Danielle Groeneweg

Holiday Home Safety

I can’t believe it’s already December!! 2014 seems to have just flown by. I wanted to write a quick blog regarding home safety.  As many of you are probably starting to decorate for the holidays here are just a few tips to keep your home safe. After all, your home is a special place and I would hate if anything were to happen to it but especially at this time of year.

A Quick List:

1. Don’t write on any social media sites when you will be going away during the holiday season. It’s just letting thieves know when no one will be home. Instead, write about the trip when you get back.

2. Don’t run extension cords through windows if they are being used for outdoor lighting. By running cords through windows you can’t latch or lock them which can increase the likelihood of a break in.

3. Check to make sure indoor décor or artificial trees used have a “fire resistant” tag. Especially if close to a fire place.

4. Check any indoor AND outdoor light strings and make sure there isn’t any broken cords or faulty wiring that could become a fire hazard.

5. If you decide to get a real tree: don’t set it up near a fire place, furnace or radiator. Also, make sure it is watered on a regular basis. Trees can easily dry out and become a BIG fire hazard.

6. Always turn Christmas tree lights off when you go to bed and make sure all candles are put out.

7. If getting a Poinsettia be careful around children and pets. They can be poisonous if eaten.

8. Avoid putting any wrapping paper in fire place.

9. Check smoke alarms and make sure the correct amount of  CO detectors are installed in home.

10. Use caution if solicitors come to doors asking for donations. Also, be aware of online scams where free money or gift-cards are offered. Big retailer don’t give anything away for free for no reason.

These 10 safety tips are simple and I’m sure heard often. That doesn’t make them any less significant. I hope you all enjoy your holiday season and keep safe.

For a full list of safety tips and my sources click on the following links: Ackerman Alarm Systems, Parents.com and InterNACHI.

Thanks for reading,

Danielle

DISCLAIMER:

Danielle Groeneweg is not to be held liable for any errors or omissions contained in the provided information. This information is only provided as a tool to help with home safety over the holidays.

Buy a Home with NO Regrets

I came across this staggering fact the other day. According to a recent HSH.com survey, “… 80 percent of homebuyers have at least one major regret about their new home…” (2014) As a realtor, I know it’s nearly impossible to find the perfect house. I have worked with a lot of clients that have a wish list or must-haves that are a mile long only to realize that, unfortunately, they don’t have a budget to match. I always tell them they might have to compromise on a few things. I recommend narrowing a list of must haves to only include 3-5 major items . For some clients it’s all about location, location, location. Others school district or resale options. I recommend figuring out what these top priorities are before you start walking through lots of home.

In Marcie Geffner’s article titled, “Real esate regrets: 80 percent of homebuyers want a do-over” she mentions five major factors that get overlooked when purchasing a home that later lead to regrets. The topics Geffner lists are: Future Needs, Daily Regrets, Research Matters, Resale Regrets, and Local Factors. I’m not going to discuss every topic but if you want to read her entire article click here. ( It’s definitely worth the read)

The two topics I would like to highlight are Future Needs and Daily Regrets. When walking through homes, in my opinion, these tend to be two items that can easily get overlooked.

Future Needs: When you are purchasing your home, how long do you plan on staying? One year, three or forever? Have you thought about the size, location, school district, resale options and how they correlate with your future needs?

Daily Regrets: Does the house, location, and/or neighborhood fit your lifestyle? If you have to drive an hour everyday to work-does that end up becoming a daily regret or do you like the drive? Are you constantly wishing you had more (or less) of a yard or that you were walking distance to more of your favorite shops? Think of things you dislike in your current living situation and make sure you don’t walk into that same problem in your new home.

If you are having a difficult time figuring out what your top 3-5 must haves are. Talk to your realtor . Make sure they understand what you are looking for and what you are willing to compromise on. It’s important to have someone remind you of details that are easy to overlook when looking in a home.

Buying a new home is a BIG decision  but with the right realtor hopefully in the end there will be no regrets.

Thanks for reading,

Danielle.

Finding a Home Inspector

So, you just reached mutual acceptance and now it’s time to find a home inspector. Where do you start? You have a total of 10 days to get an inspector in and out and decide if the home is worth purchasing still at the agreed upon price.  A home inspection is costly but it’s important to note that you get what you pay for. It’s important to spend the extra money upfront so that you won’t have extra, unexpected costs in the long run. A great quote by Michele Dawson from realtor.com is, “In fact, two in five resale houses will have at least one major defect that could cost you from a few hundred dollars to as much as $15,000 to repair, according to the 2000 HouseMaster Resale Home Deficiencies Study.” This quote goes to show that a home inspection is worth the expense.

Looking for a home inspector can be a difficult process, here are a few tips to look for and ask when its time to hire a home inspector:

  • Ask what their price includes. Do they inspect any outbuildings, go under the house, check all appliances, go on the roof? It’s easy to just look at the price and go with whatever inspector is less expensive but make sure they are still going to do a thorough job.
  • Ask about their experience. How long have they been licensed? Do they have any references or client feedback they can share with you?

Michele Dawson includes a full list of questions that ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) recommends. You can view that here as well as read her entire article on finding a home inspector.

You can also go directly to the ASHI website here.

Thanks for reading,

Danielle

Home Buyer Education Seminar

The home buying process is a whole new world for a lot of people: whether you have never bought before or you are looking for your 10th home to purchase. If you are looking for some higher education regarding purchasing a home or would like the option of having down payment assistant loans please continue reading. ☺

I am teaching a Home Buyer Education Seminar on Saturday, October 4th along with Dustin Brumley from Cobalt Mortgage and a few other guest speakers.  By coming to this class you will be informed about the entire home buying process, different types of loans, inspections and even the title & escrow process. This class is a great tool to get yourself informed before you make a huge financial decision. It also has some great incentives. By completing this course you will receive a certificate of achievement which allows you to get great loan products. This is specifically helpful if you are having trouble getting a loan or if you need further assistance in paying your down payment on a home.

Feel free to view my website here for more information on the class and to view a flyer for the class that is going to be held on October 4.

The next class will be held in Bellingham, WA from 9-3:30. Free lunch provided ☺

Please give me a call if you have any questions about the class or would like to sign up.

Thanks for reading,

Danielle

Direct: 360.483.6490

Email: dgroeneweg@muljatgroupnorth.com

Short Sale: Sellers’ Perspective

With the past market crash Short Sales are becoming a very common occurrence in our present market. So, what are they and how will they benefit a seller?

A seller will often try to short sale their house when they are no longer able to make payments, they might owe more on the home then what it’s worth or they wish to avoid going into a foreclosure. The point of a short sale is letting the mortgagee be able to get out of their current obligation for an amount that is usually less than what they owe. Banks prefer a short sale because  it cost them less money to go through a short sale then a foreclosure process. When selling via short sale there are two steps before the final price can be confirmed. The sellers need to approve the sales price and conditions and then they will submit it to their bank/lender who have to also agree to the conditions of the sale. This process generally takes longer than a traditional sale. Anywhere from 3-6 months depending on the bank.

A seller benefits from selling via short sale because usually the bank/lender will take less than what is owed. They also avoid a foreclosure on their credit score. Usually a short sale will last about 3 years on a credit score while a foreclosure will last 7.

Some more information regarding short sales can be found on my website or the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has some great information regarding short sales on their website.

A short sale can be a difficult, highly involved and a timely process for any seller. I highly recommend working with a broker who has a Short sale and Foreclosure resource designation. They have special training,  greater knowledge and generally more experience with working on these type of projects.

With that being said, if you are looking into selling via short sale. Please give me a call. I am SFR designated and would love to provide you with more information and help you with whatever the next step is for your current situation.

Thanks for reading,

Danielle

Direct: 360.483.6490

Email: dgroeneweg@muljatgroupnorth.com

Disclaimer:

Danielle Groeneweg is not to be held liable for any errors or omissions contained in the provided information. This information is only provided as a tool to assist home owners in determining if they want to pursue a short sale.

Decided to list your home. What’s next?

Trying to decide whether or not to list your home can be a HUGE decision. Before you list your home there are a lot of things you can do that will help your home not only sell but sell quicker and for a better price.  On average, sellers can see a $10,000 to $15,000 increase in sale price just by cleaning up their home and making it look more appealing to buyers.

Here are just a couple ideas on ways you can spruce up your home:

  • Depersonalize your home (take down family picture, knick-knacks, etc.)
  • Touch up wall paint (make sure all colors are neutral)
  • Clean carpets, tile, grout, etc.
  • Clean up exterior of home (trim trees, mow lawns, weed garden beds, etc. )
  • Clear out all extra furniture (arrange to make rooms look bigger)

View the full Home Enhancement Check List here:  List

(About half-way down the page is the Home Enhancement Check List. Feel free to view other links for good seller information though. ☺)

Don’t be frightened after reading the full checklist and DO NOT think you have to complete everything on the checklist in order for your home to sell. I suggest picking out only two or three items under each category and try to tackle them. See what applies best to your home and go from there. If you think you can do more go ahead! Your home doesn’t have to be perfect but the cleaner and more marketable you make it the happier you will be with the results.

If you have any questions regarding the Home Enhancement Check List or if you are thinking about listing your home feel free to contact me!

Danielle

Direct: 360.483.6490

Email: dgroeneweg@muljatgroupnorth.com

Why rent when you can BUY??!!

Take
a look at this chart showing how much a mortgage payment was when interest
rates were incredibly high compared to the last few years. Also shows stats for
average interest rates over several years. Bottom line, it doesn’t make a lick
of sense to rent if you can qualify to buy right now. Your mortgage would most
likely be equal to or less than your rental payment and you would be putting
money toward something that will give return down the road instead of throwing
away. Not everyone can get a loan right now, but if you can and you are
sticking around for 2+ years you should buy!

Contact
me for more info on how to get approved and what the next steps are

Danielle
Groeneweg | 360.483.6490

Or
email: dgroeneweg@muljatgroupnorth.com
Click link below for Chart

Update on Whatcom County Stats

Well, it’s been awhile since I blogged – welcomed a new little one March 1st and life’s been crazy, but here is a little update on the market per my website stats
For month of MARCH 2013 for Whatcom County:
Total Pendings: 262
Total Solds: 169
Total Active: 1044
How does this fare with past months and vs same month one year ago?
March 2013 vs February 2013
Pendings: up 35.1%
Solds: up 37.4%
Total Active: up 8.8% (sellers are listing for Spring)
March 2013 vs March 2012 (one year ago comparison)
Pendings: up 48.9%
Solds: up 1.2%
Total Active: down 5.1% (due to decreasing inventory we are currently seeing in market)
Conclusion: Homes are selling much more quickly in comparison to last month, much the less last year. Inventory is down from last year and we will see this create more competitive offers (we’re even seeing multiple offers again), homes pending faster, and less options for buyers currently looking. If you are a buyer, get out and find your dream home before interest rates increase and inventory reduces even more (although you will see slight increase as we enter into Summer). If you are a seller, depending on how unique your home is to the market it may be the perfect time for you to list and sell quickly and for more than the last year.

Changes to how Short Sales effect Sellers’ taxes – IMPORTANT!!

The Mortgage Forgiveness and Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation as defined by www.irs.gov:

If you owe a debt to someone else and they cancel or forgive that debt, the canceled amount may be taxable.

The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion does not apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition.
______________________________________________________________________
This Act has been allowing sellers who sell their home via Short Sale in many situations to be forgiven the taxes that would’ve been owed on the amount they were forgiven by their lenders. For example: if a person sold their home for $250,000 and owed $300,000 they would under normal tax law be taxed for the $50,000 deficit as though it was income for the year. Under the Debt Relief Act, they were not taxed on the deficit in most situations.
As of 1.1.2013, this Debt Relief Act is expired and as of today does not appear it will be extended or renewed. What does this mean for current or future sellers of short sales that will not close by 12.31.12? It means that you may be taxed for a portion or all of the amount forgiven by your lender(s) when you complete a short sale of your home. Depending on how much you are forgiven, that could mean quite a difference in your taxes for the year.
I am NOT an accountant, nor an attorney – so PLEASE seek legal and tax advice from your tax accountant and attorney to see how this law may affect your situation in particular. Your Realtor should be advising you on this issue however if you are currently pending in a short sale and are set to close after the first.
If you would like more information about the real estate side of a short sale, please contact Danielle anytime. 36.483.6490