The Most (and Least) Valuable States in America

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Everyone knows location is the most important part of real estate. You can’t change where your house is (all things being equal). You have to consider school districts, crime rates, commute times—the list goes on and on. It can be much simpler when you’re considering buying a home to compare apples to apples so you can see how the real estate market differs according to location, so HowMuch.net created a new visualization showing land and housing prices at a glance.

most_valuable_states_infog

The blue dots represent the value of an acre of land, and the red circles indicate the median value of a home. The bigger the blue dot and the larger the red circle, the more expensive it is to become a property owner. Small circles and dots likewise indicate a very low cost of purchasing property. The home values are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Consumer Survey, and the numbers behind the land values come from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Several things stand out in the illustration. An acre of land is much more valuable in the Northeast compared to any other part of the country. This is partly because the Eastern seaboard is a very densely populated area with several large cities, most notably New York. New York and Massachusetts have some of the oldest modern structures anywhere in the U.S. In other words, Eastern cities are a lot older than Midwestern cities, so there isn’t a lot of farmland for suburban expansion anymore. In terms of geographic size, these are some of the smallest states in the country. As a matter of fact, the three states where the cost of an acre of land is greater than the median price of a house are all located on the East Coast, and they happen to be some of the smallest states in the Union (Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey).

Median home values (the red circles) are a different and more complicated story. California has the most expensive houses by far ($449,100). Oregon and Washington boast similarly high housing valuations, as well ($264,100 and $284,000, respectively). It is also expensive to buy a home on the East Coast, with six out of the top 10 states with the most expensive median home values.

There’s a noticeable dip in both housing and land prices in Southern and Midwestern states. Prices slowly rise the further you move from east to west. This highlights unique economic developments over the last several years, including the boom in oil exploration in North Dakota and the growth of Western cities, like Denver, thanks to young people. Snowbirds also tend to move to Florida and Arizona when they retire, which also pushes up housing prices in those places.

Top 5 Most Expensive States to Buy a Home

  1. California
    Value per Acre: $39,092
    Median Home Value: $449,100
  1. Massachusetts
    Value per Acre: $102,214
    Median Home Value: $352,100
  1. New Jersey
    Value per Acre: $196,410
    Median Home Value: $322,600
  1. Maryland
    Value per Acre: $75,429
    Median Home Value: $299,800
  1. New York
    Value per Acre: $41,314
    Median Home Value: $293,500

Top 5 Cheapest States to Buy a Home

  1. West Virginia
    Value per Acre: $10,537
    Median Home Value: $112,100
  1. Mississippi
    Value per Acre: $5,565
    Median Home Value: $112,700
  1. Arkansas
    Value per Acre: $6,739
    Median Home Value: $120,700
  1. Oklahoma
    Value per Acre: $7,364
    Median Home Value: $126,800
  1. Kentucky
    Value per Acre: $7,209
    Median Home Value: $130,000

All this shows that the laws of supply and demand are alive and well in the real estate market. You can easily find cheap acres of land where they are plentiful and un-useful (sorry, Nevada), but owning property is a lot more expensive in smaller places crowded with lots of people. As always: location, location, location.

A version of this article originally appeared on HowMuch.net.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post The Most (and Least) Valuable States in America appeared first on RISMedia.

Appraisal disappointing? You have options, according to the Appraisal Institute.

“Homebuyers and sellers should first understand what an appraisal is and how it’s used,” says Jim Amorin, president and acting CEO of the Appraisal Institute. “Real estate appraisals for mortgage finance applications are prepared for the bank or financial institution so they can better understand the collateral risk in making the loan. This can be confusing, because homebuyers typically pay for the appraisal and receive a copy of it.”

In some cases, the appraisal may not match the contract price—but just because an appraisal comes in below (or above) the listing or contract price doesn’t mean it’s flawed, Amorin says. The agreed-upon contract price may be above market value, for example. In those situations, the buyer and seller often renegotiate the contract at more favorable or balanced terms.

Homebuyers should ask their lender for the qualifications of the appraiser, including whether they are designated by a professional association like the Appraisal Institute, says Amorin. A qualified and competent appraiser knows how to conduct a thorough market analysis and make appropriate adjustments.

Homebuyers also can ask whether the appraiser is directly engaged by the bank or whether the bank utilizes an appraisal management company, and what their procedures are for engaging qualified appraisers.

“The best way for consumers to combat potential problems with appraisals is to ensure the appraiser hired by their lender is highly qualified and competent,” Amorin says. “Consumers have every right to demand the use of a highly qualified appraiser, someone with field experience in their market and knowledge and experience to handle the assignment properly.”

Contrary to incorrect interpretations of appraiser independence requirements, appraisers welcome information that would assist the development of credible assignment results,” says Amorin. If lender policies permit, consumers can accompany appraisers when conducting the property inspection and may provide the appraiser with any information they consider important.

Amorin suggests consumers ask their lender for permission to do so, and confirm the appointment. Consumers should also take note of whether an adequate inspection is performed. Did the appraiser spend enough time at the property to observe important features or improvements or potential problems?

Homebuyers should take advantage of their right to obtain a copy of the appraisal report,” Amorin says. Even though the appraisal is ordered to help assess lender collateral risk, buyers are entitled to a copy of the appraisal report. Federal regulations require lenders to provide property buyers with free copies of appraisal reports no later than three days before the loan closes.

Although appraisal review is best performed by qualified appraisers, consumers should examine the appraisal for potential deficiencies, says Amorin. According to “Appraising the Appraisal: The Art of Appraisal Review,” common errors in appraisals include: misuse of adjustments to comparables; disregarding special financing and concessions; or miscalculation of gross living area (GLA).

Amorin suggests consumers ask themselves:

  • Do adjacent homes add or detract from the value of the subject property?
  • Is the subject property equal to or lower in price than surrounding homes?
  • Does the floor plan have any functional problems?
  • Does the house (particularly the kitchen and bathrooms) require major remodeling to make it comparable with similar homes in the same price range?
  • Is the number of bedrooms and baths in the home comparable to similar homes in the same price range?
  • Did the appraiser perform an adequate inspection?

“Most lenders have appraisal appeal procedures, known as ‘Reconsiderations of Value,'” says Amorin. “If you’re aware of recent, comparable sales information or items that may not have been available or considered by the appraiser, provide those to the lender. If problems were found with the first appraisal, you can and should obtain a second appraisal.”

Source: Appraisal Institute

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Appraisal Disappointing? Steps to Take appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

While the immediate danger is gone and hurricane season is winding down, individuals in the affected areas are still working through a recovering market. Most residents of hurricane-prone areas expect storms to hit, but the buyer and seller population may not be familiar with the ramifications of a hurricane that disrupts a real estate transaction.

Here’s what Orlando Regional REALTOR® Association President-Elect Lou Nimkoff and RE/MAX 200 Orlando-based REALTOR® Daniel Wilson have to say about navigating the real estate market during hurricane season:

Trust your gut.
Unfortunately, you may come across individuals that try to take advantage of vulnerable homeowners. Following a natural disaster, service “professionals” who are not qualified to perform a job may try to overcharge for a service claiming an increase in demand. If not careful, you can wind up with a botched repair that costs you thousands of dollars.

“My No. 1 piece of advice to buyers and sellers post-hurricanes is to be aware of everyone that you’re dealing with and make sure that they’re a trusted name in their industry. During times of distress, a lot of companies try and profit from those in need. For example, make sure the roofer that comes to your door knocking for business is an actual licensed and insured roofer. Better yet, look up the business and find their customer reviews online,” says Wilson.

“You need to have a home inspector take a look and make sure any work you had done was done properly,” says Nimkoff.

Have patience. 
The market was hit hard and it will take time for everything to settle down. Not all homes are back on the market after sustaining damage during the hurricanes. In a few more weeks, you could be seeing more activity; however, if you do see something you like, it will most likely sell quickly since inventory is low. If a home fits the bill, jump on it before another buyer comes along and claims it.

“I advise buyers to act on the same day the homes get listed if they’re interested, otherwise they will have a very difficult time in getting their offer accepted once there’s been a multiple offer situation. My theory is: the first agent in the door—with the best offer and continued communication with the other agent—wins!” says Wilson.

“Because it is a seller’s market and there is an unusually high number of sellers, buyers want to be able to try and attract them and negotiate with them quickly,” says Nimkoff.

Get back on the market.
If your home was damaged by the hurricanes and you are trying to sell, fix any issues as quickly as possible so you can get your home back on the market. If your home only sustained minor damage, fix any issues without withdrawing your listing. Time off the market can translate into offers that you could be missing out on. Buyers will start to come out of the woodwork after laying low in the weeks following the hurricanes.

“I have a current seller who needed to have a new roof put on because of the hurricane. We went under contract with a buyer, got insurance to approve the new roof and scheduled a professional to place the new roof on the home—all while still on track with the original closing date of just 30 days from contract to close,” says Wilson.

“You need to make sure that your insurance values are up-to-date. If you do have a loss, you can quickly have it repaired and you don’t have to get into a fight with the insurance company. If you suffered some sort of loss, you need to repair it quickly and properly,” says Nimkoff.

Be flexible and keep the end goal in mind.
Do remember that hurricane season can be stressful. Emotions are high for both buyers and sellers. Work together to achieve your goal while avoiding the drama.

“If you’re going to buy a house during hurricane season, talk to your landlord and say, ‘I need an extra month if I can’t move into my new house.’ Or if you’re selling your home, you have the right to delay the home you are selling so you can work out the issue because of a pending hurricane,” says Nimkoff

“It’s an awfully tight market. A thousand people a day are moving in here. Don’t get too focused [on hurricanes] that you forget about the long-term benefits. We have pretty low interest rates right now,” he adds.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Tips From Industry Professionals on Surviving Real Estate During Hurricane Season appeared first on RISMedia.

(TNS)—You’re buying a home and you need a mortgage. How do you choose the right lender—one that will offer not only the best deal, but also good customer service?

You’ll find no shortage of banks, online lenders, mortgage brokers and other players eager to take your loan application. Here are five tips for selecting the best mortgage lender out of the bunch.

Compare Offers and Lenders
Start getting familiar with various lenders and the deals they’re offering by browsing through mortgage rates.

Lenders will “present price differently,” notes Robert Davis, an executive vice president at the American Bankers Association (ABA). “Some lower rates might include fees with it, so the annual percentage rate is different than what you might think.”

Also, understand that some lenders specialize. One might be a good choice if you’re financing a condo, while others might offer a better deal if you’re building your home from scratch. You’ll want to have a general idea of the type of property you’re interested in.

Check With Lenders and People You Know
You might find the right mortgage and the best lender without having to look very far. Go to the bank or credit union where you have a checking or savings account and ask about the types of mortgage deals that are available to current customers.

Compare any offer against what other lenders in your area and online and large national lenders will give you.

“Interest rates change as much as three or four times a day, so get quotes from three different (lenders) to increase your odds,” says Brian Koss, executive vice president of Mortgage Network.

Be sure to ask family members and friends for referrals to loan officers and mortgage brokers who gave them good, professional service and helped them find the most competitive loans.

Decide: DIY or Hire a Broker?
One important decision is whether to seek out a mortgage and lender completely on your own or use the services of a mortgage broker.

A broker can help with your comparison-shopping by gathering quotes from several lenders, but it’s important to understand that a broker isn’t obligated to find the deal that’s best for you.

If you decide to work with a mortgage broker, it’s wise to look at how the loan offers from the broker size up against those you find on your own.

Look at differences in rates, fees, mortgage insurance and down payments—and compare what your bottom-line costs will be.

Talk With Your Real Estate Agent
Be sure to ask your real estate agent for lender recommendations. Smart loan officers rely on that business and take good care of the clients sent their way by local real estate agents.

Keep in mind that agents might have relationships with certain lenders, so when your agent gives you a name, ask whether there is any affiliation.

While some real estate brokerages have their own favored in-house mortgage lending businesses, good agents will not limit their referrals to those particular lenders.

Be Ready for a Possible Hand-Off
Many lenders will end up selling your mortgage to the secondary market, which means you will likely have a different company servicing your loan than your original lender.

This transfer is often outside your control, but you can ask the lender whether it knows if your mortgage will end up being serviced by a different company. If you want a lender you can reach out to immediately if problems arise, finding one who will hold onto your mortgage might be the best option.

“If it’s important for you to have local contact with the lender, then you’ve got to go to a bank that keeps your mortgage,” says Davis.

©2017 Bankrate.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of RISMedia.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post 5 Steps to Finding Your Best Mortgage Lender appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The mortgage process can be complicated if you jump in without any prior knowledge on home-buying and lending. The best tool you can arm yourself with is an understanding of how your mortgage interest rate is calculated.

Credit can make or break you.

Your credit score will determine how reliable you are in the lending world. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate will likely be. Check your credit on one of the three major credit reporting agency sites—TransUnion, Experian and Equifax—or your credit card company may have a free credit report service (although these aren’t as reliable). Improve your FICO score for a better chance at a lower interest rate.

Factor in size and location.

  • State or County: Even your place of residence can affect your rate.
  • Local Mortgage Lenders: Shop around. Interest rates can vary from company to company even if they’re located in the same town.
  • Loan Size: The size of your home can also impact your interest rate. The bigger the loan, the higher your interest rate will be if you’re not putting more money down.
  • Down Payment Size: Your mortgage interest rate may also depend on how much you’re putting down and if your loan includes closing costs and private mortgage insurance (PMI). Putting down less than 20 percent can increase your risk factor and may require PMI, but your interest rate may be lower depending on the loan.

Not all loans are created equal.

Loan Length: Your loan terms play a bigger role in interest rate calculations than you think. Have you decided whether you want to pay off your loan in 15 or 30 years? You may pay more per month with a shorter term, but you’ll be paying less interest over the life of your loan. Short-term loans may also have a smaller interest rate.

Fixed or Adjustable: You’ll also have to consider whether a fixed- or adjustable-rate loan is right for you. Your interest rate can change over time if you choose an adjustable-rate loan. It may start off low or fixed, but can increase over time depending on market conditions. Fixed-rate loans, however, will have a higher interest rate attached to them.

Loan Type: Interest rates can also vary according to your loan type. Choosing a loan can be overwhelming, but a local lender should be able to provide you with the best options. Some of the more popular loans are conventional, FHA and VA loans. While FHA loans have less down payment restrictions and a smaller interest rate, your monthly payment can be more expensive due to the required PMI added on. VA loans can have smaller interest rates and don’t require PMI like FHA does. Conventional loans are widely accepted in the real estate industry as dependable, but your interest rate may be higher.

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Buying a Home? Factor These Into Your Interest Rate Calculations appeared first on RISMedia.

(TNS)—Buying a house can be difficult enough—especially in today’s market.

Even after a seller accepts an offer, the sale is not a done deal until certain “contingencies” are met. Some are straightforward: Some buyers stipulate, for example, that a sale cannot proceed until they sell their current home. Other contingencies are more complicated. Either way, all are in place to protect buyers and sellers, allowing either to walk away from a deal if their conditions are not met.

Navigating these contract conditions can be confusing, and in today’s hot real estate market in which some buyers are waiving contingencies in order to win bidding wars, it can be difficult to determine which are important.

These days, real estate agents say they have seen buyers waive inspection contingencies to make their offers more attractive. In doing so, buyers are forgoing their rights to an independent inspection, meaning they cannot ask the seller for repairs or walk away from a property if it turns out to be unsatisfactory. In short, buyers are accepting a house as is—and potentially, all of its hidden problems.

To help buyers decide how important independent inspections are, we spoke to real estate agents and inspectors about what goes into a home inspection, and whether waiving that condition is a good idea.

What exactly is a home inspection?
In most typical real estate transactions, a home inspection is the next step that occurs after a bid is accepted. Buyers are responsible for hiring the inspector before the deal closes, and the process is in place to protect them.

The inspector’s job is to examine a home, determining whether there are problems with its exterior or interiors, from the foundation to the roof. The inspector provides a report to a buyer, who can then bring that information to a seller and use it back at the bargaining table.

How quickly do I have to schedule one?
“It depends on the contract and the state you’re in,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors. But typically, he adds, buyers have five to 10 days after a home goes under contract.

Lesh’s advice: Once a home is under contract, contact an inspector immediately.

“Inspectors are busy, especially in hot markets,” he says. “Some people tend to forget and wait until the last minute. You really only have a few days.”

How can I find a well-respected home inspector?
Regulations for home inspectors differ across the United States. In New Jersey, for instance, inspectors are licensed and regulated by the state’s Home Inspection Advisory Committee. To become certified, inspectors must, by law, complete 180 hours of study courses, including 40 hours of unpaid field work in the presence of a licensed inspector. Each inspector must pass a national exam, and complete continuing education every other year.

In Pennsylvania, by contrast, home inspectors are not regulated by the state, and instead are required to be a “member in good standing of a national home inspection association,” such as the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) or the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (interNACHI). Each association has its own requirements on certification and continuing education; for example, ASHI requires inspectors to pass the national exam and to complete 250 inspections to become certified. Continuing education is also required.

What does my home inspection cover?
A general home inspection is a noninvasive exam of a seller’s home.

“The standards of practice are pretty uniform,” says Pete Ciliberto, owner and chief inspector of Real Estate Inspections, an inspection group. “We are covering all the major components and systems of a house—all of the structural elements, the foundation, exposed framing,” and more.

What that means: A general inspector will inspect the general structure of the roof, and the gutters and downspouts around it. He or she will make sure the home’s “flashing”—the thin layer of waterproof material that prevents water from getting into where it does not belong—is correct. The heating and air conditioning systems are also inspected to ensure they are up to snuff. So are ceilings and floors, chimneys and vents. The ventilation of attics is inspected, and a generalized overview of electrical systems is completed.

“There are probably over 200 things that we inspect,” Lesh says.

What does it not include?
Many things are not included, inspectors say. An inspection is not technically exhaustive, they pointed out, nor does it determine a property’s suitability. Inspectors are not required to determine whether a building is up to code, and they are not required to move furniture, enter crawlspaces, or offer any services besides the inspection.

Most important, the experts said, inspectors are not required to determine the presence of rodents or pests. They are not required to assess air quality or test for mold, mildew or fungus. Airborne and environmental hazards are also excluded, meaning radon, lead paint and asbestos tests are not conducted in a general inspection.

However, buyers can bring in specialists if they have particular concerns—or hire a general inspector who may be trained in a specialized area.

“There are guys who do mold testing, air sampling, and other ancillary services,” Lesh says. “If you want one person to take care of the whole thing, you can (find someone) to do that.”

Why should I get one—and should I waive that contingency?
When making a financial decision as significant as purchasing a home, you want to confirm that you are making a wise investment. While inspections are not holistic, they offer a snapshot of a home’s condition, and can give you fair warning of what repairs may be needed now or in the near future. Plus, agents point out, after an inspection report is issued, a buyer can use the report to ask a seller for repairs—or can walk away entirely.

“They can ask for anything they want or can terminate for any reason—they do not have to say why,” says Mike McCann, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS®, which has offices in the Mid-Atlantic region. “The fall-through rate is only about 10 to 15 percent of the time, but I will tell you now, over 90 percent of the time, concessions are made after the inspections.”

McCann says he advises clients to never waive the inspection.

“If they don’t own the home, there are many things about it that they don’t know yet. You can’t check the roof. You can’t see every joist. Having a professional go through that is very important.”

©2017 The Philadelphia Inquirer

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post On the House: What to Expect When It’s Time to Get Your Home Inspected appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The change of season often brings a shift in real estate market conditions. Inventory tends to decline and buyers may become more aggressive in their home search. This change can affect real estate transactions in a variety of ways.

Here’s what you need to know about buying or selling a home in a seller’s market:

Time is valuable.
Buyers don’t have as many options as during the peak purchasing months. This means more competition because there aren’t as many homes to look at in their price points. Buyers need to know what they want. If they absolutely need three bedrooms, then they’ll have to ignore that two-bedroom house or risk losing out on better opportunities.

They will also need to be prepared to make offers quickly. Buyers without a preapproval will not be considered and will likely miss out on highest and best deadlines by the time they obtain one. On the other hand, sellers will have an easier time selling their home. If in good condition, their home will likely be the cream of the crop during low-inventory months.

Offers are aggressive.
In a seller’s market, buyers will often have to deal with multiple-offer situations. If they don’t bring their best offer to the table, they will most likely lose out. Sellers can also prioritize stronger terms. They may decide to go with a lower offer if the buyer can close faster or is putting more money down.

A combination of the highest purchase price with a 20 percent down payment and a reliable lender is usually the winner. Of course, you can’t forget that cash is king. An all-cash offer will likely trump any others on the table.

Negotiations are a game changer.
Unfortunately, buyers may lose some negotiating power in a seller’s market. Unless the seller is incredibly motivated to get rid of their property, they may take advantage by refusing to take care of some inspection items. Buyers should be wary of asking for too much, as even big-ticket items may not be taken care of. Unless something is a safety or health hazard, it shouldn’t even be brought up.

Sellers may also decide to be more selective about what they are leaving with the house. They may decide not to include appliances such as a refrigerator, dishwasher or washer and dryer.

Even small things like tone in a negotiation email should be taken into consideration. Alienating the sellers this early in the game can force them to go with a back-up offer.

Real estate agents are essential.
Even though a seller’s market clearly tips the scale in one direction, buyers are more likely to lose out if they are not working with an experienced agent. Likewise, sellers may not even be aware of their advantage without the help of a real estate professional. Agents will advocate for their clients—whether they are buyers or sellers—by helping them get as much as possible during sale price and inspection negotiations.

Things that may not seem significant—such as getting all of the paperwork submitted correctly, sending emails to the opposing agent and doing due diligence on the property—can make a huge difference in a seller’s market.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Buying in a Seller’s Market: Who’s the Winner? appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Crowdfunding has appeared in the real estate industry in a variety of forms: house flip investing, mortgage payoff and down payment support. High fees and legality issues have made it difficult for the popular funding method to be taken seriously within U.S. real estate markets.

A new crowdfunding platform—HomeFundMe—was recently launched by GMC Financial, a privately-held mortgage banking firm. This could be a game changer, since it’s the first crowdfunding service approved by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Here’s what GMC financial says about HomeFundMe:

  • No fees for using the service (Anything deposited into HomeFundMe can be used towards the buyer’s down payment.)
  • Better loan terms, more buying opportunities and the possibility of getting rid of or lowering mortgage insurance
  • Potential to receive a grant ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 in exchange for completing required homebuyer education or housing counseling.
  • Matching donations ($2 for every $1) up to the grant limits once the counseling is completed

While over 100 people have already used the platform, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have only approved the service on a trial basis until June 2018. The mortgage giants are keeping a close eye on results before giving it their stamp of approval.

There are a few caveats, of course. Borrowers must first be pre-approved for a mortgage by GMC Financial in order to use the crowdfunding service, which is limited to $7,500 in gifted funds. The loan must also be a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-approved loan (their 30-, 20- and 15-year fixed loans are eligible, as well). In addition, borrowers must earn less than their area’s median income in order to qualify for matching contributions/grants.

This method will force borrowers into GMC Financial’s rates and fees. Millennial and Gen Z buyers, who are most likely to use such a service because of challenges in obtaining a down payment, will not be able to shop around for the lowest rate—a huge snag that may turn off borrowers from the crowdfunding service.

While other services charge fees and may complicate loan processing, borrowers will have to compare costs, as they may be able to save by using an alternative lender.

Here are some other crowdfunding options:

  • HomeFunded: 5 percent usage fee on total funds and 2.9 percent for processing each transaction
  • GoFundMe: 5 percent usage fee per donation and 2.9 percent plus $0.30 for processing each transaction
  • FeathertheNest: 5 percent usage fee per donation and 2.9 percent plus $0.30 for processing each transaction
  • Honeyfund: No usage fee and 2.8 percent plus $0.30 for processing each transaction

Keep in mind that these services may come with additional gifting restrictions in the lending world. Most Fannie, Freddie and FHA loans only allow gifted down payment funds from family and close friends. Loan processing may also be more time consuming if using these services, and you stand the chance of being rejected by lenders.

Crowdfunding may be a quicker way of amassing down payment reserves, but it can be a complicated process—extending your mortgage commitment dates or even threatening your loan approval. It may, however, be a useful option for borrowers who are dealing with high student loan or other debt payments and can’t afford to save.

If given final approval, HomeFundMe may open the door to a widespread financial backing of crowdfunding services in the real estate industry.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Crowdfunding Your Way Into a Home appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Home improvement doesn’t have to break the bank. You can freshen up the spaces in your home or investment property with a number of small projects that cost less than $500, and make you feel like you spent a lot more! Here are some basic ideas.

Paint Power
Painting is one of the cheapest and easiest home improvements to make. A fresh coat of paint will make any room look as good as new, which is sure to add value. Choose colors that are popular to give a more modern, up-to-date look, or stick to the neutral classic colors. At around $25 a gallon, paint is an inexpensive way to improve your home’s desirability and is something that just about any homeowner can tackle on their own. While you’re at it, look up—do you have that outdated popcorn ceiling? Scrape that texture away to get rid of the dated looking ceilings.

Borrow Ideas
Instead of hiring a designer who will inevitably give you a lot of expensive ideas, such as tearing down walls or pulling up perfectly good flooring, just copy what others have done. You can find all sorts of ideas in books and magazines and on interior decorating TV shows, Pinterest and other websites. To keep to a tight budget, pick projects that can be completed yourself.

Get an Energy Audit
Take advantage of your utility company’s free energy audits to determine which improvements could save you hundreds (or thousands!) of dollars in utility costs each year. Most local utility companies will come and inspect your house for free, and the improvements are generally going to have some sort of tax rebate. Having an energy-efficient home is a salable improvement, or, if you plan on staying in the home for the long haul, you can put the money saved toward a different home improvement.

Plant a Tree
Landscaping will improve the curb appeal of your home greatly. Trees provide shade to keep the harmful rays of the sun from bleaching out your paint or heating up the inside of the house. Mature landscaping is a huge plus when trying to sell a home and is frequently sought after. When choosing which species or varieties to plant, it is important to take into consideration the water and maintenance requirements of the plants. Purchasing drought-tolerant plants that are slow or moderate growers will save you hours of yard work and money in the long run. Keeping the yard well maintained will help keep the property looking nice and tidy without investing a huge amount of money.

Keep It Clean
Keeping a home clean and clutter-free will leave a good impression. Get rid of the things you don’t need and “travel light.” You’ll be happy if you ever decide to sell the home that you don’t have a bunch of extraneous stuff to haul around with you or decide what to do with when you are in the middle of moving. If you are selling, it’s often difficult to make the house sparkle from top to bottom, so hire a cleaning service to really give the home a thorough cleaning. It’s worth the money.

Fake the Footage
Houses are often analyzed by price per square foot to help determine if it’s a good deal or not, but the feel and layout of the home can make the house appear bigger than it really is. Keeping the rooms light and airy by choosing light paint, furniture and window coverings can create a feeling of extra space. Adding a large mirror can double the room’s size just by creating that mirror image. An uncluttered home will make the space look bigger and more open. Have a big garage sale to get rid of the unnecessary clutter and put that money towards other home improvements.

New Fixtures
Nothing dates a home like old fixtures. Replacing old lights, faucets, door handles, etc. with updated fixtures really can change the look and feel of a home. The cost of fixtures do add up quickly, so shop around and start with rooms that receive the most traffic, such as bathrooms, the family room and kitchen. Updating these core rooms in the home can give you the biggest impact for the money.

These small improvements can make your home more pleasant for everyday living and give you a feeling of confidence when sharing your space with guests. In addition, if you are planning to sell your home, putting the time and money into small improvements can increase the value and pay off big in the end—quite a bit more than $500!

Kaycee Wegener manages marketing and media relations for Rentec Direct and shares industry news, products and trends within the community.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Give Your Home a Facelift: Home Improvement Projects for Less Than $500 appeared first on RISMedia.

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

The dream of purchasing a beach house is potentially one that you’ve had since you were a teenager or young adult; however, setting aside the money for this venture is an entirely different project. Instead of continuing to watch your dream shrink, consider some strategies for making a beach house a reality.

Look for Less Desirable Locations
In your view, any house on the beach is likely in a desirable location, but that really depends upon what the buyer is looking for. One thing that you should consider is how the school district can have a significant effect on the price of a house. If you are looking for a summer home or you may not have children, the quality of the school district may not affect you at all. As a result, you can buy in a community that has a school district of a lower quality, which will likely mean a lower price.

Research Seasonal Communities
When you’re looking to purchase a house, you might think you need to buy a place that is yours to visit throughout the year; however, that isn’t necessarily the case. You may be able to find a home in a community that is only open to residents for a set number of months per year. During the colder seasons, it may close down. Due to the fact that you’re unable to inhabit the house year-round, you may have a greater chance of procuring a lower price.

Rent the House
beach house is a desirable location for many people, which provides you with the opportunity to rent it to them. You could rent your house out on AirBnB, for example. Some people decide to rent their houses out for the majority of the year and spend a short amount of vacation time there themselves, and others choose to just rent the house during peak seasons. You can decide what works for you.

Buy a Smaller House
In most cases, people looking to buy beach houses are not planning to live there during the entire year. As a result, you probably don’t need a prodigious beach house. Even when you want to make the beach house your full-time residence, ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice to get a house on the beach. When you don’t intend to have children, one or two bedrooms in a house might be just right.

Thinking about buying a beach house might feel overwhelming to you because of the perceived costs; however, you can actually make this wish a reality.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post How to Make Buying a Beach House an Affordable Thing to Do appeared first on RISMedia.

Style Selector
Select the layout
Choose the theme
Preset colors
No Preset
Select the pattern