How to Make the Perfect Offer – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 18th, 2016

The challenge is crafting a purchase offer that entices sellers, protects your interests, and maximizes your budget. Finding your dream home is the fun part!

Veterans and military buyers should lean on their real estate agent for help to strike the right balance. A seasoned agent is your best advocate and expert, whether you’re preparing to purchase at your new duty station or searching for your retirement home. Here’s a look at a few key considerations when it comes to making an offer on a home:

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Come to the table prepared

Pre-qualification is a good first step, but it’s also a basic one. You’ll want to go a step further and get pre-approved for your home loan before you start your home search. It’ll give you a realistic idea of what you can afford, and you’ll be ready to make an offer if you see a home that you love.

For veterans and service members using their VA home loan benefits, the good news is you won’t need any money down in most cases. Yet the seller should know that you’re a highly qualified buyer, because you’ve gone through a rigorous screening process.

Some real estate agents won’t accept an offer on a home without a copy of the buyer’s pre-approval letter.

Look for something Uncle Sam would love

If you’re using FHA or VA financing, the home you select will generally need to be in move-in-ready shape. The appraisal process for government-backed loans includes a broad assessment of the property’s condition.

“Buyers can get really impressed with a house, but it’s my job to make sure that the price is going to line up in terms of the VA appraisal,” saysDuan Rockette, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties and a retired Marine Corps First Sergeant.

That appraisal doesn’t just look at whether the home is worth the price you offer for it, but also whether it meets the VA’s minimum property requirements.

“I try to be open and upfront with the seller, even before writing the offer, asking them if they’re willing to address any repairs that may be an issue from the point of view of VA guidelines,” says Elisha Gutloff, a broker at Keller Williams in Raleigh, NC, who has worked with many veteran buyers.

The goal is to make sure buyers don’t purchase a home that’s unsafe or that could be difficult to sell down the road. You probably want to steer clear of fixer-uppers—and you might even get some concessions from the seller.

“With one home, the inspector came back and determined the carpet wasn’t sanitary, so the buyer got new carpet in the stairway and the first floor,” Gutloff says.

Have a backup—actually, have several

As any active-duty military family knows, sometimes you need to find a home, double quick. That means that if your first choice falls through, as often happens, you need to have a second choice lined up. And a third. And a fourth.

“I set the expectations with the buyer that it’s not a deal until you have that contract accepted,” says Rockette.

Protect yourself

Talk with your agent about what kind of contract contingencies you might need. Many would-be buyers insist on a home inspection contingency. These allow you to get an in-depth look at the property and reopen the contract to negotiation based on the results.

You’ll also want to safeguard your earnest money deposit in case the deal falls through because of a low appraised value or another issue beyond your control. More details HERE

Signs You May NOT be ready to Buy – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 11th, 2016

Hordes of renters, innocently perusing their social media accounts, are noticing a theme. It’s not that everyone is getting married or obsessing over spiralized vegetables — they’re posting pictures of newly purchased homes. It’s happening all across America right now! But like your mother always said, just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you should — or should you? There areHome-Value certainly pros and cons of becoming a homeowner, and stumbling across just one dreamy listing of a home for sale in Anaheim, CA, with the perfect open-concept kitchen and fenced-in backyard can leave you thinking about little else. But then you realize you’d rather save your money for a travel adventure, and said dreamy house doesn’t come with the amenities you love at your apartment, like an on-site gym, pool, and doggie day care.

Don’t jump the gun and assume you need to buy a house. Here’s some truth talk: You might not be ready to buy. Pay attention to these seven signs that reveal that even if you think you’re ready to buy a house, you might not be.

1. You don’t make enough money

You might think you make enough money to buy a home, but crunch the numbers first and see what your costs would actually be — a mortgage calculator can come in handy here. You need both upfront and ongoing money, says Roger Ma, a New York, NY agent. “Upfront money includes having enough for the down payment and closing costs and enough left over for an emergency fund,” says Ma. “On an ongoing basis, a buyer’s salary will need to be enough to pay for mortgage interest and principal,HOA fees, homeowners insurance, and taxes.” These costs, according to many financial planners, should be less than 28% of your gross income.

2. You have too much debt

Let’s say you do make enough money to afford to buy a house and make your monthly mortgage payments. You also need to factor in any debt you might have. Hint: If all your credit cards are maxed out, you may want to get those bills under control before entering homeownership. Lenders typically want your total debt load (which includes your potential mortgage payment) to be less than 36% of your gross income. “Take a hard look at your spending habits and change them to improve your chances of being able to support a mortgage,” says Casey Fleming, author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage.

3. You don’t have enough savings

If you’ve saved enough for the down payment, you’ve made it over one big hurdle. But you need more than just that. What if your home needs an emergency repair? Would you have the money to pay for it, or would a surprise expense put you in debt? “Expect the unexpected,” says Josh Moffitt, president of Silverton Mortgage Specialists in Atlanta, GA. “Your air conditioner may die on a sweltering holiday weekend, or a sewage pipe could burst in the basement.”

And then there are those costs that aren’t necessarily unexpected but that you might not have considered. “Not only does a prospective buyer need money for closing costs and the first few months’ mortgage payments, they also need money for moving costs,” says Brian Davis, a real estate investor and director of education at Spark Rental. “They need money for furnishings and decorating the new house. They need money to pay the property taxes upfront at settlement.” As you can see, you don’t want to drain your savings on just the down payment.

4. You haven’t been on the job long enough

Most mortgage lenders like to see that you’ve been working the same job for at least two years. In fact, they calculate your average income based on your job history for the last 24 months. Being on the job that long shows a certain stability, and changing jobs or having an income gap signals insecurity. “A major job change, such as moving from salary to commission-based pay, may cause your income to fluctuate and can add to uncertainty about your readiness to buy a home,” says Moffitt. “Even if you qualify based on expected income, what if you don’t make that money in your new position?”

5. You have poor (or no) credit

A bad credit score indicates some sort of financial problem, such as skipping out on paying a bill or two, filing for bankruptcy, or carrying too much debt. “Take a close look at your credit report before making a decision to buy,” says Moffitt. “A mortgage lender may have questions about payments, loans, or other debts and may make suggestions that could require time to resolve. If it takes six months to fix, you might not be ready to buy just yet.”

Having little or no credit history can also be problematic. David Hosterman, branch manager with Castle & Cooke Mortgage in Colorado, offers a tip: “We take into account ‘alternative credit trade lines.’ These types of credit are anything from rental history, car insurance, utilities, monthly subscription services, and cellphones. We are looking for a pattern of good credit with those companies for 12 months or longer.” More tips HERE

 

The Basics on Real Estate Investing – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 11th, 2016

Staying ahead of the competition in real estate investment means doing your homework. If you are new to the business, it can be daunting, but in this article we’ll teach you five tricks that the old knowledge-sharingpros use to get ahead of the trends instead of chasing them. Those who consistently make money in real estate know the market. They know the location and the history. They know what new developments are planned. They know the transportation and the schools. They know everything about the area where they invest. They have to know the basics. See the basics list below:

Study Local Pricing

The first things to study are the current price trends in the area. For example, a potential investor should look to see if the price of homes is accelerating faster in one area than in others. Next, check to see if the average home price is more than in other neighboring towns. This will provide an idea of where the biggest demand is. Another reason to study these trends is that, over time, you will start to develop a sense for which prices are “fair” for certain properties and which are overpriced. For individuals looking to buy properties at the lowest cost possible, this knowledge can be invaluable.

Realtors and real estate agents are a terrific source for this information given their access to the Multiple Listing Service (or MLS). The local newspaper, the internet and the town hall may have a record of recent sale prices as well.

Look for a Catalyst

One sign that an area is up-and-coming and that it will be desirable in the future is the development of new infrastructure. When you see new roads and schools being built, it’s a sign that the community is set for a growth spurt. Investing in a growing community can be very profitable. In addition, certain types of development, like new shopping centers, may be extremely attractive to homebuyers, and may also help keep the tax base low.

Spotting new developments can be as easy as looking out your car window as you drive by. Telltale signs of land clearing, surveying or the beginnings of construction in and around major roadways are pretty big tip-offs. Also, look for widening of traffic lanes, the installation of turnaround lanes and the erection of new traffic lights. All suggest the possibility of increased traffic flow.

Next, visit town hall at the municipality or the county level, and speak with the road and the building departments. They should be aware of any major projects slated to begin in the area, and they may even be able to provide you with a connection at the state level so you can find out if any state-owned roads or properties are slated for development as well. Real estate agents also have general idea of what new projects are about to be undertaken. (For added insight, see Profit With Real Estate Land Speculation.)

Check the School Rankings

Nearly every state ranks its schools by how well students in each district fare on tests in math and English. Sharp-eyed investors should look for schools that are moving up or are atop the list. These areas are often desirable to parents. Access to quality education is a big selling point to new home buyers.

There are several ways to find this information. Check our your state’s board of education website. Also, PSK12.com has public school rankings for most states in its free section. Visiting the schools yourself is also a good idea. Schools that rank the highest are usually quite eager to provide information. More details found HERE

 

Home Maintenance Tips for September – Hudson Valley Real Estate

September 4th, 2016

September creates an excellent opportunity to see what can be improved, replaced, or repaired while the weather is still nice enough for outdoor projects. This is is also the perfect month to begin your fall home maiSeptember Home Projects - Ornamental Kalentenance checklist, add seasonal color to your garden, and bring organization to your home—and your life.

1. GET A JUMP ON FALL HOME MAINTENANCE 
While you were having fun in the sun this summer, it was no vacation for your house. A fall checklist will tip you off to little problems before they become nasty mid-winter surprises. The easiest way to do it is to check from top to bottom. Start with the roof—are your shingles worn? Check for leaks around skylights, vents, and chimneys (and have that chimney cleaned). Clear out your gutters and check for leaks there, too.

If you live where pipes can freeze, drain your outside hose spigots. Switch your screens for storms and seal any drafty windows or doors. Same goes for paint and siding: Make sure you caulk or repair any gaps, cracks, or holes and re-point any brick surfaces that need it. Paint over your repairs while the weather’s still warm enough to do it, so you’re not looking at them all winter. In the basement, check for dampness, change filters, and have your heating system serviced. Also, check for cracks in the foundation.

Do the top-to-bottom check this fall and you’ll avoid expensive surprises this winter! For more tips on fall home maintenance and a printable checklist, click here.

2. WINTERIZE YOUR OUTDOOR FURNITURE
As sad as it is to move indoors after enjoying your outdoor furniture all summer, taking a little extra time to care for your patio set now will keep everything pristine for spring’s return. While most patio and lawn products are manufactured to remain outside for the winter, some precautions may still be required for harsher weather conditions.

Plastic, vinyl, and synthetic wicker can all be easily maintained with some soapy water and a garden hose. But metal, wood, and natural wicker will have more specific maintenance requirements. You can find out how best to care for your outdoor furnishings here.


3. ADD SEASONAL COLOR TO YOUR GARDEN
 
With summer blooms fading, this is the perfect time to boost your garden’s color sense. Mums are a popular choice, and for good reason—they are abundant, easy to care for, and colorful. But consider some other “stars” of the fall landscape, among them Black Eyed Susans, Leedplant, Ornamental Kale and 15 other colorful options.

4. ORGANIZE YOUR GARAGE 
If your garage has become a catch-all for miscellaneous storage, leaving little to no room for the family car, then now is the time to restore order. Purge items you no longer need and create a plan that will allow you to store more things you do need in a logical way that allows for easy access later on. Look for smart solutions that take advantage of the walls and ceilings and free up valuable floor space. Also, take the guesswork out of locating stored items and be sure to label everything.  More home tips HERE

End of Summer Purge – Hudson Valley Real Estate

August 28th, 2016

As summer winds down, take a few hours to pare down all the things you definitely won’t miss. Decluttering falls somewhere between backing up your hard drive and filing taxes on the excitement goodbye-summer-sand-script-beach-081616-HEROscale. But even though it’s not the sexiest of chores, it’s necessary — and so much easier if you set aside a little time to chip away at it periodically throughout the year.

The end of summer is no exception. Now is a great time to take stock of your needs and ditch all those ill-fitting swimsuits and untapped barbecue condiments. In other words, don’t hold off for a big spring clean, says Maria Gracia, founder of Get Organized Now! “It’s tough to get rid of certain things before summer, because you tell yourself you may ‘need’ them,” Gracia says. “Instead, take the end of the season as the perfect time to close up shop.” Get a head start on your end-of-summer purge with this list of items you can donate, recycle, or toss without a second thought.

1. Old binders and folders

If you’re planning to replace supplies like binders and folders for the new school season (who doesn’t use back-to-school season as an excuse to buy new office supplies?), let go of last year’s leftovers. Julie Naylon, a Los Angeles, CA, professional organizer who’s an advocate of reusing or recycling wherever possible, recommends Office Depot’s binder recycling program.

2. Worn beach towels

Got beach towels that have seen better days? Don’t let them take up shelf space in the linen closet. Most animal shelters accept old towels as donations — which come in handy for lining cages, cleaning up messes, and bathing pups.

3. Summer clothes

If you have a bathing suit that doesn’t fit well enough for you to wear it regularly, donate it. Likewise, toss sandals and flip-flops that are worn out from a season or two of pounding the pavement. And peruse your closet: If you have spring or summer clothes that you didn’t wear this year, chances are, you won’t touch them down the line. Donate, donate, donate and “free up your closet for items you’ll use and love once the warm weather rolls around again,” says Gracia.

4. Unused condiments and spices

Gourmet chipotle barbecue sauce, blackening spices and pickled vegetables often look great at the store — and then don’t necessarily cut it when you try them out. Pare down your collection so they don’t get pushed to the back of the fridge or pantry and sit unused. Bonus: You’ll free up space for the new spices you’ll need for all that fall and winter baking (or just making your place smell amazing)! More tips HERE

 

Top 10 Ways to Prepare for Homeownership

August 21st, 2016
  1. hiomeownershipStart saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.
  2. Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments. 
  3. Determine your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.
  4. Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements. 
  5. Mortgage Calculator

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  6. Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.
  7. Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list. Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.
  8. Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.
  9. Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.
  10.  Contact a REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process. Or contact the Walski Team, we can help!

 

 

 

 

 

Back to School Basics – Hudson Valley Real Estate

August 14th, 2016

With the start of school, families face new organization challenges. Move over, summer–a new school year is coming!

SchoolBusSchool bells ring–and so do early-morning alarm clocks. Paper piles swell as hand-outs and homework stream into the house. Shorter autumn days bring a hectic round of sports, activities and events, and calendars fill with cryptic notes. Can the holidays be far behind? Get organized now for the best school year ever! Use these ideas to prepare your home and family for the busy days ahead:

Ease the family into a school year schedule.

The first day of school is no time for a drastic adjustment of household sleep schedules. Instead, ease children back into a school year routine gradually. During the last two weeks of summer, re-introduce a school year bedtime. Begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they’ll need to rise when school begins.

Don’t neglect mealtimes! Younger children, in particular, need to adapt to new meal routines before the school day demands it of them. Plan meals and snacks to accustom little ones to rituals of the school day before the school year begins.

Create Calendar Central

Each school year floats on a sea of schedules. School functions. Lunch menus. Scout meetings and music lessons. What do you do when you’re drowning in paper?

Nothing calms school year chaos like Calendar Central: a centralized site for all family calendars and schedules. You’ll need a family event calendar to track after-school activities, school programs and volunteer work. Add specialized calendars and schedules, and you have it: a one-stop shop for family time management.

Form is less important than function. A paper calendar with large squares lets you enter information easily. Pre-printed white board calendars are easy to revise when necessary. Color-coding entries by family member helps keep busy lives straight.

Paper planner fans dedicate a planner section to serve as Calendar Central, while tech-savvy cybergrrrlz store the info in a smart phone or tablet and sync with multiple computers. Choose a calendar format that works for your family.

Post the family event calendar in a public place near the telephone. Use magnets to attach the calendar to the refrigerator, or tack it to a bulletin board.

Add other calendars to Calendar Central: school lunch menus, class assignment sheets, sports practice schedules. When the room mother calls for field trip volunteers, you’ll know at a glance whether you’re free to join the group on the bus that day.

Plan before you shop

August is the second-biggest sales month for clothing retailers. Back to school clothing sales begin as early as July! Are you prepared to run the school clothes gauntlet? More details HERE

Must Do List for August Home Maintenance – Hudson Valley Real Estate

August 7th, 2016

This month is the ideal time to tackle some upgrades on your home’s exterior; simple, inexpensive things that you can accomplish on your own to boost the curb appeal of your home—its resale value.

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It’s August, the summer is in full swing, and the living is easy. Well, sort of. As every homeowner will agree, there’s always something to do around the house or the yard to keep things looking good and performing well.

And with the days growing continually shorter, the time to start is now. Here are a few must-do” projects for August:

1. UPDATE YOUR FRONT ENTRY
Improving the entrance to your home is a relatively easy thing to do. Add some color by painting the front door in a fresh coat of gloss paint or strip it down to the natural wood. Consider container gardens or shutters to provide additional interest. And replace outdated exterior wall sconces with more stylish models.

2. CONSIDER A GARDEN SHED
If you are looking for a way to free your garage of unnecessary seasonal storage, consider the benefits of a ready-made shed. Not only are sheds a practical choice for outdoor equipment storage, many are appealing as an architectural element in the yard. But today’s sheds aren’t just for the garden. Coming in all shapes and sizes, some are perfectly suited as a standalone workshop, artist studio, or home-away-from-home office. See what we mean with these 10 “Style-Setting” Garden Sheds.

3. MAKE A WINDOW BOX
A simple window box can add enormous curb appeal to a house or an apartment while providing an attractive garden view from indoors. There are a multitude of products on the market today—wood, plastic, resin and metal—that embrace a broad range of designs and price points. Feeling crafty? Make one yourself. It’s an easy woodworking project that requires minimal tools and materials. You can tackle it as a family, imparting how-to skills and an appreciation for small-scale gardening to your kids. Click for our simple How-To: Make a Window Box. See more home tips HERE

Summer is Here…Make Your Home Feel Brighter! – Hudson Valley Real Estate

July 31st, 2016

Not every room can have floor-to-ceiling windows, so a few design tricks can give a space that light-flooded feeling. Not only will they help you create a brighter space (even in a dark room!), but that-bright-summer-looking-home-decor-L-Adj71Dthey’ll add to your decor to make it fresh, inspiring. Want to brighten up your home? Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

KEEP TALL ITEMS AWAY FROM WINDOWS

Is there a large plant, bookshelf, or other piece of furniture blocking the light in your house? Move it! I recommend putting large pieces of furniture on opposite ends of a room from where your windows are. That way, your room will receive the most natural light possible.

USE SHEER, WHITE CURTAINS

When I moved into my apartment, it came with thick, ivory curtains that made the room look a little dark and yellow-hued. Bleh. Instead, I traded them in for sheer, white curtains. Wow, what a difference that simple change made!

CLEAN!

What your house might actually need more than anything is…a good cleaning! Wipe down all of your surfaces, clean scuff marks off the walls, and dust wherever possible. Imagine how dingy a room would look if it was covered in a thin layer of dirt? Yeah, that.

BRIGHT, WHITE BULBS

Are your lamps giving off a yellow tint? It might be time to switch them out for something new. Try Bright White LED bulbs to maximize the brightness coming from your lamps. You also need more light sources in general! Try adding a table lamp to your decor to add a bit more brightness. More home Tips can be found HERE

3 Steps to Being a Confident Buyer – Hudson Valley Real Estate

July 24th, 2016

While you’re shopping, be on the lookout for things about the home that you can’t change (or that would require major time and effort to alter). These factors will impact the home’s value for the FirstTimeBuyerlong haul. Today’s home shoppers see dozens of homes before making an offer, and probably a few dozen more before they find the one that sticks. Here are three serious considerations to evaluate before you determine whether to pursue a home purchase:

1. Location

The old real estate cliche doesn’t name this quality as tops for nothing. Unless you plan to take a unique or historic home off its foundation, you can’t change location.

If a home is on a busy intersection, across from a shopping plaza, or within earshot of the freeway, take major note. That home will always be valued at significantly less than a similar home nearby.

Unless you’re willing to sacrifice to get into the school district or neighborhood of your dreams, keep looking. Once you snag a good location, nobody can ever take that away from you.

2. Floor plan

A home with a tiny kitchen closed off from the rest of the house is much less desirable today than a large one that opens up to the family room or great room.

Think you can just transition that closed-off kitchen into an open plan that allows people to spill over into the adjacent room while still being connected to the “action” at entertainment central? Think again.

Making this change, while not impossible, would likely require lots of resources and a major construction budget. Modifying the layout of a home requires architectural drawings, knocking down walls, and installing beams to carry wider loads.

This type of major renovation isn’t for the faint of heart, and an undesirable layout will always reduce the value of the home.

If you’ve fallen in love with certain aspects of the home, but a particular part of the floor plan is flawed, you’d better move on.

3. Seeking the right fit with Help

Most real estate agents look at 10 to 20 houses per week, and after working with many buyers and sellers, they get schooled on things like floor plans, locations, layouts, and neighborhoods. Over time, we can spot and flag potential trouble spots instantly.

Home buyers who are just starting their search can’t possibly know what to look for or even what to expect. Ask your agent to be on the lookout for things you shouldn’t ignore.