My Blog

Would You Consider Investing?

Where do you stand in life?  Are you already a home owner?  If you are, you may have the investment bug.  Being an investor can be very profitable if you're planning and preparing for the ups and downs that can occur.  It's like any other business.  To get started, you need to have the cash to get your foot in the door.  Some people use the equity in their homes to get started by either buying with a line of credit or by keeping the house they're living in for a rental.  It all depends on the type of investment you're planning on. 

So, there's flipping, rentals, and Airbnbs.  All can be a profitable undertaking.  Some of these strategies take more money than others.  To buy a home as a rental, the lender requires 20% down.  It's considered an income producing property and will be taxed as such.  That's probably why so many people choose to live in their homes for awhile and rent out that initial home as their first rental.  That 20% isn't an issue because it has been your primary residence and now you can get a loan for your future residence with the equity from your starter home.  From there, your investments will turn into cash for the next rental. 

If you're thinking about flipping a home, you probably won't be living in it.  Not only do you need the down payment dollars, you're going to need the funds to repair and update the property.  This is why flips are a risk.  I know many people that have tried the flip and spent too much.  That flip becomes a rental instead. They needed to replace or repay the debt acquired from the repairs.  Doing it right requires a lot of research on location.  You have to get the home at a low enough price and invest the appropriate amount of dollars for it to make sense and come out on top in the end.  Quick turn around time is also very important.  The less you have to pay in taxes and interest, the better.  

Some homes are great Airbnb options based on their location and size.  These homes will need to be furnished and monitored carefully so they have great turnover and will receive good reviews for future customers.  Most Airbnbs have excellent property managers that get clients lined up one after the next and are responsible for the advertising, cleaning, snow removal, and yard work needed to make the home eye appealing and desirable to vacationers.  

All properties have expenses beyond the initial purchase.  You always have insurance, backup utilities, and taxes to pay.  Rentals and Airbnbs will need funding for future repairs.  Careful consideration of expenses lead you to determine the price that is needed to turn your investment into a profitable business.  The greatest thing about buying property is that over the years, with proper upkeep, your value will more than likely go up.  It's a way to pad your retirement plan and live a more comfortable life.  I've encouraged my family to own homes and invest if they can.  It's a much safer risk than investing all you have in the stock market.         

Election 2020

Today is election day.  The American people have been flogged by the press for months and to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure where this is going.  I have very strong values and respect the rights of everyone on this planet.  The wonderful part about being an American is that we are free to exercise our right to vote.  This is still a democracy.  I do hope that young people of today understand the political platforms of the candidates and are not just voting for Covid issues.  Covid is temporary for the most part.  I don't think it will ever go away because it's a virus, but the attempts to find a vaccine are promising.  I would hate to think that voters are casting their ballots based on a candidate just because they feel more should have been done about Covid.  No one can say how it would have been different.  The country was shut down, people have been confined to their homes, and businesses have failed.  The governors of each state were basically controlling the outcome based on their resources.  I'm very pleased with the way our governor handled the process and took steps to open businesses up over the last months.  Covid will continue to affect our lives because it's a virus.  The common cold is a virus, the flu is a virus and they continue to exist. 
I'm a proud American.  My vote was cast based on my moral upbringing.  All people are created equal and should have the right to live in a safe environment.  Our country was the "Melting Pot" of the past and as far as I see it, it is the "Melting Pot" of the future.  God Bless the USA. 

Always Learning

Over the last couple of weeks I've been working on another endorsement to enhance my knowledge of real estate.  By the end of this week, I'll have more to offer the seniors that are making a move and choosing different options in their lives.  When I got started on this educational adventure, I didn't realize all that I needed to learn.  That is so true of so many things in our lives.  We don't know what we don't know.  Real estate is a tricky business.  That's why we're required to have a license, have insurance, and have a code of ethics backed by the state of Nebraska.  It often worries me that people are out there who sell their own homes to unexperienced buyers who think they're getting a great deal because an agent isn't part of the equation.  Did these buyers get a fair shake?  Did the sellers get market value?  Was an inspection or appraisal part of the deal?  Who wrote up the paperwork?  Is anyone scheduling all of the work to be done?  Oh my goodness!  I don't do plumbing, electrical work, construction, mechanical work on my car because I don't know how to do it.  There are many "Do It Yourself" enhancements in homes that are beautiful, but there are probably twice as many that are disasters!  God bless those who try, but if it's a mess when you're done, find an expert to fix it! 
Educate yourself to your heart's content because it will keep your mind active and strong.  I'm a teacher and will always embrace education. There are so many wonderful things to learn about in the world.  Just remember, We don't know what we don't know.  Let the dentist do your dental work, the doctor fix your boo boo's, and let the Realtors handle the work to sell your home.

Being Creative

As first-time homeowners there are several options for purchasing, but some are better than others.  It's really important for buyers to understand what they're asking the sellers for when they make an offer.  Some buyers want to bid the price down and then ask the seller for closing costs.  When doing so, the seller gets to pay all of their closing costs, the commission for the real estate transaction, the buyer's closing and escrow fees, the pre-paid fees and any other applicable fees.  In other words, they get socked!  I'm an advocate for a win-win deal.  A buyer needs to have leverage to bid down the price.  They need to bring the seller an attractive offer with no unnecessary added expenses.  A cash offer can win a deal faster than any other as long as it's within reason!  This is a doggie dog business.  Sellers in the Metro District are getting what they want and more for their properties.  Many of the properties are going way above asking price.  Now obviously, the further a buyer is from the city, the less competition there will be.  A buyer can ask for more.  Give a full price offer and ask for up to 3% sometimes 6% in closing fees.  Buyers with a nice down payment have more leverage and can offer less without asking for closing costs.  Buyers need to realize that when the seller pays their closing costs, as a buyer you're financing the closing costs.  It's smart to have the money to close and finance less.
Your real estate agent knows what you need.  If you're a buyer, ask for the best game plan.  Do you really want the house......or not!?  We know the market well enough to tell you what your options are in order to get the house.  Your agent will try wholeheartedly to help you make the best offer, but that may even be short of what the seller gets in the end.  Agents with years of experience have lost to a higher bidder.  Seems crazy, but we are still in a hot market with too few houses to sell.  So, if you're on the fence and want to sell, now is a great time to put your house on the market!  And buyers, let's go find  house!

One Day at a Time

This has been such a tough week for people.  Everyone is trying to figure out what the new normal is and I doubt that there will be a normal until after we have a vaccine in place.  I miss my parents.  They're shut up in their house and I dare not have contact with them because my job requires me to be out and about showing homes and meeting with clients about listing properties.  We go to church together, have breakfast together about twice a week, and I'm always dropping in on them.  I stopped by their house the other day to pick up some homemade soup and hamburger that I had stored in their freezer and they were at the window waving.  I couldn't help the tears that streamed down my face as I drove away without having any contact with them. Families are torn apart all over the country.  I think of those who have spouses in nursing homes.  What are they going through? 
My heart goes out to business owners.  Not only do I miss browsing through stores, but I miss the routine of going out to eat to relieve myself of having to come up with dinner every evening.  I know that there is carry-out, so I hope we can carry-out the kind of food that we crave!  I also know that the kitchen is still going to be a mess after dinner no matter where it came from!  I'm being petty.  There are so many families out there that I know are scared to death.  In my younger life, I feared that I wouldn't have enough money for the bills at the end of the month, this is so much worse! 
Prayers are flowing from my soul to keep our health care workers safe.  Scientists that are working around the clock to come up with a solution to this pandemic, we applaud you.  The American people are strong and so many have stepped up to assist and creatively lighten the mood or help their neighbors.  If you're struggling, please call someone and talk to them.  If you are feeling strong, call someone and check to make sure they're doing okay.  The fact stands that individuals handle situations differently.  Take it one day at a time.  Sending you strength through our mighty and glorious God.

"As Is"

Have you ever seen a listing that said that the owner was selling "as is"?  What connotations did it create in your mind?  Most people immediately think that there is something wrong with the property.  To be perfectly honest, however, that isn't often the case.  Let me just go through a few scenarios. 
First of all, this property could be for sale because an elderly person has been moved to assisted living or the property could be part of an estate.  Family members often don't have the time to fuss over their loved ones home and may not even live in the area.  It's really difficult to find reliable professionals when you're unfamiliar with an area.  We've been living in Omaha for 7 years now and we still rely on our Nextdoor app for information about painting, lawn care, electricians, etc. 
Second, have you ever been confronted with a huge expense and were forced to put off repairs?  I think about all of the people in this world that have been forced into heart wrenching situations.  Illnesses, the loss of jobs, the loss of a loved one leaving them reeling with debt or facing the issue of declaring bankruptcy.  These people have no choice.  They can't make repairs and most of them wouldn't leave their home if they had the choice.  
Another situation could simply be the fact that the owner has already spent hundreds of dollars to work on their home and they refuse to put another dime into it!  They have the attitude of...."No More!"
There are a plethora of reasons for the "as is" attitude, but as a listing agent, I try to encourage my sellers to resist the urge to put that in their listing.  If we want all parties to win, which is truly the way it should be, then there needs to be some give and take.  Obviously if a buyer is offering some ridiculous low offer, the seller isn't going to do a number of repairs, but someone who loves the house and is excited to offer list price or something very close to list price deserves the seller's consideration for reasonable repairs.  Repairs can be negotiated and no one wants to lose a deal over a $300 electrical repair.  On the other hand, a buyer can be ridiculous and ask for the moon!  Asking the seller for a new HVAC system is a bit over the top.  The agent and seller have probably taken the age of the HVAC system into consideration when discussing the listing price for the home.  Like I said, positive things happen when buyers and sellers are reasonable allowing all parties to win!

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2020!  I don't know about you, but I tend to think of New Year's resolutions but never actually make any.  I like to think of goals that seem practical for myself in business and at home instead.  I suppose "at home" can mean a lot of things, but I generally just think in terms of my house that needs work all the time.  I'll never be DONE with it!  On that note, however, if you're planning to move in 2020, you're probably wondering what you need to do to spruce up the existing home you're in.  A realtor is a very good source when it comes to making preparations.  We go into homes all the time and hear what people are saying as they seek out their future homes.  The difficult thing for a homeowner to do is step back and think in terms of the buyer that's walking into a home for the first time. 
It starts with curb appeal.  Cleaning out and trimming bushes and trees, washing the windows, sweeping the porch and walkways.  If you can, bring in some planters that add life to the property.  I could go into more detail, but the basics are the best way to start.  On the inside, a fresh smell goes a long way.  If you have pets, you may not notice the odor, but I guarantee you that people without pets know the second they walk in the door if you have a dog or cat in the house.  Fresh paint (don't forget the trim) and cleaning the carpet are pretty simple fixes.  The inside isn't much different than the outside.  First clean!  Then remove clutter.  When I moved 7 years ago, I rented a storage unit and loaded it up with stuff that I probably should have rid myself of years ago.  Time to go through everything is often a problem and I loved my grandpa's attitude about putting off today what you can do tomorrow!  Ha!  He did say it with a big grin on his face.  The fact of the matter is, that many people are super busy and time gets away from us.  Using that storage unit was a blessing to me.  I had enough on my plate without sorting through all of the stuff our family had accumulated over 22 years.  Ugh!  The kids left for college and I still have their stuff!  So, after clutter, make the repairs that you've put off for the last 3 years.  You know which ones I'm talking about, the towel holder that came loose in the bathroom, the door knob that sticks, the window that has a crack in the corner.  Most of that little repair stuff doesn't bother many of us, but potential buyers will go through the house and pick it apart.  They'll notice if owners have kept up on repairs.  When someone puts an offer on your house and wants an inspection, watch out!  The fact that you haven't worked on the interior of your home can snap you to attention quickly and there can be some very expensive "to do's" in the process.  Prepare yourself and plan ahead.  Your realtor will tell you that repairs are negotiable, but if we're looking at an FHA or VA loan, they really aren't. 
Hopefully you understand the fact that advanced planning makes a huge difference.  I love it when a client calls me months in advance to tell me they're going to be moving.  It gives us time to look things over and discuss the best repairs or changes to make.  It gives the family time to sort, repair, and alter existing issues.  All of this planning can save the seller money down the road.  Let me give you a for instance.....a fellow realtor had a house for sale that desperately needed carpet.  The carpet would have cost about $2000 for the entire living room, dining room, and bedrooms.  I'm not talking expensive carpet, there is no reason to go overboard when you just need it to look inviting and, how long it lasts is not going to be important.  It's clean and the future owners can live with it until they choose the style/color they want for their decorating desires.  Well, the carpet was never done and they lowered the price numerous times because of the "condition of the property."  The house was solid, but the updates and the fact that the carpet was absolutely a necessity before anyone could live there created the "condition!"  They gave up far more than $2000 to sell.  It broke my heart to see the reductions.  They could have gotten so much more than they did.  Some conditions can't be changed, but this was an easy alteration.  Even if you don't have the money at the time, there are ways to get things done and paid for at closing.  
What are your plans for 2020?  If you're considering a move, please give me call.  I'd like to be your guide from beginning to end.  Have a very awesome New Year!

Grateful Moments

This morning I was going through my gifts and checking my list long enough to stop and consider what it was that I really valued at this time of year.  It's a time when we also need to stop and think about the things that we're grateful for.  Some of us have been riddled with sorrows that are unimaginable to most and some have been blessed with abundant love and generosity.  Then there are those that just slipped through a year that really had no significance at all.  I'm happy to say that I seem to have many that simply run together, but are full of gifts that I fill my heart with on a regular basis.  It's important to stop and consider what has happened throughout the year.  Maybe that's why we make New Year's Resolutions.  We need to make that stop to think about how we're living our life and what we are striving for in our future.
So, what am I grateful for?   I have the ability to learn and enrich my life with knowledge, my work and activities bring me close to people that I may never have had the opportunity to meet, and I'm living in a country that allows me unimaginable freedoms that so many countries in the world can't even comprehend.  All of that is good, but the best is having been blessed with family, friends, and the love of the Jesus.  This is the Season of Love.  Have a safe and happy holiday.

Past Post "Heart Strings"

I wrote a post several years ago with the title "Heart Strings."  I noticed recently that there is a movie coming out with that title.  Nothing related I'm sure, but as old as my post is, it is still relevant today.  I thought I'd start my new blog with my old post and try to be far more diligent about posting in the future so here you go........  

Several years ago my husband and I put our house on the market.  I was a teacher at the time and didn't know how the real estate market worked.  The agent we were working with suggested a price for our home that was somewhat below what we were hoping to get from our sale.  Let's face it, I thought my home had great amenities!  It was a good buy for families with children for many reasons.  I had spent many hours cleaning, painting, and gardening in my yard.  My heart was attached to my house!  When it came time to lower the price, I barely budged.  The problem with this was that there were other houses comparable to mine that were also on the market with a price tag that said, "Buy me!"  Unfortunately, we didn't sell our house and ended up taking it off the market.  
Now I'm a real estate agent and know what the issue was.  It made me understand how very important it was to help sellers understand what happens when you price a home too high.  You want to attract a buyer early.  The longer it's on the market, the more difficult it will be to move.  Buyers start asking questions like, "What's wrong with this house?  "Why has it been on the market so long?" and in the end may deliver a low offer that is more like a slap in the face than a purchase price!  
My advice is to listen to the agent and ask questions about the market in order to understand why your house fits a certain category.  It's not always what you want to hear because your heart strings bring out that emotional connection, but the facts will help you to effectively move your home and start creating memories in a new house that better fits your needs.

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