Simple Ways To Save For Your Next Down Payment

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One of the biggest challenges prospective homeowners have is saving enough money for the down payment. Today, you don’t necessarily need the 20 percent that lenders previously required, but you’ll still need a large sum of money. Saving up a large amount of money can be difficult, but with some patience and a bit of strategy, you’ll be able to save for your new home in no time.

 

  • Create a monthly budget

 

In order to create a successful savings, you must earn more than you spend. Our American way of thinking has taught us to buy now and pay later, that is why so many are in debt. Automatic bill pay will be your best friend here. Create an honest and realistic budget and stick to it. You can even print out a list of expenses and check them off as you pay them. This way you have an accurate and physical list of what needs to be paid.

 

  • Make Savings automatic

 

Set up automatic savings withdraw with your bank, so each time you get paid, a certain amount will automatically be placed into your savings account. This way you will constantly be adding to your savings without noticing it out of your paycheck. Financial experts do say that it’s best to pay yourself first that way you have no excuses.

 

  • Save 100% of any windfalls

 

While it can be tempting to spend your $3,000 tax refund or year-end bonus on a trip to Cabo, it is best suited if you save every penny of it. Down payments are a lot of money and by saving a large influx of money, you’ll only be that much closer to your goal. After all, if you created a good budget for yourself you don’t really “need” that money anyway.

 

  • Ask for support

 

Just like going on a diet, you can achieve your goals with the help of family and friends. Your family wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) offer cake if they knew you were on a diet. If your family and friends are aware of your situation, they may be less inclined to invite you out to happy hour every week or to go on a shopping spree. This lack of temptation will help you save for your ultimate goal.

 

  • Don’t punish yourself

 

While saving money can give a feeling of accomplishment, it can also be an emotional rollercoaster. If you’re stressing out about saving every day, you’re less likely to follow through. Also, if you’re barely making it by each month with your saving plan, you may need to readjust. Don’t forget to treat yourself and splurge once and awhile, just look into eating out less or cut down on going to the movies or unsubscribing to your cable and getting Netflix. There are ways you can successfully save for your dream home without making it excruciatingly painful.

Top Five Signs Of A Bad Real Estate Agent

 

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When choosing your real estate agent, it can be hard to tell if they are as qualified as they say they are. If you’ve been trying to sell your home for months, it may not be the home’s fault, but your agent’s. Here are a few signs of a bad real estate agent.

Lack of communication

If your agent goes M.I.A. for weeks at a time that’s the first sign that it is time to look for a new one. Even if no one has shown interest in your home by calling for a showing, or they haven’t found any homes that match your requirements as a buyer, he or she should be touching base with you regularly to keep you updated on the process. The agent is supposed to be acting on your behalf, if they are not getting back to you, you’re not a priority.

Lack of leadership

If your agent is a yes man and agrees with you on every point then you are either a real estate genius or he or she is just trying to please you. You want someone who has your best interests at heart and will represent your interests in the real estate market. When your agent comes up with a price, ask for the research that was used to produce that number. An agent that asks you the price of your home and lists it as that is a sign of trouble. Your agent is the expert, look for someone who will take the lead and will offer expert advice.

Unused resources

A good agent will use all of his or her tools to help market your home to the public. A bad agent, on the other hand, will rely on the efforts of other agents to market your home to their clients. Your agent should have professional photos taken of the home and have a well-written description. Your agent should also be marketing your home anywhere, anyway, to anyone that could possibly be interested. This includes listing it on real estate websites, local newspapers and magazines, and even creating fliers to distribute to homes in the area.

Too much pressure

You do want an agent that offers you professional and expert advice, and someone who will try to persuade you from a bad decision. What you don’t want is someone who will push you in any particular direction. When it comes to buying a home, there should no reason for the agent to want you to buy any particular home over another. If you feel like this is happening it may be because the agent is trying to get you to buy a home that is listed by him or her, which will give your agent additional commission. Most states require the buyer to be informed if there is a conflict of interest, but if you feel like your agent is not being completely open, be cautious.

Lack of follow-up

Whether you’re selling or buying a home, a good agent that goes above and beyond is one who calls to follow up past the transaction date. Since the agent, by this time, has probably already received their commission, calls for a follow-up is really providing customer service. The bottom line is, there are many great agents out there, but there are a few that just don’t measure up. If you feel your agent is not doing their best or does not have your best interest in mind, don’t be afraid to look for a new one.

 

Common Myths of the Home Buying Process

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Many of the myths that plague the home buying process have come from old standards of the industry. Real estate is much different from what it was 15 years ago. Requirements such as having stellar credit or putting down 20 percent are a thing of the past. Find out which real estate myths you still believe.

The seller pays the closing costs. This is a common myth that many people believe all the way up until the closing occurs. This can be true in some circumstances, but it’s not common or realistic for the seller to agree to pay all the closing costs. It’s best to understand all the additional costs that will incur such as credit reports, survey fees, titles services, an attorney fee, and property insurance. Experts say to expect closing costs to be anywhere from two to five percent of the entire price of the home.

The seller will make repairs based on the inspection report. Your agent will assist you in negotiating any repairs that need to be made upon inspection, but that does not guarantee they will pay for all of it. If they won’t hire someone themselves to do the repairs before you close, and then won’t offer you cash-back credits for you to hire your own professional to come in, you’re probably on your own. This “take it or leave it” approach means that the seller is in no hurry to move or may have more offers coming in.

The asking price is the selling price. Many sellers price their home over the value of their home so there will be room for negotiations. There are many different factors that go into what you offer and what you walk away with. If a home has been sitting on the market for some time, it may be because it was priced too high. In this case, many sellers are willing to reduce the asking price.

The down payment is the only upfront cost. Like stated above, the seller does not always pay the closing costs. After closing and moving into your new place you may find you need extra repairs or improvements. You’ll probably need to furnish the place, also, don’t forget to keep an emergency fund in case of raining days.

It’s cheaper to rent than buy. Today, in almost every city, rent prices are increasing faster than home prices. When it comes to paying for your living, isn’t it better to be paying your mortgage toward are home you own vs paying your landlord? Renting is more ideal for people who know want to be more flexible, but buying is ideal for people who want to invest.

5 Steps to Getting Your Home Ready to Sell

6251905978_4d05fcc247_bNow that spring is upon us, you may have the urge to sell your home. This is the time of the year in which the housing market sees the most activity. Buyers are out and about, and eager to buy. Take advantage of the season and sell your home. Whether selling your home is planned or spontaneous, there are a few things that you should do before you sell.

1. Deep clean

You’re going to have to clean your home anyway if you plan on moving, why not start now. Giving your home a full, deep clean will really help attract and keep prospective buyers. Start with cleaning all the windows, inside and out, power wash all carpets, and clean out your closets. Also, cleaner closets will give the impression of more storage space, which everyone is looking for in a home.

2. Stage your home for sale

Staging a home means you create a more appealing home for your potential buyers. Staged homes sell 25 percent faster than homes that were not staged. You don’t have to hire professional stagers, just create a more generic home by scraping the personal decor, like family photos, trophies and awards, and religious items. Increase curb appeal by cleaning up the landscape, replacing outdated house numbers, and fixing up your front porch.

3. Have your home appraised and set your selling price

In order to find a qualified appraiser, talk with your real estate agent. Agents usually have an appraiser they work with and can refer you to. You can help the appraisal process by providing them with plot plan or survey of your house, you most recent tax bill, your home inspection report, and the title policy. Inform the appraiser of renovations you have made like a new kitchen or roof, this will help increase the value of your home.

4. Keep your home clean

We all know how fast a clean place can become messy once again. Throughout the time your home is on the market, it should be open-house ready. You never know when a potential buyer may stop by for a viewing. Just take a couple extra minutes in the morning to make the beds, clean up any grooming products you have used, and make sure the kitchen is spotless. Also, make sure not only is your home decluttered, but as well as your closets. Above all else, you should keep your home smelling fresh and clean.

5. Leave your home during showings

It may be tempting to stick around and listen to what potential buyers have to say about your place, but it would be wise to leave. Your presence may make the prospective buyers feel uncomfortable and rushed. Leave for a few hours on open house day and let your agent do their job.

5 Ways You Can Save On Your Move

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Moving is never an easy process, it’s also not a very cheap process either. According to a report done by Worldwide ERC, the average household moving costs are $12,230. These numbers are for full-service, professional movers, many people opt to move themselves by renting U-haul trucks. Even if you hire professionals, there are ways to cut costs through tax breaks, research, and packing up the small stuff before the movers arrive. The busiest time to move is from April to October, where moving can cost about 25 percent more. Here are a few ways in which you can save on your move.

1. Unload what you don’t need

The weight of your entire load is factored into your cost when moving long distances. By getting rid of things you don’t need or want anymore, you’ll be able to save money. If you have furniture or other big items, there are hauling services that will come take it away for you. Also, make sure the furniture you do own will fit in your next home. You don’t want to be paying to have furniture moved that you won’t use.

2. Timing it right

Schedule your move for the middle of the week in the middle of the month. Most people move on the first of the month or the end of the month. As the movers get busier, the more expensive they will be.

3. Save on boxes

You can buy used or recycled boxes to pack up your smaller items. The less time the movers have to spend packing the less it’s going to cost. If the boxes are still in good condition by the end of the move you can often times, sell them back to that moving company.

4. Research the movers

Contact more than one moving company for estimates, experts suggest at least three different companies. To get the most accurate estimate have the company come out and give you an in-home estimate. This way the movers understand what they will be working with and you’re not surprised with a price increase. Also, research each company to make sure they have their licenses and are equipped with the proper insurance.

5. Plan ahead

By ordering colored tape and labels, you’ll be able to reduce the overall time it takes to move. Also, you can reduce the move time even further if you draw a map of where each room is for the movers.

 

What Will the Housing Market Look Like in 2016

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This last year had a lot of firsts for the real estate market since the crash in 2008. It was a good year in terms of real estate for 2015. We saw some of the lowest mortgage rates since the 90’s and activity continued well into the “off season.” So where is the market headed now, especially since the Fed raised interest rates right before the year’s end? Many real estate forecasters expect 2016 to surpass 2015, even with increasing prices and higher mortgage rates. Here is what you can expect from the housing market in 2016.

Homeowners should expect another year of gains in housing prices. Since the housing market crash, lenders are cracking down on giving out loans to people who can’t afford them. Since the beginning of the recovery in 2012, housing prices have been going up, reaching peak levels. In 2016, it is expected that these prices will be stable because they are supported by homeowner incomes. Negative homeowner’s equity is also fading fast. At its worse, 17 million people owned homes that were worth less than their mortgages, by the year’s end that number is expected to drop to 5 million.

It is a sellers’ market. Current market conditions favor owners who are looking to sell. This is because there is a low inventory of homes. Sellers have been holding off on selling their home until prices rise back to where they were. Although it may be harder for buyers in this current market, the growing economy and low mortgage rates are expected to help. Mortgage rates are still around 4%, but buyers should be aware that this won’t last long. It isn’t all bad news for buyers, though, mortgage rates aren’t going to spike anytime soon and full employment is expected to return in the next few months.

2016 is going to be a difficult year for renters. Rents are at an all time high. This is because there is a high demand for rentals and not enough supply. The demand for rentals has increased so much because millennials are coming of age, looking for their own place and families who were foreclosed on are still renting. Builders are constructing more rentals, but this is still not keeping up with demand. Also, the demand for affordable housing in urban areas are still not being met.

For first-time buyers, 2016 is going to be their year. The Federal Housing Administration, which helps first-time buyers with getting a mortgage, has been cutting fees since last year. As the economy improves, this government agency is expected to cut fees even further. They are also working to lower the current credit bar that stops many potential buyers.

2016 looks like it will be the year of the seller, but buyers are also going to benefit from this year. The only ones that are going to have trouble are renters, as prices are not expected to level off anytime soon. If you are in the position to buy or have been contemplating buying, you should do so. Now is the best time to buy as mortgage rates are still low and easy to obtain. Also, many buyers are now putting down less than 20% as their down payment.

The 6 Major Steps in the Home Buying Process

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The homebuying process can be intimidating for anyone, especially first-time buyers. Buying a home is a major process, but with the right people, it doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Here are the major steps in the home buying process and what you can expect from each.

1. Before you decide to buy a home

The first thing you should start on before you even consider buying a home is to build good credit. After you build your credit up, you should start with a mortgage pre-approval and find out what type of mortgage is right for you. You should also be saving for the down payment, which can be anywhere from 10-20% of the property value. Don’t forget to save for the closing costs which can include taxes and other fees.

2.Find a Real Estate Agent

Finding a real estate is probably one of the most important steps. You want an agent that knows the area in which you are wishing to buy. You also want someone who has years of experience. Those years of experience will make all the difference, from knowing how to negotiate to filling out and filing the paperwork for you.

3. Finding the right property

Before you start looking you should make a list of everything you want in a home. Make sure your list is realistic. Sometimes first time home buyers feel as if they will never find their dream home because of unrealistic expectations. Make a list of needs vs wants, also a list of absolute deal breakers. Sometimes homes have funny quirks that you may hate at first, but over time, develop into a feature that makes your home, home.

4. Financing the right property

You’ll need to find a mortgage broker as well. Your realtor should have a list of contacts they would suggest. Mortgage brokers are important because they can help you find the right mortgage suited for you. If you have already been pre-approved, the lending process will be a lot easier.

5. Making an offer

Before you make the offer, make sure you have a licensed home inspector in place. Acquire title insurance and make sure the title is clear before you place an offer. Make sure you read and understand all contracts before you sign, if you have any questions, make sure to ask. Keep your credit score high throughout the entire process and wait for big-ticket purchases until long after you close. Remember, one offer makes a sale, so be prepared to move on if you offer is not accepted.

6. Closing and life after the big purchase

The first thing you should do after you close is protect your purchase, buy insurance, including disaster, fire, and flooding. Keep a record of all your files, either physically or digitally. This includes all warranties, insurance documents, contracts, etc. Set up bills in your name with your new address. Now that all the hard work is done, it’s time to enjoy your new place, go out, meet your neighbors, explore the neighborhood. If you had a positive experience with your realtor, recommend them to your family and friends who may have just begun their own real estate journey.

Getting Pre-Qualified: The Process And Guidelines

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 10.26.22 AMThere are several benefits to getting pre-qualified and it can be a valuable first step towards purchasing your home. Many home buyers choose to get qualified early. Here are some reasons why you should get pre-qulified.

Learn How Much You Can Barrow

When shopping for your future home it is important to know the total living cost you are able to spend on your new home purchase. You can also make things a lot easier for yourself by saving a lot of time and money. It would be a wise decision to get pre-approved in order to determine your financial qualifications for a loan before you even start your search.

The Qualification Process

Your lender will ask for your annual income, total amount of debt, monthly payments, current employment and any negative financial incidents that may affect your chances of getting a loan. There are generally no fees so it’s an easy choice to make.

You will be asked to fill out a mortgage application which your lender will use to verify your information and run your credit. Upon receiving qualification there is usually a letter presented to you which will be a written commitment of your approval.

A pre-approval can be helpful for all homebuyers, but more so for first-time homebuyers. It will be difficult to compete with other buyers who have already taken the initiative to take this significant first step.

For more information, contact the Lockwood Team today! With 25 Years of Experience, the Lockwood Team offers quality real estate services whether you need a Listing Agent or Buyers Agent. You can trust they we will get you what you want and “Help You Achieve All Your Real Estate Goals”. Visit us at our location on 23740 Hawthorne Blvd 2nd Fl, Torrance, California 90505 or give us a call at  (310) 802-2409.

Meet The Lockwood Team

ISp55pnc3pbvpk0000000000Specialties: Buyer’s Agent, Listing Agent, Short-Sale, Staging

Julie Lockwood and Sarah Paris make up the Lockwood Team. Together they are the best seller/buyer specialists in the Walteria and Victoria Knolls area. With over 25 years of experience between these two, you are sure to have the knowledge, experience, service, and skills needed to find you the perfect home. Julie prides herself in having a hands on approach by negotiating the best price for her clients. Sarah is the head of marketing and takes charge of managing every property.

Julie Lockwood has been a licensed buyer’s agent for 15 years and specializes in helping clients achieve their real estate goals. She goes full force when helping her clients out. Her marketing strategies are very detailed presenting flyers, postcards, slideshows, and other online strategies in order to sell your home.

Sarah Paris is a tremendous asset to the Lockwood team, her knowledge of the area helps homeowners find the perfect home. She is known for being dedicated and determined to help the client find the best property.

The Lockwood Team has represented several buyers and sellers on more than 150 properties in Walteria and Victoria Knolls area. They are advocates and sponsors of the Annual National Night Out Walter Block Party, which helps promote neighborhood watch and helps bring the community together. They are strong believers in bringing the community together. Let them help you find the perfect home in their community.

The Lockwood Team is located on 23740 Hawthorne Blvd 2nd Floor Torrance , CA 90505. For more information, please call 310-994-0774 or email JLockwood@eplahomes.com.

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