Greater Birmingham Homes Blog

Aug. 11, 2014

Five Great Things about Homeownership


Owning your own home can be one of the most rewarding investments you make.

Image: scottchan / 

There's been a lot of unfavorable news about the housing market in the last few years. But there remains another side to all of those stories, which are the benefits that come along with homeownership. Despite where the interest rates go or how many new homes are being built there are things that have and will continue to be beneficial for homeowners. Realty Times put out a great article recently reminding us all of a few of those things. The article follows.


1. Equity. When you pay rent, you never see that money again. It is lining the landlord's pocket. Yes, buying a home may come with some hefty initial costs (downpayment, closing costs, inspections), but you will make that money back over time in equity built in the home. Historically, homes appreciate by about 4 to 6 percent a year. Some areas are still experiencing normal appreciation rates. For the areas that have seen harder times since the recession, experts feel that the housing market will recover. Homeownership is about building long-term wealth. A home bought for $10,000 in 1960 is most likely worth 10 times that in today's market.


2. Relationships: Renters tend to see their neighbors come and go quickly. Some people sign year leases while others are in the community for much shorter terms. Apartment complexes also tend to have less common shared space for people to meet, greet, and socialize. Homeowners, however, have yards, walking trails, or community pools and clubhouses where they can get to know each other. Neighbors stay put much longer (at least three to five years if they hope to recoup their closing costs). This means more time to develop relationships. Research has shown that people with healthy relationships have more happiness and less stress.


3. Predictability: Well, as long as you have a fixed-rate term on your mortgage it's predictable. Most people buying homes today know that a fixed-rate is the way to go. This means your payment amount is fixed for the life of the term. If your mortgage payment is $500 today, then it will still be $500 a month in 10 years. This allows for people to budget and make solid financial plans. The sub-prime crisis meant many homeowners with adjustable rate mortgages saw their monthly payments rise and then rise some more. Homeownership, though, generally comes with a predictable table of expenditures. Even the big purchases are predictable. You know most roofs last just 15 years (or so). You know that each year you'll need to pay for the gutters to be cleaned, and so on.


4. Ownership: Okay, this is a given. Homeownership means you "own" your home. That comes with some incredible perks, though! You can renovate, update, paint, and decorate to your heart's desire. You can plant trees, install a pool, expand the patio, or do holiday decorating that would rival the Kranks (if the HOA allows!). The bottom line is this is your home and you can personalize it to your taste. Most renters are stuck with the same beige walls and beige carpet that has been standard apartment decor for 20 years. Now is your chance to let your home speak!


5. Great Deals: It's a great time to buy. Interest rates are at historic lows. We're talking 4.0 percent instead of 6.0 or higher. This means big savings for today's buyers. Home prices have also taken a dip since the recession, which means homes are more affordable than ever. If you have steady income and cash for a downpayment, then be sure to talk to your local real estate agent about what homes in your area could be a fit for you.


If you're thinking about making a move soon and capitalizing on some of the amazing deals out there don't hesitate to call. Also, if you just want to discuss this article and the many other benefits that come with homeownership other than the ones listed above or the obvious financial ones we'd be more than happy to chat with you.

Aug. 11, 2014

6 Things To Do When Selling Your House

I’ve been in a lot of houses. Each house is completely different and each buyer has their own set of needs and criteria. However, there are a few things that I regularly see and experience that completely kill a home’s chance of being the right one for my clients. These aren’t necessarily things that bother me, who cares what bothers me – these are the things that bother your target audience, my buyers. Follow these six rules and I promise that the entire process will go much smoother for you and ultimately net you more money.

1. Light it up

I really don’t mind running around the house turning the lights on for my clients, but studies have shown it takes only seconds for a buyer to decide mentally whether or not your home is even a consideration. This means first impressions are everything and I can tell you that nothing makes a house look better than having it look bright and open when someone walks in.

2. Go easy on the smell good

This may seem obvious but I’ve been in enough houses to know that a lot of people leave the house looking like a séance just ended and smelling like a bath and bodyworks exploded. Trust me, I really appreciate when a house doesn’t smell like animal urine and old cabbage but neutral is better than overwhelming. In this case (much) less is more. 

3. Make it a model home

Nothing is more frustrating then when I walk in a great house that the buyers were excited about and we have to stumble over your piles of laundry. I know how frustrating it can be during the selling process having to keep the house spotless and with our busy schedules these days it’s hard to find time/energy to constantly be cleaning. Trust me though, taking a few minutes to put those toys, laundry and dirty dishes away will save you thousands of dollars and tons of negative feedback.

4. Make me want to come in

Again this may seem obvious but with it only taking seconds for buyers to determine whether or not to buy a house the curb appeal is extremely important. It’s not uncommon for me to pull up to a house with buyers and they tell me to keep going if it doesn’t look like something they even want to go inside. Don’t run out and spend $20,000 on landscaping, just keeping the yard and exterior clean and free of debris is all you have to do. A modest amount of brightly colored flowers that draw your eye towards the door will go a long, long way.

5. Don’t let the dogs out

I’m a dog lover so when I say this I only mean it with the best of intentions. Please lock your dog up or take it on a walk while people are looking at the house. I really don’t mind a dog jumping and barking at me the entire time but it makes the buyers uncomfortable and rush through your home. Not to mention that I’ve had clients with really bad allergies who wouldn’t be able to walk through if an animal is rubbing up against them.

6. Don’t hang out

This is quite possibly the most important and frustrating part of showing homes. I can understand you wanting to be there for feedback and to tell us about all the memories and upgrades and “how this is the nicest house on the block,” but it’s extremely hard for buyers to picture a property as their new home when there’s someone else there. Again, the buyers get really uncomfortable when the seller decides to stick around and follow them around the house explaining every little thing.

Give yourself the best shot at selling your home for top dollar. Follow these six, simple rules and your feedback will be much better and it will increase the likelihood of someone wanting to purchase your home.