Author Archives: siteowner

What You Need to Know About the Mortgage Process [INFOGRAPHIC]

What You Need to Know About the Mortgage Process [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers are purchasing homes with down payments as little as 3%.
  • You may already qualify for a loan, even if you don’t have perfect credit.
  • Your local professionals are here to help you determine how much you can afford, so take advantage of the opportunity to learn more.

Samuel Spinella

Samuel SpinellaRealtorSRESInteroSunnyvale CA408-393-9294As a professional in the real estate industry over the past seventeen years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

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You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa. | Simplifying The Market

You Need More Than a Guide. You Need a Sherpa.

In today’s world, hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

In a normal housing market, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you need an experienced guide to help you navigate the process. You need someone you can turn to who will tell you how to price your home correctly right from the start. You need someone who can help you determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller with a low-ball offer.

We are, however, in anything but a “normal market” right now. The media is full of stories about an impending recession, a trade war with China, and constant political upheaval. Each of these potential situations could dramatically impact the real estate market. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need more than an experienced guide. You need a ‘Real Estate Sherpa.’

A Sherpa is a “member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.” Sherpas are skilled in leading their parties through the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region – some of the most treacherous trails in the world. They take pride in their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes.

They are much more than just guides.

This is much more than a normal real estate market.

The average guide just won’t do. You need a ‘Sherpa.’ You need an expert who understands what is happening in the market and why it is happening. You need someone who can simply and effectively explain it to you and your family. You need an expert who will guarantee you make the right decision, even in these challenging times.

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.” 

Bottom Line

Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the market will make your buying or selling experience an educated one.

Samuel Spinella

Samuel SpinellaRealtorSRESInteroSunnyvale CA408-393-9294As a professional in the real estate industry over the past seventeen years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

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What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | Simplifying The Market

What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage?

It’s common knowledge that your FICO® score plays an important role in the homebuying process. However, many buyers have misconceptions regarding what exactly is required to get the loans they need.

While a recent announcement from CNBC shares that the average national FICO® score has reached an all-time high of 706, the good news for potential buyers is that you don’t need a score that high to qualify for a mortgage. Let’s unpack the credit score myth so you can to become a homeowner sooner than you may think.

With today’s low interest rates, many believe now is a great time to buy – and rightfully so! Fannie Mae recently noted that 58% of Americans surveyed say it is a good time to buy. Similarly, the Q3 2019 HOME Survey by the National Association of Realtors said 63% of people believe now is a good time to buy a home. Unfortunately, fear and misinformation often hold qualified and motivated buyers back from taking the leap into homeownership.

According to the same CNBC article,

“For the first time, the average national credit score has reached 706, according to FICO®, the developer of one of the most commonly used scores by lenders.”

This is great news, as it means Americans are improving their credit scores and building toward a stronger financial future, especially after the market tumbled during the previous decade. With today’s strong economy and increasing wages, many Americans have had the opportunity to improve their credit over the past few years, driving this national average up.

Since Americans with stronger credit are now entering the housing market, we are seeing an increase in the FICO® Score Distribution of Closed Loans (see graph below):What FICO® Score Do You Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | Simplifying The MarketBut hang on – don’t forget that this does not mean you need a FICO® score over 700 to qualify for a mortgage. Here’s what Experian, the global leader in consumer and business credit reporting, says:

FHA Loan: “FHA loans are ideal for those who have less-than-perfect credit and may not be able to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan. The size of your required down payment for an FHA loan depends on the state of your credit score: If your credit score is between 500 and 579, you must put 10% down. If your credit score is 580 or above, you can put as little as 3.5% down (but you can put down more if you want to).”

Conventional Loan: “It’s possible to get approved for a conforming conventional loan with a credit score as low as 620, although some lenders may look for a score of 660 or better.”

USDA Loan“While the USDA doesn’t have a set credit score requirementmost lenders offering USDA-guaranteed mortgages require a score of at least 640.”

VA Loan: “As with income levels, lenders set their own minimum credit requirements for VA loan borrowers. Lenders are likely to check credit scores as part of their screening process, and most will set a minimum score, or cutoff, that loan applicants must exceed to be considered.”

Bottom Line

As you can see, plenty of loans are granted to buyers with a FICO® score that is lower than the national average. If you’d like to understand the next steps to take when determining your credit score, let’s get together so you can learn more.

Samuel Spinella

Samuel SpinellaRealtorSRESInteroSunnyvale CA408-393-9294As a professional in the real estate industry over the past seventeen years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

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3 Signs the Housing Market Is on the Rebound | Simplifying The Market

3 Signs the Housing Market Is on the Rebound

The residential real estate market has been plodding along for most of the year. However, three recent reports show the market may be on the verge of a rebound.

1. Existing Home Sales (closed sales) are up, marking two consecutive months of growth.

2. Pending Home Sales (contracts signed) are up with each of the four major regions reporting both month-over-month growth and year-over-year gains in contract activity.
Here is the month-over-month growth:

  • The Northeast rose 0.7%
  • The Midwest increased 0.6%
  • The South increased 1.4%
  • The West grew 3.1%

3. Buyer Traffic (the number of people shopping for a home) is up compared to the same time last year, and for the first time in 13 months.

  • The Northeast is up 5.9%
  • The Midwest increased 1.3%
  • The South is up 2.7%
  • The West grew 2.2%

In their most recent report, ShowingTime Chief Analytics Officer, Daniil Cherkasskiy explained:

“The trend we saw in year-over-year buyer traffic in previous months continued across the United States. For all four regions there were more showings per listing this year compared to last year, making it the most competitive August in the last five years.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist with the National Association of Realtors, believes the uptick in activity will continue into the future:

“It is very encouraging that buyers are responding to exceptionally low interest rates…With interest rates expected to remain low, home sales are forecasted to rise in the coming months and into 2020.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about selling your house, there are purchasers out there who are ready, willing, and able to buy.

Samuel Spinella

Samuel SpinellaRealtorSRESInteroSunnyvale CA408-393-9294As a professional in the real estate industry over the past seventeen years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

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4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill | Simplifying The Market

4 Tips to Improve Your Home and Save on Your Energy Bill

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers.

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep your home running efficiently, not only to save money, but also to help the environment thrive. October 2nd is Energy Efficiency Day, a perfect time to think about making some key upgrades that will improve the efficiency of your home. If you’re looking to sell your house and increase the pool of potential buyers in your market, the upgrades below are truly a must.

According with Wallet Hub,

“In the U.S., energy costs eat between 5 and 22 percent of families’ total after-tax income.”

What should you spend on utilities?

Money Management says,

“If you’re working with a budget, and trust me, you should be, your utility costs should be no more than 8-10 percent of your monthly income.”

How can you make your home more efficient?

EnergyEfficiencyDay.Org provides some handy tips that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home. Here are a few simple ones to consider, and how to make them happen:

1. Make the Switch to LED

LEDs are a great example of how innovation and technology can make your life easier. They last at least 25 times longer and consume up to 90 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs.

Tip: By switching five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs, it’s possible to save $75 on energy costs annually.

2. Seal Those Leaks

On average, heating and cooling account for almost half of a home’s energy consumption. In fact, all the little leaks can be equivalent to leaving open a 3-foot-by-3-foot window.

Tip: Take simple steps like caulking windows, sealing leaks around chimneys and recessed lighting, and sliding draft guards under your doors to save up to 20% on heating costs.

3. Heat and Cool Efficiently

Don’t waste money heating or cooling an empty home. Install a programmable thermostat and in colder weather schedule your home’s heat to lower when you are away or asleep and increase when you are returning home or waking-up. In warm weather, schedule the thermostat to raise the temperature when you are away or asleep, and lower it at other times.

Tip: Follow the U.S. Department of Energy recommended temperatures and be energy-efficient all year. 

4. Maintain Your HVAC System

Make sure to clean or change your furnace filters regularly. A dirty furnace filter will slow down air flow, making the system work harder to keep you warm (or cool) and costing you more money.

Tip: Consider getting a winter tune-up. Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a semi-annual or yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can be vital to improve efficiency, saving you money and making your home more comfortable. 

Bottom Line

By making a few key upgrades to your home, you’ll save on your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home. When you’re ready to sell your house, these key features will make it even more attractive to potential buyers. Let’s get together to discuss what buyers are looking for when it comes to energy efficiency options in our area.

Samuel Spinella

Samuel SpinellaRealtorSRESInteroSunnyvale CA408-393-9294As a professional in the real estate industry over the past seventeen years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

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What to Expect from Your Home Inspection

What to Expect from Your Home Inspection

What to Expect from Your Home Inspection | Simplifying The Market

What to Expect from Your Home Inspection

You made an offer and it was accepted. Your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Agents often recommend you make your offer contingent upon a clean home inspection.

This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you offered for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or in some cases, walk away if challenges arise. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors they’ve worked with in the past to recommend to you. HGTV suggests you consider the following five areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

1. Qualifications – Find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.

2. Sample Reports – Ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. In most cases, the more detailed the report,
the better.

3. References – Do your homework. Ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to discuss their experiences.

4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations does, however, often mean continued training and education are required.

5. Errors and Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human, after all, and it is possible they might miss something they should see.

Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, so they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.

Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, fireplace and chimney, foundation, and so much more.

Bottom Line

They say, ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible, so you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

Samuel Spinella

Samuel SpinellaRealtorSRESInteroSunnyvale CA408-393-9294As a professional in the real estate industry over the past seventeen years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

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Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much. | Simplifying The Market

Homeowners Are Happy! Renters? Not So Much.

When people talk about homeownership and the American Dream, much of the conversation revolves around the financial benefits of owning a home. However, two recent studies show that the non-financial benefits might be even more valuable.

In a recent surveyBank of America asked homeowners: “Does owning a home make you happier than renting?” 93% of the respondents answered yes, while only 7% said no. The survey also revealed:

  • More than 80% said they wouldn’t go back to renting
  • 88% agreed that buying a home is the “best decision they have ever made
  • 79% believed owning a home has changed them for the better

Those surveyed talked about the “emotional equity” that is built through homeownership. The study says more than half of current homeowners define a home as a place to make memories, compared to 42% who view a home as a financial investment. Besides building wealth, the survey also showed that homeownership enhances quality of life:

  • 67% of current homeowners believed their relationships with family and loved ones have changed for the better since they bought a home
  • 78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life
  • 82% of homeowners said they were satisfied with the amount of time they spend on their hobbies and passions since purchasing a home
  • 75% of homeowners pursued new hobbies after buying a home

Homeowners seem to be very happy.

Renters Tell a Different Story…

According to the latest Zillow Housing Aspirations Report45% of renters regret renting rather than buying — more than five times the share of homeowners (8%) who regret buying instead of renting. Here are the four major reasons people regret renting, according to the report:

  • 52% regret not being able to build equity
  • 52% regret not being able to customize or improve their rentals
  • 50% regret that the rent is so high
  • 49% regret that they lack private outdoor space

These two studies prove that renting is just not the same as owning.

Bottom Line

There are both financial and non-financial benefits to homeownership. As good as the “financial equity” is, it doesn’t compare to the “emotional equity” gained through owning your own home.

screenshot-from-2019-03-10-19-15-46

 Samuel Spinella                                                                                                                               Realtor                                                                                                                                                             SRES                                                                                                                                                                   Intero                                                                                                                                                   Sunnyvale CA                                                                                                                                             408-393-9294

As a professional in the real estate industry over the past twelve years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

You might also enjoy reading…

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Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate? | Simplifying The Market

Are You Ready for the ‘Black Friday’ of Real Estate?

According to a new study from realtor.com, the week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

Every year, ‘Black Friday’ is a highly anticipated event for eager shoppers. Some people prepare for weeks, crafting and refining a strategic shopping agenda, determining exactly when to arrive at each store, and capturing a wish list of discounted must-have items to purchase. But what about buying a home? Is there a ‘Black Friday’ for the home-buying process? Believe it or not, there is.

According to a new study from realtor.comthe week of September 22 is the best time of year to buy a home, making it ‘Black Friday’ for homebuyers.

After evaluating housing data in 53 metros from 2016 to 2018, realtor.com determined that the first week of fall is when buyers “tend to find less competition, more inventory, and the biggest reductions on list price.

The report explains,

“During the first week of fall, buyers tend to face 26% less competition from other buyers, and they are likely to see 6.1% more homes available on the market compared to other weeks of the year…nearly 6% of homes on the market will also see price reductions, averaging 2.4% less than their peak.”

What’s so different about the first week of fall?

George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com says,

“As summer winds down and kids return to school, many families hit pause on their home search and wait until the next season to start again…as seasonal inventory builds up and restores itself to more buyer-friendly levels, fall buyers will be in a better position to take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates and increased purchasing power.”

Learn more about how prices, listings, and buyer competition stack up during the first week of fall in your metro area.

Bottom Line

If you want to take advantage of the ‘Black Friday’ of home buying, let’s get together to discuss the benefits of making your next move this fall.

screenshot-from-2019-03-10-19-15-46

 Samuel Spinella                                                                                                                               Realtor                                                                                                                                                             SRES                                                                                                                                                                   Intero                                                                                                                                                   Sunnyvale CA                                                                                                                                             408-393-9294

As a professional in the real estate industry over the past twelve years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

You might also enjoy reading…

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Should You Fix Your House Up or Sell Now? | Simplifying The Market

Should You Fix Your House Up or Sell Now?

If you’re thinking about remodeling your house before you list it, take a look at these three tips to help you decide if you really need to fix it up before you sell. The answer may surprise you.

With the fall season upon us, change is in the air. For many families, children are growing up and moving out of the house, maybe leaving for college or taking a jump into the working world. Parents are finding themselves as empty nesters for the first time. The question inevitably arises: is it finally time to downsize?

If you’re pondering that thought, you may also be wondering if you should fix-up your house before you sell it, or go straight to the market as-is, allowing a potential buyer to do the updates and remodeling. If you’re one of the many homeowners this camp, here are a few tips to help you decide which way to go.

1. Analyze Your Market

A real estate professional can help you to understand your market and the potential level of buyer interest and demand for your home. Are you in a seller’s market or a buyer’s market? This can change based on the price range of your home, too. A professional can also give you some insight on what you can change or remodel, and how to declutter your house to make it attractive to buyers in your area.

2. Get an Inspector

Right now, the average length of time a family stays in a home is between 9-10 years. That’s a little longer than the historical average, so if you’ve been living in your home for a while, it might be time to make some significant improvements. Think: electrical system, HVAC units, roof, siding, etc. An inspector can give you a better idea of the condition of your home, if it is up to current code standards, and recommendations on how to have your house ready before you put it on the market.

3. Decide If You Need to Remodel

You may also be thinking about driving buyer appeal with something like a kitchen or a bathroom remodel. If so, first dig into the market value of your home, and compare it to the actual cost of the remodel. A local real estate professional can help you determine your home’s market value, and you’ll want to get a few quotes from contractors on the potential remodel pricing as well. Once you have those two factors narrowed down, you can to decide if a remodel will give you a return on your investment when you sell. Oftentimes, it is actually more advantageous to price your house to sell, list it competitively, and then let the buyer pick the colors they want for their bathroom tiles and the type of countertop they prefer. The 2019 Cost vs. Value Report in Remodeling Magazinecompares the average cost for remodeling projects with the value those projects typically retain at resale.

Bottom Line

Nationwide, inventory is low, meaning there is less than the 6-month housing supply needed for a normal market. This drives buyer demand, creating a perfect time to sell. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s get together to help you confidently determine what will be the best choice for you and your family.

screenshot-from-2019-03-10-19-15-46

 Samuel Spinella                                                                                                                               Realtor                                                                                                                                                             SRES                                                                                                                                                                   Intero                                                                                                                                                   Sunnyvale CA                                                                                                                                             408-393-9294

As a professional in the real estate industry over the past twelve years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

You might also enjoy reading…

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Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”? | Simplifying The Market

Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”?

In today’s real estate market, more houses are coming to market every day. Eager buyers are searching for their dream homes, so setting the right price for your house is one of the most important things you can do.

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index, home values have risen at over 6% a year over the past two years, but have started to slow to 3.6% over the last 12 months. By this time next year, CoreLogic predicts home values will be 5.4% higher.

With prices slowing from their previous pace, homeowners must realize that pricing their homes a little over market value to leave room for negotiation will actually dramatically decrease the number of buyers who will see their listing (see the chart below).Is Your House “Priced to Sell Immediately”? | Simplifying The MarketInstead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be negotiating with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers competing with each other over the house.

The secret is making sure your house is Priced To Sell Immediately (PTSI). That way, your home will be seen by the most potential buyers. It will sell at a great price before more competition comes to the market.

Bottom Line

If you’re debating listing your house for sale, let’s get together to discuss how to price your home appropriately and maximize your exposure.

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 Samuel Spinella                                                                                                                               Realtor                                                                                                                                                             SRES                                                                                                                                                                   Intero                                                                                                                                                   Sunnyvale CA                                                                                                                                             408-393-9294

As a professional in the real estate industry over the past twelve years, I’ve built my reputation on providing outstanding service to my clients. In these times of dynamic market movement, I believe the most important thing I can do is to communicate how the current market influences your ability to achieve your personal and financial goals. As a Realtor, I continually educate myself on market trends and real estate changes that create opportunity for my clients.

Sam

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