A helpful moving checklist

You have an accepted offer on your dream home. Now what? Besides the inspections and financing responsibilities to do before closing, there’s a houseful of stuff to move. Here is a handy checklist from ABR Home Buying Resources designed to help you organize from 8 weeks out all the way to moving out and moving in.

Rebac

Tips for a NW Wisconsin real estate market in transition

I have several buyers who are patiently watching the MLS listings for an especially good deal.  I’ve also been passing along listings that seem like a good fit.  Sometimes buyers have been ready to move quickly, and that’s paid off.

Other buyers were busy with work and family commitments, and they needed to wait a couple weeks before we could schedule a showing.  Sometimes that still works out.  But other times I’ve requested a showing and learned that another buyer has just made an offer that’s already been accepted.  Notice a pattern here???

I’m a Realtor, and of course you’d expect me to say that right now is a great time to buy or sell.  But the thing is, right now that’s especially true.  Consumer confidence is up, we’ve been seeing some promising economic indicators, interest rates are still low, and our Northwestern Wisconsin real estate market is moving faster than the snow was melting this spring.  (April 25 update: snow is gone, lakes are mostly open.) That’s good news for buyers and sellers alike.

If you’re a seller, you’ll still be facing some competition.  There’s a lot of inventory out there, and it’s important to have realistic expectations about what your home, cabin, or land is actually worth in today’s market.  But prices are more stable; homes priced correctly for the local market are selling quickly. Homes priced on the high side are languishing.

And if you’re a buyer, here are some tips to keep in mind during this transitional market.  Even if our market here in NW WI isn’t white hot, it’s at least warming up enough so you’ll need to let go of certain assumptions that are no longer valid.  If you find something you like and it’s a good value, don’t assume no one else has noticed it and come to a similar conclusion.  Instead, please call me so we can schedule a showing now.

If we go take a look and you like what you see, don’t assume you’ll be able to think things over for even a couple weeks before you take a second look.  Someone else with similar tastes may have also seen this home or cabin for the bargain it is.  By the time you’ve taken two more months to think it over, their moving van could already be backing up to the front door.

Finally, here’s one last bit of advice.  Pursue perfection, but prioritize your wants and needs.  Now, not all of my buyers have the same dreams.  Some, for example, want a sandy beach, while others want a small quiet lake that’s better for fishing and watching wildlife.  But when you do find the location that’s just right for you, you can always remodel the bathroom or replace that pink carpeting in the guest bedroom.  Know what matters most, and know what you want so you’ll be ready when you see it.

Thinking of buying or selling real estate in NW Wisconsin? Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634. Email: jeanhedren@edinarealty.com.

Preapproval will strengthen your negotiating power

Ready to make an offer on that dream lake home or cabin? 

A preapproval letter from your mortgage lender can be an important tool to strengthen your negotiating power. Sellers and listing agents tend to take offers more seriously when the buyer has been preapproved.

When you have found your dream home, and you are ready to make an offer, submitting a preapproval letter with the offer says you are a serious and committed buyer.

A preapproval letter is based on a preliminary review of your credit information and preapproves you up to a maximum loan amount. Because a preapproval includes a credit check, it’s more powerful than a prequalification letter, which only estimates your potential buying power.

With a preapproval letter, you can confidently shop for a home in your price range, and you are in a position to negotiate an offer – especially when there are multiple offers for the home you want.

Need a great lender? Contact Sandy Vesel, Edina Realty Mortgage.

As you prepare to make one of the biggest purchases of your life, a preapproval can ensure that you are in a loan program that meets your needs. Call Jean Hedren, Your Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor at 218-590-6634. Start your property search: www.JeanHedren.com

It’s 2019. Where’s your new up north cabin?

If you’ve resolved that this is the year to buy a new lake home or cabin in northwest Wisconsin, then it’s time to get started.

If one of your new year’s resolutions was to find a new lake home or cabin and get moved in before Memorial Day weekend, well, then I am a little concerned.

Here’s why: It may take us a while to find the lake and the cabin that are just right for you. Figure a little negotiating before you have an accepted offer, and then typically about another 60 days before the actual closing can take place. (With new banking regulations that have recently gone into effect, the few exceptions are generally cash offers with no inspections or other contingencies. They can usually happen faster.)

So if you’d like to enjoy weekends at your new cabin this summer, it may not make sense to delay your search until May or June. If you want to actually own that cabin by May or June, then the time to get started is right now.

If we get underway quickly and things happen fast, there’s still one situation when a late spring could complicate your plans. That’s if you’re buying a three-season cabin that has its water turned off in the winter. You’ll probably want an inspection, and it’s hard to inspect a cabin’s well, septic system, and plumbing without turning on the water. But even then, I’m usually able to help buyers and sellers work things out.

And if you’re buying a year-round lake home or cabin, the best time to buy is… Year-round. So if you’re ready to turn those up-north cabin dreams into reality, give me a call now at 218-590-6634. Or, you can reach me at jeanhedren@edinarealty.com.

What type of mortgage loan works best for you?

What type of mortgage loan works best for you? 

Your mortgage loan consultant will be able to discuss the best mortgage loan program for you. Basically all mortgage loans belong to two main groups: conventional and government.

Conventional loans

Two types of conventional loans:

  • Fixed rate: Traditional type of financing. The interest stays the same for the full term of the loan, typically 15 or 30 years with predictable and stable payments.
  • Adjustable rate: An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) interest is linked to a financial index, such as a treasury security, so the monthly payment can vary over the life of the loan, usually 25 to 30 years. There are lower initial payments. Some ARMs can be converted to fixed rates generally after the first 5 years.

Government loans

  • FHA loans, which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration, are typically designed to meet the needs of first-time homebuyers with low or moderate incomes. FHA loans can be approved with a down payment as little as 3.5 percent and a credit score as low as 580.
    Often called “helper loans,” they give a boost to potential borrowers who may not be able to secure one otherwise. For this reason, FHA loans have maximum lending limits. Talk with your lender to see what the FHA loan limits are in the counties where you are searching.

    And remember, because the agency is taking on more risk by insuring FHA loans, the borrower is expected to pay mortgage insurance both at the time of closing and on a monthly basis, and the property must be owner-occupied.

  • VA loans, backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, are guaranteed to qualified veterans and active-duty personnel and their spouses. VA loans can be approved with 100 percent financing, meaning VA borrowers are not required to make a down payment.Unlike FHA loans, borrowers do not have to pay mortgage insurance on VA loans.
  • USDA loans, backed by the United States Department of Agriculture mortgage program, are intended to support homeowners who purchase homes in rural and some suburban areas. USDA loans do not require a down payment and may offer lower interest rates; borrowers may have to pay a small mortgage insurance premium in order to offset the lender’s risk.
  • WHEDA: Low down payments and below-market interest rates. Interest rate is fixed for 15 to 30 year loan term.

Ready to enter the buyer’s market?

Need help financing a new property? Understanding the loan types is step one, but you’ll need the help of a qualified expert to get you into your dream home.

Reach out today to get help connecting with a trusted, local mortgage specialist.

Start your property search at www.JeanHedren.com

10 steps to buying your dream home

Buying a home is without doubt the biggest financial commitment you’ll make. It isn’t just about dollars and cents, you are making an investment in your future.

Here are the important steps in the process. I’ll be here to help you every step of the way.

  1. Choose a Realtor® to assist you in the home buying process. The term Realtor® identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®  and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
  2. Get Pre-Approved. It’s the key to increasing your negotiating power. Meet with a mortgage consultant and get pre-approved for a loan. Don’t confuse this with a pre-qualification which is simply an estimate of your potential buying power. A pre-approval is a preliminary review of your credit information and pre-approves you up to a maximum loan amount.
  3. Refine your focus. Discuss your housing needs, wish list, preferred location, and budget.  Searching and previewing your properties online will help to narrow down your choices. I can create an online search for you at www.JeanHedren.com  based on your specifications to help you narrow your choices.
  4. View properties. Once you find homes that meet your criteria, request a tour of several in person so you can be comfortable with what’s on the market. I can show any home, even those listed by another firm. Be realistic with your expectations. There’s no such thing as a perfect home. Make a list of priorities as a guide to evaluate each property.
  5. Make an offer. When you know you’ve found the right property, you may need to act quickly depending on the market conditions. Ask about current market conditions and  get advice about preparing your offer. Several points for negotiation should be included in your offer, including price, financing, terms, date of possession, inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The offer to purchase should also include a period of time to have appropriate inspections completed.
  6. Negotiate terms. Counter offers are common in real estate. Be prepared to be a little flexible on price, closing date, repairs, or other items.
  7. Get an inspection. This is your best chance to have the property’s systems and structure evaluated. In NW Wisconsin, it’s common to have three types of inspections: house, well, and septic system.
  8. The walk-through. Usually a day before closing, do a final walk-through of the house to make sure everything you thought was included in the purchase agreement has remained on the property.
  9. The closing. At the closing you will sign the mortgage loan documents and pay your closing costs. The seller will execute the deed to the property, and the closing agent will record the necessary instruments to give you legal ownership of the property. The keys will be handed to you and the house is yours!
  10. Move in.

Start your home search at www.JeanHedren.com. Call Jean at 218-590-6634 when you are ready to view properties.

The art of finding your dream home: How to narrow down three important criteria

Key Insights

Home type: How to decide between a single-family home, condo or townhome

We admit that in today’s market, the majority of homebuyers and sellers tend to focus on single-family homes. But condos and townhomes can also be a great fit for your family in the short-term or for the long haul.

  • Home type is important. Consider the difference of each space, and how they would work for you now versus in the next 10 years.
  • Think about your location priorities: What’s important to one homebuyer can be completely different from the next.
  • Home features are important, too! Narrow amenity options down by considering what you have now, and how you’d like to see that change.

When deciding what type of home is best for you, here are some questions to consider:

Do you want full control over updating the space? If you plan to knock down walls to create an open floor plan, or if you love to landscape, you might consider a single-family home. Condos and townhomes are usually managed by a homeowners’ association, or HOA, that could limit or regulate your interior and exterior modifications.

Is convenience a large factor in your decision? Although a condo or townhome can be regulated by an HOA, that’s not necessarily a negative thing. In addition to regulating the space, an HOA may provide amenities such as a pool, workout facility, security patrols or lawn service.

So, if you’d like to relax after a long day of work (rather than worrying about setting up sprinklers to water the grass), a home such as a condo or townhome run by an HOA might be something to consider. Just keep in mind, the services from the HOA are not free. You’ll usually be required to pay monthly dues to your HOA.

Whether you decide on a single-family home, condo or townhome, remember — research from the National Association of REALTORS® shows that homebuyers are spending an average of 10 years in a home — so think not only of the home you want now, but also of the property that will suit you for the next several years.

Location: How to decide on a city or neighborhood

Some people prefer to vacation in a relaxing rural cabin, while others want to be in the heart of Uptown Minneapolis. Similarly, everyone has different preferences of where they’d like to settle in to buy a home.

When deciding on a location, consider these factors:

  • School district
  • Commute time to work
  • Safety

Think about what matters most to you, and the type of life you want to live. Rank the list of above criteria in terms of importance, then be sure to follow that list as you consider different areas to live. Remember: While your goal may be to find a home that checks every box off your list, you may have to narrow down must-have items versus nice-to-have amenities.

Home features: Certain features are must-haves for buyers

Just as some location criteria are important to certain buyers, home features can be just as important to others. Do you want the ease of walking into a turnkey home that doesn’t need any new appliances or updates? Or are you excited by the potential of purchasing a fixer-upper that could require months (or even years) of renovations?

Be sure to think about the key features that you’d like to see in your home-to-be, including:

  • Number of bedrooms or bathrooms
  • Status of appliances, possibly with warranties
  • Wallpaper or paint
  • Flooring: Hardwood, carpet or tile
  • Washer and dryer in a dedicated laundry space

Keep in mind that many requirements may stem from things you don’t currently like about your living situation — and that’s okay! There’s no better indication of what you need than knowing what isn’t working for you now.

Carefully consider what you have (or don’t have) now and generate a list of changes and upgrades you’ll need in your new space.

If you’re ready to purchase a house, or if you’d like expert help in deciding which type of home is right for you, reach out any time to get started. Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin, 218-590-6634.