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Displaying blog entries 11-19 of 19

Lower Anxieties/Improve Marketability

by John Riggins

Lower Anxieties/Improve Marketability

Home inspection.jpgOne of the anxiety highpoints during the sale of a home is waiting for the buyer’s home inspection report.  Most sellers willingly disclose what they know about their home to any potential buyers.  The concern stems from the inspector finding something that they’re totally unaware of and that it will either cost them a lot of money to correct or the buyer will simply use it to void the contract.

If the inspection does reveal some unknown problem with the home, it’s probably as big a surprise to the buyer who is not as emotionally or financially invested as the seller.  It is human nature to fear what you don’t understand and when a report identifies defects, they may simply opt-out of the home.

The solution to the situation may be for the seller to have the home inspected prior to putting it on the market.  There is still a risk of becoming surprised by an unknown defect which at that point, would have to be disclosed to potential buyers or repaired by the seller.  The advantage is that it creates a baseline to compare discrepancies that may arise when a future buyer has the home inspected.

If the seller’s inspection report is made available during the marketing process, it could give buyers a sense of confidence about the home even though they may still choose to have the home checked by their own inspector.

The cost of the inspection, possibly $500, keeps some sellers from taking this initiative when selling their home.  In an effort to minimize their expenses, they forego getting valuable, disinterested 3rd party advice that could help sell their home.  On a $175,000 home, the fee for the inspection will probably be less than 3/10 of one percent of the sales price.

Another option to the seller to increase marketability of the property and bolster buyer confidence in the home would be to offer a home protection plan.  Generally, the seller doesn’t incur cost for this coverage until the home is sold and there may even be some coverage for the seller during the listing period.  The benefit to the buyer is avoiding unanticipated expenses for specific items that are covered during their first year of ownership.

Contact me for recommendations of home inspectors or home protection plans.

Equity Dynamics

by John Riggins

Equity Dynamics

Equity small.pngEquity is the difference in what your home is worth and what you owe. Ideally, as the value goes up and the unpaid balance goes down with each amortized payment made, the equity grows from two directions.

This dynamic leads to increasing a person’s net worth much faster than many other investments.

A homeowner has minimal control over value. It is necessary to maintain the property to avoid depreciation and make good decisions on capital improvements. After that, appreciation is generally controlled by supply and demand and the economy.

Mortgage management is something that the homeowner does have control. Making the decision to select a shorter term mortgage at a lower interest rate can have an impact on equity build-up. Lower interest rates amortize faster than higher interest rates which will also affect equity growth. Currently, it is possible to get a 1% lower rate on a 15 year mortgage than a 30 year mortgage.

Compare two alternatives of a 30-year and a 15-year mortgage. The payments will definitely be higher on the shorter term because it pays off quicker. However, if a person can afford the higher payments of $362.53 more per month in this example, the equity will be greater. Even after you take into consideration the higher payments, the increased equity is $17,236 at the end of the seven year holding period.

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Another decision that can affect equity build-up is making additional principal contributions along with the regular payments. Whether you’re making an occasional lump sum payment toward principal or regular monthly contributions, it will save interest, build equity and shorten the term on a fixed rate mortgage. Estimate your personal savings with this Equity Accelerator.

Government Shutdown

by John Riggins

If you are in the process of purchasing your home and are worried about the government shutdown, recent news from Freddie Mac may have you sleeping a little better.

The announcement, effective October 8, 2013, allows lenders to use signed federal tax returns as income verification rather than a tax transcript for loans, loan modifications, and certain other home loan programs.

Asking lenders nationwide to “minimize disruptions” in a recent bulletin about the shutdown, Dave Lowman, Executive Vice President, of Single-Family Business at Freddie Mac said, "We're issuing this guidance to help ensure the continued smooth operation of the mortgage market during the temporary shutdown of the federal government.”

“Today's bulletin [issued October 7, 2013] is intended to give lenders the certainty to continue approving and delivering new mortgages that meet Freddie Mac guidelines to eligible borrowers, such as federal employees and contractors, during the temporary shutdown,” he explained. This news should comfort many potential homeowners affected by the government shutdown, in public and private employment, who temporarily find themselves without an income.

Lowman also reiterated the presence of forbearance provisions, which can be made available for a time period of three to twelve months to qualifying borrowers. “We are also reminding servicers of our forbearance options to assist qualified homeowners with Freddie Mac mortgages,” he added, “to minimize the shutdown's impact on our nation's families and communities."

Find out more about how the temporary government shutdown may affect your home ownership by clicking here.

The Rules

by John Riggins

The Rules

rules3.pngThe profit potential in single family homes for investment has been a consistently good long-term investment. They offer investors the opportunity of high loan-to-value mortgages at fixed interest rates for 30 years on appreciating assets, tax advantages and reasonable control that other investments don’t offer.

Last year, Warren Buffett said that if he had a way of buying a couple hundred thousand single-family homes, he would load up on them. Blackstone group L.P. (BX) has now purchased over 30,000 homes and American Homes 4 Rent (AMH) has more than 19,000 for rental purposes.

Individual investors actually have an advantage over the institutional investor but if they are not familiar with rental real estate, some basic rules could be very helpful.

1. Invest now to get more in the future. 
    Whether it is time, effort or money, the prudent investor is willing to forego immediate gratification for something more at a later date.

2. Real estate is an IDEAL investment. 
    IDEAL is an acronym that stands for income, depreciation, equity build-up, appreciation and leverage.

3. Invest in single family homes in predominantly owner-occupied neighborhoods at or below average price range. 
    This strategy should involve homes that will increase in value, rent well and appeal to an owner-occupant in the future who will pay a higher price than an investor.

4. Location, location, location. 
    The same homes in different areas will not behave the same. You can improve the condition, modify the terms or adjust the price but the location can’t be changed.

5. Understand your strategy – buy and sell, buy and hold or buy, rent and hold. 
    These three distinct strategies involve big differences in acquisition, management and taxation.

6. Know where your profit is coming from before you invest. 
    The four contributors to profit are cash flow, appreciation, amortization and tax savings. They don’t contribute equally or the same in all investments.

7. Profit starts with purchase. 
    Buying the property below market value builds profit into the investment initially.

8. Risk is directly proportionate to the reward involved. 
    An investment that has a high degree of upside also will have considerable downside possible.

9. Avoid functional obsolescence unless you have a plan before you buy. 
    The lack of usefulness or desirability of a home that exists when you buy it will still be there when you sell it. Unless it can be cured, it will affect future profit.

10. Good property + good tenant + good management = great investment. 
These are three solid components for a successful investment.

11. Problems left unresolved have a tendency to get worse. 
    It is generally cheaper in time or money to fix a problem earlier rather than later.

If you’d like more information about the opportunities in our market, contact me.

 

Find the "Right" Agent Before the "Right" Home

by John Riggins

Find the "Right" Agent Before the "Right" Home

What Buyers Want.pngIt’s a common practice for buyers to make a list of what they want in a home during the search process and to explain it to their agent. However, maybe the first list they should make would have the skills they want their agent to have.

The Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers identifies what buyers want most from their agents and as you’d expect, help with finding the right home was ranked highest most often. While it is important, it may not be the most unique of the desired area of expertise.

Equally essential to the success of the transaction are the combination of help with price and terms negotiations and assistance with the paperwork, comparable sales, qualifying and financing.

To summarize the responses in the survey, Buyers want help from their agents with two things: to find the right home and to get it at the right price and terms. Some agents are actually better equipped with tools and acquired knowledge to assist buyers with financial advice and negotiations.

Since an owner’s cost of housing is dependent on the price paid for the home and financing, a real estate professional skilled in these specialized areas can be invaluable in finding the “right” home. An agent’s experience and connections to allied professionals and service providers is irreplaceable.

Ask the agent representing you to specifically list the tools and talent they have to address these areas.

A Home is More Than an Address

by John Riggins

iStock_000006174018XSmall.jpgA Home is More Than an Address

A home is a place to call your own, raise your family, share with your friends and feel safe and secure. It is also one of the largest investments most people have.

Leverage is the ability to control a larger asset with a smaller amount of cash through the use of borrowed funds. It has been described as using other people’s money to increase your yield and it applies to homeowners and investors alike. Positive leverage causes the yield to increase as the loan-to-value increases. 

Even a modest amount of appreciation combined with the amortization of a loan can cause a substantial rate of return on the down payment and closing costs.

Homes build equity as the price goes up due to appreciation and the unpaid balance goes down due to amortization. 

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The example above indicates the yield on a home considering 3% acquisition costs on the home with a 4.5% mortgage rate and the resulting equity at the end of five years. The different down payments will affect the yield based on the leverage effect. 

Whether you rent or buy the home you live in, you pay for what you occupy. The question a person is faced with is whether they are going to buy it for themselves or their landlord. Take a look at the cost of Renting vs. Owning.

Your Deduction....Your Choice

by John Riggins

 

Your Deduction...Your Choice

Taxpayers are allowed to decide each year whether to take the standard deduction or to itemize their deduction when filing their personal income tax returns.  Roughly, 75% of households with more than $75,000 income and most homeowners itemize their deductions.

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The 2012 standard deduction, available to all taxpayers, regardless of whether they own a home, is $11,900 for married filing jointly and $5,950 for single taxpayers.

Let's look at an example of a homeowner couple with a $150,000 mortgage at 3.5%.  The standard deduction would give them $2,650 more than the total of their interest paid and property taxes of approximately $9,250.  If they were in the 28% tax bracket, the actual tax savings would be $742.00.

When mortgage rates were considerably higher, many people expected the interest and property taxes to easily exceed the standard deduction but with today's low rates, a comparison is certainly justified.

There are other things that could come into consideration like charitable contributions, medical expenses and casualty losses.  Tax professionals will compare available alternatives to find the one that will benefit the taxpayer most.

For more information, see www.IRS.gov and consult a tax advisor.

Low Inventories indicate a Trend

by John Riggins

 

Low Inventories Indicate a Trend

Low inventory is a relative term depending on how you're comparing it.  Would the comparison be to total number of homes on the market last year, homes in a certain price range or homes in a certain area?  In some situations, it's a combination of all of those things.

In any given market, inventories will fluctuate based on area and price range.  The National Association of REALTORS® considers a balanced market to be six months' supply of homes.  If it takes longer than six months to sell, it is thought to be a buyer's market and less than six months, a seller's market.  Most buyers and sellers probably feel inventory equilibrium is more like three month's supply of homes.

Inventory has a direct impact on price.  During the housing bubble, demand decreased, supply ballooned to four million houses and prices dropped dramatically.  Increased inventories due to foreclosures, bank' revised lending practices and builder's lack of new housing starts each contributed to the dramatically lower prices.

As the market has recovered, economic conditions have improved, banks have loosened their requirements, interest rates have remained low, foreclosures have slowed and gradually, the inventory has been reduced to approximately two million houses.  When demand is constant but inventory is reduced, price tends to increase because the same number of people are trying to buy a smaller than normal number of homes.

Based on the low mortgage rates that have been inching up each week in 2013 and an improving consumer confidence level, most markets are experiencing some increase in demand.  With inventory decreasing, buyers in the marketplace can see that prices are increasing.

Just as signs of spring can be seen to be just around the corner, it should be recognized what direction prices will be moving.  Hindsight is 20/20 but we can't purchase or sell in the past.  We need to make decisions today on what we think will happen in the future.

If you're curious to know what inventory conditions are for your specific market, send me an email with the price range and area and I'll send you a report.  John@JohnRiggins.com

Selecting the Right Color

by John Riggins

 

Selecting the Right Color

Have you ever picked a color from the myriad of paint samples available, put it on the wall and decided that it was all wrong? It shouldn't have to be that difficult but trying to pick the perfect color from those little swatches is just not that easy.

Painters and decorators suggest you buy a small amount of the colors you're considering. Your paint store should be able to mix them in any brand and any color. Once it's on the wall, it will be easy to determine if it needs to be lighter or darker or if it's completely wrong.

Take them home and paint a 2' x 2' area on the wall. If you're concerned about testing the colors on your wall, you can paint some sample boards that can be easily moved around to see how they'll look with the furniture, floors and other items in the room.

Instead of guessing what it's going to look like, you'll actually see how it looks during different times of the day, in natural and artificial light.

While $30 to $40 a gallon for paint may seem like a lot of money, the cost in time and labor to put it on the wall is even more. It's worth taking the time to test the color on the wall before you buy all the paint needed

Displaying blog entries 11-19 of 19

Contact Information

Photo of John Riggins REALTOR RB11175 Real Estate
John Riggins REALTOR RB11175
John Riggins Real Estate
1003 Bishop Street, suite 2700
Honolulu HI 96813
808.523.7653
808.341.0737
Fax: 888.369.3210