Real Estate Information

Olivia Prince's Blog

Olivia Prince

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 43

Ask O: Why Do I Need a Realtor?

by Olivia Prince


Dear Olivia,

I’ve been advised by a number of friends to hire a Realtor to help me buy a new home. I’m wondering, what does a Realtor bring to the table that I can’t just do on my own?

Though buying and selling real estate is made to look like a total breeze online and on TV, it can actually be a very complicated process that requires an expert to help guide you through.

For starters, Realtors understand the different rules and regulations that govern real estate transactions in their state (each state is a little different). That gives you peace of mind that they know what’s required to complete the process of buying a home in an efficient and legal manner.

In other words, all those stacks and stacks of paperwork that are needed to complete the purchase of a home are the responsibility of your Realtor, not you. That alone makes a Realtor worth their weight in gold!

Another way that a Realtor can help you make your real estate dreams a reality is through their negotiation skills. Negotiations typically aren’t as dramatic as they seem on real estate shows on TV. However, having a professional that has negotiated deal after deal will only work in your favor once you find the home of your dreams.

What’s more, there’s tons of coordination that has to be done with multiple entities. When buying a home, it’s not just you and the seller involved. There’s also the seller’s agent, the appraiser, the lender, the title company, the home inspector...you get the point. Having a Realtor on your side means that they handle all the coordination and communication between all the stakeholders so you don’t have to.

Lastly, Realtors have an intimate knowledge of the current market conditions and financing requirements and can use that knowledge to help you find a home that you love and get it for the best possible price. In other words, without the input of a Realtor, it would be hard for you to even know how much to offer a seller for their home without offending them with a really low offer, or worse, offering them way too much for their property.

The bottom line is that buying a home is one of the most significant financial investments you’ll make in your entire life, so why go into it unprepared? With a Realtor representing you, you can focus on finding the home of your dreams while your Realtor handles all the behind-the-scenes work. Plus, buyers don’t usually pay their Realtor - they are paid through the seller’s closing costs!

If you’re ready to buy a new home and have questions about the process, don’t hesitate to call Your Hometown Realtors at 307-856-3999 or drop by our office at 309 N Broadway in Riverton.

 

Ask O: Modular vs. Manufactured Homes - What’s the Difference?

by Olivia Prince


 

Dear Olivia,

I hear the terms “modular home” and “manufactured home” thrown around all the time, but I have no idea what the difference is between the two? Can you help?

I get this question on nearly a daily basis, and I see a ton of misinformation being thrown around about this topic, so it’s no wonder you’re confused!

 

First of all, many people use the words “modular” and “manufactured” interchangeably, which is the starting point for all the confusion. They are not the same. To the untrained eye, it is an easy mistake to think that a modular home and a manufactured home are the same, but for home lenders, there are major differences.

 

I suppose if you wanted to get technical, you could say they all modular and manufactured homes are “manufactured,” as they are built in a facility or factory and then transported to the homesite.
 

However, modular and manufactured homes aren’t all created equally, just like so many other similar items in the marketplace. The difference is most important when it comes to financing, which also affects the value of the home.

 

A manufactured home is constructed completely offsite and transported to the location. These homes come in many different sizes and with different floor plans. They also have a metal construction under the home which makes it possible to sit the home on tie downs and skirting without putting in a full foundation. A single-wide trailer house is a type of manufactured home.
 

When a manufactured home isn’t put on what we call an engineer-certified foundation, financing becomes the most challenging. It is then treated like personal property, and typically requires much more stringent financing considerations, as more often than not the value will decline, somewhat like a car.

 

However, the same home can be put on an engineer-certified foundation, and if that’s the case, the title is relinquished and it becomes real property. At that point, many loan programs find a manufactured home to be completely acceptable.
 

But, not all lenders will finance a manufactured home, even with the certified foundation. These are things you want to look into when purchasing a home.
 

A typical manufactured home with a steel undercarriage.

 

One of the things I find most interesting is that quality can go many ways, much like a vehicle. You can purchase a lower quality and less expensive manufactured home, or you can get upgrades that make it feel more upscale and nice.

 

A modular home is also built in a factory and is often called a prefab home. They too come in different floor plans and different quality levels. They do not have the metal carriage underneath, though, and cannot be set down with tie downs as they require a foundation or basement before you make them your home.
 

Some of the modular homes being made these days are fancier than many of the site-built homes in our area, and some people will even say that the fact that they aren’t built in the harsh Wyoming weather is a benefit.

 

For appraisal and lending purposes, a modular home is treated as though it is an onsite, stick-built home. You might have heard of Style Homes, which were built right here in Riverton and are located all around the country. They are an example of a modular home.

 

Much like a manufactured home, modular homes have quality differences. I have seen some manufactured homes that were higher quality than some modulars, so while it is important to know the differences that the banks require and have designated, you also need to be aware that just because the home is “labeled” one or the other doesn’t mean there might not be more quality found in the other choice.

 

This is not considered to be an all-inclusive differentiation between modular and manufactured homes, but with this information, you can ask better questions of your Realtor or lender when you’re shopping for a new home.
 

~Olivia

 

Ask O: How Do I Know If a House is Right For Me?

by Olivia Prince

 

Dear Olivia,
 

I’ve come close to buying a home a couple of times, but just can’t seem to get over the hump. I never seem to be able to tell if it’s a home that I’ll love forever or that I might hate in a couple of months. HELP!
 

Afraid to Buy
 

Hopefully you take some solace knowing that you certainly aren’t the only one that’s ever wondered if the house you think you love so much is really worth loving.

 

Granted, it’s a huge decision to buy a home, and there are tons of factors at play that will determine if it’s a good fit for you or not. However, I’ve come up with a few critical questions to ask yourself to help you decide if the house is “the one.”

It’s All About Location

Location, location, location is a real estate cliche, but it’s so true!

 

You can change virtually anything about a house. Heck, you can even tear it down and build something new! But what you can’t change is the location.

 

Even if there’s things about the home that you don’t like, if you love the location, that’s a big bonus now and down the road.

 

When deciding if the location is right for you, don’t just look at the home and property itself. Instead, tour the neighborhood, talk to the neighbors, and get a feel for what life would be like in that location.

 

If it seems like a great place to live, the location is certainly worth sacrificing a few other desired features. You’ll love a home in an ideal neighborhood with a one-car garage more than the home in a less-than-desirable neighborhood with the two-car garage any day of the week!

Have Renovations Been Made?

 

Some people love to come into a home, rip it apart, and make it their own. But most of us want to move right in without having to tackle huge projects.

 

If you find a home that’s been recently renovated, consider how much time and money you’ll save. The owners have done the dirty work; now you can enjoy the fruits of their labor and move right in!

 

When it comes to renovations, the big ones are obviously the kitchen and bathrooms. These can be pricey to upgrade, so the more work that’s been done in these areas, the better for you.

 

Even updates to things like paint and flooring can make a big difference, too. Be sure to ask your Realtor about what upgrades have been made to the house. If it’s turnkey, great! But if it needs work, it might be something you want to skip unless you enjoy doing that kind of stuff.

What is the Home’s Sales History?

The more you know about your potential home, the better.

 

That includes finding out how often it’s been sold, when it sold last, and for how much. Armed with that information, you can make a better determination as to the offer your Realtor writes for the property.

 

For example, if you know that the home last sold just three years ago for $200,000, and that the sales price this go-round has already dropped from $235,000 to $225,000, you can use that information to write a competitive offer - but one that also keeps your bottom line in mind.

 

Also be aware that your Realtor should have information like how much property taxes are, if there’s any special assessments, how much utilities are each month, and so forth. Having those details will help you determine the actual cost each month to live in the home, which is obviously important as you determine if you want to live there, and if you can afford the home as well.

 

There’s plenty of other considerations to make when trying to determine if a home is right for you - too many to list, in fact! These questions will get you going in the right direction, though. For more help, don’t hesitate to call me at 307-856-3999 or drop by my office at 309 N. Broadway in Riverton.

Ask O: Is It a Big Deal to Price My Home High, Then Reduce Later?

by Olivia Prince


 

Dear Olivia,

I’m thinking about listing my home for sale, and I have a specific number in mind. My husband disagrees, saying that if we price the home too high, no one will be interested in it. My argument is that we can just lower the price later if need be. What do you think?

Price Fighter
 

One of the biggest decisions you can make when selling your home is settling on a price. It sounds like you’ve at least started that conversation, so that’s good!

 

To answer your question, yes, you can always lower the price of your home later.
 

BUT...there’s a problem.
 

When you overprice your home to begin with, it will linger on the market longer. The longer your home is for sale, the less likely you are to get your original price. In fact, the longer a home is on the market, the more people will wonder if there’s something wrong with the house that’s caused it not to sell. That’s not a good situation for you!
 

The key is to price your home appropriately right from the get-go. That means speaking with Realtor and getting information about current market conditions. Your Realtor can examine similar homes that have sold recently in or near your neighborhood, and use those comparables to determine a good starting price for your home.
 

If you start out with a good price, the chances are greater that your home will generate more interest when it comes on the market. Obviously, the more buyers that are interested, the better chances you have of making a sale.
 

Now, just because you price your home right doesn’t mean that it’ll sell immediately or attract multiple offers. The market is a little slow right now for sellers, so be prepared for a conversation with your Realtor a few weeks or months down the road to adjust the price accordingly if your home doesn’t sell.
 

Having said that, just because the market is slow doesn’t mean that listing your home for sale right now is a bad idea. In fact, since fewer homes go on the market this time of year because of the upcoming holidays (and the cold!), your home might have less competition. And the less competition, the greater the likelihood that buyers will consider your home.
 

Pricing your home for sale is an art, and something that you should consult with your Realtor about before putting your house on the market. Though it can be tempting thinking about a big payday from an astronomical price for your home, it’s a better idea to start out with a more prudent sales price right from the start.
 

~Olivia

Ask O: Is Renting Really Cheaper Than Buying?

by Olivia Prince


Dear Olivia,

I’m a renter and pay a reasonable rent each month. My landlord pays for all my utilities as well. I find it hard to believe that buying a home could be cheaper. Am I missing something?

Renter For Life

On the surface, renting a home might seem cheaper than owning. Like you said, your landlord pays all the utilities which is a huge savings for you. Additionally, if a pipe bursts or the air conditioning goes out, your landlord has to fix it, not you.

But if you dig a little deeper, you begin to understand why renting isn’t as cheap as it first looks.

For starters, there’s no guarantees that next month your rent won’t go up. And if you rent for long enough, you might find that what you pay a couple of years down the road is significantly more than what you pay now.

When you own a home, though, you can get a fixed monthly payment so you know exactly what your housing expenses are from month to month, year to year. That definitely helps in budgeting and planning for your future!

Speaking of your future, if you rent, you’re not building any equity in the property whatsoever. This is actually the biggest hidden cost of renting because it’s more of what you miss out on rather than what you actually pay.

For example, if you rent a home for five years, the home will most likely be worth more at the end of that five-year period than it was at the start. That’s great for your landlord, but what do you have to show for it? Conversely, if you buy a home, after that same five-year period, you’re the one with the equity in your property. You can then use that equity for all sorts of purposes - getting rid of private mortgage insurance sooner, using it to make home improvements, use it to consolidate other debt, or just creating a higher level of financial security.

Yet another way that buying a home can be cheaper is that there are many financing programs available that require little or no money down. That means you can get into your own home without having to shell out a bunch of money like first and last month’s rent and a security deposit when you’re renting a property.

Furthermore, there are plenty of homes on the market today that are highly affordable - our #PerfectStorm properties being a perfect example. Most of these homes are priced well under $150,000, and with an abundance of financing options, you might just find that a monthly mortgage payment is even less than what you pay in rent.

I know that making the leap from renting to owning is a big one - I certainly found it nerve-wracking when I bought my first home. But the financial benefits to be had in the long run certainly make it a wise move!

If you have any other questions about renting or buying, don’t hesitate to stop by my office at 309 N Broadway in Riverton or call 307-856-3999!

Ask O: What is a Pre-Qualification Letter?

by Olivia Prince

ask o- What is a pre-qualification letter-.jpg

Dear Olivia,

I want to start the process of looking for my first home, but I don’t have a pre-qualification letter. I’ve heard you need one - is this true? If so, how do I get one?

Sincerely,
Unqualified

Pre-Qualification, Defined

Let’s start with what a pre-qualification letter actually is.

A pre-qual letter is from the lender and states that based on information that you have given them that they think you will likely qualify to borrow money from them for a home purchase.  

This letter is not a guarantee that you’ll get financing, but when attached to an offer, it shows the prospective seller that you have talked to the bank, and it looks like you are a serious prospect.  At a minimum, the lender has looked at your assets, debts, and income, and likely pulled your credit score as well.

It is not a requirement to have a pre-qual letter to put in an offer or shop for a home, but we highly recommend it because it puts you in a stronger position to negotiate as well as helping to be sure you are shopping in a price bracket that works well for you.

Some pre-qual letters have a higher value than others, as some lenders will pull your credit score and review additional documentation before writing the letter. Our local lenders are usually pretty confident you will qualify for the home loan at the time they write the pre-qual letter. However, ultimately, it will still be a matter of final verification, appraisal, and other requirements.

Pre-Approval, Defined

A pre-approval letter is a stronger document, but often a little tougher to come by prior to having a home under contract. At the time a pre-approval letter is written, the lender has typically already verified all of your financial information as well as your credit and job history.  

We highly recommend you talk with your lender and get at least a pre-qual letter before you start home shopping. Doing so can help you avoid a lot of heartache and help us to look for the right homes that fit your budget!

~Olivia

Ask O: How Can I Find the Best Bargain?

by Olivia Prince

Ask O- How Can I Find the Best Bargain-.png

Dear Olivia,

I’m in the market to buy a home. What can I do to find the best bargain?

Sincerely,
Looking for a Deal

This is a great question, and one that applies to every buyer at every price point! Even buyers that have a budget of millions of dollars want to feel as though they’re getting a deal, so it’s only natural for the rest of us to want a good deal, too!

To help you stretch your budget, I’ve put together three of my favorite budget-friendly home buying tips.

Look for “Price Reduced”

Whenever I have a seller that wants to lower their asking price, I push out social media posts and other marketing that says “Price Reduced.” Other Realtors do the same.

If you’re looking for a home and want a bargain, keep your eye out for these kind of posts because it indicates a reduction that will keep that money in your pocket.

Price reductions happen all the time, and can range from a couple of thousand dollars on up. And here’s a bonus tip - if the price has been reduced, you might be able to negotiate an even lower price as price reductions can be a sign that the seller is ready to deal.

Make a Big Down Payment

I know it isn’t in the cards for everyone to plop down a 20 percent down payment when buying a house. But if you can swing it, it will save you big bucks.

The reason why 20 percent is the ideal number is because it helps you avoid Private Mortgage Insurance or PMI. Though PMI is only a fraction of your monthly mortgage payment, saving even $50 a month can really add up over the course of several years! You can put that savings toward paying off your mortgage faster, put it into a savings account, save up for your kid’s college, and so forth.

Look for Ugly Homes

The fact of the matter is that an ugly home just doesn’t sell as fast as one that’s been freshly updated. They don’t sell for as much money, either!

But ugly homes can still have potential, and if it’s just in need of cosmetic updates, you can bring it into the 21st century without spending a ton of money. In fact, fresh paint and new flooring will go a long way in updating just about any home.

Talk to your Realtor and ask them to show you some fixer upper-type properties. But beware - look for homes that are in good neighborhoods and don’t need massive renovations. If the home needs a new roof, has a cracked foundation, or some other big-ticket repair needed, be sure to account for that when you write your offer.

Abiding by these suggestions can help you save thousands of dollars when you decide to buy a home. If you want even more home buying tips, be sure to stop by my office at 309 N Broadway in Riverton so we can chat!

~Olivia

Want to Buy a Home? This is Your First Step…

by Olivia Prince

Want toBuy a home-.png

I get asked all the time by first-time homebuyers where to begin the process of purchasing a home.

 

Many of them are often surprised by my response - get pre-approved for a loan.

 

It seems that for many prospective buyers, they think that getting approval for funds is something that happens later rather that sooner, when it’s the exact opposite that should occur.

 

There are plenty of reasons why you should get pre-approval for a mortgage from a lender before you do anything else.

It Helps You Define Your Budget

It’s fun to dream about all the things you might be able to afford in your new home, but dreaming about what you can afford and actually being able to afford it are two different things.

 

A pre-qualification helps you determine just how much house you can afford. And with that knowledge, you and your Realtor can work together to identify homes that will fit within that budget.

 

After all, there’s not much point in looking at $300,000 homes when you can only afford a $200,000 mortgage.

There Might Be Competition

In our area, we currently have quite a bit of inventory, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have to compete with other buyers for the house that you want to buy.

 

With pre-approval from a lender, you immediately have a leg up on other potential buyers because the sellers know that you’re (1) serious about buying a home, and, (2) have the ability to come up with the funding needed to buy it.

 

That’s the kind of peace of mind sellers want, and that’s what will help you get the home you want instead of someone else swooping in and snatching your dream home out from under you!

It’s Simple

Getting pre-approved for a loan is much simpler process that a lot of potential homebuyers think.

 

If you have a Realtor, they can recommend local lenders that can work with you on a home loan that takes into account your personal circumstances.

 

Now, getting pre-qualified does not mean you’re getting a mortgage, so there’s no commitment. You just need to give the lender some details about your credit history, debt load, savings, work history, and residential history.

 

From there, the lender will use that information to determine how much you can reasonably borrow. That amount is determined by a variety of factors:

 

  1. Your ability to make payments on the loan, both now and in the future

  2. Your liquid assets that are accessible to pay the loan should you lose your job or otherwise see a reduction in your income

  3. The type of home you wish to purchase

  4. Your credit history

Final Thoughts

Buying a home can be a bit of a scary process, but if you approach things the right way - hiring a real estate professional to guide you through the steps and working with a local lender to get pre-qualified for a home loan - believe me when I say that the process will go much more smoothly!

 

You’ll likely also find that you’ve overestimated how complicated it is to get pre-qualified. And you’ve probably also overestimated how much money you need on hand and the credit score you need to qualify for a home loan.

 

Don’t wait until the last minute to dive into the financial aspects of buying a home. Get pre-qualified and start your home search the right way!

Ask O: What Can I Do To Help Sell My Home Faster?

by Olivia Prince

log-house-96085_960_720.jpg

 

Dear Olivia,

 

I’ll be listing my home for sale in the next couple of months. I’m wondering what I can do now and once my home is listed to help get it sold faster?

 

Sincerely,

Needs a Bigger Home

 

When it comes to getting your home sold quicker, there are actually a lot of things you can do to make that a faster, simpler process.

 

Here are my top three tips for making a quick sale of your home.

Understand Your Competition

It’s necessary for you to be aware of what you’re up against in terms of comparable homes that are for sale.

 

Your Realtor should provide you with details regarding what the market is like, including the number of homes currently on the market in a similar price range.

 

This allows you to have a bit of a reality check. We tend to view our homes as more valuable than they might be, simply because it’s our home and our memories there are very important to us.

 

However, buyers aren’t privy to your memories in that home; all they see is the home itself, so you need to be sure that yours is better than the other homes in your price range.

 

That means cleaning inside and out, decluttering, and staging your home to make the best first impression possible!

Do Your Part to Promote It

Your Realtor should present you with a comprehensive marketing plan to get the word out about your house.

 

But in this day and age in which the vast majority of buyers start their search online, it’s easy to do your part to promote your house even further.

 

For example, your Realtor should post things about your home on social media. All you need to do is like and share those posts so your followers - who might not follow your Realtor - can see that your home is for sale.

 

Think about it - if you have 150 friends on Facebook and you share a post from your Realtor’s Facebook page, that’s 150 more sets of eyes that get to see all the great things about your home!

 

I’d recommend sticking to reposting what your Realtor posts rather than creating your own, though. Your Realtor will have a specific marketing plan, and you don’t want to send potentially conflicting messages by sharing your own posts about your home.

Listen

Sometimes as a seller you have to listen to things you don’t want to hear. That’s not your Realtor being mean, it’s just them doing their best to get your home sold.

 

If you have an open house and a lot of comments are that your home is dated, try not to be offended, and instead use that information to improve your home. If your home is on the market for a long time and your Realtor suggests a price reduction, take that information in stride and work with them to come to an agreeable price reduction.

 

The point is that if you’ve done your due diligence and hired a reputable, trustworthy Realtor, they will work tirelessly to get your home sold for a price that’s acceptable to you. Trust the process, listen to what your Realtor has to say, and your home will get sold faster!

 

~Olivia

To Rent or To Sell? Which Option is Best For You?

by Olivia Prince

Years ago, my husband and I bought our first house in Riverton.
 

That house is now a rental property.
 

We decided at the get-go that we would hold onto that house so we could use it to supplement our incomes later on.
 

That was a great decision for us, but hanging onto a house for rental income isn’t the best move for everyone.
 

That being said, there are pros and cons to each side. Let’s look at a few questions you should consider when trying to decide if you’ll rent your home or sell it.

Can You Afford It?

The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not you can afford two mortgage payments. This is important for three reasons.

 

First, if you can’t find a tenant, you will need to cover your rental property mortgage and the mortgage payment for your new home. If you can’t handle that for several months, it’s not a good idea to keep your first home as a rental.

 

Second, you might find that what you can charge for rent doesn’t cover what you owe each month for the mortgage payment. As time goes by and your balance is paid down (and rental rates presumably go up), that will likely balance itself out. However, if you don’t have $100 or $200 (more or less, depending on the situation) to cover the shortfall, again, keeping your first home as a rental property is not a good idea.

 

Third, and perhaps the biggest factor, is whether or not you’ll need two mortgages - one for your new home and one for the rental home. You might find that if you’ve lived in the first home long enough that you have enough equity in the home that you can pay off the remaining balance. If that’s not the case, talking with your lender about what you can safely manage in terms of two monthly mortgage payments is the way to go.

What are the Market Conditions?

 

A crucial aspect of your decision to rent or sell your home is what the market is currently like.

 

The market in Fremont County has been a little depressed since the downturn in the economy, which would mean that hanging onto a home and renting it out would be beneficial for a number of homeowners. We are still selling quite a few houses, though, with more under contract seemingly every week, which is encouraging in that the market might just be on the rebound.

 

If you got a good deal on your home or you’ve lived there for some time and owe far less than what your Realtor suggests you can sell if for, it might behoove you to pull the trigger and go ahead and sell the property.

 

On the other hand, if you haven’t paid much of your mortgage debt off, keeping the property as a rental and waiting for it to appreciate might be a better solution for you.

 

If you’re not sure where you fall on this spectrum, talking to a Realtor will help you understand the current market conditions in our area, including what homes like yours have sold for in the recent past.

Who Will Take Care of the Rental?

It’s one thing to be able to afford having a rental, but it’s another thing entirely to have the time needed to tend to all the tasks related to being a landlord.

 

From marketing the home to interviewing potential tenants to upkeep and maintenance, there’s a lot to be done as a landlord.

 

Throw in complaints about your tenants from neighbors, chasing down late rent, and the unfortunate task of evicting tenants, and you’ve got a handful of duties that will quickly eat up what free time you have on nights and weekends.

 

For many people, the responsibility of fixing a broken furnace in the middle of the night or having to repair damage after you’ve had to kick a tenant out is enough to scare them away from becoming a landlord.

 

But, if the money is there and it’s a sound investment for you, you can hire a property management service to handle all the nitty-gritty details so you don’t have to. In fact, Wind River Realty offers this service to many rental property owners in the area for a small fee.

 

So, your decision to rent out your home or sell it really just comes down to economics. If you can afford the time and money that is involved with being a landlord, it could prove to be a lucrative investment. If you’ve built up equity in your home and the market values it highly, you might gain more by selling.

 

To make the best decision for you, seek out the advice of professionals like your lender and Realtor. With their guidance, you can make an informed decision that will benefit you, your family, and your future!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 43