Welcome to the Livin The Dream Team Blog

If you're looking for the most up-to-date real estate trends in Marco Island and Naples, you are in the right place. From market trends to local events, and happenings our team is here to help navigate you every step of the way.

June 15, 2021

Real Estate Experts: Your Essential Guide through this Extreme Market

In a typical market, having an expert adviser lead you through the process of purchasing or selling a home is beneficial. That person can help you with crucial matters such as effectively pricing your house or the initial actions to take when you're ready to buy. The current market, on the other hand, is far from typical. As a result, having an expert on your side isn't just beneficial; it's necessary.

There are several extremes in today's property market. High buyer demand is being fueled by mortgage rates near record lows. On the other hand, a lack of sellers has resulted in historically low housing inventory levels. Bidding wars are escalating as a result of the supply and demand imbalance, with more homes selling for more than the asking price. As a result, property prices are rising and home equity is increasing.

These market conditions aren’t just extreme – they can be overwhelming. Having a trusted specialist guide you through the process of buying and selling a house ensures that you have clarity, confidence, and success at every turn.

Here are just a few of the ways a real estate expert is invaluable:

  • Contracts – We help with the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment.
  • Experience – We’re well-versed in real estate and experienced with the entire sales process, including how it’s changed over the past year.
  • Negotiations – We act as a buffer in negotiations with all parties throughout the entire transaction while advocating for your best interests.
  • Education – We simply and effectively explain today’s market conditions and decipher what they mean for your individual goals.
  • Pricing – We help you understand today’s real estate values when setting the price of your home or making an offer to purchase one.

A real estate expert can be your essential guide through this unprecedented market, but truth be told, not all agents are created equal. A true expert can carefully walk you through the whole real estate process, look out for your unique needs, and advise you on the best ways to achieve success. Finding the right agent should be your top priority when you’re ready to buy or sell a home.

So, how do you choose the right expert?

It starts with trust. You’ll have to be able to trust the advice your agent is going to give you, so make sure you’re connected to a true professional. An agent can’t give you perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn – especially in this unique market. A true professional expert can, however, give you the best possible advice based on the information and situation at hand, helping you make the necessary adjustments and best decisions along the way. The right agent – the professional – will help you plan the steps to take for success, advocate for you throughout the process, and coach you on the essential knowledge you need to make confident decisions toward your goals. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

It’s crucial right now to work with a real estate expert who understands how the market is changing and what that means for home buyers and sellers. If you’re planning to make a move this year, send us a message here and our team of experts will be happy to guide you. 

 

June 8, 2021

10 Money and Time-Saving Tips to Win a Bid War

When you're buying a house, your offer marks the beginning of a back-and-forth between you and the seller, typically with a real estate professional advising you both.

The more intentional you are about your offer, the better your chances of making a successful bid. Here are the 10 tips you can follow to save time and money.

1. Know Your Limits

Your agent will assist you in putting together a strong offer. It's a mutually beneficial relationship, so you can trust your agent's advice on price, contingencies, and other contact details. You'll be able to move more swiftly if you work together with your agent.

2. Learn to Speak "Contract"

An offer is essentially a contract. The paperwork and phrasing differ from state to state.

Before you go house hunting, go through some sample offer forms. If you need more information, a real estate attorney may walk you through the documentation so you're familiar with the terminology when you're ready to make an offer with your agent. Offer forms for your state will be available from your agent.

3. Set Your Price

There is always a listing price for a home. Consider it the seller's initial bid in your home purchase negotiations. As the buyer, you will include an offer price in your offer. When a home seller receives a bid, this is the first thing they look at. By using comps (or comparables), your agent can assist you to assess whether the seller's listing price is reasonable. 

4. Figure Out Your Down Payment

You must make a down payment on your loan in order to obtain a mortgage. Making a 20% down payment on a conventional loan (as opposed to a government loan) allows borrowers to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is a monthly fee that protects the lender in the event of a default by the borrower.

5. Show the Seller You’re Serious: Make a Deposit

The amount you put down as proof to the seller that you're serious about buying the house is known as an EMD (earnest money deposit). The earnest money will be applied to your down payment at closing if the seller accepts your offer. If you try to back out of the arrangement, you may be forced to pay the seller.

6. Review the Contingency Plans

Most real estate contracts include contingencies, which are requirements that must be completed before the transaction can proceed, otherwise, the buyer will be able to withdraw their EMD.

7. Read the Fine Print About the Property

The sales contract contains important details regarding the property, such as the address, tax ID, and utility kinds (public water or private well, gas or electric heating, etc.).

8. Make a Date to Settle

A proposed settlement date must be included in the sales contract you send to the seller, which verifies when the transaction will be completed. When the purchase agreement is signed, the clock starts ticking. If you don't close on time, the party who caused the delay may be required to compensate the other party by paying "penalty interest" at a specified rate.

9. Write a Fan Letter to the Seller

Do you want to make a truly irresistible offer? Attach a personal note to the bid documents to tug at the seller's heartstrings. Tell a captivating story about your ancestors and your ties to the community. Consider your ancestors.

10. Brace Yourself for a Counteroffer

If you’re making a lowball bid or going up against multiple offers, the seller may decide to make you a counteroffer — a purchase agreement with new terms, such as a higher sales price or fewer contingencies.

If you're planning to buy a house these tips will certainly help you. 

For more real estate-related tips and questions, just click here and our team of experts will be happy to guide you. 

 

Posted in Buyer Tips
May 31, 2021

6 Essential Repairs to Make Before Selling a House

There are some important repairs to make before selling a house. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to get your home listed. If you move too fast, buyers see right through the fact that you skipped important home renovations. And this might end up costing you time and money. 

Check out these six important repairs to make before selling a house

1. Spruce up the grounds.

Good landscaping can add up to 28% to overall home value. This is one of the easiest and cheapest tricks. If you don’t have time for a full overhaul of your front yard, small changes can still have a big impact.

2. Love the hardwood.

One of the biggest turnoffs for buyers is dirty old carpets. It is worthwhile to invest in wood floors. Right now, carpeting isn’t just an aesthetic choice—it’s a choice that can actively turn away buyers who can’t see beyond it. Instead of noticing what a wonderful, light-filled living room you have, they can think only about just how much money it will cost to get rid of that nasty old carpet.

3. Fixing windows and doors are one of the most important repairs to make before selling a house.

You’re not just irritating buyers by refusing to fix broken windows and doors. Ignoring basic repair work might actually cast a pall on your entire home. 

4. Paint and/or wash the walls.

If any of your rooms are doused in a dark shade, cover it up with a coat of light or neutral paint. Buyers find it easier to picture themselves living in a home with neutral walls—plus, they’ll make your home seem larger, cleaner, and far more appealing.

5. Clean the cabinets.

Check for any loose drawers, hardware, or shelving so buyers don’t wonder what else might be amiss. And hide those strange or semi-incriminating items that aren’t at all meant for public display.

6. Update the lighting.

Modern lighting can make your home go from old to new and stylish in no time. The ROI can be pretty impressive.

If you have more real estate-related questions, don't hesitate to send our team a message here.

 

 

May 25, 2021

Tips on How To Prepare To Make a Down Payment

One of the biggest hurdles in buying a home is coming up with a down payment—the large chunk of cash that’s typically required to secure a mortgage for a house.

Fortunately, most lenders today offer a wide range of down payment options for 5%, 10%, 15%, or 20% of the price of the house. For many first-time homebuyers, a government FHA loan can be obtained, for as little as 3.5% down. If you are a military member or veteran, there are even more budget-friendly options available to you.

Many home buyers tap their savings to procure the funds for a down payment, and often postpone large outlays to save money. But here are some other ways to come up with a chunk of money.

1. Gifts from family or friends

Some types of loans allow “gift” funds—money that is given to you—for a down payment. The person who gives the money must have no financial interest in the property and the funds must be a true gift, backed up by a letter. Banks won’t allow “gift” funds if the gift is a loan that has to be repaid.

2. Down payment assistance

Many local and state government programs offer down payment assistance for borrowers in need, so check with your lender or state housing commission for more information.

3. No-PMI home loans

There are a few loan options that allow you to put down less than 20% without the added PMI cost. Check with your lender to see if it offers a low-down-payment, no-PMI product if a 20% down payment seems too challenging

4. Make saving a habit

The surefire way to make your down payment is to start a fund for it now.

 

Looking for other ways to make your mortgage process easier? Or do you have any other real estate-related questions? Click here and our team of experts will be happy to help you. 

 

Posted in Buyer Tips
May 18, 2021

6 Ways to Avoid Mortgage Mistakes

Mortgage sounds like a lot of processes, and a ton of paperwork. But mortgages don’t have to be scary. It's just the same as other business transactions. 

To avoid mortgage mistakes, here are some of the things you can do:

1. Communicate with All Parties

This deal involves several people: the buyer, the seller, the realtors, and the lender. Keep everyone in the loop on every bit of information, or your closing could get delayed. Be transparent about everything.

2. Have Enough Money to Pay Closing Costs

Closing costs are usually 2-5% of the amount you’re borrowing. If you don’t have enough money, there are a few ways to work around the problem.

  • Look for assistance programs that cover some of the closing costs.
  • Call a relative and ask for a gift.
  • Negotiate with the seller to pay the closing costs.

3. Unfreeze Your Credit

Buyers may have placed a security freeze on their credit, which restricts access to their reports. This can prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in their name but can cause trouble when they’re applying for a mortgage. Head off problems as soon as you begin mortgage shopping. 

4. Steer Clear of Big Purchases After Mortgage Pre-approval

Your lender will check your credit twice. First, when you apply for the mortgage and next, days before you close on the house and get the keys. Even applying for a credit card or car loan can affect your mortgage rate. To get the information it needs, the lender will request your credit file from the credit bureaus. 

5. Expand Your Employer's Contact Information

The COVID pandemic has millions of people working from home, making it tougher for lenders to do routine employment verification. To prevent loan approval delays, get the emails and phone numbers for your employer.

6. Ask Questions So Your Lender and Agent Can Help

There are no dumb questions. Lenders and agents are there to help you, so pick their brains. For example, ask if there are home loan programs to help you get into a home and how to access them. See about getting the seller to pay closing costs. Check on anything you don't understand.

Taking these simple actions can keep your home loan application on track. And that means fewer hassles and less stress for you.

Click here if you have more real estate-related questions. 

 

Posted in Buyer Tips
May 11, 2021

How to Find the Right Homebuying Team

When it comes to one of the biggest financial decisions of your life, you’ll want to ensure you have all the right people on your side. After all, purchasing a home truly takes a village. Here are some of the tips to choose your ideal home buying team

1. They have the right experience

Depending on your situation, you may decide to seek out someone with specific expertise. For example, if you’re buying with a low credit score or when self-employed (Investopedia, 2021), professionals who have worked with clients in similar situations in the past might be more of a fit. Or, maybe you just want someone who knows your loan type or neighborhood of choice like the back of their hand. Either way, assess your unique needs and ensure this professional can address them.

2. They’re helpful in stressful situations

The home buying process can get intense, and you’ll want to have someone supportive on your side. ‘Supportive’ looks a little different for everyone, though. Do you want someone to push or challenge you when the going gets tough? Or, would you prefer someone console you and pitch alternatives in times of frustration? They call it a home buying team for nothing, so be sure to select the right teammates.

3. Their communication style compliments yours

Communication is key when it comes to navigating the home buying process. Whether all-day text conversations or weekly phone calls, most of us have a preferred method and frequency of communication. A good fit means your agent or loan originator won’t be messaging you at all hours of the day. Unless, of course, that’s what you’d prefer!

4. They provide the level of support you need

From confidence to decisiveness, each and every buyer is vastly different. Do you want to call the shots or are you more along for the ride? Certain buyers know exactly what they want from their home and home loan, so the right home buying team can focus more on support. Others want to be guided through the process. They’ll benefit from someone who takes the reins and facilitates the entire experience. Decide how involved you’d like to be and ensure each professional can accommodate.

Purchasing a home is a big decision and can be an intense process. You want the right people working behind the scenes to help make your dream a reality. By considering your unique needs, and ensuring each team member can meet them, you’re one step closer to homeownership. 

Just click here if you need a home buying team. 

 

Posted in Buyer Tips
May 4, 2021

6 Things in Your Living Room That Could Freak Out Potential Buyers

First impressions start with curb appeal next to the kitchen, the space that arguably carries the most weight is your living area.

The following things could be the biggest buyer deal breakers. Make sure to avoid them. 

1. Dead bugs

The insect graveyard was an instant turnoff, if not to everyone, but most of us. Make sure every corner of your living room is pest-free before you show your home. 

2. Your collection

Pack your precious collections away, no matter how harmless they may seem to you. It might seem decorative for you but, maybe not for potential buyers. 

3. Surprise smells

Without question, odors are major living room turn off. Not just bad odors but also other types of scents. The best scent in your house? Nothing. 

4. Evidence of your pets

You might accept the fact that your beloved cats and dogs shed their whole coat onto your couch cushions. But potential buyers won’t be as understanding.

5. Darkness

Let there be lights! Let the light in. The dark living room is a big no-no. 

Personal photos

A photo on the living room wall of you and your family is essential to you, but can still be a major turnoff to buyers. 

Buyers are going to run full speed and scan whatever they can if they stumble across a living room that freaks them out, chances are they will cross your home out of their list.

 

April 29, 2021

5 Tax Deductions Tips for First-time Home Sellers

You may be wondering if there are tax deductions when selling a home. The answer is yes. Check out this list to make sure you don’t miss any of them.

1. Selling costs

These deductions are allowed as long as they are directly tied to the sale of the home, and you lived in the home for at least two of the five years preceding the sale. Another caveat: The home must be a principal residence and not an investment property.

2. Home improvements and repairs

If you renovated a few rooms to make your home more marketable (and so you could fetch a higher sales price), you can deduct those upgrade costs as well. This includes painting the house or repairing the roof or water heater.

3. Property taxes

This deduction is capped at $10,000, Zimmelman says. So if you were dutifully paying your property taxes up to the point when you sold your home, you can deduct the amount you paid in property taxes last year up to $10,000.

4. Mortgage interest

As with property taxes, you can deduct the interest on your mortgage for the portion of the year you owned your home.

5. Capital gains tax for sellers

The capital gains rule isn’t technically a deduction (it’s an exclusion), but you’re still going to like it. As a reminder, capital gains are your profits from selling your home—whatever cash is left after paying off your expenses, plus any outstanding mortgage debt.

If you have questions about what we mentioned above, click here and our team of experts will be happy to assist you.

April 22, 2021

10 First-Time Homebuyer Loans and Programs in 2021

Buying your first home?

There are many first-time homebuyer programs and grants available to help the first-time homebuyer, generally assisting with the down payment and closing costs.

We have listed some of the best programs, grants, and loans that will help you afford your dream home without needing to make a 20 percent down payment.

1. FHA 

Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA loans typically come with smaller down payment and lower credit score requirements than most conventional loans. First-time homebuyers can buy a home with a minimum credit score of 580 and as little as 3.5 percent down or a credit score of 500 to 579 with at least 10 percent down.

2. USDA loan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA, guarantees loans for some rural homes, and borrowers can get up to 100-percent financing. USDA loans have income limits based on where you live and are geared toward folks who earn low or moderate incomes. You typically need a credit score of 640 or higher to qualify for a streamlined USDA loan.

3. VA loan

Qualified U.S. military members (active duty, veterans, and eligible family members) can apply for loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA. VA loans are a great deal because they come with lower interest rates compared to most other loan types and don’t require a down payment. 

4. Good Neighbor Next Door

The Good Neighbor Next Door program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides housing aid for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers.

5. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac

The government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac set borrowing guidelines for loans they’re willing to buy from conventional lenders on the secondary mortgage market. Both programs require a minimum 3 percent down payment. To qualify, homebuyers will need a minimum credit score of 620 (though some lenders have different thresholds) and a relatively unblemished financial and credit history. Fannie Mae accepts a debt-to-income ratio as high as 50 percent in some cases.

6. Fannie Mae’s HomePath ReadyBuyer Program

Fannie Mae’s HomePath ReadyBuyer program is geared toward first-time buyers interested in foreclosed homes that are owned by Fannie Mae. After taking a required online homebuying education course, eligible borrowers can receive up to 3 percent in closing cost assistance toward the purchase of a HomePath property.

7. Energy-efficient mortgage (EEM)

Backed by FHA or VA loan programs and allows borrowers to combine the cost of energy-efficient upgrades into a primary loan upfront. Best for homebuyers who want to make their home more energy-efficient but lack upfront cash for upgrades

8. FHA Section 203(k)

Backed by the FHA, the loan calculates the home’s value after improvements have been made. You can then borrow the funds needed to pay for home improvement projects and roll the costs into one loan. Improvements must cost more than $5,000 and you’ll need to make a minimum 3.5 percent down payment. You’ll also want to make sure you’re working with a contractor who is familiar with 203(k) loans and their timeline.

9. State and local first-time homebuyer programs and grants

First-time buyer programs and grants, available through states or cities, for down payment or closing cost assistance. Best for first-time homebuyers who need the closing cost or down payment assistance

10. Native American Direct Loan

The Native American Direct Loan (NADL) provides financing to eligible Native American veterans and their spouses to buy, improve or build a home on federal trust land. This loan differs from traditional VA loans in that the VA is the mortgage lender.

You can also call us today at 239-682-7600 if you want to find out more or if you have any real estate-related questions. 

 

Posted in Buyer Tips
April 15, 2021

Renting VS Buying a House: Which is better in 2021?

Choosing to rent or buy a home is a major decision that affects not only your lifestyle but also your financial health.

Homeownership brings intangible benefits, including a sense of stability, belonging to a community, and pride of ownership, along with the tangible ones of tax deductions and equity.⠀

Apart from what we mentioned above, here are some of the top advantages:⠀⠀

1. It is a good investment. Many with stable rental income and property values are on the rise. Buying a home is one of the best long-term investments you can make. Your home value would likely grow in the market over time.⠀⠀

2. Owning a house helps you stabilize your budget. When you are renting, landlords could increase rental rates every year at renewal. When you own your house, you can plan your mortgage payment for up to 30 years. ⠀⠀

3. Owning a house improves your credit. As long as you pay your mortgage on time, it will help improve your credit score. ⠀

4. Building Equity

Your equity also grows as you pay down your mortgage, with less of your payment going toward interest and more toward lowering the balance on your loan. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the length of time you have your home is a big factor in how much equity you build and the appreciation you can realize. The longer you keep it, the more equity you obtain.

The renting versus buying debate is one of the most classic arguments within the real estate market. Some people believe renting is the same as throwing money away when they should be saving for a house. Others favor renting for its flexibility, less maintenance, and the thought that it’s cheaper.

If you want to discuss it more or you have any real estate-related questions, send us a message and our team of experts will be happy to help you. 

 

 

Posted in Buyer Tips