In-Law Apartments Provide Tangible Benefits For Home Owners

In-Law Apartments Provide Tangible Benefits For Home OwnersMany homeowners are looking for ways to maximize on their investment. One idea that is gaining popularity is a space set aside for aging parents known as an In-law apartments. These additions are living spaces that can set a property apart from others on the real estate market.

In-law apartments generally enjoy a private entrance and include things like a private bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room. Although generally smaller than the main residence, in-law apartments provide all the elements of a home. Because these living spaces are often built after the original floor plan was conceived, spaces such as walk-out basements, garages or separate wings of a homes are converted.

The size and location of this unit is also dictated by adherence to local zoning ordinances and building codes. Once they are established, the door to turning them into a straight rental unit may be opened. If you are considering buying or selling a home with an in-law apartment, consider these benefits.

Benefits Of An In-Law Apartment

In terms of buying or selling a property that includes a separate residence, there are pragmatic reasons they are seen as attractive. These may include the following.

  • Elder Care: Our valued parents and grandparents will come to a point where they require some assistance from younger loved ones. An in-law apartment allows homeowners to offer them a private living space while providing effective care. In-law apartments are wonderful spaces that allow you to give back to aging family members in a dignified setting.
  • Building Relationships With Grandparents: The economic and time pressures placed on working families often compels parents to place children in daycare or after-school programs. While these are certainly viable options, they may be secondary to family members. An in-law apartment may create an opportunity to have a grandparent or other family member spend quality time with your child. In-law units can enhance the bonds of family while maintaining a level of privacy.
  • Guest Space: With family members relocating for employment opportunities, the ability to spend time together has become increasingly difficult. An in-law apartment provides a space for extended stays.
  • Rental Income: An in-law apartment that gains approval can be an excellent revenue-generator. That extra income can help offset mortgage, insurance and tax costs. That makes homes with rental units attractive to buyers.
  • Increase Property Value: Home improvements such as decks, smart technology and other amenities tend to add to a property’s value. Not only does an in-law apartment include all of the necessities of a living space, it can also bring in revenue. That’s why in-law apartments provide added value for home sellers.

If you are considering buying a home that may include an in-law apartment or if you are planning to do some remodeling to accomodate long-term guests, be sure to mention this to your trusted mortgage professional. This increase in property value and potential income can open doors to additional financing options for your property.

The Case for Making a “Smart” Garage

The Case for Making a Smart GarageEnergy-efficiency, smart electronics and automation have come home to the rest of the house, but many garages still look and feel like neglected warehouses. Why not update the lighting and add some high-tech features that will bring your garage into the 21st Century. Doing so will make your life easier and need not cost a fortune!

Rethink Room Function

Most homeowners use the garage for more than a car park. If it’s part storage room, part play space and part project area, manage the corresponding needs for specialized task lighting, additional circuits for a second refrigerator or freezer, conveniently located space for gadgets, gizmos, bikes and sports gear, and how you’ll deal with yard equipment and gardening tools and trash receptacles. A comprehensive lighting/electrical plan will be a great benefit.

Power Up 

Consider your lifestyle, and plan for the uses and activities you envision in the garage. Whether you have built-in storage cabinets, a fully-equipped home workshop, a hobby center, or play space for neighborhood kids, you’ll need handy receptacles for air compressors, charging stations and a variety of portable tools and devices. Trailing extension cords from the receptacle on a door opener is not only unsafe, but inconvenient. If you have or are considering an electric or hybrid vehicle, think about a car-charging station; it will require a 220-240 volt circuit.

Become Energy Efficient

Install sleek, energy efficient recessed cans, and use LED bulbs for bright, attractive general garage lighting that offers greater flexibility than typical fluorescent tube fixtures. They are available for both new construction and remodeling. Also look at insulated garage doors with a row of windows for natural light. Add insulation to walls and ceiling if necessary. Modern garage door openers have advanced safety sensors and lighting timers; but those that are truly smart allow you to monitor operation and control opening and closing via smart phone app as well as by wireless remote.

Go Hands-Free

It’s not uncommon for exterior lighting to be motion-activated, particularly if you have a long driveway or security spotlights on your home’s perimeter. But you can also automate interior lighting, either with motion sensors, or by using door-jamb switches. You’ll love the convenience of never having to fumble in the dark for a light switch!

Tie the Garage Into Home Security

In addition to an intrusion alarm and various sensors for your home’s interior, incorporate air quality sensors and fire and water detectors, even a security camera, in your garage space. Home security is a major concern among potential buyers.

If you’re in the market for a new home, make sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to get started on the pre-approval process as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Rebuilding Costs: Rethinking How Much Homeowners Insurance You Really Need

Rebuilding Costs Rethinking How Much Homeowners Insurance You Really NeedBuying a home comes with numerous financial planning obligations. It’s far from a turn-key operation and one of the significant challenges involves developing a working knowledge about things often outside your area of expertise.

For example, working as an educator, police officer, investment banker or office staffer does not necessarily make you an expert about home repairs or insurance coverage. Yet, the average homeowner is tasked with carrying a certain level of homeowners insurance coverage without a strong working knowledge.

Many homeowners just purchase enough insurance to cover the purchase price or take the advice of others. Both of those methods could prove wildly deficient.

Rethinking Total Replacement Costs

A distinct difference exists between a home’s purchase price, assessed value and total replacement costs. Let that idea sink in a minute. What you paid for your home and it’s assessed value have zero to do with what it would cost to rebuild in the event of a total loss!

If you based your homeowners coverage on purchase price or estimated value, the word that comes to mind is “Yikes.” Here’s why.

Construction costs are based on prevailing market prices that include building materials and labor costs. These vary from region to region and can pique do to materials shortages and shifting prevailing wages. National home-building averages run anywhere from $117 to $125 per square foot. But, even as you read this article, that could change.

Beyond the fundamentals of calculating home construction costs on a square-foot basis, consider that rebuilding your home means that some type of catastrophe occurred. Whether that was a hurricane, tornado, flooding, fire or another disaster, there will likely be cleanup costs.

Before starting new construction, the damaged property will likely need to be razed and damaged materials removed. That comes at a cost.

Building permits and licenses will come at an additional cost. An architectural blueprint and design may need to be secured and that also comes at a cost. The permitting process can be challenging and that could result in you having to rent a temporary residence while your home is rebuilt. Obviously, there are plenty of unforeseen expenses.

Specialty Building Costs

Although average building costs per square foot are a viable standard measure, many homes enjoy specialty items.

Consider that you own a home built decades ago. The high-quality building materials used in construction may be considered specialty items today. They may inevitably be far more expensive than common building materials. If you want the home fully restored, that could cost more than the estimated average.

Accents such as rounded archways or plank-board floors are also more expensive to replace than many average materials. Those are all considerations that need to be tallied when insuring a home.

How To Recalculate Homeowners Insurance

Take the time to calculate the square footage of your home against average construction costs in your area. Factor in specialty items, permitting, razing and other potential hidden costs. Add 10-20 percent. According to some insurance experts, the average home is underinsured by upwards of 22 percent. After the carrier has paid out the coverage limit, overages could become out-of-pocket expenses.

Don’t hesitate to consult with a reputable home builder or insurance expert. Full coverage means accurately accounting for all of the rebuilding costs. 

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to inquire about current rates for home construction loans, referrals to an insurance agent and more.

Working From Home: 5 Best Tips To Make It Work

Working From Home 5 Best Tips To Make It WorkCarving out space for a home office isn’t always easy, but if you have the option to work from home even part of the time, it’s essential to have a space that works for you.

Here are 5 great ways to meet those needs:

Adapt A Closet

A guest room closet with bi-fold doors can become a perfect workspace with the addition of a shelf at the proper height to hold a computer or calculator and proper task lighting. Hang a bulletin board or add open shelving on the back wall. Multiply the functionality with a small cabinet or a portable file rack. The advantage of going to work in a closet is that you can close it off completely without having to do a daily cleanup. 

Grab A Corner From Living Room or Bedroom

Tuck a table desk into a corner of the living room or bedroom, assuming that you can work during the day when others aren’t sleeping or actively “living” in the space. Small table desks serve a variety of purposes, from serving snacks to displaying artwork, and are perfectly adaptable as work space, with a minimum of effort. All you really need is a good lamp and a nearby electrical plug in order to create an office. 

Claim Space In A Wide Hallway

With a space as narrow as about 30 inches and minimal depth, it’s possible to set up a small tabletop and chair to serve your needs for making phone calls, organizing schedules or planning appointments. It may not be ideal, but if space is at a premium it can be functional for short bursts of work at home.

Look For Multi-Purpose Furniture

A home office can exist in a den or dining room that has either a credenza or a tall cabinet with doors. Think about your needs, and seek out furniture that will fill the bill. Traditional period “secretaries” with closed door storage and a fold-down desktop are perfect, but even ramshackle armoires can be repurposed as office cabinets. 

Look For Unused Space

If you have a mostly empty storage room, even if it’s located in the garage, clean it out and clean it up. Add proper lighting, and even a portable heater or air conditioner. Brighten the space with fresh paint and an area rug, find second-hand furniture at garage sales or estate sales, and get creative with accessories. 

Be Aware Of Your Needs

There are two primary requirements for a home workspace, no matter what kind of work you do: storage space for the tools, supplies, files and accessories that you need; and privacy. It’s nice to be able to close the door on your work and “go home,” so the more insulated your home office is from other family activities, the more efficient it will be. Even if space is minimal, it can work for you!

Be sure to contact your trusted mortgage professional to get started with the pre-approval process as soon as you are in the market for a new home.

 

Home Automation Conveniences Attract Buyers

The rise in Millennial homebuyers will inevitably change the items that promote faster and more lucrative home salesThe rise in Millennial home buyers will inevitably change the items that promote faster and more lucrative home sales.

Consider trends over the past decades that have included conveniences such as built-in dishwashers, central air, energy efficient appliances and many others. As mechanical and technological advances move into the mainstream, prospective home buyers seek them out and favor properties that come tech ready.

While Millennial buyers have a vastly different world view than previous generations, Baby Boomers and Gen X homeowners are also enjoying the ease of technology. For many homeowners, automation equals convenience and improved quality of life. That’s why having the latest automation integrated into a home can make it a priority home on the market. These are some of the latest — let’s call them gadgets — that seem to be piquing the interest of today’s home buyers.  

Automation Home Control Devices

The era of clap-on lights and voice-controlled systems has given way to smart technologies. Homes that are integrated with smart technologies are getting a leg up in the market and future-leaning companies are rolling out devices to fill the need.

A company called Nanoleaf is marketing a 12-sided remote that can be programed to automate and control an entire smart home. The Nanoleaf Remote is expected to interface with Apple Homekits to produce amazing home scenes and manage devices throughout the household.

If you saw the movie “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise, you may remember him interacting with a 3D holographic interface. The new “Talon” smart ring hitting the market is a wearable smart remote that looks similar to the popular Fit Bits. It also interfaces with your home in a futuristic way and can automate most everything. The point is that smart homes are popular and complimentary devices will only make them more so.

Alexa Is The New BFF

Alexa became America’s best friend by providing everything from favorite music to voice-command Google searches. Alexa looks to be everyone’s BFF going forward and more and more home automation technologies are developed to directly connect with the little Echo Dot. iDevices’s new light switches can be brightened or dimmed via Alexa. Consider Alexa-driven automation.

Automated Home Security

In an era when security is frequently on people’s minds, things like motion detectors, security cameras and smart locks are looked upon more favorably when they are integrated into the home and fully automated. Homeowners are not looking to take on home security as an after-work task.

The Ring company, among others, is introducing everything from smart doorbells to outdoor lighting. When fully automated, security can be a huge boon for home sellers.

The Real Estate market remains competitive and seemingly small differences between properties can set them apart. Automation and smart-technology integration can be a game-changer in terms of days on the market and asking price.  

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to get your financing pre-approved so you can be ready to make an offer on your new automated dream home.

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?

Is It A Good Idea To Buy A Remodeled Home?Are you considering buying a flipped house? Here are some ways to tell if it is a good idea or not.

If you watch popular TV shows like Property Brothers, Flip or Flop and Fixer Upper, you might believe that buying a remodeled home is a great idea. These shows always have happy endings. The process looks fun and easy, and the houses turn out beautiful. However, it is rarely this easy when buying a real-life remodeled home.

There are plenty of flipped houses that turn out to have significant problems. Contractors who do remodels sometimes rush through the job. This can lead to subpar work. While the house might look beautiful initially, problems could start to show up months later.  

A flipped house can be a great deal. However, it pays to do your homework before buying one. Maintain a skeptical eye when touring the home. If you notice any of these things, move on.

Unpermitted Work

If you live in a full-disclosure state like Texas, you are in luck. Sellers are required to disclose to buyers everything that they know about the house. This should make it easy to get a list of the work that the flipper completed.

Even if you don’t live in a state that requires full disclosure, still ask for a list of work. After you have a list of the upgrades, check for permits. Most larger remodeling projects need a permit.

Avoid a remodeled home that has had unpermitted upgrades. There is a chance that it is not up to code. Aside from being a safety risk, unpermitted work can make it harder to get financing or insurance on a home.

A Flipper With A Bad Reputation

Before making an offer on a rehabbed home, ask who did the work. Learn everything you can about the person or company. Are they known for doing high-quality work?  

Flippers that have solid reputations want happy customers. Most want to avoid legal issues later, which could ruin their reputation and damage their business. So, they will usually ensure that the work is up to standard.

Avoid flippers or contractors that are not well known. Many move on to the next town after the job is over and so don’t care if they leave behind unhappy customers as they won’t be around.

A Failed Inspection

Beautiful hardwood floors, countertops and shiny new kitchen appliances might make a house look like it was just built. However, most flipped houses hide a dark history. Many remodeled homes have had a substantial lack of maintenance and were in a state of significant disrepair before being flipped.

Some contractors cover up problems rather than do the extensive work needed. Therefore, it pays to have the home inspected. A good home inspector will be more likely to spot things that an average homeowner might miss.

Your trusted mortgage professional can help you get your financing in order and provide you with a pre-approval letter so you are primed and ready to make an offer on the right property for you.

 

3 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Time House Hunting

3 Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Time House HuntingIn the ideal home-buying scenario, you’d have plenty of time to find the perfect home. However, this is not always possible. Maybe you are relocating for a job and have to buy a house from across the country. If this is the case, you might have to limit the time that you spend house hunting.

Here are some tips to help you make your search as productive as possible. 

#1 Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval 

Before attending open houses and searching for a home, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will help you identify the exact price range that you should be shopping for. It will also let home sellers know that you are a serious buyer. If you are competing with other buyers, a seller will be more likely to take your offer seriously if they know that you can afford the home. 

Sometimes you’ll hear the terms pre-qualification and pre-approval thrown around interchangeably. However, these two terms are very different. A pre-approval is much more valuable when it comes to buying a home. Although you will have to provide a lot more information for a full pre-approval, this qualification will provide you with a specific loan amount that you are approved for. A pre-qualification is just an estimate of the amount that you can afford based on your income and other factors. It is not as personalized or customized for your specific situation as a pre-approval. 

#2 Find A Good Real Estate Agent 

Find a good real estate agent who is knowledgeable of the area that you want to buy in. Ideally, they have lived in the area for a long time and know the community. A good local agent can bring invaluable knowledge to the table about the city. They should be familiar with the homes in the area. They might even know about homes that aren’t on the market yet but will be soon. This knowledge can be invaluable when you are in a time crunch and want to get the most out of your house hunting time. 

#3 Make A List Of Your Must-have Amenities 

You don’t want to spend time looking at homes that won’t meet your needs. There are probably some things that you’d like to have in a house, as well as things that you must have. So, if you’re in a time crunch, the first thing you should do is make a must-have list. Make a second list of things that you’d like to have but that are not required. Don’t bother looking at homes that lack the qualities on your must-have list. 

First things first, contact your trusted home loan professional and get your pre-approval started today!

House Hunting When You Are In A Time Crunch

House Hunting When You Are In A Time CrunchIn an ideal world, you’d have plenty of time to find the perfect home. However, that does not always happen. Maybe you are relocating because of a job transfer. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to take months to find the perfect home. You can speed up the process of buying a home utilizing some tried and true tips. 

Here are some of the best ways to speed up the house buying process. 

Find An Experienced Real Estate Agent 

An experienced agent likely has an extensive network and many connections. They might know what properties are coming on the market before anyone else does. They can also help you assemble a great team of real estate professionals such as a mortgage banker and real estate attorney. 

Get A Mortgage Pre-Approval 

Obtaining a home loan is a long process that requires a lot of paperwork. You can speed up the process by getting pre-approved before looking for homes. You’ll need to gather some paperwork for pre-approval including bank statements, tax returns and information about your debt. Have all of these things ready when you talk with the mortgage loan officer.

Having a pre-approval letter also demonstrates to sellers that you are serious about buying. They might be more likely to respond quickly to your offer if they feel that the deal will go through. 

Make A List Of Things That You Must Have 

If you are in a hurry to buy a home, you don’t want to waste time looking at houses that won’t meet your needs. So, before doing any online research, make a list of things of your must-have amenities. Zeroing on the things that you must have will help keep you focused on properties that are right for you. 

Search Areas That Have A lot of Inventory 

Don’t waste time looking at communities that don’t have much inventory. The real estate market will be a lot more competitive. Instead, try choosing areas that meet your needs as far as easy access to your work, quality of the school and so forth. Make sure that they have plenty of inventory available. You might have to hunt in surrounding neighborhoods to find something quickly. 

Be Available to Act Quickly 

If you want to close quickly, you must be available to act as soon as an offer is accepted. It is essential to be available anytime to get in touch with your agent, respond to counter-offers and answer questions. Provide your agent with multiple ways to reach you — by phone, email or text. 

Contact your trusted mortgage professional today to help you with a pre-approval for your new home purchase. This is one of the most important and timely steps you can take to ensure a smooth transaction when you are ready to put in an offer on your new home.

How To Manage Investment Property While Working Full-Time

How To Manage Investment Property While Working Full-TimeIn 2017, upwards of 75 percent of independent rental property owners in the U.S. reportedly worked another job on top of being a landlord. That means the overwhelming majority of landlords are attempting to juggle more than they can handle at times.

There are organizational and strategic concepts that can maximize efficiency and profitability.

Consider the following tips that bring property management tasks under three basic headings: organization, automation and outsourcing.  

Organization Matters

One of the things that tends to overwhelm landlords is thinking about the rental properties as an extension of home ownership. The rental seems like it involves many of the same tasks such as maintenance and repair.

By rethinking rentals in terms of a small business, the way these and other tasks are approached can become radically different. If this were a Mom and Pop store or a corporation, the necessary resources would be brought in to handle niche labor. Organize all of the tasks that the rental unit(s) require under categories that may include the following.

  • Rental Advertising
  • Applicant Interviews
  • Background Checks
  • Legal Documents (leases)
  • Maintenance and Repairs
  • Rent Collection and Bill Paying

Accounting

With a defined set of tasks organized under specific headings, it becomes much easier to visualize the breadth of work involved and what supporting resources would be needed.

Automation Matters

Industries across the globe are moving to automation as a way to increase productivity and lower costs. There’s no reason landlords working other jobs cannot do the same.

While fixing a burst pipe may not be a good candidate for automation, there are numerous tasks property owners undertake that no longer require valuable time.

  • Advertising: Consider a process where an online advertisement is pre-written and posted when a lease expires.
  • Rental Payments: Consider automatic withdrawal from tenant accounts or having them direct deposit.
  • Bill Payment: Consider auto pay for every possible facet of the property, including utilities, taxes, insurance, mortgage and others.
  • Maintenance and Repair: Consider an online form for tenants to fill out that provides real-time notification.

These and other tools can streamline the amount of time required to manage a rental property without incurring significant expense.

Outsourcing Matters

People who work regular jobs and also manage rental properties are entrepreneurs by nature. That go-getter personality leads many to take on more tasks than there is time in the day. That’s why outsourcing is so important.

Outsourcing things like accounting or legal services are no-brainers because they require specialized knowledge. But other tasks such as applications, background checks and maintenance may be good things to put on someone else’s plate as well.

As noted in the beginning of this article, if a small business mindset were applied, many of these tasks would be assigned to a designated resource. Consider operating rental units in this fashion by running a cost analysis and outsourcing. Roll in the labor costs that make sense and take some time to binge watch a Netflix series while your investment turns a profit.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to make sure that you have the most competitive financing on your investment property or to get pre-qualified if you’re ready to get started on this new real estate venture!

Is Buying A Short Sale Right For You?

Is Buying A Short Sale Right For YouIf you have been looking for a new home, and you find one offered under a short sale, this may be to your advantage. While some buyers are wary about buying a home that needs to be sold with the approval of the lender, it’s a great way to get a bargain on a home that you love.

A short sale may be a perfect way to buy a home, as long as you are able to wait until the offer is approved.

The Basics Of A Short Sale

A short sale occurs when the homeowner is facing a foreclosure and trying to avoid it. The true owner of the property, is the lender who provided the money to purchase the home. The borrower owes more on the home than it is worth, and many stop making mortgage payments. Instead of allowing the home to sit there and go to a foreclosure, the lender tries to cut their losses through the process of a short sale.

Additionally, there may be other liens on the home that have to be satisfied by the sale of the property. Anyone that holds a lien on the property has to negotiate the money they are willing to accept for the deal to be finalized.

Why A Short Sale Benefits The Buyer

When you make an offer on a home that is selling under a short sale, you can usually offer less than what the home is worth. The homeowner is eager to sell the home. The homeowner will want to accept an offer fast to get the process started and avoid a foreclosure.

While you may have to wait longer for a short sale to go through than a traditional sale, the savings on the price of the home are usually worth it. Lien holders understand that a short sale is usually the best option to get most of their money, so they are anxious to settle the deal fast.

A short sale is right for you if you aren’t trying to buy a home fast. When you are a savvy buyer, you can make an offer less than the asking price, but you’ll have to wait for all lien holders to accept it. If your current living situation provides you with the opportunity to wait, a short sale will give you more house for your money.

Contact your trusted mortgage professional to secure your financing pre-approval, a necessity prior to negotiating this type of transaction.