Proof of Purchase

January 31, 2017

People who experience a property loss are usually asked by their insurance company for proof of purchase which can come in the form of a receipt or current inventory of their personal belongings.receipts or inventory.png

Even the most organized people might find it challenging to find receipts for all the valuables in their home. If the inventory isn’t up-to-date, a homeowner might forget to add some items to the claim and may not recognize the omission for long after the claim is settled.

The inventory can serve as a guide to make sure a homeowner gets compensated for all the loss.

Photographs and videos can be adequate proof that the items belonged to the insured. A series of pictures of the different rooms, closets, cabinets and drawers are helpful. When video is used, consider commenting as it is shot and be sure to go slow enough and close enough to things becoming recorded.

For your convenience, download a Home Inventory, complete it, and save a copy off premise. Good places for your inventory could be a safety deposit box or digitally, in the cloud if you have server-based storage available like Dropbox.

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There seems to have been an accepted progression for homeowners going from starter home, to gradually moving into one’s dream home, then, downsizing after becoming an empty nester and finally, into a retirement home. However, Marianne Cusato’s 2016 Aging-in-Place Report indicates that many older Americans don’t plan on following that pattern.46668033-250.jpg

61% of homeowners above the age of 55 intend on staying in their homes indefinitely. 2/3 of them believe that the home’s layout will serve their needs without having to make aging-related improvements.

Some of the reasons being cited for staying in place are:

  • 66% say their home is conveniently located
  • 38% say they live close to their family
  • 68% say they feel independent in their home
  • 54% say they are familiar with their neighborhood
  • 66% say the feel safe in their home

Typical renovations that might be considered for their current home are things like grab bars in the tub or shower, shower seats, taller toilets, handheld showerheads and additional handrails on stairways.

It seems that the report’s conclusion is that regardless of a homeowner’s age, they want to thrive in their home. The same emotional reasons that causes a person to want to buy a home are the things that cause them to hold onto them if is practical.

Attracting Buyers

January 17, 2017

There is a common body of knowledge among real estate professionals that indicates that the longer a home is on the market, the lower the price will be. Many sellers discount this belief in the beginning because they feel confident their home will sell quickly.incentives - article.png

Lowering the price is the most obvious thing that can be done to encourage buyers but it might be good to look at what builders do. Builders offer a variety of incentives such as upgrades, seller-paid closing costs, interest rate buy downs, washers, dryers, refrigerators or big screen TVs.

Interestingly, much of the resale market doesn’t employ these techniques. According to the latest NAR Home Buyers and Sellers Profile, 64% of sellers did not offer any incentives at all.

21% of sellers offer a home warranty. 16% of sellers offered assistance with closing costs and 6% offered credit toward remodeling or repairs.

The attached chart indicates that while 80% of sellers were not willing to offer incentives in the beginning of their marketing period, as weeks passes and their home hasn’t sold, closer to half did add incentives.

The ideal outcome is to maximize proceeds in the shortest time possible with the fewest unexpected issues. This involves having a firm understanding of current, local market conditions and crafting a marketing plan that will insure results.

There is so much at stake, the value of a trusted real estate professional is essential.

The ironic thing about people who think they can’t afford to buy a home for themselves, end up buying the home for their landlord. There are several facts that support this notion.Home is Leveraged Investment-300.png

Mortgages, whether held by an owner-occupant or an investor, are usually amortized so that each payment reduces the principal amount owed so that the loan will be repaid totally over the term. A tenant is inadvertently retiring the landlord’s mortgage with his monthly rent.

In most cases, the mortgage payment including taxes and insurance will be lower than the rent tenants are paying. Some experts are saying that we may never again experience the incredibly low mortgage interest rates currently available.

Renting precludes a person from enjoying the advantage a home has as a leveraged investment. When the borrowed funds cost less than the investment is returning, the rate of return on the down payment grows much faster. As you can see from the chart, a 2% appreciation on a home could result in big returns on the down payment. In most cases, there are very few or no alternative investments that offer homeowners similar returns.

Even if a buyer agrees with all of these things but doesn’t have the down payment or cannot qualify for a loan, they still need to investigate further. To find out exactly what types of loans are available and the specific down payment required which can be a whole lot less than 20%, they need to consult with an experienced, trusted loan professional (an Internet lender or a “BIG” bank may not be the best choice.) Call for a recommendation.

Our Year in Review 2016

Two words for 2016….. Good Riddance! Wow what a year. We experienced lots of loss, illness and just plain sadness. Bert, Boyd’s mom, passed away in March after a long illness living with us for 15 months plus 2 months in the hospital. She had wonderful caretakers and Hospice care for several months and included mine and Boyd’s care at night and weekends. I don’t recommend it as a lifestyle. It was very taxing on us and everyone who interacted with us. Chronic illness and old age is unpleasant to experience and heartbreaking to watch. For a couple of months after she passed we struggled to just figure out what life was to become again.

We moved Hillary to Austin, TX less than two weeks from when Bert died. Hillary was fortunate to land a great job with IBM and works from home. She was sent to Cleveland, OH, Las Vegas and San Francisco in her first year and I’m going with her to Barcelona, Spain the end of February for a global conference she must attend. We plan to go to Paris, France for a few days before returning. Hillary has never been to Europe so I’m excited to be able to tag along.

Eric, Casey, Caleb and Maggie flew out today (1-7-17) headed back to snowy Wyoming. They were able to come home for 2 weeks and we had a great time while they were with us. We’ve all decided that long visits are so much better. We really get to spend good quality time. Boyd and I and Hillary went to Wyoming over July 4th holiday for 8 days and took the kids to Cody, WY near the eastern entrance to Yellowstone. We took them horseback riding for the first time, attended a traditional gun fight in the streets of Cody and visited some great Western museums. We plan to go back in August of this year for the solar eclipse that is supposed to be spectacular. We both made several trips together and separate over the year despite all our interruptions of life. Caleb will turn 8 this month and Maggie turned 4 in October. Thank heavens for Facetime. It makes our time apart from them so much sweeter when we can see and talk to them on the iPad.

I did my usual trips with Real Estate to Washington DC, Huntsville and here in Montgomery. I missed the Orlando trip due to my left knee replacement on November 7th. I’ve struggled and treated my bum knee for about 3 years. After a trip to Savannah I decided enough was enough. I went to Andrews Sports Clinic in Birmingham and after 9 weeks now and finished with rehab I’m on the mend. (Hillary came home to help care for me for a couple of weeks which really helped Boyd out.) Perfect timing for my overseas trip coming up. I’m President of the Montgomery Area Association of REALTORS® for 2017 along with still being Broker of the best team of agents in town. House & Home Real Estate has grown exponentially in 2016 and we are anticipating another banner year as real estate continues to pick up. I couldn’t be happier with my partners Kelly, Daun and Blake. They are truly my second family and it’s nice having people that have your back and take care of each other. They were troopers in November and December during my recovery and truly “angels” during Bert’s illness and passing.

Boyd had a busy year with some intense jobs. He is counting down the months now. His plans are to retire at the end of this year. I’m a little nervous about it, but getting used to the idea. We’ve worked hard to get our finances in short order so we can live on my income. While he’s made a good living in the mechanical world, he’s about tired of it. Not sure if he’ll do some part time work with Bradley or maybe do something else, there’s one thing I know. Boyd Andrews will not be sitting in a recliner watching life pass by. He will likely spend lots of time in Wyoming and Texas seeing our children and I’ll join him when I can as well as do his beloved gun shows with his friend Terry and spend time in Clayton with his cousins.

We did some more projects at the house this year. We had all the brick paver walkways and both patios removed and new stained and patterned concrete added. It has made the exterior look fresh and new. We plan to add the sprinkler system this spring and as always, we’re landscaping and re-landscaping ever so often. I can’t seem to get it like I see it in my head, but it’s getting there. This year we will work on replacing some of our furniture that has seen better days. This home has been so much fun remodeling over the last 12 years. I’m sure it is our forever home. It’s a little tight when the kids are here but it’s only about once a year to have them all with us so we just figure it out. We do enjoy entertaining some of our great friends and watching Auburn football together inside or out. We’ve decided we need a fire pit. We spent Christmas weekend with friends at Lake Martin and really enjoyed hanging out by the fire at night. We also really love our hot tub we put in a couple of years ago. Adding that off our bedroom has been great for my arthritic aches and pains. It’s hell getting old!

I lost 3 Aunts this year. Aunt Frances, Aunt Betty and Aunt Evelyn. Watching my extended family leave my life really has brought a lot of thought and insight about the maternal influence I’ve lost. I was probably closest to my mother’s sister, Aunt Betty. I miss our telephone conversations and visits. She was so much like my grandmother. Kind, sweet, loving and never judgmental. Aunt Frances had Alzheimer’s and Aunt Evelyn had lots of physical health problems. Both attended my brothers annual Christmas gathering in December of 2015. They were both so happy to be with family. Below is a photo of them with my mom.

2016 was a year of removing distractions and some people in my life that were unnecessary. If there’s one thing I’ve been reminded of its superficial relationships and stuff are best to discard. Boyd and I have such wonderful friends and family. We’ve been reminded to focus on those relationships that bring us joy and are reciprocated.

2017 we hope will be a better year without such loss. I love keeping up with family and friends on Facebook and Instagram. Boyd, not so much. He rarely even looks at his Facebook page. He says he doesn’t want everyone to know what he ate for breakfast. Even so, keep in touch and let us hear from you. Wishing you all peace, happiness, health and prosperity for 2017!

Boyd & Carol

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Bert Andrews with our kitty, Lucy

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Aunt Betty in 2015 with our grandchilldren

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Aunt Evelyn, Mom and Aunt Frances in December 2015

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Bert’s caregivers and sister on the day of her funeral

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Horseback riding in the mountains of Wyoming

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Boyd and me at my high school reunion

Facts or Myths

January 3, 2017

  • “It’s impossible to get low down payment loans.” – MYTH!
    FHA down payments are 3.5% and VA is 0%. In some areas, there may be some 0% down payment USDA loans available. FNMA and Freddie Mac have 3% down payment programs.

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  • “It takes perfect credit to get a loan.” – MYTH!
    There is a relationship of better rates to better credit but many issues on a credit report can be explained or corrected. The way to know for sure is to speak to a reliable lender.
  • “If I’ve had a bankruptcy or foreclosure, I can’t qualify.” – MYTH!
    Credit history following a bankruptcy or foreclosure is very important and there can be extenuating circumstances. It only takes a few moments with a reliable lending professional to find out if your individual situation will allow you to qualify for a new mortgage.
  • “Getting pre-approved is expensive.” – MTYH!
    Usually, the only expense to getting pre-approved is the cost of the credit report which could be around $35. The advantage is that you will know that you qualify for a particular mortgage amount.
  • “I should wait to qualify until I find a home.” – MYTH!
    It can take weeks to qualify for a mortgage especially if there are issues that need to be corrected. The best interest rates are only available for the highest credit scores. It is to your advantage to start the qualifying process early in your home search.
  • “All lenders are the same.” – MYTH!
    Reliable lending professionals will explain the entire process before collecting fees, quote fees up-front, have competitive products, do what is necessary to get the loan approved and close at the locked rate and terms. Ask for recommendations from recent borrowers.
  • “Adjustable Rate Mortgages are more expensive than fixed rate mortgages.” – MYTH!
    Adjustable Rate Mortgages can be less expensive than fixed rate mortgages if the buyer’s circumstances warrant it. If a buyer is only going to be in a home for a few years before selling, it can be determined if an ARM loan will result in the lowest way to finance the property. There are many variables and you need to be aware of them before deciding which type of loan to finance your home purchase.

Buyers and Sellers need solid information to make good decisions. Call us with your questions or to get a recommendation of a reliable lender who can give you the real facts.

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