How To Use Your Tax Refund to Achieve your Home Goals

It is definitely not a surprise to why home buying season really kicks off around early spring or Tax Day. There is no better way to spend your refund check than investing in homeownership and possibly buying the home of your dreams. 

There are many ways that, as a buyer, you can use the money you get back from your tax refund like putting more money into your down payment fund, saving for closing costs, paying for your home inspection, etc.

As a seller, you can put more money into increasing your curb appeal or to necessary projects around the home that will help you sell your home and get your money’s worth.

Purchasing A Home

One way that you can use your tax refund to achieve your home buying goals is to pay down some of your debt. Your credit score is a crucial factor that will determine your mortgage interest rate so if you want to try and get the best rate possible for your situation, it would be a good idea to use any extra money to start paying down some of your high-interest credit card debt.

If you are looking to possibly increase the amount of money to put down, think about how much of your tax refund you want to use to do so. The more money you put down, the less your loan will be. Make sure to use a mortgage calculator to estimate your down payment and go from there.

You can also use your tax refund to pay for the home inspection,which is an examination of a real estate property’s condition, or any closing costs. Usually, the potential home buyer will pay for the inspection so it is a good idea to either set aside money to pay for this or use your refund if the timing aligns.

Selling A Home

There are also many ways that you can use your tax refund to help prepare to sell your home. Think of all the repairs or upgrades that are on your list to do before putting your house on the market, instead of setting aside money, use your tax refund to complete some of these items.

Many repairs are inexpensive and are very DIY-friendly but sometimes the materials you need or potential hiring of professionals can get a bit pricey.

Renovating your home can greatly increase the value of the home itself. Depending on what type of renovation you do, it will help make your home that much more desirable to buy and live in. 

Overview

If you haven’t decided what you are going to do with your refund yet and you are either thinking of buying or selling a home, take the time to think about whether using your refund on necessary steps during the process is a good idea for you.

 

What To Do as a Buyer in a Seller’s Market

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Even in a seller’s market, buyers can still get what they want. There are many ways for buyers to still have leverage or negotiate to get what they want out of buying a house.

The first thing buyers should do, especially in this market, is make sure you hire a trusted real estate agent that knows your area. Do some research beforehand about real estate agents in your area and talk to them about your wants and needs. You will find the perfect agent for you after discussing what you want and what they can do for you. A trusted real estate agent will help you move quickly and efficiently to get the house you want without blowing your budget out of the water.

Next, prioritize your budget and your wants and needs. You might have to sacrifice some wants in order to get more of the items on your needs list. Make sure you have a plan in order of your budget and how high you can go.

Also, do some research on how much you can afford for your down payment.  There are many loan options available so take the time to read and talk to lenders about what is best for your financial situation. You might want to consider putting down a larger down payment that might beat other offers. This will make your offer stand out to the sellers.

Speaking of the financials, you might want to consider adding an escalation clause to your offer. An escalation clause means that your offer will outbid other offers up to a certain amount.

Have a set plan of what areas you would like to live in and if you would be willing to move a little further away to get more of what you want and need in your home.

To show that you are serious about buying a home and that you can afford it, get pre-approved. This will show buyers that you are more than just your word and that you will be there until the end and spend the money to get the home.

Always expect that a bidding war will occur during a seller’s market so make sure you plan ahead and draft up an offer with your real estate agent that could compete without blowing your budget.

As long as you have a plan and a great real estate agent by your side, you can still win in a seller’s market.

Why You Should Sell Your Home in 2022

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If you are debating whether or not to sell your home this year, you might want to consider researching why now is the best time.

Although the housing market has been crazy since the start of the pandemic, it has not slowed down. The strong demand for homes and the very limited supply of homes is still prominent. If you want to make sure you sell your home for top dollar, now is the time to do it.

The housing supply is still extremely low which means that if you put your home on the market, you are bound to see multiple offers in different shapes and sizes. Some offers may be all cash, offering way above the asking price, waiving contingencies, etc. The housing supply has actually been at the lowest we have seen in January since 2017.

Although the housing supply is at its lowest, the amount of people wanting to or planning to buy a home has definitely increased. Buyers or potential buyers are a lot more active than usual at this time of year which is a good thing to hear for sellers. The low number of homes are not stopping people from buying. Even more people are planning to buy a home this year to try and beat rising mortgage rates. Home buyers or potential home buyers are realizing that it may be now or never to get the best mortgage rate for a home and that they should act sooner rather than later.

According to the January Home Purchase Sentiment Index by Fannie Mae, 76% of consumers believe now is the right time to sell. There are significantly more buyers in the market right now than there are homes which drives the price of homes up. This is very attractive to sellers because they could possibly get more for their house than they thought possible due to people offering over asking price or bidding wars happen.

If you are planning on selling your home, the demand for houses on the market is not just increasing, it is at an extreme high right now. Take advantage of listing your house as soon as possible and be at the forefront of this very high demand of buyers. This could be in your favor and getting the money and terms that you want.

In order to get ready to sell your house, make sure you get in contact with a local real estate agent and get things moving.

How to Reach your Home Buying Goals in 2022

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When you are thinking about buying a new home, the conversation and stress around the idea of how you will be able to afford it is a big one. There are many costs to think about when buying a home including down payment, closing costs, inspections, mortgage, etc. Plus, there are moving expenses if you need to hire a moving company or rent a U-Haul to move your furniture. 

Saving up for a home may seem like an impossible task but do not worry! As long as you start saving and plan far enough in advance of when you want to buy, you will be in good shape. There are many steps and ways that you can take to ensure that you will be able to afford a home and you can reach your home buying goals this year.

First things first, figure out how much home you can actually afford. You do not want to overestimate what you can afford when looking to buy a house. Getting pre-approved will show how much you can afford to pay for a home.

Next, determine how much you want to save for a down payment. You may have heard that you need to put at least 20% down but that is not true. Though putting 20% down will save money over time, it is not required. Depending on your credit score and income, you might be able to get a much lower down payment as little as 3% down. If you qualify for certain loans like a VA loan, you might even be able to put 0% down. It all depends on your certain situation. Once you figure out how much home you can afford, you can then figure out realistically how much you can put down.

The first step in saving money is budgeting. Figure out where your money is going and how much. Note how much you spend on necessities such as rent, credit cards, utilities, etc and then note how much you spend on nonessentials like restaurants and entertainment. Once you do this, you can figure out how much you can cut back on and where you need to cut corners to be able to save more money.

If you are prone to things like shopping and eating out, try to limit spending here or cutting it out entirely. This will help you a lot along the way. You may even notice you spend more than you thought on things like this.

In order to receive more money coming in, you can pick up a side hustle, if you have the time. You can drive for a rideshare company or a food delivery company. You can also pet sit or babysit if you know people who are going out of town or need a night off.

When saving to buy a house, it all comes down to having a solid plan in place. Research your loan options and figure out how much your down payment can be. When it is time, apply to be pre-approved and get the process started!

 

Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Professional

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Selling a home may seem like a daunting and difficult task to many. If you are selling the home on your own, you will be responsible for handling and dealing with a lot of difficult steps and aspects to the process. If you hire a real estate professional to help with the process, you will have plenty of guidance to make the process a whole lot easier.

Real estate agents have the knowledge and skills that are extremely important when it comes to selling a house. They know how to go through the process with ease and accuracy. This way, you will always have a person that will guide you through each step efficiently making sure you do not do anything wrong or even miss a step.

Before hiring a real estate agent to sell your home, make sure you do your research first. Search for local agents in your area and see what kind of homes they have sold and in what specific areas. This will help you narrow down your options to ensure you choose the right agent for you and your home.

Selling a home requires a lot of time and effort. To make sure you are doing everything right, the expertise of a real estate agent will get you far. They will have answers to questions about what you should do to your home to increase curb appeal and value. You don’t want to spend your money on things in your home that you do not have to update so consult with your agent to see what exactly you need to do in order to list your home.

Working with an agent can guarantee you that they will use their time and resources to ensure your home will get the marketing it deserves. Agents have plenty of resources and even followers on social media that will get your house the recognition it deserves to find its potential next buyer.

If you are selling your home without an agent, you might not price your home correctly. You either will be pricing it way too high or even too low to where you don’t get your money’s worth. Selling with an agent, your home will be accurately priced on the condition of the house and compared to other recently sold homes in your area.

If you sell your home without an agent, you will have to be the one to communicate with everyone and responsible for all negotiations along the way with the buyer, buyer’s agent, inspection company, and appraisal company. That will be a lot of work, especially if you don’t truly know what to do so having an agent to be the communicator is key.

Along with communicating, the legal documents are another important part of the home selling process. There are many kinds of documents that will need to be read, looked over, and signed. It’s quite hard to understand every little detail that is written in every document but that is why you have a real estate agent that does understand, to explain everything to you. Your agent knows exactly what every piece of paper means and helps you avoid any misunderstandings or mistakes.

All in all, there are quite a lot of reasons why you should hire a professional when selling your house. You want to make sure that your house is in good hands when it comes to selling and getting the best deal possible. This is possible with the help of an agent. So do your research in the area and find the right agent for you and your house.

How To Make Your Offer Stand Out

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In the crazy seller’s market, we are in right now, multiple offers and bidding wars on one home are happening more often than before. The housing supply is still lower than the housing demand.

If you are wondering how to get the house you want, without overpaying and waiving things like inspections, and make sure your offer is the best it can be, for your situation of course, and beat out the rest of the competition, check out and follow these tips.

Many people might skip over important steps to put in an offer quickly. If you follow all or most of these steps, you will have the edge up on your competitors.

Prove You Can Afford the Home

 The first thing that you need to do is show the seller that you are a serious buyer and that you can actually close on the home. If you are planning on applying for a mortgage, obtaining a mortgage pre-approval will show the seller that you can actually afford the home. You will need an actual preapproval letter, not just a pre-qualification. A pre-approval letter confirms that you will be able to borrow a certain amount based on their evaluation of your credit score, assets, and income. While a pre-qualification is just an estimation of how much you could borrow.

A pre-approval from a lender verifies your price range to show what homes you can afford. Sellers give major preference to buyers who are pre-approved because when the time comes to close, they know you will have the money.

If you are an all-cash buyer, showing proof of funds along with your offer is a great idea.

Don’t Max Out Your Budget 

Just because you got pre-approved for an ‘x’ amount of money, does not mean that you should offer that exact amount. It is a good idea to leave some wiggle room in your offer amount to possibly cover the down payment and closing costs.

Maxing your pre-approval could eliminate the wiggle room and the seller already knows you are spending up to your limit which might be a reason they will not choose you. They want to make sure you do not have to back out in the future, due to many reasons, such as interest rates rising.

When making your offer, you might want to think about offering a bit over the asking price. Especially in the crazy market we are in now, offers can be incredibly competitive so it’s a good idea to think about if you can afford offering over asking price. According to the November 2021 Index from NAR, 40% of offers today are above the list price.

Add Extra to Your Offer

Adding extra things onto your offer, can show the sellers that you are serious about buying their home. An escalation clause, for example, means that you make an offer for x amount of money but if there is a higher offer, you will increase the price to a y amount of money.

You might also want to think about the contingencies. It’s not always best to waive the financing contingency unless you are paying cash but waiving the appraisal contingency, if you have the financial situation to do so, might make your offer stand out.

Hire a Trusted Real Estate Advisor

 Hiring a trusted real estate agent will help you put together a competitive but fair offer that aligns with your financial situation. Make sure you do your research before hiring a real estate agent. You want to make sure you pick the right agent for you and your area. A trusted professional will not only understand you but understand what you should do when looking for a home and especially putting in an offer.

Real estate agent has insight into what has worked with previous clients when putting in an offer and they also know what types of offers sellers are looking for, especially in this competitive market. Catering your offer to what the seller needs might help favor your offer in the long run when they are going over the offers.

Show Them Their Home Is in Good Hands

 If you are buying a home that someone has lived in for a while or has sentimental attachment to, you want to show them that their house will be in good hands. Adding notes of how you can’t wait to make certain memories in the house, how you can’t wait to watch your kids grow up in the house, or even how you love some design details of the home will go a long way.

The Right Offer for You

 Talk it through with your trusted real estate agent about what is best for your situation and make the best and right offer for you.

How to Prepare Your Home For The Winter

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Now that the colder months are upon us, prepping and preparing your home for the cold is very important. You do not want a snowstorm and cold weather to hit before you are prepared.

Your home can quickly deteriorate if you do not properly take care of it. There are many things that you can do to prepare your home for the cold and possible snowy weather.

The first thing to do is check your heating and cooling system. You do not want to wake up one morning to see your breath in your home and find out that your heating system is not working. One of the most important things you can do at the very least is change your filters. Another thing to do for checking your heating and cooling system is to get it inspected by a professional HVAC contractor.

If you have a fireplace in your home, clean your chimney. If you know how to do this, then you can do it yourself, if not hire a professional chimney sweep company to do it. You want to make sure it is safe to use. Inspect your old firewood to make sure it is not rotten and if it is, move it away from your home. Order new firewood, if needed, and make sure to stack it properly in a good location.

Check your windows for any air leaks and if there are any, make sure to seal them up to save on your energy bill. There are a few ways that you can seal up your windows such as using v-seal weather stripping, rope caulk, shrink film, and more.

Winter is the time of year where most house fires happen. Check and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly and check the batteries. Replace the batteries if they are old. Winter is the time where the heat is on full blast and fireplaces are going. Windows are closed so the home is closed up, so carbon monoxide is a bigger problem. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, look into getting one.

Inspect your roof for any leaks. You do not want to discover roof leaks after it snows. Look for missing or broken shingles or cracked caulk or rust spots. Some repairs are easy to do yourself but if it is a big repair, hire a roofing company.

If you have patio furniture, look into getting covers, if you don’t already have them, to protect the furniture. If you have a place to move them inside, like a garage or shed, do that as well.

If you live in an area where it snows, make sure your snow shovels are in good condition and if you have a snowblower, fire it up so see if it still works before the snow hits. Take the inventory of your salt situation and see if you need to buy more so you can prepare your walkways and driveway with salt when the snow does hit.

 

Moving in Wet Weather: Tips on How to Stay Dry

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You might be able to decide what day you are going to move but you cannot decide or even change the weather. If it happens to rain on the day you are moving, there are many things that you can do to prepare. You do not have to deal with wet boxes and potentially tracking your new home with muddy and wet footprints.

Of course, you can always change the day that you are going to move if it is going to rain down, but if you are on a strict timeline, you might not be able to do that. Here are a few tips for you if it does happen to rain on moving day.

The first thing that you want to do is get some supplies to prepare. Purchasing covers for floors is a great way to start so that you can protect the floors in your new home. A few covers that will work great are tarps and non-slip mats. You can also put these covers outside your home near the entryway. A good tip with covers is to tape them down so they are not moving around. You might also want to invest in some furniture covers to protect the cloth and wood of some items.

Another great tip is to find a place in your home where you can gather all the boxes and furniture that is not outdoors to minimize the risk of damp and soggy boxes.

If you are moving in a truck, you might want to consider laying down blankets on the floor of the truck so that if the floor gets wet, your boxes and furniture will not.

Moving on to clothing, wearing appropriate shoes such as non-slip shoes or sneakers is the best way to go. You want to reduce the risk of slipping, especially when carrying boxes and furniture, so wearing good shoes that will provide support is a good idea.

While moving boxes inside, if you have enough people, create an assembly line of passing boxes off to one another to reduce the risk of injury. Having everyone running outside to bring boxes in could end in an injury faster. Creating an assembly line could also speed up the process of moving your boxes in or out!

Once you get to your new home, grab some old towels, and wipe down furniture and other items as soon as they come in the door to manage excess water. If any of your boxes do suffer and get wet, unload the item in those boxes and dry anything inside so that nothing could potentially be damaged.

If it does end up raining or snowing on your moving day, make sure to take the time to prepare!

Should I Keep Renting, or Should I Buy?

The question whether you should keep renting or if you should take the plunge to buy is a loaded one. There are many pros and cons to both options, and it ultimately depends on your situation.

If you are currently renting, every year when your lease is up, you are pegged with the same decision; should I really keep renting for another year? You may even hear from others how you should stop wasting your time and money with renting and just buy instead.

There are many things you should research or think about if you are deciding whether to rent for another year or if you want to go ahead and buy a home.

You may be choosing to rent because there is a chance you will have to move for whatever reason. When you are renting, having to move with not a lot of notice is much easier than when you own a home. But, in today’s market, houses are selling quite fast. So, if you are worried you won’t be able to list and sell your home in time, you might be surprised. The way the market is going right now, homes are coming and going so much quicker than years before. You can list your home and potentially have offers within 24 hours.

If you are renting because you don’t think you have enough money to buy a home or even for a down payment, there are many ways you can go about that. There are plenty of loans out there for different types of situations.

Rents are increasing at an alarming rate and according to the September Rental Report on Realtor.com, The U.S. median rental price increased 13.6% year-over-year. So, with rents increasing, you might want to consider buying a home and getting your money’s worth to pay for a home instead of just somewhere that is temporary.

If you are the type of person who likes home projects and renovations, buying a home is for you. With renting, you don’t have as creative freedom that you have when you own a home. Owning a home gives you the decorative and creative freedom to really make it your own space.

There are many reasons to rent or buy a home and you may not be in the right situation to do so but if you are unsure of your options, talk to a real estate agent!

Seller’s Leverage Still Exists in Today’s Market

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Although we are starting to see more houses enter the market, the demand is still much higher than the supply. This means that sellers still have the leverage. Today’s buyers are really motivated to buy a home this year before we get into 2022.

Mortgage rates are starting to climb back up with rates going past 3% so buyers are more determined than ever to buy a home while mortgage rates are still lower than normal. Mortgage rates are predicted to rise even more in the early stages of 2022 so now is definitely a good time to buy.

Sellers who have listed their homes in the past few months and now have an advantage, a leverage you might call it, over buyers in the market right now. Buyers might be desperate to get a home before prices increase even more and mortgage rates skyrocket. This means that sellers have leverage when negotiating with buyers to get the most out of the offers and deals.

Buyers want to buy before rates and prices rise even higher. But buyers also want to be the winning bid on their dream home. All of these give the seller leverage in selling their home at a good price, maybe even higher than originally planned to possibly cover other costs. Sellers also can negotiate the best terms that fits their needs.

Houses these days are getting multiple offers since the demand is much higher than the supply and often, they can result in a bidding war. If this happens and you are the seller, take the time to look at each offer you get. Do not say yes to the first offer or even the offer with the highest amount. Look at the terms of each offer and which one has the most and best perks for you.

Sellers can pick and choose which offer best fits their needs. Whether the terms have a better closing date, all cash offer, waiving fees or inspections, whatever is best, the seller can choose the offer that has the best terms.

But remember, if you are a buyer, do not push too hard past your budget. Make sure you are smart with your offer and only offer what you can afford and make happen without emptying the bank.

If you are very unsure of what is a good offer for your house and what you need to do, hire a great real estate agent to help with the sale of your home. Having a real estate agent show you the ropes and answer your questions, will go a long way when it comes to selling your home, especially in this market.