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Above, Below, or At List Price? How Much to Offer on a House

8/5/2020
Home and Living Imagery
  1. Know your market

Before you get your heart set on a property, it is crucially important to understand if the market in your desired area is currently a buyers or sellers market A seller’s market can be tough for buyers and cost you more, especially if you allow emotions – instead of logic – to drive your offer decision. 

  • A buyer’s market is an area where more houses are listed for sale than active buyers ready to purchase them. This gives buyers the advantage, especially with a motivated seller, and is undoubtedly the best market to find deals. 
  • A seller’s market has eager buyers competing for houses as soon as they are listed for sale. This gives sellers the advantage as homes often sell quickly and above list price.

 

  1. Know the comparable sales or comps in the area

“Comps,” short for comparables, are recently sold homes that are similar to the house you are offering to buy. Home sellers use comps to help them determine their asking price, while you can use comps to figure out how much to offer on a house. 

You can find comps by looking at online real estate listings, but for more accurate and detailed information, you’ll want to rely on your real estate agent. This is because listings typically state the asking price of a home, but not the final sale price, which is more indicative of the market value. 

Fortunately, your real estate agent has access to a variety of databases, such as the multiple listing service (MLS) that provides more detail about comps. Your agent will interpret the information and write up an offer that works for you and the current housing market  Having this information is especially important once negotiations begin.

 

  1. Know the condition of the home listed for sale

You’ll want to compare the condition of the house you like to what’s known about the comps. Let’s say the comparable homes all have new appliances and sold at the same price as a home you are considering – except the home you’re thinking about making an offer on has old appliances. You’ll know you can offer less because the properties don’t compare apples to apples, and you’ll likely need to make upgrades in the not-too-distant future. 

This comparison stands true for any repairs or updates you’ll need to make in the home. By looking at the condition of homes that have sold recently in the same listing range, you’ll have a good idea of the value those repairs bring to the house. 

 

4. See if you can discover the seller’s intentions

Understanding the seller’s intentions for selling the home can be an ace in your pocket. Maybe the seller is relocating for a job and will take a lower offer in order to sell the home quickly. Or perhaps an older couple is moving to Dallas to retire, but they have plenty of time to sell their home and therefore, want the best offer. 

Check with your real estate agent to see if they have any details about the seller’s intent. They may not have any information to share but it’s always worth checking. When you know a bit about the seller’s motivation for selling, you gain important insight on how much to offer – and what other terms might appeal to them, such as a quick closing or allowing them more time to move their belongings.

 

5. Know your reasons for buying a house

Before you start drafting up offers, understand your motivation for buying a house. Do you plan to stay in the area for 5-10 years? Are you looking to put down roots? Or are you thinking more short-term, with a likely plan to sell in a few years when the market turns around?  

When you are clear about where you stand, you can make a logical offer based on your realistic wants and needs, rather than letting your emotions rule the day. 

6. Know your budget

Every buyer should seek a pre-approved loan before the house hunting begins. This pre-approval creates leverage for making a firm offer based on current finances and a willing lender. Your pre-approved status is a signal to the seller that you can close on the house if you make an offer. 

Going through the loan approval process provides good information to help you understand the demands on your budget. And to be clear, just because the lender agrees to lend you a specific amount does not mean you should offer the full asking price on a house. 

Put all the numbers on the table. Determine the amount you are pre-approved for and then use a mortgage payment calculator to figure out what your monthly payment would be. Be sure to also account for private mortgage insurance (PMI) if it applies, in addition to any other expenses. See how it all adds up and determine a reasonable budget that fits the lifestyle you want to have while living in that house

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Looking for a Real Estate Agent in Mishawaka, South Bend or Granger Indiana? 
You've found the perfect one. Call or text Keith Raven now to set up a time to meet. 
574-229-6803

What to Unpack First in Your New Home

8/4/2020
Luxury II Imagery

Where are the towels? Who packed the cat food? When you're surrounded by boxes, what you need is a strategy.

So you’re finally in your new home, surrounded by piles of boxes, tired and glad that your relocation is about to end.

To fully complete your moving adventure, however, you need to unpack your belongings and make your new place feel like home. But where do you even begin?

First things first

No matter how much you want to get it over with, there are three important things to do before you can actually start unpacking.

  1. Clean and prepare your new home. It’s easier to wipe down shelves, clean windows and mop floors before your belongings are in place. Make sure your home-to-be is spotless when your items arrive. If you can’t get to your new place early enough to do a thorough cleaning, consider hiring professional cleaners to do the job for you.
  2. Inspect and organize your belongings. Check all the delivered boxes and household items against your inventory sheet to make sure nothing is damaged or missing. Then have each of your possessions taken to the room where it belongs. If everything was properly marked and labeled, sorting your items will be a piece of cake.
  3. Set major furniture and appliances. Position your large furniture pieces and bulky household appliances first. Then you can put any smaller items you unpack later directly in their rightful places. Plan your interior design well in advance so you don’t end up moving heavy pieces around several times.

Tackle the necessities

What matters most when unpacking your items after a move is ensuring that your essentials are immediately accessible. So prioritize your belongings, and unpack only the necessities first.

Bedding

You may not be able to unpack the entire bedroom right away, but you’ll definitely need at least the bed the day you move in. Reassemble the bed frame (if necessary), lay down the sheets, unpack the pillows and spread the blankets so you can get a good night’s rest — you’re going to need it!

Provided that you have a change of clothes and some comfortable indoor shoes (as well as curtains on the windows to ensure your privacy), the rest of your bedroom items can wait until you find the time and the energy to deal with them.

Bathroom items

Without a doubt, your personal care items, toiletries and medicines should top the list of the most important items to unpack after your move. Put out toilet paper and soap, find your toothbrush and toothpaste, hang the towels and the shower curtains, and unpack any other bathroom essentials you’ll need to wash away the weariness and stress of moving.

Kitchen necessities

Kitchens tend to take a very long time to unpack and organize properly due to the large number of items that need to be sorted and carefully arranged.

As soon as you’ve hooked up the large appliances, such as the fridge and the stove, move on to your smaller kitchenware. Plates, silverware and glasses should be the first to find their places in cupboards and kitchen cabinets, closely followed by cooking utensils, pots and pans, and pantry items.

Kids’ and pets’ items

If you have young children, unpack some of their favorite toys, books, games and blankets during the first few hours in your new home. Keeping your young ones happy and occupied will let you concentrate on your work and finish it faster.

Of course, you should also take care of your pets’ needs immediately upon arrival. It’s a good idea to pack adequate pet food and some of your animal friends’ favorite toys in your open-first box.

Finishing up

When you’ve unpacked the three most essential rooms in your home (bedroom, bathroom and kitchen), everything else can wait a bit. There are no deadlines to meet, so you can set your own pace when unpacking and decorating your new place — just unpack in order of priority without procrastinating.

If you stay organized, set reasonable goals, clean after every unpacking phase, and dispose of the packing materials in a safe and eco-friendly manner, your new surroundings will soon stop looking like a warehouse full of boxes and start feeling like home.
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Looking for a Real Estate Agent in Mishawaka, South Bend or Granger Indiana? 
You've found the perfect one. Call or text Keith Raven now to set up a time to meet. 
574-229-6803

10 Things You Need to Do When Buying A Home

7/30/2020

Everything you need to know about buying a home

1. Buy for the long run

A home is a significant investment, not to mention a linchpin of stability. According to the Zillow housing trends report, the majority of Americans who sold their homes last year had lived in their home for at least a decade before selling.

Some are even staying for the long haul. Almost half (46%) of all homeowners are like me — living in the first home we ever purchased. In short: Buy a home you want to live in for at least five years — one equipped (or ready to be equipped) with the features and space you need, both now and in the future.

2. Buy to improve your life, not speculate with money

Your home is more than a financial investment; it’s where you sleep, eat, host friends, raise your children — it’s where your life happens.

The housing market is too unpredictable to buy a (primary) home purely because you think it will net a big short-term financial return. You will most likely be living in this home for several years, regardless of how it appreciates, so your first priority should be finding a home that will meet your needs and help you build the life you want.

3. Focus on what’s important to you

Today’s housing market is short on inventory, with 10% fewer homes on the market in November 2017 than November 2016.

So, focus on finding a home you can afford that meets your needs — but don’t get distracted by shiny features that might break your budget. Nice-to-have features often drive up the price tag for things you don’t particularly value once the initial enjoyment wears off.

Make a list of your basic needs, both for your desired home and for your desired neighborhood. Stick to finding a home that meets these needs, without buying extra stuff that adds up.

4. Set a budget and stick to it

It’s important to set a budget early — ideally before you even start looking at homes. In today’s market, especially in the more competitive markets, it’s incredibly easy to go over budget — 29% of buyers who purchased last year did.

The most common culprit? Location. Zillow’s data indicates that urban buyers are significantly more likely to go over budget (42%) than suburban (25%) or rural (20%) buyers.

 

5. Aim for a 20% down payment

If you can afford it, a 20% down payment is ideal for three reasons:

  • Buyers who don’t put a full 20% down pay a premium, most commonly in the form of private mortgage insuranceThis is less financially punishing than it used to be, given today’s low mortgage rates. A monthly mortgage payment (with PMI) may be lower than a monthly rental payment in many markets — but still.
  • Buyers who put more down upfront typically make fewer offers and buy faster than those who put less down. Zillow researchfound that buyers with higher down payments make 1.9 offers on average, compared to 2.4 offers for buyers with lower down payments (after controlling for market conditions).
  • A higher down payment reduces your financial risk. You don’t want to owe more money than your house is worth if local markets dip when you need to sell.

6. Keep a six-month strategic reserve

While a down payment is a significant expense, it’s also important to build up a strategic reserve and keep it separate from your normal bank account.

This reserve should cover six months of living expenses in case you get sick, face an unexpected expense or lose your job. A strategic reserve will not only save you from financial hardship in an emergency but also provide peace of mind.

When we accumulated a strategic reserve, my wife and I finally felt ready to build for our future. Without it, we were living from paycheck to paycheck, anxiously managing our cash flow rather than saving or budgeting.

7. Get pre-approved, and stick with a fixed-rate mortgage

The pre-approval process requires organizing all your paperwork; documenting your income, debt and credit; and understanding all the loan options available to you. It’s a bit of a pain, but it saves time later. Getting pre-approved also shows sellers that you’re a reliable buyer with a strong financial footing. Most importantly, it helps you understand what you can afford.

There are a variety of mortgage types, and it’s important to evaluate all of them to see which is best for your family and financial situation. Those boring 30- and 15-year mortgages offer big advantages.

The biggest is locking in your mortgage rate. In short: A 30-year fixed mortgage has a specific fixed rate of interest that doesn’t change for 30 years. A 15-year fixed mortgage does the same.

 

8. Comparison shop to get the best mortgage

Though a home is the biggest purchase many of us will ever make, most home buyers don’t shop around for a mortgage (52% consider only a single lender).

I certainly didn’t. This did save me some annoying calls and hassle, but it cost me $40 or $50 every month, for years. The difference of half a percentage point in your mortgage rate can add up to thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan. 

9. Spend no more than a third of your after-tax income

It’s better to regret spending too little on your home than spending too much. One-third of your after-tax income is a manageable amount. This isn’t always possible if you live in a place like San Francisco or New York, but it’s still a good yardstick for where to be.

10. Be willing to walk away

Buying a home is a time-consuming, stressful but ultimately rewarding endeavor — if you end up closing on a home that meets your needs. But it’s important to manage your expectations in case you don’t immediately find a home you can afford with the features you need.

Always be prepared to walk away if the sellers don’t accept your offer, the home doesn’t pass a rigorous inspection or the timing isn’t right. Hold fast to your list of must-haves, stick to what you can afford and don’t overreach or settle.

It’s no tragedy to miss out on any particular house. Remember that you’re playing the long game. You want to be happy 10 years from now.

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Looking for a Real Estate Agent in Mishawaka, South Bend or Granger Indiana? 
You've found the perfect one. Call or text Keith Raven now to set up a time to meet. 
574-229-6803

Don't Believe These 5 Myths About Real Estate Agents

7/29/2020

Man standing on a high-rise wood deck pointing next to a couple looking out with a pool to the right

Do you need one? Do they pocket the whole commission? Let’s set the facts straight.

Buyers and sellers often enter the market with misconceptions about real estate agents — how they work, how the process works and what the agency relationship is all about.

It’s helpful to point out, without getting too far into the weeds, that in any one real estate transaction, there are most likely two agents: one for the buyer and one for the seller.

Here are five myths (and five truths) about working with both buyer’s and seller’s agents.

1. Agents get a 6% commission, no matter what

Most people assume that their agent is pocketing the entire commission. That would be nice, but it’s just not accurate.

Truth

First, it’s helpful to know that the seller pays the commission, and they split it four ways: between the two brokerages and the two agents.

Finally, the brokerage commission isn’t fixed or set in stone, and sellers can sometimes negotiate it.

2. Once you start with an agent, you’re stuck with them

If you’re a seller, you sign a contract with the real estate agent and their brokerage. That contract includes a term — typically six months to a year. Once you sign the agreement, you could, in fact, be stuck with their agent through the term. But that’s not always the case.

Truth

If things aren’t working out, it’s possible to ask the agent or the brokerage manager to release you from the agreement early.

Buyers are rarely under a contract. In fact, buyer’s agents work for free until their clients find a home. It can be as quick as a month, or it can take up to a year or more. And sometimes a buyer never purchases a house, and the agent doesn’t get paid.

Before jumping into an agent’s car and asking them to play tour guide, consider a sit-down consultation or a call, and read their online reviews to see if they’re the right fit.

Otherwise, start slow, and if you don’t feel comfortable, let them know early on — it’s more difficult to break up with your agent if too much time passes.

3. It’s OK for buyers to use the home’s selling agent

Today’s buyers get most things on demand, from food to a ride to the airport. When it comes to real estate, buyers now assume they need only their smartphone to purchase a home, since most property listings live online.

Truth

First-time buyers or buyers new to an area don’t know what they don’t know, and they need an advocate.

The listing agent represents the seller’s interests and has a fiduciary responsibility to negotiate the best price and terms for the seller. So working directly with the selling agent presents a conflict of interest in favor of the seller.

An excellent buyer’s agent lives and breathes their local market. They’ve likely been inside and know the history of dozens of homes nearby. They’re connected to the community, and they know the best inspectors, lenders, architects and attorneys.

They’ve facilitated many transactions, which means they know all the red flags and can tell you when to run away from (or toward) a home.

4. One agent is just as good as the next

Many people think that all agents are created equal.

Truth

A great local agent can make an incredible difference, so never settle. The right agent can save you time and money, keep you out of trouble and protect you.

Consider an agent who has lived and worked in the same town for around ten years. They know the streets like the back of their hand. They have deep relationships with the other local agents. They have the inside track on upcoming deals and past transactions that can’t be explained by looking at data online.

Compare that agent to one who’s visiting an area for the first time. Some agents aren’t forthright and might be more interested in making a sale. Many others care more about building a long-term relationship with you, because their business is based off referrals.

5. You can’t buy a for sale by owner (FSBO) home if you have an agent

In a previous generation, sellers who wouldn’t deal with any agents tried to sell their home directly to a buyer to save the commission.

Truth

Smart sellers understand that real estate is complicated and that most buyers have separate representation. And many FSBO sellers will offer payment to a buyer’s agent as an incentive to bring their buyer clients to the home.

If you see a FSBO home on the market, don’t be afraid to ask your agent to step in. Most of the time the seller will compensate them, and you can benefit from their knowledge and experience.
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Looking for a Real Estate Agent in Mishawaka, South Bend or Granger Indiana? 
You've found the perfect one. Call or text Keith Raven now to set up a time to meet. 
574-229-6803



How to Improve Your Credit Score to Land a Mortgage for Your First Home

7/28/2020
Man handing another man keys with a boy to the left in front of a blue door


Wondering how to improve your credit score? Sure, it's easy to fall in love with the idea of buying a home. You've got it all planned out: a five-bedroom home in your favorite neighborhood with a manicured lawn and—why not?—a nice pool.

But if you're going to get a mortgage (and let's face it, most homebuyers do), you'll likely need to improve your credit score, also called a FICO score—a simplified calculation of your history of paying back debts and making regular payments on loans. If you're borrowing money to buy a home, lenders want to know you'll pay them back in a timely manner, and a credit score is an easy estimate of those odds.

Here's your crash course on this all-important little number, and how to whip it into the best home-buying shape possible.

Pull your credit report

There are three major U.S. credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion), and each releases its own credit scores and reports (a more detailed history that's used to determine your score). Their scores should be roughly equivalent, although they do pull from different sources. For example, Experian considers on-time rent payments while TransUnion has detailed information about previous employers.

To access these scores and reports, financial planner Bob Forrest of Mutual of Omaha recommends using AnnualCreditReport.com, where you can get a free copy of your report every 12 months from each credit-reporting company. It doesn't include your credit score, though—you'll have to go to each company for that, and pay a small fee.

Or check with your credit card company: Some, including Discover and Capital One, offer free access to scores and reports, says Michael Chadwick, owner of Chadwick Financial Advisors in Unionville, CT. Once you've got your report, thoroughly review it page by page, particularly the “adverse accounts" section that details late payments and other slip-ups.

Assess where you stand

It's simple: The better your credit history, the higher your score—and the better your opportunities for a home loan. The Federal Housing Administration requires a minimum credit score of 580 to permit a 3.5% down payment, and major lenders often require at least 620, if not more. So what can you do if your credit report is in less than shipshape? Don't panic, there are ways to clean it up.

How to improve your credit score with error disputes

A 2013 Federal Trade Commission study found that 5% of credit reports contain errors that can erroneously ding your score. So if you spot any, start by sending a dispute letter to the bureau, providing as much documentation as possible, per FTC guidelines. You'll also need to contact the organization that provided the bad intel, such as a bank or medical provider, and ask it to update the info with the bureau. This may take a while, and you may need documentation to make your case. But once the bad info is removed, you should see a bump in your score.

Erase one-time mistakes

So you've made a late payment or two—who hasn't? Call the company that registered the late payment and ask that it be removed from your record. “If you had an oopsy and missed just a payment or two, most companies will indeed tell their reporting division to remove this from your credit report," says Forrest. Granted, this won't work if you have a history of late payments, but for accidents and small errors, it's an easy way to improve your credit score.

Increase your limits

One no-brainer way to increase your credit score is to simply pay off your debt. Not an option right now?  Here's a cool loophole: Ask your credit card companies to increase your credit limit instead. This improves your debt-to-credit ratio, which compares how much you owe to how much you can borrow.

“Having $1,000 of credit card debt is bad if you have a limit of $1,500. It isn't nearly as bad if your limit is $5,000," Forrest says. The simple math: Although you owe the same amount, you're using a much smaller percentage of your available credit, which shines well on your borrowing practices.

Pay on time

If you're often late with payments, now's the time to change. You have the power to improve your credit score yourself. Commit to always paying your bills on time; consider signing up for automatic payments so it's guaranteed to get done.

Give yourself time

Unfortunately, negative items (such as those habitually late or nonexistent payments) can stay on your report for up to seven years. The good news? Changing your habits makes a big difference in the “payment history" segment of your report, which accounts for 35% of your score. That's why it's essential to start early so that you're sitting pretty once you're shopping for homes and find one that makes you swoon.

Once you've set your credit on a better path, it's time to tackle the next major hurdle: saving for a down payment.
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Looking for a Real Estate Agent in Mishawaka, South Bend or Granger Indiana? 
You've found the perfect one. Call or text Keith Raven now to set up a time to meet. 
574-229-6803

Buying a Home? Plan for These Hidden Costs

7/27/2020

Luxury II Imagery

Get those rainy day funds in order — you're going to need them.

You’re excited because you just found the perfect home. The neighborhood is great, the house is charming and the price is right.

But the asking price is just the beginning. Be prepared for additional — and often unexpected — home-buying costs that can catch buyers unaware and quickly leave you underwater on your new home.

Expect the unexpected

For almost every person who buys a home, the spending doesn’t stop with the down payment. Homeowners insurance and closing costs, like appraisal and lender fees, are typically easy to plan for because they’re lumped into the home-buying process, but most costs beyond those vary.

The previous owners of your home are the biggest factor affecting your move-in costs. If they take the refrigerator when they move out, you’ll have to buy one to replace it. The same goes for any large appliance.

And while these may seem like a small purchase compared to buying a home, appliances quickly add up — especially if you just spent most of your cash on a down payment.

You’ll also be on the hook for any immediate improvements the home needs, unless you negotiate them as part of your home purchase agreement.

Unfortunately, these costs are the least hidden of those you may encounter.

When purchasing a home, definitely hire a home inspector (this costs money too!) to ensure the home isn’t going to collapse the next time it rains. Inspectors look for bad electrical wiring, weak foundations, wood rot and other hidden problems you may not find on your own.

Worse still, these problems are rarely covered by home insurance. If an inspector discovers a serious problem, you’ll then have to decide if you still want to purchase the home. Either way, you’ll be out the cost of hiring the inspector.

Consider the creature comforts

Another cost is your own comfort. There are a number of smaller considerations you may not think about until after you move in.

Are you used to having cable? If so, is your new home wired for cable? It’s much harder to watch a technician crawling around punching holes in your walls when you own those walls.

And if you’re moving from the world of renting to the world of homeownership, you’ll probably be faced with much higher utility bills. Further, you could find yourself paying for utilities once covered by a landlord, like water and garbage pickup.

Plan ahead

The best way to prepare for the unknown and unexpected is through research and planning. This starts with budgeting before house hunting and throughout your search.

Look at homes in your budget that need improvements, and then research how much those improvements could cost. Nothing is worse than buying a home thinking you can fix the yard for a few hundred dollars and then realizing it will cost thousands.

There’s really no limit to how prepared you can be. Say you find a nice home that’s priced lower than others in the area because of its age. You may save money on the list price, but with an older house, you could be slapped with a much higher home insurance payment, making the house more expensive in the long run.

This is where preparation comes in. Research home insurance and property prices in the areas you’re considering to make more educated decisions before you ever make that first offer.

Clearly define how much you intend to put toward your down payment, and then look at how much cash that leaves for improvements and minor costs, like changing the locks. That way, when you find a house at the high end of your range, you’ll know to walk away if it requires a new washer and dryer or HVAC system upgrade.

Establish a rough estimate for as many costs as you can think of, and be extremely critical of homes at the top of your budget — otherwise, you could easily end up being house-poor.

Know your budget and plan ahead. Buying a home is a lot less scary when you know what you’re getting into.
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Looking for a Real Estate Agent in Mishawaka, South Bend or Granger Indiana? 
You've found the perfect one. Call or text Keith Raven now to set up a time to meet. 
574-229-6803


Looking for a New Place? Use This Time to Create Your Wishlist

7/23/2020

Stop sign in downtown area
Now that many of us have spent several weeks living inside, we’ve become quite familiar with our homes — in some cases, maybe too familiar. If you were planning to move before COVID-19, and still plan to do so when the timing is right, you might want to take this time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not in your current home. For instance, those stairs you’ve climbed 10 times a day may have kept you moving while you’ve stayed home, but maybe you’d like stair-free living in your next home. Or perhaps the yard you thought you could do without has now become a must-have.

We’ve come up with a list of questions to help you pinpoint what you like and don’t like about your current home so you can find more comfort and pleasure in your next one.

What’s working for you — and what’s not?

  • On a scale of 1-10, how do you like your current home?
  • What’s your home’s best quality?
  • And its worst quality?
  • Do you like the style of your home? If not, is there an architectural style or era you prefer?
  • What’s your favorite room, and what makes spending time there pleasurable?

Space and flow: How do you feel when you’re at home?

  • Do you have enough space or too much? Where could you use more/less space?
  • How would you describe the layout — an open floor plan or more compartmentalized? Does it suit your lifestyle?
  • Do you have enough or too many bedrooms? Bathrooms?
  • Do you like the number of levels (single or multistory)?
  • Are you happy with the windows (enough natural light, well-placed, too sunny)?
  • Do you like the fixtures and finishes?
  • Is there a specialized room you’ve never had but have always wanted (such as a home office, workout room, sewing room, laundry room or mudroom)?

What’s outside — and how does it affect your experience of home?

  • If you have an outdoor space, do you enjoy spending time there?
  • If you don’t have one, do you feel like you’re missing out?
  • Do you enjoy taking care of a yard… or feel burdened by it (be honest!)?
  • Does your home have curb appeal? If not, what needs to be improved?
  • Do you have adequate parking? Is a garage or carport a must-have?
  • How much time and effort does the exterior require for upkeep (painting, staining, etc.)?

Your neighborhood: Community connections can make life all the sweeter

  • Are you happy with your neighborhood? Think about all its characteristics, including walkability, parks, nearby activities, density, noise level and neighbor involvement.
  • Do you have to travel far for basics such as groceries or a doctor’s appointment?
  • Are you happy with your commute?
  • Are there enough activities going on around you — or too many?
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Looking for a Real Estate Agent in Mishawaka, South Bend or Granger Indiana? 
You've found the perfect one. Call or text Keith Raven now to set up a time to meet. 
574-229-6803

Looking for a New Place? Use This Time to Create Your Wishlist

7/22/2020

Man and woman smiling in front of home with brick steps holding keys

Now that many of us have spent several weeks living inside, we’ve become quite familiar with our homes — in some cases, maybe too familiar. If you were planning to move before COVID-19, and still plan to do so when the timing is right, you might want to take this time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not in your current home. For instance, those stairs you’ve climbed 10 times a day may have kept you moving while you’ve stayed home, but maybe you’d like stair-free living in your next home. Or perhaps the yard you thought you could do without has now become a must-have.

We’ve come up with a list of questions to help you pinpoint what you like and don’t like about your current home so you can find more comfort and pleasure in your next one.

What’s working for you — and what’s not?

  • On a scale of 1-10, how do you like your current home?
  • What’s your home’s best quality?
  • And its worst quality?
  • Do you like the style of your home? If not, is there an architectural style or era you prefer?
  • What’s your favorite room, and what makes spending time there pleasurable?

Space and flow: How do you feel when you’re at home?

  • Do you have enough space or too much? Where could you use more/less space?
  • How would you describe the layout — an open floor plan or more compartmentalized? Does it suit your lifestyle?
  • Do you have enough or too many bedrooms? Bathrooms?
  • Do you like the number of levels (single or multistory)?
  • Are you happy with the windows (enough natural light, well-placed, too sunny)?
  • Do you like the fixtures and finishes?
  • Is there a specialized room you’ve never had but have always wanted (such as a home office, workout room, sewing room, laundry room or mudroom)?

What’s outside — and how does it affect your experience of home?

  • If you have an outdoor space, do you enjoy spending time there?
  • If you don’t have one, do you feel like you’re missing out?
  • Do you enjoy taking care of a yard… or feel burdened by it (be honest!)?
  • Does your home have curb appeal? If not, what needs to be improved?
  • Do you have adequate parking? Is a garage or carport a must-have?
  • How much time and effort does the exterior require for upkeep (painting, staining, etc.)?

Your neighborhood: Community connections can make life all the sweeter

  • Are you happy with your neighborhood? Think about all its characteristics, including walkability, parks, nearby activities, density, noise level and neighbor involvement.
  • Do you have to travel far for basics such as groceries or a doctor’s appointment?
  • Are you happy with your commute?
  • Are there enough activities going on around you — or too many?

Call Keith Raven now to help you get started - 574-229-6803

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A 3-Step Plan for Finding and Buying The Perfect Home In The Michiana Area

1/29/2018

 

Ready to start your Michiana home search? Here's where to begin.

 

Chances are you’ve considered buying a home in Mishawaka, Granger, South Bend or Elkhart areas — maybe you even attended a couple of open houses in the Michiana area and ran the numbers. But once you get serious, there are a few points you need to consider before signing a contract and heading with your local Michiana realtor to your closing.

Buying a home takes more time and research than, say, buying a tablet, smartphone or the next hot game counsel. Before diving in, it’s important to understand the home buuying process. Every home buyer’s journey happens on a slightly different timeline, but here are some steps prospective buyers should take before they take action.

        1. Search the Michiana area and discover

The home-buying process often occurs organically, and may begin a year or more before the actual purchase. You’ll get started by viewing homes online or driving the Michiana neighborhoods to discover what types of homes you can get in different price ranges.

Look at homes in your favorite neighborhoods, it could be in Mishawaka, Elkhart, Granger or South Bend and review statistics and reports on home values. Use this time to dream about some of your favorite home features, and start to put together a list of home priorities that you and your family must have.

Most first time home buyers or seasoned home buyers will find a property during this phase that prompts them to move to the next stage.

  1. It’s important to do the math and your required homework

Most would-be home buyers need a home loan to purchase a home. While the process has gotten easier as we’ve moved farther away from the financial and lending crisis, it can still be challenging if you’re not prepared.

You need to know what you and your family financially can afford, the types of loans available and how what you can afford will affect your home search in the Michiana area. Pull a credit report and understand your financial situation. Then you can get pre-approved. If you’re not sure where to go contact real estate agent Keith Raven and he would be happy to guide you to a few local lenders that are experts in the home lending process for the Michiana areas.

Many buyers need to repair their credit score, save more money or allow cash to season for some time before buying. Use the next few months to address any financial issues and budget your tax return money wisely in the event you want to use some of that as your down payment.

  1. Dive into the viewing process and have fun

At some point along the way, you should contact a local real estate agent like Keith Raven. These relationships form early, and having that person beside you during your search will be invaluable.

Go to open houses, make appointments and see as many homes as possible. Before making an offer, you’ll need to know the market inside and out. The more homes you see in the Michiana area, the more you will know about the markets in Elkhart, Mishawaka, Granger and South Bend, and the more confidence you will have when that dream house comes along.

And if you miss out on a deal or two, it’s okay. It’s all part of the process. Don’t feel rushed, and realize that the home search often becomes a part-time job. Have fun with it.

If you find yourself in the real estate market prior to doing significant research, you may be jumping the gun. Unlike a tablet, smartphone or even a car, a home is a long-term investment — and a special one at that. It’s where your life will happen. Move too quickly and buyer’s remorse can creep in.

Why it pays to list your home in the winter.

1/20/2018

 

 

 

Spring may still be peak home-shopping season, since most families want to move when the kids are out of school. Yet it actually pays to list in the winter, when buyers tend to have more urgency: A study by online brokerage Redfin found that average sellers net more above asking price during the months of December, January, February, and March than they do from June through November, even in cold-weather cities like Boston and Chicago. And homes listed in winter sold faster than those posted in spring.

Should you put your home on the market now? Unless you need to sell (say, you’ve purchased your next home or are relocating for a job), “timing always depends on supply and demand,” says Indianapolis real estate agent Christine Dossman.

To understand your local climate, check the number of days on the market for current and recently sold listings. If most are sitting for more than 60 days, it’s safer to wait until spring, when more buyers will emerge. Yet “if properties are selling quickly, take that as a green light to list,” says real estate broker Peggy Yee of Vienna, Va.

If you do move forward, these strategies will help make your home a hot seller this winter.

 

Price It Right

The quieter winter market brings special pricing considerations. Unlike in spring, when there are more shoppers—and it may make sense to price low to try to generate a bidding war—you’re less likely to receive multiple offers.

Winter is also a bad time to test the market and list high. If the house doesn’t sell, you may need to drop below market value to nab a buyer before new properties appear in spring and make yours look stale by comparison.

The upshot: Take a conservative approach and price at market value, Yee advises. Check closing prices of comparable properties sold in the past 30 days, then eye current list prices to make sure your home won’t look overpriced.

Schedule a Tune-Up

Winter buyers are particularly attuned to issues related to heating and maintenance. Get your furnace, HVAC, and roof inspected, and make any necessary repairs. Also on your to-do list: Clean the gutters, change air filters, and weather—strip the windows.

Many cold-weather house hunters will also be thinking about heating costs. Consider low-cost upgrades like insulating the attic or installing energy-efficient windows, which can slash utility bills, says Brendon DeSimone, author of Next Generation Real Estate.

 

Brighten Your Home

Snow and gray skies make for a gloomy first impression. Warm up curb appeal with basic landscaping, and add inexpensive cool-weather plants like holly to invigorate outdoor space. Fix chipped paint, caulk windows, and repair cracked window seals, which can cause condensation that freezes over and creates an eyesore.

Offset the season’s poor natural light by painting your house off-white throughout—it sets a consistent color palette and makes the space feel larger, says Sacramento interior designer Kerrie Kelly.

And create a sense of warmth throughout the home, starting with the living room, where staging can have the greatest impact, according to a National Association of Realtors report. Items like a throw blanket can set the tone since “people are in winter mode,” says Annette DeCicco, a New Jersey regional sales manager at Berkshire Hathaway. Just don’t tie the space to a specific religion or belief, advises Kelly. To stay neutral, use such seasonal touches as stacked wood by the fireplace rather than holiday decorations.

As always, de-clutter and depersonalize. Put away family photographs so that buyers can see themselves living in the home; instead display pictures that show what the property looks like when the temperature is warmer, like the garden in full bloom or the backyard in the summertime. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean buyers can’t appreciate what your home has to offer year-round.

 

 

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