March 21, 2019

3 Ways to Pay Off Your Home Faster

You can conquer your mortgage by paying just a little bit extra each month. Here’s how.

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Selling a home? Click here for a FREE Home Price Evaluation

 

By paying a little bit more on your mortgage each month, you can save thousands in interest and take years off the life of your loan. When you pay more on your monthly bill, you’ll need to specify that you want the extra to be applied toward your principal loan amount.

 

For these examples, let’s say you have a 30-year mortgage with 5% interest, and you pay $1,500 a month. If your own mortgage is higher, you can save even more when compared to these examples.

 

 

  

If you have other debts, however, it may be in your best interest to pay those off first.

 

 


Here are some ways to pay off your mortgage more quickly:

 

1. Pay an additional 1/12 payment each month. Divide your monthly mortgage payment by 12 and pay that much more each month. By doing so, you’ll make an extra month’s mortgage payment each year. In the example above, you’d pay $125 extra a month, shorten your mortgage by four years and eight months, and save $42,000 in interest.


2. Pay an additional $50 a month. If you don’t want to make an extra mortgage payment each year, paying a more manageable sum will still work wonders. By paying an extra $50 each month, you’ll shorten your mortgage by two years and save $21,000 in interest.


3. Make one-time, lump-sum payments when you can. If you get extra money from work bonuses or tax returns, you can pay it toward your principal to cut costs. Though this option is less predictable, it still saves you money over time. If you have other debts, however, it may be in your best interest to pay those off first with your bonus money.

 

If you won’t be staying in your home for more than five to 10 years, it may not make sense to pay extra toward your mortgage. Each situation is different, however, and if you’re wondering which strategy works best for you, reach out to us. We can put you in contact with a loan specialist and get you on the path to paying off your mortgage. In the meantime, we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Homeowner
March 20, 2019

Want to Increase Your Family Wealth? Here's How!

 

Everyone should realize that unless you are living somewhere rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s. Buying your own home provides you with a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to use your monthly housing costs to increase your family’s wealth.

Every month that you pay your mortgage, you are paying off a portion of the debt that you took on to purchase your home. Therefore, you own a little bit more of your home every month in the form of home equity. As your home’s value increases, you also gain home equity.

Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. They are asked to project how residential home prices will appreciate over the next five years for their Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES).

The latest data from their Q1 2019 Survey revealed that home prices are expected to round out the year 4.3% higher than they were in January. For the next 5 years, home values will appreciate by an average of 3.21% a year.

This is great news for homeowners!

For example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home in January of this year. Simply through their home appreciating in value, those homeowners can build their home equity by over $40,000 over the next five years.

In many cases, home equity is a large portion of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

Whether it’s your first or your fifth, if your plan for this year includes buying a home, meet with a local real estate professional who can help you understand where prices are headed in your area.

Posted in Home Buyer
March 13, 2019

6 Tips for Successful Spring Cleaning

The flowers are blooming, the birds are serenading, and our house still feels like it's stuck with winter blues. Spring cleaning is a tradition that allows us to freshen up our homes and get a head start on the hectic seasons of spring and summer.

Clean Room-By-Room 

Approaching your house room-by-room is the most effective way to deep-clean your home at any time of the year, but especially in spring. Use room checklists as a springboard for deep-cleaning the areas of your home that really need extra attention. Feel free to skip items that have recently been cleaned and focus on the parts of your home that have been neglected all winter long.

Organize and Clear the Clutter 

One of the biggest parts of spring cleaning is getting rid of clutter that you don't need. Now is a good time to advantage of the natural spring urge to get rid of items that are weighing you down and begin fresh with a more streamlined lifestyle. A systematic four-step approach to identifying problems, analyzing reasons, determining solutions, and implementing remedies can be extremely productive at this time of year. Sorting your belongings into four categories—trash, give-away, store, or put-way—can also be effective as you begin the spring-cleaning process.

Now is a great time to plan a garage sale or to donate items to good causes. Cleaning will be a lot easier when the clutter is gone.

Get the Family Involved 

If you need a little help in your cleaning endeavors, get your family involved. Even the most unwilling helper can make a big difference in the workload. Don't worry: There are ways to deal with even the most reluctant helpers. This is actually a great time of year to get the entire family to work together. Try throwing on some music or establishing a family reward as an incentive to get the work done.

Tackle the Seasonal Chores 

There are some special chores that need to be done seasonally. We ignore them for most of the fall and winter, but now it is time to bite the bullet and get these things clean. Even though these chores only need to be done once or twice a year, they will help your home run look better and run smoothly. Outdoor chores like cleaning grills, patios, and windows can be a little intimidating, but there are some simple tricks that can keep the jobs manageable.

Keep Cleaning Products to a Minimum 

The cleaning aisles of our stores are stocked full of commercial products to help you clean, but the variety can be overwhelming. And dozens of cleaning products means dozens of cleaning products to clutter up your cabinets and closets.

Resist the temptation to buy all these cleaning supplies; the real champions of spring cleaning are more basic supplies, such as a good all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloths. There are even homemade cleaners you can make that will save you money while protecting the environment.

Establish New Cleaning Habits 

 

A good, thorough spring cleaning that includes the whole house is a great time to establish new on-going cleaning habits, and it can also make the next spring cleaning a good deal easier. Simple 15-minute cleanup routines practiced every few days, each including a series of 1- to 2-minute chores, can make it remarkably easy to keep your home clean and tidy all year long.

content courtesy of spruce.com

March 8, 2019

How Solar Panels Will Impact a Real Estate Transaction

How will solar panels affect the outcome of a real estate transaction? It turns out that it depends on whether the panels are owned or leased.

Buying a home? Click here to perform a full home search
Selling a home? Click here for a FREE Home Price Evaluation

 

The presence of solar panels on a property will affect your transaction differently depending on whether they’re leased or owned.

 

If you do own your solar panel system, it will be better for the sale and purchase of a property. There’s less risk for a buyer, and the appraiser will factor this in when assessing your home's value.

 

However, if your solar panels are leased, it affects the sale of the property in a different way—both for the buyer and the seller.

 

 

  

If you do own your own solar panel system, it will be better for the sale and purchase of a property.

 

 


Many buyers looking for homes might find yours at the top end of their budget; they’ll need to qualify for the additional monthly payment of the solar bill in order to be able to purchase your home. In some cases, this might put your home out of their budget, meaning they won’t qualify for your property.

 

If the buyer is single or if they’re purchasing the property as a second home, they may not ever see the value in the solar panels, since they won’t use as much energy as a big family anyway. Additionally, the appraisal will not be affected if your solar panels are leased. Panels that are being leased, especially if the property has a lien on it, won't add any value.

 

So if you’re looking to add extra value to your home, leased solar panels are not the way to go.

 

For any questions you have about solar panels or real estate in general, you are definitely encouraged to reach out to us. We’d love to speak with you soon.

 

Posted in Homeowner
Feb. 28, 2019

3 Reasons Why We Are Not Heading Toward Another Housing Crash

With home prices softening, some are concerned that we may be headed toward the next housing crash. However, it is important to remember that today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago.

Here are three key metrics that will explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Foreclosure Rates

HOME PRICES

A decade ago, home prices depreciated dramatically, losing about 29% of their value over a four-year period (2008-2011). Today, prices are not depreciating. The level of appreciation is just decelerating.

Home values are no longer appreciating annually at a rate of 6-7%. However, they have still increased by more than 4% over the last year. Of the 100 experts reached for the latest Home Price Expectation Survey94 said home values would continue to appreciate through 2019. It will just occur at a lower rate.

With home prices softening, some are concerned that we may be headed toward the next housing crash. However, it is important to remember that today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago.

Here are three key metrics that will explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Foreclosure Rates

HOME PRICES

A decade ago, home prices depreciated dramatically, losing about 29% of their value over a four-year period (2008-2011). Today, prices are not depreciating. The level of appreciation is just decelerating.

Home values are no longer appreciating annually at a rate of 6-7%. However, they have still increased by more than 4% over the last year. Of the 100 experts reached for the latest Home Price Expectation Survey94 said home values would continue to appreciate through 2019. It will just occur at a lower rate.

MORTGAGE STANDARDS

Many are concerned that lending institutions are again easing standards to a level that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.

The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a quarterly index which,

“…measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”

Last month, their January Housing Credit Availability Index revealed:

“Significant space remains to safely expand the credit box. If the current default risk was doubled across all channels, risk would still be well within the pre-crisis standard of 12.5 percent from 2001 to 2003 for the whole mortgage market.”

FORECLOSURE INVENTORY

Within the last decade, distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) made up 35% of all home sales. The Mortgage Bankers’ Association revealed just last week that:

“The percentage of loans in the foreclosure process at the end of the fourth quarter was 0.95 percent…This was the lowest foreclosure inventory rate since the first quarter of 1996.”

Bottom Line

After using these three key housing metrics to compare today’s market to that of the last decade, we can see that the two markets are nothing alike.

 

The Cross Group Real Estate Professionals 

Kari Cross

9255841640

Posted in Home Buyer, Homeowner
Feb. 27, 2019

5 Remodeling Projects for Top ROI

Have you been thinking about sprucing up the house a bit, but unsure where to start? We have you covered.  Spend your money on these things first, they offer the largest return on investment when you are ready to sell.

 

The Cross Group Real Estate Professionals

Kari Cross

925-584-1640

Posted in Homeowner
Feb. 21, 2019

Why Do You Need Title Insurance?

Many buyers and homeowners are unclear as to what title insurance is and why it’s important. For that reason, I’d like to shed some light on the subject today.

Buying a home? Click here to perform a full home search
Selling a home? Click here for a FREE Home Price Evaluation

 

Clients often ask me: “Do I really need title insurance, and what is it, anyway?”

 

Because I hear this question so frequently, I’ve decided to offer some clarity today. In short, title insurance is a form of legal and financial protection that prevents a homeowner from any losses sustained as a result of defects related to a property’s title. So, do you need it? The simple answer is yes, you absolutely do. But to really understand why, allow me to share a quick story:

 

I recently heard from a client who, after a few months of living in a home, received a call during which he learned that he was not the property’s rightful owner. Apparently, the previous homeowner did not have the legal right to sell it because, years ago, the title was not correctly transferred.

 

Thankfully, my client had purchased title insurance. The title attorneys went to work and I’m happy to say that my client now holds the proper title to his home.

 

With this story in mind, it’s clear why title insurance is so crucial. Title companies work to review a property’s history, making sure there are no claims or liens against it. They also, as displayed in the case of this client, work to settle disputes over a property’s rightful ownership.

 

 

  

Many of the circumstances that could cause problems with your property’s title may be unfamiliar to you, but you still need to be protected against these things, as they could impact the ownership and future sale of your home.

 

 


Here in California, the most common title insurance policy is the Alta Homeowner Policy, which protects homeowners in the event that:

 

-Someone else has ownership interest in the property

-Someone else has an easement on the land

-There are personal or tax liens on the property

-There are encumbrances on the property

-There have been CC&R or subdivision violations

-There are future title defects

-There is an escape assessment

-There is an umarkable title

-There is an incorrect map

-A mineral right has been exercised

-There has been an encroachment onto an easement or setback

-There has been an encroachment of a neighbor’s structure

 

And these circumstances are only the beginning of what this policy covers. Many of these terms may be unfamiliar to you, but they are each things that could impact the ownership and future sale of your home. For a full explanation of the Alta Homeowner Policy’s coverage, please reach out.

 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Home Buyer
Feb. 16, 2019

Meet The Team: Nicole

Nicole: Transaction Coordinator 

Nicole has been in the industry for over 20 years and keeps our transactions running smooth.  She never misses a beat and makes sure every transaction stays on pace and we never miss a deadline. Let's get to know Nicole with a game of 20 questions!

 

1 - What was your first job?

First American Title & Escrow 

2 - What was your first car?

Toyota Celica 

3 - Do you have any tattoo's

A tropical fish on my rear end

4 - Do you have any pets

No

5 - Favorite color

Pink

6 - Favorite food

Peanut Butter, Sushi & Mexican food 

3 way tie. 

7 - Favorite season

Summer

8 - Do you like to cook

YES!!!! 

9 - Favorite TV show

Survivor Reality Show.  Got me through some tough times and taught me to be strong. 

10 - Favorite movie

Grease- childhood favorite
Anything with Denzel Washington. 

 

11 - Do you have any siblings

1 half-brother (didn’t know he was half until much later in life, more like full brother to me) 

Then later in life met 

1 half-brother & 2 half sisters

Then after that another half-sister.

 

OH and a step brother. 

 

12 - What is your most embarrassing moment

Can’t say.  Still too embarrassing.  

 

13 - How many broken bones have you had

none

14 - How many times have you moved in your life

More times than I can count.  Homeless a few times.

15 - How long have you lived in your current home

8 months  

16 - What is your favorite thing about living in the area

Small and the water community 

17 - What is your favorite thing about working in the real estate industry

Always changing.  Lots of opportunity to grow on the daily. 

Probably the biggest reason is I love the people I work with here.  Feels like a safe zone. 

18 - Who is your celebrity crush

Robert Deniro but now he is old.  I’d like to have a long weekend with LeBron James even though I don’t like him as a player.  Lol  

19 - Who have you met that is famous

Huey Luis and the news.  I’m in his hit video If this is it.  

 

20 - Are you an early bird or night owl

Early Bird.

Posted in Community, Lifestyle
Feb. 7, 2019

Buyers and Sellers: Don’t Fall for These 5 Real Estate Myths

Not all of the advice you hear about buying or selling a home is accurate, which is why, today, we’re going to be debunking five of the most common real estate myths.

Buying a home? Click here to perform a full home search
Selling a home? Click here for a FREE Home Price Evaluation

 

Given how complicated buying and selling a home can be, there’s a lot of advice out there about how to be successful in your real estate goals. However, not all of this advice hits the market. Today I’d like to clear up a few common misconceptions by listing (and debunking) five real estate myths:

 

1. “You should wait until spring to sell.” While spring does tend to be a busy time for real estate, there are buyers in the market all year long. Every buyer and seller has different wants, needs, and motivations, so there is no one-size-fits-all schedule for pursuing your real estate goals. In some cases, it may actually do more harm than good to put your home on the market in the spring. It all comes down to your personal circumstances. We would be happy to speak to you about what time frame might be best for you.

 

2. “You should list high and leave room for negotiation.” Some sellers believe that they can choose whatever price they like for their home and hope a buyer will bite. After all, you can always reduce the price to something more reasonable once you’ve drummed up interest, right? Well, this might not be the case. If you overprice your home, you’re far more likely to scare buyers off than you are to secure a deal. Pricing your home too high can actually cause you to lose money. If you really want to earn top dollar for your home, you’ll need to price your home fairly. We recommend that you and your agent look at data from recent comparable sales to determine a reasonable range.

 

 

  

Not everyone will be able to forgo a down payment altogether, but there are many programs out there to help buyers of every budget achieve the homeownership dream.

 

 


3. “Prices are higher in spring and summer.” In truth, price depends more on supply and demand than seasonality. Partnering with a local expert will allow you to effectively navigate the market, whether that involves getting the best possible price for your property or securing a great deal on the purchase of your next home.

 

4. "Buyers only need to save for the price of the home itself.” While the purchase price should definitely be kept in mind, there are other expenses you should consider as you prepare to buy a home. You should account for not only your down payment, closing costs, and earnest money deposit, but also for the expenses associated with living in the home after you’ve closed. Don’t forget about utility bills, your mortgage, and other recurring expenses.


5, “Your down payment must be at least 5% of the purchase price.” This is no longer the case. Our team has personally worked with many people who were able to buy a home with zero money down. Not everyone will be able to forgo a down payment altogether, but there are many programs out there to help buyers of every budget achieve the homeownership dream.

 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Home Buyer, Home Seller
Jan. 24, 2019

It’s Time to Get Off the Fence and Buy Your Next Home

If you’ve been thinking of buying a home, these five reasons might convince you that now is the time to act.

Buying a home? Click here to perform a full home search
Selling a home? Click here for a FREE Home Price Evaluation

 

Despite what some may think, buying before the spring market arrives can be a very smart move. Today we’ll review the top five reasons to buy right now:

 

1. Prices will continue to rise. Buying a home right now is more affordable than it will be in the near future, so making your move as soon as you can will be a wise choice.

 

2. Whether you buy or rent, you’re paying someone’s mortgage. The main difference between being a renter and being a homeowner is where your monthly payments end up. Why continue to pay your landlord’s mortgage when you can start putting money toward your own?

 

 

  

It’s best to make a move now if you’re serious about purchasing a home.

 

 


3. Mortgage payments, unlike rent payments, are fixed for the life of the loan. As a renter, there is no way to be sure that your rent won’t rise in the coming months. Homeowners, meanwhile, can rest assured that their monthly payments will remain the same unless they choose to refinance or sell.

 

4. Homeowners can save money on taxes. Buyers can write off closing costs when tax season rolls around during their first year in the home. And every year after that, homeowners can write off the total interest they paid on their mortgage in a given tax cycle.


5. You will pay more if you wait. Interest rates are on the rise, and the further they go up, the higher your monthly payments will be. It’s best to make a move now if you’re serious about purchasing a home.

 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Posted in Home Buyer