Top Ten Projects Filed Under Home Improvement Remorse

If you have HGTV backing you to help remodel your home, then the idea of tearing apart your kitchen or bathroom doesn’t seem so scary.

While do-it-yourself projects can potentially help you save money, they don’t all come easy. A recently released survey from ImproveNet shows that almost two-thirds of homeowners regret not calling in a professional on at least one of their projects.

Various home improvement DIY projects might seem like a cake walk – until you’re halfway through and realize you’ve bit off more than you can chew.

The biggest remodel that brought the highest stress was installing floor tiles – particularly in the master bath. Why? Well, making sure the ceramic tile is level and grouted correctly can be painstakingly frustrating and tricky.

The survey shows that 55% of homeowners took longer to complete a project than originally expected – luckily, only 8% of survey responders said their homes were damaged because of their remodel attempts.

Here are the top 10 most regretted DIY home improvement projects:

  1. Installing floor tiles
  2. Replacing a ceiling
  3. Refinishing hardwood floors
  4. Installing carpets
  5. Finishing the basement
  6. Installing hardwood floors
  7. Refinishing cabinetry
  8. Installing sprinklers
  9. Installing showers and baths
  10. Painting home interiors

Renovating on your own can make you feel like a hero once it’s completed – just make sure the remodeling project is within your wheelhouse.

That’s Life: The Path of Your Title and Escrow Transaction

Let’s face it – insurance talk isn’t really the most exciting of discussions. But that doesn’t make it any less important.

When you’re in the final stages of purchasing your home, you’ll get down to the nitty gritty aspects of your title and escrow process. But what does it look like, exactly?

Alliance Title’s Buyer-Seller Guide is available for your use, and breaks down all of the people and steps that will take place during your closing – but as a quick reference, the path that your title and escrow transaction will take is shown for you below!

While these steps might seem tedious, they’re incredibly important to help guarantee the ownership of your new home!

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Pinterest for your Marketing

Yes, Pinterest.

It appears that Pinterest gets the least amount of attention when social media is brought to the table.

Pinterest is so much more than just a crafting, recipe building platform. Like Google, Pinterest is a search engine – while keywords are still important, pictures are what drive this app. The better pictures you have to represent your business, the better opportunity you have for potential clients to find you.  

Branding is going to be fundamental once you’ve created a business Pinterest account (business accounts allow you to see statistics of followers and likes). The platform is visual, so you can showcase your listings, your clients, your teammates, or any little tip and idea you have to various boards of your choosing.

Research your neighborhood using Pinterest – if you search for the keyword “San Francisco,” you’ll be able to explore the top pins people are clicking on. This can help spark some ideas for your own future blog writing.

Create boards that reflect your business. Your Pinterest boards are your blog – think of them as categories. Establish a “Listing” board, a “Tips and Tricks” board, or a “Home Closing” board as a couple of different options.

Pin boards back to your blog or website. This way you are allowing potential clients multiple ways to contact you, and issuing them more opportunities to see how successful your business is!

Be consistent with your photos. Stick to one color palette and font throughout your Pinterest board; this way, future homebuyers can easily pick out your brand! Not only does sticking to a color theme make you stand out – it’s just prettier, too.

Follow local business owners, home improvement accounts, and any past clients you may have. Link back to your Pinterest page in any blog or social media post you create to let future clients find you!

Looking for inspiration? Check out Anita Clark’s Pinterest board – a real estate agent from Georgia, Anita has included her location, her specialty, a link back to the company she works for, and has stuck to a theme on her page. 

Don’t let myths about Pinterest fool you – yes, it’s a great place to start a dream wedding board, but it’s also a fantastic social media platform that helps visualize your brand and allows you to be seen as relatable and personal – the most common goals of any real estate agent.

Get pinning!                                                                              

To stay in the loop with all things real estate, check out the rest of Alliance Title’s blog.

Relief for Real Estate in Rural Towns

Rural towns haven’t been so rural.

Prisons and military bases are usually located outside smaller towns – typically becoming the biggest employers and economic drivers in the area. While a growing job force is always welcome, it has induced a negative side effect towards real estate in these smaller farming towns.

Counting towards an area’s population, prisons and military bases put these communities over the threshold of eligibility for federal Rural Housing Service (RHS) programs. Essentially, towns with a population greater than 35,000 aren’t considered rural under these guidelines.

However, this regulation seems to be changing.

The U.S. Congress recently passed a big farm bill that only counts a portion of a prison or a military base population against the area’s populace total.

Why does this matter? Well, rural towns can now access RHS programs – programs which provide safe and affordable mortgages for these communities.

These programs are underwritten using specialized data that recognizes particular characteristics of rural towns and properties – such as the absence of various public services.

While this is a huge win for rural towns and the real estate market, this bill won’t be enacted until 2030.

The National Association of Realtors® is optimistic in supporting this bill and is eager to see a swift change in finance affordability in these areas.

Mom and Dad Loans for Millennial Homebuyers

Younger homebuyers – aka, millennials – have had quite the setback when it comes to buying homes; this news hasn’t been all that surprising considering their place in student debt and rising mortgage rates.

But it looks like mom and dad have stepped in to help them achieve a major milestone.

More than 26% of mortgage borrowers who used Federal Housing Administration-insured loans received assistance from a relative to make a down payment – up from 22% in 2011.

FHA loans are predominantly used by those buying homes for the first time; first-time borrowers with weaker credit profiles seek out this government assistance when they cannot obtain a conventional loan. Conventional loans, for the most part, can require buyers to put down as much as 20% of the purchase price upfront, whereas FHA buyers can pay as little as 3.5%.

With the median home value in the U.S. at $221,500 this past November, it becomes easier to understand why these millennial homebuyers are needing the additional help – especially when statistics point out that the median price is 8% higher than last year and 25% higher than a decade ago.

As the real estate market enters 2019, analysts and economists alike will be viewing the millennial home buying trend with a keen eye.

Keep up with all things real estate and follow Alliance Title’s blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: And the Referrals Have It

As a real estate agent, you know that your job isn’t over after closing day – being a successful agent means staying in contact with previous clients and establishing that referral base. Who knows – you might just make a lifelong friend along the way!

The 2018 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows that connections go a long way – 48% of younger buyers (37 years and younger) used a referral to select a real estate agent. Going above and beyond that extra mile even after closing will set up a positive precedent for you and your business.

Here are some sure ways to impress those clients after they’ve signed:

Follow Ups

Usually a seven or 30-day follow up is a healthy buffer before checking in on clients. See how they’re enjoying their home and ask if they need anything!

Emails and Cards

Remember those special dates! Mail birthday or closing day anniversary cards – stay within their realm and showcase how you prioritize their personal well-being.

Small Gift

If allowed within your area, bringing over a special little gift the day of move in can surpass plenty of expectations. A bottle of wine, pizza, or a token that showcases the new area they live in can really solidify a positive review with you.

Stay in the Know

Post new updates to the area on your social media pages. Your clients will appreciate and really come to understand just how centered you are within the community. Any new business or housing development is another opportunity for you to present your knowledge of the neighborhood.

These are just some of the few ways you can really impress a client – showing them your expertise and care during the entirety of the homebuying process will establish your brand and your referrals.

Check out the rest of Alliance Title’s Blog to stay in the know for all things real estate.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor – Choosing Your Home Address

Location, location, location.

It’s easy to picture your dream home – does it have new granite countertops? Big, spacious windows? Open beams? Great!

But what about the neighborhood? Is it next to the freeway? Is it within walking distance of supermarkets? Does it offer any amenities like a local gym or a community center?

The home is half the battle – the neighborhood is the second half.

This past summer, Trulia released a survey that found 36% of homeowners would move to a different neighborhood if they could. So, let’s avoid neighborhood regret, shall we?

Prioritize

While your wish list should include the square footage you’re looking for in your home, the neighborhood feel should also be at the top of that list.

Do you want a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood or a livelier urban lifestyle? Explore the surrounding area of the home you’re looking at to understand the vibe.

Ask Around

If possible, getting the opportunity to talk with the locals in the area can really give you a sense of what the neighborhood evokes. You can ask how kids or pets fit into the neighborhood, or if there happens to be any unexpected street noise you wouldn’t be aware of.

Research

Safety and school quality are two of the top factors many homebuyers consider before purchasing a home. The neighborhood atmosphere is a great way to establish what you are willing to work with. Search for a crime risk map of the area – the locals will talk about safety and school ratings will be posted.

Don’t label it searching for your “dream home” – think about searching for your dream location. The dream home will quickly follow suit.

Housing Inventory Stepping up to Bat

Going, going, and…..still going.

Housing inventory has seen a rise for the third straight month, but it hasn’t been a huge cause for celebration – at least, not yet.

In November, there were 1.6 million homes on the market – a rise of .4% from a year earlier. A rise in inventory is always good, but it is still well below the 1.96 million homes for sale back in December of 2014.

And because the past four years has seen inventory declines – the real estate market will gladly take these gains – however slow they might be.

Tip of the Week: Moving Tips for Clients

Home is purchased and papers have been signed! Your job is completed now, right?

Well, it could be. But we know you like to go that extra mile for your clients – so why not provide quick and easy moving tips for your clients to use come moving day? Not only does it help them transition into their dream home that you helped them land, but it also helps strengthen your network!

Begin the Planning Process

Moving can be stressful – help diminish any hassle with moving by providing a checklist! Hire a Helper has a great moving checklist that you can download for free and print out for your clients – or if you’re feeling a little creative, you can always help create one yourself!

Utilities

Purchasing a home and prepping to move can be a whirlwind of excitement and chaos for your clients – and important tasks can easily slip through. A great tip to pass along to clients would be to contact their utility companies about a month ahead of time (if possible). This way, they don’t end up paying more than they need to for their bills.

First Night

They can finally move into their new home! Help make this night a positive one by suggesting some quick tips for their first night.

Suggest separating items that they’ll need to use right away – toiletries, towels, shower curtain, outfits – in separate boxes. The last thing anyone wants to do after moving is trying to find the immediate things you need to enjoy the first night.

Think about possibly gifting a small gift for their first night upon move in – maybe a cozy candle or a picture frame – some Realtors® even suggest ordering pizza for their client’s first night!

Showing your clients that you want their move to be an easy and productive transition will strengthen your network and might even get you more referrals. Happy moving!

Closing Costs – New Year, New Understanding

What resolutions have you created for the upcoming New Year? Yes, going to the gym more and calling your grandparents more than once a month are always great goals – but what about familiarizing yourself with one of the most important purchases of your life?

Closing costs are confusing – and maybe not the most exciting thing to talk about. But our resolution at Alliance Title is to make title and escrow talk a little more approachable (and dare we say memorable?).

Let’s go through the “What,” “Who,” and “When” of closing costs.

What

Down payment? Check. Cost of the property? Check.

Closing costs are additional fees that need to be paid at the time of closing. These may involve: escrow fees, title insurance premiums, tax prorations, loan fees, deed recording fees, real estate commissions, and more.

Who

A buyer and a seller have different closing costs. What is listed below is considered a “standard” conventional loan in our neck of the woods, but it’s essential to understand that each transaction is different depending on the purchase agreement.

Buyer Seller Shared Equally
Appraisal Fee*

(can be paid by either buyer or seller)

Commission
Escrow Fee
Fire Insurance
Lender’s Policy
Owner’s Policy
Reconveyance Fee
Recording Fee

 

 

 

When

We know it’s the New Year and moving into a new home is all you can focus on right now – but just because the papers have been signed, doesn’t mean you get to move in right away.

Most buyers anticipate receiving their keys the day of closing; however, this usually doesn’t happen until a day, or a few days, after signing.

To put it frankly, the transaction doesn’t “close” until all the funds have been cleared and provided to the title company, and the deed to the transfer title is recorded at the county courthouse.

 

There you go – New Year, New You – and a new understanding of what the closing process looks like.