The Best Times to Buy, Sell, or List a Home

selling-home-vegasA common question from a buyer or seller is: what is the best time to buy or sell a home?

In the clothing world, it makes sense to get the best “deal” on winter clothes at the end of winter and that you likely will pay top dollar for a swimsuit when it’s warmer. Does the same trend hold true for real estate purchases and sales? Not really. But there are some considerations a buyer or seller should make as they enter the market that could have an impact on the transaction.

Spring and fall are better times for buyers.

Let’s be clear. You can’t ever time a home purchase. Buying a home isn’t like buying a car or an iPad. The home buying process is a journey, one that happens on your own time and only after you’ve done enough research, seen enough homes, and have your financial house in order.

At any one time there is a brand-new buyer entering the market and then another who has done enough research and becomes a very serious buyer. Nobody can control the evolution, but something for a buyer to consider is that real estate inventory tends to fluctuate by season. Each spring and fall we tend to see an increase in home inventory, and more inventory means more options for buyers.

Holidays and winter are the best times for sellers.

It’s not conventional for a seller to list their home before the holidays or in the dead of winter for obvious reasons, but serious buyers don’t care about the season or timing. At any one point of the year, there will be a very motivated, experienced buyer ready to make an offer, no matter the season. There have been contracts written on Thanksgiving, escrows closed on New Year’s Eve and there are even serious buyers who have made offers using DocuSign from a beach in Hawaii.

Sellers believe that it’s more conventional to list for the spring “selling” season and then again after the summer. If you go the conventional route, you will see more competition. If you can sell “off season,” you might fare better because there are still serious buyers, but less homes for sale.

Best time to list a home.

The Sunday open house, particularly the first Sunday of the month, is the holy grail of real estate.

For decades, agents and sellers worked hard on a listing with a deadline being the first open house. The “for sale” sign, which made the listing official a generation ago, would go in front of the house days leading up the first open house. In the digital age, the listing goes “live” online.

Sellers and agents work hard to clean, paint, or prep the home in time for the photo shoot. Agents and sellers tend to rush to the finish and you will see many listings hit the market late Thursday afternoon or Friday morning, with Sunday being the first showing. Instead, try listing on Monday or Tuesday and don’t do any showings until the open house on Sunday. You can build momentum and have a very strong first open house.

As much as buyers and sellers try to strategize the timing of a real estate purchase or sale, it’s never that easy. Unlike Macy’s or Target, who control inventory and monitor competitive activity, there isn’t one seller in real estate. Sellers are unrelated and disconnected and the types of homes are different making it nearly impossible to “time” a purchase or sale.

If you’re looking to purchase or refinance a home, First Financial has a variety of options available to you, including 10, 15, and 30 year mortgages. We offer great low rates, no pre-payment penalties, easy application process, financing on your primary residence, vacation home or investment property, plus so much more! For rates and more information, call us at 866.750.0100, Option 4 for the Lending Department.*

You can also sign up for our Mortgage Rate Text Messaging Service to receive updates on our low mortgage rates straight to your mobile phone. To be a part of the program, text FIRSTRATE to 69302 and each time our mortgage rates change, we’ll send you a text message with the new rates.** 

*A First Financial membership is required to obtain a mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. Subject to credit approval. Credit worthiness determines your APR.

**Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.

Article source by Zillow on Fox Business.

The Hidden Costs of Buying a Home

American home with three car garageYou’re looking for a house and see the perfect listing. And it has a big number on it, say $300,000. If you’re like most prospective homeowners, you imagine you will soon be talking to a lender and getting a loan for this amount.

But as veteran homebuyers may already know, you are going to pay much more than $300,000.

Yes, almost everything we buy has a hidden cost. You buy a toothbrush for a few dollars, and since you’ll have to purchase toothpaste, the ownership cost of a toothbrush is more than $2 – especially if you throw in a toothbrush holder. Obviously, the hidden costs of buying a house are far more complex. And if you aren’t prepared for them, you may come away from the experience feeling as if you’ve had the wind knocked out of you.

So if you’re thinking of buying your first house, be alert and prepared for these hidden costs that you need to keep in mind:

Home inspection costs. Before you close on a house, your mortgage insurer may require a home inspection, which can run several hundred dollars. But even if an inspection is not required, it’s worth paying a professional to evaluate the house so you can avoid spending hundreds of thousands on a train wreck disguised as a house.

Survey costs. Your lender may want you to have a professional survey of the property, so everyone knows exactly where your land’s boundaries are. That’s another several hundred dollars.

Taxes. You probably know you’re going to be paying taxes, but it can be easy to forget that you’ll likely need to pre-pay those taxes at closing. At the beginning of your mortgage, it can be a shock when you’re saddled with paying a couple months’ worth of property taxes, maybe a year’s worth of homeowner’s insurance, and possibly homeowner’s association dues as well.

Fees. Maclyn Clouse, a finance professor at the Reiman School of Finance at the University of Denver, rattles off a list of fees you may also pay at closing:

  • Government recording charges: The cost for state and local governments to record your deed, mortgage, and loan documents.
  • Appraisal fee: The cost for an appraiser to decide how much your house is worth.
  • Credit report fee: Your lender had to pay to get your credit report, so oftentimes you will cover that cost.
  • Title services and lender’s title insurance: Fees related to your home’s title.
  • Flood life of the loan fee: The government tracks changes in your property’s flood zone status, you’ll pay a small fee.
  • Tax service fee: Another pretty minor fee – this service ensures the taxes previously paid on the house are up to date (if your home was previously owned).
  • Lender’s origination fee: The charge for processing your loan application.

Moving costs. Will you be gathering friends and family to help you move your furniture and possessions into your home, or do you need a moving truck? Don’t forget about the cost of movers, if you are hiring them.

Total cost of ownership. Someone will have to mow the lawn with the mower you’re fated to buy, or you’ll hire a service. You’ll also probably need furniture and maybe a major appliance, like a washing machine. Even paint and paint supplies costs money and adds up quicker than you think.

Be ready for anything. Some houses (previously owned) come with propane or oil tanks, and at closing buyers have been asked to reimburse the sellers for the fuel remaining in the tank – in certain cases.

Looking for a mortgage? Check out First Financial’s mortgages, featuring great rates and low fees.

Rates as low as 3.375% (3.651% APR) – 15 Years.* A 15 year mortgage of $100,000 at 3.651% APR would have a monthly payment** amount of $708.76.

Rates as low as 4.375% (4.541% APR) – 30 Years.* A 30 year mortgage of $100,000 at 4.541% APR would have a monthly payment** amount of $499.29.

We also have a 10 year mortgage as well – great for refinancing! Learn more here, and apply online today.

First Financial also offers a Mortgage Rate Text Messaging Service so you can receive updates on our low Mortgage Rates straight to your mobile phone. To be a part of the program, text FIRSTRATE to 69302 and each time our Mortgage Rates change, we’ll send you a text message with the new rates.***

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Subject to credit approval.  Credit worthiness determines your APR. Available on primary residence only. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.  See Credit Union for details.

**Payment examples do not include taxes or insurance. Financing up to 80% of value of property.

***Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.

Article Source – Geoff Williams of Money.USNews.com: http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/03/12/the-hidden-costs-of-buying-a-home

How to Cut Home Buying Costs

Pair of scissors cuts business expense word COSTS in half to savFor nearly all of us, buying a home represents one of the biggest financial transactions of our lifetime. There’s really nothing that compares to buying a home, since not only do we have to put up thousands of dollars of our own money but we also (usually) have to borrow much more than that.

There’s really no getting around the fact that buying a home is expensive. It takes a lot of financial discipline to save up a down payment and make the monthly payments. Along the way, there are bound to be problems that eat into your savings too. For example, everything from a new roof to a broken water heater is going to cost you. (Of course, renting can also have costly surprises such as escalating rent or being forced to move). While there’s not a whole lot you can do about some of the costs of buying a home, there are ways to reduce your out-of-pocket costs. 

Shop Around for Your Mortgage

One of the easiest ways to cut costs when buying a home is by finding a low interest loan. Get quotes from banks and credit unions so that you can compare their fees and rates. Make sure that you compare the Good Faith Estimate given to you by each financial institution. One thing to note is that you are permitted to get as many quotes as you want within a three-week period. Normally, each quote would be a separate credit check, but when you’re shopping for a mortgage, multiple quotes are considered only one inquiry on your credit reports. 

Check out First Financial Federal Credit Union’s mortgages, featuring great rates and low fees.

Rates as low as 3.375% (3.651% APR) – 15 Years.* A 15 year mortgage of $100,000 at 3.651% APR would have a monthly payment** amount of $708.76.

Rates as low as 4.375% (4.541% APR) – 30 Years.* A 30 year mortgage of $100,000 at 4.541% APR would have a monthly payment** amount of $499.29.

We also have a 10 year mortgage as well – great for refinancing! Learn more here, and apply online today.

First Financial also offers a Mortgage Rate Text Messaging Service so you can receive updates on our low Mortgage Rates straight to your mobile phone. To be a part of the program, text FIRSTRATE to 69302 and each time our Mortgage Rates change, we’ll send you a text message with the new rates.***

Negotiate With the Seller

If you’re looking to get a portion or even all of your closing costs covered, then negotiating with the seller is your best bet. Depending on the state of the real estate market in your area, you could ask for more or less. If the real estate market is struggling or the property in question has been on the market for an extended period of time you may be able to get the seller to cover your closing costs.

Article Source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/12/16/how-to-cut-home-buying-costs/

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Subject to credit approval.  Credit worthiness determines your APR. Available on primary residence only. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.  See Credit Union for details.

**Payment examples do not include taxes or insurance. Financing up to 80% of value of property.

***Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.

DIY Home Upgrades That Will Entice Buyers

homeimprovementLooking to improve your home with an eye on future resale value? Start with a few affordable DIY-friendly home improvement projects that will pay off and make buyers take notice:

Replace flooring. Flooring is often a cosmetic feature that can make or break a sale. Flooring, like worn-out carpet or stained tiles, can be a turn-off to buyers that see the update as a major project and barrier to a “move-in-ready” home. The promise of a future project is enough to chase away many of today’s “move-in ready” buyers. But what’s underfoot is also relatively easy to remedy. Hardwood flooring is a safe, classic and durable choice. For DIYers looking to save on costs, try easy-to-install engineered wood flooring.

Improve landscaping. When it comes to curb appeal, your landscaping can pack a powerful punch, for better or worse. While many people focus their improvement dollars indoors, don’t overlook that first impression that strikes a buyer before they even get out of the car. And you don’t need a green thumb to reap rewards. Simply maintaining a crisply mowed lawn, removing dead plants and branches and adding colorful annual flowers or shrubbery can add 7 to 15 percent to your home’s value, according to the National Association of Realtors

Upgrade lighting. You may have tolerated your dated dining room chandelier, but buyers won’t be so forgiving. Switching out light fixtures for more updated styles is a low-cost, low-commitment home upgrade. Under-cabinet lighting is another quick-fix and many home improvement stores now offer easy to install plug-in lights that deliver the look of a high-end custom kitchen, and don’t require electrical work. If you do update lighting that requires wiring, make sure you work with a licensed professional to ensure they’re safely installed.

Give your kitchen cabinetry a facelift. Buyers will always pay special attention to the kitchen (i.e. the heart of the home, and tend to be critical of outdated cabinetry). While installing new cabinets can cost tens of thousands of dollars, it’s easy to rehab existing cabinets that are in otherwise good condition. Refinish the doors, drawers and cabinet fronts with a fresh coat of paint, stain or a veneer, and install new pulls that match the finish of other kitchen fixtures. To create the feel of a modern, functional kitchen, consider retrofitting your current cabinets with pull-out drawers, organizers, and retractable trash cans.

We want to hear from you! What other DIY home improvement upgrades have you seen add to your home’s resale value? Feel free to post a comment below.

For more information and how Liberty Mutual Insurance may be able to help you save on your auto and home insurance, feel free to contact our Liberty Mutual representative, Dan Ressegiue or visit our webpage:

AgentDanielRessegiue

Daniel Ressegiue

303 West Main Street | Suite 100
Freehold, NJ 07728
732-308-3868 Ext. 50950
Daniel.Ressegiue@LibertyMutual.com
www.LibertyMutual.com/DanRessegiue

Daniel graduated from The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Psychology and business and is currently finishing an MBA at Monmouth University. During his tenure at Liberty Mutual, he has been awarded many awards including National Rookie of the year special recognition, 5 Time “Pacesetter,” Pursuit of Excellence and is a Liberty Lamplighters Club inductee. During his spare time, he enjoys staying active playing soccer, racquetball and partaking in long distance running competitions.  He is also a member of Jersey Shore Runners Club, Penn State Alumni Association, as well as SCORE, a nonprofit entity dedicated to the mentoring of small business owners. First Financial Federal Credit Union Client #38361

*Click here to view the article source provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance.

8 Outside-the-Box Ways to Find a Home

1-waiting-to-buyFinding the perfect home for your needs, wants and budget can be a challenge even when mortgage rates are low and there are plenty of properties for sale. But when fewer homes are on the market, buyers and their real estate agents must find creative ways to maneuver around the competition.

According to the National Association of Realtors, while inventory levels recently rose, the supply of non-distressed homes remains well below normal.

If low inventory makes your search a challenge, you need to be willing to think outside the box.  Here are just a few ways to do so!

#1: Set up an alert system.

“We always set up our buyers with daily automatic emails and text alerts with new listings based on their criteria from the past 24 hours,” says Russ Murray, broker/owner of Buyer’s Resource Real Estate.

“When the market is highly competitive, we’re proactively searching for new listings multiple times a day, and in the process of transitioning to a system that can give us and our clients immediate alerts when a property is listed.”

Make sure your real estate agency has a similar system in place in your area.  If not, you’ll want to specifically search for an agent who can accomplish this for you.

#2: Contact those who bought during the downturn.

Many realtors will search their database for past clients who bought when the market was down in 2008 and 2009, and will call and update them on current market conditions and ask if they’re interested in selling now that prices have increased.

#3: Target rentals.

You or your real estate agent may also contact landlords of rental properties to see if they would be interested in selling. You may never know if you don’t ask!

#4: Write a letter.

Frank Llosa, broker/owner of FranklyRealty.com, says he writes letters to homeowners in specific areas where his buyers want to live.

“About two percent of the homeowners we contact via letter – end up deciding to sell,” he says. Llosa suggests asking neighbors who are walking their dogs about potential sellers too.

“Dog walkers know everything,” he says. “They may have seen a photographer at the house or a landscaper getting a place ready to go on the market.”

#5: “Make Me Move” listings.

Buyers can search by zip code on Zillow.com for “Make Me Move” listings where homeowners who are testing the market put up an above-market price to see if buyers are interested. Llosa recommends contacting those owners to see if their price is firm or they’re willing to negotiate.

#6: Sign up on PreMLS.com.

There may be a social media group in your area for members who share information about listings before they go on the open market.  Look for these types of groups and join them, or have your agent look into a group like this as an additional option to assist you.

Llosa has seen that “some agents let buyers see a home before it goes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and others tend to just alert people so they can see it on the first day.”

#7: FSBOs (For Sale By Owner).

A variety of websites including Zillow.com, ForSalebyOwner.com, iGoFSBO.com and Craigslist, allow you to search by zip code to find for-sale-by-owner homes. ForSalebyOwner.com has an app for smart phone users to search for homes in addition to their website too.

#8: Forget single-family homes.

Look into switching your selection from a single-family home to a townhouse, or look for a home that needs some work.  This may be easier to obtain, and you might even like it better in the long run!  Keep your options open.

If you have any questions about the home buying process, feel free to ask us!  We know it can be an intimidating process at times, and we’re here for you.  To apply for a 10, 15, or 30 year First Financial Mortgage – click here.* 

  • A 10 year mortgage of $100,000 at 3.617% APR* would have a monthly payment amount** of $988.39.
  • A 15 year mortgage of $100,000 at 3.903% APR* would have a monthly payment amount** of $721.04.
  • A 30 year mortgage of $100,000 at 4.667% APR* would have a monthly payment amount** of $506.69.

You might also want to subscribe to our Mortgage rate text message service, by texting “firstrate” to 69302.  When our Mortgage rates change, you’ll be the first to know***

Click here to view the article source by Michelle Lerner of FOX Business.

* A First Financial membership is required to obtain a mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.  Subject to credit approval. See Credit Union for details. 

**Payment examples do not include taxes or insurance. Financing up to 80% value of property.

***Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.

equal%20housing%20lender%20logo-resized-600

5 Costly Home Buying Myths

Moving HouseIf you’re considering buying or selling a home, you may have asked co-workers, friends and family for advice. But you might want to check with the professionals, because the rules of the real estate game are different today than they were 20 or even 10 years ago. Due to this monumental shift, there are lots of misconceptions about buying a home that could cost you big when it comes time to go house hunting. Here are five of the most common real estate myths.

1. You Have to Use a Real Estate Agent. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a house without a real estate agent to save on commission, it’s important to understand the full impact of that decision. Buying and selling is a lot of work and there’s a reason real estate agents still exist and are involved in almost all transactions. For most of us, the sale of a house represents one of the biggest financial transactions we’ll ever make.

It’s nice to have someone there guiding you along the way. But while having an agent can be a good thing, doing it on your own is not as unimaginable as it once was. Sites like Redfin and Zillow have virtually eliminated the need for the multiple listing service and many homebuyers are finding properties for themselves before contacting a real estate agent. If you’re the do-it-yourself type, you might just be able to buy or sell a home on your own in today’s market.

2. Buying Always Beats Renting. One reason people give for not wanting to rent is: “I don’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage.” However, there are hidden costs that go into owning a home. The nice thing about renting is that you can always leave for a nicer place for a year or two. Or maybe you lose your job and need to downgrade for a few months before you get on your feet again. Once you buy a house, there’s a lot less flexibility. Just the fees involved in buying and selling a house will make a major dent into your savings if you sell too soon after buying.

3. This House Is Special. Once you’ve finally found that perfect house, the inclination is to think you won’t find another that you like nearly as much. There will always be another property. If something doesn’t feel right or the price is too high, don’t be afraid to wait for the next one. As long as you have realistic goals, no house will ever be truly one of a kind.

4. Your Credit Must Be Perfect. With the recent housing bubble, came a wave of lending restrictions and loan tightening. Most people assume that they have to have stellar credit to get a loan these days, but that’s not always the case. Lenders are often willing to work with buyers who have less-than-perfect credit. If you’re concerned about your credit, you may want to work on your credit score before you buy; people with higher credit scores are offered the lowest interest rates on mortgages.

Get your credit score in check with First Score, First Financial’s low cost, interactive session with a financial expert.  This program will help you get your credit score in check by using various “what if” scenarios.  If you need some help getting that credit score where it should be, give us a call today!

5. A 20% Down Payment is a Must. Twenty percent used to be the magic number when it came to down payments, but it’s certainly not the only option. It’s possible to get a mortgage now with little or no money down. If you have a stable income but are unwilling or unable to fund a large down payment, you may still be able to buy a home.

Apply for a 10, 15, or 30 year First Financial Mortgage today!*

A 10 year mortgage of $100,000 at 3.126% APR* would have a monthly payment amount** of $965.61.

A 15 year mortgage of $100,000 at 3.651% APR* would have a monthly payment amount** of $708.76.

A 30 year mortgage of $100,000 at 4.541% APR* would have a monthly payment amount** of $499.29.

You can also subscribe to our Mortgage rate text message service by texting “firstrate” to 69302, and receive instant notification when our mortgage rates change.***

* A First Financial membership is required to obtain a mortgage and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.  Subject to credit approval. See Credit Union for details.

**Payment examples do not include taxes or insurance. Financing up to 80% value of property.

***Standard text messaging and data rates may apply.

Article Source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/12/19/5-costly-homebuying-myths/ 

equal%20housing%20lender%20logo-resized-600