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July 15, 2014

The 5 Elements of Home Resale Value

Understanding what affects your Home’s value

house-money-property-resale-valueIf you’ve just bought and moved into your new home then you’re probably not thinking about moving again anytime soon. But you never know a few years down the road, when your family might have grown or a new job opportunity comes along, and you might find yourself entering the housing market again. But in order to move onto your next home you’ll have to sell your first one. Should be simple, right?

Not as much as you’d like to think. Selling your home can be a very tough adventure if you don’t know what your home is valued at. Before you go and try to have it appraised, maybe look at these five variables and consider which ones could possibly affect your home’s resale value.

1. Where is it?

Your home’s location was one of the factors you considered before you bought it, and the next buyer is going to be thinking the same thing. Your home may be in a convenient location for you, but think about how it may affect future buyers. Additionally, the city, county and state your home resides in could also be a deciding factor for potential buyers given the differing property and sale laws. While these factors may be beyond your control, you still need to add them to your overall calculations.

2. How big is it?

The size of your home is a highly influential factor on its resale value and ability to attract potential buyers. It all boils down to what each buyer is looking for in a home, but you can play that to your advantage. For example, think about how you’d market the home towards a newly married couple. Depending on how big or small it is, you could play up advantages like maintenance, room to grow, and potential for modification. Remember, you have to make your home feel comfortable to the buyer no matter its size.

3. When was it built?

Knowing your home’s age is never a piece of trivial information. While older homes do look more lovely, they can cost quite a bit in maintenance while newer homes can be more expensive up front while requiring little in the ways of repairs in the first few years. Additionally, much older homes can carry historical significance, something that can drive the price up or down depending on the event, but that does require a specialized buying demographic.

4. Why is this here?

Any upgrades you’ve made to your home can tip the value scale in your favor so long as you didn’t go overboard with them. For example, imagine you’ve put in a pool, a wet bar, a brick grill, a stone patio, a home entertainment center and a walk-in closet during the years you’ve owned your home. All very nice additions. However, consider how that is going to limit your buying pool. While those additions can drive up your home’s value, it does mean that you’re only going to attract people who are looking for those features, intend to use them, and have the money to finance them. Getting all three in one combination carries the same odds as finding a fifty dollar bill lying in the gutter: possible, but highly unlikely.

5. What happened?

Damages to your home, minor flaws and local events can negatively impact the value of your home if you’re not careful. While local events may be beyond your control, you can still be up front about them with buyers, painting yourself as an honest seller in their eyes. Damages and flaws are your responsibility to attend to if you want your home’s value to rise in your favor. Very few people buy a home with major flaws with the intention of living in it on a long term basis. If you’re not sure about how glaring a certain flaw is, ask yourself this question: Would I buy this home if it had this flaw?

Your home’s resale value can fluctuate from time to time, but you can control it more directly by following these suggestions. If the time ever comes where you decide to move, you’ll already be a step ahead in knowing what you can reasonably ask for your home.

RELATED > Buying a home with good resale value > Evaluate Homes Resale Value in 9 Steps


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July 11, 2014

Quick Tips to Improve Home's Visual Appeal for Sellers

4 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Allure to Buyers 

how-improve-homes-visual-appeal-buyers-sellersAs a seller, you may be worried that your home lacks the necessary appeal to draw in serious buyers and could be left to languish in obscurity within the local listing pages. While a valid concern, there are ways you can prevent this from happening to you while increasing your home’s attractiveness to potential buyers. Even better, these little tricks are all DIY projects that can be done in the space of a day if you have a mind for it.

1. Fresh Flooring does Wonders

If your home’s floors are clean but well worn, give some thought into replacing them before you show off the home to your next buyer. New floors are a very attractive item to new buyers so long as they’re done before the buyer can see the change around. Yes it may dip into your savings a little, but you’re investing your money wisely into your home’s appeal.

2. Clean up the yard

Your front and back yards are integral factors in your home’s curb appeal to the buyers. If your yard looks like a dog just came through it looking for a bone, buyers are likely to turn away rather than see more. Get the grasses growing green again, trim the hedges and trees and pull up the weeds and your home will look like a freshly landscaped masterpiece ready to be sold at a moment’s notice.

3. New light bulbs illuminate potential

Despite how nice sleeping in one is, nobody wants to live in a home that’s completely dark. You need to replace burnt out bulbs and broken light fixtures before you have any showings of your home. Nothing makes you look more foolish in front of a possible buyer than repeatedly flicking a light switch to a burnt out bulb. Maybe you can even replace a few of the ceiling fans that some of the bulbs are plugged into, giving an updated feel to your home.

4. New Kitchen Cabinets

The kitchen is arguably the heart of every home. Many homes are built in such a way that passing through the kitchen is almost a requirement for its occupants. In that sense, don’t you want your kitchen to appeal to buyers? You don’t have to go over the top and install a new refrigerator or stove, but some new or well refurbished kitchen cabinets and counter tops will do wonders for increasing the home’s value in the eyes of the buyer.

Remember, all of these projects are quick and easy for you, the seller. They’ll help drive up your home’s curb appeal and maybe give you some extra leverage in negotiations. But first you have to do them so put on your work gloves and get to it.

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July 10, 2014

4 Ways to Annoy Your Real Estate Agent

4 Habits to Avoid when working with a Real Estate Agent

how-not-to-annoy-your-realtorIn the modern housing market, your greatest ally will be the professional real estate agent. An experienced real estate agent will work tirelessly with you, striving to see that you get the home you want with as little stress as possible. However, some buyers do not reciprocate this feeling towards their real estate agents and instead take advantage of their help in a very frustrating fashion.

Annoying your real estate agent will work against you, whether you’re doing in consciously or unconsciously. If you want to avoid making your real estate agent feel like taking you on as a client was a poor choice, you must consciously avoid engaging in the following habits.

1. You have no clue what you want

Coming to a real estate agent without knowing what you want in a home is like going to the chef and saying you’re hungry but have no desire for anything in particular. Neither scenario ever ends well for anyone involved. A real estate agent wants you to have at least a general idea of what you want before you go hunting for homes. That way they can help you find homes that fit your criteria. Until you know what you’re looking for in a home (and also how much home you can afford), hold off on seeking a real estate agent to help you buy one.

2. You constantly change your mind

Do not be fickle with a real estate agent unless you have a desire to watch them try and pull their own hair out. Once you know what you’re looking for in a home, try and stick to it for the rest of the hunt. If some dire circumstance in your life forces you to have to make changes to what you’re looking for then that’s all fine and well due to being justifiable. But constantly changing your mind about paint colors, layout, number of rooms and other variables will increasingly annoy your real estate agent. Think long and hard about what you’re looking for in a home and then cling to that ideal as long as you can.

3. You ask for numerous showings but never make an offer

Here’s a good way to annoy your real estate agent and a seller. Now, it is a common and accepted practice for a buyer to ask for multiple showings of a particular home if they are serious about making an offer. However, if you ask for multiple showings and never once mention money then you come off as being a time waster. To avoid being labeled as such, make a decision after the first showing as to whether or not you are going to seriously pursue the home in question. If not, then you should politely ask your real estate agent to show you the next one on the list.

4. Lowball, corner pocket

Should you begin negotiating a price with a seller, you can end the negotiation fairly quickly and raise your real estate agent’s blood pressure in one go by making an absurdly lowball offer. Yes, it is common for the buyer and seller to haggle over the selling price of the home. You may wind up paying a little more than you wanted, they might be selling it for less than they wanted, but at the end of the day everyone winds up happy. However, it is considered bad form to make an offer of or lower than a quarter of the asking price. This does tie into you being labeled a time waster again and your real estate agent will continually fight the urge to throttle you. Conduct research about negotiating prices before you start making offers. The seller and the real estate agent will be all the more impressed with you if you do.

Now that you know how you can effectively annoy your real estate agent, do them, the seller and yourself a favor and refrain from doing so. Buying a home is difficult enough as it is without causing unneeded stress on your strongest ally. Remember, it pays to know what you’re looking for and what you can offer before you head into the housing market so do your research beforehand. While that may seem like an annoyance to you, consider how much less of an annoyance you’ll seem to your real estate agent.

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July 9, 2014

5 Great Tips for Selling an Unattractive Home

A few tips on selling a not-so-beautiful home

Presentation is half the battle in selling a home. While curb appeal is the first impression a buyer will get of your home it’s up to you to keep the ball rolling and prepare the rest of your home. Granted, there’s no clear objective way to determine what makes a home attractive or attractive, but with these tips in hand you’ll be giving yourself a better a chance of seeing that For Sale sign marked Sold.

1. Brooms, Mops and Garbage Cans

Cleaning the yard is one thing, but a buyer will eventually want to see the inside of your home. If you didn’t bother to clean up the inside as meticulously as the outside then that potential buyer is going to treat your front door like a revolving door. Yes, cleaning takes time but you need to give yourself every advantage here. You’ll be amazed what you can do with a wet rag and soap once you get started.

2. New drapes, new rugs and new paint

Now before you go questioning why you’re buying new things to put into a home you’re selling, just remember that you’re trying to increase your odds of selling it. If you’re already starting behind the eight ball with a less-than-perfect home, you need to do some serious work on the inside in order to impress buyers. New paint can revitalize a room while drapes can offer a measure of privacy while still appearing decorative. You don’t have to go crazy with new items, but a little work here and there never hurt.

3. Price it accordingly

You know that you’re home isn’t winning any awards, but that doesn’t mean you have to sell it to the first lowball offer to come rolling along. By the same token, you can’t price it out of sentimental value either because then you’ll see no offers coming your way. Take the area where you live into consideration, look up the prices on comparable homes and work off that information to figure out what you’d be comfortable asking for.

4. Presentation, presentation, presentation

If a buyer asks you for a showing of your home, make sure you’ve got everything in order before they arrive. Arrange the furniture in the living room in a way that speaks towards comfort while making sure the kitchen is free of any unnecessary clutter. You want your home to feel like it would be a lovely place to live in no matter what it looks like.

5. Honesty Helps

If your home has a few flaws that you don’t have the money to repair before you sell it then it’s in your best interest to be up front about that in any information you’re giving potential buyers. A buyer will appreciate you being honest about any problems the home before they have a home inspection conducted. A buyer is more willing to work with an honest seller than one who waits for the home inspection to reveal what they’re trying to hide.

Remember, while your home may not be the belle of the ball it can still be a comfortable place for someone to call their own. You just need to present it in such a way that brings that quality out to its fullest. If you can do that then you’ll be calling the moving company before you know it.

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July 8, 2014

5 Perks of Buying a Home in River North

5 Perks of Buying a Home in River North

Why you should think about buying in Chicago’s River North neighborhood

The neighborhood of River North is one of the best examples of the Chicago’s “rags-to-riches” spirit. The area started life as an industrial district and stayed that way up until the 1970s. Following the departure of several industries, investors and developers started seeing the potential of the area and began transforming it into what is now one of Chicago’s most cultural and celebrated districts.

Homes and condos in the area may carry an impressive price tag, but River North is one of those neighborhoods that can justify the prices of the homes with everything it has to offer.

1. Loop Adjacent

The Loop is arguably the heart of Chicago and will probably remain so as long as the city stands. As such, the Chicago Loop is home to countless jobs within the skyscrapers held in its perimeter. Buying a home in River North is a wise move in the long term if you work downtown and would like to save money on gas and parking (and the frustration of trying to find parking).

But what if your job is in one of Chicago’s outlying areas? Surely buying in River North would be a fool’s errand then, wouldn’t it? As it turns out, quite the opposite.

2. Easy Transportation Access

Having a car is nice and all, but part of Chicago’s beauty is that you can reach nearly anywhere in the city and the suburbs if only you know which train to take. And since River North is right next to the Loop, it’s also right next to where nearly all of Chicago’s commuter lines congregate. Think about it: you’ll be able to save yourself money on gas, toll way fees and traffic congestion just by having unfettered access to the heart of Chicago’s transportation system.

But if the transportation and location benefits aren’t enough to sway you, how about the main attractions of River North?

3. Shopping All Around

Buying a home in River North would put you right in the thick of many of Chicago’s largest retailers and fashion shops. Combine that with some of the city’s leading furniture galleries and you’re looking at a combination to help you further the home of your dreams in the Windy City.

4. Restaurant Diversity

Furthering River North’s thrilling night life are the numerous restaurants within the area. Finding a bite to eat is never hard in River North, whether you’re looking for a quick hot dog and fry or an elegant meal on a special night. The restaurants located there run the gamut from Italian to Japanese to Thai to Vegetarian and back around again. If you want to give yourself a wide range of edible options then consider living in River North.

5. An Abundance of Artwork

Lastly, River North is also home to Chicago’s River North Gallery District. This area holds the highest concentration in the country, second only to the city of New York. The neighborhood boasts an eclectic mix of art and culture rarely seen anywhere else. While the proximity to such an outpouring of culture may make you wary of tourists, remember that they only have so long to enjoy all of it while you’ll have all the time in the world.

River North is quickly proving itself to be one of Chicago’s top neighborhoods. Take the time to investigate the area and see if it’s just the place you need to call home.

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July 3, 2014

Home Disclosure in Illinois

Special Items included in Illinois Home Disclosure

No matter what state you’re planning on buying a home in, a vital part of the home sale contract is the section devoted to disclosures about flaws in the home. This is no different in the state of Illinois, where contrary to popular belief, very few people still live in log cabins and very few gangsters walk the streets of Chicago (not including politicians).

As far as home disclosure goes, one may wonder just what goes along with Illinois. In terms of geography, Illinois is among the flattest states in this nation, with little chance of homes being in the path of landslides, wild fires, ocean flooding or anything else that affects the eastern and western coasts. But don’t let that fool you. Illinois has its fair share of secrets too, many of which are covered thanks to the Illinois Real Estate Disclosure Act. Because of this legislation sellers are required to answer a series of questions to the best of their abilities regarding any possible flaws in the home.

Obviously you have the standard run through of foundation cracks, leaking roofs, old wiring and others, but Illinois has much more you have to watch for in the disclosure form before you bring in a home inspector.

1. Taking Water in the Basement

Everyone worries about cracks in the foundation of their new home, but few give thought to those cracks letting in water from the outside when it rains. This is an especially persistent problem in the area around Chicago, due to the majority of the city and outlying areas being built on what was once marshland. While you may not have to worry about your potential new home sinking into the ground, you may have to worry about possible flooding throughout the year, from the heavy rains of summer to the thaw of the snow in late winter.

2. Radon Radar

Illinois is a state that has the potential for radon gas to seep into your basement, something that can result in lung cancer and death. Radon is a tasteless, colorless, odorless gas that is a result of decaying radioactive materials beneath the surface. Having the basement checked for the possible presence of radon is a must for any disclosure report.

3. Mine Interference

One of the oddball notations in the Disclosure Act requires the seller to make not of any mine subsidence, underground tunnels and/or pits, and any sliding of the property. While this is something that you’re more likely to encounter in the outlying areas of Illinois, it is still something to remain mindful of.

4. Presence of Fuel Tanks

Because the rest of the country tends to forget that there’s more to Illinois than just the city of Chicago, anyone moving to the lower portions of the state may be shocked to find the section requesting the seller to make mention of any underground fuel tanks present on the property. I good portion of Illinois is devoted to farmland and the presence of underground fuel tanks cannot be overstated. The seller is required to inform you if the property is home to any active/inactive fuel storage tanks.

In closing, these items are the oddities that are required as part of the Illinois Real Estate Disclosure Act. The full piece of legislation also covers the basics of the property (i.e. foundation, roof, infestations, etc.). Still, it’s always in your benefit to conduct research about what could possibly come along with the home you might be buying. It will save you time and money later to keep yourself ahead of potential problems.

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July 2, 2014

home maintenance for dummies

Home Maintenance Checklist

A guide for new home buyers on maintaining their first home

home maintenance checklist 2014Congratulations on buying your first home! You’ve successfully navigated the labyrinth of mortgage forms, inspection reports, purchase agreements and all of the other paperwork associated with buying a home and now you stand triumphantly upon your front porch, the ruler of your castle at last.

So what now?

The obvious answer would be to get ready to keep up with those monthly mortgage payments, but there’s another more subtle project you can work on alongside that: maintaining your home. With summer practically here and the weather turning agreeable once again, now is the perfect time to go over some home maintenance basics.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Why should I worry about home maintenance when I just had the home inspected?” Truth be told, you may feel you don’t need to perform any maintenance on your new home for a year of two, but it pays to get into good habits early on, especially when it means saving money for those all important monthly mortgage payments.

Here’s checklist of items to start keeping up maintenance on while the weather is nice.

1. Checking the roof

While the roof should be in relatively good condition following the home inspection, you should take a Saturday afternoon to climb up the ladder and glance around for any potential problems (such as shifting or missing shingles, curling, accumulating moss, etc.). If the time comes that your roof does need repairs, save yourself the trouble and hire a licensed roofer to perform the repairs. Yes, it is more money out of your pocket, but so is a full body cast due to a fall off the roof.

2. Check your gutters

Rain may make for great ambience for sleeping in on a Saturday morning, but it can also be detrimental to your roof and gutters without regular maintenance. For example, if your property or your neighbor’s property is home to a tree that is taller than your home, you should regularly check your gutters for any accumulated leaves (Tip: Don’t ask your neighbor to clean their tree’s leaves out of your gutters because it never ends well). This is a year round task that can seem bothersome, but one that can save you money on future repairs.

3. A fresh coat of paint

Spring and summer are the perfect times of the year to give your home’s exterior a fresh coat of paint. While you may be content with your new home’s current appearance, remember that paint does more than make it look good. Paint also serves to protect the materials your home is made of from the elements. Besides that, a fresh coat of paint, properly applied, can make your home look like it was just built yesterday, a very helpful piece of home maintenance for your property value.

4. Watch your windows

Assuming you didn’t buy a home with broken windows, your home maintenance duties concerning them should constitute checking the seals around them and filling in minor cracks and openings. Doing this takes care of two potential problems: it will save you money on your electricity bill in the summer while the air-conditioning is on and on your gas bill in the winter when the furnace kicks on.

5. Railing Repairs

Whether they’re attached to your staircase or your front porch, make sure you inspect any and all railings on your property, ensuring that they’re securely fastened and in no danger of coming loose (especially when you’re the one holding onto it if it does).

6. Concrete cracks in your driveway and sidewalk

This bit of home maintenance may not really apply until after your first winter (depending on your region), but keep your eyes open for any cracks that appear on your sidewalk or your driveway (if you have one). Usually the sooner you spot a crack or other flaw and get it repaired, the better off you’ll be financially.

7. Maintain you outdoor lights

Whether it’s a porch light, patio light or garage light, you should always be quick about removing and replacing damaged or burnt out bulbs in your outdoor lighting. There are few things worse than stumbling around outside in the dark only to walk sideways into the wall of your home.

8. Mending Fences

Should the home you buy come with a fence, take a walk along it every so often to check for any flaws in it (openings, missing planks, damaged posts, etc). While maintenance on this part is mostly for aesthetic purposes, it can help keep out unwanted critters and pesky family members.

9. Miscellaneous Maintenance

Lastly, your new home houses several important pieces of equipment that you should check regularly throughout the year. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Checking the filters on your furnace
  • Cleaning out the vent from the dryer
  • Checking and replacing batteries in smoke, carbon monoxide and radon alarms
  • Inspecting pipes for any leaks that might freeze over in the winter time
  • Investigating unexplained sources of water to check for leaks

Now that you know what to start with, you can begin your home maintenance at your leisure. You can never start too soon on a project like this, especially when it comes to saving money aside for your monthly mortgage payments.

Related Articles:

Home Maintenance for Dummies

Keep Your House in Tip-Top Shape: Incredibly Handy Home Maintenance Checklist

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July 1, 2014

Things You Should Know Before Buying a Home in Illinois

What you should know before buying a house in the Prairie State

Illinois Seal: Buying a Home in IllinoisIllinois is best known as the Land of Lincoln, where legend claims that Abraham Lincoln made his home within a log cabin he built himself. Though you no longer have to build your own log cabin, you can still make your home in Illinois just as Lincoln once did. But watch out, because people aren’t as honest these days as Old Abe was when it comes to matters of real estate and the housing market.

It pays to know a few things about the housing market in Illinois before you close on a deal. If this is your first time buying a home, you may not even be aware that you are guaranteed a few things by law when it comes time to work out the deals of your transaction. Here are a few facts to be aware of before you start handing over money and paying your mortgage.

Sellers and Property Disclosure Requirements

In Illinois, you have an advantage when it comes to learning about the condition of the home you’re looking into buying. According to the Residential Real Property Act of 1994, sellers are required to disclose the condition of the home they are selling (through the use of a Real Property Disclosure Form). The form questions the seller on the condition of several fixtures of their home, including but by no means limited to:

  • The condition of the roof
  • Status of the home’s foundation
  • Functionality of the furnace
  • Status of the electrical system
  • Possible problems with the water system

As a back-up plan for yourself, be sure to include a clause dedicated to inspection when negotiating the transaction, allowing you to withdraw your offer should the need arise due to missed flaws in the home.

Home Inspection

While a disclosure report should inform you of the majority of problems a particular home should suffer, don’t count on it to catch all of them (it is possible for the sellers themselves to be unaware of certain problems). As always, it’s a good idea to hire a professional home inspector to examine the home you’re looking at. You can search for home inspectors in your local area through the American Society of Home Inspectors and can then verify their licensing through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. The home inspector you hire can then furnish you with a report detailing anything the disclosure report may have missed. Read more: What You Should Expect From a Home Inspection

Points on a Home sale contract

A home sale contract is the framework around the transaction, detailing the terms and agreements of seller and buyer in regards to the home. Illinois requires several pieces of information to be contained in the home sale contract, but among the most important are:

  • The agreed upon purchase price of the property
  • A detailed description of the property
  • Anything that is on the property that the seller is selling with it
  • The exact date of closing on the home

If you’d really like to give yourself an advantage when buying a home in Illinois, you should take the time to research and hire a real estate attorney. They are trained to interpret the laws regarding real estate and the housing market and can help make your life significantly less stressful while hunting for your new home.

Related Articles:

What is a Home Sale Contract?

What to ask Before Buying a Home

How to Buy a Home in 7 Easy Steps


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June 30, 2014

Home Sale Trends Rising 2014

2014 Home Sale Trends Rising

Following a lethargic start at the beginning of the year, it looks like sales of formerly owned homes in the United States are on the rise again. In May, the number of home sale contracts to buy existing homes climbed the most it has since April 2010.

Since April of this year, the home sales index has combed an astonishing 6.1 percent, riding on the tail of a 0.5 percent increase in April, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The rise in home sale contracts is likely resulting from lower borrowing costs, rising employment estimates and better credit accessibility.

As far as which regions of the country are benefitting most from this rising trend, here’s a look at the breakdown of increases by region:

  • Northeast is in the lead with an 8.8 percent increase
  • West is following with a steady 7.6 percent increase
  • Midwest holding show at 6.3 percent
  • South is bringing up the rear with a 4.4 percent increase

In the overall market, these increases are leading to optimistic outlooks as far as home sales, loan applications and home sale contracts are concerned. This marks an amazing turnaround from the slow start seen at the beginning of this year.

As for the first time home buyer, this is a prime moment for them to make a move towards finding their first home. With the home prices cooling off, it’s a good time to find a home and lock in a mortgage rate as quickly and effectively as possible.

Economists are hoping this increase is indicative of a further rise in employment which will then lead to further advances in home sale contracts thanks to increased income. If these gains continue on as they are at the moment, it is highly possible that this is one of the initial signs of a recovery in the housing market.

Related Articles:

U.S. Pending Home Sales Rise 6.1% in May

Pending Home Sales Rise at Fastest Pace Since 2010

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June 27, 2014

Rent-to-Own Homes

Rent-to-Own Homes: A Game of Balances

Rent-to-Own HomesThough becoming a homeowner is a dream that many aspire to, there is a strong possibility you’re not financially ready to buy a home and keep up with a mortgage. You’ve really got your heart set on buying a home and you don’t want to get stuck going from rental to rental. There is a solution to your dilemma, but it requires a lot of time and planning if you want to make it work: look into a rent-to-own home.

Rent-to-own homes are something of an oddity that usually occurs when someone else is looking to buy a new home and sell their old home. They succeed in the first part of their plan, but the second part can get bogged down if the housing market is having a rough time, forcing them to make payments on two mortgages. Because that kind of plan rarely ever works out, some sellers turn their old home into a rent-to-own, usually marketed towards people who lack the necessary money for a down payment, or have bad credit or any other number of possibilities.

But how does it all work? Here’s what you need to know before getting involved with a rent-to-own home.

1. How it works

A rent-to-own home contract is where you’ll start. The buyer and seller agree upon a leasing term (usually 3-4 years) wherein the buyer will pay rent to the seller, and at the end of the leasing term, the buyer has the option to buy the home or walk away. A portion of the monthly rent that the buyer pays will go towards a possible down payment on the home, while the buyer uses the rent money to pay th
e mortgage they still have on the house being rented.

Additionally, the buyer will have to pay an option fee before the lease begins. An option fee is an agreed upon sum of money that the seller uses as an incentive. If, after the leasing term is done, the buyer decides to buy the home, then the option fee is added to the down payment. If the buyer decides to walk away, then the option fee is retained by the seller.

It is vital that the buyer and seller reach an agreed upon sale price and rent before the contract is made official, because once a sale price is decided it is locked in for the term of the lease and cannot change with the rise & flow of the housing market.

2. Why it can help

Looking into a rent-to-own home can help you if you plan accordingly. The biggest advantage investing in a rent-to-own home is that it gives you time to fix your credit, build up your finances, and improve your monetary standing. The rent you pay will be less than what you’d pay in a typical mortgage, so that means you’re spending less than you would have if you’d try to buy a home.

Additionally, you’ll already have a head start on the down payment with your monthly rental payments supplying a portion of the funds. You get the confidence in knowing your gaining ground towards becoming a homeowner, and the seller can sleep easily now that they can pay off the mortgage on that home.

3. Why it can be tricky

Rent-to-own homes are far from a perfect solution and contain a few hidden dangers. These pitfalls include but are not limited to the following:

  • Because you intend to buy the home as opposed to just renting it, you are responsible for any damages that occur and/or you discover.
  • During the term of the lease, the seller cannot sell the house, even if a better offer comes along.
  • You still may not be financially able to buy the house by the end of the lease.
  • If the seller cannot keep up with the mortgage on the home it can and will be foreclosed on, putting you out of a home.
  • If you walk away from the home, you lose the option fee and the rent portions that would have gone towards a down payment.

For all of these reasons and more, rent-to-own homes are to be treated cautiously, requiring careful planning before you go ahead with them. The best thing you can do before drawing up a rent-to-own contract is to seek the aid of a real estate attorney. They are well versed in matters of the legalities associated with buying, renting, or renting-to-own a home. In this situation, you need every advantage and need to know as many variables as you can.

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