The Best Apps for House Hunters

The perfect home can be found with the click of a button. There are numerous real estate sites out there but some have what others don’t. Here are the best apps for house hunters. The apps listed here are available in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for free.

Hotpads

Key feature: unique map layout

Hotpads has a large catalog of houses and apartments for rent. The app allows the user to search for rental properties by altering the search options to fit specific needs. The Hotpads app features an easy-on-the-eyes map with “pinned” properties that fit the search criteria. Zoom in and out, drag the map around to view different zones without having to constantly update search filters.

Zillow

Key feature: Rent Zestimate

While Zillow displays properties for rent and for sale, this app has more features for home buyers and sellers specifically. A key feature is the Zillow Rent Zestimate, an estimated home value calculation. Use this figure to shop comparatively for the new place to call home. Zillow has covered several steps in the process, smoothing the transition to a new home. Taking it a step further, Zillow Offers is a feature that allows a home to be sold directly to Zillow. Toggle with search filters including school districts, square footage, pet-friendly properties, and much more.

Trulia Real Estate

Key feature: What Locals Say

Trulia Real Estate gives a detailed look into what the neighborhood is really like. There are over 30 overlays to be applied to the map to find the place with the perfect schools and commute details. What Locals Say gives an insider’s perspective on things to look out for or take advantage of in a particular neighborhood. Take a 3D tour of a neighborhood and find property owner contact info all in the same place.

Redfin Real Estate

Key feature: 3D walkthrough

The Redfin app is a home search app designed to help a prospective home buyer through the entire process. Redfin prides itself on being powered by the local MLS (Multiple Listing Service) which is updated very frequently. There are real estate agents available to assist with inquiries from home seekers. A key feature is the 3D walkthrough giving a real-life peek into what the inside of the home looks and feels like. This app specifically lists properties for sale and alerts the user when new listings are made available.

Whether in the market for buying, selling, leasing, or renting there are countless options for real estate companies. Apps provide a convenient place to compile favorite available properties and landlord information. Happy hunting on whichever app best fits your needs.   

Things to Consider When Paying Off Your Mortgage Before Retirement

Though retirees may want to finish off paying their mortgage before retirement, it’s not always the best option to take. Here are a few factors they should consider before making a final financial decision.

Downsizing

As people retire, they may want to move to a less spacious and expensive home that will fit in with their retirement package, hence sell their current home. If this is the case, a retiree can repay their mortgage from the sale rather than exhaust their savings.

Leasing

Renting out a part or whole house is another factor a retiree should consider before settling a home mortgage. If the rent the tenant pays can pay off the mortgage bill, then the retiree should not be in a hurry to pay off their mortgage in full. They may even have a profit left after paying the home loan from the rent collected.

Clear debts with a higher interest rate

Before deciding to repay a mortgage fully, a retiree should ascertain whether they have any pending debts with a higher interest rate, such as a credit card debt. Paying off a debt with a higher interest rate would save more money in the long run.

Not enough savings in the retirement package

Not everyone’s career comes to an end with them having a secure retirement package to give them a relaxed life. That is why most people continue working even after retiring. It would then be detrimental to their finances to finish paying off their mortgage ahead of schedule rather than adding to their savings. Saving in retirement accounts attracts no or less tax when you finally withdraw, depending on where you save.

Catering for emergencies

Life has unexpected twists and turns. Clearing your mortgage loan from your savings leaves you vulnerable to any financial emergencies that may occur in the future.

No money for future investments

When you use all your savings to settle your mortgage, you miss out on any investment opportunities in the future which may have given you a better return.

Retirees should consider carefully what their retirement package entails. Having an emergency fund, funds to invest when opportunities arise, paying off debts with higher interests are among the factors to deliberate before clearing their mortgage before retirement.

How Your Finances Change After Buying a Home

If you’re considering buying property, you should know a lot of things before making the decision. A mortgage is very different from a lease, and not just because you’re the one responsible for maintaining the property. The financial impact is significantly different.

Mortgages tend to have a significant enough impact that it can be difficult for lower-income people to buy property, even if they can afford the home.

One significant financial change is a drop in your credit score. No matter how good your mortgage, signing a mortgage contract leads to a drop in your score anywhere between 11 and 40 points. That’s because of the sudden amount of debt you’ve accrued.

Studies have shown that within about nine months, you’ll recover your previous score. Following that, you’ll get a credit score boost every time you make your monthly payment on time.

You’ll also need to pay more in costs for your home. In addition to everything you had to handle as a renter, you have to consider the maintenance, improvements, and general upkeep. This covers pest control, lawn care, air filters, furnace maintenance, and other home maintenance expenses.

You’ll need to pay property taxes, which can be hefty, depending on your state. Some people might need to pay dues to their homeowner’s association.

The down payment for a house tends to be significant, even if you go with the most minimum option. After you make the purchase, you’ll need to be careful to build your savings back up. Savings are vital for potential emergencies, expenses, and the increased month-to-month costs of living.

You’ll need to be aware that there is never an option to pay your mortgage late. Many leases will have leeway with rent payments and a certain amount of rent forgiveness. But if you miss your mortgage payment, there will be catastrophic consequences for your finances.

Many lenders offer grace periods of a week or two following the payment due date. But if you’re late with your payment, you’ll be subject to late fees. The payment will also impact your credit score. You only have to miss three months of payments to be in danger of having your property foreclosed upon.

Investing in Real Estate Stocks

Real estate and stocks are two of the most popular choices for investors. Real estate tends to offer a more reliable income, while stocks produce the most potential growth over time. Stocks are known for being an investment option that you can use even if you’re on a budget. If you make the right decisions, real estate can be a great choice.

Compared to the stock market, a good real estate investment will have lower risks, more consistent returns, and more opportunities for portfolio diversification.

Everyone can benefit from having a financial plan. When you begin investing, you’ll generally do it with a goal in mind. The most common purpose is retirement, but you might also work to earn residual income or save for your child’s college fund. Your investment strategy will always vary depending on your needs and budget.

It’s easier to invest in the stock market because the prices tend to be lower than with real estate. If you do invest in real estate, it needs to be a strongly-researched option, and it will require you to pay a lot of money upfront. That means that real estate investments take ample time and planning to acquire.

Stocks allow you to own a portion of a company. You can make money from the stock market in two ways: you can sell the stocks when they increase in value or invest in dividend stocks that offer regular payments.

With real estate investments, you own property or physical land. The majority of landowners monetize their property by collecting rents from the tenants. They also make money if the value of the invested property increases.

Real estate has an appeal for some investors because it is tangible rather than intangible stock in a company. You also have a greater degree of control over a real estate property. There’s a higher chance of the property increasing in value if you put work into it personally.

It’s hard to compare the investment returns of stock investments and real estate investments. These investments have completely different structuring, and the factors affecting pricing are also wildly different.

Both real estate and the stock market are subject to risk, and they may lose their value during an economic downturn.    

What to Consider Before Buying a Waterfront Property

Waterfront properties are not only beautiful but also have the touch and feel of taking a vacation. You can categorize them among high-end homes that fetch a high price; hence you should be prepared for the costs. The cost notwithstanding, owning a waterfront property is still among the most attractive investments that you can make.

If you have never owned a waterfront property and are considering doing so, you should consider several factors before purchasing it. From the rules and regulations regarding the land surrounding the property to picking the right agent, here are considerations you should make before buying the waterfront property.

Hire an Experienced Agent

Real estate agents with a specialty in waterfront properties come in handy when looking for waterfront property, especially in a new location. The real estate agents understand the market better and can help you in getting a fair offer. They have the right connections, know the valuable properties, and are the best placed to help you get the best deal.

Research on the Property’s Shoreline

Safety is a significant concern when planning to buy a waterfront property. Issues such as flooding, vulnerability to wind damage, hurricanes, and other risks caused by climate change should advise your research. In case any of these occur, you may end up with costly damages or lose your property entirely.

Consider Hidden Costs

When you are purchasing a waterfront property, consider the hidden costs that may not be apparent at the purchase time. The cost of your drainage and water system in never factored into the price of the property. You may also require docking fees for your boat. Compared to inland property, the rates of amenities are much higher for the waterfront property.

Get information Regarding Insurance

Due to the increased risk of flooding, hurricanes, and other factors, premium costs to be paid on the property insurance will be high. To be safe, you should get accurate information regarding the terms and conditions of the insurance cover before purchasing it. If the terms are unfavorable, consider renegotiating to reasonable amounts.

Consider Getting Expert Inspection Services

It is imperative to inspect the property you want to purchase. You always want to be sure that the money you are spending on the investment is worth it. An expert inspector will know what to check to ascertain the property’s condition and give you an accurate report. The inspection should cover the quality of the water, land-based assessment, and surveys.

New Homes in High Demand in the USA During 2020

The demand for new residential construction jumped sharply during the first half of 2020 in the USA. Analysts attributed this result in part to declining interest rates; during 2020, some experts predict a 3% overall annual increase in this specialized market. The average interest rate for a 30 year fixed mortgage loan stood around 2.95% by the end of June.

Impressive Statistics

The purchase of new homes surged in three regions of the nation during July: the Midwest, the South, and the West all witnessed double-digit increases in sales volumes. Only the Northeast experienced a drop in the sale of new homes. Rick Palacios, Director of Research at John Burns Real Estate, noted this segment of the realty market experiences “strong” demand at the present time.

For example, compared with 2019, median selling prices for new homes increased by some 7.2%. This figure nationally now stands at $330,600. During June alone, the purchase of new single-family homes also underwent an impressive rise to 13.9%. Real estate analysts reported the sale of U.S. new residential construction surged during July. It achieved a 14-year record, in fact.

Fueling Demand

Possibly several factors have contributed to the rise in demand for new homes in most regions of the nation. Yet many analysts attribute increased sales activity to exceptionally low mortgage interest rates. This factor permits buyers to move into homes with reduced payments (compared to payments in an era of high mortgage loan rates.) The national average of 2.95% for a 30-year fixed mortgage rate at the end of June will translate into considerable cost savings for homebuyers financing their realty purchases.

The availability of lower rates for new home purchases may also ease the ability of some lower-income buyers to qualify for a mortgage. Some real estate analysts predict this situation will continue into next year. Projected home mortgage interest rates hovering in the 3% range for the next 18 months, in fact. This trend should serve as a stimulus for the sale of new residential construction during the near future. These financial forecasts will please developers and home builders. Recently, analysts reported the availability nationwide of only a 4-month supply of new homes.

Buying a House During a Recession

When it comes to playing the property game, it’s generally good to try to buy low so that you can sell high. If you’re buying during a recession, though, you may need to think about more than just the price of the homes. In fact, you’ll want to tread carefully as the market undergoes an adjustment.

While it might seem like buying during a recession is an obvious choice because of the lowered prices, there are always potential pitfalls to the process. What seems like a surefire low price today might represent a high point for the next several months, putting a buyer into negative equity almost immediately. There’s also the fact that many homes won’t reach their lowest prices because they’ll be limited by the needs of homeowners with low equity in their own homes who are only selling because of current economic positions.

Getting a loan can likewise be more difficult during these times than you might think. Recessions often make banks less likely to lend money, especially in a market that’s as volatile as real estate. Though low rates are still around for the moment, it’s important to remember that the requirements for getting those rates can always change. It’s becoming ever harder to find loans that offer first-time buyers a reasonably low down payment and those who do qualify might have to jump through more hoops than in years past.

Caution should be the watchword for dealing with real estate during a recession. If the market is in a downward trend, you have to think about your long-term needs and how you’ll deal with the home potentially losing value during the short-term. You will also need to look at all the houses on the market with a close eye, as those who drop their prices quickly may not always leave their homes in the kind of condition a buyer would prefer.

With all of this said, a recession can provide a good opportunity to buy a home at a reasonable price. Make sure to get prequalified early and to be cautious about any deals that seem too good to be true. If you can avoid getting caught up in the rush of lowered prices, you might find a deal that actually works for you.             

How Technology is Modernizing Real Estate

Among the factors that have registered a magnificent effect on life transformation, technology takes the lead. Its impact reflects incredibly on the real estate sector. The human race has gained prominently from modern technological improvements. People have devised efficient ways to undertake every day’s activities.

Here are some of the ways in which technology has affected the transformation of the real estate industry.

Computer –Generated Headphones for Walkthroughs

The use of headphones has become regular across many fields, despite many people associating it with gaming. The real estate industry has vastly embraced technology, a fact that helps clients to view property conveniently before committing themselves. Usual images or videos come with limited reality effect. Fortunately, virtual reality brings extreme clarity, making it ideal for commercial businesses.

Ecologically Pleasant Construction

As a way to enhance construction transformation, technology has availed ways to make it friendly to the environment. For instance, the domestic use of solar panels has improved energy freedom. Equipment with high-energy efficiency has been in the market for a long time, but its reputation has taken a superior dimension in modern days.

Appliances like refrigerators and ovens have become common in developments. With the latest technological advancements, one can tell when to use such equipment with minimal energy consumption. That goes a long way in making the environment friendly for property owners, among other primary factors.

Besides such appliances getting refurbished in construction, engineers have embraced the use of recyclable materials. It has improved Eco-friendliness by reducing the emission of hazardous gasses.

Computerization of Repetitive Daily Tasks

Real estate agencies and property owners can get overwhelmed by tasks that demand repetitive activities daily, such as keying in identical paperwork for numerous properties, which could be time-consuming.

However, technological advancements have made it less stressful for officials to handle data efficiently. Through the help of tailor-made software, property owners can oversee marketing strategies and create a real estate profile more effectively.

Assimilation of Smart Home Technology

Recent days have seen significant changes as a result of advancements in smart homes. Technology has practically taken control of the commercial real estate industry, with smart home technology being a chief ingredient in the equation. Security systems, speaker systems, among many other types of appliances, are perfect examples in this case. That and much more have been beneficial to businesses.

Tips About Making Home Insurance Claims

Though homeowners insurance is a good thing to have—and, for some places, a necessity to have before owning or renting a home in the first place—no one truly wants to use it. If you need to use your insurance plan, then something happened that damaged your home to the point that it became necessary to use it. No matter the damage, proving said damage in the first place falls onto your shoulders, as well as the task to manage your claim and ensure that you’re fully compensated for what you’re entitled to under your policy. The larger the damage to your property is, the more complex the process of submitting a claim is. To make things a bit easier, here are some tips to help walk you through the process.

 

Show that you’re knowledgeable

 

No matter how friendly your insurance representative is, that doesn’t change the fact that their end goal is to maximize corporate profits and minimize losses—something that will conflict with your best interests. Showing the representative that you’re knowledgeable on how to move your claim through the process will show that you cannot be taken advantage of and get less than you deserve. To show this, you’ll need to do the following:

 

  • Know what your policy does and doesn’t cover
  • Follow the process outlined in your policy to make sure you meet all contractual obligations and deadlines
  • Figure out which parts of your policy are subject to interpretation 
  • Strategize based around your understanding of your coverages, endorsements, exclusions, and policy limits
  • Document everything in writing so you have a paper trail to fall back on in case something goes awry
  • Present your documentation and position to your insurance claims adjuster
  • Negotiate the settlement you want, need, and deserve

 

Be diligent

 

Because the process is complicated, going through the hoops and struggles of filing an insurance claim will be time-consuming and stressful—something that will work against you in the long run. Familiarize yourself with the steps that a property insurance claim process takes so that, when it’s slow-going, you can remind yourself of the stages and be assured of where you’re at, rather than kept in the dark.

 

Consult an expert

 

There’s nothing wrong with turning to a professional if need be. Much like how you’d turn to an attorney for any legal matters you encounter, going to a public insurance adjuster will get you someone who will advocate exclusively for you and your best interests throughout the insurance claim process. If you have any doubt about maximizing your settlement offer on your own, consulting with a public insurance adjuster will make that process smoother and get you the money you deserve.

How Real Estate Investors Make Money

Investing in real estate is an appealing way for some people to make money. By making an investment in real estate, the goal of the transaction is to let your investment increase until you’re making money off of it in the future. The return (or profit) you get based on this accumulation will need to be enough to cover the risks that come with investment, the taxes you’ll pay on it, and other such costs that come with owning real estate. If you’re new in the real estate business, all of these factors can be overwhelming to take in at once. How will you make your money this way? 

 

There are, in fact, several ways to earn back what you’ve spent on real estate:

 

Real Estate Appreciation

 

Real estate appreciation happens when a property’s value increases due to a change in the real estate market. If the location of your property has a shopping mall built nearby, the traffic in that area will likely become busier than it once was, which affects property value. Making modifications to the property to make it more attractive to potential buyers will also help with the property’s appreciation. The downside of real estate appreciation is that it’s a rather unpredictable game to play, which ultimately makes it riskier to get involved in rather than more stable sources of income.

 

Cash Flow Income

 

Another way you can make money off your real estate investment is to buy a building—an apartment building, self-storage spaces, office buildings, etc.—and generating cash flow income by renting out spaces in these buildings to collect tenant rent. This focuses on the real estate property itself and, so long as space is rented out in your unit, it will get you a monthly payment from all of your tenants. 

 

Real Estate Related Income

 

Specialists in the real estate industry, such as real estate brokers, can make money on their investments in two different ways. They can make money from commissions on properties they’ve helped clients buy or sell, or they can earn their money from real estate management companies. With the latter, however, the companies will keep a percentage of the rent in exchange for running the day-to-day operations of the property they reside on.