Homebuyers Should Avoid These Painting Mistakes

Paint, paint, go away, come again when we’re feeling more motivated.

We know, we know – painting can be exhausting. But what’s even more tiresome, is committing a painting faux pas only to start over again.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home (or just wanting to give it a good update), a fresh coat of paint can do wonders on giving your home new life. While painting can give your home a great facelift, it can also ruin the “mood” of your room, if done incorrectly.

Here are some quick tips when it comes to whipping out the paintbrush:

Color Hues

Be very careful when selecting a particular shade. Baby hues – baby blue, pink, yellow – can make your home feel childish. Choosing, instead, a more saturated shade (colors that range from pure color to gray) for the space and then incorporating a baby hue into the room as an accent can diminish a toddler feel.

The Light in Your Home

Colors will change depending on how certain lights hit them. Experts suggest selecting a shade or two lighter than the paint chip, as it usually always goes on darker than it looks. If you can, test out the color on the walls with an actual paint sample to ensure it’s the color you want.

The Finish

After you’ve painted the room, you’re going to want to apply a finish before completing the task. Matte, gloss, and flat are some of your options for different finishes.

Ceilings Are Walls Too

Paint your ceiling with flat paint – light is reflected even more on ceilings, which could showcase shadows and uneven drywall. A low-luster sheen finish can help diminish any ceiling mistakes.

The Size of the Room

A cool accent wall can help make small rooms feel more open – a soft blue, gray, or green are great examples.

After you’re done, no need to sit around and watch paint dry.

Be sure to check out Alliance’s Blog for more news and tips on real estate!

From Sad Renters to Happy Homeowners: The Latest Stats in the Real Estate Market

When you own, you’re happy.

At least, that’s what the latest news released from Bank of America points to.

The company released a new report that shows 93% of people who bought a home are happier than they were when they were renting.

88% of responders also said that they believe buying a home was the best decision they ever made, while 79% said owning a home has changed them for the better.

What are the top reasons new homeowners are so incredibly joyous?

Most agreed that the “emotional equity” trumps the financial benefits towards the “American Dream” of homeownership. More than half of current homeowners bought a home for a place to make memories, while 42% viewed it as a financial investment.

Not only does owning a home affect being able to grow a family, make memories, and help with your investments, but it also does wonders for your overall view of life.

78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life (hello dinner parties, birthday parties and barbeques), while three out of four homeowners have pursued new hobbies after buying a home.

Looks like a home is more than a financial investment after all!

Don’t forget to stop by Alliance’s Blog to stay current on all things real estate.

What to Expect When Purchasing a Home as an Unmarried Couple

Ah, Millennials – this generation is no stranger to doing things a little differently than their predecessors. Take marriage, for example.

Urban Institute released a report that found most Millennials will remain unmarried through age 40, and the marriage rate is predicted to drop to 70%.

What does this mean for homeownership?

If you are in a committed relationship and want to buy a home – you do not need to be married to purchase one. While it might be a little trickier in terms of selecting the best title plan for you, it is possible.

You just have to plan the “what ifs” – in this case, if you break up.

No couple likes to discuss breaking up, but it’s important that you discuss an unfortunate scenario like this one if you and your partner plan to purchase a home without being married. This can save you from stressful and unnecessary situations regarding property rights and financial burdens.

How to Prepare

Think about signing a prenup for the home. Create a co-ownership contract with the help of a legal professional before closing day.

This document should cover questions like:

  • What happens to the property if you split?
  • What happens if one partner can no longer pay the mortgage due to outside financial trouble?
  • Who pays for utility bills or for major repairs?
  • What happens if a partner becomes disabled or dies?

While a prenup isn’t required, it can help prepare for any unforeseen circumstances in the future that would be covered if you were married.

Selecting the Right Type of Title

When you’ve found the home you both want, it’s important to consider which title best fits for your relationship. Options will vary from state to state, but generally include:

  • Sole Ownership
    • Only one name is recorded on the deed. This person has all the rights and responsibilities of ownership.
    • This might be a good option if one partner has bad credit, but if your relationship ends, one person will risk walking away with nothing, even if said person contributed money to the home.
  • Joint Tenancy
    • Each person owns 50% of the property. If a tenant dies, their share automatically moves to the other joint tenant.
  • Tenants in Common
    • This allows for a distribution of ownership – for example, one could own 75%, while the other owns 25%
    • This might be the best option in order to tailor to fit your specific financial contributions. If one person can put more money into the down payment, that person can then own a larger share of the home.

If you’re one of the many Millennials who are delaying marriage (or might not ever marry), but plan on buying a home with your significant other, it’s important to discuss all options to find the best plan for you.

*This information is not legal advice. Alliance Title & Escrow Corp. assumes no responsibility or liability for reliance upon the information contained herein.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Fix Those Website Errors!

Not tech savvy? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be the next Steve Jobs in order to be successful with your real estate website!

Setting up your real estate blog or personal website is exciting – and a great way to acquire more leads. But, it’s also incredibly important that your website be fully-functional and well-designed.

Want a better online presence? A good website will help you stand out from the crowd – but if users find your website complicated, they’ll be frustrated and move on to the next business.

Here are potential problems to keep an eye out for when constructing your blog or website:

Loading is Too Slow

We’ve all experienced it – when you wait for a page to load, it usually ends with you leaving the site before you get to see what is there! Don’t let that happen to your website.

Check out this free website speed test to see your website’s overall load times. Double check images on your site to ensure that they are optimized for the best web performance (size, resolution, etc.). Attachments and videos should also be looked at if your website is running too slowly.

Mobile-Friendly

Most consumers will be using their phone or tablet when searching the web. Optimizing your website for mobile-friendly usage would be incredibly beneficial – this way, users can access your site from anywhere.

Not only do mobile-friendly websites make it easier for the consumer, but it also helps you rank better on Google! Websites that don’t include mobile access rank lower on Google searches – no matter what the content is.

To see if your website is mobile friendly, enter your site URL into Google’s mobile-friendly test to check if it’s compatible with mobile phones.

Call-to-Action

What is your site for? If you want potential home sellers and buyers to contact you – make it known! Clearly describe what your business is, and how you can be reached. A perfect call-to-action will lead users to take the next step (rather than just look at your pretty site!).

Your site should be as relevant as possible, be easy to navigate, have links to other social media accounts you have, and have consistent web design. Grammatical mistakes should be nonexistent as well.

With the right website, you’ll be able to attract more consumers – and let’s face it, having your own website is fun!

Stop by Alliance’s Blog to keep up with all things real estate!

So You’re Buying a Home: Get to Know Closing Costs

One of the biggest purchases you can make in your life is purchasing a home – while this is an incredible milestone, it can also be intimidating.

Signing lots of paperwork, shopping for mortgages, and being approved by a lender can all be taxing. But with the right title company (ahem…us), you can rest assured that your property and assets are in good hands.

Not only that, but we promise to help break down some of the real estate mumbo-jumbo jargon for you.

The first step: let’s talk about closing costs. A crucial step in the home-buying process, closing costs are something you should definitely understand before heading to the closing table.

Here’s the “What,” “Who,” and “When” of closing costs.

What

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

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

Who

If you’re a buyer, you’re going to have different closing costs than the seller of the home. 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

Unfortunately, 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.

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

Be sure to check out Alliance’s Blog to stay current on all things real estate, or check out our Buyer-Seller Guide for more of a breakdown on purchasing or selling a home.

Is Your City on the List? Top 10 Destinations for Movers in the U.S.

When daydreaming about where you’d like to live – where do you picture yourself? Is it in the same neighborhood you’re currently living? Is it in the next city over, or are you in a totally new state?

A new survey from realtor.com shows that while the typical homebuyer stays within a 15-mile radius of their current home, others are still searching for a location that offers better housing affordability and employment rates.

They researched the areas that had the most out-of-town searches on their site. Senior Economist for realtor.com, George Ratiu, explains, “Home prices have risen for seven consecutive years, far outpacing salary growth. Although interest rates are the lowest they have been in three years, cost has become a deal breaker for many buyers, especially in pricey West Coast metros.”

The top 10 cities have an average unemployment rate of 3.3%. Eight out of the 10 locations also have lower overall tax burdens than the national average.

Here are the top 10 cities for movers:

  1. Charleston, South Carolina
  2. Boise, Idaho
  3. Urban Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. Columbia, South Carolina
  5. Cape Coral-Fort Meyers, Florida
  6. Portland, Maine
  7. North-Port Sarasota, Florida
  8. Greenville, South Carolina
  9. Tucson, Arizona
  10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Be sure to check out the rest of Alliance’s Blog to stay current with all things real estate.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Going, Going, Gone! How to Get the Best Interest Rate

When you’re mortgage shopping (ahem…check out how to mortgage shop with our previous article here), it’s important to know how you can get the best deal – and by getting the best deal, not only do you have to actively shop and compare prices, but you’ll also want to pay attention to those interest rates.

What is Interest?

Interest is what lenders charge on money you borrow – this ensures the lender is paid if a borrow defaults on a loan. The interest rate determines the cost of your monthly loan payments, so it’s pretty important to understand what your interest rate can be.

Your monthly loan payment goes towards reducing your loan balance, while another portion pays your interest. This means you’ll end up paying more than what you’ve actually borrowed. We know this is a bummer, but that’s part of the deal with borrowing money.

How to Receive Better Interest Rates

There are two major factors lenders look at when determining an interest rate: your credit score, and your debt-to-income ratio.

They’ll also take a look at:

  • Your history of making – or missing – payments
  • The number of times you’ve applied for credit
  • If there are any blemishes that show up on your credit report

How to Lower your DTI

Your DTI – debt-to-income ratio – will gauge how much debt you have in comparison to your income. Lenders prefer borrowers with a DTI that’s 41% or lower.

High DTIs can make lenders feel weary about letting you borrow money – they see you as having too much debt already, and will worry about you being able to make your payments if you take on any more. This will likely result in a higher interest rate.

Here are ways you can lower your DTI:

  • If you’re able to, consider making higher payments more often on any debt that you currently have. This will help eliminate your debt faster.
  • Pay off bills with higher balances. These have the most impact on your DTI.
  • If you participate in a daily coffee run, think about cutting back on luxury spending.
  • Make sure you are consistent on making payments on time. Most lenders will raise your interest rate if you’re late on your payments (even if your credit score is good).

Before sticking to the first lender, it’s important you shop and compare. Remember to check out the article we wrote up at the top for more information on how to better mortgage shop.

Also – be sure to stop by our Alliance Title Blog and see what’s new in all things real estate.

Millennials, Who? Gen Z Enters the Housing Market

Millennials, while still a very prominent group in home buying, are starting to see competition from Gen Z.

Gen Z – in this survey, those born after 1995 – are taking out more credit and are more actively pursuing homeownership than previous generations.

More than half of Gen Zers aged between 18 to 23 claim to already be saving for a home, with 59% planning to buy a home within the next five years. For those of you doing the math, that’s a goal of homeownership before reaching the age of 30.

One major difference between Gen Z and Millennials – their reasons for wanting to purchase a home. 59% of Gen Zers want a home to start a family, but only 41% of Millennials felt the same. The biggest reason Millennials purchase homes was to help build wealth over time.

Image courtesy of Bank of America

Gen Zers also feel more willing to ask family members for assistance in their journey to purchase a home. 21% of those in Generation Z plan to ask for their parents help, while only 14% of Millennials planned to do so.

While it’s still early for this generational group to jump into the housing market, it looks like they’ll make a big splash once they eventually start buying.

Remember to check out the rest of Alliance’s Blog to stay up-to-date with all things real estate.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: What’s the Difference Between a Real Estate Agent and a Broker?

Buying or selling a home generally means needing help at some point in your journey. But who does what?

Sometimes, consumers use job titles like real estate agent and real estate broker interchangeably. However, there are important differences between the two.

Here’s a quick rundown of real estate job titles:

Real Estate Agent vs. REALTOR®

A real estate agent has a professional license to help people buy, sell, or rent housing in the real estate market.

To become an agent, states require pre-licensing training and training hours that vary from state to state. Once the training is complete, aspiring agents will need to take the written licensing exam.

A REALTOR® is a license agent who is a member of the National Association of Realtors®. As a member, agents subscribe to the standards of the association and its code of ethics and have access to real estate market data and transaction management services, among other benefits.

Real Estate Broker

A real estate broker is a real estate agent who has gone further in education as required by state laws and passed a broker’s license exam.

Brokers continue their education on ethics, contracts, taxes, insurance, legal issues, how the law applies to operating a brokerage, real estate investments, construction, and property management. Usually, to obtain a broker’s license, they must have three years as a licensed real estate agent needs to occur prior.

There are three types of real estate brokers:

  • Principal Broker: also called a designated broker – each real estate office will have someone with this title. This person oversees all real estate agents in the firm to ensure agents are operating in compliance with state and national real estate law.
  • Managing Broker: This person works within the day-to-day mechanics of the office and usually hires and trains new agents, as well as manages administrative staff.
  • Associate Broker: Sometimes called a broker associate, broker-salesperson, or affiliate broker, works under a managing broker.

The titles of brokers vary from state to state and how they are accomplished. Brokers, essentially, are not looked at as novices in the industry, but as having a little more knowledge and experience than an agent.

If you’re looking for more information on who is best to serve you through the journey of buying or selling your home, check out Alliance’s Buyer-Seller Guide for more information.

And as always, Alliance’s Blog will further provide you with current events and happenings in all things real estate.

Voice Assistants and Open Houses – Would You Use?

Hello, Alexa – it’s me, a prospective buyer.

It looks like brokerages are testing out the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistants of the world in the real estate market.

A Real Estate brokerage in Atlanta, Engel & Völkers, started implementing Amazon Alexa throughout a model condo unit for clients to use when touring the space. The idea is that they can ask Alexa questions to learn more about the home and neighborhood features.

The brokerage printed out and framed questions around the home with prompts of what to ask Alexa during your tour. For example, visitors can ask: “Alexa, tell me about the kitchen.”

Christa Huffstickler, Founder and CEO of Engel & Völkers Atlanta, explains, “What we are employing is reflective of a greater trend towards a larger tech presence in the home. We aim to modify our sales approach to apply to the generations and audiences we are trying to appeal to, and the Alexa-enabled model home is representative of their new tech-focused approach to life.”

If you’re a real estate agent, would you use Alexa or Google Assistant to help with your open house? Seems like these folks are!

Remember to check out the rest of Alliance’s Blog to stay current in all things real estate.