5 Things to Know Before Investing in Real Estate

Real estate has become a popular investment vehicle because it usually does well, no matter how bad the economy is. At the very least, it often does better than stocks in the time of an economic downturn.

Investing is a popular way for entrepreneurs to start saving and building security for their future, since housing is always in demand. Real estate can also be a good way to offset the effects of inflation and taxes.

Real estate also usually keeps appreciating upward even if there are occasional economic slowdowns. Many think it’s the best way to create wealth since people who have become successful in the industry do not necessarily have to be exceedingly rich.

Here are a few things to know about investing in real estate before you get started.

1. Set financial goals and plans

Try and figure out what you want from your real estate investments and how that comes in line with any financial goals. Smart real estate investors make savvy purchases that get them closer to their monetary goals with every purchase. You can also spend time with a financial adviser if you need some guidance.

2. Spend time learning the basics of the industry and how to invest

Don’t spend all your time reading and actually ignore taking action. To prevent against this, write out certain questions you want to be answered and take deliberate approaches to books you read so you can keep moving forward while still getting educated.

3. Look at a lot of properties before actually investing in one

A lot of real estate investors will buy the first property that they come across and not take any time to really survey the market to find good deals. You need to view investing through the lens of economic motivations since you are not going to be personally living in an investment property yourself. Start with a wide scope and narrow down.

4. At the same time, don’t hesitate to make a deal if one comes across

Too many people try and find the perfect property before making their first investment purchase. You will never buy anything if you hold dear to this strategy. The perfect deal is not going to come across, so make a purchase if you see a good property deal to get buying experience under your belt.

Click here to learn 6 ways to sell your home fast during the holidays!

5. Run the numbers on the property before making the purchase

It would best to first see if you can get a better deal somewhere else, and be especially wary if your numbers are not adding up with what a seller might be telling you. A lot of sellers might try to overestimate a property’s value or embellish in other ways. Looking over tax returns and bills will give you a good idea about the month-to-month costs of a property.

Overall, keep in mind that real estate investing is about supporting your other ventures. Some choose to make real estate investing a full-time deal, but those who are not careful can see their financial prospects suffer if a few deals start to go bad. If you’re looking to invest, be sure to have a healthy perspective on transactions so you make smart decisions that will set you up well for the future.

Do you have a question about investing in real estate and finding the best investment property? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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What to Know About Escrow

The escrow process plays a big role in a real estate transaction. However, people have a hard time understanding the process. Many current home buyers have paid into escrow without even knowing the why or what is behind it.

Read below for a simple guide to understanding the process of real estate escrow.

What is escrow?

Escrow is when a neutral third party holds on to funds during a real estate transaction. It is a way to protect both the home buyer and seller during the home buying process. After a home is purchased, the new homeowner will continue to put money into escrow as a means of paying the mortgage and insurance payments.

The purpose of escrow is to guarantee the seller that the buyer has the funds needed for the purchase and that these funds will be handed over when the title is transferred. This guarantees that the buyer that they won’t be scammed by a fraudulent seller who actually holds no claim to a title. At the end of the day, escrow helps ensure trust in a high-stakes transaction where neither party may be familiar with each other and where both have a lot to lose.

Escrow agents

The escrow process is arranged by an escrow agent. This is a neutral person who is entrusted with holding payments until specific conditions have been met – usually a title transfer. Because escrow agents play an important role in closing real estate transactions, they are sometimes called title agents.

You will usually not be responsible for securing your own escrow agent.Your real estate agent will facilitate the process. You will just need to supply the funds.

What if you would like to choose your own escrow agent?

You have the right to pick your own escrow agent. You might want to do this if you have a strong recommendation for a particular escrow agent, or if you would like to be as knowledgeable as you can on the several parties involved in your property sale or purchase. Typically, it is the seller who has the final say when making power on which title company is used for escrow.

Click here to learn how to prepare your new home before moving in!

What you need to do in the escrow process

You play an important role in the escrow process as the home buyer or seller in a real estate transaction. In addition to the home buyer being responsible for depositing funds into escrow in a timely manner, there are various other things that both parties could do to make the process run smoother.

Read over all escrow documents and making sure you fully understand them. If you have a question or are unclear about a few things, you should ask your real estate agent to help you. Remain available to quickly answer any questions or necessary next steps as the escrow process moves forward. Read the closing documents thoroughly so that there are no surprises or last-minute questions when the deal is ready to be finalized and closed.

Do you have a question about the escrow process? Click here to contact the Stacy and Nicole today!

 


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3 Ways to Build Home Equity Faster

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. A good home is an investment and a great place to raise a family. It’s also a relaxing and safe place to spend time in at the end of the day. As a result, it’s vitally important to do everything you can to increase the value of your property.

The best way to utilize your time in your home is to increase home equity. Home equity is essentially the current value of your house with any amount owed on it subtracted. Obviously, you want this to be as big as possible.

There’s a number of ways and strategies to build home equity faster. These usually revolve around increasing the value of a house and paying off a mortgage quicker.

One of the easiest ways to build home equity faster is to just pay off your mortgage sooner. Each month you’re paying the mortgage, you’re just paying more interest to the lender. Getting off mortgage payments means money is now going towards your net worth.

Some ways to pay off a mortgage faster include rounding up. Pay a little extra each month so this money will go straight to principal and boost your equity. Send any gifts and work bonuses into your mortgage and budget for extra payments to pay things off quicker. Otherwise, opt for a shorter mortgage length to pay things off quicker and boost home equity.

Another way to build home equity is to just buy a cheaper house. It’s going to take longer to build equity on a pricey home. Cheaper houses will come with smaller mortgages that can be paid off quicker, and you might even be able to place a bigger down payment on a cheaper house as well. When buying a home, consider these factors during the buying process to help you build equity faster.

Click here to learn how long you should wait to buy a second home!

A third way to build home equity faster to simply make a larger down payment. Putting down more money will help you immensely down the road and get you more home equity. Most people put down about 20% of a home’s value, but you can look at your finances and see if it’s possible to do more. Remember, every dollar counts when it comes to building equity.

Keep these three strategies in mind if you’re trying to build equity in your house. It might seem hard to put down more money now, but it will pay off in a big way down the road, especially when it comes to your financial health. Home equity can also be built through a variety of improvement projects that are targeted towards improving value, while also keeping everything in good condition.

Even if you feel like it might be too late to start building equity, rest assured that it’s not. In fact, starting later is always better than not starting at all. Sit down to figure out what’s financially feasible and keep the above three tips in mind while doing so.

Do you have a question about building home equity? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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How Long Should You Wait to Buy Another Home?

Homes are always a good thing to have, no matter if you have a family of your own or are single. But it can be very tempting to go out and purchase another one for a number of reasons.

Maybe you are looking to move to a new area, or would just like some more space for a growing family. Overall, there is no set timeline about how long you should stay in one spot before moving to another. It will all depend on your individual circumstances.

Still, it is important to mull over a number of aspects before making the switch to a new home.

What Should I Be Thinking About Before Moving?

The biggest aspect on your mind should be finances. It is important to consider how much you could sell your current house for, and how much money you could set aside to purchase another one, or at least be able to pay a mortgage.

It can be tempting to ‘live above your means’ and buy a home that stretches your finances, but bigger houses will come with additional expenses relating to heating, cooling, and general upkeep than smaller ones will.

Some people will have the financial resources to quickly buy another house, while others will be on a much longer timeline if they are trying to work out finances.

The amount of time before buying another home will also be heavily influenced by the market in your area. If you are looking to buy in a seller’s market, you might want to wait a little bit until things change so you could get a better deal. You will have to think about how important these types of factors are and if they are going to influence when you will buy another home.

Click here to learn tips for preparing your home before moving in!

This is where a good real estate agent comes in, since they will have access to a wealth of experience and market data to give counsel about the optimal times to sell and buy.

Another important aspect when trying to decide when to buy another house is based upon the actual moving process. It can be very expensive to move a family far away, especially since you will have to find new jobs and schools for the kids. There is no set timeline on these types of decisions, as they all hinge on the individual circumstances related to you (or your family).

What Are Some Things to Watch Out For?

Even if you are looking to sell quickly and move somewhere else, there are a number of situations where you should probably wait to sell. For example, if you just moved to your current house, having to move again will probably stretch your budget. It would then be best to wait a little bit to save up some money for a move.

Additionally, do not be prompted to sell due to unfamiliarity with the area, especially if you just moved in. These types of feelings are usually temporary, and will go away once you get used to the surrounding area.

A situation where you are taking a loss or ‘breaking even’ on the sale of your current home is another factor that should encourage you to buy at a later date. These types of scenarios often make it harder to get financing on your next home, which can drastically affect your next buying experience.

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the Orange County area? Click here to contact the Stacy and Nicole team today!


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How to Decide Which Offer is Best When Selling Your House

Selling a home can be a very exciting process, especially as the offers start rolling in. But just because an offer comes in first doesn’t mean it’s the best one. The highest offer also does not always equate to the best offer either.

There are a number of factors and considerations you should keep in mind when reviewing offers for your house.

Payment Type: The first thing you should do when looking at offers is check out the payment type. Most buyers will not choose to purchase in cash, but offers that are all cash are often the safest offers since sellers don’t have to worry about loan approvals by banks.

Pre-Approval Status: Pre-approval is another important element to consider when selling a house. Essentially, a letter of pre-approval means a buyer will be able to get the loan they need to purchase your house.

This makes these types of offers safer (and stronger) than from people who are not pre-approved. Do keep in mind there’s a difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval.

Repairs: Your house might need some repairs, but maybe you don’t have the time or money to do them. This makes a buyer who is willing to do the work an attractive one when it comes to selling. Some buyers will ask you to fix things in the house, while others will want to do the work themselves.

Taking this into consideration can save you a lot of time and hassle when it comes to reviewing offers.

Additionally, some buyers will want you to take all the appliances, while others will want to use them. Items like refrigerators and washers can be expensive, so keep this in mind when it comes to reviewing offers.

Contingencies: A lot of offers will come with contingencies attached, which are a list of things that have to happen at certain times in order for the deal to actually go through. For the seller, fewer contingencies are always better, so it’s important to carefully review all contingencies in each offer.

More common ones include inspection, financing, and appraisal. Some buyers will put in a clause to back out of a deal if an inspection reveals too many problems, so be sure to read the fine print of each offer and weigh options accordingly.

Types of Loan: Buyers will probably come towards you with a variety of mortgages under their belt, and this can lead to very different circumstances for the seller. Conventional loans are popular because they are pretty simple, but some government-backed ones can get a bit complicated since they require specific approvals and repairs at times. Make sure to keep the loan type in mind as you are reviewing offers, since this can add a lot of time and stress to the entire process.

Closing Timeline: When you are selling a home, you’re probably just ready to get a deal done and move on to buying your new home. Buyers who come with all cash offers will probably then be the best bet for you, even if the price is a bit below other offers.

Click here to learn the pros and cons of all-cash offers!

However, if your plans somewhere else are not yet clear, then you might need an extended closing timeline with a buyer who is willing to take

more time. This gives you more of a chance to prepare to buy a new home, and gives the buyer more of a chance to potentially find more money for their own expenses.

Overall, there are a number of things to keep in mind when reviewing offers for your home. Price does matter, and this might be the most important factor for you, but some offers come with a lot of risks that makes them more of a hassle, even if you are getting more money upfront.

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home? Click here to contact the Stacy and Nicole today!


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How to Make Money Flipping Homes

There is a lot of money waiting to be made in flipping homes. You can go from 0 to 100 in a matter of days. All you need to have is the power of persuasion. But it comes with a lot of other different factors that you need to consider and capitalize on in a very short time. So, your main goal is to first look for a distressed seller, then to find a desperate cash buyer who will ensure that the deal comes to a quick close and you make your profit out of it all. You only need to be persuasive and convincing enough to catch the buyer’s attention and interest in the seller’s home. So, all this starts with finding the right buyer.

1. Identify the right markets

You need to ensure that you know the right markets. Finding the hottest markets in the real estate business at all times will be your first step towards finding out where the relevant buyers are putting their cash. But at the end of the day, knowing the right market for the buyers could be what separates you from heading home with a big check to the bank or empty-handed.

2. Identify the right location

You also need to identify the right location. A home at the right place means where you are not only going to buy the home at the best possible price, but where the relevant buyer is going to be willing to buy the house from you at your stipulated price.

3. Identify the right property

Scour the internet, the MLS and everything you can, through the real estate channels and find the right property. Look for the vacant and distressed homes that are about to fall into repossession or on short sales and make your move. All you need to do is start from somewhere and keep searching until you get the right property. Ask around from your neighbors, and even the real estate agents and keep an eye out for anything that may interest you. You may catch a lucky break.

4. Identify the right buyers

This is the point where you need to line up your buyers and here is where you can even categorize them from the relevant buyers to regular buyers. The relevant buyers are the buyers who have a higher chance of making any purchase. Do your magic and see which one of your buyers pan out. Here is where you start making some crazy money.

5. Identify the right sellers

This point might be a bit tricky since finding a vacant house may sometimes not be as simple as you might think. You may end up doing a lot of searching, digging through the web, and asking a lot of questions here and there and still end up short of finding any vacant home. But even if you do, you still need to come to some sweet deal with the home seller and agree on an amount that beneficial to both parties; especially you.

Do you have a question about flipping homes? Click here to talk to the experts at Stacy and Nicole today!


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Pros and Cons of All-Cash Offers

It is without a doubt that you will have no trouble finding the perfect home if you have an all-cash offer up your sleeves. Even home sellers will be planning sweet deals to offer you if you pass by their homes as this usually means that you have the cash to seal the deal and purchase their homes.

Typically, all-cash home buyers have close to all the advantages over the home buyers with mortgages simply because the there is usually no guarantee that the home buyers with mortgages will get you the balance. A lot of obstacles can end up getting in the way and even interfere with regular monthly mortgage payments. The best thing about an all-cash home buyer is that all these doubts and inconveniences are squashed; it is similar to a no-strings-attached deal.

All-cash deals are usually quite common; it’s not only seen among the super-rich within the community nowadays. When you dig a little deeper, you will notice that a good portion of this 29% is not among the wealthy.

But you need to keep in mind that an all-cash move is not always the best move for every occasion. This article will help you determine whether you should go for an all-cash deal or opt for a mortgage route instead.

Should you go for an all-cash sale?

Here is one simple fact to everyone reading this. Just because you have the cash and know you can afford to purchase the property doesn’t mean that it is always the best way to go. Making an all-cash deal comes with its merits as well as demerits that you need to peek into before you stash a significant amount of your cash into that brand new expensive home.

The pros of going for an all-cash offer

  • Tough sales markets – You may want to make an all-cash offer when you realize that a bidding war is going on for that new home or condo that you want to buy. An all-cash offer will help you cut through the competition like a knife through butter.
  • Strong negotiation stance – An all-cash offer will also give you an added advantage over the negotiation stance for the home that you plan to purchase. You will be able to force the home sellers to drop from their initial asking price to an amount that can suit you.

Faster processes

All-cash offers will also make the whole process of purchasing and acquiring a new home faster compared to applying for a mortgage. This deal comes with less paperwork and almost no delays at all.

The cons of going for an all-cash offer

  • You will put a lot of money into one asset when you can diversify and use it in other things.
  • Your liquidity can also be drastically limited if you go for an all-cash deal.
  • You will also miss out on significant tax deductions like a tax break, which homeowners with mortgages get.
  • You may even stand a chance of investing your money better elsewhere, maybe a business.

Do you have a question about all-cash offers? Click here to contact the experts at Stacy and Nicole today!


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Should You and Your Spouse Buy a Home Before Getting Married?

One of the many things that spouses find difficult is deciding to buy a house before or after they get married. You need to give this a significant amount of thought before you make a decision. Be cautious when dealing with matters like these. Take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your spouse during and after you purchase of your new home.

Below are some key pointers you and your spouse need to take into consideration before you decide to buy that new dream home.

1. Current finances

You should sit down with your partner and discuss your financial situation. Make sure your spouse can keep up with the future house payments. You and your spouse need to discuss matters concerning debt, income, current credit score, as well as other financial obligations. After all, you will need all of this information while attempting to get that mortgage.

2. Credit scores

The credit scores of both you and your partner are vital if you and your spouse intend to get a mortgage. If you wish to get that great mortgage rate, then you need to start working on raising your credit scores. You must know both of your credit scores before you even attempt to buy a new home. With improved credit scores, you and your spouse will be able to save thousands of dollars for the span that you have taken the loan.

3. Future finances

As a spouse, you will soon come to realize that money problems are the leading problem in relationships, whether you are married or unmarried. It would be best if both you and your spouse lay down a contract that will explain who will pay for what and how much. Some of the things you can consider when planning to buy that new home are down payment, mortgage payments, fees, maintenance, and upgrades.

4. The kind of home you intend to buy

It is vital that you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to buying a new home. Discuss with each other what you want and agree on the best home that both of you love and want to live in.

5. Opening a joint bank account

You may consider opening a joint bank account with your spouse if you are planning to buy a new home together. This way, you can always use this account to pay your bills that involve the new house.

6. Title options

There are a couple of title arrangements that you can choose from. These include joint tenancy with the rights of survivorship and sole ownership.

7. What if it doesn’t work out?

You will not want to plan for failure with your spouse. For this reason, you need to consider all the factors that will make your plan to buy a new home a success.

8. Get a legally binding agreement

The title agreement might be legally binding, but any other decision that you make together that concern finances are not, so take caution.
Do you have a question about home buying with your spouse? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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Why You Should Hire a Real Estate Pro to Help You Buy a Home

Everyone knows that it is no joyride when trying to own a home. Before you manage to become a homeowner, you will have gone through some unexpected bumps and detours along the way. It is for this reason that you may find it relieving to hire a real estate pro who will guide you through the whole process.

An experienced agent will help you with so much more information in comparison to mobile applications and real estate websites. Here are some pointers on how a real estate pro can be of assistance to you in your quest to own a home.

1. Guidance

Your real estate pro will always take the time to learn about what you prefer, your budget and motivation, and your wants and needs. The agent will use this information to narrow down your home searches.

2. Education

Your real estate agent will also provide you with the relevant information about the local home market near you and also help you compare their sales. The agent should be able to explain all the areas that you do not fully understand.

3. Networking

An agent who knows how to do his or her job will always be one step ahead of the market and stay updated about any homes that may be available for sale around your target neighborhoods.

4. Advocate

You should know that it is always the best option to look for an agent who will be looking out for your own best interest when it comes to looking for a new home. Find an agent who will strive to make sure you are protected and that any transactions you do will be within all the legal boundaries.
It is not always a good idea to assume that you can always go straight to the listing agent and end up getting a lower price for your new home. Work with an agent who will dedicate his or her time to you and your cause.

5. Negotiation

Don’t worry about negotiating when you have an agent. All you need to do is some follow up on how the negotiation goes. Your agent will handle everything when it comes to dealing with negotiations of your new home.

6. Manage minutia

You will most likely end up being overly exhausted while trying to follow up on all the paperwork that comes with real estate transactions. Here is where your agent comes in. You may fail to check a box or even forget to have a clause initialized. These can cause the need to have your documents re-submitted. A real estate pro makes all of this easier by following up on all these steps.

7. Look out

There are dozens of situations that can end up cutting a deal short, even as it edges towards being sealed. Anything can happen; maybe the house’s title isn’t that clear, or even the lender is failing to meet the financial deadline or any other factor. Your real estate pro will realize any problems that may arise with the home or with the contract and warn you before it is too late.

Do you have a question about buying a home? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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Best Elementary Schools in Orange County

When it comes to education, every parent wants the best learning institution for their children. Picking an elementary school can be very challenging, especially to parents who are taking their child to school for the first time. The best elementary schools in Orange County help students grow by taking the obstacles and turning them into opportunities. Students are also given opportunities to flex and innovate their creativity.

Orange County’s top elementary schools view obstacles as opportunities, as reasons to innovate and flex their creativity. This was after a detailed assessment of 371 elementary schools. The schools were graded and assessed on many determinants important in the education sector: diversity, academics and fitness. Six elementary schools got gold medals, six got silver and 10 elementary schools received bronze in the yearly report.

This year the Irvine’s Stonegate Elementary School took 1st place. An impressive improvement from being 14th place last year. This comes one year after the school received a federal recognition and got the Blue Ribbon Award. According to the staff, the school is always exploring new teaching methods, which include adapting to new technologies and holding yoga sessions. The campus leaders were also to the challenge this year, more readily, something that is widespread among the top 10 elementary schools.

The best Orange County elementary schools embrace the idea that top schools should not be afraid of innovation when it comes to improving their teaching methods. The schools also carry most of their projects by encouraging parents’ involvements.

In the hall of fame, the following elementary schools made their first entry:
Stonegate Elementary took 1st place. The school embraces and implements the latest tech and old school discipline. IPads and yoga coexisting in the school system in harmony are used to inspire students and enhance their focus.

Rossmoor Elementary was placed 6th. The school cultivates the parent-teacher partnerships in a very unique way. Efforts are leveraged so that students can be provided with weekly inspirational gatherings while teachers have more time to enhance a deeper collaboration with their students.

Below are the returning winners in the hall of fame:
Ethan B. Allen Elementary School was placed 2nd. The school was 1st place in 2012. The system used by the school encourages students to show their reasoning behind the presented work assigned. Additional science and cultural education are also provided. Parents are allowed to navigate in the school education system.

Jack L. Weaver Elementary School took 3rd place. The school had been an empty campus that was slated for sale. It was purchased by Weaver and reopened into a magnet style elementary school. Since then its performance has rocketed the education charts. The school is a six time winner on the list.

Stone Creek Elementary School came in at 4th place. The school leaders played an important role in the excellent performance of the school by reexamining the academic performance of the English learners. This was done through a targeting education program to be more effective, hence an improved performance.

Do you have a question about home buying? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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