Lights! Camera! Action!

movie set

Laws on video and audio recording vary by state, but to cope with increased scrutiny from watchful sellers, some real estate professionals are advising their clients to be wary during showings. Cameras that capture a buyer’s exuberance or dissatisfaction while viewing a home could reveal important negotiation leverage for the seller to later use against you.

That’s why it’s important to work out a plan for communicating when viewing properties with your real estate agent. Some agents have even directed their clients to text them their comments while they walk through a home—even when they’re standing next to each other.

More and more property owners are purchasing cameras for their homes, especially before placing them on the real estate market. It’s something I make all of my buyers very aware of when showing property. One tactic I have used is to have my clients pretend the owner is sitting in the living room while viewing the home.

Some agents in our area are even making an effort to be more transparent about hidden cameras at their listings. The Northern Nevada MLS does not require REALTORS® to note whether there is audio or video inside a home listed for sale. Hopefully Nevada agents are advising buyer agents in the private remarks section which is not publicly shown. The South Lake Tahoe Association of REALTORS® however requires agents to provide this information to their MLS. Regardless it is always better to hold your opinion of a property till you exit the home. Seller’s may not even provide this information to their listing agent.

Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Buyer’s Agent

Why Have a Buyer’s Agent When Purchasing a House?

Buying a house is one of the most significant undertakings you’ll make in your entire life. It’s not simply about finding the right home for you and your family; more than anything, buying a house is about making the right financial investment on a long-term basis.

Before you even put down your earnest money deposit, an exceptional buyer’s agent will have been doing several things for you, including searching for the right property and starting the due diligence process when you do.

There are a plethora of reasons you should turn to a buyer’s agent when you start the house-buying process. Below are some of the most essential reasons to hire a buyer’s agent when purchasing your next house:

1. It’s Free

One of the first things you need to know about hiring a buyer’s agent is that it’s not going to cost you anything. That’s right; 99 percent of the time it won’t cost you a dime!

A buyer’s agent will be paid by the home seller once the home is sold. Not only is it free, but a buyer’s rep will be saving you both time and money. As always, it’s essential to have a good working relationship with an agent. In other words, make sure you find one that you feel comfortable working with.

2. Going to the Listing Agent Isn’t Smart

For some reason, lots of buyers think they’ll get a better deal if they go to the seller’s agent. This is one of the biggest myths in real estate and could cost you considerable money in the long run. Quite often, buyers think if they go to the seller’s agent, they’ll give them back some of the commission. While this may be true, the agent works in the best interests of the seller, not you!

Saving a couple thousand dollars in commission but overpaying on a home by $10,000 works out to a net loss of $8,000! In addition, the agent is going to be doing everything in their power to close the sale, not what’s best for you. Avoiding dual agency is something every smart buyer does. Always have your own designated buyer’s agent.

3. Professional Experience

A buyer’s agent should have the right kind of professional experience in finding the right home for you. Finding the right property is a time-consuming process, and it’s easy to find yourself spending hours viewing properties that are not right for you.

It’s crucial to have a bit of help, especially if you’re a first-time buyer or a very busy person. Having an agent screening the properties for you can save you lots of time. Not only that, but they’ll also view properties to make sure they’re in good order.

A buyer’s agent who has been in the business for a long time will pick up on common problems, such as a damp basement, roofing problems and leaks.

4. How Well Do You Know the Area?

Having a buyer’s agent on board when you move to a new town or part of the country is especially vital. After all, you may not know the area that well. Having someone with local knowledge means that you’re much more likely to end up investing in a property in the “right” part of town. An exceptional agent that services primarily buyers will know their way around the local area well. They’ll know the popular neighborhoods that are appealing to most buyers and those that aren’t.

Also, an agent will make sure the amenities that are important to you are close by. Schools and leisure facilities are often on the top of most homebuyers’ agenda.

5. Valuation and Finance

Valuing a property is not easy when you don’t have a lot of experience. When you’re buying your first or second home, you’ll need all of the help that you can get. Nothing beats turning to a professional to help you purchase a property at fair market value, or less, if you’re lucky. One of the best skills of a buyer’s agent is to be able to evaluate the right purchase price for the home.

Financing can be a nightmare, as well. Sure, you may have your mortgage preapproval, but when it comes to buying a home and financing it, there’s often a mountain of paperwork to work through. A buyer’s agent will help you to do so, and make sure the process stays on track. They explain fundamental real estate terms you might not be familiar with. For example, a significant percentage of buyers don’t know the difference between earnest money and a down payment. Understanding the function of each of these things is crucial for a buyer to understand. There are a myriad of others.

6. How Much Time Do You Have for Your Showings?

Not having a buyer’s agent can mean you end up at a lot of showings or viewings that aren’t right for you. When you contract in a buyer’s agent at the start of the process, they’ll make sure that they schedule everything for you. It’s like having your own personal assistant. Tell them when you’re free, and they’ll do most of the work for you.

7. The Value of Contracts

Never underestimate the value of contracts when it comes to buying a home. Arrangements are not only about money; timelines are established in the purchase contract, as well. A buyer’s agent will make sure you follow through with any necessary responses required under the terms of the contract. This is critical because not doing so could put your escrow funds at risk of loss.

An excellent agent will keep you informed and on track so that you don’t lose any of your escrow funds. There’s also an abundance of smaller details you need to deal with before you sign on the dotted line. Many of them form part of modern-day contract law. Changing regulations are something else a buyer’s agent will help you with.

8. Professional Contacts

Once you’ve bought your first home, you’ll appreciate how many people form part of the buying process. It’s not just you and your bank manager. You’ll also need the help of other professionals, such as a home inspector. What if the home inspector picks up a problem during the inspection, and you need an estimate for work? A buyer’s agent is likely to have the right contacts at their fingertips, and will also be familiar with the process.

9. A Buyer’s Agent: Your Negotiator

Many of us don’t like to negotiate, and we’re not always that good at it. You may like the seller and don’t want to upset them. After all, we’re only human. It’s hard to say “no,” or ask someone you like to drop the price or negotiate a needed repair.

Let’s go back to that home inspection that picked up a slight problem. Ask yourself if you have the skill, and confidence, to renegotiate the price of the property. It takes both to close a deal. Once again, this is something that your buyer’s agent can do for you.

10. Let’s Stay on Schedule

Staying on schedule is an important part of the process of buying a home. You may need to get out of your old house on a specific date, or you may have a starting date for a new job. Trying to pack up your old home and keeping the ball rolling is not easy.

Many buyers don’t realize that a buyer’s agent will keep things going while you focus on moving out of your property or drive across the country to take up that promotion you’re getting.

Final Thoughts

An excellent buyer’s agent will have your back at all times. That is perhaps the best way to look at the relationship. They’re your fiduciary in the strongest sense of the word. Once it’s all over, you’ll be glad that you decided to ask for the help of a buyer’s agent instead of going through the buying process on your own!

Story Provided by Bill Gassett

3 Year-End Steps For Every Renter

Along with year-end parties, comes New Year goal setting, right? It’s time to look forward and envision where you see yourself this time next year. Is owning a home on your list of goals?

Before you stumble upon that dream home while out looking at holiday lights, take these three simple year-end steps that will jump start your journey to homeownership. You’ll be well on your way to a new home before that New Year’s Eve countdown begins. 

1. Simple budget review

How much are you currently spending each month on rent and other housing related expenses, like utilities? What is that amount annually? Do you anticipate any rent increases?

Take a look at your other expenses too. You want to have a solid understanding of your monthly income and expenses so you know what you can handle for a mortgage payment. This exercise will keep you from jumping into a mortgage payment that stretches you and your family too far.

And, with homeownership comes home maintenance so it’s important to have a cushion for those necessary (and sometimes fun!) projects.

2. Interview lenders

Mortgages are never one size fits all. You want to work with a lender who can listen to your goals and budget to find the best fit for you. Make a plan to talk to at least three lenders before year end. Learn about their low down payment options, fees and the monthly and lifetime cost of your mortgage.

Check out our five essential lender interview questions for a guide on what to ask prospective mortgage lenders.

3. Search for down payment programs

Do you know about homebuyer programs that can help you save on your down payment and closing costs? Down payment programs can give you a major homeownership boost in the form of grants, forgivable loans and tax credits. But, they also require approvals and paperwork so you want to get your options on the table soon.

Investigate what’s available in the area you plan to buy. Use our program finder to answer a few question about your household to narrow down your options. Review your results with your agent and lender.

Good luck and happy holidays!

Story Provided by Down Payment® Resource

Real Estate Referrals

Referrals

“I’d like to ask you a quick question because I’m taking on new clients in my real estate business now. Who do you know of your family, friends, neighbors or work associates that I can help sell a home or buy a new one in the next 6-12 months?”

Latest Real Estate Report

NAR

Here come the holidays. It’s the time of year for good cheer. It’s also the time of year when many sellers take their homes off the market, or wait until January to list them. But the smart money says they’re wrong to do so. For one thing, there’s usually less competition to attract would-be buyers during the holiday season. Busy with holiday parties, buying gifts and perhaps taking a family vacation, sellers don’t have the time to make their homes ready for sale, so they don’t even bother. But if they wait, other folks in the same boat will also be listing their houses. And before long, all of you could be vying for the same buyer. For another thing, people out looking at houses during the holiday season are not tire-kickers. They’re serious. They are just as busy as you are, but they’ve made buying a priority. Some need to find a place right away — maybe they’ve been transferred into the area, for example. And since they won’t have much inventory to choose from, you might be able to sell quicker — and at a higher price. Inside, your holiday decorations will make the house festive and welcoming. Yes, you’ll have to keep the place tidy. But nothing is as inviting as holiday decor. “Decorated homes engage the emotions,” says Debbie Reynolds of Platinum Properties in Clarksville, Tennessee. “Remember: Emotions buy.” Source: Lew Sichelman, The Housing Scene

A new survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 63% of those polled in Q3 2019 say they believe now is a good time to buy. Of those respondents, 34% said they “strongly” believe now is a good time to buy. “Interest rates are at historically low levels, so I see no sign of the optimism about home buying fading,” said NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. The survey reported that of those who believe now is a good time to buy, the silent generation (born between 1925 and 1945) were most likely to believe now is a good time to buy, with 75% expressing that belief. Older baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1954) followed as 72% believe now is a good time to buy a home. According to the NAR, 54% of respondents who have an income of under $54,000 said now is a good time to buy a home. The amount of people who believe now is a good time to buy increased as incomes went up, rising to 64% for those earning between $50,000 and $100,000. Seventy-two percent of those who make more than $100,000 say now is a good time to buy. “Not surprisingly, as incomes increase, the process of buying a home is less of a strain,” Yun said, “This has always been the case, but in this third quarter survey, we see it to an even greater extent – high earners are more open to buying a home.” Source: DS News

A strong economy, coupled with low interest rates, has jacked up the demand and the prices for vacation homes, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The data focused on 206 counties, or 6.6 percent of the total housing market, identified by the U.S. Census Bureau as vacation home counties. The median sale prices within vacation home counties increased by 36 percent between 2013 and 2018, compared to the 31 percent increase during the same period on all existing and new home sales. “Some people may visualize the common popular vacation destinations in the U.S. when considering a vacation home, such as counties in Florida or California,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “And although those locations have their share of vacation properties, we see that some homeowners prefer some of the other counties, including those in Massachusetts and New Jersey. These areas are often known for harsh weather conditions, but are popular nonetheless.” Source: NAR 

3 People You Need on Your Home Buying Team

DOWN PAYMENT MONEY

When it comes to home buying, you don’t have to go it alone. You need a team to succeed. Here are three key people you want on your side.

Homeownership advisor

A nonprofit homeownership advisor can serve as a home buying coach, helping you understand the best plan for your individual situation. They can guide you on homeownership process, how to work on credit issues, understand different loan terms and find homeownership education courses.

Find HUD approved housing counseling agencies or search across Framework’s network of homeownership advisors.

Homeownership education is often required for down payment assistance programs and helps set you up for success. The type of course may vary from program-to-program. Get a jump start by checking out online courses.

Lender

Your lender can offer a range of mortgage loans that may also include down payment and closing cost help. Ask your lender what down payment assistance programs they offer. Discuss your eligibility for programs and compare programs with first mortgage options.

Your lender can also help you navigate the down payment program application process while you are getting qualified for a home loan.

Real estate agent

When you use a down payment assistance program, both you and the home must qualify. That’s why it’s really important for your real estate agent to know what home financing solutions you are considering.

Your agent can help you find homes that are eligible for down payment help and also present the best offer to a seller.

When interviewing agents, ask how often they work with first-time homebuyers, their process for educating new buyers and their knowledge of down payment assistance programs.

Team work in real life

ABC News 7 On Your Side Consumer Expert, Michael Finney highlights just how a home buying team works in a recent story.

Ivan is a 24-year-old new homebuyer who used his team to buy a home in a very competitive, high-cost market. He used a down payment assistance program for the $8,000 down he needed on the $410,000 home.

Watch how they all helped Ivan reach his goal.

Ready to find out what programs are available in your market? Use our program search tool. On each program, you can discover “participating lenders” who are approved to work with the program.

DOWN PAYMENT RESOURCE®

Carson Valley Real Estate Update for October 2019

Carson Valley Update

Days on market in October increased in both the 89410 zip code and the rest of the Carson Valley areas. However the total number of sales in the Carson Valley declined by 11% while the 89410 zip code remained the same as at this time last year. The median price in the 89410 zip increased by 2.7% over last year though while the entire Carson Valley declined by 6.3%. This last bit of information really only says that those with lower priced homes decided to sell outside the 89410 zip while those within the downtown, Ruhenstroth and Pinenut areas had sales from higher priced listings. The important figures to note here are the increase in the days on market and the decline in the total number of sales. This typically means a slowdown in the market place however we’ll watch to see what occurs over the next few months to see. Please call if I can help you with any real estate related questions or concerns. Robert Stiles, REALTOR® CHASE INTERNATIONAL NV BS.1001136

FHA Condo Buyers Get Relief Soon

HUD

In an effort to promote affordable and sustainable homeownership, especially among credit-worthy first-time buyers, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) published a final rule which establishes a new condominium approval process. The polices become effective October 15, 2019. FHA’s new rule introduces a new single-unit approval process to make it easier for individual condominium units to be eligible for FHA-insured financing; extends the recertification requirement for approved condominium projects from two to three years; and allows more mixed-use projects to be eligible for FHA insurance. “Condominiums have increasingly become a source of affordable, sustainable homeownership for many families and it’s critical that FHA be there to help them,” said U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. The vast majority (84 percent) of FHA-insured condo buyers have never owned a home before. While there are more than 150,000 condominium projects in the U.S., only 6.5 percent are approved to participate in FHA’s programs. As a result of FHA’s new policy, it is estimated that 20,000 to 60,000 condominium units could become eligible for FHA-insured financing annually. Source: Forbes

Saratoga Springs Estates Update

saratoga springs estates update

The community of Saratoga Springs Estates has been quite busy over the past year.  There have been 28 sales with a median sales price of $499,000.  Days on market has averaged 79.  There are currently 6 active listings as of September 29, 2019 with two more properties in escrow.  Saratoga Springs has a Homeowners Association which is currently managed by Incline Property Management.  Dues cover common area maintenance and are currently $240 annually.  For more information contact Robert Stiles, REALTOR® at 775-309-8454.