Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Buy A Home

A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market.

And, it is…

…in the sense that more houses are listed for sale in the Spring. But, there’s also a heck of a lot more buyers trying to buy those listings.

The thing is, some of the houses listed back in the Spring don’t end up selling. (Usually just because they were overpriced.)

Now, it isn’t like new listings don’t happen in the Fall. There are always new listings coming on the market. But it’s not like, just because it’s Fall and not Spring, prices are necessarily going to fall. In other words, new listings aren’t likely to list for a lot lower than you would have seen in the Spring.

However, the homeowners who did list back in the Spring, are much more likely to be anxious (perhaps even desperate) to sell their home. They’ve created their own problem…they missed the boat by pricing too high.

Which is great news for you, if you’re looking to buy a home:

  • Less competition. (Many buyers stop looking at this time of year…for no good reason.)
  • Motivated sellers. (They’re sick of being on the market, and wondering why nobody bought their house.)

But it isn’t always easy to find those listings. They don’t wave a white flag, or lower their price to some ridiculous amount everyone would notice. If only it were that easy…

Just because someone listed their home back in the Spring doesn’t mean they’ll be all that negotiable.

There are certain things a great real estate agent will know to look for.

And I love rolling up my sleeves and finding the ones we can most likely negotiate the best deals on.

So, got anything you want me to roll up my sleeves and look for? Real estate deals won’t just fall in your lap, but I can certainly help you find one this Fall.

Bonus
Want another reason to buy a home in the Fall?

You can take advantage of year-end sales to outfit your home!

Hardly anybody buys a home who doesn’t want (or need) to make improvements, however small. So why not coordinate your purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, September is an ideal time for buying carpet and paint. In October lawn mowers go on sale, and the same goes for appliances and cookware in November.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

The post Why Fall Might Be The Best Time To Buy A Home appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

Simple Sprucing Tips For Your Home

You don’t need thousands of dollars to fully refurbish your home to make it feel like new again. Instead, you can DIY a lot of features in your house to help spruce it up for the upcoming season. Whether you plan to sell your home, have guests over, or are just tired of how drab it’s been feeling lately, here are a few tips and tricks you can use to refresh your space:

Clean and Declutter
Throw out all of the junk taking up space! You’d be surprised by how much more you’ll fall back in love with your home when you take out the collection of accumulated stuff that has piled up over the years and finally get to see your home’s features for what they are. Store what you don’t need/use in either the attic, basement, or in a storage unit. After you’ve decluttered, be sure to finish it off by cleaning your home. Clean windows, walls, and the floors for the best results.

Bring in Natural Light
Do you have heavy curtains covering your windows? Bring them down! Not only will this make your space feel bigger by removing stuff off the walls, it’ll also feel alive again with all of the natural light that pours in.

Add Fresh Paint
Nothing refreshes a home like a new coat of paint. If you have dark dull colors, opt for lighter tones. Covering up stains on the walls, or drab old paint, can help your house feel brand new all over again.

Add Tile
Consider adding a tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get beautiful results. Be sure you get tiles that compliment the colors in the space, so it doesn’t clash and look unappealing.

Add Color
Although neutral colors are always recommended as the base of any home decor, don’t be afraid to compliment your neutrals with a pop of color. You can add it throughout the home by using flowers, pillows, decor, or even light curtains that are staged on the sides of your windows.

Change Out Fixtures and Hardware
You’d be surprised by how much more a kitchen can look different just by replacing the hardware on the cabinets. A bathroom or living room can come alive again by installing a brand new light fixture. If you moved into a place that still has the same stock hardware or fixtures, replace them and add a little creativity with the new pieces you have installed.

Rearrange Furniture
Head to Pinterest and get inspired for new living room, bedroom, or dining room arrangements. Most homeowners decorate “incorrectly” when it comes to standard staging rules. View a variety of furniture set-ups on social media and let it motivate you to rearrange your space. You don’t have to buy a bunch of new furniture to make a drastic change.

The post Simple Sprucing Tips For Your Home appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

What Or Who Are Fannie And Freddie, Anyway?

If you are a home buyer or seller or pay any attention whatsoever to the housing market, you have probably heard about “Fannie” and “Freddie.” Fannie stands for Fannie Mae but is really the acronym – FNMA – For Federal National Mortgage Association. Freddie is for Freddie Mac, or FHLMC, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. These two companies keep the money for mortgages flowing. Here is how they do it and why they are important.

Both Fannie and Freddie are backed by the federal government, so the U.S. has a vested interest in helping them provide money. These two companies buy the mortgages that have already been made by banks, and are often referred to as “the secondary market.” Then, they pay themselves back by packaging big bunches of existing mortgages and selling them to big investors, such as pension funds, insurance companies, etc. who are looking to collect the interest. Fannie and Freddie have also created guidelines – and forms — that just about every lending institution uses for just about every loan.

You are probably wondering why banks cannot just fund loans, keep them, and earn the interest. If you live in a largely populated area, the big banks probably do have plenty of cash to lend. But let us say you live in a smaller area, such as Flagstaff, Arizona or Joplin, Missouri. Your local lending institutions may simply not have enough money to continually make home loans. So, they make you a loan according to certain common guidelines, and then they turn around and sell it to either Fannie or Freddie. Now, the local lending institutions have more cash to continue making more home loans. The truth is, without Fannie and Freddie, the mortgage market and housing market would dry up in many parts of the country. Not good. This is another reason why the government gets behind these two entities – homeownership is generally seen as good for the country.

Another thing that these entities have done is create the 30-year loan. If we had to pay off our homes in, say, five years, home ownership would be pretty unaffordable in large parts of the country. And the longer the loan term, the more interest is charged and the more profit is made by the large investors. Win-win, right?

Some economists and politicians want to privatize Fannie and Freddie and stop the government from backing them. They argue that there is too much risk if the government, and an endless flow of money from taxes, is involved. It is thought that this may have contributed to the 2008 economic crash. There are lots of views on this issue, but the majority agree that maintaining the status quo is a good thing. If you would like to know more, please check out the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac websites.

Fannie Mae: http://www.fanniemae.com
Freddie Mac: http://www.freddiemac.com

Image courtesy of www.FutureAtlas.com.

The post What Or Who Are Fannie And Freddie, Anyway? appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

Dealing with a Past Bankruptcy? You Can Still Buy A Home—And Sooner Than You Might Think

In the past 6 years, more than 5 million Americans have filed for bankruptcy. And while many people believe that filing for bankruptcy causes long-term financial ruin—and will keep them from ever being able to purchase a home—it turns out that might not be the case.

According to The Cost of Bankruptcy, a recent study from Lending Tree, within a year, 43% of people with a bankruptcy on their record are able to get their credit score to 640 or higher, which is the credit level typically necessary to qualify for a mortgage. Within two years of filing bankruptcy, that number jumps to 65% and at five years, 75% of people who filed bankruptcy have a FICO score of 640 or above.

Now, if you have a bankruptcy on file and a credit score on the lower end of the qualifying spectrum, you’re likely to pay higher interest rates. But if you can get your score up, your bankruptcy is unlikely to have a major impact on your loan. According to the study, people with a credit score between 720 and 739 who applied for a mortgage three years after filing for bankruptcy were offered similar interest rates to those without a bankruptcy on their credit file.

The post Dealing with a Past Bankruptcy? You Can Still Buy A Home—And Sooner Than You Might Think appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

The Barn Amphitheatre at One Loudoun

Have you seen the large red barn in One Loudoun off of Russell Branch Parkway?  I was curious about its importance and explored a little bit.  “The Barn” was originally constructed here in Loudoun County in 1875 on the property of a man named Charles Harris.  Shortly after the Civil War, Mr. Harris, an African-American landowner, began acquiring land along what is present-day Shellhorn Road.  Between 1870 and his death in 1907, Mr. Harris acquired a total of 32 acres including the land where he constructed his barn.  Much of his land, according to records, was used for social gatherings and for picnics in the surrounding rural communities.  The barn stood for 132 years before it was carefully deconstructed by One Loudoun developer Miller & Smith and a timber-frame preservation expert and Loudoun resident, Mr. Allen Cochran.  In 2014, reconstruction of The Barn was completed and was dedicated to be used for similar purposes as Mr. Harris had used it so long ago.

The Barn now offers an iconic back-drop for a wide range of outdoor events and shows throughout the year for the One Loudoun Community.

The post The Barn Amphitheatre at One Loudoun appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

Home Buying in Fall

A lot of people think the best time to buy a house is during the Spring market.

And, it is…

…in the sense that more houses are listed for sale in the Spring. But, there’s also a heck of a lot more buyers trying to buy those listings.

The thing is, some of the houses listed back in the Spring don’t end up selling. (Usually just because they were overpriced.)

Now, it isn’t like new listings don’t happen in the Fall. There’s always new listings coming on the market. But it’s not like, just because it’s Fall and not Spring, prices are necessarily going to fall. In other words, new listings aren’t likely to list for a lot lower than you would have seen in the Spring.

However, the homeowners who did list back in the Spring, are much more likely to be anxious (perhaps even desperate) to sell their home. They’ve created their own problem…they missed the boat by pricing too high.

Which is great news for you, if you’re looking to buy a home:

  • Less competition. (Many buyers stop looking at this time of year…for no good reason.)
  • Motivated sellers. (They’re sick of being on the market, and wondering why nobody bought their house.)

But it isn’t always easy to find those listings. They don’t wave a white flag, or lower their price to some ridiculous amount everyone would notice. If only it were that easy…
Just because someone listed their home back in the Spring doesn’t mean they’ll be all that negotiable.

There are certain things a great real estate agent will know to look for.

And I love rolling up my sleeves and finding the ones we can most likely negotiate the best deals on.

So, got anything you want me to roll up my sleeves and look for? Real estate deals won’t just fall in your lap, but I can certainly help you find one this Fall.

Bonus
Want another reason to buy a home in the Fall?

You can take advantage of year-end sales to outfit your home!

Hardly anybody buys a home who doesn’t want (or need) to make improvements, however small. So why not coordinate your purchase with sales on items you’ll need? According to Consumer Reports, September is an ideal time for buying carpet and paint. In October lawn mowers go on sale, and the same goes for appliances and cookware in November.

Can I use an agent to purchase a new construction home?

Yes!  In fact, some builders pay agents to find prospective buyers.  You can also use a buyer’s agent to help negotiate the price and upgrades on a new home.  An agent can be particularly valuable for directing you to newly built developments that match your needs, as well as helping you select reputable builders who are financially sound and respond promptly to buyer’s concerns.

Builders normally require an agent to be present on your first visit to the site.  This is a sensible procedure that allows the agent to be paid a commission should you decide to buy within that community.  Otherwise, if you find a development on your own, make the first visit without the agent, and later make a purchase, the builder may refuse to pay the commission – even if, at some point, the agent became involved in the process.

I’ve created a free guide to help my clients properly prepare for purchasing a home. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future (or ever…), grab a copy! The Ultimate Home Buyer’s Guide

The post Can I use an agent to purchase a new construction home? appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

Majority of Buyers Favor School District Over Home Features

Like the old saying goes, when it comes to homeownership, the most important thing? Location, location, location.

According to a recent report from Realtor.com, getting their kids into the right school was the top priority for a huge portion of buyers. And those buyers were more than willing to give up other features in order to buy a home in their desired school district.

According to the report, a whopping 91% of buyers with children (and 73% of buyers total) said that school boundaries were “important” or “very important” to their search. And of the buyers that purchased a home in their desired school district, 78% willingly gave up desired home features—like a garage, large backyard, or updated kitchen—in order to make sure they got their children into their school of choice.

The Takeaway:
When you invest in a home, make sure it’s in a good school district, whether you have children or not—for many buyers, it’s one point they’re just not willing to negotiate on.

The post Majority of Buyers Favor School District Over Home Features appeared first on Alexandra Larsen.

4 Tips For Buying Your First Home

If “Buy my first home” is at the top of your list of life goals, here are 4 tips to getting those papers signed and having the keys in your hand.

1. Clean Up Your Credit

Your credit score is one of the main factors that determines whether you get a loan to purchase your home – and what interest rate you’ll pay on said loan. The better your credit score, the better rates you’ll get on your mortgage, which can save you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your mortgage.

The first step to cleaning up your credit is knowing your number. A recent survey conducted by LendingTree found that nearly 60% of Americans don’t know their credit score. Don’t be that person! Not knowing your credit score can ruin your chances of getting a loan. Most of the major credit card companies, like Chase and American Express, allow you to check your FICO score directly from your account interface. But you’ll also want to check your credit report for inaccuracies, so use a service like LendingTree or Credit Karma to get a more accurate picture of what’s going on with your credit.

Once you know your score, it’s time to do damage control if necessary. Contact the credit bureaus to correct any misinformation on your credit report. If you have any delinquent accounts, pay them off. If you’re struggling to pay down your balances, look into consolidating your debt or working with a credit repair company to get your payments down and your credit back on track.

2. Don’t Accrue Any New Debt

Once you’ve got your credit under control and are working to raise your score, it’s important that you don’t accrue any new debt. Credit inquiries can bring down your credit score, and large balances (like a new car loan) can make you look like a riskier borrower to lenders.

If you’re on the market for your first home, keep your spending to the necessities and don’t take on any new debt.

3. Stash Away Savings

You also need to make savings a priority. A good motto for potential homebuyers is “the more savings, the better.”

No matter which way you slice it, purchasing a home is an expensive ordeal, and while a mortgage certainly helps to offset the costs, there’s a lot of things you’ll need to pay for out of pocket. You’ll need a good chunk of the purchase price set aside to use as a down payment, money for closing costs, cash to cover moving from your current place to your new home… the expense list goes on and on, which is why it’s important that you have plenty of funds in the bank to facilitate the home-buying process without putting too much strain on you and your family.

Talk to your lender about how much you should realistically have in the bank before you make the purchase. Then, do everything you need to do to hit that number before you buy your home.

If you have trouble saving, set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account that pulls a certain amount from every paycheck to add to your savings. Immediately put any “found money”, like bonuses or tax refunds, into your savings account. Download an app like Digit that analyzes your spending habits and transfers small amounts into your savings – you won’t even notice it’s missing, and every dollar counts!

4. Choose The Right Real Estate Agent

One of the best weapons in a first-time-buyer’s arsenal is the right real estate agent. Working with the right real estate agent can make you fall in love with the process of buying home or make you wish you could go back to renting for all of eternity.

When choosing an agent, you’ll want to work with someone who has experience in the type of property you’re looking to buy in your desired location. You’ll also want to work with someone who isn’t overloading with clients and who has experience working with first-time-buyers. You’re likely to have a lot of questions along the way, and you don’t want to work with an agent who’s too busy or frustrated to answer them for you.

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to making your dream of owning your first home a reality.

Sellers, Take Note: A/C, Kitchens, And Energy Efficiency Top Criteria For Buyers

When you’re getting ready to list your home, you want to make sure any changes or renovations are going to give you a return on your investment by making your home more appealing to potential buyers. But what, exactly, are the things buyers are looking for?

According to Zillow’s 2017 Consumer Housing Trends Report, there are a few clear winners when it comes to upgrading your home to make it more appealing to sellers. According to the report, 62% of buyers require a home has air conditioning before they make a purchase. And while the perfect kitchen and an energy efficient home aren’t exactly “needs” for most buyers, they do rank high on their list of “wants” (at 48% for both).

The Takeaway

If you’re thinking about making changes to your home in order to generate more interest from buyers, your money would be best spent installing central air. Improving your kitchen and making your home more energy efficient come in a close second.