Home Buying Myths

Myths: Fact or Fiction? Frank Sinatra, very easily the most iconic of crooners was born in 1915 and died in 1998 after posting hit after hit both on stage and on screen. He was also considered the king of the original “Rat Pack,” featuring Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. They ruled Las Vegas in the 1950s and 1960s and as you might expect, their popularity and mystery spawned a lot of myths. Some true and some not so. There was a myth that Sinatra was indeed a “bad boy” as a result of a mug shot taken of him when he was arrested. But he was no such bad boy and actually he lived a relatively tame life. It was also rumored that the girls who screamed at the top of their lungs each time Sinatra sang actually auditioned to be in the audience and whoever screamed the loudest not only got paid but got front row seats. Myths are hard to filter through sometimes and home buying is no different. Here are a few home buying myths: Sorry, but buying is not always better than renting. Renting provides advantages to those who move frequently. Financing a home requires closing costs as well as monthly maintenance and upkeep. When renting, maintenance and upkeep are the responsibility of the landlord. Real estate isn’t always a solid investment. Values can and do change over time and even the most savvy of real estate investors make mistakes timing the market. Owning a home and watching equity increase over time is a good thing, but buying a home just for appreciation may not be the best of moves. Regarding financing? It’s not always the best idea to take the most popular loan- the 30 year fixed rate mortgage. Even though the monthly payments will be lower with a 30 year compared to say a 20 year loan, the amount of long term interest is much greater. Speak with a loan officer to run different scenarios. Finally, you do in fact need an agent when looking for a home. Agents don’t cost buyers anything because it’s the seller of the property who actually pays the commission, not the buyers. Buying a home without an agent might be one of the biggest mistakes buyers can make when they don’t need to.

Just Say It!

The change from wishing fellow Americans “Merry Christmas” to wishing them “Happy Holidays” is a very significant development. Proponents of “Happy Holidays” argue it’s no big deal – proponents of “Merry Christmas” are making a mountain out of a molehill. But the “Happy Holidays” advocates want it both ways. They dismiss opponents as hysterical; but at the same time, in addition to replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays,” they have relentlessly pushed to replace “Christmas vacation” with “winter vacation” and “Christmas party” with “Holiday Party.” So, then, which is it? Is all this elimination of the word “Christmas” important or not? The answer is obvious. It’s very important. That’s why so much effort is devoted to substituting other words for “Christmas.” And these efforts have been extraordinarily successful. In place of the universal “Merry Christmas” of my youth, in recent decades I have been wished “Happy Holidays” by every waiter and waitress in every restaurant I have dined; by everyone who welcomes me at any business; by my flight attendants and pilots; and by just about everyone else. When I respond, “Thank you. Merry Christmas!” I often sense that I have actually created some tension. Many of those I wish “Merry Christmas” are probably relieved to hear someone who feels free to utter the “C” word, but all the sensitivity training they’ve had to undergo creates cognitive dissonance. The opponents of “Merry Christmas” and other uses of the word “Christmas” know exactly what they’re doing. They’re disingenuous when they dismiss defenders of “Merry Christmas” as fabricating some “War on Christmas.” Of course it’s a war on Christmas, or, more precisely, a war on the religious nature of America. The left in America, like the left in Europe, wants to create a thoroughly secular society. Not a secular government – which is a desirable goal, and which, in any event, has always been the case in America – but a secular society. Most people do not realize that the left believes in secularism as fervently as religious Jews and Christians believe in the Bible. That’s why “Merry Christmas” bothers secular activists. It’s a blatant reminder of just how religious America is – and always has been. So, here’s a prediction: Activists on the left will eventually seek to remove Christmas as a national holiday. Now, the left doesn’t announce that its agenda is to thoroughly secularize American and European societies. Instead, they offer the inclusiveness argument: that “Merry Christmas” or “Christmas party” or “Christmas vacation” is not “inclusive.” This inclusiveness argument plays on Americans’ highly developed sense of decency. But the argument is preposterous: Who, exactly, is being excluded when one wishes someone “Merry Christmas?” Non-Christians? I’m a non-Christian. I’m a Jew. Christmas is not a religious holy day for me. But I’m an American, and Christmas is a national holiday in my country. It is, therefore, my holiday – though not my holy day – as much as it is for my fellow Americans who are Christian. That’s why it’s not surprising that it was an American Jew, Irving Berlin, who wrote “White Christmas,” one of America’s most popular Christmas songs. In fact, according to a Jewish musician writing in the New York Times, “Almost all the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jews.” Apparently all these American Jews felt quite included by Christmas! By not wishing me a Merry Christmas, you are not being inclusive. You are excluding me from one of my nation’s national holidays. But even if Christmas were not a national holiday, I would want pilots to wish their passengers “Merry Christmas,” companies to have Christmas parties, and schools to continue to have Christmas vacations. Just because I don’t personally celebrate Christmas, why would I want to drop the word “Christmas” when the holiday is celebrated by 90 percent of my fellow Americans? It borders on the misanthropic, not to mention the mean-spirited, to want to deny nearly all of your fellow citizens the joy of having Christmas parties or being wished a “Merry Christmas.” The vast majority of Americans who celebrate Christmas, and who treat non-Christians so well, deserve better. So, please say “Merry Christmas” and “Christmas party” and “Christmas vacation.” If you don’t, you’re not “inclusive.” You’re hurtful. Dennis Prager.

Too High to Buy?

Over-Priced Homes- How to Identify Them

Every year since 1965, we’ve all watched the Christmas classic, A Charlie Brown Christmas and this year will be no exception. You might be surprised to learn the producers thought the special would be a disaster.

Why? For one, the soundtrack was a jazz score, not traditional Christmas music. There was no laugh track added which was the standard for televised animation and most any comedy on TV in those days.

Yet the production was a success, so much so A Charlie Brown Christmas received both an Emmy and the Peabody Award. You just never know sometimes whether something will be a success or whether it will be a flop.

In real estate, home owners can overprice their homes, wishing for an outcome that’s probably not very likely, yet they hold onto their price. That means the sellers think their home is worth more than surrounding properties for any variety of reasons.

Typically the reason is more emotional than practical and ultimately the home sits on the market for months while others in the neighborhood have sold. How can you identify an overpriced home?

The obvious way is to compare the list price of the property with similarly priced homes in the area. If the home you’re considering is way much higher compared to the others, it’s very likely the home is overpriced.

Another way is to compare how long the home has been on the market compared to other homes recently sold. Homes on the market for a long time could indicate a stubborn seller.

Has the property gone through extensive renovations and upgrades? Some homeowners make so many upgrades thinking they’ll get more money when the sell at some point the reverse is true and the sellers soon realize they’ll never get their money back through the upgrades they made.

It’s an age-old rule of thumb in real estate- lower priced homes in a neighborhood bring down the price of the highest-value home in the area. If it’s a home you’re interested in, certainly work with your agent and take a peek. But if you think the home is overpriced and your agent agrees, it might be time to look at other properties.

2016 Ends, 2017 Trends


What’s Trending for Kitchens in 2017?

Okay, if you’re into cars, then you’ve probably already seen the 2017 Ford GT. And if you’ve got about $400,000 burning a hole in your pocket, this might be a good place to put your dough. That is if you’re one of the lucky 500 who have been selected by Ford to purchase one of the first models.

This 600+ horsepower behemoth was a show stopper at the Detroit Automobile Show and has car aficionados drooling. But while your future kitchen might not get exactly the same reaction, there are some definite trends shaping up for kitchen design for 2017.

One of the hottest trends for new homes and kitchen remodels is what is called “Tuxedo” kitchen cabinets.

Tuxedo cabinets are so-called due to the two-toned paint, such as a sleek black panel with a white or silver trim. Tuxedo cabinet designs also include top and bottom cabinet doors of different yet complimentary colors.

Gone for 2017 is the stainless steel appliance. Instead of a shimmering stainless steel look, appliances are hidden and the exterior of the unit looks just like the Tuxedo cabinet right next to it and easily fit into the color scheme of the kitchen.

And speaking of appliances, homeowners are also opting for contrasting colors instead of a monochrome look.

Appliances and accessories aren’t fitting the stainless look but now carry multiple finishes such as gold, copper or pewter for example to accent the cabinets and backsplash.

You can find lots of ideas and color combinations but the trick is to get rid of the old ideas and usher in the new kitchen trends for 2017. These new designs are definitely out of the box but are so very attractive it’s difficult to pass on this new kitchen trend for 2017.


The Female Home Buyer

The Female Home Buyer You may not have noticed, but the so-called “hipster” trend may be coming to an end. If you aren’t a hipster and don’t know what one is, a hipster is considered a subculture made up primarily of middle class youth associated with indie and alternative lifestyles. It’s easier to spot a male hipster because one of the striking characteristics is the rough, full beard as well as clothes that look as if they’re from a thrift shop. Female hipsters of course don’t have the beard but do follow the same clothing styles. But while hipsters may soon leave the fashion scene, female home buyers are just getting warmed up.  

  Married couples make up the largest single group of home buyers but not far behind are single women. Recent data shows that married couples comprise more than 54 percent of home buyers with single women following up with 18 percent. Unmarried couples are at 15 percent and single men 11. These percentages are dynamic but are generally in this range. So what do single women need to know when buying a home? First, mortgage lenders treat your mortgage application in the very same way as they evaluate a married couple buying a home together. The lender will review your income, assets and credit report in the very same fashion as any other class of borrower. Next, speak with a loan officer before you go shopping for a home. By completing an initial loan application and supporting documentation your lender can give you a range of loan amounts you may qualify for based upon your down payment, income and current monthly credit obligations. After this review, you will receive your pre-approval letter which your real estate agent will submit along with your offer. One last important piece of advice is to not “fly solo” during this process. Work closely with your loan officer who can also provide a list of real estate agents that can help you find the right house and negotiate your best deal.

Real Estate Nightmares

Real Estate Nightmares: Things That Can Go Wrong

Paul Newman played the petty thief Luke Jackson in the classic film, Cool Hand Luke. Although Luke was only going to serve two years and with good behavior less than that, his only thought was to escape from pretty much day one.

Yet his multiple attempts at escape were futile. He was always caught and returned to prison. And when he did escape one last time, well, let’s just say he didn’t make it back. Whatever could go wrong during his escape attempts, ultimately did.

In real estate, there are things that can go horribly wrong. It’s a delicate transaction and there are lots of things that need to fall in place before the home can be transferred from the seller to the buyer.

If one or both parties during negotiations refuse to budge on price or repairs, there will be no transaction. Those that are not willing to compromise can kill the deal.

If the appraisal comes back lower than the sales price listed on the contract, then there is a problem. Lenders use the lower of the sales price or appraised value to establish a loan basis. The buyers must then decide to make up the difference or renegotiate the sales price.

If the seller refused to lower the price, the deal is dead.

The inspection reveals significant damage beyond simply peeling paint or a stain on the carpet. For example, say there are apparent diagonal cracks along a door jamb which could indicate a damaged foundation. Such damage will cause a lender to refuse to finance the property.

Sometimes buyers don’t listen to their loan officers and don’t lock in their interest rate and rates move up in the meantime so high the buyers no longer qualify.

What if the buyers need to sell their current home before they can buy the next one? This contingent sale could make the new purchase null and void if the buyer’s home falls out of escrow.

These are just a few of the things that can go wrong during a real estate transaction but things that cause a real estate transaction to come to a halt are for a very good reason. When such an event happens, it ultimately can be a good thing.