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Five inexpensive home improvements

by Nathan Travassos

 

The cost of some home renovations can seem daunting, but not every home improvement has to break the bank. Here are five simple improvements you can make that will have a major impact, but are still relatively inexpensive.

 1. Add some trees: Want to add some curb appeal to your home and feel better when you’re pulling into the driveway after work? You won’t believe the difference a few trees can make. And compared to the cost (mature trees starts at around $1,000), they provide a great return on investment for you property value and can lower energy bills by providing shade.

 2. Add molding: Molding instantly adds a classy, sophisticated touch to any room, and if you do it yourself, it can cost less than $2 per foot. If you ever sell your home, buyers consistently say that molding is a big plus.

 3. Upgrade your ceiling fans: An efficient ceiling fan costs far less than air conditioning, and if your current ceiling fan is on its last legs, a replacement can totally change the look of a room.

 4. Energy efficient appliances: Still using the appliances that came with the home? Upgrading your range, fridge, or dishwasher won’t just give your kitchen a sleeker appearance. Newer, more energy-efficient appliances will also lower your utility bills.

 5. Invest in storage: One of the biggest ways to improve your home is to declutter. Throw out what you don’t need, and invest is some good storage solutions for what you keep.

You’re probably well aware that there’s more to real estate than just owning your home. There are countless success stories of people who made a fortune—or even just a comfortable extra income—by investing in real estate. Here’s an overview to get you thinking about an investment property.
Improving a home

Quickly flipping a home is one way to make money off a real estate investment, but it can be risky. A safer play is to buy a fixer upper and carefully manage costs over a year or so as you improve the property. You’re likely to get a great return.

Rental properties
Instead of selling your investment property, you can rent it and make a good monthly profit if the rent exceeds your costs. Renting to a stable, reliable tenant can put extra money in your pocket every month for years on end. You can even hire a property manager to handle repairs, rent collection, and other administrative tasks. And if you’re ever ready to stop dealing with tenants, you can sell the home and profit on the improvements and appreciation of your asset.

Multi-family rental properties
Renting out a single family home is a good starting place for investment properties, but you can get an even better return once you learn the ropes and move on to multi-family homes. Buying an apartment building or dividing a larger home into several apartment units comes with some added complications with taxes and regulations, but it also comes with huge income potential.

Five Things To Do Right After Closing

by Nathan Travassos

If you just bought your first home, you’re probably still celebrating and feeling the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with home ownership. You’re shopping for furniture, drawing up plans for renovations … but wait! There are some important tasks to cross off your list before you get to the fun stuff.

 1. Change the locks: A lot of people came in possession of your keys during the home sale process, whether it was on the market for a year or a day. Protect yourself by changing all the locks, just in case a set of keys fell into the wrong hands.

 2. Make copies: It’s good to have copies of all your closing documents, if only for reference. But in the worst case, you’ll be thankful you have your own copies if something goes wrong.

 3. Make sure you get your mail: The post office won’t deliver your mail if the mailbox doesn’t have a name, and it’ll be difficult to sign for packages if UPS can’t get to your front door. If you’re in a multi-unit building, make sure to put your name on your mailbox and verify that the buzzer or call box is working.

 4. Meet your neighbors: It’s not just about being cordial. It’s good to exchange contact info with your neighbors in case there’s a problem in the building or someone is being noisy.

 5. Prepare for emergencies: Store the contact info for insurance agents and services like plumbers and locksmiths in your phone. You don’t want to waste time searching the internet when you’re locked out at night or your home suffers fire damage.

Spring/Summer Maintenance

by Nathan Travassos

Roof and shingles: It’s pretty common for shingles to get damaged or detach completely after a long cold winter. Thoroughly inspect your roof to ensure that shingles are in good condition and the roof is structurally sound. It may not be time to replace your roof yet, but consider how many more years it has left and start preparing a budget.

Check your gutters: The weight of heavy melting snow and debris is more than enough to make your gutters sag or loosen. Clear out all the leaves and other debris that’s collected in the gutters, and make sure they’re still securely attached at all points.

Check concrete surfaces: Fluctuating temperatures cause concrete to expand and contract. This can lead to damaged driveways, walkways, and other surfaces, and that can spell bad news for water drainage. Fill the cracks with an appropriate material, and seal your surfaces if possible.

HVAC service: Before you put your central air conditioner through a rigorous summer, clean the coils and change the filter. Better yet, bring in a professional for yearly maintenance.

What to Avoid Before You Buy

by Nathan Travassos

Even with the help of a trusted real estate professional, it’s easy to fall into some common traps when you’re buying a home. Here are some of the most common regrets from home buyers—make sure to consider them before you make similar decisions.


Using all of your savings 
It can be tempting to throw all the cash you have into your down payment so that you can have a lower monthly payment. But keep in mind that their are several other costs on the horizon—closing costs, inspection, and more. There will also be surprise repairs, taxes, and home maintenance. It’s a good idea to keep some cash in reserve for hidden or unexpected costs.


Borrowing the full amount offered
Banks will often offer a bigger loan than you can comfortably afford. You may be able to pay the mortgage, but it’ll really tighten your budget. A good rule of thumb is to only take 80% of what’s offered. That’ll give you a lot more flexibility in the long term.


Assuming you’ll like the neighbors
Your neighborhood is part of the package when you buy a home, so it’s important to learn about your next door neighbors. Make an effort to do a little homework on the neighbors, and their history with pets, home maintenance, and general behavior. You don’t want to be stuck living next to someone who is rude or inconsiderate.


Thinking short term with your loan
An ARM with low introductory rate and mortgage payment can be attractive. It’s easy to think “I’ll be making more money when the rate gets adjusted.” But life can throw you some surprises, and there’s great security in knowing that your payment will be consistent for 15 or 30 years. If possible, go for the fixed-rate mortgage.

7 Helpful Tips for First-time Home Buyers

by Bill Gassett, RISMedia

Looking for a new home can be a pretty exciting task. With that much money on the line, it's worthwhile to read up on the process before you set out. Unnecessary mistakes can and should be avoided while trying to get the best deal for your money. As a first-time home buyer, proper guidance from seasoned professionals can make all the difference.

Here are a few tips first-time buyers can take when trying to find their first home:

Get clear on what you want – This is the most important part of your preparation. You are about to enter a shopping experience that is unlike any other. At times, it can be stressful and difficult. There is a lot of money on the line and a big commitment to be made, so prepare accordingly. Get clear on what you really want and what you are willing to compromise on. This will make your home shopping experience much more efficient and will give you a map to go off of should tensions run high.

Take a look at this guide to buying your first home, which might help you narrow down your wants vs. needs. The better prepared you are, the better chance of having a smooth transaction.

Do your research – Home shoppers today are more empowered than ever before. You have so much information at your fingertips. Go online and find the areas you want to live in. Narrow down the neighborhoods you want to consider to three or four, and focus on those. Learn about the cost of the things you really want and the cost of the things you can do without. The more knowledgeable you are the better you will be at negotiating a good deal.

Talk to the bank – Preparing to get a mortgage in advance of your actual purchase will be super important.

Before you start looking at houses you should have a discussion with your lender. The lender will be able to give you an honest assessment of what your finances look like, how much house you can afford and what your rates will be. You want to know all of this – what it will really cost you – before you start looking at homes you can't actually afford. Find out what your monthly payment will be at different amounts and determine what your personal limits are as well. Depending on your credit, the lender may be willing to give you far more than you need. Once you know the time is right to buy a home make sure you get pre-approved by a lender. Make sure you understand the difference between getting pre-approved and pre-qualified for a mortgage. Without a doubt you will want to get pre-approved as a pre-qualification letter is not worth much. A savvy REALTOR® representing a homeowner will pick up on this right away. If you are competing with other buyers and are not financially prepared, you could lose out on your dream home!

Think about the future – Is this going to be a starter house that you will move out of in five years? Is it going to be a property that you fix up and flip? Is it going to be the home for your new family that you will be in for 10 or 20 years? Your long term plans will help dictate your purchasing choices. It is important to understand what you really want this home for before you go and sign any papers and spend any money. One of the biggest mistakes first-time home buyers make is not thinking about their long term plans.

Find a good REALTOR®– A real estate agent can prove invaluable when shopping for a home. If you find one that is good – an agent that is finding people the homes they want at a price they are happy with – then much of the work will be done for you. The agent will talk about what you want, will run you through much of the above mentioned areas and will help you find the houses that are really what you are looking for. The agent will also be an effective negotiator, meaning that you will probably get more house for your money than if you went at it alone.

Set a timeline – The situation you are in is uniquely your own. You want to set a timeline for when you will find and buy a home – a timeline that reflects your realities. If you have bad credit that needs to be cleaned up first, for instance, you will need to spend some time working on that before you actually start house hunting. If you need to move right now, that is another factor in your timeline. Give yourself some restrictions so you will be encouraged to move at a steady pace and get the job done. Hunting for a house can be quite stressful and it is not something that should be drawn out any more than necessary. Determine what you want, work with a REALTOR®, and get it as efficiently as possible.

Understand your fiscal responsibility - Another problem that first-time home buyers don't always properly think through is the financial responsibility of owning a home. A large amount of buyers will think about making their mortgage payments and nothing else. If you have been renting for a while, or even living with mom and dad, it is easy to see why this can happen.

Unfortunately, owning a home comes with quite a few more additional first-time home expenses that you may not have considered such as appliances, furniture, and even taxes and insurance. These are all important things to consider when putting together your homebuying budget.

Use all of the above tips for finding your first home and you will be well on your way to enjoying your new life as a homeowner!

Should I Buy a Home Now?

by Nathan Travassos

I'm often asked if this is a good time to buy a home. Some clients are concerned that home prices may fall down the road, while others are convinced that home prices will go up.

Home prices are one factor in determining your cost of ownership, but so are interest rates and financing availability. Even though interest rates have fluctuated, they are still near historic lows. Since your monthly mortgage payment is a combination of paying down your principal and paying the interest owed, a one point rise in interest rates could cost tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage!

While a home is a major investment, it is also the center of your personal life. It's important to live in a home that reflects your taste and values, yet is within your financial "comfort zone." To that end, it may be more important to lock in today's relatively low interest rates while they are still available.

Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance in determining how much home you can afford in today's market.

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Photo of Nathan Travassos - Cal BRE #: 01738960 Real Estate
Nathan Travassos - Cal BRE #: 01738960
Majestic Realty Group, Inc
15706 Pomerado Road Suite S207
Poway CA 92064
Direct: (619) 770-8735

CA BRE #01738960