How do you know if a house is priced correctly?

Whether you are buying a home or selling your current home, you want to get the best deal. But how do you know which deal is the best?

You are driving around in a neighborhood and then you see it… your dream home! You pull up the Zillow app or as we prefer, the “NextHome” app, on your phone to see what the house is listed for. At this point, you are either disappointed because you can’t afford it or thrilled because it is within your price range. You want to make an offer but how much should the offer be? Money bag

In another scenario, your circumstances have changed due to a promotion at work and you are being relocated to another state, or you added a new member to your family and now you need more space or less space due to being empty nesters. Now you need to sell your home. How much should you list it for?

Whether buying or selling a home, you should let a Real Estate Agent work up a market analysis for you. This will tell you which houses are currently on the market in that neighborhood and which have sold within a certain time period, usually 3 – 6 months. It also reveals the average price per square foot so that your agent can determine what would be the best price for this property. Adjustments should be made for upgrades, remodels, and the overall condition of the home and property.  Video

If you are selling your home you should consider staging the home and have a professional photographer take pictures and videos. We now offer 3D videos which let the prospective buyer walk around inside your home without actually being there. How cool is that?

Location, location, location. We are all familiar with this term. But I want to add ‘price’ to that. I believe, pricing your property correctly is just as important as the location. If you price it too high it will sit on the market far too long. If you price it too low, you may shortchange yourself. A good Real Estate professional can guide you thru this process.

You may think, “I can do all of this myself” and you can but where do you start? Where do you find the pertinent information to make a sound decision? Who do you ask when obstacles get in the way or when there is too much information and you feel overwhelmed?

My advice…. call a professional Real Estate agent, establish a relationship with that person and build trust. This is important for both of you.

We have access to information which will help to establish your price. I am here to help you thru the process from start to finish. Give me a call to get more information!

Puppy Love

What do puppies have to do with Real Estate?

One of our dogs gave birth to 4 puppies a little over a week ago. We already have four dogs and we had no plans of adding more. How that happened, is a story for another time! So now we have 8. The puppies are the cutest thing I have seen in a long time. Only a few days old they are already exploring their puppy world by crawling around (eyes closed), especially when it’s time for a puppy snack. And Mama is never far away. Their mother, our sweet Sasha, hasn’t gotten much sleep due to the never-ending attention they require, and neither have we.IMG_1640 (1)

By now I almost consider myself a puppy expert searching Google for ‘everything’ puppy: how long before they open their eyes; how long before they need their first shots; when do they start eating solid food; and the list goes on. It was not my intention to expand my knowledge about puppies but I have to say, I am falling in love with these little creatures. Their little faces are so cute, their little feet already so strong, and their toes with their tiny claws are just adorable. Unrecognizable sounds are coming out of their mouths and put smiles on our faces. How can you not love such innocence.IMG_1641

Hopefully, when the time is right, we will find loving and caring homes for our little fur babies. But in the meantime, I will enjoy spending many days and a few sleepless nights with them. For now, we pray that they will continue to be healthy and enrich our lives.

So, what do puppies have to do with Real Estate? Not much unless you find yourself in a similar situation to mine. With this many 4-legged friends, we need lots of space for them to run around. Luckily we live on 3.5 acres with more than enough space for them to play and be who they were created to be. The good news is, there are many properties available in the country to accommodate a large brood. If you are an animal lover and want to surround yourself with nature, come to the country. You won’t be disappointed. Or if you prefer the urban setting and need a place for your furry friend(s), there are a lot of houses for sale with fenced in yards. And if you are a dog lover I may even throw in a puppy, free of charge!

All kidding aside, please call me if you have any real estate questions, whether it is to sell your home or buy another one to live in or for investment… I’ll be happy to help you. I do advise you to search Google for any puppy questions, as my expert knowledge may be temporary and fade away as the puppies get bigger 🙂

Snow boogers

For Real??

Ok, the name sounds somewhat disgusting. But look at this picture, does this look disgusting?Snow Booger 2 I would say not. Now, I have to admit, I have not tried one.  Everyone in our office has talked about this one of a kind presentation of ice cream heaven.  Even our church had them (you can tell, I have a hard time saying the name…..) represented at our church picnic a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. But had I known Snow Boogers would be available there, I would have made a b-line to satisfy my taste buds.

Did you know they will open a location in Biloxi soon? You can bet, I will be there.  Although I don’t think I can wait and therefore I will put myself in my car and head up to Perkinston soon. I promise I will report back about my experience.

Have you tried this eye-pleasing delicacy? Any comments you have to fill me in, feel free to share with me.

To Be Continued!

Calling All Real Estate Investors

Are you interested in making money fast? Or what about preparing for retirement at a little slower pace?  download (1)

Well, either one of these is possible when investing in real estate. Especially here on the MS Gulf Coast where prices are reasonable and there are still “deals” to be found. Although the foreclosure market has dwindled down, there are plenty of sellers needing to get out from under a financial situation. Sometimes a loved one, like a parent, has passed away and now the family needs to get rid of that property. They will often sell at a lower price because they don’t want to deal with the upkeep of the home or land and want a quick sale.

Then there are those bank-owned properties or foreclosures. The longer they sit on the market the more the banks are willing to deal on the price. For the first 30 days, banks are pretty firm on the listing price. After that, you have a much better chance of negotiating that price down. If you are a patient person and time is not of the essence, you can also find good deals with short sales. The key is to be able to wait it out. Short sales can take anywhere from 3 months to 9 months or more. Yes, the name seems misleading. It is called a short sale because the bank allows the seller to sell the property for less than what is owed to the bank. Therefore, the bank is “shorted” the money owed. But the process of buying a short sale can be lengthy.

Then there is the “For Sale By Owner” category. If you have good negotiating skills (of course, I highly recommend you use a Realtor, yours truly!!) you can make a deal that works for you and the seller.

If you buy at the right price, fix up the home at a reasonable cost, flip it and make a profit, you can then use that money to buy the next investment property and start making money pretty fast.

If you are more interested in the long-term investment, you will fix up the house and rent it out. This could be a good retirement income for you. Just make sure you pay off the mortgage (if you choose that route) as soon as possible so when those retirement years come around (and believe me, they will come sooner and faster than you might think) you will have a nice positive cash flow every month.

No matter which way you go, you need to make sure you run the numbers. Afterall, it is all about the numbers. Investing is a numbers game. It should not be emotional or irrational. You have to be able to make a profit. Period!! Investment

So, what is a good profit margin? Well, that depends on who you talk to, who you listen to, where you live, etc.  In some parts of the country, 3% or 4% is a good margin. I was told here in Mississippi you can often expect an 8% – 10% margin. I work with investors who enjoy a 12% or even 14% profit. In case you are not sure how to figure that margin (or ROI = return on investment), here is an example:

Return ./. Total Amount Paid out of Pocket = ROI

Let’s assume this is a cash deal and you are keeping the house for a rental.

You buy a house for $100,000 with cash, you spend $12,000 on closing costs plus remodeling. Therefore, your total out of pocket amount is $112,000. You rent the house out for 12 months and the tenant pays $1,000 a month in rent, which is $12,000 for that 1 year.

You take the $12,000 rent for that year (that’s your Return)  and divide it by $112,000 (your Total Amount Paid out of Pocket). Your ROI for this example would be 10.71%.

$12,000 ./. $112,000 = .1071 or 10.71%

That’s not bad. Now, this is a gross figure. You will have to calculate other expenses such as taxes, insurance, and maintenance.

If you do a flip, the calculation is very much the same. You bought the house for $100,000 and put $12,000 into it for a total amount out of pocket of $112,000 (same as the example above). You sell the property for $130,000. Take the selling price minus your total investment and divide it by your total amount out of pocket.

$130,000 – $112,000 = $18,000 ./. 112,000 = .1607 or 16.07%

Now that’s how you make money fast 🙂 Money Tree

Investing in Real Estate can be a daunting adventure but so is any kind of investing. At least you have a tangible item, the house, and if you play your cards right you can make good money with that.

If you need help with any of this, please feel free to give me a call.

 

New vs Used

Building a Home vs Buying an Existing Home!

Elliott HomesAnytime you are thinking about buying a home, whether new or used, it is an exciting time in your life but it can become overwhelming. Often people choose the route of a used/existing home because it seems fewer headaches than dealing with building a home. So is it better to buy an existing home? The short answer is: Yes and No.

Here are pros and cons to both:

PROS:

Elliott Homes 1New Built Home: the biggest advantage is that you can choose the floor plan that fits your lifestyle, as well as choose the appliances, flooring, paint color, etc. In other words, you can fine tune your home. You get to be part of the process, watch your “baby” grow, see how things look inside the walls, ask questions and make changes if done in a timely manner. Nowadays new homes are more energy efficient and can save you money on utilities. Most builders will use low-VOC paints and flooring, which is better for your health. And when you walk into your finished home, you can smell the newness, it is clean and untouched. You know everything is in good working order and nothing needs to be repaired, hopefully for years to come. The builder will also give you a warranty on your new home. So with a new built home you are usually buying a lifestyle. Now it’s time to have your friends and family over and share your excitement with them.

Existing Home:images the obvious advantage is, you can move in quickly. How quickly depends on whether you pay cash or get a mortgage. Most likely the property will have mature foliage, trees, and shrubs. If it’s in an established neighborhood, you will be able to gauge that neighborhood by driving around during different times of the day or week. Older homes can have a lot of charm and character and can be very unique, not cookie cutter. Newer (existing) homes can give you the aesthetics similar to a new built home without the price tag.

Speaking of prices, Trulia has determined that a new built home costs roughly about 20% more than a similar existing home.

CONS:

New Built Home: as I already mentioned, building a home is generally more costly. Prices of building material have gone up and so has labor, which means you will pay a higher price for your “never lived in” experience. To have a home built will take about 6 months, depending on the style of home, the upgrades and the builder you choose. Also, newer homes tend to be more cookie-cutter vs being unique, unless your home is custom built just for you, which is even more expensive. If it is in a new neighborhood the builder is developing, then you will have to deal with construction noise until the subdivision is completed. Landscaping may be scarce since trees and shrubs have not matured yet or have not been planted yet. And all the decisions to be made picking out wall colors, cabinets, countertops, flooring, can leave you exhausted.

Existing Home: there may be fewer inventory of the type of home you are looking for and therefore, more competition when making an offer. Depending on the age of the home and whether or not it has been updated, there could be hidden issues with the home you don’t initially notice. Hoping a home inspection will reveal these items. The seller may be less likely to have repairs done in order to sell the house if it is in a multiple offer situation. So you may start out with a honey-do list of projects and repairs. Getting financing for an older home could be more difficult.

Take Away: the bottom line is, you need to decide for yourself what is more important to you, what is your timeline, how much can you afford, what are your wants versus your needs, etc.

Whichever way you go, make sure you speak to a lender first so you know exactly what your financial goals and responsibilities will be. Having a good Realtor is another important aspect. You want someone on your side to work for you. Whether building a home or buying an existing home, a Realtor will represent you and look out for your best interest.

Here is a list of local builders (just to name a few):

Enjoy the house hunting process, new or used. And remember, you don’t have to go thru this venture alone!

 

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Gulf Coast Market Update

download (1)MARKET UPDATE:

According to the GCAR (Gulf Coast Association of Realtors) the first quarter of 2018 has been excellent in the Real Estate Market.

Danny Lee, 2018 GCAR president, says:“We are continuing to see a rise in sales prices and a decrease in days on market, which are both signs of a strong market. We are also experiencing a bit of an inventory shortage as properties are selling more quickly. Luckily, we’ve seen a huge increase in new construction especially in areas nearest to the beach where lots have sat vacant since Katrina.

My hope is that these trends will remain throughout 2018, and we will continue to experience a healthy market on the Mississippi Gulf Coast!”

AVERAGE HOME SALES                                                               download

Average Mississippi Gulf Coast home sales for January- March of 2018 were slightly higher at 375 compared to 367 for the first quarter of 2017.

AVERAGE SALES PRICE

The average sales price was also higher at $162,772 compared to $154,999 in the first quarter of 2017.

AVERAGE DAYS ON MARKET

Average days on market decreased from 111 days in the first quarter of 2017 down to 78 in the first quarter of 2018.

 

Why the Mississippi Gulf Coast?

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Is it because it is right on the Gulf of Mexico, where you can take a stroll on the bike path along the beach? Or is it the glistening of the ocean water on a sunny day when the clear sky is mirrored on this massive body of water? How about watching the evening sun disappear on the horizon? Or could it be the excitement of stepping foot into a casino and trying your luck at the slot machines, or roulette tables? Maybe it’s the proximity to New Orleans, a city filled with history and beignets? Or the 3-hour drive to Florida’s Emerald Coast to enjoy a weekend in Destin? What about the “Cruising the Coast” event where antique car lovers from all over the country come to show off, I mean display, their prized possessions?

My personal favorite is the weather. Yes, it is hot and humid here but only for about 4 – 5 months. The other 7 or 8 months are very comfortable. In the summertime, the temperature is in the upper 80s to mid 90s. Of course, the humidity plays a big part in feeling like it’s 110 degrees. In the wintertime, the temperature can be in the 30s or even 20s at night and in the 50s or 60s during the day. We do see days in the 70s in the winter months. Although we had a cold and long winter this year, which reminded me of my childhood in Germany (ok, now I’m overreacting, but we did have 2 full days of snow in my neighborhood, unusual in this part of the world). How about: we have more sunshine than cloudy days! That alone is a huge draw to the coast, according to some of my snowbird clients.

Then there is the cost of living.  Our insurance may be higher since Hurricane Katrina than in other states but I’m told, our property taxes are cheaper and so are our gas prices. Home prices are another reason why people consider investing in the MS Gulf Coast. Whether you are looking for rental properties to build an income or find a home to raise your family in, or you might prefer a condo overlooking the Gulf, the opportunities are there at very reasonable prices when compared to other regions in the country. According to the SunHerald, our local newspaper, our average home price for 2017 was $150,578 while the national average was $252,800.

So, whatever the reason, come and check us out for yourself. You just might fall in love with this place and never want to leave!!!