Should You Accept the First Offer on Your Home?

When it comes to real estate transactions, sellers may often hold out for a better offer and might not necessarily take the first offer too seriously. They’ll often hold out in hopes of something bigger and better coming along.

Not only that, but it’s also common practice for buyers and sellers to barter with one another and participate in a little back-and-forth negotiating. For sellers, it’s expected that the first offer that comes in will be open for a counter offer. After all, getting the highest price on a home sale is the ultimate goal.

But are there ever times when it’s wise to take the first offer given? Do all real estate deals necessarily have to involve tossing the first offer or countering offers, or is it OK for sellers to take the first offer on their home? Further, should sellers even entertain the first buyer that shows interest? Or should they wait to see if there’s something better out there?

Here are a few situations where taking the first offer might be something to consider.

You’re Motivated to Move

If time is of the essence and you need to move sooner rather than later, then that first offer might be one to take seriously. Whether you need to move because you’ve been relocated to another city for work, or the kids are starting school soon, or the closing date on your new home is coming up, you might have a very good reason to want to move sooner rather than later. And that may entail taking the first offer that’s given to you.

Of course, you don’t want to settle for a sub-par offer. You’ll certainly want to assess the offer – as well as any others you may get – and make sure everything is satisfactory. The offer price, closing date, deposit amount, and contingencies all play a role in the strength of an offer. That said, taking too long to accept an offer can put a huge stress on you and your finances.

The First Offer is Solid

Before you finalize your listing, identify what type of offer would be deemed an attractive one, That way when you do get an offer, you’ll be able to better assess whether or not it’s worthy of acceptance.

Weigh the offer against the initial criteria you established with your real estate agent. If that first offer meets – and even exceeds – these standards, there’s little reason why you shouldn’t grab it and seal the deal.

Your Home Has Been Sitting on the Market For a While

As mentioned earlier, a listing that sits on the market for too long will become stale. And a stale listing doesn’t fare too well among buyers. Instead, buyers will start to think that there’s something potentially wrong with the property. After all, why else would a home sit on the market so much longer than other comparable properties?

The best time to stir up interest in your listing is right out of the gates within the first week or two after the listing goes live. It gets increasingly more difficult to generate interest a few weeks after a listing initially goes up on the market.

If you get a decent offer within the early days of listing your home, you might want to seriously consider it. It’s not uncommon for sellers to lose out on a good offer when they give up on the first one that comes in the door simply because it’s so early on in the game. Waiting around for a better offer doesn’t always work out.

You’re in a Strong Buyer’s Market

If the market is ripe for sellers, you might have a lot of demand for your home and a large pool of qualified buyers to choose from. But if the market is cooling in your area and demand is weaker, that may limit your pool of buyers.

Your home could be in great shape, located in a desirable area, and priced aggressively. But if the market is not in your favor, the first good offer that is put on the table should probably at least be considered. This is even truer if your home is not as desirable or located in an area that isn’t highly sought-after, which can further put a cap on the pool of interested buyers.

You’ve Got an All-Cash Offer

It’s tough to turn down an all-cash deal. Even if the amount being offered is slightly lower than what you may have wanted, taking an all-cash offer can eliminate the waiting game that usually accompanies offers that are contingent on the buyer securing a mortgage.

When there’s no need to bite your nails hoping that a mortgage – or even a home inspection – goes through, the deal can proceed with minimal issues.

The Bottom Line

The truth is, there’s no rule set in stone that you shouldn’t accept the first offer that you get for your house. Whether or not you do will depend on a number of factors, including the specific situation, the market, and your home, for example.

The first couple of weeks that a home is on the market is the busiest time for listings and is the time when the most interest and activity are seen. Once those couple of weeks have passed, interest and activity start to fade, which is why it’s important to take advantage of this window of opportunity to find a willing buyer.

If you get an offer right away, don’t discard it. Instead, consider it, especially if it’s a sound offer. Many times sellers get burned by taking a gamble on finding a better offer, only to be left with a listing that grows more staler by the day.

Of course, if the offer is sub-par, perhaps waiting for a better one to come around might be the better option. Just be sure to make your decision after careful consideration and collaboration with your real estate agent.

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215 Reflections Dr #21, San Ramon, CA 94583

$445,000 | Beds 1 | Baths 1 | 624 SqFt

Great Location in San Ramon! Located in The Desirable Reflections Community This One Bedroom, One Bath Home Boasts An Open Floor Plan and Vaulted Ceilings. Situated On The Second Floor, As You Walk in You Will Notice An Updated Kitchen, Attractive Stone Flooring, New Patterned Berber Carpet, Update Dual Pane Windows, Newer Hvac System, Indoor Laundry, A Fireplace in The Living Room and A Balcony That Includes A Storage Closet. Close To The Marketplace Shopping Center, San Ramon’s New City Center, The Popular Iron Horse Trail, City Hall, Central Park, Target Greatland, Chevron Corporate, Restaurants, Shops and More! Enjoy The Community Pool, Exercise Facility and Soothing Fountains Within The Gated Complex!

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JUST SOLD IN NEWARK: 7579 Mayhews Landing Rd

7579 Mayhews Landing Rd, Newark, CA 94560

$770,000 | Beds 3 | Baths 2 | 1,232 SqFt

Charming single story rancher in the heart of Newark! Close to schools, shops, and easy commute access. Loads of potential with a large open kitchen area, efficient layout with good size bedrooms. Backyard has open space to create a relaxing atmosphere.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THE HOME
Close to Silicon Valley!

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JUST SOLD IN DUBLIN: 6588 Amador Valley Blvd

6588 Amador Valley Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568

$655,000 | Beds 3 | Baths 2.5 | 1,300 SqFt

This immaculate Dublin home is located in the sought-after subdivision of Heritage Commons. Beautiful 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths with approx. 1,300 sq. ft. of living space and a 2-car garage. As you enter the home, a large family room with a fireplace greets you. The kitchen is in pristine condition with plenty of counter space and storage. The main level also comes with a powder room and access to the garage with plenty of space for storage. Upstairs the master bedroom is spacious with a well-designed master bath with plenty of space and dual shower heads. Conveniently located within the subdivision, near the community pool, access to commute areas (580/680 freeways & Dublin BART), shops and restaurants. Walking distance to all 3 levels if highly rated Dublin schools, as well as the popular Iron Horse Trail and Dougherty Hills Dog Park. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to own a wonderful home in Dublin…The second fastest growing city in the state of California!

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How to Help Your Adult Children Buy a House

With the price of homes as expensive as they are these days, it can be tough for anyone to get into the housing market. Young adults who are just venturing out of their parents’ homes in hopes of getting a place of their own typically face sky-high real estate prices. And those who are graduating college typically have a huge student debt loan to pay off on top of all other living expenses.

It can be a big challenge to save up enough money for a down payment on a home, let alone all the closing costs associated with buying a house, the furniture needed to outfit the place, and the ongoing operating fees.

Let’s face it: being financially capable of buying a home when moving out of a parent’s home can be a major financial feat.

In many cases, young adults need their parents’ help to secure a home and a mortgage. Doing so can give them a big head start in life. An increase in housing prices and mounting student loan debt can be major obstacles that parents can help overcome.

But how can parents help their grown children buy a home when they’re trying to juggle their own mortgage and daily expenses? Of course, helping adult children buy a house is no simple feat. You’ll definitely want to carefully plan your strategy to assist your kids when they’re ready to fly the coop.

Here are some suggestions to follow to help your kids get into the housing market.

Buy a Home and Let Your Child Rent it From You

Many young adults end up renting when they leave their parents’ homes simply because they do not have the financial resources or credit history to secure or afford a mortgage. But rather than them paying rent to a stranger, they can rent from you instead.

If your current finances permit, consider buying a home for your child in your name and renting it out to them. While this is certainly a huge financial undertaking for you, you may be eligible to deduct your mortgage interest, property taxes, repairs, and certain home improvements come tax time on your “rental” property. Plus, the rent that your child pays you can cover the mortgage.

Buy a Home Together

If your adult child is working and has some level of credit established, consider buying the home together. Two working parties should have an easier time securing a mortgage for a home than a single working individual. If you take this route, you’d each share a certain stake in the home, depending on how you divide the equity. 

If at some point, your child is ready to take over the house on their own, you’d sell them the share that you had in it. Just make sure that your child is financially capable of holding up their end of the bargain in terms of paying their share of the mortgage and all other operating expenses.

Co-Sign the Loan

Your adult child might have a steady job and the money to comfortably cover the mortgage as well as a hefty down payment, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee mortgage approval. Lenders will want to check out their credit history, and if your child doesn’t have any credit built up yet – or has bad credit – it might be tough or even impossible to secure a mortgage.

If that’s the case, you may have the option to co-sign on the loan. In this situation, you would sign your name on the mortgage along with your child’s. As a co-signer, you would be responsible for making the mortgage payments in the event that your child defaults on the loan.

You’ll want to make sure that your child is responsible enough to make the payments on time and in full every month and that you have the finances available in case you ever have to step in to take over the home loan.

Cover Closing Costs

On average, buyers spend about 2% to 5% of the purchase price of their home in closing costs. This can amount to a hefty bill. If you can afford it, consider helping your child come up with the money needed to cover these costs, which typically includes appraisal fees, mortgage application fees, home inspections, homeowner’s insurance, and property taxes.

Give a Down Payment as a Gift

If you have access to cash – or have sources that will allow you to liquidate your money – consider gifting your child the down payment for a new home.

According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly one-quarter of millennials used a monetary gift from their family or friends as part of their down payment.

But giving your child money to cover their down payment is not as clear-cut as handing them a wad of cash. There are rules that need to be followed in order to provide a paper trail proving that the money being provided is indeed a gift to be used towards a down payment and not a loan. Such rules may vary from one lender or mortgage product to the next.

If the money being provided is classified as a loan, your child will have to pay taxes on it. On the other hand, taxes on gift money can be deferred up to $15,000 per child (or $30,000 for couples gifting their adult children). Be sure to speak with a tax specialist to determine whether or not any taxes apply in your situation.

Ideally, the gift should be made at least a couple of months in advance of the mortgage application. There might also be some paperwork to sign verifying that the money is a gift and does not need to be paid back.

The Bottom Line

If you can swing it financially, you’d be doing your adult children a huge favor by helping them out when it comes time to buy their first home. While renting is always an option, buying and owning property comes with its own unique benefits. Getting into the market sooner rather than later can help your children start building equity and can even help them establish strong credit with every mortgage payment they make.

How to Create a More Sustainable Home

The average household wastes 51 MMBtu’s every year, and a typical home wastes about 30% more energy than an energy-efficient home does. What’s more, the average household creates 4.4 pounds of trash per person per day.

That’s a lot of garbage and a lot of energy wasted. We can definitely do better, and we have been. More and more, homeowners are adopting tactics that make their homes much more sustainable, which inevitably helps to cut down on trash and wasted energy and makes our entire planet a better, healthier place.

So, what can you do to create a more sustainable home? Here are a few suggestions.

Make Compost

Collect things like egg shells, coffee grinds, and vegetable peels to create a healthy compost that can enrich the soil of your outdoor garden.

Reuse Bags

If you’ve still got plastic bags in the home, consider washing them after each use and reusing them instead of throwing them out.

Repurpose Goods

Rather than tossing your unused items in the trash, consider repurposing them. For instance, an old t-shirt can easily become a rag that you can use to clean with.

Plant Native Plant Species in Your Yard

Native plants tolerate your local conditions much better than foreign species, which means they require far less water to thrive. This, in turn, means less water being used.

Install Low-Flush Toilets

Every time you flush the toilet, you use about six gallons of water. Low-flush toilets can drastically cut that number by 75%.

Install Low-Flow Showerheads

Showers use up the third largest amount of water in a home, behind toilets and washing machines. The average shower uses 17.2 gallons of water. By installing a low-flow showerhead, not only will you be using less water to shower but you’ll also be cutting down on the energy needed to heat it.

Plant Shady Trees

Cut down on the amount of energy needed to cool your home by planting trees that can adequately shade your house. 

Install a Solar Water Heater

Water heaters use a lot of energy to heat the water in your home. A solar water heater uses much less energy and does just as good a job.

Install Energy-Efficient Appliances

These days, appliances are much more energy-efficient, using smarter designs that require less energy to do the same job as traditional appliances. In fact, you can save as much as 13% in energy every year.

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaners

Instead of the chemical-laden products that you get at the grocery store that can end up in our rivers and lakes, consider using natural solutions, such as baking soda, white vinegar, and even lemon juice. 

Collect Rainwater

Get yourself a couple of rain barrels to collect rainwater to be used to wash your car or water your lawn rather than wasting hose water to serve the same purpose.

Caulk and Weatherstrip Doors and Windows

A lot of energy can be wasted through cracks in window and door frames. Caulking and weatherstripping can effectively insulate these openings and ensure that no air is allowed to seep in or escape, reducing energy used to keep your home comfortable. 

Repair Leaky Pipes

Even tiny leaks can waste a ton of water, so make sure to have all leaks fixed.

Install Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

LED and compact fluorescent bulbs can save a ton of energy in your home. Though they may be more expensive than traditional bulbs up front, they wind up saving you a great deal of money over the long run because they last so much longer.

Use Ceiling Fans

Cut down on the amount of work that your air conditioner has to do and make use of ceiling fans. To make sure the cool air is being pushed down, make sure that the fan is turning in a counterclockwise direction.

Unplug Small Appliances When Not in Use

Leaving small appliances idle when not in use still uses up energy. Consider unplugging your coffee maker, toaster oven, and blender when not in use. Also, completely shut down your computers at night. Even when they’re in “sleep mode,” they still use some amount of energy, so shut them down.

The Bottom Line

You might not think that your home makes much of a difference in terms of keeping the planet and environment healthy considering the millions of other homes around you. But when everyone takes a step in the right direction, good things happen. Adopting any one of the above-mentioned tactics can help you create a more sustainable home and even save you a great deal of money at the same time.

What Are Fintech Lenders and Should You Consider One?

If you’re thinking of applying for a mortgage any time soon, you really don’t have to go any further than your computer, tablet, or even your smartphone to get one. These days, applying for a home loan can be done completely online via digital devices, completely changing the lending sphere from just a few years earlier.

Known as ‘fintech lenders’, online lenders are making the mortgage application and approval process a lot faster and more convenient for buyers who are looking to make homeownership a reality for them. The question is, should you go the fintech route or stick with a traditional lender?

What is ‘Fintech’?

Fintech, a combination of the term ‘financial technology’, refers to a phenomenon in which both consumers and businesses can access financial services through digital devices. It was developed to help consumers and businesses better manage their finances and automate these services.

Nowadays, people can do all their banking and wealth management through their smartphones and tablets without the need to visit a brick and mortar lending institution in person thanks to fintech. This technology has expanded over the years to increasingly serve consumers and has incorporated all of the typical day-to-day services that consumers require, including having access to bank accounts and even applying for mortgages.

Should You Consider Applying For a Mortgage With a Fintech Lender?

There are plenty of perks of applying for a mortgage with a fintech lender. But there may also be a few drawbacks as well. Let’s go over these pros and cons to help you decide if this tactic is right for you.

Pros:

Convenience. There’s no denying the convenience of being able to apply for a mortgage from the comfort of your home without the need to venture out and meet with a lender face-to-face. Simply log on to your computer or mobile device and go through the process laid out with the lending platform.

Possible lower rates and fees. Since online lenders typically have less overhead compared to brick-and-mortar banks, they may be able to pass their savings on to consumers by offering lower interest rates and fees. Even a fraction of a percent cut off an interest rate can translate into thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the mortgage.

Approval may be easier. Many fintech lenders may work with borrowers who have credit scores that are not high enough to secure a mortgage with traditional lenders. Conventional loans have minimum credit score requirements for mortgage approval. If you have a credit score that is not as high as the minimum required for a conventional mortgage, an online lender might be more open to supplying you with a home loan.

Applying may be faster. The mortgage application process is typically a cumbersome one filled with tons of paperwork to have to gather and supply to the lender. Getting all your documents together can take a long time, especially if you have to access forms from the bank or IRS that you may not have readily available. Instead, online lenders typically make the process more streamlined by allowing borrowers to upload all paperwork directly to their sites.

Cons:

Rates may change. Although online lenders may be able to charge less in rates and fees, they may not always guarantee advertised rates. Some lenders may advertise lower rates than competitors in an effort to attract new customers, but these rates can change once the lender has had a chance to go over the documentation supplied and check out credit scores. Further, rates tend to be much higher for borrowers with low credit scores, even though approval for a mortgage with bad credit may be easier with online lenders compared to traditional lenders.

Lending scams exist. There are plenty of legitimate online lenders that offer sound mortgage services you can trust. But there are also some lenders in the fintech sphere that may be predatory. Usually, these lenders target consumers with bad credit who are unable to secure a mortgage the traditional way. As such, it’s important to be vigilant when choosing an online lender when applying for a mortgage. As a general rule of thumb, keep your guard up against lenders who guarantee or promise mortgage approval.

Customer service may be lacking. While online lending may offer convenience, there’s no substitution for the personalized service and face-to-face contact that you get with a traditional lender. You’ll be able to contact them (within business hours) whenever the need arises. Such is not always the case with an online lender, making it more challenging to get in touch with a real live person when you need some help.

The Bottom Line

The fintech lending platform has certainly transformed the way people do their banking and even how they apply for and obtain a mortgage for a home purchase. There are certainly a number of benefits of applying for a home loan via the internet, but there are also some disadvantages that are worth noting. If you choose to go the fintech route, be sure to consider the points made, and be on the lookout for lenders that may not necessarily have your best interests in mind.

How to Develop a Fire Escape Plan For Your Home

In light of the horrific fires that ravaged parts of California, it makes sense that all households should have a sound fire escape plan that can get all residents out of danger quickly and safely.

Once a fire escape plan has been drafted up, it should be practiced a few times and on a regular basis in order to make sure that everyone in the home knows exactly what to do in the event of an emergency.

It goes without saying that a fire escape plan is important, but how do you go about creating one? Follow this guide to help keep you and your family out of harm’s way.

Install Smoke Detectors

If your home doesn’t already have smoke detectors installed, now is the time to install them. Smoke detectors save lives. If you’re not alerted to smoke filling your home – particularly at night when everyone’s asleep – you lose valuable time that could have been used to escape.

If your home has smoke detectors installed, make sure to test them on a regular basis to make sure they’re working properly.

Place Ladders Near Second Story Windows

If possible, place escape ladders in or near windows to make escaping easier if accessing the main level is not possible. Make sure to go over the manufacturer’s instructions in great detail in order to use them safely.

Map Out Your Home’s Layout

Draw out a simple plan of your home’s layout, including all rooms, doorways, and windows. Be sure to include all floors, as well as the location of all smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Try your best to draw the map to scale to ensure greater accuracy.

Choose a Meeting Place

Whether it’s a tree, the end of the driveway, or a street light, establishing a meeting place is crucial to help ensure that all family members are aware of each other’s whereabouts. Knowing where everyone is and quickly locating each other will inform everyone whether everyone is safe or whether someone is still inside and needs help.

The location you choose for your meeting spot should be far enough from the house so everyone is out of danger of the fire, yet close enough so that everyone can get to each other as fast as possible.

Establish and Highlight All Possible Escape Exits and Routes

With your map in hand, identify all exits from your home, as well as the routes to take to get out of the home and arrive at your family’s meeting spot. Doorways are ideal escape routes and should be made primary escape routes, but windows should also be used if doorways are blocked from fire.

Keep Exits Clear of Obstacles

Make sure that each exit can be easily accessed and not blocked by any obstacles that could impede the ability to get out quickly.

Review the Escape Plan With Everyone on a Regular Basis

Once you’ve established your escape plan, be sure to go over it in great detail with all members of your family. From there, be sure to revisit the escape plan every so often so it is fresh on everyone’s minds.

Be sure that all children understand the escape routes, as they may need a little more coaching. Further, instruct children never to hide in the event of a fire, and instead to find an adult nearby or get out as quickly as possible to find the meeting place.

Come Up With a Plan For Those With Disabilities

If anyone in the home has a disability, be sure to make arrangements so they are able to get out quickly and safely.

Practice Escaping the House

Ideally, you should all practice escaping your home a few times. Doing so can make it easier for everyone to be prepared and act on instinct in the event of a real emergency.

Assign Specific Duties to Each Family Member

With the exception of young children, everyone in the home should have a certain assigned task in the event of a fire. For instance, tasks can include calling the fire department, gathering up the children, waking those who are still asleep, ensuring any seniors or those with mobility issues are safe, collecting all pets, and accessing the fire extinguisher for smaller fires.

The Bottom Line

Taking the time to establish a fire escape plan and practicing the drills can seem like a nuisance. But doing so can literally mean the difference between life and death. Considering how devastating the recent fires in California have been, it’s worth every second to come up with a plan and make sure everyone in the family is on board.