9 Pools That Will Make You Wish Every Week Were Shark Week

Bust out your swim fins and sunblock. It’s time to take a dip.

We’re all bummed that Michael Phelps didn’t race a real shark. Instead of heading to the beach, we’ll console ourselves during the non-viewing hours of Shark Week by splashing around somewhere we know it’s safe to go in the water: a cool and refreshing backyard pool.

Check out these nine gorgeous swimming pools — any of which would be perfect for reenacting your favorite scenes from “Jaws,” “Deep Blue Sea,” or even “Sharknado.”

This San Juan Capistrano, CA pool, complete with diving board and slide, appears as though it were naturally formed into the stone.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Sleek and modern with clean lines, this pool looks like the perfect place for a romantic midnight swim.

Photo courtesy of Sprecht Architects.

The high temperatures of Palm Springs, CA are no match for this ultra-stylish pool with a water feature and views of the mountains.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Surrounded by beautiful stonework, this pool in Malibu, CA has more than enough room to host friends and family for a summer pool party.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Seamlessly blending into its tropical surroundings, this infinity pool in Longboat Key, FL offers a luxurious place to relax at the end of a long day.

Photo from Zillow listing.

In Kiawah Island, SC, the natural surroundings create a lush background for doing a few laps on those hot summer days.

Photo from Zillow listing.

This Santa Rosa Beach, FL pool boasts its own built-in hot tub for ultimate relaxation.

Photo from Zillow listing.

What could be better than your own lagoon complete with slide and waterfall? This pool in Vero Beach, FL has it all.

Photo from Zillow listing.

With a classic shape and design, this Seattle, WA pool provides plenty of space to soak in the summer sun.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Posted by Jamie Birdwell Branson on Zillow

10 Waterfront Homes Under $300,000

From quaint beach cottages to lake houses with views from every room, these homes are appealing and affordable.

Finding a budget-friendly house on the water might be easier than you think. We found listings across the country that are easy on the eye and the wallet.

Whether you’re ready to land a waterfront home or just daydream, check out these 10 homes under $300,000.

Tahoe Vista, CA

6750 N Lake Blvd #10F, Tahoe Vista, CA

For sale: $225,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Overlooking gorgeous Lake Tahoe, this 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom lakefront home is available for shared ownership, giving you 6 weeks here per year. In addition to a lakefront pool, fire pit and BBQ, the Tonopalo community offers access to a luxurious spa, workout facility, sandy beach, sail boats, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and more.

See more Tahoe Vista homes for sale.

Myrtle Beach, SC

813 Golden Willow Ct, Myrtle Beach, SC
For sale: $224,500

Photo from Zillow listing.

Perfect for family fun in the sun, this spacious lakefront home has top-rated schools nearby, according to GreatSchools.org. The 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom interior includes an office and dining room, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and a breakfast nook overlooking the lake.

See more homes for sale in Myrtle Beach.

Bellingham, WA

0 Eliza Island LOT 65, Bellingham, WA
For sale: $267,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Located on Eliza Island in breathtaking Bellingham Bay, this high-bank waterfront home has sweeping mountain, sound and bay views. Custom built with an open floor plan, vaulted ceilings, a large loft and spiral stairway, this home is stunning inside and out.

See more Bellingham homes for sale.

Darlington, MD

4400 Bryce Ln #273118, Darlington, MD
For sale: $198,450

Photo from Zillow listing.

Perched atop Broad Creek, this 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom home brings posh style to a rustic retreat. In addition to having waterfront dock access, the house includes a master suite, spacious front and back decks, and a family room perfect for entertaining.

See more Darlington homes for sale.

Sodus, NY

5537 Centenary Shrs, Sodus, NY
For sale: $157,500

Photo from Zillow listing.

Overlooking serene Lake Ontario, this 528-square-foot cottage has a spacious deck and beachfront perfect for paddling out with kayaks. The interior features an oak kitchen, fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the water.

See more listings in Sodus.

Saint Germain, WI

1583 Pine Valley Rd, St. Germain, WI
For sale: $129,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

This 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom lakefront cabin offers access to all that Little Saint Germain Lake has to offer, including 13 miles of shoreline and numerous bays and islands to explore. The property spans 8 acres with a fire pit, playground and recreation room.

See more homes for sale in Saint Germain.

Golden, MO

25391 Farm Road 2265, Golden, MO
For sale: $188,950

Photo from Zillow listing.

Situated on half an acre, this newly remodeled lakefront home has plenty of indoor and outdoor space to entertain. In addition to nicely landscaped grounds and multiple decks, its interior has vaulted pine ceilings and a modern kitchen.

See more homes for sale in Golden.

Rockwood, TN

272 Pin Oak Dr, Rockwood, TN
For sale: $275,000

Photo from Zillow listing.

Boasting panoramic views of Watts Bar Lake, this 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom property has abundant outdoor space to enjoy the scenery, including three decks with hammocks and a hot tub. Every bedroom and living area overlooks the lakefront, which is outfitted with a large covered dock and electric boat lift.

See more homes for sale in Rockwood.

Reed City, MI

9011 Lake Dr, Reed City, MI
For sale: $155,000

Photo from Zillow listing

Sporting a private sandy beach on beautiful Todd Lake, this 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom home has been updated with granite countertops and a custom wrap-around deck with sweeping lake views. Close to fishing, trails and other lakes, this home is ideal for an outdoor enthusiast.

See more listings in Reed City.

Bay Saint Louis, MS

10250 Bayou View Dr E, Bay Saint Louis, MS
For sale: $159,900

Photo from Zillow listing.

Built on an acre of land, this 1-bedroom, 1-bathroom tiny home packs a lot outside its small frame. With 200 feet of Breaths Bayou waterfront, this home is outfitted with a powered boat launch and RV pad. It’s surrounded by mature trees, including queen palms, oak and cedar.

See more listings in Bay Saint Louis.

Lead photo from Zillow listing.

 

Posted by Sharona Ott on Zillow

 

3 Questions to Ask Before You Buy Your Dream Home

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place? 

This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

For example, a survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say, “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”

This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in May (the latest data available) was $252,800, which is up 5.8% from last year. This increase also marks the 63rd consecutive month with year-over-year gains.

If we look at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 5.3% over the next twelve months. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait until next year to buy it.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, with prices increasing each month, it might cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy. 

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), NAR, and Fannie Mae have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:

Bottom Line

Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.

 

Posted by The KCM Crew

Home Buying Myths Slayed [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are still below historic numbers.
  • 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!
  • The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

Posted by The KCM Crew

The 5 Greatest Benefits of Homeownership

Recently, Freddie Mac reported on the benefits of homeownership. According to their report, here are the five benefits that “should be at the top of everyone’s list.”

  1. Homeownership can help you build equity over time.
  2. Your monthly payments will remain stable.
  3. You may have some tax benefits.
  4. You can take pride in ownership.
  5. Homeownership improves your community.

Let’s expand on each of Freddie Mac’s points:

Homeownership can help you build equity over time.

Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).

In a Forbes article, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun reported that now the net worth gap is 45 times greater.

Your monthly payments will remain stable.

When you purchase a home with a fixed rate mortgage, the majority of the payment (principle and interest) remain constant. On the other hand, rents continue to skyrocket. Your housing expense is much more stable if you own instead of rent.

You may have some tax benefits.

According to the Tax Policy Center’s Briefing Book -“A citizen’s guide to the fascinating (though often complex) elements of the federal Tax System” – there are several tax advantages to homeownership.

Here are four items from the Briefing Book:

  • Mortgage Interest Deduction
  • Property Tax Deduction
  • Imputed Rent
  • Profits from Home Sale

You can take pride in ownership.

Most surveys show that a major factor in purchasing a home is the freedom you have to design the home the way you want. From paint colors to yard accessories, you don’t need a landlord’s permission to make the house feel like a home.

Homeownership improves your community.

The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study explained:

“Homeownership does create social capital and provide residents with a platform from which to connect and interact with neighbors…Owning a home means owning part of a neighborhood, and a homeowner’s feelings of commitment to the home can arouse feelings of commitment to the neighborhood, which, in turn, can produce interactions with neighbors.”

Bottom Line

There are many benefits to homeownership. That is why it is still a critical piece of the American Dream.

Posted by The KCM Crew

5 Reasons Why You Should Not For Sale By Owner!

In today’s market, with home prices rising and a lack of inventory, some homeowners may consider trying to sell their homes on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons why this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers.

Here are the top five reasons:

1. Exposure to Prospective Buyers 

Recent studies have shown that 94% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 16% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

2. Results Come from the Internet

Where did buyers find the homes they actually purchased?

  • 51% on the internet
  • 34% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 8% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspapers

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

3. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With 

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale by Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

4. FSBOing Has Become More And More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years. 

The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.

5. You Net More Money When Using an Agent 

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $185,000, while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $245,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $60,000 more for your home, as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, let’s get together and discuss the options available in your market today.

Posted by The KCM Crew

How Long Does It Take to Buy a House? Use This Handy Timeline to Plan Ahead

inxti/iStock

How long does it take to buy a house? It’s a big question, especially for people who hope to time their home purchase with when their rental lease is up. Or before the start of school. Or when you’re closing on the sale of your old home. Or any number of other time-sensitive situations you’re trying to manage. While timing a home purchase is tricky and will vary based on a variety of factors, many experts estimate that you should expect the home-buying process to take a minimum of four months.

Talk about a long slog, eh? Yet there are good reasons why buying a home is no impulse purchase. To help illuminate what’s going on, here’s a rundown of the various stages you’ll encounter to help you time your house hunt just right.

Stage 1: Getting mortgage pre-approval

Your first step shouldn’t be toward all those exciting open houses; it should be to a lender, presuming you need a mortgage to make your home-buying dreams happen.

“You’ll want to speak to a mortgage broker to start the loan process early so there are no surprises,” says Realtor® Beverley Hourlier with Hilltop Chateau Realty, in San Diego.

There are a couple of reasons for this: One, unless you’re really organized, it will take you a while to gather all the documents you need to show your lender, including pay stubs and tax forms. Two, if the lender finds out that your finances are less than ideal for homeownership—because of, for instance, a poor credit score—it can take months to clean up your finances so you’re in better standing.

If your finances are in good shape, you can get pre-approval, which is a guarantee that the bank will lend you a certain amount of money. Having this guarantee in hand is a major asset when home shopping, because it shows sellers that you can afford their home and mean business.

If your financial circumstances don’t change much by the time you close the deal, you can ask a lender to extend that promise for an additional 90 to 120 days or longer; you can also lock in a great interest rate so it doesn’t rise by the time you’re actually buying a home.

Stage 2: Finding the right home

While looking at real estate listings online is fun and easy, things slow down once you get to the point where you’re visiting houses in person. After all, you can’t just pop in whenever you want; you can visit only during an open house (often only on the weekends), or schedule individual appointments at times that work for the seller.

So in the same way you have to kiss a lot of frogs before finding a prince, you’ll likely need to see a lot of homes before you find one you love. On average, people see 10 houses before they make an offer, but that number can be much higher.

According to Realtor® Melanie Atkinson with Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, in Tampa, FL, “The last thing you want is to feel rushed or make a decision in haste that you will later regret.”

Stage 3: Closing the deal

Once you’ve found the right house and made an offer that’s been accepted (which can typically happen in a few days), the waiting game really begins. On average, it takes around 50 days to close on a loan, from the time lenders pre-approve your mortgage application to the day you sign all the documents and get the keys.

Can you see now why getting pre-approval early is so important? In fact, securing financing is the most common holdup in buying a house. Even with a pre-approval, it can still take 30 days for the lender to do its due diligence by conducting a home appraisal to make sure it’s a good investment (since after all, the lender’s money is on the line).

Meanwhile, it will also take time for you to do your own due diligence to make sure the home isn’t hiding some glaring flaw you’ll regret inheriting. You can do this by checking the sellers’ property disclosure statements for any problems they’re aware of, and also hiring a home inspector to check out the house from top to bottom for any problems. All of this takes time.

Bottom line: As much as people complain about how long the home-buying process takes, it’s all in the interests of making sure you’re happy once you move in. So when in doubt, start now! If you’re worried you’ll find your dream house too soon, there are ways to negotiate with a seller so that it all works out.

Posted by Cathie Ericson on realtor.com