Archive for Featured Agents

Improvements That Increase Your Home’s Value

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This year, if you’re looking to increase the value of your home but are unsure what home improvements to make, think curb appeal.
According to a recent report from Remodeling magazine, curb appeal projects, such as changes to windows, siding, and doors, lead to a higher return on investment (ROI) than interior improvements.
Over the past 30 years, Remodeling has compared the average cost of improvement projects with their value at resale, based on the experience of real estate professionals. The magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report supports the generally held opinion that today’s home buyers, while still enthusiastic about the bells and whistles, want to ensure their homes are structurally sound with all systems functioning efficiently.
Remodeling’s projects include a basement remodel, an entry door that was replaced with 20 gauge steel, and the addition of stone veneer. All of the 29 projects tracked returned on average 64.3 cents per dollar spent.
Among the trends, the higher return of curb appeal projects and projects that required the replacing of windows, doors, etc. Replacement projects generally scored higher than remodeling projects; the ROI of replacement was 74% and of remodels was 63.7%.
As in the previous year, adding loose fill insulation to the attic returned 107.7% and was the only project on the list whose value exceeded its cost. Steel door replacement and addition of stone veneer also paid off, at 90.7% and 89.4% respectively. Interestingly, these are among the cheapest projects, although their costs were up over the previous year.
Those who want to tackle an interior project might do well to consider a basement remodel, providing it’s done well; a high-end basement remodel was perceived as high value, returning 7.4% more than the same project last year, while a mid-range basement remodeling project only increased in value by 3.3% over the previous year.
Something to consider when you’re planning your next home improvement project.
 

To Buy Or Not To Buy?

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The decision to buy a home is a complex one with many factors to consider, some of which may differ from person to person. But whether you’re a recent graduate, newlywed, single or single again, married with children, or an empty nester, there are common factors we can all take into account. Don’t just roll those dice!

There are many benefits to home ownership. For starters, it’s a great long-term investment. Although you’re unlikely to see significant appreciation in price in the short term, an increase in value is almost certain over time. But remember: real estate is not a “liquid” investment. Should you find yourself wanting or needing to sell, it could take some time to find a buyer and close the sale, depending on market conditions at the time. Owning a home also offers a number of tax benefits. Interest and closing costs paid on a mortgage as well as property taxes are deductible if you itemize deductions on your federal income tax return.

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In addition to financial benefits, home ownership offers other advantages. Many people experience a sense of pride and satisfaction in owning their own home. For some, it gives a sense of stability, of “setting down roots.” And when you own your home, you enjoy the freedom to improve your property according to your own wants and needs, which usually isn’t possible when renting.

With the great power of ownership, however, comes great responsibility. Maintenance and upkeep tasks that you may be accustomed to your landlord handling will fall squarely on your shoulders. In addition to the time it takes to care for your home properly, you’re likely to encounter both routine and unexpected expenses. It is important to anticipate these occurrences and prepare for them.

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How do you know if you’re ready to buy a home? Do your research. Make a plan. Prepare a budget. Here are some questions to consider in making your decision:

1. How long do you plan to live in your next home? Does your job or lifestyle dictate frequent moves? Remember that home values increase more over the long term, so if you’re moving more often than every few years, you may not see significant gain when you sell your home. You will, however, gain equity in your home as you pay down your mortgage, while rent money is gone for good.

2. How healthy are your finances? Do you have money for a down payment, closing costs, insurance, taxes, and a buffer for unexpected expenses that can occur when you own a home? If not, talk with a mortgage lender to learn what steps you should take to put yourself in the best situation to purchase a home. You can use Guidance Realty Homes’ free online tools to help make your decision, including our Rent or Buy Calculator, our Affordability Calculator, or our home valuation tool.

3. What is the real estate market doing in your area? How are mortgage rates? What kinds of homes are available in your price range? Are they located in areas that suit your lifestyle? If you are not able to buy a home as nice as the ones you could rent, consider your willingness to live in a less desirable environment for a time. The equity you’ll gain can help you upgrade sooner than you could if you continued renting and tried to save the additional money. A licensed Guidance Realty Homes agent can provide you with valuable market information and help you evaluate your options.

What Makes a Home Environmentally Friendly?

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One of the hottest real estate trends in today’s market is green building, as home builders respond to an increasing demand for energy efficient and environmentally friendlier homes.

The focus is generally on energy conservation, the use of environmentally preferable products and materials, and making indoor environments healthier.

Green building offers many benefits. It can lower home energy bills; improve indoor air quality and comfort; reduce construction material costs; lower ongoing maintenance and operational costs; and reduce water usage.

Recent studies have shown that green homes are not significantly more expensive to build.

An environmentally friendly home will probably have:

  • Effective insulation – to ensure even temperatures throughout the home
  • Energy efficient windows – to help keep heat in during winter and out during summer and to protect furniture and flooring from the discoloring effects of the sun
  • Tight construction and ducts – to reduce drafts, moisture, dust, pollen, and noise and to improve indoor comfort and air quality
  • Efficient heating and cooling systems – to improve home comfort and use less energy
  • Efficient products – such as light fixtures and appliances with an energy-efficiency designation.

Your professional Guidance Realty Homes agent can help you find a home that is beautiful and efficient.  Talk with them today to save money tomorrow on your home energy costs.

 

Don’t Make These 4 Home Buying Blunders

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Buying a home needn’t be a high-risk venture. With a little planning, preparation and the use of your knowledgeable Guidance Realty Homes agent, you can avoid these common buying blunders.

Procrastination

How many times have you called on a property only to learn it was already under contract? It happens more often than you might realize, especially for the biggest bargains or areas in high demand. Working with a real estate agent allows you to make your buying preferences clearly defined and then be automatically notified once a property that meets your expectations is listed.

Budgeting

Find out how much home you can afford by getting pre-qualified and pre-approved by your home finance provider. Not only does it send the message that you are a serious buyer who is willing and able to close on the right property, it can also help the broker negotiate other terms, such closing costs, on your behalf to make the deal work.

Assumptions

Never assume that the taxes and insurance quotes for a property will remain the same after purchasing. Property or homeowners insurance also involves your independent credit score as well as the history of the home and its condition.

Likewise, property taxes are often years behind or may have a cap placed upon them if the property was eligible for homestead exemption or other special limitations placed on tax increases. Always obtain at least three independent insurance quotes on a property and obtain a newly revised estimate for property taxes before making a final offer.

Skipping Inspections

Whether the home is brand new or 100 years old, always invest in an inspection to prevent costly repairs and other hazards.

Did you know? Buyers who use our agents receive a commission rebate off the purchase price plus an additional $350 appraisal credit when financing online with our affiliate Guidance Residential.

 

Should You Sell First or Buy First?

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When a hermit crab decides it’s time for a new home, it scopes out a new shell before vacating its current accommodation. But for homeowners, the process is not so easy. Whether you buy a new home before selling your current one – or the other way around – the choice of what to do first comes down to which option makes you the most comfortable.

Both have pros and cons, and here are some to consider:

Sell first

  • When you know what your current home has sold for you can zero in on exactly what you can afford in your next one.
  • Because you already know the conditions of your own home’s sale, such as the closing date, you can make informed offers.
  • The downside: If you can’t get possession of your new house before leaving your current one, or even worse, can’t find what you’re looking for, you’ll need temporary housing. Can you afford a short-term rental, and what will you do with your possessions while you’re waiting?

Buy first

  • If you’ve found a home with unbelievable features in a great neighborhood at an awesome price, the pressure is on. You really want this dream home, so in this case, you may have to buy before selling.
  • If the local real estate market is hot, you might feel safer buying first.

It’s probably a safe bet your home will sell fast, unless it’s out of step with its neighbors; if it’s a fixer, or if it’s the best home in the neighborhood, it may languish or sell below asking

  • The downside: If you buy first and your home does languish, the worst case scenario is you’re stuck with double mortgage payments. And double stress.

Some families handle risk better than others. What kind and how much depends on your circumstances.

Whether buying a home, selling a home or both, working with a professional real estate agent from Guidance Realty Homes is a smart choice – one that will make your experience easier and less stressful.  Contact one today at www.guidancerealtyhomes.com.

To find out the value of your current home, go to www.guidancehomevalues.com then call one of our Guidance Realty Homes’ agents who will show you a variety of choices that fit your unique needs. Buyers who use our agents receive a commission rebate off the purchase price plus an additional $350 appraisal credit when financing online with our affiliate Guidance Residential. www.guidanceresidential.com

Q&A with Featured Broker: Sami Kabir

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Sami Kabir is the Broker Manager of Guidance Realty Homes’ New York Metro branch. With more than a decade of real estate expertise under his belt, Sami brings a diversified real estate background that includes experience in the mortgage business as well as a keen ability to excel in creatively marketing properties. Having lived in New York for over 30 years, Sami has experienced much of the highs and lows the Big Apple’s real estate market has to offer. His knowledge of the New York Metro Area includes Nassau, Suffolk, Queens, and Brooklyn.

What advice do you have for first-time homebuyers?

The process of purchasing your first home can be daunting. Working with experts who are knowledgeable about the local real estate market, knowledgeable about the mortgage industry and can effectively negotiate on your behalf is the key to avoiding any last minute surprises. My team and I are fortunate to have all three skill-sets.

What is it about working with buyers and sellers that excites you the most?

What excites me the most is when I receive a phone call from a client thanking my team and I after they have moved into their new home and/or after the successful sale of their property. Those two things are my motivation to keep going.  In addition, I really get excited when I receive a call from a friend or family member of a client requesting that I assist them in finding or selling their home.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about selling their home?

Do not decide on a selling price prior to collecting all the facts about your home and the market at that time.  We only begin working with sellers when we’ve captured enough data to support our pricing. The information that I will share with you will not only sell your home fast but it will put more money in your pocket. I take pride in serving my sellers by informing them of the do’s and don’ts ahead of time. Our 15 point marketing plan prepares home sellers for a smooth and stress-free sales process.

Can you describe what a successful sale means to you?

A successful sale to me is when a buyer and seller are both happy with the transaction in front of them at the closing table. Nothing short of smiles and a jovial environment at settlement will satisfy me and say to me that we have a successful transaction.

Can you describe a situation in which you informed a potential buyer that a home was not right for them?

My opinion is that a buyer must be ready, willing, and able to purchase before moving ahead on a property.  In today’s market, buyers are more educated than ever and know what they want. I have only discouraged a buyer in instances where the financial risk involved are too high.  For example, I will discourage a buyer if after analyzing their monthly mortgage payment, I realize that their financial commitment is too big of a stretch for them.  I will also discourage buyers in situations where the financial risks associated with the purchase (e.g. fixer-uppers) far outweigh the potential gains that may be expected.

Q&A with Featured Broker: Tariq Saleem

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Tariq Saleem is the Broker Manager of the Orlando, Florida office for Guidance Realty Homes. An award-winning broker and designated Realtor®, Tariq has serviced the real estate industry of Central Florida for more than a decade. A Florida native, Tariq is very familiar with the local communities around the Orlando area. He has helped hundreds of buyers and sellers throughout the Greater Orlando Area purchase and sell real estate. Read our interview with the man himself, Tariq Saleem.

What advice do you have for first-time homebuyers?

The process of transitioning from being a renter to a buyer involves some important steps that a first-time homebuyer should consider:

1. Talk to a Realtor who knows your area well and can give you some insight on the process as well as prices in the area you are looking to buy.

2. Talk to a mortgage lender who can help you determine how much home you can afford based on your income and other liabilities.

3. Get an idea of your monthly housing cost which is not just a mortgage payment but also includes taxes, insurance and any home owner association dues. Make sure you are comfortable with the monthly housing expense.

4. Find out your upfront cost for purchasing the home which includes a down payment and closing costs to ensure the funds are in place.

5. Owning a home is a big part of the American Dream. Maintaining home ownership is more important though. Prepare yourself for this important step of your life. Set up a free consultation with us and we’ll help guide you through every step of the way!

What is it about working with buyers and sellers that excites you the most?

Real estate is all about helping people. Although real estate transactions are very complex, being able to guide buyers and sellers through the process is very rewarding in and of itself. In addition, you get to develop excellent relationships which turn a career into a truly rewarding profession.

What advice would you give someone who is thinking about selling their home?

List your home with a real estate agent. There are many people that will attempt to sell their home all on their own but their efforts are unsuccessful. It’s best to use an agent because you can avoid the additional stress and most importantly any legal issues.

A Realtor® can provide the experience and local knowledge to guide you through the entire process all while selling within your ideal timeframe and at the best price possible.

If you’re thinking about selling, call my team today to setup a free, no obligation in-home consultation!

Can you describe what a successful sale means to you?

A satisfied customer exudes success to me. It means that I was able to bring joy and happiness to the buyer or seller and their entire family by assisting them in achieving the American dream – home ownership.

Can you describe a situation in which you informed a potential buyer that a home was not right for them?

As a Realtor® my job is to protect my clients’ interest at all times. A Realtor® is more than a real estate agent, Realtors® have training in ethics for both their dealings with the public and with the real estate community.

It has not been once or twice, but on several occasions throughout my career, I have had to share my honest opinion about a property and advise against pursuing it. One of the most recent situations involved a client who was looking for a property in North Orlando. We looked at the property, it was priced right and apparently very well maintained. We made an offer and it was accepted by the sellers. I always advise my clients to get a home inspection done. Surprisingly when the inspection was done, the inspector found the property had previous termite activity, which was not visible with a glance over. This was a great house and the buyers’ spouse had already fell in love with the property. However, after looking at the inspection report, I had to advise them against buying this property and they took my advice. Due to low inventory in the market it took us two months to find another property but the new property was better and they were glad that they took my advice. Another satisfied family!