How Fast Does Equity Build During Homeownership?

Building equity in your home is like a savings account – the more you put toward it, the better. Your home’s equity grows with each mortgage payment you make and with time.

According to BankofAmerica.com, you can calculate your equity based on current appraised value less any mortgages tied to your home. If your home is appraised at $400,000 and you owe $120,000, then your equity is $280,000. But that doesn’t mean you have savings of $280K; it just means that you have a general idea of how much your home will yield should you sell it at that moment, less closing costs, of course.

Lenders consider equity differently. You can begin building equity the moment you purchase your home with your down-payment. ($400K – 20% = $320K) Your loan amount would be $320K and the equity in your home would be $80,000. You can increase your equity by paying your mortgage regularly and paying a little extra every month, which speeds up the amortization of your loan.

To approve a home improvement loan or to determine whether to eliminate private mortgage insurance, lenders take the appraised amount and divide it by your loan balance to get a percentage of how much equity you have.  Divide your current loan balance by your home’s appraised value, then multiply by 100. ($120K ÷ $400K = 35%) That means you own 65% of your home. 

These numbers are theoretical until you sell your home. Meanwhile, watch your savings grow on your monthly mortgage statement!


Making Gutters Usefully Beautiful

One pleasure in buying an older home is the beauty of mature trees on your property and their dazzling display of fall colors when the weather turns cool. But, what happens to the leaves when they fall?

What you don’t want is leaves clogging your gutters, preventing them doing their most important job – to route roof water away from vulnerable areas of the home’s exterior and garden. If your new home doesn’t have gutters or needs new ones, consider investing in them as an important and elegant part of your home’s curb appeal.  

Today’s gutters are far from the boring half-pipe gullies of the past. You can choose gutters in an array of sizes, materials and designs that add style and value to your home.  A general rule is the more durable and valuable the material, the higher the cost, but the longer it will last, according to Bankrate.com.

Vinyl is the most economical, but least durable. Aluminum is more durable but can crack like vinyl, but not as quickly. Some lower cost options may be available in faux-metal finishes. If your home is surrounded by trees, or your area experiences strong winds, choose steel, zinc or copper which can carry much more weight and last a lifetime.

A popular choice for gutters is the K-style which has a staircase design that resembles crown molding, so your home appears finished in finer detail from the street. Choose gutters with leaf and debris guards to minimize home maintenance chores.


BUYING A HOME IN THE AGE OF COVID-19

While the U.S. wrestles with social distancing and a disrupted economy, you may not feel it’s the best time to buy a home, but you may be missing a great opportunity. Many buyers prefer to wait and sit on the bench, giving you more access to homes with less competition.

The real estate industry is still very much in business, but there have been many changes in how homes are being bought and sold. Here’s what you can expect.

Higher credit scores/down payments are requiredNews outlets are reporting that some banks, such as JP Morgan-Chase, are requiring higher credit scores as well as larger down payments to limit risk as people lose jobs and the economy wobbles. If you are in an essential business, that’s good, but you may need to sign a statement to that effect.

Virtual showings are the new normal. Virtual tours have been around for decades, but how they’re different is that your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional may hold the “camera” themselves, helping you zoom in details, features and concerns as you request them to. They can also conduct open houses, thanks to Zoom or other conference software. You can still see homes in person, but this is a great elimination and selection tool.

Inspections, final walk-throughs and closings are social distanced. To protect appraisers, inspectors, real estate personnel, etc., you may have to stay firmly six feet or more away, wear a medical-grade mask, and use sanitizer or wear gloves.


How Long Should a Roof Last?

Angieslist.com suggests that a typical asphalt shingle roof will last about 20 to 25 years, depending on variables such as the quality of the shingles, the professionalism of the installation, homeowner maintenance over the years, and, of course, the weather.

Your roof should have several lines of defense or redundancies. If one part fails, such as when a shingle blows off, there should be other protective layers such as an underlying membrane, flashing around chimneys and sealants that prevent the roof from leaking.

Because 70 percent of U.S. homes have asphalt or composition shingle roofs, replacement roofs tend to be similar. According to Roofingcalc.com, the average roof size in the U.S. is 1,700 square feet. Professional roofers calculate area by 100 square feet, so it would take 17 “squares” to reroof the average home. Materials and labor can run anywhere between $350 and $550 per square, or approximately $6000 to $9350.

Leaks through the ceiling, missing shingles, frayed or curling shingle edges, or erosion of the mineral granules are all signs that it’s time to repair or replace your roof.  Have your roof inspected by a reputable roofing contractor, who can tell you if the roof was properly installed and maintained.

Check with your homeowner’s insurance company about coverage. Insurance.com warns that many companies will amortize coverage according to the age of the roof and refuse coverage if the roof has two or more previous layers of roofs or if the roof is 20 years or older.


The Renewed Appeal of Suburbia

It’s typical for single-family home sales to surge in the spring and summer, but this year, there are some differences due to Covid-19. The pandemic is causing more urbanites to move out of the city say The New York TimesForbes.comNPR.org and other news services.

Many of the attractions that make city living attractive, such as theater, shopping and dining out, simply aren’t available, causing some homebuyers to feel pent-up in their small apartments. They’re questioning if there isn’t a better way to live.

The result is a notable increase in home searches and purchases for single-family homes in smaller towns, exurbs and suburbs as many city-dwellers, particularly millennials, decide to ditch living in close quarters, paying high rents and home prices, and settling for views of buildings instead of trees.

One factor that’s driving the decision to move out of the city is that many white-collar workers believe they will continue to work from home permanently. The Star Tribune reported that Ford Motor Company, for example, intends to make many telecommuting jobs permanent, partly due to worker polls in favor working from home.  

If you’re of like mind, what can you expect when you shop for a home in the ‘burbs? According to Realtor.com, on average, a suburban home costs $230,000 compared to $431,000 home in the city with 300 more square feet of living space. You may pay over list price or get into a bidding war, due to intensifying demand, but you’ll still save a bundle. 


Student Loans

Looking to buy a home, but worried that your student loan debt will prevent you? Here are some things you can do to help you purchase a home after college:

  1. Look at your Debt-to-Income Ratio: Pay down any debts you can, including student loans, credit card bills, and other debts you may have. Save up some money, and start paying down debts wherever possible.
  2. Look at your Credit Score: Make sure you pay all bills on time and get your score up. Your credit score makes a big impact on your home purchase, so it helps to keep your score high.
  3. Speak with a Lender: You are going to need a pre-approval letter to purchase a home. Talk with a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Your lender can also help give you some advice on getting approved for the amount you are looking for, and they can give you tips for how to get where you’d like to be financially.
  4. Contact a Real Estate Agent: If you have any questions on the home buying process, speak with one of our Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Select Agents. They can help you in your home search process and answer any questions you may have.

If you are a recent college graduate, don’t let that student loan debt keep you from your dreams of owning a home. There are ways you can purchase a home, or plan for it in the near future. Speak with one of our agents for more information!


Moving with your pet

As scary and exciting as moving day is for you and your family, it is just as scary and exciting for your pets. Here are some tips to make sure they stay safe and feel more comfortable.

  1. Keep your pets in a separate room from all of the action – The loud noises of all of the commotion may startle your animals, and the opening/closing of doors when loading up the moving van increase the risk that they might run out and get lost. Keep them safe and secure by putting them in a separate room with the door closed.
  • When driving to your new home, keep your pets near you in the car – Try keeping your pet in their carrying crate or pet car seat in the car near you. Maybe give them a blanket or toy they love to comfort them. Do not open the crate or unbuckle your pet until you have arrived at the house and found a place to keep them away from moving the boxes in. Put them with their toys, food, water, and bed for comfort.
  • Slowly adjust them to their new home – Just like us, pets take some time to get used to major changes. Slowly introduce them into each room of the home and let them explore safely, once the commotion of moving day is over.

After giving them time to adjust and explore, your pets will feel at home again. Give them time to figure things out, and make sure when letting them outside, they are secured, as they may not know where they are now. Pretty soon, everyone will be adjusted and can enjoy the new home together!


Things to do in Richmond, VA

Richmond  VA things to do

Thinking of buying a home in beautiful Richmond, Virginia? Here are some of the top things to do in the area. Take your friends, family, or even explore alone. There is something for everyone.

  1. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden – During those warm spring and summer months, take a visit to here to see beautiful flowers, trees, and butterflies. With over 50 acres of property, there is plenty to see. There are some themed areas, as well, such as the rose garden and cherry tree walk. They even have a children’s garden for the little ones. It is a beautiful place, and perfect for photos!
  2. Go to a ball game – If sports are your thing, be sure to check out the Richmond Flying Squirrels at their home stadium, The Diamond. From time to time, they even host special events and theme nights. They have a free kids club also, so the whole family can have fun!
  3. Take a trip to Maymont – This 100-acre estate is a must see! You can stroll the gardens, tour the mansion, or visit the Nature Center. Be sure to stop by their visitor center, where they can tell you more about what they have. There is so much to do!
  4. Discover Richmond’s history – This area is full of history, being the state’s capital. There are a ton of museums and battlefields in the area. Be sure to check them all out!

There are too many activities in the areas to be able to list them all. That is what makes this area a perfect place to live. There are many parks, restaurants, pools, movie theaters, and shopping areas in addition to the other activities. See more Richmond community information and homes for sale here. There will always be something for you, your family, and your friends to enjoy!


Tips for First Time Home Buyers

First time buying a home? Don’t panic! here are some tips to help you through this process:

  • Pay Down Debt, and Start Saving

When buying a home, you want to make sure you have money saved up for things like a down payment, inspection & closing costs, and any additional things you would like for your home (furnishings, décor, paint, or even just an emergency fund). It is also important to talk with a lender to help you determine what you can afford. They can prequalify you for that amount, so that when you find your dream home, you are ready to purchase.

  • Start Researching Neighborhoods/Areas of Interest

Where do you see yourself living? Consider what areas fit your needs and budget. Some things to consider are commute to work, school districts, price point, and personal taste. Think about your lifestyle – Do you want to be close to stores, restaurants, and entertainment or would you prefer a quiet rural area?

  • Find a Real Estate Agent to Help You

Realtors can help guide you through this whole process, by answering all of your questions and helping you find the home of your dreams. At Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Select Realty, we have many agents that serve a large area of Virginia, such as Fredericksburg, Colonial Beach, King George, Stafford, Dumfries, Woodbridge, and Richmond.

  • Have Fun With It

Buying a home can be overwhelming, but it is also exciting! Enjoy this process and find what makes you happy. There is no place like home.


Five Ways to Show Courtesy at Showings

A seller’s home is their private sanctum, and that should remain true even when it’s on the market. You’ll enjoy showings or open houses more as well as protect the seller’s home with these five courtesies.

  1. Sign in. Sellers and listing agents need to know who’s been in the home so they can ask for feedback. If you tour builder’s homes or open houses unaccompanied, be sure to include your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Realty professional’s contact information so others know you’re already represented.
  2. Wear slip-ons. Especially during inclement weather, park your shoes at the front door to keep from dragging mud or other contaminants into the home.
  3. Establish rules for children. You may prefer to leave the kids at home for first and second viewings, but you’ll want to show them their next home eventually. Tell them to stay by your side, not to touch anything, and to refrain from running or horseplay.
  4. 4 Open closets, cabinets and drawers. Part of what you’re buying is storage and organization, so you have every right to open all closets, built-in cabinets and kitchen drawers. But if a piece of furniture is used instead of a built-in, such as a buffet table or china hutch, you should leave it alone.
  5. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. You introduce or take away germs when you enter any home, so make sure your hands are clean before you touch anything as well as after the showing is over