April 4, 2019

The 4 Things You Need to Know When Buying a Home in a Different State

Buying in a different state can be tricky. Here are a few tips to help make the process easier.

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

 

Whether you're buying a home in a different county or a different state, it’s important to know what to expect. Here are the four things you should pay special attention to:

 

1. Know what your costs are. What’s customary for buyers to pay in the area you’re moving to? It can vary from county to county as well. You need to know what inspections, taxes, and other fees you’ll have to pay.

 

2. Be aware of local disclosure laws. In some states, sellers are required by law to tell you everything they know that’s wrong with the home. In other “buyer beware” states, the seller doesn’t have to disclose a thing and it’s your responsibility to vet the home via an inspection. This can make a huge difference in the amount of money you set aside for this step.

 

 

  

You want to hire a trustworthy, knowledgeable, and experienced Realtor.

 

 


3. Know the market. You will want to do your research so that you know if you’re buying a home in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market. When trying to decide what offer to write, you'll need to look at this. If homes are selling quickly and over asking price, you don’t want to make a lowball offer. On the other hand, you don’t want to leave money on the table by offering too much.

 

4. Find the right Realtor. We work with agents from all over the map and we have seen that there are good and bad agents out there. Buying a home is one of the most important purchases of your life, so you want to make sure the agent you hire is trustworthy, knowledgeable, and experienced.

 

If you have any questions for us or need help finding an agent in any state or county, don’t hesitate to reach out and give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Posted in Home Buyer
March 31, 2019

False Headlines? Let Us Explain

Media sources create headlines with a negative spin in order to get attention. Here are two recent examples:
1️⃣ CASH OUT REFIS ARE BACK - WILL HOMES BECOME ATM'S AGAIN? The real story: The headline is accurate - to a point!  It is true that the percentage of refinances in which the homeowner received cash has increased to levels that existed in 2006. However, the actual amount of equity homeowners "cashed-out" compared to a decade ago isn't close. The dollar amount cashed out last year was $63 billion.  That seems like a really large number until we compare it to 2006, when homeowners cashed out $321 billion. That is more than 5 times the current amount.  In 2006 people did use their homes as ATM's purchasing new cars, boats and vacations. Today, the cashed out equity is being used to consolidate debt, to start a new business, or to help with college tuition.

2️⃣ CONSUMER DEBT HITS $4 TRILLION. AMERICANS ARE DIVING DEEPER AND DEEPER INTO DEBT. The real story: The first part of the headline is accurate, but the second part couldn't be further from the truth. Total consumer debt is the highest it has ever been. That's because the population continues to grow, and so does the economy (prices and wages).
The important number is how that total debt ranks as a percentage of disposable personal income. That percentage is the lowest ever recorded! People are not "diving deeper and deeper into debt". The exact opposite is true. They have less debt now than ever before.

3️⃣ THE BOTTOM LINE: If you are thinking about buying or selling a home, it is important that you have a true professional handling your real estate needs. Someone who knows the truth about the current economy and its potential impact on the housing market. Let us show you the facts about our local market and help you decide what is best for you and your family!
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
call us at 925-584-1640, email us at kcross@crossgrouphomes.com

Posted in Home Buyer
March 28, 2019

How Long Have You Been Paying Rent?

 

We currently have 22 homes for rent (3 bedroom, 2 bath homes) that range in price from $2000 to $3300 a month. If you have been renting a home for the past 10 years you may have paid almost $400,000 in rent. Since 2012 Bay Area rent prices have increased 40-50% with no relief in sight.  Some people enjoy renting and not having the responsibility of home ownership.... but studies show that most renters are tired of rising prices and unstable living conditions with many landlords cashing out and selling rentals forcing tenants to scramble for a new home (always at the wrong times in their lives.)  Most people are unaware of what is need to qualify to purchase a home in today's real estate market:

🔸How much down payment do we need? Many buyers in California still think you need 10-20% down to purchase a home. We have loans for all types of buyers and some require zero down payment.

🔸Can I buy a home if my credit is bad? It will depend on how bad your credit is.... We have programs designed to help people with lower credit scores and strategies to help people raise their scores if they are below the qualifying numbers.

🔸What if I have student loan debt? We have a loan for you! Some loans overlook student loan debt and will not use that as a negative when running your qualification numbers.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! If you have any other questions, or if you want to know what we can do to help with your personal situation call us at 925-584-1640, or Email us at kcross@crossgrouphomes.com

We are excited to help you find your dream home and start saving you money!

 

Posted in Community, Home Buyer
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.

Buying a home? Click here to perform a full home search
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