Monday, May 4, 2015

Carpe Diem- Thought leadership & May Real Estate Newsletter from your trusted advisor

May 2015
Carpe Diem!
My motto in life and business.
2014 Berkshire Hathaway President Circle-Top 4% in nation
Specializing in residential and commercial properties of distinction in Chicago and St. Pete/Sarasota
Ron Goldstein   |   Luxury Broker Associate   |   3127717190
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What to Look for during the
Initial Walkthrough!
There’s nothing worse than finding a great home only to find it’s a money pit waiting to happen. No house is as perfect as it may appear, and sellers won’t always disclose everything that’s wrong. With an inspection and due diligence on the part of you and your agent, you can discover most potential problems:
Look around the neighborhood: Are there many homes for sale? Are local stores and restaurants closing? If people are looking to leave the neighborhood, there’s a reason why.
Pay close attention to the exterior: Extra layers of roofing, boards near walls, plants growing out of the gutters or cracks in the pavement can indicate that not much care went into maintaining the property.
Look at the yard grading: If it slopes toward the house, it could cause a serious water problem with water running down the foundation walls or into the basement. Scour the foundation for damage as bulges and cracks bigger than one-third inch can mean the house has serious structural issues.
Use your eyes and nose: The smell of sewage, gas or unpleasant odors could be caused by serious issues. Hire a plumbing company to send a camera through the pipes to determine if there are blockages or breaks.
Check the electrical: Flip light switches. inspect the fuse box. If things appear ancient, it can be costly once you move in.
Keep a lookout for insects: Bugs, ants and traps could be a sign that there’s a problem.
With a little detective work, you can save a lot of time and money to make sure things are good enough to become your home.
Five Tips for Spring Cleaning
Spring is here and for those selling their home, there’s nothing more beneficial than doing a great spring cleaning job. It will not only make your home look great, but it can get rid of clutter that could distract potential buyers.
Here are five spring cleaning tips that will help you sell your home:
  1. Mow the lawn, pick up leaves and trim the hedges. Buy some colorful flowers and spread fresh mulch in flowerbeds. Fill in bare spots on your lawn. Clean gutters, wash the welcome mat and put away tools.
  2. Clean windows bring more light into a room and allows buyers the chance to see the view from their potential new home. Include all sliding glass doors, garage windows and outside doors.
  3. Inspect each room for things such as holes in the wall, outlets that are missing a cover or doorknobs that are loose and squeaky. Check caulking around sinks, faucets and tubs, as well as grout in counters or bathtubs.
  4. Power washers are easily rented from a home improvement store and they can remove layers of grime from stone, porch, deck and fencing.
  5. Go through closets and bag clothes that don’t fit, are out-of-style or you don’t wear anymore and donate them to charity. Take your old books, toys and knickknacks and hold a garage sale. A de-cluttered home is always more attractive to the homebuyer.
Your mortgage:
Pay attention to the points.
In terms of your mortgage, a point is an additional loan fee that is paid to the lender in exchange for a lower interest rate. It’s called “buying down,” and it allows you to reduce your rate for the life of the loan.
Let’s say you secured a mortgage loan for $500,000 without points, at 4.6% on a 30-year mortgage, your payment would be approximately $2,560 a month. If you paid two points ($10,000), the interest rate would go down to 4.1% and the monthly payment would decrease to around $2,415, a savings of $145 a month.
It would take you about eight years to recoup the money you paid up front. If you are planning on staying in your home a while, this will save you money in the long-run. Before deciding, ask yourself:
  • How long will I keep the home?
  • Do I have extra money to pay points?
  • Could that money be better used for something else?
Some may suggest that a smarter option is to invest that $10,000 because you could do much better than your $140 savings, but you have to weigh the variables.*
Here are three simple rules of thumb in determining your particular course of action:
  • If you plan to stay in the house for less than three years, do not pay points
  • If you plan to stay in the house for more than five years, pay 1 to 2 points
  • If you’ll be in the house for three to five years, paying points doesn’t make a significant difference
Since points are interest-payment related, they may be deductible on your taxes in the year that you close. See your tax advisor for details.
Mortgage points can add up to valuable savings over the course of your loan, but the future isn’t always predictable. Even if you “plan” on staying in your home for 20 years, changes in your career or family life could alter that plan.
* The above example is for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to check with your financial or tax advisor regarding your particular situation.
There’s an Emotional Side to Downsizing your Home
People downsize for a variety of reasons, from the “empty nest” syndrome, to convenience or hardship. Here are a few things to consider as you contemplate moving to a smaller home:
Emotional ties: These are among the main barriers to downsizing. Equally, deciding on where to move, and what style will best suit, can be just as daunting.
Detaching those ties: During the downsizing process you may be surprised at how attached you have become to your possessions and how difficult it might seem to part with them. Start getting rid of items a few months before moving. Donate, recycle, put items on e-Bay or give away those items you don’t need. Your move will be much easier with less clutter.
Do some planning: Decorators recommend sketching floor plans for your new home to see where all your current furniture will fit. Don’t wait until you move to discover there’s no room for that armoire.
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