Did You Know?: How You Arrange Your Furniture Can Turn Off Potential Buyers. Here’s Why

Did You Know?: How You Arrange Your Furniture Can Turn Off Potential Buyers. Here's WhyMost sellers focus on finding the right furniture to stage their home, but they never consider how the placement of that furniture can undo all their hard work. It’s a subconscious thing, but the arrangement of items in the home can really make a difference with buyers.

Be sure to not make some of these common mistakes when arranging furniture to sell a house.

Keep The Traffic Flowing

A proper furniture layout should serve to guide the flow of traffic from room to room and make it easy to move freely. When furniture is placed without foot traffic in mind it can lead to blocked pathways and dead ends when potential buyers are looking around.

Rooms that are overcrowded with furniture have the opposite problem and supply no easy way for guests to move without stepping over each other. Make sure traffic can flow freely through the rooms and there is plenty of space to walk around.

Decide On A Focal Point

Every room needs a focal point for the furniture. Most rooms use built in features like a fireplace, but when the home doesn’t have anything built in a television or painting will serve the same purpose.

Without a focal point, the room will feel disjointed and confused. This leads to chairs or couches pointed in different directions and can make potential buyers feel uncomfortable. A key focal point also takes the focus away from any flaws in the home.

First Impressions Over Function

Sometimes people can become so comfortable in their own home that function will overrule aesthetics and furniture will be placed where it proves the most useful and not where it looks the best.

This is fine until it’s time to sell and the first thing buyers see when they enter a room is furniture in places where it doesn’t look the most appealing. Walking in and seeing the back of furniture is never a good look, so make sure everything looks the best from the place guests will enter the room.

Every home has a different floor plan and it can be difficult determining whether furniture is placed properly, especially when you are used to the way it is now. A local real estate agent can walk through the home and give great insight into what improvements can be made and provide an outsider view of how the home looks to new visitors.

Buying a Home? Make Sure Your Finances Are in Order First

Below is a guest blog post by Janet Elliot of RE/MAX

Purchasing a new home is part of the American Dream, just as much as graduating high school and college, getting married, and having children. It’s also the hardest part of the dream to achieve; you need patience, resilience, thick skin, and great financial planning.

The latter is the most important aspect of buying a home. With that said, you don’t need loads of money in order to purchase – just decent credit and a solid financial plan. So, before you head out to the local open houses, be sure you’ve first tackled your finances in order to know which homes you can actually afford.

Make Sure You Have the Credit

According to Keith Gumbinger, Vice President of HSH, a mortgage information company, the best mortgage rates are given to potential buyers who have a credit score of 740 or above. However, you can still get a home loan with a credit score of 620; in some cases even a 580 credit score can qualify you for an FHA loan.

Just because you may qualify for a loan at 580, it doesn’t mean that you should apply for one. Lenders use your score to determine whether or not they will lend to you, but also at what rate. Lower credit scores mean higher rates.

The best thing you can do to get your credit score on track before purchasing a home is to get a free credit report from annualcreditreport.com six to twelve months before you go house hunting. This report looks at the three main credit bureaus, giving you insight into your number, and what needs to be taken care of to improve the score.

Doing this up to a year before you start looking allows you plenty of time to increase your score. Mortgage companies aren’t the only ones that look at this number; sellers and real estate agents also look as this number, and it can determine if they will sell to you or take you on as a client. Don’t overlook this step, it’s essential to your success.

Do You Have Too Much Debt?

Your debt is another huge factor when attempting to secure a lender. In fact, it can at times be even more important than your credit score; it’s the first thing they look at when determining your eligibility. The debts they look at include student loans, car loans, credit card payments, and so forth. Ideally, lenders are looking to see if your overall debt plus your potential new mortgage payment is 45% or less than your income.

For example, if your monthly pretax income is $5,000, they want to see that $2,250 or less of it is going toward your mortgage payment and debt. Obviously, the less debt you have, the better. If you can reduce your overall debt by paying off that pesky car loan or student loan, your payment-to-income ratio will decrease and make you a more attractive buyer. In addition, leave older credit lines open, avoid opening new credit lines, stop buying on existing credit, and don’t shuffle your money around; this will leave you in the best position to buy a home.

Set a Budget and Prepare for Your Down Payment

Now that you have your debt and credit score goals where you want them, it’s time to look at your budget and prepare for your down payment. The best way to determine your budget is by using the standard rule when it comes to purchasing a new home. The rule of thumb is to only look at homes that are no more than 2.5 times your gross annual salary. In layman’s terms, if your annual salary is $50,000, look for homes priced no more than $125,000 dollars.

Once you have your max amount, it’s time to speak to lenders to see what your financing options are. You typically will have the choice between two types of mortgages: fixed-rate and adjustable-rate. Fixed-rate mortgages are where your monthly payment and interest rate stay the same the entire time you have the loan, for between 15 to 30 years.

Adjustable-rate mortgages have an introductory interest rate that will change after a specific period of time. Simply put, it could start off at a particular rate for the first two years, but can begin being adjusted annually after that. In general, most real estate agents would suggest that a fixed-rate mortgage payment is the safer financial choice, but every homeowner is different.

Aside from determining your budget and settling on a loan option, you will also need to plan for a down payment. In the best case scenario, you want to have a down payment of 20 percent of the total price of the home, but a minimum of 10 percent down can work for a conventional mortgage loan. Since everyone’s situation is different, some buyers simply cannot come up with that type of down payment.

If you are among those who cannot afford a higher down payment, you can apply for an FHA loan, which can make your down payment as little as 3.5 percent of the cost of the home.

In some cases, if you meet the income limitations of your state, you can even get a five percent down payment loan from traditional loans. Work with your real estate agent and speak with a few lenders to find which style of mortgage and down payment method will be best for your situation.

One Last Thing Before You Make an Offer

Closing costs are another thing to think about before you put in an offer. It used to be you could get some credits for your closing costs and still have your offer accepted, but not so much anymore. To be prepared in the current market, be sure you have at minimum 2.5 percent of the purchase price for closing costs (not including your down payment). This will give you the best chance of putting in a successful offer.

The real estate market is competitive right now, with many sellers taking multiple offers of the asking price and choosing the most solid one. Rise above the competition with closing costs already accounted for. By following these steps, you will be in the perfect position to put in an offer on your dream home. Now it’s time for the fun stuff – heading out to open houses!

janetelliotJanet Elliott has served as a Realtor with REMAX for 28 years in the metro Atlanta area. Janet is also a Certified Residential Specialist or CRS. This is a designation achieved by less than 1% of real estate agents. When not practicing real estate, Janet can be found spending time with family and friends out on the water!

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips 2 Points

According to the National Association of Home Builders, overall builder confidence in housing markets dropped two points in October to an index reading of 63. September’s reading of 65 was the highest posted since the housing bubble peak. Component readings for October’s housing market index were mixed; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months rose one point to 72. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions fell two points to 69. Builder outlook for buyer traffic in new home developments over the next six months fell by one point to an index reading of 46.

Approaching winter weather likely contributed to lower readings, but builder confidence remained strong. Any reading above 50 signifies that more builders are confident about specific index components than fewer. While home builders continue to be encouraged by low mortgage rates and a stronger job market, they also face obstacles including shortages of labor and buildable lots for development.

High Demand, Low Inventory of Homes Present Ongoing Challenges

High demand for homes coupled with depleted inventory of available homes is sidelining some buyers. As demand continues to drive home prices higher first-time and moderate income buyers are faced with affordability and mortgage qualification challenges. Limited inventory also makes it difficult for home buyers to find homes they want and contributes to competition for available homes. Buyers depending on mortgage financing typically compete with investors and cash buyers for homes in high demand areas.

Real estate pros and analysts monitor home builder sentiment as an indicator of future home supplies, but builder sentiment and housing starts don’t necessarily correspond. Given high home prices and strict mortgage qualification standards that sideline some buyers, it appears that home builders are taking a moderate stance toward ramping up construction.

In addition to boosting real estate markets, building homes provides jobs and supports local economies. Building homes creates demand for construction materials and related products and services.

The Major Keys to Understanding When It’s Time to Refinance Your Mortgage

The Major Keys to Understanding When It's Time to Refinance Your MortgageAs a homeowner, you may have heard the term re-financing without being aware of exactly what it means, but there are a lot of pros and cons associated with what it can do for your financial situation. While getting a different new loan for your mortgage can be a good financial decision in certain situations, here are some things you should consider before you decide that this is the right choice for you.

Getting A Lower Rate

One of the main reasons that re-financing can be a popular option for many homeowners is that it can provide the opportunity for considerable money savings. Since you will be acquiring a new loan with a lower interest rate, this will be an opportunity to reduce your monthly payments, increase your equity at a faster rate and invest the extra funds into something else. While a lower rate can definitely mean money savings, it’s important to consult with a mortgage professional so you’re aware of any associated fees and can make a decision that will be financially beneficial.

Consolidating Your Debt

It is often the case that people will choose to refinance their mortgage with a lower-interest rate in the hopes of paying off the debt they’ve accumulated, but with the cost of refinancing this is not necessarily the best financial decision. While consolidating debt can be great if you go into it with a budget that you plan on sticking too, if you’re leaning too much on the idea of a lower interest rate meaning instant savings, it may be a good idea to take a look at the numbers.

Investing In Your Home

For many people, re-financing their mortgage is a good opportunity to renovate their home and increase its value. However, while renovating your home can be a good idea for resale, there are many home renovations that will not necessarily increase the value of your home and make up for the amount you’ve invested. If you’re making forward-thinking renovations, refinancing is one thing, but ensure you’ve seriously considered what will add value.

There can be a number of financial benefits when it comes to refinancing your mortgage, but it’s important to work out your tentative budget and crunch the numbers before you make a final decision. If you’re currently looking into re-financing your home and are curious about what it entails, contact us at Mason-McDuffie Mortgage for more information.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – October 17, 2016

Last week’s economic news included reports on job openings, retail sales and weekly readings on average mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Job openings were lower in August after hitting an all-time high in July according to the federal government. Job openings fell to 5.44 million in August as compared to July’s reading of 5.83 million job openings, Job openings reached 5.31 million in August of 2015. Job quits were unchanged in August with a reading of 3.0 million quits; the quits rate was 2.20 percent. There were 5.4 million hires in August as compared to 5.8 million hires in July. The hiring rate held steady at 3.60 percent.

Weekly jobless held steady from the prior week’s reading of 246,000 new claims, although analysts expected a reading of 252,000 new claims. September retail sales increased by 0.60 percent in September and fell short of expectations of 0.70 percent growth. August’s retail sales reading was negative at -0.20 percent. Retail sales excluding the automotive sector were as expected with an increase of 0.50 percent.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Consumer Sentiment Slips

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed rate mortgages. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.47 percent. The average rate for a 15-year mortgage was four basis points higher at 2.76 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was unchanged at 2.84 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

Consumer sentiment was lower in October with an index reading of 87.90 percent. Analysts expected a reading of 91.70 percent based on September’s reading of 91.20 percent. November’s presidential election was viewed by analysts as unsettling to consumers’ feelings about current and expected economic conditions. The index reading for consumer sentiment for current economic conditions rose from 104.20 percent in September to 105.50 in October, but fell sharply for expected economic conditions to an index reading of 76.60. Analysts noted that consumers with lower incomes expressed less assurance about post-election economic conditions.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include the NAHB/Wells Fargo Home Builders Market Index, Sales of Pre-Owned Homes and Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued. In addition to weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims, reports on consumer spending will also be released.

Buying a Solar-Powered Home? Watch Out for These Symptoms of Future Problems

Buying a Solar-Powered Home? Watch Out for These Symptoms of Future ProblemsSolar-powered homes are becoming more commonplace, and are an excellent step in the right ecological direction. That said, there are some aspects to consider if you’re thinking about investing in solar energy. Read on for some salient points about living by the sun.

The Sun And The Economy

As solar power has grown in popularity, the government has introduced incentives to help homeowners combat the once-high costs of purchasing and installing solar panels. And companies are springing up to rent you panels and cover the cost of installation. This means that your initial costs are smaller, but also that those third party companies reap the government incentives and may not always maintain strong relationships between you and your utility company.

The Sun And Your Roof

Roofs are the primary locations for solar panels, particularly on homes. Ensure that your roof has enough strength for the added weight of the equipment, and enough space for the proper placement (away from the edges, for example). The equipment comes with a lifetime guarantee so if the roof it’s on is already old, consider updating it before installation (which is an extra but necessary cost).

The Sun And Your Surroundings

A solar-powered home is all about location, location, location. Watch for tall and shady trees, or for high buildings that will shadow your panels and decrease or prevent their output. Look forward, too are there any plans for development in your neighborhood that would introduce such impediments in the future?

The Sun And Cloudy Days

The most obvious hiccup with solar power is that bane of a sunny existence: cloudy days. Location has influence here too: the climate of your area will determine how many panels you’ll need, where you’ll need to place them and how much energy you’ll be able to glean in each season. There are batteries you can purchase for collecting and storing solar energy but they’re still an expensive option. And solar power is still somewhat unattractive in the global economy because of how variable it is. Fossil fuels are more dependable, and therefore more marketable, than an energy source so tied to the weather although that looks to change if solar energy continues its rise in popularity with the masses.

All things considered, there is a deep and growing draw to solar-powered homes, but don’t enter into anything without looking at all sides of the equation. If you have questions, or want to know more about how solar energy works in your neighborhood, contact one of our mortgage professionals at Mason-McDuffie Mortgage.

Planning to Get a Mortgage in 2017? 4 Reasons Why It’s Time to Start Paying Down Other Debts Now

Getting a Mortgage in 2017? 4 Reasons Why It's Time to Start Paying Down Other Debts NowBuying a home is an ideal investment for many people because not only is it a place that belongs to them, it can also be very beneficial financially. While you may be strongly considering buying a home for these reasons, it’s also important to be in good financial health so that your ideal home purchase is within reach. If you’re currently perusing the market for prospects, here are some reasons you should pay down debt before taking the leap into home ownership.

Good Credit History

The amount of your debt load and whether or not you’re paying off your minimum monthly payments has a considerable impact on your mortgage approval, so ensuring that you have good credit history going into the process is important. If you’ve had hiccups with your credit, make sure you go through your credit report prior to submitting your application to determine where you’re at.

Lowering Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Whether or not you’ve heard the term, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) has a significant impact on how much house you can afford. Made up of the amount of your monthly debt payment and current house payment, your DTI should be below a certain percentage as this will enable you to afford a higher home payment each month.

Shifting Interest Rates

Getting a mortgage is one thing, but interest rates add more to the monthly amount you’ll owe. A fixed-rate mortgage can seem like a good idea, but if interest rates are low you may end up paying more than you would on a variable rate, which can be hard to predict. As interest rates are a part of home ownership, having lower debt will enable you to deal with these additional costs.

Finding The Right Home

Putting your money into a home can be one of the best purchases you’ll make, but if you’re unable to afford the home you love, it can be a disappointing fact to face. While there are no assurances that paying down debt will enable you to afford your dream home, it can go a long way towards giving you more options that will fit your budget.

Buying a home can be a money saver in the long run, but if you’re struggling to keep up with your debt payments buying into the market can be more of a burden than anything else. If you’re currently paying down debt and considering a home purchase, contact us at Mason-McDuffie Mortgage for more information.