Northwest Florida Real Estate and Community News

July 9, 2020

What Is Earnest Money?

 

If you are ready to being the house hunting process you will need to be prepared to have some ‘earnest funds’ available.  Typically, the amount is 1-5% of the purchase price. 

When does earnest money come into the picture? Once an offer is made ‘Earnest Money’ or “Earnest Funds” is money provided by the buyer as a good faith gesture to let the seller know you are serious about buying their home.  The amount of earnest money is deposited into an escrow account with a title company, escrow company or the seller’s broker.  Earnest money gives the seller a peace of mind to move forward with the next steps of the transaction and proves that you are sincere…. or ‘earnest’ about the purchase. 

So, what happens once your earnest funds are deposited into an account?  This account is called “Escrow”.  This money is not a down payment for the purchase of the home, however it can be included into the purchase price. 

Can Earnest Money ever be returned? Yes, however you’ll want to read and understand the purchase agreement because there are several ways you can have your earnest money deposit returned.  If everything happens as it should the earnest money will be included into your closing costs.  But you’ll need to be careful and read your purchase agreement because there are several ways you could lose your earnest money deposit too.  You will want to make sure your agent has contingencies written into your agreement so you can get your earnest money returned if the deal does not work out.

·         What if the home does not get appraised at the offered amount?  Perhaps you make an offer and it is accepted by the seller however the appraisal does not come in at the agreed purchase price.

·         What if the home does not pass the home inspection? The home may have significant damages that you may not be able to workout with the seller.

·         What if you cannot get financing?  You may encounter hiccups in the finance process.

These areas are situations that earnest funds can be returned if things do not work out.  Life happens and sometimes deals fall apart for various reasons.  When working with an agent, your agent should keep you aware of the dates established in the agreement to meet these conditions. 

Work with a Real Estate Agent!

The best way to navigate the home buying process is with the guidance of a trusted and experienced professional.  If I can help you with your home buying process, please give me a call.  My goal is to always make your real estate experience exceptional by taking you through the process step-by step and ensure it’s a positive and memorable experience. 

 

The above Real Estate information was written by Pamela Crews.  Pam can be reached via email at pam@betterbeachhomes.com or by phone at 417 576-4787.

Are you thinking of buying or selling in the coastal communities of Pensacola?  I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise! 

Posted in Buying a Home
June 18, 2020

May Statistics For Pensacola Real Estate

Here's the numbers for May 2020.  A quick snapshot of where our Pensacola real estate market is this year compared to previous years.  Good news if you are a seller, less competition of other properties on the market, and less days spent on market.  

If you are thinking about selling your home, let's talk!  Lots of buyers and limited inventory makes NOW a great time to be a seller.  

 

May 2020

Posted in Selling Your Home
April 2, 2020

Seven Reasons Getting Rid of Clutter Helps a House Sell Faster

Whether you bought a starter home or what you hoped would be a forever home, circumstances change. One thing that doesn’t change though, is the inevitable expansion that occurs when you become a homeowner. As time goes on, you acquire tools that need to be used just once or twice a year, like step ladders and extension ladders, lawn mowers, edgers and leaf blowers. When it’s time to sell, you may find you’ve expanded just a bit too much. Getting rid of clutter is the first thing you need to do when you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, and sadly, unless you move frequently, there are very few people who don’t accumulate more than they should.

Here are seven reasons you need to get rid of that clutter to ensure a quick home sale.

Minimalistic spacious house interior with two floors
Minimalistic spacious house interior with two floors

1. It’s all about imagined lives

Clutter makes it hard to think. You may not think of your collection of exotic masks from your foreign travels as clutter. But let’s face it, we don’t all like the same things, and if your home is bursting with small objects, buyers can’t imagine themselves in your space. You have to make room for them and their imagined lives in what might soon be their home rather than yours. Store the highly personal collections during the selling process so buyers can see the space as theirs, and they’ll be more likely to make an immediate offer.

2. Help the potential buyer maintain focus

Extra seating, family photos and bone china tea cup collections are all distractions. You don’t want potential buyers to become so intrigued (or puzzled) by the things you’ve collected—none of which they’ll be purchasing—that they don’t actually register the house itself. You want them to look at the space, appreciate its best features and become convinced of its potential for their family.

Built in closet with warderobe in home interior
Built in closet with warderobe in home interior

3. Create the illusion of space to entice buyers

By getting rid of extra seating, paring down the clothes in your closets and weeding out everything in the pantry that’s past its best-before date, you create the illusion of more space, which is always a good thing when trying to sell a home. After all, empty rooms always look bigger than rooms filled with furniture.

Be strategic, though, and don’t leave yourself with nowhere to sit. Think of your home as wearing its Sunday best rather than sweats and a t-shirt, and if there’s a chair the cat’s clawed, the sun has faded or that needs cleaning or reupholstering, get it out of the house while potential buyers are viewing. There will be plenty of time to kick back and relax in that past-its-prime lounger when you’re moved into your new home.

4. Well-staged homes photograph better

While you might get a viewing from a drive-by or after an open house, most potential buyers these days are going to look at your house and its listing online. Good photos make all the difference here, but you’re not going to get them if you haven’t decluttered. Put the family photos away, get all the toys into the toy box, remove the gym equipment that’s migrated from the basement to other living areas and make your real estate agent’s job easier by presenting a home that shows to advantage in both photos and real life.

white and steel kitchen interior

5. Maximize kitchen counter space

Yes, it’s a pain. But even though your family uses the toaster and blender every day, putting them away in cupboards before viewings provides a clean slate and makes potential home buyers think about all the meals they’re going to prepare in their new home.

If your home’s being shown to first-time home buyers, chances are good they’re looking for more space, particularly an opportunity to expand from a galley kitchen to one that has room for a table and chairs. Help them believe they’re going to be transformed into hosts with the most when they buy your home by giving them the visual space they need.

6. Don’t borrow trouble

Cluttered homes make potential buyers uneasy. Viewing someone else’s occupied home is slightly uncomfortable for most people. Clutter is not only a distraction; it makes your home look uncared for. This can make potential buyers start to ask themselves, “if they haven’t taken care of their possessions, what other problems are brewing here?” You could lose an offer if this kind of nebulous doubt sets in.

7. Let your home show itself

Let’s face it—you’re selling your home, not the couch and coffee table. By getting rid of clutter and replacing it with neutral but stylish accessories, you lead the buyer’s eye to the features of your home that are its true selling points. That means you’re going to get a quicker sale and a higher price than if you make a potential buyer struggle to see your home’s merits.

Posted in Selling Your Home
April 1, 2020

The #1 Thing You Can Do Now to Position Yourself to Buy a Home This Year

The last few weeks and months have caused a major health crisis throughout the world, leading to a pause in the U.S. economy as businesses and consumers work to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The rapid spread of the virus has been compared to prior pandemics and outbreaks not seen in many years. It also has consumers remembering the economic slowdown of 2008 that was caused by a housing crash.

One thing the experts are saying is that while we’ll see a swift decline in economic activity in the second quarter, we’ll begin a sharp rebound in the second half of this year. According to John Burns Consulting:

 

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.” 

Given this situation, if you’re thinking about buying a home this year, the best thing you can do right now is use this time to get pre-approved for a mortgage, which you can do from the comfort of your home. Pre-approval will help you better understand how much you can afford so that you can confidently do the following two things when you’re ready to buy:

1. Gain a Competitive Advantage

Today’s low inventory, like we’ve seen recently and will continue to see, means homebuyers need every advantage they can get to make a strong offer and close the deal. Being pre-approved shows the sellers you’re serious about buying a home, which is always a plus in your corner.

2. Accelerate the Homebuying Process

Pre-approval can also speed-up the homebuying process so you can move faster when you’re ready to make an offer. Being ready to put your best foot forward when the time comes may be the leg-up you need to cross the finish line first and land the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

Pre-approval is the best thing you can do right now to be in a stronger position to buy a home when you’re ready. Connect with a local real estate professional today to get the process started.

 

Content provided by Keeping Current Matters

March 17, 2020

BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS REAL ESTATE MAIN STREET PROPERTY REALTOR PAMELA CREWS RECEIVES SILVER AWARD FOR DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE IN BRAND’S GLOBAL NETWORK

It is with honor that I share the news that I have received an esteemed Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate Silver Award.

This distinction recognizes my performance as a real estate professional in the top 15 percent of the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand and my commitment to my clients. I am honored to have been chosen as your Realtor in 2019 and thankful for the opportunity to have served you!

 

 

If you are ready to put your real estate goals in CREWS CONTROL please give me a call at 417 576-4787.  I am full time agent and always happy to answer any real estate questions you may have.  

 

Pamela Crews, Realtor®

Florida Military Specialist

Military Relocation Professional

U.S. Navy (retired)

 

Posted in Real Estate News
March 10, 2020

How Interest Rates Impact Monthly Housing Payments

Spring is right around the corner, so flowers are starting to bloom, and many potential home buyers are getting ready to step into the market. If you’re thinking of buying this season, here’s how mortgage interest rates are working in your favor.

To put this in perspective, the following chart shows how average mortgage rates by decades have impacted the approximate monthly payment of a $200,000 home over time:

Clearly, when rates are low – like they are today – qualified buyers can benefit significantly over time.  Keep in mind, if interest rates go up, this can push many potential home buyers out of the market.

You certainly don’t want to be priced out of the market this year, and waiting may mean a significant change in your potential mortgage payment should rates start to rise. If your financial situation allows, now may be a great time to lock in at a low mortgage rate to benefit greatly over the lifetime of your loan.

If I can help you with your real estate goals, please give me a call today!  I am always happy to answer any real estate questions you may have.  

Posted in Buying a Home
March 2, 2020

What are the benefits of a VA Loan?

The VA home loan program has serviced over 24 million home loans for veterans and active service members since its creation in 1944, part of the original Servicemen's Readjustment's Act, better known as the GI Bill of Rights. 

A VA mortgage loan is a great option for a first time home buyers or repeat buyers that may have a lower income and/or a limited amount of money to put down.

Some of the benefits that can get you into the home of your dreams include:

·         No down payment

·         Higher debt-to-income (DTI) ratios are allowed

·         FICO scores as low at 600

·         No private mortgage insurance (PMI) required

·         Limited closing costs (sellers can pay up to 4% in buyer’s concessions)

·         Lower average interest rates than other loan types.  VA loans continue to have the lowest average interest rates of all loan types. 

The VA loan is one of the reason 79% of veterans own their own homes, compared with just 63% for the non-veteran population, according to Trulia.com

If you are interested in starting your home buying process, please give me a call.  As a retired military member and full-time real estate I can help!  

 

 

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 28, 2020

Is A Military Transfer In Your Future?

Because I'm a retired military member, I personally know what it's like to make a move across country and across the world.  The planning, the packing, the kids, the schools, the looking for your next home, maybe selling the home you have now.  It all can make for a hectic and stressful couple of months.  So, when you are granted 10 days of house hunting leave, you need a REALTOR® that is as ready to hit the ground running just as fast as you are. 

As a Florida Military Specialist and Military Relocation Professional I am one of the very few to achieve these coveted designations which gives me a clear advantage when working with military individuals and their families. 

Call me today and let's talk about what's important to you as you prepare to PCS.  It doesn't have to be hectic and stressful.  My goal is to ALWAYS make your real estate experience exceptional...whether you are MOVING IN or MOVING ON.  


 

Feb. 19, 2020

If you can afford to buy a home, why are you still renting?

Why wait until next year?  

We’ve recently seen home loan interest rates as low as 5%, but rates are RISING and the economy is heating up. 

A 250,000 dollar home loan at a 5% rate would approximately be a $1,603 monthly mortgage payment.  

Start you search today!  North West Florida Real Estate Search and then .....Let's talk.  417 576-4787  

 

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 17, 2020

The Overlooked Financial Advantages of Homeownership

Here's Why You Should Stop Waiting and Start Looking

BY HOM EDITORIAL TEAM

As you get older, you’ll start to notice everyone around you starting to check all the “boxes”, i.e. finding a partner, settling down with a career, and buying a home. It’s easy to assume dreams of homeownership are unattainable to you for a variety of reasons. Whether it is heaps of student loan debt, hesitancy to commit, or simply a lack of the right resources at hand, these hurdles can feel overwhelming at times, but the longer you wait, the longer you’re putting off the plethora of benefits that come with long-term decision making.

It’s time to take this dream of homeownership off the backburner and make moves, both figuratively and literally.

1. YOUR RENT WILL ONLY CONTINUE TO RISE

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that rental prices are on the rise across the nation. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment hiked 4.2% in 2018 and studio apartments rose 5%, according to The Apartment Guide 2019 Annual Rent Report. A sales associate with ReMax, Bill Golden, shares, “If you’ve seen your rent escalate significantly but you feel trapped renting, it means the balance may be tipping toward buying. With today’s escalating rental rates and low (mortgage) interest rates, chances are your monthly outlay could be less on a purchase than on a rental.” While continuously tossing money at your landlord for your rental unit, it makes it nearly impossible to save towards your goals. In order to start investing in your future and build equity, you have to take the plunge into homeownership.

2. AVERAGE HOME PRICES ARE PREDICTED TO RISE BY $9,000 THIS YEAR

Home prices tend to increase over time, but NAR expects the median price of existing homes to increase by 3% in 2020. That brings the nation’s average home of $269,600 up to $278,599. Senior economist over at NAR, Gay Cororaton, predicts this based on historical data going as far back as 1999. She explains that this shows the “average month-over-month change in median existing-home sales price changes throughout the year.” Keep this in mind while you balance the pros and cons of homeownership — if you wait until next year, you’re likely to pay more.

“IF YOU’VE SEEN YOUR RENT ESCALATE SIGNIFICANTLY BUT YOU FEEL TRAPPED RENTING, IT MEANS THE BALANCE MAY BE TIPPING TOWARD BUYING.”
3. BUILD WEALTH

Owning a home is one of the biggest steps you can take towards increasing your net worth and building your equity. Many factors over time will help contribute to your home equity, such as the value of your home rising, renovations made both to the interior and exterior, and making your monthly mortgage payments on time. Rather than handing off all of your monthly housing costs to a landlord, you will now be saving a portion each month considering your newly forced savings. The equity you build can assist you in the future, whether it be for retirement, saving for your children, or the possibility of moving into a larger home or even purchasing an additional home.

4. SECURITY AND FREEDOM

Being a homeowner offers a great sense of security as well as freedom. You’re welcome to paint your walls as you please and let your furry friends roam wherever they’d like, without any pricey pet deposit. The days of waiting for your landlord’s approval on something as trivial as a new doorknob are over when you own your own home. You want to feel comfortable and safe in your house, considering throughout our lives we spend 33 years in our beds! The elimination of inspections, neighbor’s loud week-day parties keeping you up, and the overall lack of control in your building will allow you to feel more at ease in your own home; your safe place. The idea of having to move is an immensely stressful concept, in fact it often makes the list of the top 3 most stressful events in one’s life. The comfort of settling into your home provides stability and most likely means you won’t be moving anytime soon, so get comfortable — you’re finally here to stay! 

5. TAX BREAKS

After the slew of expenses that come along with purchasing a home, it’s nice to know there are benefits coming your way. One huge benefit being tax breaks. Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return. Considering your interest is the biggest chunk of change when it comes to your mortgage, this is a gigantic relief. In addition to mortgage interest, homebuyers also receive a tax break when it comes to property tax, especially first-time homebuyers. Real estate property taxes paid for your first home, as well as a vacation home if you’re so lucky, are deductible for income tax purposes. You can find more information on tax breaks for first-time homebuyers in IRS Publication 530. 

6. YOU WON’T ALWAYS HAVE A MONTHLY PAYMENT

If you’ve been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won’t have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things. Even if your mortgage payments are a bit steep, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Each of your mortgage payments are knocking down the price of your home, and you can even use the equity to fund your next house. While you do have property taxes to keep in mind, these are typically paid quarterly making it much easier to budget and far less of a headache.

7. PREDICTABLE COSTS

 As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting. Especially if you’re living in an up and coming neighborhood, you don’t have to wake up in fear of being shooed out of your neighborhood by a big real estate company buying your building and raising your rent, or the countless amount of other circumstances that could increase your annual rent.

The dream of homeownership will always be a constant. Between more privacy, security, flexibility, financial stability, and pride, being a homeowner has endless benefits. Renting is a great option for many, but it doesn’t offer tax incentives, fixed costs, or building of equity, so while it is an easier option to start with, it won’t present prosperity for your future.

The question often asked is: when is it the right time to take that step? Your future is waiting for you, so maybe the real question is: why haven’t you taken the step towards homeownership yet?

Posted in Buying a Home