How Long Does it Take to Sell Your Home?

When sellers list their homes on the market, they’re usually concerned with two main things: how much they can sell for, and how long it will take to sell.

Sellers will usually want to know the answers to these questions right off the bat, and for obvious reasons. But when it comes to how long it will take to get an offer and seal the deal, the answer isn’t always clear-cut.

Frankly, the amount of time it takes to sell depends on a few factors, including the following.

The Listing Price

Buyers are always looking for a good deal on a home. The same is true in any type of consumer market, whether it’s real estate, clothing, electronics, and any other consumer product. The lower the price, the more attractive the product will appear and the more willing buyers will be to open up their wallets.

In terms of real estate, the same concept applies. If your home is priced at a point that makes buyers think they’re potentially getting a good deal, your home could sell faster. On the other hand, if your listing price is quite high, that could be a deterrent for buyers.

While you don’t want to price your home so high that you leave many buyers out of the race, you also don’t want to price so low that you end up leaving money on the table. Unless you’re in an incredible rush to sell, it would be in your best interests to find that sweet spot so that you still make a profit while selling within a reasonable amount of time.

Either way, your listing price will influence how quickly your home will sell.

The Current Market

Is the housing market in your area currently favoring buyers or sellers? This is an important factor that influences how long it can take for homes to sell. Generally speaking, homes sell faster in seller’s markets, while they may take longer to sell in buyer’s markets.

In a seller’s market, there are many buyers on the prowl for a home who are competing with one another for the few properties that are available for sale. With high demand and low supply comes higher prices and faster sales.

On the other hand, a buyer’s market usually means that homes take longer to sell, simply because there are few buyers compared to the wealth of inventory available. In this case, prices are expected to be lower as well.

The climate of the market in your area can play a role in how long you can expect it to take to sell your home. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. But generally speaking, the climate of the current market will be an important factor to consider.

The Average in the Area

Every area has its own characteristics in terms of the local real estate market. While some areas might take longer for sellers to find a buyer, other areas tend to see homes getting snatched up rather quickly. Every area is different and will have its own average number of “days on the market” (DOM) before homes are sold.

Sellers will want to know what the average DOM is in their particular community in order to gauge how long they can expect it to take to sell. For instance, the average DOM in an area may be 30 days, which means it should take somewhere in the ballpark of 30 days to sell a home, assuming that all other factors remain the same. If your home has been sitting on the market for longer than 30 days, there could be a problem with your listing that may warrant closer investigation.

Looking at the average DOM in your area can give you a general idea of how long you can expect your home to sit on the market before finding a willing buyer and completing the transaction.

The Condition of Your Home

Most buyers want to see homes that are move-in ready. They typically don’t want to have to spend any time sprucing up the place after moving in. Unless the buyer is specifically looking for a place to fix and flip, you’re probably going to find that most buyers are looking for a turn-key home.

If your home is in need of some TLC, you can expect it to take longer to sell. On the other hand, if your home is up-to-date, clean, clear of clutter, and decorated appropriately, it shouldn’t take as long to sell compared to a home that’s in dire need of an update.

The Location

Desirable locations tend to favor quicker sales compared to areas that are not as attractive. Sometimes even homes that are in great condition can be tough to sell if they’re located in sketchy neighborhoods, while homes that need some improvement but are located in attractive areas may not take as long to sell.

The Bottom Line

Several factors come into play when it comes to gauging how long it will take to sell your home. It’s important to take them all into consideration when anticipating the length of time you can expect your home to sit on the market before finding a willing buyer. Having an idea of the time it will take to sell can be very helpful, especially if you’ve got a new home purchase lined up after selling your current one.

How Much Are Famous Homes in Movies and TV Actually Worth?

Ever wonder how much those amazing homes you see on television or in the movies are really worth in real life? The Tanner’s home from Full House or the classic abode from Home Alone are classic examples of homes that are unforgettable and truly memorable.

But how much would you have to dish out if you were to ever put an offer on one?

While none of these homes are necessary for sale at the moment, it’s still interesting to know how much they’re worth.

Full House

The interior of the infamous Tanner home was filmed in a studio in Burbank, California, but the exterior that’s often seen in clips of the hit television show Full House (as well as the spinoff Fuller House) is located in San Francisco where the show is based out of.

As you probably imagined, the home is worth a lot of money. Considering the fact that it’s located in the country’s most expensive housing market, it should come as no surprise that the home is worth nearly $4 million.

Happy Days

The lovely two-story colonial home from the classic 1950’s-based television show Happy Days is located in L.A. and is worth a whopping $3.1 million. You may remember that the show actually took place in Milwaukee, but the home that was featured in the show was nowhere near this northern state.

American Horror Story

The castle-esque home featured in American Horror Story has actually been featured in a few other shows and movies and is located in L.A. as well. The home is sometimes made available for vacation rentals. The value? Just over $2.26 million.

Breaking Bad

Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the single-level, white-siding home is worth just over $211,000. The actual interior of the home doesn’t look anything like what you see in the show – much like most other television homes – and was just used for the exterior. However, there is a pool out back.

Boy Meets World

Many homes that are featured on television are located right here in the Golden State, and the home in the popular sitcom Boy Meets World is no exception. In this case, producers had the convenience of working with the home in close proximity to the studio where the show was filmed in Studio City.

Like many other homes featured in film and television, this particular home was made to appear a lot larger than it really is. With only two bedrooms, the home is much smaller than television viewers would believe. This home is currently valued at over $1.15 million.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

When Will Smith’s character pulled up to the home in Bel-Air where he spent his high school years with his Uncle Phil and the gang, he was actually making his way into a home located in nearby Brentwood.

The esteemed Banks’ residence was portrayed as ritzy and expensive, and it is in real life as well. At a price tag of an impressive $11.7 million, only someone with at least the income of a prestigious judge like Phillip Banks could afford it. 

Home Alone

The gorgeous 4,250-square-foot, three-story home featured in the popular Home Alone movie is located in Winnetka, Illinois, close to Lake Michigan. The last time the home was sold was back in 2011 when it sold for $1.5 million, nearly $1 million under the original asking price of $2.1 million.

Today, its estimated that the home is worth about $2.2 million, which seems extremely reasonable for a large, fabulous home that comfortably housed the large McCallister family.

The Goonies

The quirky home was at serious risk of being sold off in the cult classic The Goonies. Located in Astoria, Oregon, the home is currently worth a modest $277,000, though that’s a far cry from the $92,000 it fetched when it last sold back in 2001.

Back to the Future

The residence of Marty McFly and his family is a home located in L.A. but was only used for its exterior. All interior shots were filmed elsewhere. The home is worth over $482,000, just over the median price in the city.

Mrs. Doubtfire

The beautiful white corner house depicted in the family film Mrs. Doubtfire is now a place where fans of the late and great Robin Williams pay homage since the lead actor’s passing. The last time it sold, it fetched a price of $4.15 million. It’s now estimated to be worth in the ballpark of $5.16 million and is located in San Francisco.

The Bottom Line

Some of our favorite movies and TV shows have left a lasting impression, partly because of the classic abodes that were featured in them. While most of these homes were used strictly for exterior shots, they’re still real, and many of them are worth a pretty penny.

Home Equity Loan Vs. Home Equity Line of Credit: What’s the Difference?

Did you know that you can borrow money against the equity you’ve got built up in your home?

If you’re a homeowner and have accrued equity as a result of appreciation, a long string of payments, or both, you may be able to take advantage of certain loan types to gain access to lots of cash to cover a pressing expense.

Whether you want to renovate your home, pay for your child’s college tuition, or just go on a big family vacation, you can access that money from your home’s equity if you don’t have enough cash in the bank.

Two of these specialized loan types are home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOC). The question is, what’s the difference between the two?

What’s a Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan allows you to borrow against the equity in your home. It’s a type of second mortgage that can provide you with access to a lump sum of money and is usually a bit easier to qualify for compared to other loan types simply because it’s secured by collateral: your home.

Your home must be worth more than what you owe on it in order to be eligible. If you qualify, you can use the money for whatever you need it for. That said, you will need to make sure that you’re financially capable and responsible enough to make the payments on time every month. If you don’t, you stand to lose your home.

What’s a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)?

A HELOC is similar to a home equity loan in that it allows you to borrow money against your home’s equity, while your home serves as collateral. However, instead of receiving a lump sum of money, you would have access to a revolving credit line. You would be given a specific credit limit that you cannot borrow over.

You can borrow as little or as much as you like, as long as it’s not any more than your credit limit. You’ll only be charged interest on the money you actually withdraw rather than the full credit limit. Once you make payments against your HELOC for the funds borrowed, you’re free to borrow again and again, as long as your payments are made on time.

You may have the option to repay interest only, rather than principal and interest. However, this method would take longer to repay whatever you owe and would, therefore, make your mortgage more expensive.

As the principal is paid down, your credit will revolve, which means you’ll be able to use it again and again. After the line of credit expires, the repayment period starts, in which you’ll repay the remaining balance you borrowed, plus interest. You might be able to renew the credit line if your lender approves it.

How Do You Know How Much Equity is in Your Home?

Before you apply for any one of these two unique loan types, you’ll need to figure out exactly how much equity you’ve got in your home. Usually, a professional appraisal will need to be conducted in order to get an accurate and precise number to work with. An appraiser or even a real estate agent will be able to assess your home’s value based on current market conditions.

Once you’ve established your home’s value, you would then subtract the amount that you still owe on your mortgage. Whatever the answer is would be the equity you have to tap into.

Different lenders may have their own eligibility requirements when it comes to how much you can borrow. Your financial history will also play a key role in how much your lender will allow you to borrow against your equity. Generally speaking, lenders allow homeowners to borrow up to 85% of the equity in a home. The more money you borrow, the higher your loan-to-value ratio would be, which can put both you and your lender at greater risk.

To illustrate, let’s say your home has been appraised at a value of $500,000, and you currently still owe $250,000. As it stands right now, your loan-to-value ratio (LTV) would be 50%. If your lender allows you to max out at an LTV of 80%, that means you may be able to borrow no more than 30% of your home equity, or $150,000.

The Bottom Line

To borrow against the equity in your home, you can opt for either a home equity loan or a HELOC. Either one will allow you to gain access to funds needed to cover expensive costs, but they have certain differences. Be sure to speak with your mortgage broker to determine which program is best suited for you.

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Why a Lower Interest Rate Might Not Make Your Mortgage Cheaper

The amount of money you borrow to finance a home purchase is obviously the key factor in how much your mortgage payments will be. But your interest rate will also play an important role in how expensive your overall mortgage will be.

Obviously, a lower interest rate will translate in lower interest being paid, while high rates will make the overall loan amount more expensive.

But the interest rate that you’re charged isn’t the only factor that will influence the overall cost of your mortgage. In fact, it’s possible for some mortgages with lower interest rates to be even more expensive than those with a higher rate.

How is this possible?

In addition to the interest rate, there are plenty of other fees associated with mortgages that borrowers need to get familiar with in order to understand the exact cost of one mortgage product compared to another.

Shopping for mortgages is definitely a good idea to help you compare different mortgages, but interest rates aren’t the only factors to consider. There are other fees involved that should be considered when choosing a specific mortgage.

Penalty Fees

Mortgages come with rules that borrowers need to adhere to in order to avoid paying any penalty fees. Otherwise, additional costs can be tacked on, making the mortgage more expensive despite a lower interest rate.

For instance, just about every mortgage product charges penalty fees if borrowers break their mortgage early. Borrowers who take out a mortgage may have had no intentions of breaking their mortgage early when they first apply, but life can throw curve balls that may change circumstances.

Job loss, job relocation, divorce, medical issues, and a death in the family can all change the course of life for many homeowners. In these cases, an unexpected move may be required, which would require the mortgage to be broken before its expiry date. When this happens, a penalty fee will be charged.

Generally speaking, adjustable-rate mortgages often come with penalty fees of three months’ worth of interest, while penalty fees for fixed-rate mortgages could be whatever the lender deems to have lost in interest as a result of you breaking the mortgage early. You’d be well advised to speak with your mortgage broker to find out exactly how much this is.

Mortgage Term

Your mortgage term can make a difference in how much you pay in total. For instance, if you take a one-year term in order to take advantage of a lower interest rate than a five-year term, you could really save quite a bit of money. But if rates increase after that year is up and you have to renew your mortgage with a new term, you’ll be spending more.

On the other hand, you could go with a five-year fixed rate in order to take advantage of the security of predictable payments. But if rates fall soon after, you’ll be paying more than you would have if you chose a shorter term.

Loan Origination Fees

Mortgage brokers get paid commissions for the services they provide. These “loan origination fees” usually work out to be about 1% of the mortgage amount and are paid by the borrower.

However, mortgage brokers can negotiate no-cost loans in order for borrowers to avoid having to pay these fees upfront and to make these fees the responsibility of the lender to pay when the deal closes. But this scenario will almost always translate into a higher interest rate, which will end up costing you more over time.

Application Fees

There is a cost associated with actually applying for a mortgage. These administrative costs will be factored into your overall loan amount.

Appraisal Fees

Lenders require that homes they supply mortgages for are appraised by a professional in order to ensure that the property is worth at least as much as what the buyer agreed to pay for it. But there’s a fee associated with appraisals, which can range from anywhere between $400 to $600 and more, depending on the scope of the property.

Private Mortgage Insurance

If you put less than a 20% down payment towards the purchase price of your home, you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). This premium will be added to your monthly mortgage payment amounts and will make your overall mortgage more expensive.

The purpose of PMI is to protect the lender in case you default on your mortgage at some point. The higher the loan-to-value ratio – which is the loan amount relative to the value of the property purchased – the higher the risk associated with the mortgage. In order to mitigate this risk, lenders require PMI premiums on top of mortgage payments.

The actual amount you have to pay will vary depending on the exact circumstances of your mortgage, but PMI can cost anywhere between 0.5% to as much as 5% of the loan amount and is paid annually. That means a $200,000 loan amount at a 1% premium, for instance, would cost you $2,000 per year (or about $167 per month).

The Bottom Line

Your interest rate and the loan amount are definitely key factors in the overall cost of your mortgage. But there are several other costs that you will need to consider in order to get a clear picture of precisely how much you owe. Be sure to speak with a mortgage broker to help you compare mortgage products and calculate the exact cost of the home loan you ultimately choose.

What All Buyers and Sellers Should Know About Easements

When you buy a home, it’s exclusively yours to use, right?

Not always.

If there are specific easements on title, you may have to share the use of your property with others.

An easement is the legal right for another party to use your property for a specific reason. There are so many factors to verify when you buy a home, especially when considering how much you’re paying for it, and easements are one of them.

When you’re purchasing a property, you’ll definitely want to find out if there’s an easement on title. If there is, you’ll also want to know what type of easement it is and how it will affect your enjoyment of your property.

Types of Easements

There are several different types of easements that exist for different purposes, including the following:

Utility easements – These are very common easements and essentially give utility companies the right to use your property in order to access specific areas where work is required. Whether it’s telephone cables, hydro lines, or gas lines, utility workers will need to get access to specific parts of the lot in order to do their repair or maintenance work.

Express easements – In this case, the owner of one property would give express consent to another landowner for a specific reason. For instance, let’s say your next-door-neighbor doesn’t have the best access to a public road. You could give them consent to cross over your land to access the public roadway. If you agree to this, you’ll be providing an express easement, which needs to be in writing in order for it to be enforced.

Implied easements – Unlike an express easement, an implied easement is one that can exist without a formal contract in writing. Usually, these are involved when a larger piece of land is divided up into two or more.

In order for an implied easement to exist, it must be proven that owners of some parcels of land require access to another parcel in order to experience reasonable enjoyment of their property. Also, there must be a need for the easement to exist before the land was divided or sold.

Let’s say one large piece of land has a paved driveway leading to a public roadway. If that land is divided leaving only one parcel of land with this driveway on it, the other divided parcel may require the use of the driveway in order to access the roadway. An implied easement would exist if both owners intended to continue using the driveway when the land was divided.

Easement by necessity – Also referred to as a “right-of-way,” these are somewhat similar to implied easements in that they are necessary for the enjoyment of one landowner. The difference between the two, however, is that an easement by necessity can only be created if there is no other alternative to crossing someone else’s property. With an implied easement, there may be the option for the landowner without the driveway to construct one of their own to gain access to the public road.

For instance, if you sell part of your land to another and they don’t have any access to the public road other than by crossing your land, the courts in California could create an easement by necessity because the other landowner has no other way of gaining access. If there was a possibility for the other landowner to build a driveway of their own, an easement by necessity wouldn’t apply.

Prescriptive easement – This type of easement occurs when a person uses someone else’s land for a certain period of time without the landowner knowing about it. The key here is that even though the property owner may not have known that another party was using the property, the landowner still has the ability to be aware of such use.

Another important component to this easement is continued use. In California, the property must have been used in the same way by another party for a continuous period of five years in order for this easement to exist.

Can Easements Be Terminated?

Easements may be terminated if a judge deems that access to another property is unreasonable, particularly if it gets in the way with the landowner. These can be hashed out in court if the landowner finds that their enjoyment of their property is being compromised by other parties for reasons that are not necessary.

Some easements also have expiry dates, after which they’re no longer in effect. In other cases, both parties may agree to terminate the easement. But in most other cases, terminating an easement can be a bit more challenging and would require a judge to intervene.

You Could Be Legally Liable if You Infringe on Right-of-Ways

If you buy a home that has an easement by necessity and blocks others from accessing your property for specific reasons, you could be taken to court. Let’s say you buy a property with an easement that allows your neighbor to cross over your property to gain access to the public roadway. If you build a fence after you move in that blocks such access, you would be considered to be trespassing this right-of-way and could be taken to court as a result.

What if You Want to Build or Expand Your Home?

If you have intentions of expanding your home, renovating, or building an addition or separate structure, you’ll want to know if an easement exists on a property beforehand. If there is one, that could affect your plans for construction.

For example, you wouldn’t be able to build a shed that would block access to a roadway for your neighbor. In this case, you may have to abandon your plans for construction or come up with an alternative option.

The Bottom Line

It’s very important to know if there are any easements on a property before you sign on the dotted line. If any exist, find out exactly what type they are. Easements can definitely impact your enjoyment of your property, so it’s crucial to conduct a title search to find out if any exist. Your real estate agent will be able to help you identify any easements that there may be on title and how they may impact how you use and enjoy your new home.

10 Home Maintenance and Repair Skills All Homeowners Should Be Familiar With

It might be easy to change a light bulb or tighten a loose cabinet handle, but there are several other tasks that will need to be done around the house over time. If you constantly call in a handyman to take care of these little jobs for you, you’ll be spending a fortune.

Instead, handling these jobs yourself can help you get better acquainted with your home and save a few bucks.

Here are a few skills you may want to become familiar with in order to keep your home in proper working order.

1. Shutting Off the Main Water Source

Imagine the kitchen sink pipes bursting, or the toilet valve leaking. Such scenarios can quickly lead to flooding, which can wreak major havoc on your home. When this happens, shutting off the main water source can help to put a stop to the gushing water and minimize any damage that may occur. But what if you don’t know where this source is?

Knowing where to shut the water off can help you prevent water damage that can end up costing you dearly.

2. Turning Off the Gas

If you smell gas in your home, call the gas company right away. In the meantime, knowing how to turn off the gas can help to minimize the dangers you may be exposed to. The shut-off valve for the gas running into your home is typically located at the gas meter outside of your home. You’ll need a wrench or something similar to turn it off.

3. Fixing a Leaky Faucet

Faucets tend to drip, but you don’t necessarily have to call the plumber just yet if the issue is minor in nature. Not only is a leaky faucet annoying, it also wastes a ton of water, which you’ll quickly notice when you get your water bill.

4. Cleaning Your Gutters

The gutters outside of your home play a crucial role in protecting the structure. Namely, they’re responsible for directing any water from rain away from the home. If they’re not working properly, they can allow water to pool near the foundation of the home, which can then seep into your home and cause water damage.

Your gutters should ideally be cleaned out every year and inspected for any signs of damage. If you’re comfortable climbing a ladder, you can clean these gutters out yourself to make sure they’re free and clear of any debris that could be blocking proper drainage.

5. Powering Off the Circuit Breakers

It’s not uncommon for a fuse to blow every so often, and when this happens, it’s helpful to know where your circuit panel is and how to switch the breakers on and off. Some homeowners may mistakenly think that there’s a power outage when the power goes out in one room but not another. But if power is still on in certain parts of the home, most likely all that’s needed is a flip of a switch in the breaker box.

Sometimes all that’s required is a reset of the breakers to help power up small appliances without having to call in the electrician. Grounded outlets tend to come with reset buttons, especially those in kitchens and bathrooms where they may be exposed to water.

Be sure to check out the circuit breaker and all grounded outlets when you first move into your home to get familiar with them so that if there’s ever a problem, you’ll know how to deal with it.

6. Changing the Temperature on the Water Heater

Do you really need scalding hot water flowing out of your faucets? Probably not, but your water heater is working hard to keep the water hot, which costs money and uses energy. You can save some money by turning the temperature down. If you know how to turn the thermostat on your water heater down to a lower temperature, you can not only save money and energy, but you can also prevent any chances of scalding.

7. Changing Your Air Filters

In order to ensure high air quality in your home, your air filters will need to be changed every so often. You might notice your home being dustier than it should be, and changing the air filters can help alleviate this issue. Every three to six months should suffice, but they’ll probably have to be changed more frequently if anyone in the home suffers from allergies or respiratory issues.

8. Caulking Cracks and Air Leaks

Caulking is highly used in home construction and is used to seal up cracks and gaps that may allow air and other elements to enter or escape the home. You’ll notice caulking around your windows to prevent any cooled air from escaping or hot air from seeping in. You’ll also notice caulking around your faucets or shower heads to prevent any water from going anywhere other than out into the sink or shower stall.

But over time, the caulking can break down and loosen. When this happens, the affected areas will need to be recaulked. You can easily do this yourself with the right tools, including a caulking gun and caulk material.

9. Fixing a Running Toilet

Toilets that don’t stop running are noisy and waste water. Instead of calling a plumber, you can easily fix this yourself by getting familiar with the flush valve assembly. In order to gain access to this component, you’ll need to lift the top of the toilet tank, then simply reposition part of the assembly until the running stops.

10. Cleaning the Refrigerator Coils

Think about how hard your fridge is working to keep all of your food products chilled. After all this work, this major appliance will need a little attention once in a while, and that includes having its coils cleaned.

Filthy coils can cause the fridge to work harder than necessary, which can lead to a breakdown sooner rather than later. To clean the coils, all you need to do is pull the fridge off the wall, unplug it, and vacuum the coils (which are usually under or at the back of the fridge).

The Bottom Line

Getting acquainted with certain home maintenance and repair tasks can help ensure your home is working as smoothly as possible without constantly having to call in the repairman to deal with these issues for you. Not everyone is necessarily handy, but you can still learn a trick or two to keep your home in tip-top shape.