I like to think of myself as a responsible adult and a contributing member of society. But as is the case in almost every other aspect of life, we all have to start somewhere, and 20 years (or so) ago I may not have been the most responsible member of society. I mean, come on, I was in my twenties for god’s sake and the idea of being an adult was not exactly what I thought it was.
Which brings me to today’s post. I have broken / been in violation of many leases back in the day, and I can bet that most of you all have too...you just may not have realized it at the time.
Let me explain:
For my first apartment, I did not not have any credit, or money and I certainly didn’t have any rental history. Try getting an apartment with that on your application.
So I did what I needed to do to find a place to live. I moved into a friend’s apartment (violation #1). What’s the harm, she needed a roommate, and I needed a room.
What I didn’t know is that all residents of a rental needs to 1) be put on the lease, and 2) need to be approved by the landlord. Oops...sorry.
Also, we were both smokers, and we smoked in the apartment. (violation #2) Who knew we couldn’t smoke in there? It’s not like we ever actually read the lease, specifically the part about “no smoking in the premises”.
Then there was the lease, where I was ready to move to another area, but my lease wasn’t up for another few months, so I rented it out to another friend. (Huge violation) I mean, the landlord is still getting their rent. No harm, no foul...right? Again, it’s not like I read the part of the lease that states “no sublets”.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Now fast forward 20 years and the shoe is on the other foot. I am now the landlord, and I have tenants that are / have been / will be in violation of their leases. I get it...I did it, but now I understand the reasons behind all of those silly rules.
Here is what I have learned from being on both sides of the fence:
First and foremost, know your Landlord - Tenant laws. The Landlord - Tenant Act covers everything from security deposits to waterbeds.
Every state has them, and whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you should know them, or at least have easy access to them. In fact, I’ll make it super easy for you right now. Click here.
Also, I have learned that my lease is a living document, that I can add to and change as I encounter new issues. For example, I had a tenant that put an above ground pool in the back yard. To be fair, they did ask me first, but I was caught a little off guard and answered a bit too quickly. (My fault, not theirs). You can bet that I now have a section about pools in my lease.
The easiest thing that everyone can do, though is read the lease. Tenants need understand what’s in it, and Landlords need to point out what’s in it. I now always send the lease via email at least a day before the keys are handed over so that the tenant has time to read over what they are signing, and I then will go over it when I hand them the keys.
The more informed everyone is, the better. I didn’t mean to violate my past leases, but there I was, breaking the rules I didn’t even know existed. Grown up me is a little wiser, and hopefully you all are too.
By the way...did I forget to mention, that not only am I a landlord, but I am also a Realtor. So if you are in the market for a new home, or a rental property...Call Me Anytime! 386-315-4162 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I know that this is a real estate blog, but I just have to go off topic for a bit and share something that is on my mind. Don't worry, I'll keep this short.
So, I’m at the bank today, when the very nice woman at the front desk compliments me on the outfit that I was wearing. She then tells me that I am always so confident in my appearance and that she wishes that she could be like that.
Now, I am very well aware that I have plenty of flaws. Who doesn’t? But it made me think. I have certainly not always been so confident. It has taken me a long time to achieve this, so let me tell you a story.
Many years ago, I worked for a bridal salon. One day, the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, came into the store to buy a wedding gown. She was gorgeous and had the most perfect figure! I was her stylist and so I started by asking her what style of dress she was thinking about. She then proceeded to tell me about all of her “flaws” and what she would like to hide.
“You’re kidding”, I said. “You are the most stunning woman that I have ever met. There is not one thing about you that should be hidden!”
Even so, she had flaws that only she saw.
As is such with every woman that I have ever met. I realized that day that if you ask any woman what her flaws are, she will respond by asking,
“Do you want me start at the feet and work my way up, or the head and work my way down?”
WOMEN (and men)...what are we doing to ourselves?!
So after that day, I started rephrasing how I responded to women when they told me what parts of their bodies they wanted to hide. I started turning it around and asking “What about yourself do you want to accentuate or highlight?”
Now, all of a sudden, we got to the good stuff! I would hear things like,
“I like my collar bone!”
“I love my legs!”
“My ass looks pretty good!”
“I have really nice cleavage!”
And that is how I started working on my own self image. Focus on the things that you love about yourself, and the rest will come.
So, everyone (Men and Women of all sizes and ages), please, always remember:
We are ALL stunning!
We are ALL gorgeous!
We are ALL smart, sexy, fun, interesting and above all else, we are ALL deserving!
Don’t you ever let anyone, EVER, let you believe otherwise!
That is all...I will now go back to talking about real estate. (Maybe.)
Many years ago, I worked in banking while my husband worked was (and still is) in water chemistry. Each one of us had our own terms that we used on a daily basis, and while I knew what I was saying, I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Real estate terms are the same. If you do not use them on a daily basis, the definitions may not be on the tip of your tongue. There are also some that are confusing and you may think you know what the term means, but you may be a bit off in your definition. I’m not judging, I don’t know the terms that you use in your industry, so you can’t expect to know all of the terminology in mine. Here are some of the terms that I see people having the most questions about:
“First Time Home-Buyer” - Raise your hand if you know what this means. Now 75% of you need to lower your hands. Most people don’t realize that first time home buyers might have actually bought a home before. The term refers to anyone who has not owned a home in the last 3 years.
“LTV” - This stands for Loan to Value. If you buy a home and your down payment is 3%, than your Loan to Value (LTV) is 97%.
“FHA Inspection or Appraisal” - The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires the appraiser to determine the current market value. But they also require a property inspection to make sure the home meets HUD's minimum standards for health and safety. This “inspection” should not be confused with a home inspection. It does not find all the flaws that a licensed home inspector would find. All this does is make sure that “minimum standards” are met, so you still need a home inspection as well.
“Appraised Value” - An opinion of a property's fair market value, based on an appraiser's knowledge, experience, and analysis of the property. No to be confused with...
“Assessed Value” - The valuation placed on property by a public tax assessor for purposes of taxation. The assessed value of a property is almost always lower than it’s appraised value.
“PITI” - This is what your monthly mortgage payment consists of. It stands for Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance. In most mortgage payments for your primary residence, lenders will make the payments for your property taxes and home insurance. It’s their way of making sure that the home is insured, and that the city won’t be foreclosing on you for non-payment of taxes.
“HUD-1 Settlement Statement” - A document that provides an itemized listing of the funds that were paid at closing. Items that appear on the statement include real estate commissions, loan fees, points, and initial escrow amounts. The totals at the bottom of the HUD-1 statement show the seller's net proceeds and the buyer's net payment at closing. The HUD1 statement is also known as the "closing statement" or "settlement sheet."
“Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)” - A consumer protection law that requires lenders to give borrowers advance notice of closing costs.
“Amortization schedule” - A table that shows how much of each payment will be applied toward principal and how much toward interest over the life of the loan. It also shows the gradual decrease of the loan balance until it reaches zero.
“PMI” - This stands for Private Mortgage Insurance. When your down payment is less than 20%, you usually have to pay for Mortgage Insurance (PMI). This protects the lender in case you don't make your house payments, they repossess your house, and they have to sell it for less than what is still owed.
I have most certainly missed a few definitions, but these are the ones I most commonly get asked about. If there is another definition you would like, or a term that you have questions about, call or email me at anytime and I would be more than happy to help you out!
Michele Boyer, REALTOR
Last week I told you all about the VA Loans. This week I am going to tell you about a loan program that is for the rest of us. It’s called the Conventional 97 program. Don’t feel bad if you never heard about it. It’s relatively new product offered by Fannie Mae but it is not an FHA program.
Conventional 97 is called that because it is a conventional loan that loans 97% LTV! Imagine that...a conventional loan with only 3% down!
Better yet, it’s not just for first time home buyers. Repeat buyers can also take advantage of this. It does have to be on a primary residence, though, and the loan size can not exceed $424,100.
The Conventional 97's aggressive terms have helped it to grab marketshare from the FHA loan program. Borrowers with better-than-average credit scores, typically save by using the Conventional 97.
The FHA program does still have it’s place in the mortgage world, though. FHA loans require down payments of 3.5% but home buyers with less-than-perfect credit may find FHA loans to be more cost-effective than the Conventional 97. Especially because FHA mortgage rates are typically 25 basis points (0.25%) below rates for a comparable conventional loan based on credit scores.
So, which loan program is best? Well, there is no "best" low-down payment mortgage program. What's best for one home buyer may not be what's best for another. Each program has its benefits. So call a mortgage provider that can help you find what best for you and then call me to find you the home that is best for you!
I will admit it...I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone that has ever served our country in the armed forces. It takes a lot of dedication and selflessness to defend 300 million American citizens. Especially since you only personally know, or have met, approximately 0.000001% of the population (okay, so maybe you are super popular and you know 0.000002%, but you don’t even like anywhere close to that many people.) I love working with Veterans mainly because they inspire me to be a better person and look at the bigger picture. Which is why I am so glad that our government has made it easier for Veterans and their family to become homeowners. I mean, really, it’s the very least we can do.
The VA Loan is designed to help Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. The loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies and the VA then guarantees a portion of the loan, enabling the lender to provide you with more favorable terms.
The benefits of the VA Loan programs are substantial. Their mortgage loans help you purchase a home at a competitive interest rate, often without requiring a downpayment or private mortgage insurance (PMI). In case you missed that...0% down! That alone is huge! They also have Cash Out Refinance loans that allow you to take cash out of your home equity to pay off debt, fund school, or make home improvements. Loans are available for homes for you or a spouse and/or dependent (for active duty service members).
To be eligible, you must have satisfactory credit, sufficient income to meet the expected monthly payments, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility (COE).
Here are some other mortgage loan programs offered by the VA:
So, what are you waiting for?! I would love to meet you and work at finding a hero a place to call home! Call me anytime 386-315-4162 and let's find you your dream home!
You found the house of your dreams! That’s wonderful...Congratulations! You have an accepted contract, you’ve done the inspection, lined up insurance, your lender is on track and you are headed for closing! But wait...you need to do a final walk-through first.
Most buyers wait until the day of closing and right before the actual closing is to take place, they run through the house real quick and rush out the door to sign on the dotted line so they can move into their beautiful new home.
But the final walk-through is more than just making sure the house is still standing. It is also to make sure that everything that was in working order before the inspection, is still in working order. You don’t need to do another inspection, just make sure that are not any new problems, like a new faucet leak, or a branch fell on the roof and damages incurred from that. You should also check to make sure that all outlets are still in working order. You can easily do this by bringing your cell phone charger to test all the outlets.
Also, remember the hurricane that we just had? All buyers should have checked on their soon to be new houses to see that the sellers fixed any storm damage before closing.
Sellers are notorious for leaving junk behind. Make sure you check every closet, every cabinet, the garage and the attic for any “gifts” that they decided to leave you. Some things really are helpful to have, like leftover paint in case you need to paint over a scuff and you don’t know what color they used. But most of the junk is just that...junk that they didn’t feel like moving. So make a note everything that is still in the house during the walk-through and ask that they remove it before closing.
Finally, I must end with a warning. The house is not going to look like what you remembered.
When you first saw the house, it most likely had furniture in it and it was someone's home. Now it is empty and cold.
Just brace yourself for the fact that it may not be as inviting as it was when you fell in love.
Remember that the house is now a blank slate for you to create new memories and family fun!
Hey Volusia County...in case you live under a bridge and were unaware of this fact...we just had a hurricane. No kidding, I swear! His name was Matthew and he was pretty angry. Although not as angry as CNN was reporting. (At least not in Florida) There were, however, lots of roofs damaged, fences down and trees uprooted.
Most importantly, there were a lot of insurance claims. Kevin and I were lucky, the damage was minimal and the cost to fix the damage was less than our deductible, so no claim was made, but a lot of other people were not as lucky.
Insurance claims after a hurricane are to be expected, but did you know that every claim you make to your insurance company is recorded and insurers use the home's past claims history as a basis to determine new policy amounts? So every claim that you make today will adversely affect the amount that future owners of your house have to pay. Hey future buyers...are you paying attention here?
Many insurers use CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) to report and check the claims history of homes. Yet only 14% of buyers have ever heard of it, and even less ever think to ask seller’s for a copy of their CLUE report.
Only the owners can obtain a copy of a properties CLUE report which you can receive for free every 12 months.
The CLUE report saves data for up to seven years and is a great tool for buyers because it reveals prior claims that could be potential risks. It also helps sellers provide accurate disclosure to buyer’s.
So, if you were one of the 86% of people that had no idea what a CLUE report was, or that that information was kept and compiled to use against you or future buyers later, now you know. Keep that in mind the next time you are in the market to buy a new home. You’ll be glad you asked.
Investors are always looking to add value into a home whether it be for rental income, or to flip the property. But investors don’t have to be the only ones that can look for ways to creatively add value to a home. Here are 4 ways that you can too.
This especially adds value to 2 bedroom houses, but only if you have enough square footage. The reason that it is so important to have 3 bedrooms is that families want 3 bedrooms. Even families with only one child want 3 bedrooms. So let’s add a bedroom, shall we? For starters, do you have the square footage? The first thing you have to do is decide what it is that you want to give up. Do you have 2 rather large bedrooms? Then construct a wall dividing one of them up into two small bedrooms. Or maybe you have both a living room and a den. Turn one of those rooms into a bedroom. Keep in mind, though, that a bedroom needs to have both a window and a closet, so you may have to build a closet into the new room.
Now on the flip side, maybe you have 4 bedrooms, but they are all extremely small. People do not like small rooms, so in this case, you may want to think about taking out a wall in between two of the rooms and making a spacious Master. That’s just a good as a 4 bedroom, and you might actually improve the number of days that your home is on the market simply by opening up the bedroom.
I’m normally not a huge fan of the garage conversion, but in some cases, I can see it’s value. A garage can be turned into an impressive Master Suite, or in homes that have very small living rooms, it can make a great game room. Just make sure that if you are going to take away garage storage, then you may want to think about adding a storage shed in the back yard. Putting up a carport may be a good idea as well.
Turning a Half Bath into a Full Bath:
If your home already has 2 full bathrooms, then please disregard this section. But if your home has one full bath and a half bath, then you might want to take a good look at your bathroom situation.
Now some half bathrooms really and truly only have enough room for a toilet and a sink.
But some may have a tad bit more room. Stand up showers don’t take up that much room. You may have to move the toilet over some, but full bathrooms add a significant amount of value in both property value and in marketability.
Opening up the Kitchen:
So you have a small kitchen. The term “small” is all relative, so let’s open it up a bit, let more light in, and make it feel less small. This can usually be done by either knocking out a wall, or simply by cutting a rectangle in a wall, put a countertop on it and make it a pass through breakfast bar. Now you’re cooking with grease! It’s amazing how just that will completely transform the look and feel of a kitchen.
These are not the only ways to add value to your home, and if you have a lot more money, than I can certainly think of several more things that you can do, but sometimes, the simple answer can also be the best answer.
Occasionally, homes come on the market being sold as a “Short Sale”. But:
What is a Short Sale?
Well, the simple definition of a short sale is selling your home for less than what is owed, with the approval of the lender.
In other words, you are seriously behind in your mortgage payments, and you must sell your home. You owe $300,000 on the existing mortgage, but the home is only worth $200,000. The new purchase price cannot cover the loan, and you, the homeowner, cannot cover the shortfall. That’s where a short sale comes into play. The lender allows you to sell the home for the lower amount without you having to pay the shortfall at closing, thus giving the home a clean title and getting you out from under an unaffordable monthly mortgage payment.
Why would a bank agree to a short sale?
Because contrary to popular belief, Banks do not want to foreclose on a property. The foreclosure process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, and during that time, the bank is having to spend an incredible amount of money on legal fees and holding costs (including home insurance and property taxes). Then when the foreclosure is complete, the lender then needs to sell the house on the market as a foreclosure which takes more time, and more money. All this for a home that is underwater to begin with. Is it any wonder why lenders would opt for the short sale? Sure, they might lose money, but not as much as they would otherwise.
What happens to the remaining balance on the loan?
This depends greatly on the agreement that you came to with the bank. But as a general rule of thumb: Unless the bank explicitly waives their right to come after the homeowner at a later date, the borrower may be on the hook for the unpaid balance! So make sure that you get this detail spelled out in writing before completing the short sale.
Are there other options besides a short sale?
A short sale is only one option if you are having difficulty with your mortgage payments. Here are 4 other alternatives:
A loan modification is when the lender permanently changes the terms of the loan to make the loan more affordable to the homeowner. Most lenders will look at a loan modification under a program known as the Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP. HAMP is a government program created in 2009 to help struggling homeowners.
For more information on the HAMP program, see MakingHomeAffordable.gov.
Deed in lieu of Foreclosure
A deed in lieu of foreclosure, also known as a “mortgage release”, is exactly what it sounds like. The homeowner agrees to give the legal title of the property back to the lender, and in exchange, the lender agrees not to foreclose. Most lenders, however, want to see that attempts have been make to sell the home with a real estate agent before they will agree to a deed in lieu of foreclosure.
Not the best option, but unfortunately, it is sometimes unavoidable. I would only recommend this alternative after all other avenues have been exhausted.
If you are not underwater, then just sell the house. This can be a hard alternative to entertain. This is your home. This is your family’s home. But in my experience, home is wherever you are happy and with the ones you love. A house is just a thing.
I hope that I have explained a little bit about short sales in a way that make sense. By no means is this avenue an easy one, and the steps to actually pull one off is the subject for another day. But just know that there are options out there for you if you struggling. It happens to the best of us.
This is a shout out to all my single ladies out there.
Now let me explain…
According to researchers at the Housing Finance Policy Center of the Urban Institute, single women are statistically better at paying their mortgages and default less than their male counterparts.
Also, even though, on average, they have lower incomes than single men, they tend to put down larger down payments.
Single women are now the second largest group of buyers of real estate. They account for between 15% - 20% of all home purchases.
Yet, still, single females are charged more for loans, and are denied credit more often.
However...lenders are starting to see what real estate agents already know. That they are missing out on a lot of good mortgages, and they are starting to come around. So don’t despair my lovely ladies, you are being heard, and you are definitely being noticed!
Call me today and we will find you that perfect place to call home!
Michele Boyer, REALTOR