Home buyers have many choices to make when purchasing a home and one of those choices has to do with the length of the loan. There are pros and cons to both the 15-year mortgage and the 30-year mortgage and the answer may not necessarily mean that one is “better” than the other; it simply depends on what the home buyer’s needs are.
The 15-Year Mortgage
If you choose the 15-year mortgage, your monthly payments may be higher than a 30-year loan would be, but your interest rate will be lower. Additionally, by going with the shorter loan, you will build equity faster than if you went with the longer loan. You pay a little more monthly, but you have a lower interest rate; build equity faster, and own your home in 15 years.
The 30-Year Mortgage
Many people that opt to take advantage of the 30-year mortgage do so because the monthly payments are lower, and thus, more affordable. This allows home buyers to choose homes in a higher price range than they could afford if they went with the 15-year loan. Though monthly payments may be lower, the interest rate on 30-year mortgages are higher, so in the long run, you end up paying a considerable amount of money back in interest as opposed to the shorter loan.
Which One Is Right For You?
The loan you decide to take advantage of depends on your financial picture at present, as well as your goals regarding long-term wealth. If you can adequately pay the higher monthly amount for the 15-year loan with no financial stress ensuing, then this would be your best option because the interest rate is lower and you own your home in 15 years.
If your current financial picture does not leave you with a lot of money at the end of the month, it is probably better to go with the lower monthly payments of the 30-year loan. You will end up paying a lot more interest in the end, but you will be able to comfortably afford your new home.
There are pros and cons to both home loans, so consider the varying factors before making a decision. You can discuss the matter further with a mortgage loan professional or your real estate agent.
Call Sonja today to discuss your real estate needs at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com to schedule an appointment.
Most people will end up buying relatively few houses during their lifetime, which means it’s hard to accumulate a lot of real estate experience. However, buying a Mammoth Lakes home can be simplified if you focus on treating your purchase like any other investment. Instead of relying on how a house makes you feel, evaluate it as you would a stock purchase.
5 key things to consider before purchasing property:
- Accurately evaluate your needs. Make sure you have a good understanding of both your current and your anticipated future needs. For instance, if your kids are all heading off to college in the next three years, you may not really need the large five-bedroom house you’ve been looking at. The key is, to be honest and realistic.
- Don’t fall in love. Obviously, you want to enjoy living in your house, but don’t get emotional about things you could easily add to a less expensive [city] home make you rush into a foolish investment. If the house is what you need and priced appropriately, then go for it.
- Know your comparables. The biggest mistake you can make is overpaying. Arriving at an exact price can be difficult. Even professional appraisers can arrive at vastly different valuations. However, carefully looking at the area’s recent sales can let you know if you are at least in the right ballpark.
- Be honest with repair and renovation costs. What happens if you find what appears to be a great deal until the inspection comes back with a laundry list of necessary repairs. A lot of buyers may run away, but it could still be a great deal. The only way to know for certain is to get a bid from a professional.
- Do your homework. If you like a property, make sure it’s in good condition and are comfortable with the price, seal the deal. It’s a lot of money to spend, but doing all of your research can make it a lot easier to reach a decision and move forward.
For more tips on purchasing a Mammoth Lakes home like an investor, please call me at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
More than 77 percent of people own a smartphone.1 The average person checks their smartphone 46 times a day, with people under the age of 24 checking it an average of 74 times a day.1 We check it while we’re waiting in line and during our leisure time, whether we’re scrolling through social media, reading emails or getting up-to-date on the latest news.
Smartphones are not only a useful tool for communication. With the following apps, you can get organized (whether you plan to buy or sell), save money, learn about the homes in your neighborhood and get inspired for your next renovation project. If you’re like 81 percent of people, you have your smartphone with you during most of your waking hours; let it help you stay organized and make your life easier.3
Apps For Homeowners: Get Renovation Inspiration
These apps not only offer ideas for your next remodel or home décor project, some of them even give you a preview of what your home may look like once it’s finished.
1.) Houzz (Free)
The Houzz app is the number one app for home design and it’s no wonder; the app gives you access to all the inspiration, blogs and design ideas from the Houzz site on your phone or tablet. The app features View in My Room 3D, which allows you to view products in your home before you buy. Just take a photo of the space and a 3D version of the product will appear. Browse products, save photos of designs you’d like to view later and connect with local professionals in your area. Whether you’re gathering ideas for your next renovation and décor project or you’re just browsing, the Houzz app will satisfy all your design needs. (Android, iOS)
2.) iHandy Carpenter ($1.99)
Make sure the photos, shelves, mirrors and other artwork you hang are even and aligned with this helpful app. It’s an all-in-one tool kit that features a plumb bob, surface level, bubble level bar, ruler and protractor. No need to purchase these tools separately; just hold your smartphone up to the wall and the app will take care of the rest. (iOS, Android)
3.) Color911 ($3.99)
If you’re thinking of changing the color scheme of your home or want to find the right shades for lamp shades, rugs or throw pillows to match your vintage sofa, the Color911 app provides pre-selected color palettes to match any color scheme. Take a photo of the room or the furniture and the app will create a custom palette full of complementary colors. Write notes about your palette and organize it all into folders to share with family, friends or your design professional. (iOS)
Bonus Apps for Homeowners:
Hungry and looking for a local hotspot? Meeting friends at a coffee shop nearby? Or just need to find the closest ATM? AroundMe allows you to search for the nearest restaurants, banks, gas stations, book a hotel or find a movie schedule close to where you live. Open the app and start learning more about your neighborhood. (iOS, Android, Windows)
From keeping things clean to making them colorful, Brightnest, developed by Angie’s List, is loaded with suggestions on how to make your home a better place to live. With categories of customized tips (money-saving, cleaning, eco-friendly, healthy, cooking, and creative) there are plenty of great ways to pull inspiration from the app. BrightNest will help you tackle important home tasks with easy-to-follow instructions, a personal schedule and helpful reminders. (iOS, Android, Web)
Apps For Sellers: List & Sell Your Home Quickly
Are you a homeowner who is thinking of selling? If you’re preparing to sell, you know there are a lot of tasks to complete before putting your home on the market. These apps help you manage your to-dos so you can list and sell your home more efficiently with fewer distractions.
4.) Homesnap (Free)
Using the Homesnap app, you can snap a photo of any home, nationwide, to learn more about it. When you’re ready to sell, snap a few of the homes in your neighborhood to find out their valuation. This app isn’t perfect, which is why you should always consult with a local real estate agent. However, it can give you a general idea of the value of your home compared to others in the neighborhood. (iOS and Android devices)
5.) Docusign (Free)
Use the DocuSign app to complete approvals and agreements in hours—not days—from anywhere and on any device. Quickly and securely access and sign any documents. The benefit to using the app (over your desktop computer) is you will receive push notifications when a document is waiting for your signature and you can view and organize all your docs on-the-go. Using the easily downloadable app, receive and sign documents for free. You can receive and sign documents for free, but will need a paid account to send documents; pricing starts at $10 a month. (iOS, Android, Windows, Web).
6.) Wunderlist (Free)
Designed for use on the Web and mobile devices, Wunderlist is a well-designed to-do list and task management program that makes it easy to create a list and add tasks, due dates and reminders. Organize your ideas or focus into separate lists or create tasks within one list. You can also email them with whomever you collaborate, such as a spouse or your real estate agent. (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Web)
Bonus App for Sellers:
Real Estate Dictionary (Free)
Not sure what all those industry specific terms mean? Search thousands of words and phrases from real estate, mortgage, and financial dictionaries for clear, in-depth definitions. This is a handy app for anyone who’s buying or selling and wants to learn more about the process. (iOS, Android)
Apps For Renters: Get Ready to Buy
Not ready to buy a home just yet? These apps will help you get into the perfect rental while you save money, build a budget and get on track for homeownership.
7.) Mint (Free)
Do you know where your money goes each month? Manage your bills, budget and credit score all in one place. Mint is a free app that helps you view your complete financial picture and track your spending. We recommend this app to anyone, but it’s especially useful for renters who need to crack down on their spending in order to save for a down payment. Use Mint to look for areas you can cut spending in order to save a little extra each month. (iOS, Android)
8.) Acorns ($1 a month to start)
Acorns is modernizing the practice of saving loose change with their automated savings tool. The app rounds up your purchases on linked credit or debit cards, then sweeps the change into a computer-managed investment portfolio. Acorns is free for four years for college students and everyone else pays $1 a month until their account balance hits $5,000, then 0.25% of their account balance per year. This is a useful tool for those who have a hard time saving. (iOS, Android)
9.) Neighborhoods & Apartments
Built for the on-the-go apartment hunter, this app from Walk Score takes the hassle out of finding your next home or apartment and helps you live near the people and places you love. They collect listings from top rental listing sites and we like them because they share how walkable each address is, determined by access to public transit, things to do, bike trails, shorter commutes, etc. (iOS, Android)
Bonus Apps for Renters:
Wally is a personal finance app that helps you compare your income to expenses, so you can understand where your money goes each month, and set and achieve goals. Wally lets you keep track of the details as you spend money: where, when, what, why, & how much. We love how simple it is to set a personalized savings target and scan receipts. (iOS, Android)
Credit Karma (Free)
If you’re preparing to buy, boosting your credit score is likely a goal you’ve set. Credit Karma is a free app that allows you to safely monitor your score and receive updates on ways you can improve it over time. They provide financial calculators and educational articles to help you better understand what credit is all about. Check as often as you want, and it doesn’t hurt your score. (iOS, Android, Web)
Apps for Buyers: Find the Perfect Home
When you’re ready to buy, there are several apps that can help you stay on top of the process. Whether you’re browsing online at different neighborhoods and homes and can’t seem to remember where all your saved data and information went or you want to save an important task or a neighborhood or listing clipped from the Web, these apps help you keep it all straight.
10.) Dwellr (Free)
Dwellr is run by the U.S Census Bureau and provides demographic information about the neighborhoods you are considering moving to. You get a variety of education/school, real estate, transportation, and population statistics to give you an idea of what it would be like living there. If you want to get the feel of a potential neighborhood, then Dwellr may just be the app to help you find the best home. (iOS, Android)
11.) Evernote (Free for the Basic version, $34.99 per year for Plus and $69.99 per year for Premium)
Collect ideas, notes and images in one place to access later on your computer, tablet or smartphone. Categorize your notes so you can find them quickly and easily and share them with others in a group notebook. Add the Web Clipper feature to your browser and clip and save articles, blogs and images from the Web. Whether you’re collecting research on a business idea or you’re looking for inspiration for a home renovation, Evernote can help you keep it all together. (Web, iOS, Android)
12.) Mortgage Calculator (Free)
There are a lot of free mortgage calculators available for download that will help you quickly determine what your monthly payment will be while you’re house hunting. We recommend picking your favorite and using it to help you shop in your price range. These numbers should be used as a guide, work with your agent and mortgage professional to learn exactly what type of loan you’ll qualify for. (Web, iOS, Android)
Bonus App for Buyers:
Google Maps (Free)
Google Maps is a must-have for anyone who’s house hunting. When you’re ready to visit a property or check out a neighborhood, you can use Google Maps to give you turn by turn directions to the house. You can use their satellite view to get a good idea how far important things like schools, parks, shopping, bus stops, and restaurants are to a home you are interested in and check out the other houses on the street. (Web, Android, iOS,)
Ready to move beyond the app?
If you’re thinking of buying or selling your home, or know someone who is, keep us in mind because we’re happy to help! Call Sonja today at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
1. Pew Research Center, January 12, 2017, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/
Deloitte, 2016 global mobile consumer survey: US edition https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/global-mobile-consumer-survey-us-edition.html
- Gallup, July 9, 2017, http://www.gallup.com/poll/184046/smartphone-owners-check-phone-least-hourly.aspx
When you see “motivated” seller in real estate listings, does that mean the seller really wants to sell and is open to negotiation? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes, it might be the listing agent who could not talk the seller down in listing price, trying to get a buyer to submit a lower-than-asking price bid, and wake the seller up to the realistic price he should be at.
If the seller is motivated to sell his Mammoth Lakes home, this is what it could mean:
- Price might have room for further price reductions
- Seller likes the cat-and-mouse negotiations
- The Mammoth Lakes home could be in or near foreclosure
- Seller wants to see an offer before canceling the listing
How to deal with motivated sellers:
- First, decide if you really want to buy the Mammoth Lakes home
- Ask the listing agent why the seller is selling…if there is no viable reason, you could be wasting your time.
- Consider giving a low-ball offer to see how the seller responds. If the seller does not give a counter offer, you have your answer. If they give a full price counter offer, they just may want to negotiate.
- Wait for a price reduction. Most listing agents will ask for a price reduction after so many days from the original listing.
- Ask if other offers have been made. If so, find out why, and try to overcome the seller’s objections.
Sometimes, “motivated seller” means nothing. With the right questions and just talking to the listing agent and seller, you will be able to determine this and move on to the right properties.
Owning a house is the American Dream. Figuring out if it’s worth the risk to buy at today’s prices is something each person needs to figure out for their situation.
When you are ready to find your Mammoth Lakes home, call me at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com to help you.
How to deal with motivated sellers
Closing costs can seem to be endless, annoying in nature and end up in a lot of cash. Closing costs are itemized in the closing statement, which can be referred to as a HUD-1, the settlement statement, and of course the closing statement. The net effect is that the seller ends up with less cash after paying all the closing costs on their [City] home.
A buyer’s closing costs typically range from 2%-7%, where the seller’s costs can be increased by 4%-7% just for the agent’s fees.
As a seller, here is what you can expect to pay in closing costs:
- Cost of the survey
- Broker’s commission
- Broker’s processing fee
- Courier fee to pay off the loan
- Title insurance
- Recorded release of the mortgage
- Lenders fees
- Prepayment penalties
- Local city, county, and state transfer taxes, and state capital gains taxes
- Credit to the buyer of unpaid real estate taxes
- Interest on loans to be paid off
- Attorney’s fees
- FHA fees and costs
- Condo/co-op move out fee
- Homeowners Association transfer fees
- Paid utility bills
- Certificate of compliance with building and zoning codes
- Home inspection fees
- Home warranty
- Homeowner association reserves
- Other credits to the buyer
- Unpaid mortgage or home equity loan, or line of credit
- Upside down loans
- Notary fees
As you can see, the seller pays many fees from the proceeds of the sale of their Mammoth Lakes home. Most of these will apply no matter where you are, some will not. This list will also vary from state to state, city to city. Make sure you talk to your real estate agent or real estate attorney to find out what will have to be paid ahead of time.
When you are ready to put your Mammoth Lakes home up for sale, call me at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com to schedule an appointment to talk.
Seller closing costs
Broker’s processing fee
No matter the season, staging, or the concept of showing your Mammoth Lakes home at its best, even more important. Follow these tips to make your home irresistible:
- Make every surface shine – shine bathroom fixtures, stove, refrigerator, faucets
- Clean off your front porch – sweep away all those leaves in the corners
- Clean, Clean, Clean – everything from light fixtures and bulbs to baseboards
- Place fresh flowers on the dining room table
- Remove all clutter from the house and depersonalize – put it in storage or a friend’s garage, take down all your personal pictures. Buyers want to picture their belongings in their new house, not yours.
- Burn potpourri or bake something to leave out for potential buyers, a soft scent to make the buyer feel welcome
- Leave every light on and every interior door open
- Take advantage of natural light – Encourage showing during daylight hours; have all curtains and blinds clean and open
- Wash the windows! – Buyers act on first impressions; the strong winter sun can reveal grime and turn away prospective buyers
- Create a little atmosphere by playing music softly in the background – tune the radio to a classical station, turn it down so that you barely hear it in the background.
- Show off hardwood floors – pull up that wall-to-wall carpeting, clean the floors, pull up all the throw rugs, show the wood!
- Freshen the walls – at a minimum, clean the walls, top to bottom. If that isn’t good enough, give them a fresh coat of paint. That is the quickest and fastest way to freshen up a room.
- Use the rule of 3 – Three items per surface, in every room. Make it look uncluttered and clean by doing this.
If you are ready to sell your Mammoth Lakes home, I can help you get it on the market. Call me today at 661-979-9000 or email me at Sonja@sonjabush.com for more information.
Clean, Clean, Clean
Use the rule of 3
Understanding a home’s true market value is about more than pictures, software assessments, and price-per-square-foot. Whether you’re a current homeowner thinking of selling or are house-hunting, it’s crucial you understand what factors affect home valuation. By partnering with a local market expert, sellers will avoid pricing their house out of the market (the kiss of death in real estate) and buyers will ensure they get a good deal on their next home.
So, how do you accurately calculate a home’s value? After all, the value of a home is assigned by its town or county and the one it’s given when it’s listed are often dramatically different from one another. Which one is accurate and what does it all mean? Read on to learn more.
Assessed Value vs Market Value: What’s the difference?
When it comes to home value, you’ll often hear two terms, assessed value and market value.
A home’s assessed value is often the lower number of the two and is the value given by your municipality or county. Investopedia defines assessed value as “the dollar value assigned to a property to measure applicable taxes.”1 Although property tax laws vary, assessors commonly arrive at this number by taking into account the following:
- What comparable/similar homes are selling for in your area.
- The value of recent improvements.
- Income from renting out a room or space on the property.
- How much it would cost to rebuild on the property.
A home’s market value, or Fair Market Value, is the price a buyer is willing to pay or a seller is willing to accept for a property. A skilled real estate professional will arrive at the value using a variety of metrics, including:
- External characteristics, such as lot size, home style, the condition of the home and curb appeal.
- Internal characteristics, such as the number of rooms and their size, the type and condition of the heating or HVAC system, the quality and condition of construction, the flow of the home, etc.
- The sales price of comparable homes that have sold in your area.
- Supply and demand; that is, how many buyers and sellers are in the area.
- Location; that is, the quality and desirability of your neighborhood and other community amenities.
Why are these values often so different? An assessor usually estimates your property’s market value during a reassessment or if you make a physical change or improvement to it.2 As a result, a property may not be reassessed for many years. While your home’s market value may fluctuate with the market, your home’s assessed value is more likely to remain steady.3
What Determines a Home’s Value?
You’ve likely heard the motto of real estate: “Location, location, location.” This means a home’s value relies on its location. While the home and structures on the property will likely depreciate over time, the land beneath it tends to appreciate. Why? Land is in limited supply and a growing population puts increased demand on the housing supply. As a result, values increase.4
Other factors that affect your home’s value include the function and appearance of the property, how well the home and other structures are maintained and whether the home is a lifestyle property, such as a ranch style with mountain views or beach bungalow.
Ultimately, the best indication of a home’s value is the overall supply and demand of the market. This is why we recommend you partner with a real estate professional who takes all of these factors—the assessed value, local market conditions, home features and has physically walked through and experienced your home— into consideration to determine the most accurate market value.
How to determine if a property is comparable to yours.
Both assessed value and market value are partially determined by the sales price of similar, or comparable, homes in the area. To determine if a home is comparable to yours, look for the following characteristics:
- Lot size
- Square footage
- Homestyle or similar architecture
While you may not find a home with the same exact characteristics as yours, you’ll likely find a few that are close. To account for any disparity, adjust the sales prices of the comparable properties. Look at the differences between your property and the one in question and determine if the differences increased or decreased the sales price and by how much. For example, if your home has two bathrooms and a similar home only has three, estimate how much that extra bathroom increased the sale price of the similar home. The adjusted sale price is the estimation of what the property would sell for if the properties were exactly the same.2
Where can you find comparable sales?
Fortunately, you can find comparable home sales in a variety of places.2
- Your local assessor’s office is able to provide a list of recent sales you can browse and compare or a sales history of a particular house, home style or neighborhood.
- Your municipality. Many cities keep local sales information in their offices or post it online.
- Online databases, such as a real estate database
- Your local newspapers may offer some real estate information in the form of quarterly sales reports in the business or real estate sections of the newspaper.
- Our office. We regularly do Comparable Market Analysis of homes in our local area. Use our Home Valuation inquiry form for your home.
How to calculate your home’s value.
By answering a few questions about your home, property and the local market, you can begin to estimate your property’s value. We’ve also included a worksheet for you below…
Home Value Questions:
- When was your home last assessed?
- What was its CMA assessment value?
- What is your area’s average sales price?
- What is your area’s average price/square foot?
- Is the architecture and exterior structure of the home consistent, superior or inferior to other homes in the area?
- Does the era or genre (Modern, Victorian, Ranch, Cottage, etc.) add a premium based on current design trends?
- How do the floor plan and room size proportions of the home compare to other homes on the market?
- How does the kitchen compare to others on the market?
- Updated or outdated
- Floor plan
- Appliance packages
- How does the Master Suite compare to others on the market?
- First/second floor
- Updated or outdated
- Access to Master Bath
- How does the Master Bath compare to others on the market?
- Updated or outdated
- Shower and bath
- Are there views, outdoor living areas or recreational areas?
- How do the landscaping and hardscaping compare to the market? (e.g., built elements such as walkways, patios, decks, etc.)
Overall Condition of Home
- What is the level of repair needed to compete with other homes?
- Does the home need to be staged? How does it show?
- What curb appeal projects are necessary to be consistent with others on the market?
Home Assessment Worksheet
If you want to accurately assess a home’s value, it’s crucial to know about the market activity of our local area. Sonja can help! Give her a call to get the scoop on the local market at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com.
Sources: 1. Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/assessedvalue.asp
- New York State Department of Taxation and Finance https://www.tax.ny.gov/pubs_and_bulls/orpts/mv_estimates.htm
- Realtor.com http://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/assessed-value-vs-market-value-difference/
- Investopedia, http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortgages-real-estate/08/housing-appreciation.asp?lgl=myfinance-layout
Resort communities come in all shapes and sizes, from retirement communities to golf communities, luxury, and master-planned communities, to ski-in/ski-out communities like Mammoth Lakes. Most resort communities have swimming pools, parks, clinics and extra nursing care, and other like-minded people.
Some resort properties will be purchased for rental income while you’re not living on-premises.
Most resort communities have restrictions: covenants, conditions, and restrictions, which dictate how homeowners’ associations operate. Some protect property values with a cohesive look and feel. Some will dictate landscaping to paint colors. Do your homework!
The pros can far outweigh the cons, as long as you are prepared for the bad or extreme weather, and limitations on getting to your property, depending on the time of year.
Mountain and ski resorts have their own type of personalities, from Aspen with celebrities and millionaires, to Silverton with its laid-back atmosphere.
- Scenic views
- Recreational activities
- Nightlife and Entertainment
- Select group of other residents
- Wide variety of homes to choose from
- Higher wage jobs
- Good schools
- Higher prices
- Higher taxes and Cost of Living
- Slow off-season
- Bad weather
- Difficulty traveling
- Challenges if renting
- No chain stores
- Transportation is expensive
If you think you want to live in a resort town, visit first. Book a stay for a week in several different types of resort communities to get a feel for each, and figure out what you like and definitely don’t want to live with. When you’re ready to look at properties, give Sonja a call at 661-979-9000 or email her at Sonja@sonjabush.com to schedule an appointment to see available properties in the Mammoth Lakes area.