Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | Next Home Realty Center

The Cost of Buying a Home – What Buyers Need to Know

Most buyers come into the home buying process with a budget already in mind. But if they match their home price to their available budget, they may end up in hot water come closing time. That’s why it’s so important to make sure as buyer,  you properly prepare for the hidden costs you’ll encounter on the road to homeownership. Here are a few expenses to be sure you are aware of.

Closing costs — Many of the closing costs are negotiable, but it’s common for buyers to pay most of them, particularly in a seller’s market. Mortgage fees, title insurance, recording fees, and appraisal fees are some of the small numbers that will add up to be the closing costs, which can vary and depends on the purchase price.
Moving costs — Once the closing is over and the home belongs to you, you’ll still have to shoulder the expenses of moving in. These numbers can vary depending on how far you’re moving and much of the moving labor you’re willing to do yourself, but you should know the answer to these questions before buying a home.

Utilities — While you may be able to afford the monthly mortgage payments, it’s important that you also consider the utility costs at your new home. Depending on their previous living situation, you may not think to consider the costs that come with water, electric, trash, and other necessary monthly utilities.

HOA Fees — If the property being considered is under the restrictions of a homeowner’s association, you could be looking at another few hundred a month in fees. Many HOAs provide services that you may find useful and worth the expense, but you may also want to look into what the HOA provides and make sure you feel comfortable signing on for the fees in exchange for whatever the service provides.

Property taxes — These are calculated based on the value of the property, as well as state and city regulations. This means that different properties even in the same city could come with different property taxes.

Insurance — Homeowners with a mortgage are almost always required to get homeowner’s insurance, so this is a non-negotiable expense for most buyers. The cost will depend on location and other factors, but you can expect their annual premium to be around a thousand dollars.

Once you have a complete understanding of the full financial picture of a home purchase, you may find that your budget has shifted. By getting this out of the way early, you will be looking at homes in your correct price range and will ultimately end up in a house that suits your needs and your budget.

Info courtesy of Russell Rhodes, SWBC Mortgage
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Top Reasons to Own Your Home

Top Reasons to Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM
Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Some Highlights

June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to consider the benefits of owning your own home.
If you’re in a position to buy, homeownership might help you find the stability, community, and comfort you’ve been searching for this year.
Let’s connect today to determine if homeownership is the right next step for you and your family.

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Why Home Equity Is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market

Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

Today, according to John Burns Consulting58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

Bottom Line 

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that was not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

 Keeping Current Matters – 5/6/2020
smart Home - Jessica Harless

TOP SMART HOME TRENDS FOR 2019

If there is one thing we know about the future, it’s that smart technology will increasingly be an everyday part of our lives. And the public is ready. Each year, sales increase on voice recognition products such as Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit. Currently, 60 percent of customers have one or more of these items in their homes, and each year the IoT category (Internet of Things – devices that communicates together wirelessly) increases, resulting in more smart products that would make George Jetson feel right at home.

2019 brings us even more products and advancements that show how smart tech is smarter. Here’s a look at what we’ll see during 2019.

INCREASED HOME SECURITY AND SAFETY

Home video surveillance has been a success and you will see much more of it. Updated products from doorbell companies such as Nest and Ring provide detailed video of your front door, and neighboring cameras will coordinate to allow for additional views (with your neighbor’s permission). Along with a slew of video doorbell and camera products, there are also updated smart locks that give you automatic locking capability and easy access automatically via your app or voice technology.

Additional safety features on the rise include warnings of water leaks and fires, allowing you to catch issues sooner.

CLEANING

There are continued advances with vacuum robots and this year brings us to the next level. One ongoing issue with these products is the need for constant emptying, but the iRobot Roomba i7 automatically cleans itself, reducing the frequency of manual emptying.

Vacuum robots are growing in popularity each year. They clean automatically at your schedule, avoiding stairs and ledges and attacking dirtier areas through the help of laser sight technology. And their ability to automatically leave and return to a charging station means you don’t have to lift a finger.

Other advances in the cleaning category are new self-cleaning toilets and stoves as well as wifi controlling capability for washers, dryers, stoves, and dishwashers.

HOME FRAGRANCE

Fragrances are perhaps the biggest extension of the beauty tech category. Products from companies like Kompoz and Moodo become your personalized home fragrance concierge. They use a jukebox-style system for creating ambient scents to suit your mood or occasion. Moodo’s product called MoodoGo also offers this tech for your car.

BATHROOMS

The biggest news in this category has been in smart toilets. They are now motion activated, lighting when you approach. You can talk to your AI devices such as Alexa and Google Assistant, listen to music, and even activate a light show for ambiance. Not only do these toilets provide our favorite benefits of Japanese-style features such as seat warning and bidet technology, but they are also now self-cleaning. The Kohler Numi even has a foot warmer.

Other areas of the bathroom are seeing advancements as well. There are voice-activated shower and tub controls and increased tech with mirrors that allow you to check the weather, order replacement toiletries via Amazon Replenishment, and get beauty tips from the ever-expanding line of beauty tech.

KITCHENS

There is an increased focus on AI interaction on products throughout the kitchen such as coffee makers and Instapots and even faucets. With the limitations of voice technology, there is a need for more involved smart screens that provide more information and interaction, so we are seeing interactive screens on refrigerators and stoves. Refrigerators such as the Samsung Family Hub series of refrigerators have a built-in screen that functions much like a tablet. You can download recipes off the web or download apps that specialize in all things food-related, including delivery company apps for easy ordering. You can check your calendar, create a shopping list, let your kid’s hand draw notes, and enjoy favorite TV shows and music. These screens are also handy controllers for smart home devices including doorbells, lighting, and other smart kitchen devices, communicating with AI devices such as Alexa and Google Assistant.

Similar features are appearing on ovens, with additional benefits such as touch screen doors for easy-to-use controls and technology that automatically senses how long to cook an item. You can even watch your food cook on your smart device thanks to onboard cameras. You can control functions remotely and make sure it’s off when you’re not at home.

SMART TVS

For TV’s in 2019, the biggest news is they are getting larger, more detailed, and some models even fold like a roller shade such as the LG Display 65” TV. This rollaway design may make a TV’s constant presence in your living room a thing of the past. With smart tech, we are seeing a continued focus on voice recognition, allowing you to ask Alexa and other devices to start your favorite shows and adjust volume controls or pause it without a need to stare at your controller.

BABY TECH

New smart tech in baby care is working hard to make parenting easier. You can track your baby’s breathing, vital signs, and movement as well as record video and more accurately hear and speak. One surprising addition is Nanit’s creation of Breathing Wear – a swaddling blanket that works with its camera devices to provide breathing monitoring without the need for a cumbersome and uncomfortable hand or foot band.

PET TECH

It’s the dawn of a new day for pets. We are undergoing the refinement of “digital daycare,” allowing you to care for your furry friends while you are away, avoiding the cost and hassle of pet daycare. More advanced microchip technology will track your pet’s whereabouts and communicate wirelessly with pet doors, allowing your pet in and other intruders out.

There is more focus on devices that monitor, track, and report your pet’s every move using more advanced HD cameras, LCD displays, and monitor detectors. Pets can also call you, and I assure you they will. In between their calls, they will have more activities to keep them busy. They can enjoy puzzle games that provide treats, play with automatic ball launchers such as iFetch, and play specially designed game consoles with special touchpads.

There is also an increased focus on automatic feeders and waste disposals such as self-cleaning litterboxes and even a new smart toilet for dogs called InuBox.

WATCH FOR INCREASING SMART TECH IN THE FUTURE

The continued focus on smart technology means we will expect much more in the way of convenience. They will gladly take on the tasks you hate, making home life easier and more fun. It’s hard to argue with that.

reprint from luxury home marketing…

 

Affordability - Jessica Harless

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability

 

Headlines spotlight the fact that buying a home is less affordable today than it was at any other time in more than a decade. Those headlines are accurate.

Understandably, buying a home is more expensive now than immediately following one of the worst housing crashes in American history. Over the past decade, the market was flooded with distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) selling at 10-50% discounts. There were so many that this lowered the prices of non-distressed homes in the same neighborhoods. As a result, mortgage rates were kept low to help the economy.

Prices have since recovered. Mortgage rates have increased as the economy has gained strength. This has impacted housing affordability. However, it’s necessary to give historical context to the subject of affordability.

Two weeks ago, CoreLogic reported on what they call the “typical mortgage payment”. As they explain:

“One way to measure the impact of inflation, mortgage rates and home prices on affordability over time is to use what we call the ‘typical mortgage payment.’ It’s a mortgage-rate-adjusted monthly payment based on each month’s U.S. median home sale price. It is calculated using Freddie Mac’s average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20 percent down payment…

The typical mortgage payment is a good proxy for affordability because it shows the monthly amount that a borrower would have to qualify for to get a mortgage to buy the median-priced U.S. home…

When adjusted for inflation, the typical mortgage payment puts homebuyers’ current costs in the proper historical context.”

Here is a graph showing the results of CoreLogic’s research:

How to Get a Better Perspective on Affordability | MyKCM

As the graph indicates, the most recent calculation remained 28% below the all-time peak of $1,275 in June 2006. That’s because the average mortgage rate at that time was 6.68%. As seen in the graph, both today’s typical payment and CoreLogic’sprojection for the end of the year are less than it was in January 2000.

Bottom Line

Even though home prices are appreciating at a slower rate, home affordability will likely continue to slide. However, this does not mean that buying a house is an unattainable goal in most markets. It is still less expensive today than it was prior to the housing bubble and crash.

courtesy of Keeping Current Matters

Homes Listed and Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Renting vs Buying – Is now the time?

Renting vs. buying a home: Which is right for you?

Weighing the rent-versus-buy decision? Both have upsides and drawbacks. Ultimately, the answer depends on multiple factors, including your finances, your long-term plans and the real estate market in your area. Here are five questions to ask when deciding to rent or buy a home:

  1. What can you afford and how much savings do you have?
  2. How long do you plan to stay in the home?
  3. Do you want stability or flexibility to move around?
  4. Do you want to be responsible for repairs/maintenance?
  5. What are your financial, career and family goals?

Renting vs. buying a home: Calculating the costs

The first consideration in the rent vs. buy decision is often how much each will cost. If you rent a home, your monthly costs are generally fixed for the term of the lease. Your monthly rent may or may not include utilities such as electric, gas, cable or internet. Most leases require the first month’s rent, last month’s rent and a security deposit equal to one month’s rent in advance. For an apartment that costs $1,000 per month, you’d typically need $3,000 up front. Keep in mind, though, that landlords can in most places increase the rent as much as they like when the lease ends or sell the property you’re renting, so you may have to move a few times.
The good news: When you’re a tenant, your landlord is generally responsible for fixing any issues with the property, whether it’s a leaky roof, a cranky furnace or a burst pipe.
You can use Bankrate’s rent vs. buy calculator to help you crunch numbers and determine whether renting or buying option is better for you.

How much house can I afford?

When buying a home, most mortgage lenders require a down payment between 3 percent and 20 percent of the home’s price. Some loans may have a lower threshold, but down payments below 20 percent will mean paying for private mortgage insurance, or PMI, which is an additional monthly expense. You’ll also pay closing costs, which average 2 percent to 4 percent of the home’s price. A mortgage calculator can give you a rough estimate of your monthly payments, including your interest and principal, outlays and other expenses such as property taxes, homeowners insurance and, in some cases, homeowners association dues. A housing affordability calculator can help you determine how much house you can afford. But our financial responsibility doesn’t end with your monthly mortgage payment. You’ll also need to pay for utilities, maintenance, and repairs, whether it’s a few bucks to fix a leaky faucet or thousands to replace a roof.

With a strong local lender and an experienced REALTOR® at your side – together we can find your NextHome.

Home Mortgage and Finance - Jessica Harless - One 2 Sell

5 Reasons Why Owning A Home Makes Sense

We have reported many times that the American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. The personal reasons to own a home differ for each buyer, but there are many basic similarities.

Eric Belsky is the Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University.He authored a paper on homeownership titled – The Dream Lives On: The Future of Homeownership in America. In his paper, Belsky reveals five financial reasons why people should consider buying a home.

Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study: 

1) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.

“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”

2) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.

“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.” 

3) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings.”

“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”

4) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.

“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”

5) Owning is a hedge against inflation.

“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition. 

Bottom Line

We realize that homeownership makes sense for many Americans for an assortment of social and family reasons. It also makes sense financially. If you are considering a purchase this year, let’s get together and evaluate your ability to do so.

Property tax in Texas is a locally assessed and locally administered tax. There is no state property tax. Property tax brings in the most money of all taxes available to local government to pay for schools, roads, police and firemen, emergency response services, libraries, parks and other services provided by local government.

Texas offers a variety of partial or total (absolute) exemptions from appraised property values used to determine local property taxes. A partial exemption removes a percentage or a fixed dollar amount of a property’s value from taxation. A total (absolute) exemption excludes the entire property from taxation. Taxing units are mandated by the state to offer certain (mandatory) exemptions and have the option to decide locally on whether or not to offer others (local option).

Read More at http://comptroller.texas.gov/taxinfo/proptax/exemptions.html

9 Ways to Avoid Gobbling Up Energy on Thanksgiving

Wasting energy on Thanksgiving? Don’t be a turkey.

A Few Days Before Thanksgiving

1. Install a dimmer switch for the dining room chandelier. Every time you dim a bulb’s brightness by 10%, you’ll double the bulb’s lifespan. Most CFLs don’t work with dimmers, but you can create mood lighting with incandescents and LEDs. The dimmer switch will cost you about $10.

2. Plan side dishes that can cook simultaneously with the turkey. If you cook dishes at the same temperature at the same time, you’ll reduce the amount of time the oven has to be running — it’s easier for the cook and saves energy, too.

When You Start Cooking

3. Lower your house thermostat a few degrees. The oven will keep the house warm. You also can turn on your ceiling fan so it sucks air up, distributing heat throughout the room.

4. Use ceramic or glass pans — you can turn down the oven’s temp by up to 25 degrees and get the same results. That’s because these materials retain heat so well, they’ll continue cooking food even after being removed from the oven.

5. Use your oven’s convection feature. When heated air is circulated around the food, it reduces the required temperature and cooking time. You’ll cut your energy use by about 20%.

6. Cook in the microwave whenever possible. Ditto slow cookers. Microwaves get the job done quickly, and although slow cookers take much longer, they still use less energy than the oven. Resist the urge to peek inside your slow cooker: Each time you remove the lid, it releases heat and can add about 25 minutes of cooking time to your dish.

7. Use lids on pots to retain heat. The food you’re cooking on the stovetop will heat up faster when you use lids.

When It’s Cleanup Time

8. Scrape plates instead of rinsing with hot water. Unless food is really caked on there, your dishwasher should get the dishes clean without a pre-rinse. Compost your non-meat food waste. Check out these other Thanksgiving clean-up tips.

9. Use your dishwasher. It saves energy and water, so only hand-wash things that aren’t dishwasher-safe. Wait until you’ve got a full load before starting the dishwasher. Be sure to stop the appliance before the heated dry cycle; just open the door and let your dishes air-dry.

courtneycraig Courtney Craigis an Atlanta-based writer and editor. She believes no effort is too small when it comes to green living, which she tries to keep in mind while renovating her recently purchased first home. Follow Courtney on Google+.

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