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Crafting an Acceptable Offer

September 30, 2014

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An agent was presenting a contract to a single, senior woman who was moving into a retirement home. It was a full price offer with reasonable terms and timelines but the seller wouldn’t accept it. When the agent probed deeper, she discovered that the seller was concerned with her dining room table.

It had been the first piece of nice furniture that she and her husband had purchased and they had literally spent a lifetime celebrating and making decisions at that table. It troubled the owner to think that the table would go to strangers who might not appreciate it as much as her family had.

The agent told the elderly seller that she knew of a church nearby that had a community room filled with lovely tables like hers. If she liked the idea, the agent would call the church to see if they’d like to have it. Once a new home for the table was found, the sale of the home went smoothly.

Lower inventory and increased demand in certain price ranges have increased the frequency of multiple offers on the same home. Sellers are frequently faced with a decision dilemma on which offer to accept and the price may not be the most important factor.

Sellers generally need the equity from the sale of their home to purchase another one but they also don’t want to have to temporarily move if they’re not able to get into the home they’re purchasing. Flexible buyers have discovered the value in coordinating the sale and possession of the homes.

Sellers want to know when they make a decision on an offer, that the buyers will be able to perform as the contract is written. The more contingencies that can be eliminated or minimized, the more comfortable a seller will feel about the certainty that it will close according to schedule.

The buyer should be pre-approved with all verifications and credit reports having been done. Simply having a loan officer’s opinion is definitely not the same thing as a pre-approval.

There is a unique dynamic to every transaction because the parties are individuals with infinite priorities and values. The art of the deal takes place when these unique variables are considered to define a mutually acceptable offer involving price, terms and conditions. The role and experience of the agents contribute to the successful outcome.

Apple’s New HQ Will Be ‘The Greenest Building On The Planet’…

September 26, 2014

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Apple does it again! Here is a great article from BusinessInsider.com on Apple’s plans for their new headquarters. It is so nice to see a company as massive as Apple to look towards a greener Planet.

Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at New York City’s Climate Week on Monday where he proclaimed that Apple’s new “spaceship” headquarters would be “the greenest building on the planet,” according to 9to5Mac’s Zac Hall.

“We’re building a new headquarters that will, I think, be the greenest building on the planet,” Cook said about the building, which is under construction. “It’ll be a center for innovation, and it’s something clearly our employees want and we want.”

The building should open at the end of 2016.

Cook’s tenure as CEO has been marked by a renewed emphasis on Apple’s effect on the environment. Cook recently spoke to Charlie Rose about Apple’s sustainability efforts:

“You know, we want to leave the world better than we found it,” he said. “What does that mean for us?  It means that we take toxins out of all of our products. We’ve done that.”

To his claim about Apple’s new headquarters, Cook said the building would be exclusively powered by renewables like wind and solar energy.

“I know some people have issues with this, but to me it’s all about leaving the world better than you found it,” Cook said. “We owe it to the generation, to the younger generation, to solve this and not to keep turning and looking away.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/tim-cook-apples-new-hq-will-be-the-greenest-building-on-the-planet-2014-9#ixzz3ERqakt00

Seller Safety Plan

September 23, 2014

43997828_250pixel.jpgSeptember is REALTOR® Safety month when special attention is focused on the security of having a home on the market and the concerns for the well-being of owners is a day-to-day effort. The following list may help sellers secure their home and minimize risk.

  • Locks – doors and windows should be locked at all times. Additional locks like deadbolts or safety locks can provide a higher level of security.
  • Home lighting - turn on the lights prior to purchasers arriving to improve the showing. Not only will they be able to see things better, it could prevent them hurting themselves unnecessarily. Outdoor motion-sensor lights provide additional security.
  • Eliminate the possible hazards – try to identify anything that might cause a person to trip and fall such as loose objects on the floor or floor coverings that aren’t properly secured.
  • Security system – If you have a security system, it should be monitored and armed, especially when you’re away from home. Most systems will allow you to program a temporary code that agents will be able to use based on your instructions.
  • Prescription medications – remove or secure the drugs before showing the home.
  • Secure valuables – jewelry, artwork, gaming systems; mail containing personal information like bank and credit card statements, investment reports; wine and liquor can also be a security issue.
  • Remove family photos –pictures can be distracting to prospective purchasers but the concern at hand is to eliminate photos of a wife, teenage daughter or children that might provide information to a possible pedophile or stalker who could be posing as a buyer.
  • Remove weapons – the reason to remove guns should be obvious to everyone but a knife block on the kitchen counter can become an opportunity of convenience.
  • Unexpected callers - when some people see a for sale sign in the yard, they think that it’s an invitation to look at the home immediately. Keep your doors locked so that people can’t let themselves in. If they ring the doorbell and want to see the home but aren’t accompanied by an agent, ask them to call your listing agent.

These precautions should be taken before the photos or virtual tours are made. Having these items in plain sight in the pictures posted on the Internet can unwillingly provide prospective criminals with a menu of what is available.

Agents cannot protect a seller’s valuables other than to inform the owner of potential threats to their security. In most cases, the seller’s agent will not be present at home showings and even if they were, it is not always practical nor desirable to follow the buyers and their agent through the home.

The 2014 PFD Numbers Are In…

September 19, 2014

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Here is a great article from ADN.com about the big announcement:

The number is $1,884. That’s the amount of this year’s Permanent Fund dividend as announced by Gov. Sean Parnell on Wednesday in downtown Anchorage.

“I’m frankly grateful for the Permanent Fund dividend at whatever amount, and I know Alaskans are too, as they save it or spend it for their own needs,” Parnell said.

The 2014 dividend will be the third-largest check issued since the yearly distributions to Alaska residents began in 1982. The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Division said checks and direct deposits will go out on Oct. 2.

PFD by the numbers

More than 641,000 people are expected to receive the PFD check this year, according to the Alaska Department of Revenue. Parnell said 2014 was a record year for the Pick. Click. Give. campaign, which allows PFD recipients to dedicate a portion of their check to charities across the state. For 2014, 26,850 Alaskans donated to 511 organizations through Pick. Click. Give., making a total of 44,693 donations totaling a record $2.8 million.

The oldest dividend recipient is 109 years old, according to the governor.

The 2014 dividend is much larger than last year’s check of $900. The reason: The 2009 fiscal year — in which dividend values decreased as the nation’s economy continued to stagnate — dropped off the five-year rolling average of the Permanent Fund’s performance used to calculate the dividend. With stock and real estate markets continuing to show strong returns, all indications are that next year’s check could be even larger.

Parnell said that the size of the Permanent Fund — from which earnings are used to pay out annual dividends — has jumped dramatically since 2009. The Department of Revenue puts the current Permanent Fund value at $51 billion, a 71 percent increase over its value five years ago.

The 2014 check is $46 less than the $1,930 PFD predicted by Alaska Dispatch News in late August.

The PFD program started with a $1,000 check in 1982, an amount that dropped off in following years before it began climbing steadily, with intervening hiccups, during the course of the next three decades. The largest Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check came in 2008, the year before the recession began to impact the Permanent Fund, when then-Gov. Sarah Palin announced that Alaskans would receive $2,069. That year’s check also came with a $1,200 “energy rebate.”

The smallest check arrived two years after the PFD program began — 1984’s checks came to $331.29. In its 33 years of paying qualifying Alaskans, the Permanent Fund dividend program has distributed a total of $21.9 billion. An Alaskan who has received a check each year since the beginning of the program would have received a total more than $37,000 in dividends.

“The other governors look at us and look at our reserves — the Permanent Fund, but our budget reserves too — and the financial institutions in New York told me, ’49 other states would love to  have your challenges,’ ” Parnell said. “So Alaskan finances are on a secure financial foundation, and that’s going to continue.”

Annual Maintenance

September 16, 2014

home maintenance 250.jpgA common expectation of homeowners is to want the components and systems in their home to work when they need them. Periodic maintenance is just as important as having a trusted service provider to make necessary repairs.

Victims of Murphy’s Law can attest that their air conditioner goes out on the hottest day of the year or the water heater fails when you have out of town visitors.

If the convenience of having things work doesn’t justify maintaining your home’s systems, consider that it can be less expensive than the results of neglect causing repairs or replacement.

  • Replace burned-out, dim or missing bulbs in light fixtures and lamps. Consider switching to LED bulbs.
  • Dryer exhaust vents build up lint even though you may be cleaning the filter regularly.
  • Fire extinguishers need to be recharged or replaced after expiration date.
  • Establish a recurring appointment on your calendar to change filters in your HVAC.
  • Replace missing or damaged caulk around sinks, bathtubs, showers, windows and other areas.
  • Clean gutters.
  • Schedule an inspection with a pest control a minimum of once a year unless you have a service contract.
  • Schedule a chimney cleaning prior to using the fireplace for the first time in the season.
  • Keep all tree branches and shrubs trimmed away from the home.
  • Pressure wash exterior, deck, patio, sidewalks and driveway.
  • Keep levels of insulation in the attic above your ceiling joists.
  • Check appliances with water lines for leaks or worn hoses.
    • ice maker • washing machine • dishwasher • others
  • Test all GFI breakers and reset.
  • Inspect all electrical outlets for broken receptacles, fire hazards or loose fitting plugs.
  • Have furnace and air conditioner serviced annually.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries.

The early fall is a great time to take care of these items before the weather becomes harsh.

UAA is Bringing Back the Nostalgia of the Drive-in Movie…

September 11, 2014

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DRIVE IN MOVIE

Sep 12, 5:00PM – Sep 13, 12:00AM

The Alaska Airlines Center is excited to bring back the nostalgia of the drive-in movie with the style of the 21st century. Starting at 5:00pm, a rodeo of local food trucks will be located in the parking lot of the arena for your dining pleasure. At sundown (approximately 9pm), we will watch Jurassic Park. Sound will be broadcasted through FM radio, as well as speakers for those that are planning to join on foot. Food trucks and vendors will be serving throughout the movie.

Space is very limited, so please car pool and arrive early.
Admission: Free!

Money Down the Drain

September 9, 2014

iStock_000012313013Small200.jpgPrivate mortgage insurance is necessary for buyers who don’t have or choose not to put 20% or more down payment when they purchase a home. It is required for high loan-to-value mortgages and it provides an opportunity for many people to get into a home who otherwise would not be able.

The problem is that it is expensive and a homeowner’s goal should be to eliminate it as soon as possible to lower their monthly payment and avoid putting good money down the drain.

FHA loans made after 6/1/13 that have 90% or higher loan-to-value at time of purchase have mortgage insurance premium for the life of the loan. FHA loans made prior to 6/1/13, can have the MIP removed after five years and if the unpaid balance is 78% or less than the original loan-to-value.

VA loans do not require mortgage insurance.

Conventional loans, in most cases, with higher than 80% loan-to-value require mortgage insurance. The cost of that insurance varies but with a $250,000 mortgage, it could easily be between $100 and $200 a month.

Your monthly mortgage statement should itemize what your monthly fee is for the mortgage insurance. Unlike interest that is deductible, most homeowners are not able to deduct mortgage insurance premiums.

If you plan to remain in the home or to stay there for a considerable number of years, the solution may be to refinance the home. If the home has increased since it was purchased, the loan-to-value at its new appraised value may not require PMI. You might even be fortunate enough to obtain a lower rate than you currently have.

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