Homes of Distinction Realty



Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 6/4/2020

Doing a home improvement or renovation is a great way to add value to your home while learning something new. If you decide to DIY, you can enlist the help of your family and learn together.

But, when youíre taking on a task youíve never done before, thereís a lot that can go wrong. You might go over budget, or the project might take significantly longer than expected. Sometimes we start jobs that we donít have the expertise (or permits) to finish and have to call in a professional sinking more time and money into what was supposed to be an inexpensive renovation.

To help you avoid some of these common pitfalls, weíve provided these tips for running a successful home improvement project so you can focus on your renovation and not on the headaches that come with it.

1. Know when to call the experts

Undertaking a do-it-yourself project can be fun and rewarding. However, some tasks are better left to the professionals. Plumbing and electrical mistakes, in particular, can be dangerous and costly if you get it wrong. You donít want to disregard the safety of you, your family, and your belongings just to save money on hiring a professional.

2. Call the best expert for the job

Call multiple professionals for a quote before accepting an offer.

If you received what seems a very low quote for a job, make sure to call other experts in the industry to see how much they would charge for the job. Getting an unusually low offer could be a sign that the contractor will rush the project or use cheap materials.

Alternatively, if you receive a quote that seems too high, the contractor may have a busy schedule or might not really want the job, so theyíve offered you a price they donít expect you to take.

Regardless of who you choose, see if you can find reviews and testimonials to make sure youíve selected a contractor who is professional and has good customer feedback.

3. Aim high with your budget

When homeowners take on a renovation, they tend to underestimate the costs. To avoid being shocked by going over budget, estimate what you think the total costs would be and then at another twenty percent. That twenty percent could account for damaged building materials, mistakes, or last-minute changes and customizations--all are frequent on DIY projects.

4. Donít work without a design or blueprint

Even for simple home improvement projects, itís best to start out with a plan. Having detailed measurements and drawings to refer to will help you avoid costly mistakes. Weíve all felt the temptation to ďeyeball itĒ when working on a project--taking the extra few minutes to measure and refer to your plan will save you time in the long run.

5. Relax and focus on the results

Home improvement projects can be a source of frustration for many families. If you arenít an expert, itís easy to get angry when things arenít going as you planned. If you find yourself frequently hitting a wall-literally or figuratively--step back from the project and refocus on the end goal, improving your home for years to come.




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Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 5/28/2020

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 Photo by Andrew Martin via Pixabay

It’s not uncommon for homebuyers to discover that the land they purchased may not be entirely their own. Another party may have gained a legal right to use or traverse your property. Easements and right-of-ways can be established by a number of mechanisms and go unnoticed, particularly in undeveloped parcels or when the previous owners were absent.

When homeowners discover someone else holds sway over part of your property, the first-blush reaction is often about loss of value. You paid for full ownership and the easement will likely diminish your resale value. But homebuyers would be wise to proceed with caution because the cost of defending against a claim or creating hostilities with a neighbor could prove emotionally taxing.

What is an Easement or Right-of-Way?

The common law practice of easements has its roots in the free flow of water and the ability to cross a community member’s land in olden times. This practice accounted for the lack of roadways and the need to traverse tracts of land. Although this is a somewhat outdated concept, long-standing easements exist. If you are considering purchasing a property that involves an easement, it’s important to understand that you still own the pathway to the other parcel. But you may never be able to utilize it actively.

For all practical purposes, a right-of-way is a type of easement that has been formalized. Landowners generally agree to record the easement in a deed or other legally-binding agreement. Thoroughly researched land records are likely to uncover these easements. This is why having a property deed vetted before purchasing a property remains standard practice. But a worrisome mechanism known as “adverse possession” may put new homeowners in a legal bind because the existence of an easement may go unknown.

What Homebuyers Need to Know About Adverse Possession

Adverse possession is often associated with the term “squatters rights.” That colloquial term came out of people living on unused land and gaining ownership by establishing their presence over time. Today, people more often gain adverse possession rights by using part of a property for access or travel.

If, for instance, a neighbor routinely drives over an undeveloped part of your property to get to theirs, they could be gaining a right to that portion. On undeveloped land, hunters, hikers, and other outdoors enthusiasts may walk a path across your land. Over time, they can establish a right that prevents you from enclosing the land or developing that section. While defending against an adverse possession lawsuit can be emotionally draining, there may be a silver lining. The courts usually apply a rigorous four-part standard that few squatters meet. These include the following.

  • Hostile: This involves issues such as the user not knowing the land was owned by another or using it due to a mistake about where the property lines were located.
  • Actual Possession: The claimant must have been physically present on the land.
  • Open and Notorious: This standard looks at whether the trespasser used the land in a fashion that was obvious to the owner.
  • Exclusive and Continuous: This tends to be the standard that upends claims. The trespasser must have physically used the land without interruption.

Hiring an attorney and mounting a defense of your property can be an exhausting ordeal. It’s one of the last things any homeowner wants to go through. That’s why conducting your due diligence about easements and right-of-ways remains as crucial as taking out title insurance when you buy a home.




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Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 5/21/2020

Want to sell your home? Like many home sellers, you're probably on the lookout for a real estate agent who can help you get the best price for your house.

Choosing the right real estate agent usually will require you to perform comprehensive research. You'll need to examine the credentials and skills of many real estate agents in your area. Plus, you may want to sit down and chat with various real estate agents to find one who can simplify the home selling process.

Ultimately, there are several questions you should ask a real estate agent before you hire him or her to sell your house, including:

1. What is your home selling experience?

No two homes are identical, and much in the same way, no two real estate agents are exactly alike. As such, you should learn about a real estate agent's experience to ensure he or she possesses the expertise necessary to sell your house.

For example, if you're selling a condo, you may want to hire a real estate professional with condo experience. Or, if you're looking to sell your home as quickly as possible, you should find a real estate agent who knows how to promote a home across social media and other platforms.

2. How will you keep in touch?

What good is a real estate agent if this professional fails to keep you informed throughout the home selling journey?

With the right real estate agent at your side, you'll be able to stay up to date along each stage of the home selling process. In fact, this professional will provide you with updates about offers on your home, requests to view your residence and much more.

Furthermore, your real estate agent should be easily accessible via phone and email. This means if you need support at any point during the home selling journey, your real estate agent will be able to assist you.

3. Can you provide references?

An expert real estate agent should have no trouble connecting you with past clients. That way, you can find out how this real estate professional has helped previous home sellers accomplish their goals.

If you connect with a real estate agent's past clients, you can get a better idea about how this real estate professional responds to various home selling challenges. As a result, you'll be better equipped to determine if this real estate agent is the right person to help you sell your house.

4. How will you market my house?

A real estate agent should go above and beyond the call of duty to market your house to the right groups of homebuyers. This professional typically will allocate extensive time and resources to learn about you and your home selling needs and help you plan accordingly.

Finding out how a real estate agent will promote your home is essential. With this information, you can understand whether a real estate agent will do everything possible to showcase your residence to potential homebuyers.

Use the aforementioned questions, and you can select the right real estate agent to help you sell your home.




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Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 5/14/2020

Photo by Vincent Rivaud from Pexels

When you buy a luxury home, you have several options when it comes to paying for the home. While some luxury buyers invest fully in the home and purchase outright, most find that opting for a mortgage of some type keeps options open and reserves capital for other things. Mortgages can be used for high end homes, but not all products are available -- or useful -- for this luxury space. Whether you are buying or selling, knowing what to expect when it comes to financing can help you strike the perfect deal. 

 Conventional Mortgages

Depending on where you live and the cost of the high end home, a conventional mortgage could be all you need. In parts of the country where a huge home in pristine condition still falls within the guidelines of a complying mortgage, this may be your best option. While it may not always work for you, exploring the conventional financing options is an ideal first step. 

Conventional loans are conforming loans – that fall within a specific set of guidelines. You can use a conventional loan for your own residence or for a vacation or investment home. Opting for this type of mortgage could result in lower costs to you (if you have at least 20% equity, you can avoid PMI). If the mortgage for your prospective home is under the limit of $453,100, then you can choose a conventional loan for your home.

That $453,100 limit is for mortgages in most areas, but a few select zip codes in the US allow for an even larger limit. In these high end locations, the limit for a conventional loan is much higher: $679,650. These limits are not the cost of the home itself, but the amount that you can borrow and still qualify for the conventional, conforming loan.

Jumbo Loans

When a conventional loan isn't quite right, or the loan amount for the home in question is over the stated conventional limits of $453 or $679K, then a jumbo loan will work best. These loans are designed for expensive, high end homes and properties and may have more stringent requirements when it comes to down payment amounts and the assets that need to remain on hand after the home purchase.

Aside from the differences in the amount of the loan, a jumbo loan works in a way that is very similar to a conventional loan. Expect to go through an underwriting process, to supply proof of income and to shop around for the best possible rates when you choose this option. 

No matter what product you choose, expect a luxury home mortgage to follow similar steps to a conventional one. Depending on the amount borrowed and the buyer's financial health, the process could take less time than a conventional one. 




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Posted by Homes of Distinction Realty on 5/7/2020

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When you're considering buying real estate as an investment, it's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons. That's especially important with "subject-to" real estate, because there can be risks and rewards with this type of property that are different from traditional purchases. Here's what you should be considering, before you decide on this investment strategy.

The Pros of "Subject-To" Real Estate  

On the "pro" side of buying "subject-to" real estate is the way you can acquire multiple properties for your portfolio. Additional benefits include:

  • There's no need to get a mortgage in your name, so you won't be overextending your credit or finances.
  • You avoid a lot of the transaction fees that come with getting a mortgage and buying a property.
  • You can close on the property quickly, and you'll pay fewer title company fees in the process.
  • You can buy as many properties as you want, as fast as you want, and all you have to do is make the mortgage payments.
  • You'll be helping sellers who are facing foreclosure or otherwise need to get out from under their house payments.
  • The Cons of "Subject-To" Real Estate  

    With any real estate transaction or investment of any kind, there are cons that come along with the pros. When you weigh them carefully, here's what you should be thinking about:

  • If the seller files bankruptcy, the original lender could foreclose on the property and you may lose your investment.
  • The lender could exercise their "due on sale clause," and require that the current mortgage balance be paid in full.
  • The deed could be tainted in some way, and without title insurance in your name you might not be protected.
  • You may end up spending money on an attorney if something goes wrong during the process.
  • Technically, the bank still owns the home because there's a mortgage on it.
  • Why Choose This Type of Real Estate Investment?

    If you don't have the money or credit to buy investment properties, buying "subject-to" can be a good choice if you understand and mitigate the risks. You may also want to choose this option if you're trying to acquire a lot of properties quickly, and you want to save money over traditional purchasing options. For people who buy "subject-to", there can be big opportunities to buy quality properties they might not be able to afford under typical circumstances.

    But it's very important that you're aware of the risks and legalities. Getting an attorney to help you with the first few properties, and to collect and make the mortgage payments on all the properties you buy, can be one of the ways you can make this type of transaction safer and better for you and the seller.




    Tags: mortgage   Investment   home loan  
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