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Will The Value Of My Home Drop Again?

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What is your home worth?Fear And Loathing In Homeownership

There was a time when it was common knowledge that real estate only ever goes up in value. With the traumatic drop in prices in 2007-2009 it is pretty clear that this “fact” was utterly false.

The truth is that real estate is like any other capital asset, it can go down as well as up in value. This currently has buyers nervously asking the question because it is imprinted on the common memory that prices can and will fall.

Looking at the historic trend in real estate prices it can be seen that prices have been following an underlying upward trend that follows inflation. The prices of the housing bubble deviated upward from that trend and then crashed down again.

The underlying upward trend is still there. If you slept through the entire fiasco of the ‘00s you would still be feeling pretty good about your prior real estate investments and home value.

Pricing The Emperor’s New Home

The irony of a bubble is that when we are in it no one realizes. As soon as the public discussion and perception becomes aware of the bubble prices are likely to collapse. As long as you are looking at prices that are reasonably in line with the historic trend you are less likely to suffer any remarkable loss.

Some of the factors that contribute to the value of your home are the basics of economics and politics. The law of supply and demand ultimately determines the value; when there are parties willing to buy your home the price will remain stable or rise.

What Determines Your Home’s Value?

The supply and demand for land and improvements – The value is in the land and the improvements; building structures will degrade over time and need rehabilitation or replacing but the space has potential for value based on its location and the presence of people who would put it to use.

The condition of the economy – As the economy moves through the cycle from recession to growth and boom demand will fluctuate; prices will get upward pressure in good times and negative pressure in the bad. Fear and greed dramatically exaggerate these tendencies, causing prices to oscillate wildly as panic takes over.

Political stability – In the United States, regardless of news reports and politicians bickering, we have been blessed with a relatively stable political and legal regime. There is no faction seriously calling for the end of property rights or other changes to the laws surrounding real estate.

Will my home value drop in the future? Probably. It is not likely on average and it may go up for years before it does. Buying your own home is a great way to create wealth that renters do not.

You Bought A Home Now What?

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settling-in-your-new-homeTime To Get On With The Chores Of Living

Once you have completed closing and moved into your new abode you are going to feel great. After all of the stress and uncertainties of buying and moving there is bound to be some mixed feelings that drifts, a sort of anticlimax after all of the excitement.

Now that you are in the door it is the time to get going on all of the things that get you properly settled including some physical work and some networking and connecting.

Time To Get Physical

Get ready to start cleaning. When you sit down and look closely you will most likely realize that the real estate term of broom clean is not the same as spotless. Once you move in you will start with a thorough spring-cleaning. It is also time to paint and to change the carpets.

There will be some chores of a more practical concern. You should change all of the locks and security codes. In spite of the best intentions of the previous owners, you really do not know who has a key copy or the alarm code.

So, maybe the HVAC passed the inspection but now is the time to get it serviced, along with the other major appliances that came with the purchase.

Follow up on the paperwork. Contact your county records and confirm your deed has been recorded correctly. Get the utilities transferred into your name and make sure that you have all of the right insurance for fire, liability and theft.

Stay In Touch With Your Realtor

Your realtor can be a great source of referrals and knowledge about what to do when things break down. Another thing they can help with is any sudden surge of lingering doubt and possibly even buyer’s remorse.

The remedy is to keep looking forward with projects to complete. You might even choose to go to a few open houses in the neighborhood to help you connect to the new community around you. Your realtor can advise you on this and tell you where the next open houses will be.

Your realtor wants to keep in touch with you and that’s a good thing. Building a long-term relationship not only helps their career it makes it easier when it is time for you to sell. You have an agent who is familiar and can create an insightful market analysis for the property.

An experienced realtor has a long list of contacts in a wide range of professions and trades and you have them at your favor to do it. Professional realtors are naturally gregarious and continuously collect networks of contacts the way some people collect fine china. They can be a fantastic resource to you because you are now in that network. It can even work to promote your own career objectives or business.

Rejoice And Get Settled

It is certainly time to rejoice and to celebrate your new venture in homeownership. Following up on all of the chores and paperwork is just part of the process. Taking care of all of these details is the proactive way to getting settled into your new home.

What To Look For In A Great Realtor

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realtor-teamThe Obvious Answers In Character

You have decided to buy a home, possibly selling the one you already have, you have your finances in order, now what do you do? One of the biggest decisions in the process of moving is going to be choosing the real estate agent that you work with.

This is the property sales professional who will represent you at critical phases in the process and attempt to negotiate the best price and terms in the deal. It is going to require that you make a personal choice. Even though it will be a business endeavor you will be working with one agent who is supposed to understand you and fight passionately for your interests.

The Business Attracts Professionals With Interpersonal Skills

There are many outstanding real estate professionals that would fit the general characteristics to do the job but you will always get the best outcome when you find the one with whom you make a personal connection.

The best place to begin the search is with trusted friends and family members who have recently bought or sold real estate. Look to real estate websites and social media as well to determine who has had the best experience working with an agent and which agent that was.

There are the general, big picture characteristics that you are going to want in your agent. Honesty is paramount of course; they should have exhibited integrity and demonstrated experience that includes local market knowledge. All of this should be documented in testimonials and the verbal referrals from friends and family.

Making Deals And Closing Them

Making deals comes down to hustle at the end of the day. Anyone can become probably become a success in real estate if they are determined and they apply enough energy. It may be a lot of energy for some and less for others but it is the hustle that goes into making a successful career in a field as dynamic as real estate.

With hustle come results and those results help to create a reputation. In addition to this you will find that realtors will often specialize. As they mature property professionals learn more about their own personal strengths and weaknesses. As they do they become more valuable to the clients that need the skills at which they excel.

An In All Things A Balance

There has to be a balance between your drive and hustle, and their long-term involvement in the local real estate market, specialization and how well their personalities align with your own. You will have to rely at least in part on your own personal ability to judge the right realtor for your needs. Try to leverage this with as much third-party information that you can gather from your personal network, industry websites and social media sites such as

One final tip: The National Association of Realtors has a website with a vast library of resources.   At you can read about choosing a realtor and search through their listings. Most realtors will do a great job but you will get that extra edge from working with a realtor who understands you. When you have a high level of rapport in the relationship it kicks your project up to the next level of real estate success.

City Living Has Some Things Going For It Lately

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city-livingLearning How To Live The Urban Life

From Williamsburg in NYC to Queen Ann Hill In Seattle, from Santa Monica California to Collins Avenue in Miami there is a definite trend toward urban living that has emerged over the last decade or two. Although there are always issues of crowdedness and expense in city living some people are finding that they love the connection and freedom that it creates. Arguably it is the exact opposite of living in a gated community because of the direct and intimate contact that you have with masses of people on a daily basis.

Things have changed in the urban environment and there is a new movement toward city living. This is very much in evidence in the condominium and townhome projects popping up in urban areas across the country. This gives homeowners and potential homeowners more opportunities to buy into the urban lifestyle.

Sacrifices Brings Savings That Make It Worthwhile

Prepare to Downsize when you go urban. Prices go up the closer that you get to down town. But there are advantages to balance out the crowdedness. You have many choices for food, drink and entertainment.

Can you let go of your car? No seriously, if you have a modern downtown condo you might get one parking space in the garage at the bottom of the structure but very often parking is considered as an extra and you will pay a lot to have it.

New York City is notorious for the cost of parking and New Yorkers have been willing to go without as a basic part of the culture and that leads the way. You learn to use public transportation, taxis, walking greater distances and now online services such as Uber and Lyft. Being able to call on a car and driver via your mobile device is rapidly becoming a standard part of the urban lifestyle across the country.

Getting Around Alone In The Crowd

Cities are also embracing alternative transportation such as bicycling and creating lanes and traffic controls that support it. Light rail and trolley cars are enjoying a renascence, putting neighborhoods in easy reach of all of the amenities that support urban living in the cities they serve. Finally, delivery services will bring nearly anything imaginable directly to your door.

Urban living encourages interaction as much as being alone in the crowd. Thanks to the iniquitousness of mobile devices and social media you can easily find some group or club that shares your interests and passions.

So, city living definitely has something going for it. But what is available? There are loft conversions that pop up as industrial districts become gentrified and condominium projects that stack modern luxury up to the sky. Houses, if they are available at all, tend to be extremely expensive.

Moving Up To The Urban Lifestyle

There is not much different in the house hunting process when you are seeking an urban abode. The differences lie in the character of the community and the scale. There is a growing sector in real estate that serves urban living and you should speak with an urban realtor or broker who specialize in the city of which you wish become a resident.

Adopting the urban lifestyle is a new and exciting frontier that has become a popular lifestyle choice for homebuyers. If you think you would enjoy the adventure and can tolerate the pressures of city living you should take a look at moving into an urban home.

The Help That You Get From A Multiple Listing Service

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mls-basicsWhat Is This MLS Thing?

A multiple listing service is a local or regional network of real estate brokers that share information about listings that creates a larger marketplace and allows member to have more information on which to judge the price at which to buy or sell a particular property. There is no real controversy about the value of having access to MLSs. The question here is: What does it mean to you?

The Value That Comes From A Multiple Listing Service

The MLS for real estate sales is a concept that has evolved over many years to help create some liquidity in local real estate markets. This is a natural extension of market principles into an area of business where the product (property) has a natural anti-marketplace quality.

For an efficient market in the economic sense you need to have products or services that are reasonably alike. You need to have an ability to exchange assets and turn them into cash by sale. This is definitely not the nature of real estate. Real properties are unique; they have no natural comparison with any other property because the location is different for each and there is a high variance in characteristics for each.

Shining A Bright Light Into The Local Market

Multiple listing services or MLSs overcome these difficulties by creating transparency in a very foggy marketplace. When brokers and realtors began to exchange information and collaborate across agencies they have been able to compare prices more effectively and facilitate transactions that would have been difficult to complete within the limits of a single brokerage.

So, for the homebuyer and seller, it means you have a much bigger marketplace from which to select and offer your property. It means that there will be less variation in price because the comparative market price of the property of interest will be clear from the examples of recently sold homes in the market.

On The Seller’s End

This will assist your realtor in correctly pricing your home on the market and speed the sale along. Rest assured that if there is MLS information available or not the property has a market value; it doesn’t matter if you can find it or not.

What will happen is that the further the price you put on a property is from the true market value the longer it will take to dispose of it by sale. Having accurate market information will take the element of gambling out of setting the price and give you more certainty in the time to sell.

Buyer Side Peace Of Mind

For buyers an MLS is evaluable to find the property that you want and to not pay too high a price for it. Your realtor will be able to offer a wider selection of potential properties which means that you are much more likely to get the one that best suits your needs and desires.

Ultimate Searchability For Everyone

All of this adds up to elimination of fear in the marketplace. Where there is darkness there is hesitation and fear, where there is light (in the form of information) there is confidence and decisiveness. The modern MLS is a valuable tool for realtors, which means that it is a good thing for homeowners and buyers.

The Open House Event As A Spectator Sport

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What You Can Learn From Visiting Open HousesBeing Seen Creates Possibility

Selling a home requires a bit of marketing and inspired action and that is what you get from the best realtors who specialize as sellers’ agents. One of the best things that a seller can do, and the most dramatic, is to stage the property creatively and then to promote it with open house events.

It is true that there could be a flow of people who appear to have nothing better to do than view an open house, even though they have no intention of purchasing a new home. That may seem like an annoyance and a complete waste of time but it is not. An effective open house is as much about the buzz that you get in the event as is it is about getting the ready buyers in through the door.

Bring In The Crowds

The point is to bring in the potential buyers and to create a positive association with energy in return for information; get the buzz going and get an understanding of the market sentiment towards your property at the price you are asking.

An experienced realtor will know exactly what to do to put your home in the best light and then bring in the crowds. Getting the staging right is crucial to setting the mood. Staging your home can and should be simple; you stage the exterior to create an inviting appeal and the interior for subtly stylish comfort.

Welcome The Looky-Loos With Open Arms

The thing about people who appear to not be buyers is that looks can be deceiving. It may be that they put up a front of non-buying as a defense. They may be genuinely thinking that they are not buying but people deceive themselves and they do sometimes change their minds. They also have friends and relatives who might actually be in the market and who would listen about their experience at your open house.

If they happen to mention that they saw your home and they talk about the experience with rave reviews it’s as strong a recommendation as you can expect! If you are planning to sell your home you really should get out and visit some open house events first yourself. Perhaps that is what some of those people who wander through your event are trying to do too, you just never know.

Marketing Is Always About Experience

When you stage your home and open it to all comers you are creating an experience for them, whether you intend it consciously or not. When you create a positive experience you allow for the possibility of positive things to happen. The most important for you is that you find a buyer who agrees to the terms you most desire and who is eager to close as fast as possible. If this doesn’t happen then you want to have alternatives that arise from the experience people have at your event.

So really, you should accept that all kinds of people who turn up to your event and then appear to not be interested or reluctant to talk. It is all part of the process of selling your home and it is up to you to make your open house event as memorable and exciting an experience as possible.

Closed MLS Networks In The Age Of Open Websites

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mortgage-loan-basicsPrivate Networks And Freedom Of Information

These days you can search for many different kinds of information with an efficiency and power that would have been hard to imagine a few decades ago. In real estate there are dedicated systems to find information about properties that developed during a previous era, before the egalitarian powers of instant search.

So you might think that such systems are now obsolete and irrelevant. You would be missing the point because of the focused power of multiple listing services or MLSs are still going to give you much more value than just searching on your own.

Efficiency As A Purpose

The reason that MLSs emerged originally is in the nature of the real estate market itself. Free and efficient marketplaces have some specific features that are lacking in real estate, quite simply because of the nature of buildings. An efficient market will have products that are all alike and easy to convert into cash.

It is fairly obvious that this is not how real estate works. No two properties are alike and exchanging a house for cash is a very complicated process. So the real estate sales industry has been working with these limitations and attempting to make the market more liquid by the sharing of information since the late nineteenth century. This has developed in the United States into MLS networks.

Getting Out What You Put In

So the point of an MLS is that it helps you buy and sell property in ways that go far beyond information. It gives the most accurate and up-to-date information as well as connecting agents with potential sellers and buyers.

You can find plenty of information on the Internet and , if you are diligent, you can search public records (once transactions are published). You can certainly build up a picture of the current state of the property marketplace. The advantage that the MLS gives is that it is a powerful tool that your broker and agent can use to give accurate information, promote the sale of your property or find a potential purchase and to help to close the deal for you.

A Collaboration Of Service And Information

As part of your initial research, you should certainly use every tool at your disposal to find the right home for your family and lifestyle. That definitely means doing Internet research to get the big picture. You will then be better placed to understand the real estate buying and selling process, when you begin to work with an agent.

So, it is not a question of either-or when you discuss home hunting. You will want to use websites that you find on your own and also consult with your agent to get the most accurate and relevant MLS information. That way you will be able to make informed decisions in your efforts to buy or sell your home.

My Lender Seems To Know What I Need – Do I Just Go Along?

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mortgage-loan-basicsYour Professionals Are Your Team

Your lender is going to do their best to match the market to your needs, as he or she perceives them. That is their job and they are rewarded handsomely when it all comes together at closing. Having stated that fact it pays to remember that any real estate transaction is a complicated process.

It is a multi-step process to determine what you can qualify for and only after you have been approved can you find a property that is suitable within the terms of your financial capacity. So you are going to be changing your exact definition of what you need and can get as the process develops.

Take Control And Choose Carefully

Don’t be afraid to shop around. There will always be a personal element in putting together real estate finance. Some lenders are suited for specific aspects of the market while others specialize elsewhere. One lender and its representatives may not understand your needs. If you establish a personal connection you will have better communication that might make all the difference in finding you just the right package to get you into the home that you most desire.

Initially you may need to get pre-approved to be taken seriously by realtors and brokers. Once you have prequalified then you should begin to develop a relationship with an agent if you don’t already have one. This is your chance to get a professional opinion that is balanced against what your preferred lender believes that you need.

The Point Is Finding The Right Program

Another reason to cast a wide net in choosing a lender is that there are programs and offers that not every lender can participate in. The more information that you have and the wider your network of contacts in the business the better positioned you are to judge the situation and get the best deal for yourself and your family.

So if your lender seems to have what you need and you can confirm this with validation from other sources then maybe you are on to a great thing. It is not unlikely because, after all, that is what they are supposed to do. When everything works right in the real estate industry you don’t need to question the good faith and competence of your professionals. In the real world the metaphor of trusting in The Lord and guarding your camels is always a prudent policy.

How Do I Establish Credit To Qualify For A Home Loan

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Home Purchase BasicsHistory As Character Judgment

You establish credit by building up a history of credit, use one transaction at a time. It is your recorded credit history. This will be used to judge whether you are reliable enough to finance a home loan and determines the interest rates that you will pay to do so. It also has a direct impact on many other aspects of your life.

The easiest way to get credit without a history is to obtain a loan that has some form of security attached to it. One way is to apply for a credit card with a security deposit held on account in return for a very modest credit limit, which is usually the same as the deposit. Alternatively you could finance a car or some other large physical asset where the payments are reported to credit agencies. The bar is lower on these arrangements because the lender can recover the security, if you fail to make payments.

Make Your Credit History A Positive Record

Of course, if you intend to establish credit the last thing you want to do is miss a payment; a lot of expensive hard work would go down the drain immediately. In any case you are going to find that it is expensive to establish credit. You will be charged the highest interest rates and there will be fees for just about every conceivable reason.

What you get in return is a start to your records with the credit agencies. Your lender first reports the new finance agreement to one, two or three of the agencies. They will then report each payment when it comes due. If you have made your payment successfully, as you really must at this point, they report that. They will also report any problems such as late payment or non-payment.

Credit Here Credit There Credit Everywhere

So many aspects of modern life depend on your record of credit worthiness; everything from job applications to insurance premiums to real estate finance. Poor credit may not automatically exclude you from financial options such as home finance altogether but it will definitely make a difference in the price that you have to pay each month.

Re-establishing credit is, unfortunately all too necessary for many consumers these days. Your credit score and record will suffer if you have some sort of set-back that prevents you from keeping up with at least the minimum payments on your financial obligations each month. This is often caused by loss of employment or illness. The process is the same as that of initially establishing credit, although it may take longer and even require filing for bankruptcy before you begin.

Start Today If You Have Not Already

Credit drives the modern American consumer economy and is the core of the information services that track individuals as consumers and members of the workforce. Credit is also critical to access to finance for home loans and lease agreements. If you have not already begun to establish credit or you have struck out and need to begin again there is no time like the present to start making the moves that will ultimately help you master the financial system that is the American Dream.

Living In Gated Communities: The Pros And Cons

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gated-community-basicsSharing A Reality Apart

The rise of the gated community has had a mixed reception in the American real estate marketplace. There are features of gated communities that appeal to some homeowners and that do not impress others. The secret is to be clear on which side of the fence your values fall before you commit to living in gate luxury.

First The Good Points Order Exclusivity And Privacy

The most appealing features of gated communities include all that the developers and sellers would wish you to see. Gated communities stand for exclusivity and privacy and a pleasant, well groomed common area, shared by all of the homeowners in the community through a home owner’s association or HOA.

Privacy and Security – For homeowners who like privacy and the sense of security that comes from restricting entry, the fences and watchful eye of a security patrol are the difference between restless nights and fitful slumber.

Exclusive Luxury – Wanting the best and being able to afford it is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact it is the sort of material success that this country tends to admire most. Gated communities of all kinds provide that extra level of service and amenities with comfort and style that represent the aspirations of many people.

Living In An Adventure Club – The ordered exteriors and restrictive gateways provide a status symbol that shares a lifestyle. Some gated communities are built around common use and interest; many are focused on golf courses, others include private marinas. On the extreme upper end there are airport communities where every owner has their own airplane and hangars, with the roadways leading to the community runway.

On The Down Side Of The Fence

HOA Fees Add Up – For this you will be paying homeowners association fees that are higher than those that you would for the equivalent open community, because of the cost of the apparatus to keep the boundaries monitored and in order.

Exclusivity Could Equal Isolation – Even though some buyers might see privacy and security as reassuring others may feel like they are stuck in elitist isolation in a gated community. This separation from the larger community of your city or region is often so complete that you lose your sense of location and connection to the outside world. Also if there is exceptionally tight security or tension there could be a sense of being watched, even judged by the management and by fellow residents.

There will always be a flow of non-residents on and off the estate; realistically, there can be no hermetically sealed environment, with that comes the risks and burdens of staffing and security. The person who seeks to be able to control access completely and who has the resources is probably better off having his or her own private estate.

Prisoners In Paradise Possibly – There was a British TV show of the late sixties called The Prisoner, which used a delightfully themed community in Wales as the set location. The point was that it was a pleasant and genteel community that also happened to be a prison for spies. For all of the well-groomed buildings, lush gardens, and organized activities there was a hidden security system that would vigorously pursue anyone who attempted to escape. Of course the protagonist, known only by his assigned number “six” wanted nothing more than to escape, which gave rise to the theme and plots of the show. If there is no gated community that verges on that state of affairs it can only be a good thing. However, it is a plot line that could easily be reworked for a movie or series about one.

Gated Communities In Summary

When you are selecting a new home and looking at the options for community, it might be worth looking into what a gated community can offer you. It is a matter of what you want to gain from your membership in such a community. If you seek privacy and luxurious escape from the outside world it may be a plus to have gates and fences around your neighborhood. If you wish to be directly connected to the community at large and to live in a diverse and unbounded realm then you are best off steering clear.

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