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Burbank Real Estate Market Snap Shot - March 2017

by Louis Taylor

Burbank Real Estate Market Snap Shot - March 2017

Burbank Homes For Sale

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5 Reasons to Sell Before the Selling Season Picks Up

by Prime Partners Realty

5 Reasons to Sell Before the Selling Season Picks Up

 

A common thought in real estate is never list your home in the winter offseason. Perpetuated by industry experts, agents and repeat sellers alike, this saying encourages many would-be sellers to wait until the spring peak to list their homes. However, studies show that homes listed in the winter offseason not only sell faster than those in the spring, but sellers also net more above their asking price at this time.1 Don’t wait until spring to sell. If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, here are five compelling reasons to list now.


1.    Take advantage of low inventory. Since most sellers are waiting until spring to list, local inventory falls during the offseason. However, there are still motivated buyers who are ready to move now and don’t want to wait that long to purchase a home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 55 percent of all buyers purchased their home at the time they did because “it was just the right time.”2 These eager buyers may flock to your home. You may not need to try as hard to make your home stand out in the sea of other similar homes. With less competition, more buyers, some of whom may have otherwise overlooked your home if you listed during the peak, will express an interest to buy. While you’ll likely have fewer showings in the offseason, buyers who do visit will be more serious about writing an offer. Your home will likely sell faster than it would have during the peak season.

2.    Set a higher listing price. Homes sold during the offseason sell at a higher price, on average, than those sold during the spring and summer peak. There are many reasons for this. First, motivated buyers are willing to pay closer to the asking price for a home. Second, homes are more likely to be priced right and reflect the economics of not only the local market, but the neighborhood as well. Often, homes listed during the peak may be priced to compete with other homes in the area and neighborhood. Sellers may be pressured to sell for less than the list price in order to encourage buyers to choose their home out of the others on the market.

3.    You’ll receive more attention. While our team always strives to give you the personal attention you deserve, when you list during the offseason, we’re able to work more closely with you to ensure your home is prepared for its debut on the market. We can also take more time to answer your questions, address your concerns and prepare you and your home for the sale.

Additionally, if you’d like to hire a tradesperson to handle routine maintenance or undertake a minor home renovation before you list, you may be able to take advantage of flexible scheduling and cheaper rates. Many of these professionals experience a winter offseason as well, and will be able to focus their time and attention on you and your project.

4.    Easier to maintain curb appeal. Curb appeal is intended to attract the buyers who are just driving by as well as those who saw your home online and wanted to see it in-person. It sets the stage for what interested buyers can expect when they step foot in the home during a showing or open house. If you list your home during the peak of the selling season, you may exhaust your time your energy maintaining curb appeal. You’ll likely spend most of your free time mowing the lawn, weeding, trimming shrubs and hedges, planting flowers in pots and in flowerbeds, pulling spent blooms and watering it all to ensure it looks lush and healthy on a daily basis. After all, a lush landscape will attract potential buyers and set your home apart from other similar homes in the area.

The offseason eliminates the pressure to maintain a picture-perfect front landscape. Since most grass, shrubs and plants go dormant at this time of year, you’ll have less to maintain. If you live in an area that experiences a traditional winter, your landscape will be covered with snow. Even if you live in a milder climate, you may not have to mow as often, if at all. It’s still important to ensure your exterior appears well-tended, so make sure your walkway and front porch remains free of snow, ice and debris.

5.    Tap into the life changes of buyers. Many buyers receive employee raises and bonuses at the end of the year. If they’ve been saving to buy a home, this extra money may allow them to reach their goal for a down payment and put them on the path to becoming a homeowner. Additionally, companies often hire new employees and relocate current ones during the first quarter of the year, creating a strong demand for housing. If you live in an area that’s home to a large company or has a strong corporate presence, this may be the perfect time to list.

Thinking of Listing in the Offseason? 3 Things to Do Before You List

Get your home ready to list by following these tips.

1.         Schedule maintenance. Buyers, especially first-time buyers, want a home they can move into right away; they don’t want to repair the roof or the furnace or replace windows with blown thermal seals before they move in. Do the scheduled maintenance and make repairs before you list your home for sale.

In some cases, it may help to have an inspector do a pre-inspection of your home. A pre-inspection will make you aware of any major, potentially deal-killing, issues that will have to be addressed before you list. It also gives you an idea of minor issues that a potential seller may want repaired. Overall, it helps you to accurately price your home and may protect you from claims a buyer might make later.3 

2.         Create light. Balance out the lack of natural light outdoors by turning the lights on inside. Since people naturally tend to buy emotionally, turning on the lights helps create a sense of warmth and coziness. Light a fire in the fireplace, if you have one, fill your home with the scents of the season, such as vanilla or fresh baked cookies, and put a throw blanket on your sofa.

If you plan to paint the interior of your home before you list, consider an off-white shade to create consistency throughout your home and make the space feel larger and brighter. If you have photos of your garden or the home’s exterior in the spring or summer, display them so interested buyers can get a glimpse of what the home looks like in other seasons..

3.         Give your home a thorough cleaning. Cleaning puts your home in its best light. Clean and polish all the horizontal surfaces of your home, including countertops, window sills and baseboards; have the curtains dry cleaned or otherwise laundered; wash windows, glass doors and their tracks; vacuum carpeting and polish all wood surfaces, including the floor.

Additionally, this is a great time to pack any personal items and family photos as well as sort through your belongings and donate items you no longer use. This not only eliminates any clutter, but it also gives you less to pack and move when you sell.

If you’re thinking of selling, give us a call! We’d love to help you position your home to sell in our market.

Sources: 1. Time, October 30, 2015

            2. National Association of REALTORS, 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

            3. Forbes, August, 27, 2013

Securing Your Home Beforfe The Open House

by Prime Partners Realty

Open Houses

 

It is important to understand that secure their belongings when hosting an open house. While many agree the probability of theft is low and outweighed by the potential exposure of open houses, there are some things homeowners can do to be proactive and safeguard their valuable possessions.Benefits of Open Houses

Open House Tips.jpgFirst, remember there are real benefits to this marketing opportunity. When sellers hold an open house, they increase the foot traffic through the home exposing it to more potential buyers. While buyers can make an appointment with their real estate agent to see a house, no appointment is necessary with open houses.

Another advantage of holding an open house is that it reaches buyers driving through neighborhoods of interest and gets them inside the door.

Some real estate agents turn open houses into an event, which helps buyers get a feel for what it might be like to live, and entertain, in the home. One example is Keller Williams associate Jason Berns and The Berns Team, who have changed the game by focusing on “creating the magic” for their clients. They call it the 10 Day Blitz.

 

Securing the Home

Back to the safety front, below are some tips to help secure the home during an open house.

Lock or hide small valuables such as:

  • Jewelry
  • Small electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets
  • Prescriptions
  • Checkbooks, bills, bank statements, passports, ID cards – anything with personal information
  • Heirlooms, irreplaceable and/or valuable possessions
  • Extra keys

 

Tips for added safety:

  • Consider self-installing home security cameras.
  • If the home is multi-leveled, consider assigning someone to each floor.
  • Pets should not be present during open houses.

 

While the concern of theft shouldn’t be the main thought on open house day, it doesn’t hurt to do one's due diligence. These are just a few ways to help homeowners feel more comfortable about their upcoming event.

Do you have any additional tips to share? Let us know in the comments section below.

The Home Equity Playbook

by Louis Taylor

What is Home Equity?

Home equity seems to be a very simple calculation — the total amount of mortgages owed subtracted from the current market value of a home. Here is a simple example:

Current Home Market Value  $625,000

Existing Mortgage                                       $225,000

Homeowner Equity                                     $400,000

One side of the equation is well defined, and it is found on the monthly mortgage statement, the loan balance. The other side is less obvious — the current market value of the property.

As a homeowner, your down payment purchases your initial equity, and your monthly (or additional) principal payments increase your equity. In strong real estate markets and in-demand locations, equity can increase quite rapidly as the property value increases, but the inverse can also happen — too much available inventory and market down-cycles can lead to falling home values and a reduction in homeowner equity.

It can be difficult to put an accurate value on something that you have emotional and monetary vesting in. It is safe to say that most people think their home is worth more than then it is.

Homeowners can make savvy assessments about their home’s current market value by following the sales of similar properties in the neighborhood, but should stay away from websites such as Zillow and Trulia, which provide inaccurate and outdated estimates. The most accurate measurement requires a comparative market analysis from a real estate professional or having the home professionally appraised. But, the bottom line — your home is worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it.

Creating Value is in Your Hands

Maintaining the condition of a home is vitally important to retaining and increasing value. Homes are judged against their peers: how they compare to similar homes in the neighborhood. Another way to retain value is to not over upgrade, since it is rare to ever recoup the money spent if you exceed neighborhood value. Keep up the landscaping and do the little things to add curb appeal.

Putting Home Equity to Work

Home equity represents the largest single asset of millions of people, and because it represents so much of an individual’s net worth, it must be treated with respect. Home equity is not a liquid asset until a property is sold, or it is borrowed against.

There are two types of loans that tap into homeowner equity as collateral.

Home Equity Loans

Many home equity plans set a fixed period during which the person can borrow money, such as 10 years. At the end of this “draw period,” the person may be allowed to renew the credit line. If the plan does not allow renewals, the homeowner will not be able to borrow additional money once the period has ended. Some plans may call for payment in full of any outstanding balance at the end of the period. Others may allow repayment over a fixed period, for example, of 10 years.

A home equity loan, sometimes called a second mortgage, usually has a fixed rate and a set time to pay it back, generally with equal monthly payments.

Home Equity Line of Credit

A home equity line of credit is similar to a credit card. The lender sets a maximum amount you can borrow, and you can draw money as you need it, though many home equity lines of credit require an initial draw. The interest rate varies daily, and is usually prime plus a set number, but the required payment is usually interest only. Once the loan has been paid down, the payment is reduced, and it can be paid off and initiated as many times as a homeowner requires.

How Much Equity can be Accessed?

Since the financial institution is lending money and using a home as collateral, they will not lend 100% of the home’s equity. The bank does not want to take the risk that if the house price drops, they would be carrying a loan for more than its market value. Therefore, most banks will allow a qualified homeowner to borrow approximately 80% of their equity.

It’s Important to Use Your Home Equity Wisely

Because it is likely the biggest asset most people have, losing your home equity is hard to overcome. It must be used in prudent ways, and the payments against the loan must be affordable. Using equity money to make the loan payment is only acceptable for a short-term solution.

There are number of good reasons to use money from a home equity loan… and some really bad ones. First, let’s cover smart uses.

1. Invest in Your Home

The best way to use the money is create more equity in the home. Among the very best returns on your investment (ROI) include kitchen and bathroom remodels, adding square footage or an extra bath, enhancing curb appeal and repairing/keeping the existing structure sound. Making prudent investments in your home is a wonderful win-win: you enjoy the upgrades and the repairs can add value to the home.

2. Invest in your Children’s Education

Using your home equity to finance a child’s higher education may be the greatest payoff of all. Not only is the rate much lower than a student loan, it is an investment in the child’s future.

3. Supplement Retirement Needs

Older homeowners spent their working lives paying down their mortgage. At retirement, when monthly income is reduced, a home equity loan could pay for a dream vacation or an unexpected major expense.

4. Augment the Impending Sale of a Home

If you’re planning to sell soon, a home equity line of credit may be the best way to finance improvements, and you can pay it off entirely when you sell. Investing wisely on upgrades and repairs may even reap a profit on your investment.

Here are some examples of some not very wise choices.

Adding luxury amenities like a swimming pool, a hot spa, lavish landscaping, expensive appliances and exotic countertops and flooring rarely pay off.

Purchasing a car or boat or most any personal luxury items is a poor use of the funds, since these items quickly depreciate in value.

Also stay away from using money on risk-heavy investments. Financing stock purchases, start-up businesses and paying routine bills is not financially smart. If you cannot afford to purchase those items with available funds, using equity from your home means they should not be in your budget.

You should treat a home equity loan as an investment and not as extra cash when making financial decisions. If your intended use of the money doesn't pay you back in some way, it's not the best use of your valuable equity.

We Are Happy to Assist You

If you would like an assessment of the market value of your home and the current equity you can access, give us a call for a comparative market analysis.

Make it a Great Day,

Louis Taylor

818.849.4029


Best Agent Burbank

8 Smart Home Technology Trends that Can Save You Money

by Prime Partners Realty

8 Smart Home Technology Trends that Can Save You Money

The ‘smart home’ is the new ‘internet of things’, or objects that can serve you better by communicating with each other or directly with you through apps on your smart phone. In the ideal version of the wired future, all of our appliances and gadgets talk to each other seamlessly.

What could living in a smart home look like? Picture something like this:

The lights in your bedroom slowly illuminate to quietly awaken you in the morning, replacing the typical blaring alarm. The aroma of fresh brewing coffee drifts in and stirs your senses. Once the lights are all the way up, the heating system kicks on, just in time to warm up your room so you’re not shocked once you crawl out from underneath the duvet.

When you step into the shower, it turns on automatically and remembers your preferred temperature and water pressure. And it will shut off right when you’re finished as it knows how long you take to bathe.

Once you’ve driven out of your garage, your home alarm system arms itself. And it will only unlock automatically when it “sees” and recognizes someone else from your family approaching through programmed in biometrics.

Do smart homes really work this way right now? Not exactly…while you may find some of these smart features in certain homes, we haven’t reached the point where every feature intuitively knows what you want and when you wanted. However, each year we’re getting closer and closer toward that shiny, idealized ‘Jetson’ future.

Here are some trends that we see for smart homes, many of which may also help you save money:

Smart Thermostats

Programmable thermostats that are synchronized with the clock have been around for decades. However, they’re often difficult to set and aren’t necessarily efficient; they simply turn on or off as programmed, whether or not you are there.

With the newer models, smart thermostats can be programmed to adjust the temperature when they sense you are present. And once you leave, they can kick back to standby mode so that you’re saving energy and money. Nest does all of this, and it also allows you to check your usage from your cell phone so that you can adjust the temperature remotely and save even more.

Smart Smoke Detectors

Having a working, effective smoke detector saves lives. But unfortunately, many of us still have those battery-run smoke detectors that make that annoying, piercing beep when their batteries are running low on power. And instead of replacing batteries right away, it’s often easier to pull them out and disable the detector (while risking our lives).

Many of the new smart smoke detectors, like the Birdi, monitor smoke, carbon dioxide, as well as air quality. With this new sensor technology, they know the difference between a real fire and burnt toast.

Smart Sprinkler Control

Weather in our area is predictably unpredictable. Often, especially during the summer months, we fall into a severe drought. But then we might have one season that brings extreme amounts of rain, like we did this past spring.

A smart sprinkler controller like Rachio Iro can not only help save you lots of money on your water bill but also help protect our precious resources.

Programmable by computer or smart phone, it can automatically adjust how often you water your lawn based on the season and the weather forecasts. You can also remotely adjust the settings through a mobile app.

Smart Solar Panels

You can put the sun to work for you by using solar technology to power your home. It’s green and renewable, and can save you money over the long term. A recent study conducted by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center determined that Austin customers who invested in a solar system saved an average of $66 per month during the first year that they owned the system.

With smart solar panels, you can program the technology to monitor their performance and even turn them off in case of a weather emergency or fire.

Smart Home Security Systems

Home monitoring has become much more sophisticated in recent years. With the old-style security systems, you had to call in contractors to wire your home with monitoring sensors.

With new smart technology, you can simply place a few smart devices in your home to monitor movement and sense whether doors and windows are closed or opened. Some systems include audio and video monitoring, as well as sirens to scare off intruders. You get real-time feedback on security breaches through an app. And, because you’re alerted as soon as the system senses an intruder, it’s more likely that they will be caught.

Canary is one popular all-in-one audio-video security system, complete with sirens and night vision.

Smart Locks

Go beyond the standard key locks, which can often be compromised by burglars. The new smart lock systems give you more control over those who can gain access to your home.

Some systems, like the Kwikset Kevo, include encrypted virtual keys that you can program for access for a limited amount of time—for example, allowing guests over for a weekend, or cleaning service in during a specific window of time.

Other door locking systems include biometric technology. The Ola smart lock allows you to program your lock to recognize your family member’s fingerprints. Other systems use facial recognition to greet you and unlock your door.

The new August smart lock integrates with Apple’s technology so you can ask Siri to open your door for you.

Smart lighting systems and light bulbs

A well-lit home feels warm and welcoming, and good lighting can instantly increase the value of your home.

However, annual lighting costs can account for up to 12% of your overall electric bill, or over $200 per year according to Energy Star. You can easily reduce this expense simply by using smart lighting technology to add efficiency.

The Philips Hue wifi-enabled lights make it easy to add to your home without installing specialized equipment. Smart lighting dimmers and sensors can give you more control over how much energy you use and allow you to turn them on and off through your smart phone.

New smart light bulbs can give you control over the warmth or coolness levels of your lighting. With the Lifx LED light bulbs, for example, you can program your light bulbs to turn on or off when you want, to slowly wake you up with increasing illumination, or to change from daytime work lighting to entertainment-friendly shades for parties.

Smart Appliances

Programmable slow cookers and coffee makers are the quaint, old-fashioned versions of these home conveniences. Newer, smart appliances give you more control over how your food is kept and prepared, and make it easier for you to complete pesky household chores.

  • Newer coffee makers, like the Smarter coffee machine, let you ‘order’ your coffee exactly to your liking, adjusting everything from bean grind to temperature to strength to time that it’s ready to drink.
  • Smart refrigeration technology can help you store your food at just the right temperature, adjusting the thermostat during peak usage times. For example, the LG THINQ fridge can alert you via smart phone app if a door is accidentally left open.
  • Smart ovens can ensure that your food is cooked to the right level of done-ness, and alert you when your meal is ready to eat. June, a new counter oven invented by former Google, Apple, Go-Pro and Path employees will give you even more control—it will contain cameras, thermometers, and other technology to ‘learn’ what you like to eat and make menu suggestions.
  • Smart washers and dryers have customizable controls so that you can safely wash any type of fabric. Some units include controls to increase drying time to save energy. And soon, connected appliances from GE, Oster, Samsung, and other makers, will be able to re-order soap and fabric softener directly from Amazon, so you won’t even have to think about running to the store at the last minute.

Have you tested any of these technologies in your home? Did we miss any of your favorite home technologies? Let us know in the comments!

Louis Taylor

818.849.4029

 

How Can I Keep Track Of All The Homes I See?

by Prime Partners Realty

How Can I Keep Track Of All The Homes I See?

If possible, take photographs of each home you visit including the outside, major rooms, yard, and any extra features you like. It is also advised to take note of any potential problems that may come up.Don’t hesitate to return to the home for a second look if you feel the need to. Use the HUD Home Scorecard to organize photos and notes of each house you see.

 

Burbank, CA

TRID - How Much Cash Will You Need To Close Your Real Estate Loan?

by Prime Partners Realty

TRID - How Much Cash Will You Need To Close Your Real Estate Loan?

The second page of a Loan Estimate provides you with the current estimate of cash to close. Some costs will remain the same between estimate and closing & some will change.

Look out for these charges in both the Loan Estimate & Closing Disclosure:

  1. Origination charges should match
  2. 10% tolerance in ‘Services Borrower Cannot Shop For’
  3. No Tolerance in ‘Services Borrower Can Shop For’
  4. If you select a service provider from your lenders’ list, their actual cost should be no more than 10% greater than the estimate.
  5. Recording Fees are also subject to 10% tolerance
  6. Prepaid Amount
  7. Initial Escrow Payment at Closing
  8. Other- This can include additional fees such as Owner’s Title Policy, which may vary from the loan estimate without tolerance limits.

The estimates of closing costs, loan details, down payment, deposits, seller credits, and adjustments are all used to calculate your Estimated Cash Requirements when the loan finally closes.

Consider possible changes in tolerance when evaluating a loan decision.

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The second page of a Loan Estimate provides you with the current estimate of cash to close. Some costs will remain the same between estimate and closing & some will change.

Look out for these charges in both the Loan Estimate & Closing Disclosure:

A) Origination charges should match

B) 10% tolerance in ‘Services Borrower Cannot Shop For’

C) No Tolerance in ‘Services Borrower Can Shop For’

D) If you select a service provider from your lender's list, their actual cost should be no more than 10% greater than the estimate. 

E) Recording Fees are also subject to 10% tolerance

F) Prepaid Amount

G) Initial Escrow Payment at Closing

H) Other- This can include additional fees such as Owner’s Title Policy, which may vary from the loan estimate without tolerance limits.

The estimates of closing costs, loan details, down payment, deposits, seller credits, and adjustments are all used to calculate your Estimated Cash Requirements when the loan finally closes.

You should consider possible changes in tolerance when evaluating a loan decision.

 

What Are Joint VA Loans?

by Prime Partners Realty

What Are Joint VA Loans?

 

When two or more veterans seek a VA loan additional rules and guidelines apply. Official VA Guidelines state that:

“Strengths of one veteran related to income and/or assets may compensate for the weaknesses of the other but satisfactory credit of one veteran cannot compensate for poor credit of the other.”

When one of the borrowers from the Joint VA Loan is not a veteran, the guidelines are slightly different. In this case, the income of the veteran has to be sufficient to repay their portion of the loan. Income strength of the non-veteran spouse cannot compensate for income weakness of the veteran in determining eligibility.

Finally, for Joint VA Loans where any party besides the veteran and/or their spouse will hold title to the property, VA review is required.

You can find more information in the VA Lender’s Handbook, VA Pamphlet 26-7.

 

Louis Taylor

Burbank, CA

818.849.4029

What Is A Decorating Allowance?

by Prime Partners Realty

What Is A Decorating Allowance?

 

As this video explains, new home builders and resale sellers sometimes offer a decorating allowance. Typically, this enables buyers to upgrade things like carpets, flooring and appliances. If you’re buying ask the seller these questions about a decorating allowance offer:

  • What terms must your offer satisfy to qualify for the decorating allowance?
  • Is the allowance credited at closing and can it be applied to your closing costs?

Make sure the lender you are working with accepts what the seller may propose. At the time of closing be sure the ‘Allowance Addendum’ is included on the HUD-1 Settlement Form.

 

Louis Taylor

Burbank, CA

What Do I Get At Closing?

by Prime Partners Realty

What Do I Get At Closing?

 

The settlement statement, HUD-1 Form, itemizes services provided and fees charged. It is filled out by the closing agent and must be given to you either at or before closing.

A Truth-in-Lending Statement, a copy of your Mortgage Note, and your mortgage or a Deed of Trust, the Binding Sales Contract prepared by the seller, and the keys to your new home are all given at the time of closing.

If you would like more information about items received at closing, call today!

 

Louis Taylor

Burbank, CA

818.849.4029

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 98

Contact Information

Prime Partners
Keller Williams Realty
111 N. 1st St. Suite 300
Burbank CA 91502
Office: (818)856-5820
Mobile: (818)849-4029
Fax: (818)301-7488

Prime Partners Realty is a California Real Estate Brokerage licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate.  License #01930957