How to get rid of the PMI on your home.

PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance reduces the risk to lenders who write loans that require a low down payment (under 20%). This insurance 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 the balance left on the loan. Now that we know what PMI is, let’s talk about the ways we can have the bank cancel the PMI.

1.) A conventional loan with 20% or more as a down payment. The best way to get rid of PMI is to not have it from the start. If you acquire a conventional loan with 20% down, you will not have to pay PMI.

REQUEST CANCELLATION

2.) Pay down the loan. Once you pay down the principle of the loan to 80% of the home’s value, you can request the bank take off the PMI.

3.) Refinance the home. If you are looking to obtain a lower interest rate that you currently have, you may also be able to cancel your PMI. Generally, an appraisal will be required to refinance your home. If the appraisal amount shows your principal balance is 80% or less than the new appraisal value, you can request your lender cancel the PMI on your home.

4.) Prove that the value of your home has risen. If the value of your home has risen and you owe 80% or less in principle of your homes new appraised value, you can request that your lender cancel your PMI. This method will require an appraisal so be ready to shell out some money for the appraisal.

There are other important criteria you must meet if you want to cancel PMI on your loan:

  • Your request must be in writing.
  • You must have a good payment history and be current on your payments.
  • Your lender may require you to certify that there are no junior liens on your home.
  • Your lender can also require you to provide evidence or an appraisal to verify the value of your home.

AUTOMATIC CANCELLATION

1.) When your principal balance is scheduled to reach 78 percent of the original value of your home, your lender is required to remove the PMI on your home.

2.) If you are current on payments, your lender must end the PMI the month after you reach the midpoint of your loan’s amortization schedule. This final termination applies even if you have not reached 78 percent of the original value of your home.  The midpoint of your loan’s amortization schedule is halfway through the full term of your loan. For example, if you have a 30 year mortgage the lender will be required to cancel your PMI after 15 years have passed.

Kicking Clutter to the Curb: Transform Your Home with These 4 Decluttering Tips

We’ve all been there. One day, you look around your house, and there’s just So. Much. Stuff. Stuff in boxes, stuff on the walls, stuff in the corners—just…stuff. If you’re gearing up to sell your home, you’re going to have to deal with all that accumulated clutter eventually. Luckily, there are plenty of simple strategies for getting the job done! 

Arm yourself for the Crusade Against the Clutter, and use these top tips to transform your home before selling.

Start Early

A to-do list.

If you aren’t prepared, things can quickly get overwhelming. After all, you’re not only getting your home ready to sell, but you’re also packing things up, finding a new home, and dealing with your finances. It makes sense that decluttering your home isn’t first on your list, but it’s one of the most important steps! 

Before you list your home, you want the space to be ready to wow buyers from the second they walk through the door. If you kick off your decluttering months in advance, you’ll be in much better shape come listing time. 

Expand Your Storage

An organized silverware drawer.

For many people, clutter accumulates simply because they don’t know what they actually have. An easy way to fix this issue and make your home more organized is by coming up with an intentional storage solution

Hit the store and pick up some sliding storage and plastic tubs, then label each unit and keep it stored anyway until needed. That way, you’ll know exactly what you have and where it is. Never worry about misplaced holiday decorations or a surplus of school supplies ever again! Plus, a lot of your stuff will already be neatly packed away come moving time.

Take It Little by Little

A man and woman carrying boxes.

Decluttering can be a long process, filling up nights and weekends and free time—especially if you put it off until the last minute. Luckily, if you start ahead of time, you’ll have the luxury of taking it little by little. And not just one room at a time—we mean really little, like an hour or two hours spent on just the kitchen cabinets or bedroom closets. 

You can even make it fun! Get everybody in the house together and play a game of 12-12-12. The rules are simple: walk through the house and find 12 items you want to keep, 12 items you want to get rid of, and 12 items you want to sell/donate. You’d be surprised how quickly you can reduce your clutter after a few rounds, and it only takes a couple of minutes!

Make it FAST

Clutter.

For the last tip, we’ve gotten the inside scoop from professional organizer, Peter Walsh. Walsh says that decluttering is as simple as remembering this short acronym:

Fix a time. Plan ahead, and find a time that works for everyone in the house—and make attendance mandatory!

Anything not used in twelve months. If you haven’t used it in a year, then you probably don’t need it. Ask yourself a few questions: Do I need it? Is it valuable to me? Is it worth the space it’s taking up? If no, then kick it to the curb. 

Someone else’s stuff. Still have that borrowed tupperware? Give it back. Holding onto things that family members have left behind? Send it their way. If it’s not yours, find a new home for it!

Trash. It’s easy to get sentimental and hold onto things that are well past their expiration date (metaphorically speaking). Don’t be afraid to take the plunge—and maybe even go overboard—and trash some of your older belongings. If you don’t want to go full in and trash it, then you can always donate it to a good cause. 

Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Decluttering is just one small step in the selling journey—albeit a fairly time-consuming one. Luckily, we’re here to help you carry the load! Give us a call to learn a few more tips for getting rid of your clutter and staging your home for success.

In the meantime, feel free to explore our additional selling resources, like our neighborhood sold report and Comparative Market Analysis, and let us know when you’re ready to get started!

Market Update

One way to tell how the market is doing is by looking at the absorption rate. An absorption rate is the rate at which homes sell in a certain area over a certain period of time. What we will be looking at today is the inverse of that called months of supply.

Months of supply shows exactly that, how many months supply are available in a specific area if no more homes become active on the market. For example: if over the past 3 months, 3 homes sold would mean 1 home would sell a month. So, if there are 6 homes that are active and available for purchase than there is a 6 month supply of homes and that is id no more homes become active on the market.

If the inventory of homes is 6 months or more the market is considered to be a buyer’s market and if it is 6 months or less the market is considered to be a seller’s market. Obviously, the further away from the 6 month point on the pendulum means to be a stronger market for either buyer or seller.

For this video and blog I used the past 3 months sold homes in various price ranges to determine the months of supply. Here is the data:

Palm Coast
Price Range: SOLD HOMES(past 3 months), ACTIVE HOMES, INVENTORY

Price Range: $0-$250k: 296 Sold, Active 215, 2.17 months
Price range: $251k-$500k: 176 Sold, 270 Active, 4.6 months
Price Range: $501k-$1M: 28 Sold, 80 Active, 8.57 months
Price Range: $1M+: 7 Sold, 34 Active, 14.57 months

Flagler Beach
Price Range: $0-$250k: 1 Sold, 2 Active, 6 months
Price Range: $251k-$500k: 25 Sold, 33 Active, 3.96 months
$501-$1M: 11 Sold, 24 Active, 6.54 months
$1M+: 2 Sold, 8 Active, 12 months

How long does expired home have to be off market to show as a new listing on the MLS?

There are many reasons a listing can expire. It could be because of bad or lack there of marketing, or poorly written MLS descriptions and horrible pictures. It could be because the homeowners weren’t properly instructed what to do to make their home the most attractive, or possibly the owners were told but decided not to follow through. It could be because the listing was simply over priced. There are many different factors that can cause an listing in the MLS to expire.

If a listing in the MLS expires, it takes 30 days for the listing to be inactive in order for it to reset and show up as a new listing in the MLS.

If your listing has expired, contact me and together we will discover why your home didn’t sell and come up with a proactive plan to get your home sold for the most money possible. I specialize in selling homes that did’t sell the first time and I want to make your goals and dreams a reality.

Mortgage 101: What To Know Before You Apply

Everybody loves talking about mortgages. They’re fun, easy to understand, and a great icebreaker, right?….Wrong. Thanks to their lengthy process, technical jargon, and confusing options, mortgages have a bit of an intimidating reputation—but it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you’re in the process of buying a new home and dreading the mortgage application process, here’s what you need to know to keep things running smoothly. 

Know How Much You Can Spend

A person holding up money.

If you’re feeling antsy about getting started and want a general idea of how much loan you might qualify for, consider the 28/36 rule, or the Debt-to-Income ratio—AKA what most lenders use to help calculate your mortgage. 

Essentially, the 28/36 rule means that your monthly mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross income. Additionally, your outstanding debts—like mortgage, car loans, student loans—shouldn’t account for more than 36% of your gross income.

Get Your Finances in Order

Statistics on a laptop.

Not seeing the numbers you were hoping for after calculating your Debt-to-Income ratio? Then, hopefully, you’ve given yourself a little time to shift things in your favor. Paying off loans, improving your credit score, avoiding big purchases—these will all help you change those numbers. 

Of course, completing those tasks is a little harder to do in practice than in theory, so you may have to take a look at your budget and see where you can cut out some extras—at least temporarily!

What You’ll Need to Apply

Paperwork.

In the weeks before you plan on applying for a mortgage, you should start collecting all of the documents you need. Since a lender will be telling you exactly how much money they’re willing to loan, they’ll need a comprehensive understanding of your finances beforehand. Start gathering things like:

  • W2s/tax returns
  • Photo ID
  • Your two most recent pay stubs
  • Current and prior addresses
  • Asset information (retirement funds, 401(k), stocks and bonds, other investments) 
  • Gift letters

Depending on the lender you choose, you may need additional documents, so consider calling in to double-check beforehand. 

Find the Right Mortgage

Three women pointing at a laptop.

Once it’s time to start thinking more concretely about applying for a mortgage, you have several options to consider. While all the mortgage options out there could easily fill a whole blog post on their own, here’s a quick rundown to give you a general idea:

  • Conventional/Fixed-rate:  The interest rate of a fixed-rate loan won’t change over time, making it a popular choice for its predictability. Conventional loans typically require a 20% down payment or mortgage insurance for smaller down payments.
  • Adjustable-rate: The interest rate of adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate over time, sometimes lower than fixed-rate, sometimes higher. There is a cap in place so the rate doesn’t get too out of control, but ARMs are typically more popular with those who plan to refinance.
  • FHA: If you are struggling to come up with a down payment, you may have options with an FHA mortgage. Provided by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans come with a low down payment requirement and built-in mortgage insurance.
  • USDA: Live in a rural area? Then check out your USDA eligibility! A surprising amount of areas qualify for USDA loans, even if you aren’t living in the countryside. Plus, USDA loans don’t require a down payment and offer lower insurance premiums.

These aren’t the only options you’ll have, just the most common. If none of these sound right or you aren’t sure which to choose, just ask your lender!

Choose the Right Lender

When it comes time to decide who to work with, you’ll have to do your research. Each lender is different, meaning they’ll likely offer you different rates, charges, and loan options. 

Luckily, we’ve been working in real estate around the area for years, so we know exactly which lenders are right for which buyers. If you need a few suggestions before you kick off your search, just let us know! 

Still Have Questions?

That’s okay—we get it. Applying for mortgage is confusing and challenging, especially if it’s your first time. If you have any questions about the process, we’re here to help. 

Ready to start looking at a few homes in your price range? We can help with that, too! Check out our specialized search tool to narrow down your options, and give us a call to start seeing a few in person!

Wadsworth Park in Flagler Beach, FL

I moved to Flagler Beach in 1992 from South Florida. One place I use to love to go to is Wadsworth Park. I have played a countless number of basketball, softball and volleyball games with my friends and I still enjoy going there today.

Wadsworth Park has fun for the whole family. Not only does it have the amenities I mentioned above, but it also has a awesome skate park, tennis, volley ball and racquetball courts as well. In addition, there are soccer and football fields which hold seasonal leagues for kids.

There is a picnic and playground area that is perfect for spending a day with the kids and enjoying Florida’s beautiful outdoor weather, all at the same time. Bike riding trails run though the park and there is even a dog park so your best friend can play with the other dogs.

Wadsworth Park is a great place and I highly recommend a visit when you are in the area or even if you just need something fun to do with the family.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

If you’re gearing up to sell your home, you’ve probably read tons of articles all about what you should be doing…but what about what you shouldn’t be doing? After all, selling your home is a huge financial decision, and a misstep could mean losing out on your hard-earned profit. 

Don’t let something as easy to fix as not staging or pricing incorrectly throw off the success of your sale! Here are the top five mistakes to avoid when selling your home. 

Setting an Unrealistic Price

A man looking at his laptop.

It might come as a surprise, but pricing a home is tricky. Not only do you have to take into account what homes around yours have recently sold for (or, in other words, what buyers are willing to pay), but you also need to know how to value any updates and improvements you’ve made. Plus, you want your home to be priced so that it pops up in as many online searches as possible. When it comes to finding that magic number, sellers’ emotions often cloud the ability to accurately price a home. 

So you’ll just use an automatic estimator, and that’ll take care of things, right? Well, only if you’re okay with using outdated data and not taking into account any upgrades you’ve made. The best way to get a price that guarantees you’ll maximize your investment? Enlisting the help of an experienced local agent. 

Ignoring Major Repairs (or Making the Wrong Ones)

A man fixing a sink.

During the inspection process, your home will be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb. Any things you’ve been avoiding, like leaky faucets, outdated water heaters, or water damage in the ceilings, will be noted and shared with buyers. Additionally, if there are any major necessary repairs that you didn’t disclose ahead of time, you could find yourself in serious legal trouble—or with a cancelled sale on your hands.

Limiting Showings & Failing to Stage

An iPad sitting on a coffee table in a living room.

You’re selling your home, but you want to sell it on your terms. You don’t want to have showings every weekend or on short notice, and you don’t want to have to rearrange furniture or remove decor for staging. While changing your home or lifestyle to accommodate buyers might seem like a major hassle, being inflexible is only going to hurt you in the long run.

Buyers are going to want to see your home, sometimes more than once, and it needs to be looking its best if you want to get serious (and competitive) offers. In fact, staged homes have been shown to sell almost 90% faster and for a 20% higher profit than non-staged homes!

Letting Your Emotions Get in the Way

A woman and a child playing on a tablet.

You’ve made a lot of memories in your home, and the space likely holds indescribable value to you. So hearing people walk through the house and point out all of the flaws—then not make an offer—can be draining. A good rule of thumb for selling? Think of the process as a business transaction, and think of yourself as a salesperson, not a homeowner. Creating that divide will not only improve your emotional state, but it’ll also help you see exactly how your home can be better than it is.

Not Hiring an Agent

People meeting at a table.

Thinking of listing For Sale by Owner to avoid agent commission fees? In reality, selling FSBO can actually COST you money in the long run;. according to a 2016 study by the National Association of Realtors®, the average price for a FSBO home was around $185,000—which is $60,000 less than the average price of a home listed by an agent ($245,000). 

Aside from pricing, there’s a lot more that an agent can help you with. They’ll come up with a marketing plan for your home, suggest personalized staging strategies, conduct open houses and showings for you, and guide you through any problems or roadblocks along the way, all of which will take a load of work and stress off of your shoulders. 

Ready to List Your Home?

Feeling a little intimidated by the home-selling process? Don’t worry—we’re here to help! Not only can we give you a few more pointers on what you should and shouldn’t do, but we’ll also be around to guide you through every aspect of the sale, from listing to showings to closing. 

Ready to learn a little more about what it takes to sell for top dollar? Just give our team a call to get started! 

4th of July in Flagler Beach 2019

The forth of July in Flagler Beach was a lot of fun this year. There was a lot of big fun, good people and good times. The weather was very hot but the blue ocean water kept us all cool. There was a little bit of rain which only lasted an hour or so then it was right back to having fun. I hope you has a beautiful and safe 4th and may god keep blessing America. I hope you enjoy my video.

The Four Most Common Red Flags to Look for During Your Walkthrough

A new home is a big financial investment. Not only will you likely be pouring a lot of your savings into the purchase, but you’ll also be choosing a place to call home for years to come. The last thing you want is to spend all of that time and money only to discover a costly maintenance or structural issue.

Even though you’ll get a professional inspection done, there are certain red flags that you should specifically be looking out for during the first walkthrough. By recognizing these problem areas right away, you can put emphasis on them during the inspection. Save yourself time, money,  and stress, and know these major home-buying warning signs.

Foundational Flaws

A vase of flowers in front of a cracked window.

It’s not like you can pull the house up from the ground and get a closer look at the foundation, so how do you tell if there are any issues? A few surefire signs of a faulty foundation include sloping floors, swinging and sticking doors, visible cracks above window frames, and cabinets separating from the walls.

Faulty foundations can go on to cause major damage in the home, and like most problems, the longer it goes unrepaired, the worse it will get. Minor cracks will only cost around $500, while major repairs could total up to $10,000. These are expenses you don’t want—and shouldn’t have—to get saddled with, so keep an eye out during the walkthrough and get a professional opinion from the inspection.

Signs of Amateur Repairs

A man patching up a wall.

Lots of homeowners choose to DIY repairs for a variety of reasons, from budget issues to scheduling conflicts. If they know what they’re doing (or the project is something relatively simple), then there shouldn’t be any issues. But if they, say, looked up a video tutorial on how to wire electricity to a new outlet—having never done electrical work before—then you might have some problems down the road. 

Even small things that seem unimportant, like light switches wired to the wrong lights, leaky faucets, or shoddy tiling work, can be signs of larger problems elsewhere in the home. If you run into things like this, then you might ask your home inspector to take a deeper look into other areas of the house that have been recently repaired.

Concealed Damage

A half-painted wall.

Speaking of amateur repairs, some problems might seem a little too big (or expensive) to fix. That’s when homeowners might try to cover it up instead of paying for repairs. For example: a fresh coat of paint is to be expected in many homes on the market. But if the paint only covers a small section of the wall or is dotted around the ceiling, that could mean the owner is trying to hide water damage. Depending on how extensive the damage is, it will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair. And if it sneaks past the inspection, it could be on your dime. 

In the same vein, things like candles and air fresheners are also expected during showings. But if you notice that the scents are a little too strong, then the sellers could be trying to cover up mold or mildew odors, smelly pets, or damage from smoking. A home is a huge investment, so don’t be afraid to really look into that dry wall and make sure it’s mold-free.

Roofs in Disrepair

The roof of a house.

Remember those spots of fresh paint? If you notice those in a house, then there’s a pretty good chance that the water is coming from the roof. Other major signs of a damaged roof include curling or missing shingles, signs of buckling, discoloration or stains, and leaning or loose chimneys and gutters. 

While a home inspector will likely check the roof, if you notice any of the above signs, you may want to ask for an extra in-depth look. After all, roof repairs can cost anywhere from $200 to several thousand dollars, so even though the roof is out of sight, always keep it in mind. 

Need Some Help Searching?

Buying a home is a huge investment, and you want to make sure you’re spending your money wisely. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the walk through process, don’t worry—we’re here to help. Not only can we point out any issues we see with the home right away, but we can also recommend top inspectors and help with negotiations for repairs.

Explore a few more of the home-buying resources we have to offer, and give us a call when you’re ready to see a few homes!

Zillow Zestimates

I get questions all the time about Zillow and one of them is “Zillow says my home is worth X amount of dollars… Is this true?

First, you must understand what Zillow really is…. Zillow is a website that collects information from buyers and sellers and then turns around and sells this information to realtors, brokers, and who ever else (I don’t fully know). With this said, Zillow can be used as a starting point or a quick reference of your homes value.

Zillow uses an algorithm for their zestimates and they are as good as the information that is provided to them. This information can come from public sources or owners themselves. Remember, if they do not know upgrades or other features of your home, whether good or bad, they can not evaluate your home correctly.

To get a better understanding of your homes value it is best to give me, or another experienced realtor a call to conduct a CMA, or call a certified appraiser.