standing with the state agency that regulates real estate sales professionals.

Take your time

You should study the local areas and take your time purchasing property. Buying real estate will most likely be the largest purchase of your life. Once you close escrow, there is no changing your mind. It’s all yours, and if you end up not liking the house and you sell within a few years, it could cost you significantly.

Be realistic

There are no “incredible deals” in real estate. There are only deals a buyer thinks is the deal of the century until they figure out (usually a few months after the purchase) why it isn’t the “incredible deal” they thought they bought.

Buying a home can be a great long-term wealth accumulation strategy, but it also can turn out to be a bad decision that will bring many regrets. It is a much more complicated process than most people know, and also significantly more involved than it was just 10 to 20 years ago.

Educate yourself as much as possible and plan the process well so you end up with a home you love and will keep for a long time. Doing the proper research and homework, plus making smart, deliberate decisions, is key to your real estate ownership success.

Shared from Zillow Blog

Smart Real Estate Moves That Will Pay You Back

Whether you’re new to the housing market or already live in the home of your dreams, these 6 moves can help put money in your pocket.

150424 rea buildwealthhome rent - Smart Real Estate Moves That Will Pay You Back

Rent Until You Can Stay Put

When deciding whether to rent or buy a home, don’t forget to fees, commissions, and closing costs that come with buying, says Darrow Kirkpatrick of CanIRetireYet.com. Local prices and appreciation trends matter too. Use the rent/buy calculator at Trulia.com to the tradeoffs. A good rule of thumb is to rent if you might move in three years or so.

150424 rea buildwealthhome buy - Smart Real Estate Moves That Will Pay You BackReady to Buy? Remember 28/36

Eight years after the real estate crisis, lenders are making mortgages more accessible. But don’t go back to the old days of high borrowing, even if a lender offers some wiggle room. Housing should take up no more than 28% of gross monthly income; housing plus other debt, 36% or less.

150424 rea buildwealthhome curbappeal - Smart Real Estate Moves That Will Pay You BackFix Up Your Home—the Cheap Way

Looking to sell fast? Curb appeal literally gets buyers in the front door. An overlooked simple project: a fresh seal coat on the driveway, which “gives a pop” of a first impression, says Kokomo, Ind., agent Paul Wyman.

150424 rea buildwealthhome luxeway - Smart Real Estate Moves That Will Pay You BackFix Up Your Home—the Luxe Way

You’ll get the most bang for your buck by adding living space, says Craig Webb of Remodeling magazine. An attic bedroom and basement remodel average $51,700 and $65,400, but, he says, “buyers will appreciate that you made space that wasn’t previously available.” (For a rundown of major projects and what they return in your area, check out Remodeling‘s annual Cost vs. Value survey.)

150424 rea buildwealthhome ditch30year2 - Smart Real Estate Moves That Will Pay You BackDitch the 30-Year Mortgage

The 30-year mortgage has been called the best friend of the middle class, since it allows families to buy bigger homes. But is that in your best interest? Meet your new buddy: the 15-year loan. The shorter term makes you stay on a tighter budget. The trick is to commit before picking a house, because “that really forces you to save,” says financial planner Ron Rogé. Say you can afford $1,950 payments on a $400,000 home with a 30-year loan at 3.75%. With a 15-year at 3%, you’d have to settle for a $310,000 home. But you’d have a better shot at retiring debt-free. And the total cost savings are immense.

150424 rea buildwealthhome neighborhood - Smart Real Estate Moves That Will Pay You BackPick the Right ‘Hood

“Don’t buy in the part of town that’s already hot—you’ll have missed the opportunity to buy low and sell high,” says Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. Look in an adjacent area “and wait for the cool to come to you.” And don’t listen to that old saw about buying the worst home on the best block. That will bite you when it comes time to sell. One surprising indicator of value? Starbucks. “Homes within a quarter-mile of Starbucks doubled in value, whereas the average home in the U.S. appreciated 65%” from 1997 to 2013, Humphries says.

Adapted from “101 Ways to Build Wealth,” by Daniel Bortz, Kara Brandeisky, Paul J. Lim, and Taylor Tepper, which originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of MONEY magazine.

Shared from Time