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Real Estate Experts Provide Advice for Investors

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Real Estate is a popular investment vehicle for American investors.  In fact, 89% of investors put their money into real estate, according to a report by Better Homes and Garden Real Estate.  In a recent article published by Forbes, real estate experts provide reminders and warnings regarding real estate investments in order to help insure a profitable investment.

One real estate professional, Lee Kiser, reminds investors to study the real estate taxes of a property before making the purchase.  Its important to understand what the upcoming tax liability may be down the road, and a real estate tax professional may be able to help an investor prepare accordingly.

Shelling out the money for a professional inspection and appraisal might not be top of the list for investors, but according to Angela Yaun of the Day Realty Group, it may help save more money for the investor later.  The investor may be able to get items covered under a home warranty if they are proven to be functioning at the time of the inspection.  It can also make the buyer aware of repair expenses they should plan for later.  A professional appraisal will provide the most accurate square footage and appraised value, important facts to have on hand when the investor is looking to sell their property.

The article goes on to detail the importance of understanding Home Owners Association restrictions, obtaining a Master Land Use plan for the area surrounding the property, and getting accurate and professional estimates for repairs, holding costs and closing costs.

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Photo Credit: Antonio Carlos Cascatrina

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Before Listing Your Home: Real Estate Myths Debunked

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Low housing inventory coupled with low interest rates has helped encourage home owners to finally consider putting their home on the market.  There are many considerations to take into account before listing a home.  Being able to determine what home selling advice is based on fact versus myth is vital for a successful and profitable transaction.  An article published in U.S. News and World Report, written by Teresa Mears, helps homeowners navigate the process by debunking some of the rumors and myths.

One home selling myth is that home owners should list the home at a price above what they actually expect to get for the home.  According to Mears, “That’s because shoppers and their real estate agents often don’t even look at homes that are priced above market value.”  Even if a homeowner lowers the price after a few weeks, the fact that it sat on the market for 3 weeks or more makes prospective buyers suspicious about issues with the home.

Sellers might often be tempted to sell a house on their own, without the use of a real estate professional, in order to save money.  The value real estate professionals add to the process comes in the form of marketing to buyers and their agents, negotiating the sales price and sales contract and helping navigate any issues that come up after the inspection.  When you hire and pay a real estate professional, you are able to take advantage of their experience and expertise from previous sales transactions.

Additional myths touched on include which home renovations home owners can expect to see a return on investment, and which renovations should not be done just to sell a home, whether open houses benefit the home owner and what your expectation for future market prices should be.  Read the entire article.

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Could 2018 Be The Right Time to Sell Your Home?

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If you have been waiting for the right time to sell your home, there are many reasons experts are saying that the time has come.  In an article written by Devon Thorsby, published by U.S. News and World Report, the reasons that 2018 might prove to be a good time to sell a home are listed.

First and foremost, the past few years of low inventory of homes for sale has left prospective home buyers more than ready to scoop up the perfect house.  Their frustration with available homes has led many house hunters to begin their search earlier than normal with the hopes of purchasing a home before other buyers make their offer.

Additionally, interest rates are still relatively low.  They have been slowly creeping up and are expected increase to 5 percent in 2019.  Many home buyers are motivated to purchase a home sooner rather than later in order to secure a lower interest rate.

Thorsby details additional rationale for putting that “For Sale” sign up this year.  Read the entire article here.

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Disappointing Sales Figures for New Homes Reported

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In many parts of the U.S., sales of new homes continued to have a downward trend in February, falling .6 percent from January.  This, according to an article published by CNBC, is the third month in a row that the sales of new homes dropped.

In the article, the details of regional new home sales were provided.  Bringing the U.S. average down were the Midwest with a 3.7 percent decrease in sales as well as the west, with a drop of almost 18 percent.  The south and northeast regions of the U.S., however, saw increases in new home sales of 19.4 percent and 9 percent respectively.

An overall slow-down in sales is being attributed to a shortage of homes, specifically lower priced homes.  As a result, the prices are being driven up, the median price of new homes is up almost 10 percent from last year.  Couple this with rising mortgage interest rates, many first time homebuyers may have a difficult time entering the real estate market.

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How Do Chicago Residents Feel About Rent Control?

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If you have ever rented or try to rent real estate in Chicago, you have seen first-hand how rental rates have increased.  Pricing many, wishing to rent property, out of desirable neighborhoods.   What you may not be familiar with is the 1997 Illinois state law, prohibiting rent control in the state, has allowed landlords to significantly raise rental prices and create  “rent-burdened” residents.

However, changes to this law could be considered soon.  If a recent advisory referendum vote is an accurate indicator of how most Chicago residents feel about rent control, ending the ban on rent control will be welcome by Chicagoans.

According to an article published by Crain’s Chicago Business, written by Dennis Rodkin, the advisory referendum was placed on almost 80 precincts’ ballots.  The result was that in each of the 76 precincts, “at least 60 percent of the votes cast were in favor of lifting the ban, and in most the figure was above 75 percent.”  Its seems that lifting the ban is widely supported.  Only time will tell if change to this ban will come as a result.

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Will the New Tax Law Affect Your Home’s Value?

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Many read and listened to news reports at the end of 2017 detailing the new tax laws signed by President Trump.  There were many people and news outlets scrambling to understand the changes that were introduced.  Of course, there was much speculation about the impact of the changes.

Recently, CNN published an article detailing how the new tax laws will slowly begin to impact the value of homes across the United States.  In the article, written by Kathryn Vasel, some specific effects are detailed.

For one, the new tax law reduced the amount of interest on mortgage debt eligible for deductions from $1 million to $750, 000.  Vasel explains that many buyers in the market for high-end, high priced homes might be more likely to negotiate a lower price in order to compensate for the smaller tax break.   Purchasing homes might also be less attractive to buyers because they aren’t able to deduct as much of their real estate taxes.  The tax law reduced the cap to $10,000; in many high-cost markets, home owners pay significantly more than $10, 000 in property taxes.

The financial impact of the tax cuts might result in increased interest rates and, subsequently mortgage rates.  An increase in mortgage rates could keep some buyers out of the market and force home sellers to reduce prices in order to attract buyers.

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Tips for Protecting Real Estate Consumers from Costly Scams and Fraud

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If you were to ask a room full real estate professionals if any of their clients were victims of wire fraud during a real estate transaction, chances are there would be many who might raise their hands.  In fact, according to an article published by Realtor Mag, “The Threat of Wire Fraud is Real”, “Wire fraud topped the list as a sophisticated scam causing consumers to lose millions of dollars each year”.  As alarming as that idea may be, real estate professionals can put some simple safe guards in place to help protect their clients.

In the article, written by Erica Christoffer and Graham Wood, a number of suggestions are touched upon.  For example, “If you or your agents do engage in a wire transfer with a client, call them on the phone immediately prior to the transfer of funds so they know they’re sending money to the legitimate source.”  Additionally, make your clients aware that you do no discuss personal financial information over e-mail and review with them what your communication practices are.  Hopefully, with this mutual understanding between you and your client, if they receive questionable e-mails, a red flag will be raised immediately before any sensitive financial information is shared.

Clients should also be reminded to not only use strong passwords, but update them regularly.  Perhaps even updating a password just before any wire instructions are sent.  As a real estate professional, you should also follow these guidelines for strong and updated passwords.

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Photo Credit: Blogtrepreneur

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What Impact with Automation have on Real Estate Needs?

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As the age of automation descends upon us, experts analyze its vast and far reaching economic impacts.  One fairly obvious and direct impact is upon employment, as robots and automation eliminate the need for people to complete certain types of work.

Bisnow.com published an article on September 6, 2017 describing some of the findings of a recent report by Carl Benedikt Frey and Citigroup.   Specifically, the article notes that retail jobs will be severely impacted by automation, with Frey suggesting that the retail industry employment is “likely to vanish”.  The impact of this is broader than the elimination of jobs such as manufacturing, which are geographically concentrated.  Frey indicates, “the downfall of retail employment will affect every city and region”.

As these changes begin to take place, a notable effect is a decrease of a need for retail space, resulting in empty storefronts and malls across the United States.  However, what may not have been anticipated was the increased demand for warehouse space.  It is estimated that more than 2.3 billion square feet of new space will be needed for warehousing between now and 2035.  This could require more “mixed-use development, which normally means residential sitting alongside retail or sometimes offices…” according to the article.

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Photo Credit: Seth Werkheiser

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Myth Busters: The Truths of Pricing and Selling Your Home

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One of the most important decisions a home owner who has decided to sell their home can make is what the list price of the home should be.  Emotions, financial strains, and decisions based on inaccurate or misunderstood information can lead to a disappointing and frustrating sales process.

In an article published by Realtor.com, Cathie Ericson helps debunk home pricing myths that might have home sellers hung up on their list price.   Reviewing these myths and understanding the truth about the pricing, listing and hopefully selling a home will help sellers start out on the right foot.

One myth sellers may believe that if a home is overpriced, it can just be lowered later without any negative effects.  As Ericson points out, lowering a price is not a quick and easy fix.  Many house hunters notice when a home has been on the market for a while and know when there have been numerous price reductions.   As she states,  “… buyers presume that something must be wrong with it. As such, they might still steer clear, or offer even less than the price you’re now asking.”

When deciding on a listing price, sellers may be turned off by the idea of pricing their home too low, assuming they will not make as much money in the sale.  However, low priced homes might just attract more buyers and the increased interest in the home might result in a bidding war.

The article details the truth behind other myths such as recouping 100% of the cost of home renovations, the real estate agent’s stake in the pricing strategy and the whether all home owners make money on the sale of their home.  Read the entire article.

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Scams Targeting Homeowners: Be Sure You Don’t Fall Victim

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It seems that almost daily we read or hear reports and warnings of scams aimed at consumers which can result in significant financial losses.  It is imperative that consumers remain vigilant in protecting their assets and investments; especially in the age of hacking, privacy breaches, robo-calling and phishing scams.  It can be overwhelming to keep up with the warnings; however, a recent article published by U.S. News and World Report by Devon Thorsby offers some sound and easy to follow advice.

For homeowners and prospective homeowners, down payments sent via wire transfers have ended up in the hands of high tech thieves instead of their mortgage companies.  Emails sent from mortgage brokers to their clients with wire transfer instructions can get intercepted by hackers.  The hackers are then able to change the wire instructions in the e mail prior to the customer receiving the message.  In the end, the customer receives an e mail with modified wire instructions and then ends up wiring the funds meant for a home closing directly to the hackers account.

To avoid this type of scam, one broker indicated “she instructs all of her clients to have the title company and bank communicate directly…and verify where the money is going, what the value number is and what the account number is… in any other situation where you have to authorize your bank or title company to do anything, rather than scanning and emailing any personal information or signed authorization, [she] instructs clients to send it via fax to eliminate the possibility of theft from an email hack.”

Thorsby provides additional advice to avoid telephone phishing scams that can result in financial hardships.

Read the entire article.

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