Latest Event Updates
Often times, when you buy a home, it’s not perfect. Fortunately, the magic of remodeling allows you to craft your current residence or a prospective property into your dream home. However, unless you’re flush with cash, you won’t be able to pay for your renovation project out of pocket. When faced with this dilemma, there are several ways for you to go about getting the funds.
Remodeling a Purchase
FHA 203k mortgages
The FHA 203k loan is backed by the Federal Government and is solely for the purpose of helping those who wish to purchase and renovate a home. There are two different kinds of 203k loans, each geared toward different types of projects.
1. Standard 203k
The standard 203k is for all projects that require professional architectural drawings and inspections. Typically, if the property has any sort of structural damage, or any other problems that make it unlivable, the Standard 203k is the way to go. There is a minimum cost of $5,000, and the project must be completed in six months, although a lender can approve extensions.
2. Streamlined 203k
The streamlined 203k is for less complicated projects that do not require the help of a consultant, architect, engineer, or that will not exceed $35,000. Due to the simpler scope of the task, the loan process is straightforward and will allow you to finish the project in a timely manner.
For both types of 203k loans, the properties will have to meet FHA requirements, including a maximum home value. Fortunately, the FHA’s guidelines are more lenient than those of conventional loans – including more flexible credit, income, and appraisal requirements.
Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs)
If you are planning to make renovations that increase energy-efficiency, the energy improvement mortgage is the way to go. An EIM allows you to add the cost of the energy-efficiency improvements to your mortgage without increasing the down payment. The way the lender sees it, you will be able to use the money saved from utility bills to finance the energy upgrades.
Remodeling Your Current Home
Home Equity Loan
A home equity loan is basically a second mortgage based on the equity in your house. Typically the max you can borrow is 85% of the equity in your home, but it will vary depending on income, credit history, and your home’s market value. So if your home is worth $300,000 and you have a mortgage balance of $200,000, you could potentially get a home equity loan for up to $55,000. The repayment plan is exactly like your first mortgage with monthly payments over a fixed term. As with any mortgage, there will be fees and closing costs.
Home Equity Line of Credit
Not unlike a credit card, with a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) you have a revolving line of credit that you can borrow from—as much as you like—by using a check or card that is connected to your account. If you had $100,000 in equity, as in the previous example, that would be your account’s limit. The difference here is that you only make payments on what you borrow.
With a cash-out refinance, you get a new mortgage with a new rate and term, and you ”cash out” the available equity in your home. Most lenders require at least 15% equity. So to continue with the same example, it would mean a lump sum of $55,000 and a new mortgage for $200,000. Since you’re getting a new mortgage, make sure you factor in closing costs and fees.
No matter what route you go, make sure you take a hard look at your budget. Home remodeling projects almost always take longer and cost more than initial estimates, so having some wiggle room is incredibly important. In the end, if you take your time, shop around, and speak with experienced professionals, there’s no reason your home remodeling project shouldn’t be a success.
Posted by Carter Wessman on HomeZada
Here’s what to do when finding an apartment goes from annoying to criminal.
There’s almost no way around it: Finding an apartment can be stressful. The search, the competition, the upfront money … they’re all reasons most of us try to move as infrequently as possible. (The additional expense and frustrations of moving all of your stuff probably also play a role.) But sometimes the rental process goes from merely aggravating to actually illegal. While the vast majority of rental listings are legitimate, rental scams are out there, and they’re not always easy to spot. “Recently, we’ve been encountering a lot of fraud that doesn’t fit the historical norm,” says David Peters, director of engineering at HotPads, a Zillow Group company that powers Trulia rental listings.
Here are six of the most common rental scams out there, along with suggestions for how to avoid them.
1. Fake credit requests
One common rental scam involves a request for a credit report. Here’s how it works: The scam artist posts a fake apartment listing online and asks to check the credit reports of potential renters using a link they provide. The link redirects to a credit report company that uses a referral program; the scammer can earn up to $18 per credit report request.
The credit report itself may be legit, but the need to obtain it in the first place isn’t, since the apartment listing is bogus. To avoid this scam, don’t release your credit report through a link from a potential landlord; instead, when you’re satisfied a landlord is legit, get your credit report through one of the three credit-reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and have a hard copy available for the landlord when you meet them.
2. Sketchy real estate agent services
Another common rental scam: fake real estate agent services. These services offer to generate a list of preforeclosure or rent-to-own rental properties for clients — appealing because of their lower price points — and then request either a sign-up fee or a monthly fee of up to $200. The list the client receives is usually full of sham real estate listings, either fake or expired, and it’s impossible to get a refund on the sign-up fee. Skip this one by searching rental listings for free on Trulia!
3. Asking for money before you see the apartment
“The most common type of scam we encounter involves convincing a renter to send a deposit, first month’s rent, or application fee before allowing them to see inside a unit or without meeting in person,” says Peters. Imagine: You find a terrific online listing that seems as if it’ll be snatched up immediately, so the request for money upfront may not seem entirely unreasonable. And unlike some scam listings of the past, which might include misspellings or photos stolen from another site, these write-ups seem completely aboveboard. “Fraudsters are constantly adapting to improve their odds of successfully stealing money from renters, so they’re making their fake listings look increasingly legit,” says Peters. Still, there shouldn’t be a cost for admission, so if you’re asked for cash upfront, walk away. “There is never a reason to send money without viewing an apartment or meeting in person,” Peters adds, especially if the request is for a money transfer. This is because it’s basically impossible to stop payment on a wire transfer, unlike a check or credit card payment.
4. A copy-and-pasted ad
Say a legitimate landlord writes up a compelling listing for their newly vacant apartment and posts it online. A scammer can very easily copy and paste the listing but significantly lower the price, which will generate furious interest. Otherwise known as the “clone scam,” this maneuver is especially aimed at someone who’s busy or renting from out of town and is willing to put down money sight unseen.
Another clue will be a request for an unusually high security deposit, since the scammer is seeking to take off with as much money as possible, as fast as possible. “We try hard to make sure you never come across fraudulent listings, but if you come across a scam listing on Trulia, report it to us so we can get better at preventing them,” Peters says. “Click ‘Report this Listing’ on the listing page, and we will review the listing, remove it, and block other related scams. If you’ve been scammed, also contact your local law enforcement and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).”
5. An MIA landlord
The setup: A scam artist finds a property that’s vacant because it’s bank-owned, it’s a vacant vacation home, or maybe it’s even being rented by the scammer, who plans to pull off this scheme several times over. They then insist they’re out of the country, sick, or otherwise detained, but still want first, last, and a security deposit sent over ASAP. “Scammers love to claim that they’re out of the country and will mail you keys once you wire them the first month’s rent,” says Peters. “Don’t do it! Regardless of where they live, a legitimate landlord or property manager will be willing to arrange for someone to meet you and show you inside the unit.”
6. Withholding your deposit
This happens all too often. A landlord behaves fine throughout the duration of your lease. But when the time comes for you to move out, they get cagey about the deposit, saying they’ll mail you a check that never arrives. Or they’ll claim excessive damages require them to keep the security deposit to make the necessary repairs, even though you left the place in great shape. To avoid the latter, be sure to take photos of the place right before you leave (and, ideally, when you’re moving in) to prove you didn’t trash the apartment. If the deposit still hasn’t materialized, send a certified-mail request for its return. If that doesn’t work, you might be looking at small claims court.
Posted by Meaghan Agnew on Trulia
- Number of homes sold and purchase price
- Days on market
- Median purchase price
- Average purchase price
- Statewide sales volume
As you can see, sales are up since this time last year!
Click here to download the full report.
You can find previous market reports at missourirealtor.org.
Boost your home’s sales appeal by adding key amenities and playing up hot features.
When it comes time to sell your home, whether you’ve lived there for three years or 30, you need to see it as a product for sale. And just like an item on a store shelf, you want your home to stand out from the competition.
Of course, your feelings and emotions about your home — and all of the memories you made there — may make it difficult to detach and view your home as a product. But sellers who quickly transition away from the emotional connection and into investment mode will reap the financial benefits many times over. Homes that go into contract quicker and with few (if any) price reductions ultimately sell for more money. And isn’t that every seller’s goal?
What’s on buyers’ wish lists
Homes that sell quickly probably have many of the features today’s buyers find desirable. Smart retailers try to understand better what consumers want, and then deliver to them. Home sellers should do the same.
When you’re preparing to sell your home, consider small renovations, updates, cleaning and even some light staging. I’ve seen sellers make significant upgrades to their home before listing, leaving them to question if they actually want to move.
Today’s buyers look for move-in ready and turn-key homes. The more bells and whistles, the better.
Focus on kitchens and baths
It’s a pretty well-established fact that kitchens and baths sell a home. If your kitchen or bathroom is tired or outdated, consider modest upgrades that pack a punch.
Spending a modest sum can reap incredible benefits — tenfold.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it
Research shows that certain features help sell a home faster. Even if you don’t have time for renovations, you might luck out and already have some of the items on buyers’ wish lists.
Just like companies figure out the next hot car, handbag or shoe for their respective industries, smart home sellers must know their audience and market their product to meet customer demand.
When it comes time to sell, consider your buyer, and try hard to make your home into a top-notch product.
Posted by Brendon Desimone on Zillow