Intermission, Goals and Dancing Hot Dogs

CAUTION! The video below may produce nostalgic memories, hunger or nightmares. Watch only after extreme forethought. Discretion is advised.

Happy July 1st. Half of the year is gone. It’s intermission. Anyone old enough to remember drive-in movies will fondly (or scarily) recall juggling popcorn bags, tightrope walking ice cream bars and of course, dancing hot dogs being the highlight of that halfway point at the movie.

So tell me (or someone else or just yourself), it’s intermission, how’s it going? Are you on schedule to have the kind of year you planned? Business working? Family? Recreational activities? Other things?

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions. To me, any day is a good day to set goals and strive to get better. I do know, however, that many goals are set in conjunction with the calendar year. So, since we’re at the halfway point, I’ll ask again, how is it going?

Today, I am on target for some of my goals (weight loss almost exactly at half of the goal), really close enough to call it “on target” for some others (mileage for the year and number of classes booked for 2015), and there are some that simply are not happening as I planned. As a result, I am optimistic about a few, hopeful on some others and ready to either alter a few OR find some new approaches that will help me achieve those pesky ones. Some have already been adjusted.

For me, and hopefully you as well, this is no surprise. I monitor my goals constantly. Like the blue dot steadily moving along the purple line of my iphone Google map, it helps me to be able to see where I am along the purple line that is my goals and the direction of my life. If I don’t know, well…… I don’t know. So, I want to keep track.

When the Cheshire Cat told Alice that it doesn’t matter which way you go if you don’t know where you’re going, he was unknowingly referring to goal setting and achieving. What he didn’t tell her was that if you not only don’t know (or care) where you are going AND have no idea where you are, you are in double trouble (ORRRRRR maybe completely happy not worrying about such things, but I digress…).

So what am I saying?

If unlike Alice, you have a goal, a destination, now is a good time to evaluate how your journey is progressing (as is every other day but halfway is kind of a landmark). If you’re on track – great. If not, it’s perfectly okay to alter the plan or even the goal. Yes, even the goal. They are yours, by the way, no one said they weren’t adjustable.

Intermission over. Back at it (if I could only erase the image of those hot dogs….).

Eliminate Mortgage Insurance

Why would you consider refinancing if your mortgage is only two or three years old and the rate is not considerably higher than what is currently available on new loans? Because you may be able to eliminate the mortgage insurance and have significant monthly savings. chopped.jpg

Many homes have seen their values rise in the past few years. The current loan-to-value ratio may be low enough to no longer require mortgage insurance. In some cases, a homeowner might actually pay a little higher rate than they currently have but lower their monthly payment dramatically because the mortgage insurance isn’t required.

A rough rule of thumb is that mortgage insurance is not needed on loans at or less than 80% of value. There could be programs available that would allow a higher LTV than 80%.

Careful consideration should also be given to the fees required to refinance. Lenders differ in not only the rates they charge but also the fees associated with the loans and the process. If you’d like a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional, we’d be happy to make a recommendation.

Where Are the Sellers?

Low inventories resulting in multiple offers are contributing to what experienced agents are calling the most challenging market they’ve ever worked. While buyers with resources may find the market difficult, purchasers with minimum cash and credit are struggling to find and get into a home. where are sellers.jpg

First-time buyers feel the impetus to purchase because they’re renting and are concerned about being priced out of the market with rapidly appreciating prices and rising interest rates.

Sellers may not feel the same urgency because they already own a home. While they might find it appealing to change homes, they may not feel a pressing motivation causing them to act.

In some cases, sellers are so attached to their low interest rate mortgage that instead of selling, they’re keeping the home for a rental property. This may be a good investment for people with additional cash resources for the down payment and closing costs on the replacement property.

Why now is a good time to sell:

  1. The economy is strong.
  2. The majority of home sales occur in the months of May through September.
  3. Many buyers find it preferable to move in the summer because their children are out of school and they can avoid the winter weather.
  4. Mortgage rates are still very low but are starting to rise.
  5. Current low inventories in most markets result in higher prices and less competition.

Contact your real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities of making a move.

Where Have All the Sellers Gone?

unnamedLow inventories resulting in multiple offers are contributing to what experienced agents are calling the most challenging market they’ve ever worked. While buyers with resources may find the market difficult, purchasers with minimum cash and credit are struggling to find and get into a home.

First-time buyers feel the impetus to purchase because they’re renting and are concerned about being priced out of the market with rapidly appreciating prices and rising interest rates.

Sellers may not feel the same urgency because they already own a home. While they might find it appealing to change homes, they may not feel a pressing motivation causing them to act.

In some cases, sellers are so attached to their low interest rate mortgage that instead of selling, they’re keeping the home for a rental property. This may be a good investment for people with additional cash resources for the down payment and closing costs on the replacement property.

Why now is a good time to sell:

  1. The economy is strong.
  2. The majority of home sales occur in the months of May through September.
  3. Many buyers find it preferable to move in the summer because their children are out of school and they can avoid the winter weather.
  4. Mortgage rates are still very low but are starting to rise.
  5. Current low inventories in most markets result in higher prices and less competition.

Contact your real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities of making a move.

 

 

Make Your Offer Standout

If a seller was looking at two offers for exactly the same price on their home, there would still be things that could make one standout more than the other. If there happens to be more than two offers, things can really get sticky for a buyer. For that reason, it is good to craft the most attractive offer possible because even if you don’t have competition now, another offer could come in during negotiations and derail all your efforts to that point. InTouchbyPatZaby-unique.jpg

Anything that can give the seller the peace of mind that one contract will close on time and as agreed will make them more comfortable in accepting one offer over another. Buyers can consider putting up larger than customary amounts of earnest money and limiting the contingencies to only the most essential items.

The closing costs could be more expensive to the seller based on the type of mortgage a buyer is obtaining. One buyer may be asking the seller to pay part or all of their acquisition costs and the other buyer is paying their own costs.

The borrower who has a signed, preapproval letter will appear to have a greater certainty to closing than a buyer who only says they have talked to a loan officer. Some lenders’ letters are considered “gold” and others may not be worth the paper they’re written on. The seller will depend on their listing agent to advise them.

In most cases, the seller will be taking all or part of the cash they receive from the sale of their home and buying another one. If they have to put a contingency clause in the contract based on their current home selling, it weakens their position. Conversely, it will strengthen a buyer’s position if they don’t have to make their offer contingent upon selling their current home.

Even shortening the inspection periods and offering to close early or possible lease the home back to the seller for a short time can be valuable negotiating factors.

Finally, don’t overlook the value of a personal hand-written letter that tells the seller why you want their home. An emotional connection has been known to make a difference for one set of buyers getting the home.

You’ve Got Money!

Imagine that after checking www.SSA.gov to see what you can expect when you retire and estimated what your minimum required distributions from your retirement accounts will be, you’ve discovered that you’re not going to have enough retirement income to cover your living expenses. Youve got money.jpg

Ideally, it would be perfect if the extra money you need would just come to your mailbox each month with the same certainty as your social security or retirement income.

Rental homes are a popular choice for passive income because they are an investment that most people understand based on their experience owning a home. They’re easy to manage and the rents should keep pace with inflation.

Mortgage loans for investors are available to investors with good credit and at least 20% down payments. While 30 year terms are the most common, some investors wanting to have the home paid for by retirement may choose a 15 or 20 year term.

A tried and true strategy is to choose average or slightly below average priced homes in predominantly owner-occupied neighborhoods. This will appeal to more prospective tenants wanting to live in good communities and should provide a higher level of revenue.

When an owner has a good property with a good tenant, the income is as predictable and convenient as going to the mailbox each month. To learn more about rental homes, contact your real estate professional.

Back to Basics Works (Again)

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 11.57.15 AMI’m recently (and still, it seems) recovering from a hamstring issue. It’s healing, slowly, but healing nonetheless. Sunday, I decided to test it out with an eight mile, progression run (gets faster each mile). Normally, an eight mile run is not a big deal. Unfortunately, I had not been that far in two months. While all in all, the run went well, there were a few middle miles when it DID NOT seem that way. The next few paragraphs describe the choices I (we) have when things aren’t going as they might.

As with any experience in running or work or life, there are three possible scenarios that exist at that point when one realizes that things aren’t going so well: 1) We can continue going through the motions and simply hang on till the end, 2) we can fold up the tent and call it a day, or 3) we can get out of your comfort zone and try something daring and yet familiar at the same time. I chose number three. The daring part: pick up the pace. The familiar part: go back to basics to do it.

There are three basics at the very core of running: feet on ground (biomechanics), breathing and overall relaxation (physical AND mental). Choosing a nice downhill, I asked myself, “doing okay?” Upon receiving an extremely weak but affirmative answer, I decided to pick it up. The pace increase was noticeable. I lasered my consciousness on running efficiently and relaxed and went into what I call monitor mode: feet landing well and pushing off easily? Check! Hands and face relaxed? Check. Breathing under control? Check! Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Amazingly, although not really, the change was nearly immediate. I knocked off a quicker mile and I felt fantastic! The seventh mile was even faster and considerably under my early pace and despite a decent size hill in mile eight, that one was quick too. Somehow I had turned lemons into lemonade and what could have been a rough finish into a fabulous run. Back to basics, as per usual, had worked.

When faced with a difficult task, rely on what you know. Draw strength from your basics. It’s the ninth inning in the movie For Love of the Game, when Billy Chapel (aka, Kevin Costner) discovers that he has nothing left and his quest for the perfect game may be over. He lets out a deep breath, closes his eyes and says, “Okay, three more. Like I’ve done a million times.”

I rallied on the run. Billy pitched the perfect game.  We all have it in us to reach back and rely on our basics to achieve when troubles arrive. In sales, maybe it’s customer service or product knowledge. Maybe it’s simply relying on knowing that we can finish what we started because we have so many times before. Whatever our basics might be, they are the key to turning it all around. They are the key to high achievement.

Marcus Garvey said “If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life.”

What are your basics? Run on.

Postive Procrastination

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 11.59.44 AMThe famous words of Scarlett O’Hara in the final moments of Gone With The Wind have been the anchor for procrastinators everywhere: “I’ll worry about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.” Some things, as we know, are better left for another day. SOMETIMES, the best thing to do is to put off until tomorrow….
So, with the help of Success magazine, Psychology Today and the people at Creative Flow, and to remove guilt by procrastination, here are 7 good reasons to procrastinate.

1. It’s advanced scheduling. Intentionally postponing an event or deadline is not always negative. Many times, in fact, it is a positive step towards the rearranging of goal and/or schedules. Let’s call it creative rescheduling.

2. Find out Why.  Ask yourself, “why am I putting this off?” Most of the time we can find valid reasons for the moving of an event/deadline. Identifying your why helps you be non judgmental with yourself. It is when we do so in a negative manner (fear, avoidance) that we run into problems.

3. No Guilt. Guilt is one of our top non-productive emotions, so chuck it to the sidelines. 

4. Do Something Else. Reinforce your wonderfulness by completing some other task (usually a simple one helps) and you’ll position yourself away from guilt.

5. Deadlines Are Time Frames. Make sure you understand what a deadline really is. If I have until June 1 to do something, that means I have until June 1 to do it. Just because I might wait until May 29 to begin doesn’t make me a bad person.

6. Creativity Unblocked. Studies show that when people don’t have to do something they don’t really want to do (put it off) they are free to explore the things they actually want to do and creativity is enhanced.

7. You don’t have to do it right now. Enough said!

Home Too Big Now?

iStock_000013567449-200.jpgOnce the kids are grown, have careers, relationships and get a place of their own, parents find that they may not need their “big” home like they did before. Their lifestyle may have changed and the house just doesn’t “fit” anymore.

Benefits of a smaller home:

  • Easier to maintain
  • Lower utilities
  • Lower property taxes
  • Lower insurance
  • More convenient location
  • Convenience of a single level
  • Possibly more energy efficient
  • Possibly lower maintenance

Moving from a larger home frees equity from the previous home that can be invested for retirement income, purchase a second home, travel, education or just to have a nest egg for unexpected expenses. The profit on the home, in most cases, will be tax-free up to the exclusion limits set by IRS.

There will be expenses involved in selling a home as well as the purchase of a new home. These will lower the amount of net proceeds available to invest in the new home.

Like any other big change in life, it is recommended that you take your time to consider the possible alternatives and outcomes. Your real estate professional can provide information that can be valuable in the discernment process such as what your home is worth, what you will net from a sale as well as alternative properties for your next stage in life.

Get the Listing Mindset

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A mindset is a mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations. Some people believe that mindsets are fixed. I believe mindsets are capable of growth and change. The Listing Mindset, therefore, can be developed, It is not present at birth. So how do we get there?

First (and foremost) you must THINK listings. It is said that what you think about expands, so think about listings. When you see a house, think about LISTING it. When someone asks you about the market, discuss it from the Seller’s perspective. If you host an open house, do so with the intent to find more sellers. Just thinking alone is not enough. TALK about listings.

Finally, in your marketing, market with an emphasis to potential sellers. Discuss issues sellers want to understand (a great resource to discover what sellers want is the National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – in the section about sellers and real estate professionals). Topics could include: How you find buyers for a listing, Ways to fix up a house, Effective positioning of a home in the marketplace, Tips on the consequences of overpricing. You get the idea. YOUR focus will soon become the way you are perceived.