Most everyone understands that buying a home means saving up for your downpayment and that you’ll owe the bank monthly payments for the next few decades of your life. What isn't talked is the other fees that are associated with buying a home once the sellers have accepted your offer.
You’ve signed the contract.. Now what? Let’s talk where all the money goes..
Downpayment. This is the large up front sum of money you will be paying to the bank to secure the home. It can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price and shows your lender that you have some skin in the game. There are many programs out there right now that offer assistance programs with your downpayment, especially for first time home buyers.
Earnest money. This is your “good faith money” put into an escrow company as soon as your contract is accepted. Earnest money shows the seller you are serious about buying their home and ready to start your inspection period. A good rule of thumb is approximately 1% of the purchase price. This is credited towards your downpayment at close of escrow.
Escrow and title fees. A title company is a third party company who helps facilitate a real estate transaction. Their tasks include title searches (to make sure there are no liens, clouds, or encumbrances against the property), allocating funds to the correct parties and preparing all documents for transfer of the home. Their fees are based on the purchase price of your new home.
Lender fees. These vary based on the amount of your loan and can include things such as your appraisal and loan origination fee. Your lender can offer you a credit to help offset some upfront cost but this usually comes with a higher interest rate on your mortgage.
Monthly mortgage payments. This will be your monthly payment to the bank who holds your loan. Your mortgage payment includes your principal (loan amount), interest on your loan, property taxes and homeowners insurance.
Ask your trusted lender about assistance programs that help to cover fees such as downpayment and closing costs. Is 2017 your year to be financially ready to buy a home?
While everyone else is making New Years Resolutions about getting healthy, drinking more water, and watching less TV, I challenge you to make some New Years Resolutions for your home. I've compiled my top 5 resolutions for a happier home in 2017.
1. Declutter. Nothing makes us want a fresh start more than a new year. Head into January with a clean slate in your life and your home. Go through closest and donate or sell items you are no longer using. If you donate before the 31st you can get a tax credit for 2016!
2. Set a home improvement budget. Have you been dying to do a home improvement project all year? Set aside some money to tackle it in 2017! Small home upgrades over time pay big when it's time to sell.
3. Go green! Making small changes such as planting low water use plants or changing to energy efficient lightbulbs adds up over the year. Plus, it helps lower your carbon footprint and is good for the environment.
4. Set a cleaning schedule. Enlist your family and make a schedule that everyone can follow and help contribute. Setting certain tasks for each day helps to maintain cleanliness all year long.
5. Pay it off faster. Set aside a few extra dollars each month to put towards your mortgage. A little extra towards your principal balance each month adds up quickly. There's nothing better than paying off that mortgage in less time than it's due.
What are some of your New Years resolutions for your home this year?
Last year, my husband and I went through the process of buying a brand new home with Taylor Morrsion in Gilbert. Here are a few things we learned along the way...
About a month ago we made a video with our favorite lender about tips on staging a home to get it ready for the market. In my eyes, this is the most important topic when selling a home. Sorry sellers, its not all about price. So today I am going to give you my top 7 tips to get your home ready for the market.
1. If I could only pick one tip this would be it hands down. Declutter, declutter, declutter. Buyers get distracted looking at our "things" versus looking at the home they are potentially interested in buying. Decluttering also allows our spaces to look and feel larger. Now is a great time to start packing things up and stacking boxes neatly in the garage.
2. Brighten it up! When people move to Arizona they are looking for bright airy homes. An easy way to do this is to remove all the sunscreens from your windows. For showings turn on all lights and lamps for the brightest room possible.
3. First impressions are everything. Buyers begin to generate opinions the second they pull up to your home. Adding colorful flowers and a fresh door mat are east ways to make a lasting impression.
4. A top "must have" on every homebuyers list is storage. Organizing closets and decluttering shelves is a great way to show off how much space you really have. Remove items from the pantry and closet floors to help spaces feel even bigger!
5. Depersonalize your space. The way in which we live when our home is on the market is very different than when it isn't on the market. This means removing family photos (a few are okay!) and putting away things like toothbrushes in the bathrooms. Buyers want to be able to envision themselves in the space without seeing your personal items.
6. Neutralize the paint. Just because you love your lime green living room doesn't mean that everyone else will. Now it's time to think beige, gray or even white. Anything neutral will be a perfect fit for all buyers.
7. Updating kitchen appliances is one of the best returns on your investment. Head to your local appliance store, if you're in Arizona I highly recommend Spencer's. Stainless steel appliances can quickly turn an outdated kitchen into a modern one.
I have worked with a lot of first time homebuyers over the years in Gilbert and Mesa. With all of the unknowns, buying your first home can be a stressful time. Here are my top 5 tips to help get you through the process.
1. Pick your top 3 must haves in a home. Is that a pool? A cul de sac street or a corner lot? An amazing school district? A certain neighborhood? This may not be your "ultimate dream home" but if you can get as many of your wants in a home as possible it will make it feel like it.
2. This is not your forever home, think about the long term and resale. Just because it doesn't bother you that it backs up to a main road doesn't mean it won't bother the next buyer. Think about things like location within the neighborhood and who your target audience is going to be when you sell your home in the future.
3. Consider all of your expenses. There are many fees associated with buying a home including title and escrow fees, a home and pest inspection, appraisal and lenders fees. Make sure to include these into your closing cost fees when crunching numbers.
4. Research downpayment assistance programs. The are so many programs out there for first time homebuyers that will help pay your entire downpayment. This could mean buying your first home with very little up front cost. Bonus: most of the grants you don't have to pay back! Also search for programs based on your profession (teacher, law enforcement, farmer, etc.)
5. Do not buy large ticket items on credit. This is not the time to go buy a new car or start buying furniture to fill your beautiful new home. Your lender will find this when they pull a final credit report and it can cause delays in closing due to a change in debt to income ratios.
Last but not least, have fun with it. Buying your first home is an exciting adventure and celebrate the fact that you're going to be a homeowner!
Gray is so trendy right now and I am so in love! Beige has been the go to neutral for far too long and it's about time we had a new color to paint our walls. Gray can feel warm and cozy or cool and sleek depending on the space.
We moved into our new home last October and I am happy to say that paining has finally made it to the top of our project list. We knew we wanted gray but it turns out that picking the perfect gray is a lot harder than we had anticipated.
First stop was Lowe's to pick up paint chips to help determine what shades worked best in our space. After much deliberation, we decided on a couple different shades to test in a few rooms. Ironically, while the Lowe's employee was making my paint samples he asked me why gray was such a popular color choice right now. I should have told him I was planning on writing a blog post about it!
I get a lot of my home decor inspiration from Joanna Gaines over at Magnolia Farms. I am a total fan girl of her show Fixer Upper on HGTV and look to her for a lot of inspiration to add rustic yet modern touches to my own home. The right gray ensures a space feels open while also providing more contrast than the traditional beige. The perfect shade creates that "bright and airy" feel buyers are currently seeking and goes perfectly with the white interior look we are seeing right now.
If you are planning on painting your home to get it ready for the market I would highly suggest a shade of gray to make it feel open, airy, and updated to buyers. My kitchen wall has been sitting like this for over a week so it's time to make a decision. I am currently leaning towards the third from the left called Raindrop White. Stay tuned for the final color decision!
We, as agents, are constantly asking our sellers to do things like add a pop of color to the front yard, remove al personal items from the bathroom or keep the pool clean for todays showing. While curb appeal might be your job, web appeal is ours. This is something that I take very seriously because when it comes to the MLS, pictures are everything. There are entire websites and groups dedicated to "Bad MLS" photos, and I mean horrible, terrible, I can't believe someone would ever think this would be okay to put online photos.
If you've ever met with me you know of the first things I talk about is that I hire a professional photographer, which I am not, to take my listing photos. They take well lit, high resolution pictures of your home that I use for all of my marketing materials. With buyers having shorter and shorter attention spans we must capture them in the first few pictures of the listing when they are searching online or on their smart phones. This is your buyers first impression of the home before they even make it to your doorstep.
While these photos are important for listing purposes they also drive every single piece of marketing material that is created for your home. Whether that be flyers, open house signs, blog posts, newspaper articles, etc.
I wanted to do a little experiment to prove just how important our photographers are when we are listing a home. I took my version on my iPhone at the exact same time as the photographer, I am hoping it isn't hard to tell which picture we each took.
How much more appealing is that top picture taken by a professional real estate photographer than my iPhone? I don't know about you but I would much rather swim in that bright blue pool surrounded by lush green palm and citrus trees under that beautiful blue sky. My main objective is to get as many qualified buyers into your home as possible to quickly procure an offer for you. We are creating a dream and a vision of the home in their minds. Stunning photographs help sell a dream home.
First impressions are everything and its no exception when it comes to your home. Buyers are generating opinions from the moment they pull up and the best way to make that a positive one is with amazing curb appeal.
A quick and easy way to great curb appeal is fresh and colorful flowers. With summer in full swing in Arizona I set out to best way to keep my house looking inviting while also keeping my flowers blooming all summer long. I ventured to Home Depot to find the best flowers for summer. After some research, and discussion with the friendly sales associate, I decided to go with different colors of Vinca.
Vinca comes in a variety of different colors. Pinks, purples, whites with different colored centers. They are very drought and heat resistant which makes them perfect for our hot Arizona summers. They are a perfect pop of color for a lasting first impression and great curb appeal.
I had a blast adding a pop of color to my porch this morning! What is your favorite summer flower?
Last weekend we drove to Queen Creek to check out the Schnepf Farms Pumpkin and Chili festival happening now through October 30th. Buy your tickets beforehand at any Fry's to save $3 per ticket. They have so many activities for the whole family from face painting, train rides, pig races, zip lining, a petting zoo, corn mazes and amusement rides.
Our first stop was the train depot to ride around the farm. At night this turns into a "spooky" train ride complete with gravestones, cobwebs, and scary music. The daytime train ride was perfect and allowed us to see all of attractions are the park to help plan our day.
Being on a working farm meant that there was tons of livestock to see as well as crops growing all around us. The corn fields were growing taller than us! The petting zoo included goats, micro pigs, chickens and a bull (not for petting). Most of the animals were laying in the shade but they did have a large structure for the goats to climb on that would be great to watch them play on if the weather was nicer. Children could ride the beautiful ponies for a small price per ticket.
Of course, half the fun of going to Fall festivals is eating all the delicious food. We had to try the chili, which came in regular, pumpkin, or vegetarian. It was amazing and paired perfectly with fresh cornbread and a husk of corn straight from the farm. They also had other festival like items such as hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled pizza, and pulled pork sandwiches.
The best part of the Pumpkin and Chili Festival is picking out a pumpkin straight from the farm to bring home with you. They had so many sizes to choose from, plus the pumpkin patch would make an adorable spot for family photos. I hope you check out Schnepf Farms for some great Fall fun!
My husband and I moved to Gilbert, Arizona a little over a year ago and have completely fallen in love with everything about this perfect little town. The white picket fences, the green grass, the water tower, the trees, it all makes this desert town feel a little more Midwest. People in Gilbert have a wonderful sense of community and we both love how many opportunities there are to be around our neighbors.
This past weekend the Arizona Farm Bureau held a Gilbert Heritage Day event right in our neighborhood. They had hay rides, face painting, local vendors, live music, a petting zoo, and fun activities for the whole family. My favorite part was watching everyone take the "Moo-ber" past the Morrison Ranch lake and silos and dance to live country music! They served hot dogs and delicious pulled pork sandwiches for all the neighbors.
They had tons of local vendors selling their handmade creations at the Heritage Day festival as well. Copper Quail Style was one of my favorites and I had to pick up one of their Iconic Gilbert shirts.
If you are thinking about making a move to Gilbert I would love to help show you why this is one of my favorite towns!