Top 5 Home Selling Mistakes to Avoid in Lewiston, NY

 

If you are ready to list your Lewiston, NY home for sale, set yourself up for success by avoiding these 5 common selling mistakes:

  1. Putting your home on the market prematurely.

    Presentation is everything when it comes to selling your home. So, before you place your home on the market, address any and all needed repairs, de-clutter, depersonalize and consider staging.

  2. Improper pricing.

    In many cases, homeowners choose to price their home above current market value. The sales price of your home will be determined by the current market value; in other words, what buyers in Lewiston, NY are willing to pay for your property. To determine the fair market value of your home, check recent comparable properties and recent sales in the surrounding area. Working with an experienced real estate agent is key to setting the right price.

  3. Lack of marketing.

    Once your home is listed for sale, it is important to market the property to prospective buyers. This is where using a professional real estate agent really pays off as they are experts in marketing your home through special events, open houses, and professional photographs with descriptions listed on a variety of sites help to place your property in the best possible light, in front of the widest possible audience of buyers.

  4. Hiring an inexperienced agent.

    Don’t place one of your largest financial assets in the hands of an inexperienced real estate agent. Choose a professional with not only general experience, but someone familiar with your type of property and neighborhood.

  5. Don’t do it alone.

    While it is tempting to list your property yourself to avoid the costs and fees associated with hiring an experienced real estate agent, this decision could be costly. A local agent stays abreast of the current home market conditions, trends and laws that could affect the pricing and ultimately, the sale of your property. A mistake in the sales process can be very costly and time consuming.

Armed with this information, work to proactively avoid these common mistakes when you list your property for sale. If you’re thinking of selling and would like to discuss what you could get for your home, call us today.

Kitchen Remodeling Trends in Lewiston, NY

Almost half of all new homeowners in Lewiston update their home with some sort of home improvement project. Most new homeowners will partake in a remodeling job within a few months of buying their new home. Kitchen remodeling projects are among the top remodeling projects for homeowners in Lewiston and other surrounding neighborhoods. From switching out and updating the appliances to changing out the back splash small improvements can make all of the difference.

When it comes time to remodel your Lewiston, NY home, you may be confused on where to invest your money. If you want to invest in a remodeling job that is going to raise the value of your home then the kitchen is a great place to start. Even a minor investment can pay off big when it comes to resale value. Here are the current top trends in kitchen remodeling:

  • Eco –Friendly products & Features –

    Consumers love eco-friendly products and are more likely to purchase a Lewiston, NY home that has eco-friendly appliances or updates. Energy Star appliances can help conserve energy and are better for the environment as well as your budget. Energy saving windows are another great investment that will maintain the heat in your home and lower your monthly energy bills as well.

  • Quartz & Granite –

    When Lewiston residents are surveyed almost all of them agree that one area of home improvement that is essential to a kitchen makeover is new counter tops. Granite and quartz are some of the most popular options for counter tops. Both of these materials are excellent at resisting stains and can really take a beating without sustaining damage.

  • Professional Grade Stoves –

    Lewiston residents love a professional chef stove with all of the bells and whistles. A trendy home remodel that includes a stove with professional grade features such as an electric griddle or flat cooktop are excellent selling points that can often bring you a return on your investment when you are ready to sell your home. Professional grade appliances are a sure fire way to impress buyers and make your home one that stands out from the rest.

Home Loan Assumability is Making a Comeback in Lewiston

 

As interest rates slowly increase, we’re starting to see more and more buyers in Lewiston, NY taking advantage of assumable home loans to make the purchase. Mortgage assumability is a feature that enables home buyers to take on the loan previously obtained by the seller. The catch here is that the buyer has to pay interest at the same rate as the seller did. This feature is limited to mortgages that are covered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) or the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). If you have a loan insured by either of these government bodies and are looking to sell your home, now is the time to market the mortgage along with the home.

With interest rates increasing, this is a convenient option for potential home buyers in Lewiston since the seller may have obtained the mortgage at a rate lower than the prevailing one in the market today. Aside from the cheaper mortgage payment, there are a few other benefits of home loan assumability for the buyers:

  • The buyer doesn’t have to pay the additional processing fees charged by lenders when originating a new home loan. There are many charges and expenses associated with getting a new mortgage that are completely avoided.

  • The buyer doesn’t have to get the house appraised (and pay for this expense). Many buyers may still bear this expense voluntarily but its not a requirement when taking advantage of an assumable loan.

  • A recording tax may not have to be paid. A recording tax is normally paid each time a mortgage is obtained on a property. In this case, since a new mortgage is not being originated, a new tax will likely be avoided altogether.

  • Since some part of the loan would have already been paid off by the seller, it is likely that a larger chunk of the mortgage payment goes towards paying off the principal amount.

These are some of the benefits for home buyers to assume home loans when buying a new home in Lewiston. Now this may not turn out to be the best option for all buyers. For instance, if you are looking to buy a home for the first time, you might not be able to get 100% financing. Let’s say the value of the house is $150,000 while the seller owes $100,000. You will have to make up the difference of $50,000 by paying cash or by negotiating with the seller for seller financing.

Buyers also still have to undergo the standard screening process for creditworthiness by the VA or FHA. Finally, the buyer has to waive the seller off all future responsibilities and obligations pertaining to the loan.

In a market where interest rates are on the rise, home loan assumability is a great option for buyers. Interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of this? Give us a call and we’d be happy to discuss.

 

Self-Employed in Lewiston, NY? Getting a Loan Takes Planning

You don’t have to tell anyone who is self-employed that there are extra costs that go with the benefits. In addition to the long hours and weight of responsibility that come with the job description, getting a home loan has always added special challenges. Now that we are into the new Dodd-Frank era of federal oversight, some of the changes warrant an early heads-up.

The 2010 legislation that went into effect on January 10 created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with the function of tightening the rules lenders follow in order to discourage the issuing of mortgages that borrowers can’t be reasonably expected to be able to repay. To deliver on that worthy purpose, more proof and more paperwork will be required to support the income claimed on loan applications (here you might well be hearing an imaginary smacking sound from self-employed persons reading this and whacking their foreheads—paperwork is the bane of the self-employed).

If you are your own boss and getting a loan in Lewiston, NY is on your horizon, take heart! Just because it may be more difficult to apply for home loan doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

The new lending rules describe eight specific factors lenders should verify and document before advancing home loans. They includes the borrower’s assets, credit history, employment status and other debt obligations. The penalty for lenders who fail to do so adequately is that they may be legally liable if a borrower proves unable to repay.

For the self-employed, the extra burden can come with the requirement that borrowers be able to show consistent income (hear that forehead-smacking sound again?) The general rule is that borrowers be able to provide at least two years’ worth of personal tax returns. Since self-employed people getting a loan in Lewiston often have perfectly valid reasons for fluctuating annual incomes, it’s vital to talk with a broker and lender as early as possible to establish the taxable income level needed to qualify for a loan.

That talk should cover other areas. For instance, self-employed people have greater flexibility than most when it comes to reporting deductible expenses on their income tax forms. Since those same deductions result in lower net incomes, that can be problematical when it comes to getting a loan. One way to counter that problem is to demonstrate that the expenses incurred were used to buy things that will improve their business in the long term. Another approach is demonstrate that similar expenses are not likely to re-occur (particularly apt when a business is just starting up).

If you are among the self-employed—and plan on getting a loan—planning is key.  Get your ducks in a row now so the loan process doesn’t derail you later. It’s never too early to call me us an early resource before we get to move on to the fun stuff—your Lewiston home search!  Start searching now at www.greatlakesre.com/search.php 

Latest Lewiston Home Design Ideas Focus on Kitchen Updates

Keeping your Lewiston kitchen looking up-to-date doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Contemporary home design in Lewiston is all about knowing what the latest trends are and which to choose when regular maintenance calls for a change in appliances or décor.

This year, eco-friendly appliances are definitely ‘in’—as are the pops of bright color meant to create a vivid and welcoming kitchen. And as convenience features continue to evolve, those are increasingly prominent factors influencing design choices. Especially if you are planning to sell your Lewiston home in the near future, there are a few home design directions that are most likely to impress prospective buyers who’ve been exploring the latest kitchen trends:

Going green is a pronounced trend, not just in home design. Using renewable, Earth-friendly materials can be a way to update a kitchen while minimizing environmental impact. A sample idea would be a sustainable bamboo parquet butcher block to grace the kitchen counter or table. They come in beautiful, rich wood tones, and when large enough to cover a substantial counter area, can warm the feel of the entire room.

Another (almost diametrically opposed) current direction is to deck the kitchen out with a few of the latest high-tech gadgets. Even if you resist an ultra-modern look, a few chic techie touches can add a dash of luxury to your home. One example: Siemens makes a multimedia ventilation hood that has a 17-inch LCD screen with options for listening to music or watching TV.  It’s a creative way to make cooking more entertaining—and one that would certainly help make your Lewiston listing stand out!

Bright colors have not always been popular in kitchens, but lately, appliance manufacturers have been less shy about offering exuberant finishes. You can find dishwashers, blenders, toasters, microwaves and refrigerators in bright blues, pinks, yellows, greens and oranges. It can be an inexpensive way to add a splash of color to your kitchen…although if you are planning on selling soon, in many instances we’d recommend caution: perhaps confining the color pops to bright accent pillows or colorful floral arrangements.

Copper is also an increasingly popular trend in kitchen design this year. Its natural antibacterial properties make it a practical home design element, and that cool, rustic hue looks great in warm, gold-toned kitchens. Copper sinks and faucets are both practical and stylish (although keeping them bright and shiny can be another story!).

If you are thinking of selling soon, consider incorporating one or two current Lewiston home design ideas if your kitchen could use a decor infusion.  Looking for more ideas?  Contact us today to discuss what is making today’s homes S-E-L-L! www.greatlakesre.com

Buying a Lewiston NY House: Is Buying New the Best Choice?

When it comes to buying a house in Lewiston, almost the first thing most of us do is to check the online listings to see what’s out there that catches our eye. That quick first look will usually reflect some preferences most of us don’t even bother to think about (that is, until we’re buying a house).

Sometimes they stem from our earliest childhood memories—the impressions that shape what ‘home’ should look like. Sometimes, those preferences have developed over time as an expression of our personal style. One preference can be a real trouble-maker if a couple discovers that their outlooks don’t match. It’s the one about which kind of home is more appealing: a brand new one (actually, the National Association of Home Builders defines a “new” home as one less than four years old) or an older, established home.

People who automatically tilt toward new homes can be following straightforward reasoning that goes without question. They don’t shop for used clothing; they know when they need another automobile they’re only interested in the newest model—so why in the world would they be drawn to a house that’s a hand-me-down?

People on the other side of the preference divide find new constructions lacking in the warmth and history an older home embodies. Out in the yard, they see fresh cement walkways and new plantings as pale imitations of the majesty of the grand, mature landscaping found in well-established neighborhoods.

However, We’ve often found that when our clients are buying a house in Lewiston, their new vs. established home leaning will sometimes disappear in the face of some immediate practical advantages. A few points:

  • More than 70% of single-family homes were built prior to 1990, according to Realty Trac. The result is more than twice the variety from which to choose.
  • Older, established properties are synonymous with close-knit communities where residents know one another and their children. Buying a house in such a neighborhood can mean great support and community.
  • New developments can create a fresh gathering spot for families who are all starting out together. The opportunity to build new institutions shaped to modern preferences can mean the establishment of a host of lasting friendships, in some cases bolstered by shared community recreational facilities.
  • Older homes can have larger lot sizes owing to lower land prices in the past. Then there are those shade trees that have been growing for generations…
  • Most new homes have been designed to accommodate our modern addiction to acquiring stuff. If a walk-in closet in a must, an older house is less likely to fill the bill.
  • Older homes are generally more expensive to maintain. According to the American Housing Survey, 26% of owners of older homes spent more than $100 a month on upkeep—while just 11% of the owners of new homes spent as much. In fact, 73% of the new home owners spend less than $25 a month for maintenance.

Ultimately the decision to buy an old or new house will come down to a combination of personal taste (“I don’t care: I love this house!”) and/or requirements (“I can’t live without _________”).

The takeaway: if you are planning on buying a Lewiston house, don’t automatically eliminate all the new ones or all the older ones. Give us a call: let’s take a look! Search now at www.greatlakesre.com.

8 Surprising Disclosures Requested of Lewiston NY Home Sellers

If you’ve never been involved in selling a home before, you may be surprised as to how much paperwork is involved. Dozens of documents need to be reviewed, and dozens more need to be duly signed and notarized to make them “official”.

What really surprises our Lewiston first-time sellers is the disclosure aspect of the sales process. Many first-timers are shocked by the numerous open-ended queries involving issues and events you may not have even considered significant (and some even from times before you acquired your Lewiston home). Believe it or not, many of the disclosures are required by law to prevent any future lawsuits between you (the seller) and the home buyer.

To give you an idea just how surprisingly deep some of the questions are, we’ve picked out a few that most often leave Lewiston home sellers surprised at the need to disclose them:

Are you aware of…

  • any alterations, modifications, remodeling, replacements, or material repairs on the property?
  • the release of an illegal or controlled substance on or beneath the property?
  • an order from a government health official identifying the property as being contaminated by methamphetamine?
  • any renovations of lead based paint surfaces completed in compliance with the EA lead base paint renovation rule?
  • past or present odors, urine, feces, discoloration, stains, spots, or damage from pets?
  • diseases or infestations affecting trees, plants, or vegetation on or near the property?
  • fill (compacted or otherwise) on the property or any portion thereof?
  • financial relief or assistance or settlement, sought or received by past or present owners of the property, due to any actual or illegal damage?

If you do come across there types of questions, don’t feel singled out – you’re not being targeted for anything you’ve done. Many of the disclosures are commonly used throughout the state and apply to most Lewiston home sales.

Wondering about other surprising aspects of the home sale process? Give us a call and we would love to walk you through everything involved. We’ll get through this together!  Visit our home at www.greatlakesre.com.

Estimated closing costs to buyers and sellers in Lewiston, NY

In a typical real estate transaction there are buyers costs and seller costs. Here is the
breakdown.

Seller Costs:

  • Search update $350.00-$1000.00 depending on having the original
  • Survey $400.00 estimate
  • Transfer Tax $4.00/$1,000 of sale price in Niagara County
  • Water/Sewer letter $100.00 estimate
  • TP 584 recording $5.00
  • Realty Commission estimated 6-7% of sale price
  • Seller’s Attorney $350.00-$700.00

Buyers Costs:

  • Buyer’s Attorney: $350.00-$700.00
  • Deed Recording: $33.00 + $3.00 per page
  • RP 5217: $125.00 for residential properties (1-3 family homes), $250.00 for all other types
  • Bank Fees if applying for financing:
    1. Application fee: $250.00 estimated
    2. Credit check: $75.00 estimated
    3. Appraisal Fee: $250.00 estimated
    4. Bank’s Attorney: $400.00 *banks generally make buyers pay for their attorney!*
    5. Title Insurance: $600-$800.00 *formula only insures the mortgage not buyer*
    6. Record Mortgage: $33.00 + $3.00 per page
    7. Mortgage Tax: .5% first $10,000.00, .75% on balance above $10,000.00
    8. Affidavits: $33.00 + $3.00 per page. *Not always required but common*
    9. Interim Interest: Depends on mortgage amount, covers up to the first payment
    10. Escrow Taxes: Depends on bank, usually ½ of total annual taxes

Buying Your First House in Lewiston NY

center_street_east_sign  If you are a first-time home buyer in Lewiston, NY, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the process. However, if you have an idea of what to expect it can make the process much more enjoyable. Let’s face it, this is one of the most exciting things a person will do in his or her life. So, don’t be overwhelmed by the number of items listed or their complexity. Your REALTOR®, attorney and loan officer will guide you through this process. Many of the tasks are handled directly by these these professionals.

THE STEPS:

1) PRE-QUALIFYING Figure out how much you can afford to spend on a house in Lewiston or Youngstown. Refer to our article ”pre-qualifying for a mortgage” for more information on how to figure what you can afford monthly for a mortgage.  It is also a good idea to get “pre-approved” for a loan. Pre-approval is a similar process but goes much more in-depth with regards to your credit and income verification, but once approved, you are a guaranteed buyer which can be an asset when making an offer on a house. Once you have determined how much you can afford to spend, the next step is to actually start shopping for your dream home in Lewiston. You can start your search right here on the internet where up to almost 90% of current home buyers are starting their search!

2) CHOOSE A LOCATION Next, you should have an idea of where you would like to live.   Lewiston is a wonderful place to buy a home.  There are several resources on the internet to research communities for information on crime, school systems, cost of living information and more. For the most part, you should count on spending 2 to 4 weeks looking at homes. This will give you enough time to look at plenty of homes and make your decision.  Be careful not to get bogged down in the process of trying to find that “perfect” home. If you take longer than a month, you risk the chance of loosing a home that you would have liked.

3) MAKE AN OFFER When you find a home in Lewiston or Youngstown that you want to purchase, the next thing to do is make an offer to purchase. Your agent will prepare a standard residential sales contract approved by the Bar Association for your area.  An attorney may or may not be necessary at this point, (most sales contracts are fairly standard) but will be required later in the process. However, you may decide that you want an attorney to review the contract. It is now common for contracts to include an “Attorney Approval Period” clause in the contract that allows your attorney 72 hours to review a contract that you have signed and either approve or disapprove without any consequence to you. The sales contract will most likely contain some contingencies or riders attached to the contract. Examples of some contingencies are: your obtaining financing for a specified rate and term, selling your current home, or obtaining a satisfactory home inspection just to name a few. You will certainly want to view the seller’s property condition disclosure form and their lead based paint disclosure form before you sign the contract.

When you make an offer to purchase a home you should include an earnest money deposit. The deposit can be as little as $100.00 but should customarily be at least $1,000.00 or more depending on the price of the home. This indicates to the seller that you are making a serious offer. The earnest money deposit is not an extra fee. It is considered part of your down payment required by the bank. The earnest money can be in the form of a check and is fully refundable if your offer is not accepted! It should be deposited in a real estate broker’s escrow account or an attorney escrow account and will be applied to your down payment. If the sale is not finalized for a reason beyond your control , the earnest money will be returned to you.

Remember, your initial offer may not be accepted. So, subsequent offers and counter offers may take place until all terms are agreed upon by both parties.  OK, they have accepted your offer! Now what?

4) HOME INSPECTION After agreeing to purchase, it is a good idea to have the home inspected by a professional home inspector. The buyer normally pays for the home  inspection and generally cost between $200 and $500.  The home inspection should be listed in the contract as a sale contingency. This way you have an “out” should the inspector find serious problems. The home inspection usually takes place within 5 days after signing   the contract. If there are any major flaws in the home, they can be dealt with before you apply for the mortgage should you choose to go ahead with the purchase.

5) FORMAL LOAN APPLICATION You will probably have to pay a loan application fee of $100 to $300.  Some lenders also charge you prepaid points. One point refers to 1% of the loan amount. Points are paid to the lender as a way of “buying down” the interest rate. You may decide to “lock in” the rate at this time, or the lender may allow you to do it at a later point in time. If you have been pre-approved for a loan, some of the steps in this process will have  already been completed.

Items needed to make formal application:  (Items vary depending on the lender)

- Social Security cards & driver’s licenses
- Residence addresses for the past 2– 5 years
- Your landlord’s name and address
- Names and addresses of each employer (past 2 – 5 years)
- Your most recent pay stubs
- Two years signed tax returns & W2′s
- Names, addresses, account numbers, and balances of all checking, savings, credit cards, and installment loans
- Two most recent bank statements on all accounts
- Information on any assets
- Information on all real estate owned
- Copy of fully executed sales contract, riders
- Divorce decree & child support agreements
- Application fee

You will receive a “good faith” estimate of the closing costs from the lender called a “RESPA” Statement. It includes the costs for: points,  appraisal, title search, title insurance, survey, recording of deeds and the bank’s attorney fees.

Other items you should be familiar with:

Title Search – This is usually required by the lender. Most contracts require the seller to provide you with an “abstract of title” showing clean title (one without any liens against it). An abstract of title is a booklet that outlays every previous owner and all mortgages that were liens against the property at any given time. They can be quite interesting to review. (Provided by the seller at the sellers expense.)

Title Insurance – The lender will require a title insurance policy for THEIR own protection. Also known as a mortgagee policy,this is the lender’s way of protecting their interest should a title issue arise.  The insurance policy covers any problems with title.(Paid for by the purchaser)

Buyer’s Title Insurance – Also know as a Fee policy, this type of title insurance policy covers you, the buyer, in the event that the title is not clear.  This type of policy is optional and is paid for by you the buyer if you desire a policy.

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – Again, this  is something that most lenders require if your down payment is less than 20% of the purchase price. It is a protection for the lender in case you default on the loan. (Much has been written about PMI. Once you own 20% equity in your new home you can apply to have the PMI portion of your payment eliminated.) This feature is being phased out in 2013.  PMI will be required for the length of the loan.

Homeowner’s Insurance – This is an insurance policy that covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home in the event of a fire or other catastrophe.  It also covers liability should someone get injured on your property. Obviously, this is beneficial to both you and the lender. IT is wise to shop around for hazard insurance. Like auto insurance premiums can be all over the place. Once again, you can search our associate database for an insurance company near you.

With the exception of the homeowner’s insurance, all of the above costs plus any additional ones such as the appraisal, survey, recording of deeds and the bank’s attorney fees will be included in the RESPA provided by the lender. The entire cost to you, the buyer, will usually be in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 excluding points. (The actual amount may be higher or lower than these limits.) The amount of points that you will have to pay depends on the lender’s policies, the amount of your down payment, the term and the amount of the mortgage.

This means that you should count on having this much cash available besides the amount of your down payment and the amount of points paid to the lender.The down payment is usually a minimum of 5% of the selling price but can be as low as 3% or even 0%.

So, how much will this cost? Let’s take an example of a $100,000 home. Suppose your lender allows you to put a 5% down payment on the house, and your closing costs will be between $1,000 and $1,500.

Down payment $5,000
Closing costs $1,000 to $ 1,500
——————
Total $6,000 to $6,500

6) MORTGAGE COMMITMENT If your mortgage is approved, the lender will send you a letter of commitment. The commitment letter demonstrates the banks commitment to providing the mortgage money. Once your loan is committed the attorneys can agree on a closing date. The closing is the day that the actual transaction takes place, where you hand over the money and the seller hands over the deed. A few days prior to closing you should do a final walk-through. This is your opportunity to inspect the home one last time before closing to ensure that none of the permanently attached fixtures have been removed and that the home is in the same condition as when you first decided to purchase.

That’s it! After signing a boatload of documents and recording your deed at the Niagara County courthouse you will officially join the many proud owners of a home in Lewiston, New York.  You have achieved the  “American Dream”.