Helpful Ideas for Moving With a Spouse

Hundreds of thousands of Americans pick up and move for job-related reasons every year. When employees decide to relocate for their job, they’re taking a big (and sometimes scary) leap into a new environment. This leap becomes even more complex if they’re married or have a life partner who has to follow without a job in hand.

For the supporting spouse or partner, the decision to move for the other partner’s job can possibly mean leaving family, friends, and maybe a career of your own. But some partners are willing to take the plunge to ensure the happiness of their “better half” in starting over in a new locale.

Most corporations understand the difficulties inherent with family relocation. Many companies use relocation assistance as a recruiting tool to lure coveted prospects to a new town — offering such benefits as a relocation bonus, arranging job interviews for the employee’s spouse or partner, or flying a family back and forth to visit the area.

Even if you have perks at your disposal, there are some things that the supporting spouse will have to adjust to. While the employed spouse is likely wrapped up with trying to adjust to the new job, the supporting spouse will have to handle the issues of finding a home, making new friends and adjusting to life in a new city.

For the supporting spouse, here are a few ideas to consider during the transition:

  • What are your long-term career goals? Take this time to assess where you are in terms of your own career. Do plenty of research online to see what the job market is like in your destination city. You will likely need to build a new social circle in your new environs. When you talk with people, ask for referrals and possible job leads.
  • You may want to try your hand at entrepreneurship and develop a career you can take anywhere. If you have any interest in being a freelancer or starting your own business from home, this would be an ideal time to explore those ideas.
  • Do you have any personal yearnings you’d like to explore? For example, donating time to a nonprofit organization, starting a new hobby, or advancing your education? Such activities are can provide great opportunities to reach out in your community and meet new people.

Article courtesy of Realtor.com

Advertisements

Can Seller Incentives Get Your Home Sold Faster?

While some real estate markets have shifted to a sellers’ market, buyers in some parts of the country still have the upper hand. If you’re selling in a market like that or have an unusual home to sell, you may want to consider offering some incentives to buyers to nudge them to make an offer on your property.

Can Seller Incentives Get Your Home Sold Faster?

Which Incentives Work?

Most Realtors say that the very best incentive to sell your house in any market is to price it fairly and make sure it’s in excellent condition. If for some reason you need to sell your home quickly and don’t have the time or money to make home improvements, you can try to sell it “as is” — but you’ll definitely need to lower your price below the market rate for comparable properties.

Other than pricing, you can also offer financial incentives in the form of closing cost assistance, but how much you can offer depends on the rules of the particular loan program that your buyer is using to finance the purchase.

Some sellers try to attract attention and a contract by offering unusual incentives to buyers. Whether these work isn’t always clear because sometimes the buyers might have opted to purchase the home even without a perk or two.

Creative Seller Incentives

If you’d like to try enticing buyers with incentives, you need to think about your potential buyers. Identify the types of buyers who might be interested in your home: Are you selling a luxury home or a starter home? Are your prospective buyers young professionals, empty nesters or a young family? The incentives you offer should be tied to the interests of your buyers and to the specifics of your home.

Here are few ideas to consider:

  • If you live on or near water, consider including a kayak or jet ski along with the purchase price of your home.
  • Similarly, if your home is located near a prime fishing spot—whether it’s a river, lake or ocean—think about offering fishing equipment to buyers.
  • When you’re selling a vacation home, you might want to offer a gift card for new furniture or buy (and leave with the purchasers) new linens or kitchen supplies.
  •  If you’re selling a condominium or a property located within a homeowners association, consider offering to pay a year’s worth of fees. This would be particularly appealing to first-time buyers who are often concerned about affordability.
  • If you live in a community with a country club, you can also offer to pay for a year’s membership in the club or perhaps the initial fees for your buyers.
  • While you’re not likely to leave behind a beloved family pet, if you’re moving from a home with a lot of land to a smaller property, you could consider offering to leave a dog or even a horse at the home.
  • When the real estate market was particularly slow, some homeowners offered to include their high-end car, such as a Mercedes or BMW or a sports car, in the sale price of the home.

When you’re working with your listing agent on a marketing plan for your home, be sure to discuss the pros and cons of seller incentives. Think about what you might be able to offer that would boost, rather than reduce, your profits when your home sells.

This article was originally published by Michele Lerner on realtor.com. See the original article here.

A Tale of Two Super Bowl Cities

Chances are you know which team you’re rooting for this Sunday, but how do Seattle and Denver stack up off the field? In preparation for Super Bowl XLVIII, here’s a deeper look at real estate — and a few bragging rights — in Seahawks and Broncos territories.

from Zillow

from Zillow

 

Mile High city vs. waterfront living

Denver is known for its elevation a mile above sea level with close proximity to hiking trails and top ski resorts. Seattle, by contrast, is a city surrounded by water. Elliott Bay sits to the west and several lakes in and around the city provide residents an urban lifestyle as well as easy access to boating, hiking and skiing. The popular rom-com, “Sleepless in Seattle” also gave notice to the Emerald City’s fun and funky real estate offering: floating homes. Both cities are known for their charming, livable neighborhoods.

1133 14th St Unit 2630, Denver, CO
For sale: $1.7 million

from Zillow

from Zillow

This luxury condo above Denver’s Four Seasons Hotel affords prime mountain and city views from a private, 373-square-foot balcony. The interior has been outfitted with sleek finishes including a mosaic stone fireplace, standalone sculptured bathtub and maple-wood floors.

2031 Fairview Ave E #P, Seattle, WA
For sale: $775,000

from Zillow

from Zillow

This floating home on Lake Union is the epitome of Seattle waterfront living. The 1,100-square-foot abode has its own rooftop deck and hip garage door that can be swung open for indoor/outdoor entertaining. Best of all, you can canoe or kayak from the front door.
 

Sleeper vs. spite house

Beyond Denver and Seattle’s mountain and water landscapes, the real estate scene in both cities is marked by a few standout properties with their own unique stories.

855 Visionary Trl, Golden, CO
Last sold: $1.529 million

from Zillow

from Zillow

About 30 miles outside of Denver in Golden, CO, is a modern phenomenon that fans of the 1973 film “Sleeper” will immediately recognize. This futuristic home (above) in the Genesee neighborhood was used in the sci-fi comedy starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. While its real estate track record has been mixed — it avoided foreclosure in 2009 but eventually sold at an auction in 2010 — Denver real estate agent Scott Nordby says it remains a standout property with locals calling it “Spaceship Genesee.”

2022 24th Ave E, Seattle, WA
For sale: $384,500

from Zillow

from Zillow

This home wasn’t always a pie-shaped wedge. But its unusual shape and size (15 feet wide) are reminders of the home’s unforgettable roots. The story goes that the man who originally owned the property wanted to sell it to some folks who were building next door, thinking it could expand their property and have use as a garden. However the neighbors thought he was selling out of desperation, so they offered a counter price well below his ask. The man was furious as a result and set out to prove them wrong. He built a new home on the “unbuildable” land and, as a final touch of spite, painted the wall facing the neighbors solid black. The 830-square-foot home hit the Montlake real estate market in October and has been making headlines as the “Spite House” ever since.
 

By the numbers

For a side-by-side comparison of the Denver and Seattle real estate markets, here’s a few stats and fun facts to boost your Broncos or Seahawks pride.

Denver

Seattle

Median home value $253,300 $430,700
Median list price $319,900 $410,000
Population 603,372 611,803
Median age 35 37
Homes with kids 21.8% 18.2%
Avg. commute time (mins) 26 27
Major pro sports teams 5 4
4-year colleges 6 9
Known for… Rocky Mountain oysters, Denver Mint, Coors Beer, mountain views, sun, snow Starbucks Coffee, Salmon, Space Needle, Microsoft, water views, rain

This article was originally published by Catherine Sherman on Zillow Blog. See the original article here

Catherine Sherman, a real estate writer for Zillow Blog, covers real estate news, industry trends and home design. Read more of her work here.

How Rising Mortgage Rates May Impact You

While mortgage rates fluctuate daily and the interest rate you’ll pay on a home loan depends on multiple factors, most mortgage experts anticipate an increase in average mortgage rates by the end of 2014.

How Rising Mortgage Rates May Impact You

Before you panic, it’s important to recognize that mortgage rate predictions don’t always pan out. Actions by the Federal Reserve and the economy’s performance could send mortgage rates up or down at any time. Most economists predict mortgage rates will rise by the end of this year to somewhere between 5.0 percent and 5.5 percent. While of course any rate increase has an impact on your monthly mortgage payments, it’s important to recognize that mortgage rates above 5 percent are still historically low. Before the Federal Reserve began its programs to keep mortgage rates as low as possible in response to the housing and financial crisis, mortgage rates had rarely dropped to 6 percent or lower.

According to HSH.com, a website that tracks mortgage rates, average mortgage rates hovered around 7 percent in 2009, 2004 and 1999. Thirty years ago, mortgage rates averaged nearly 14 percent.

Keeping historical rates in perspective should help people realize that the housing market won’t crash if rates sneak up above 5 percent, but we’ve all become accustomed to rates under that 5 percent threshold so it will take some mental and financial adjustments to accept higher mortgage rates.

Mortgage Rates and Affordability

If you’re in a position to buy your home with cash or can easily afford higher monthly payments, rising mortgage rates shouldn’t impact your decision to buy a home. If, like many people, you’re stretching your budget to buy a home, you may need to consider a few options to handle a higher interest rate.

For example, if you’re buying a home priced at $198,000 (the national median price for a home in December 2013, according to the National Association of REALTORS®) and make a down payment of 10 percent, your loan amount will be $178,200. Your monthly payment with a 30-year fixed-rate loan at 4.5 percent would be $903. If mortgage rates rose to 5.5 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate loan, your monthly payment would be $109 more per month, or $1,012.

While $109 more per month may seem affordable, remember that you also must qualify for the loan with a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent. A higher principal and interest payment on your loan could impact your ability to qualify for a mortgage.

There are some steps you can take to offset a potential increase in interest rates:

  • Buy before mortgage rates rise: If you’re ready to commit to a house and a community and financially prepared to buy, it may be best to make your move earlier in the year.
  • Make a larger down payment: While this isn’t always possible, the larger your down payment, the less you need to borrow and the lower your payments will be. A larger down payment of 20 percent eliminates the need for private mortgage insurance and will also slightly reduce your interest rate because you’ll have a lower loan-to-value.
  • Look for a less expensive home: One of the lessons learned during the housing crisis is the importance of sustainable homeownership. If you’re stretching too far to buy a home, you could end up in a financially unstable position.
  • Continue to rent: Delaying your purchase while you save more money, pay off debt and potentially increase your income will help you afford a home in the future.
  • Look into homebuyer programs: Most states and localities offer homeownership incentive programs — often limited to first-time buyers or to buyers with low or moderate incomes — that provide down payment assistance or low interest loans.

The best way to learn about your options for purchasing a home is to consult a lender who can discuss loan programs that meet your individual circumstances.

This article was originally published by Michele Lerner of Realtor.com. To see the original article, click here.

Super Man Caves for the Super Bowl

Whether you bleed Broncos blue and orange or are a proud 12th Man supporter of the Seahawks, or even if you’re just tuning in for the commercials, we’ve rounded up our annual list of awesome man caves — all ready for Super Bowl XLVIII.

Viewing essentials

The “go big or go home” mantra is taken to heart in this eclectic man cave. Decked out with a bar, pool table, sports memorabilia — and green turf for carpet — this space has all the game-viewing essentials.

Cave dweller

Rustic elegance is the phrase that comes to mind when you step into this lodge’s game room, designed by Locati Architects. Before the big game, you could rustle up something to drink or challenge a friend to pool. As kickoff nears, fans can open two wooden panels over the fireplace to reveal the flat-screen TV.

Game on!

Forget football and start your own competition in this man cave. You can begin by shooting pool or hoops, or try to record a new high score on one of the video games. Sideline concessions will help keep players fueled and hydrated. This Arizona home is on the market for $1.45 million.

Jersey display

What better place to show off sports memorabilia than a room specially prepped for big-game viewing? This home theater, designed by Schill Architecture, has plenty of comfy seating for a Super Bowl gathering.

“Game” room

Blow off some steam after the game in a man cave decorated with antlers and trophies. This rustic space is a part of a home on a private freshwater island. Set near Wilmington, IL, the house is for sale for $695,000.

Ski-in, ski-out

After a day on the slopes, you can catch the the Super Bowl in this contemporary ski chalet. Keep warm in front of the roaring fire or join a few buddies for a poker game during the half-time show.

Big-screen bliss

No distractions here! This room is all about viewing the game in high definition with surround sound. Listed for $3,795,000, this Fort Lauderdale penthouse also includes a cocktail lounge bar and an oceanfront terrace.

This article was originally published by Erika Riggs on Zillow Blog. See it here.

Erika Riggs, a real estate writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties and home design trends. Read more of her work here.

Understanding the Closing Process

Once your offer on a home has been accepted, your inspections are complete and your financing is in order, you’ll likely breathe a sigh of relief and get focused on packing for the move. But before you’re handed the keys to your new home you’ll need to attend the settlement or closing. The more you understand about the closing process, the easier it should be.

Understanding the Closing Process

Preparing for Settlement

If your team of professionals — particularly your REALTOR® and your lender — have been providing you with good service throughout your home search, you should be well-prepared for settlement. Essentially, settlement day involves the formal, legal requirement of transferring ownership from the seller to you.

Settlement regulations vary from one jurisdiction to another, but two aspects of the process are usually the same no matter where you buy a home.

  • Your contract should allow you to schedule a walk-through of the property 24 hours before the closing. At this walk-through, you need to make sure the seller has completely vacated the property (unless you’ve arranged to rent back the property after closing) and that the home is in the condition described in the contract. Look to make sure any required repairs have been made and that items that are contractually supposed to convey to you are in place. If the walk-through reveals any problems, you can delay the closing or ask for money from the seller to address the issues.
  • You have the right to receive the HUD-1 settlement statement for review 24 hours before your closing. Compare the HUD-1 statement to the Good Faith Estimate that your lender provided to make sure they’re similar, and to ask your lender to explain any discrepancies between the two documents.

What You Need at the Closing

Throughout the home search you’ve likely accumulated a lot of paperwork. Bring these documents with you to the closing in case an issue arises and you need to produce one of them, particularly your proof of homeowner’s insurance and your copy of the contract.

Bring your identification and discuss with your lender how you’ll make the down payment and closing costs that aren’t rolled into your loan. You may be able to transfer these funds electronically based on an estimate before the closing, but you could also be required to provide a cashier’s check or certified funds. You should bring your checkbook, too, for the difference between the estimated balance owed and the final amount.

What Happens at the Closing?

As a buyer, you’ll sign a stack of legal documents including paperwork related to your mortgage and paperwork related to the transfer of ownership of the property.

You’ll also pay closing costs and fees and the initially required escrow payments for your homeowner’s insurance and property taxes.

Traditions vary by location, but at closing there’s usually a representative from a title company or an attorney. In some cases, both the seller and buyer will have an attorney present. Typically your REALTOR® will attend your closing and usually the seller’s REALTOR® and the seller will attend as well. Some lenders attend the closing, but others simply provide the loan documents to the title company.

When your closing is finished, you should not only have your keys to your new home, but also a stack of documents that you’ll need for future tax returns and when you eventually sell the property. These documents include your final HUD-1 statement, your Truth-in-Lending statement that outlines your mortgage terms, your mortgage note and your deed of trust.

Congratulations — you’re a homeowner!

This article was originally published by Michele Lerner on realtor.com. See the original article here

5 Interior Painting Mistakes to Avoid

In his role as the “Paint Doctor” for Purdy — longtime makers of handcrafted paint brushes and roller covers — Bruce Schneider fields queries from intrepid do-it-yourselfers on a regular basis. Who better to ask about the most common problems that homeowners encounter in their interior painting projects?

Source: shutterstock.com

No. 1: Choosing inferior applicators

Solution: “To get the job done right, you need good quality tools,” Schneider says. “It always boggles my mind that people are willing to spend $40 or $50 on a gallon of premium paint but decide to go cheap on the applicators. Later, when they see a hair on the wall or lumps of roller lint under the paint, they’ll realize the mistake. Investing in good brushes or rollers up front is worth the extra expense.”

No. 2: Improper preparation

Solution: “It may seem obvious, but you always want to do repair work first so that your walls are smooth, clean, dry and free of loose debris before you begin painting,” Schneider advises.

No. 3: Overextending each dip of the brush or roller

Solution: DIYers often continue applying a dip of paint until the brush or roller becomes dry. The problem? “When you overextend each dip, the paint can dry in the brush bristles, and the fabric on rollers can mat down,” he cautions. “Be sure to always maintain a smooth line of paint. Once the paint appears to break up, it’s time to re-dip.”

Source: shutterstock.com

Source: shutterstock.com

No. 4: Breathing the wrong way

Solution: The way you breathe when painting — especially when cutting in near edges — can affect the steadiness of your hand. “When you need to be precise, hold your breath or breathe out,” Schneider suggests. “Your body moves more when you’re breathing in.”

No. 5: Letting touch-up paint dry out

Solution: To extend the life of your leftover paint, try these tricks. “For water-based paint, place a piece of clear plastic wrap directly on the surface of the paint, then reseal the container,” Schneider offers. “For oil-based paint, add about a half-inch of water on the surface before resealing.”

This article was originally published by Marie Proeller Hueston of Bobvila.com on Zillow Blog. See the original article here.

Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.