Archive for First-time home buyers

Why Choose a New Home? Infographic

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home right now, you may be wondering whether you should give serious consideration to purchasing a new home instead of a resale home. Since new homes are generally believed to have a slightly higher price tag than resale homes, are the benefits of a new home purchase really worth the extra cost? Here are a few compelling reasons for you to consider a new home purchase:

Why Sacramento is a Great Place to Call Home

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Why Sacramento is a Great Place to Call Home

Home prices are rising in many markets all across the United States right now, but few places are seeing as much growth (and resulting attention) as Sacramento.  Long-time Sacramento residents find this no surprise since they’ve long known what a special place their city is. But what are some other reasons for considering this fine city as your home? If you’re considering moving to Sacramento, or you are currently renting here but are considering putting down more permanent roots, what are some reasons why the Greater Sacramento region is such a great choice? Here are a just a few quick takes on why we love this city:

  • Family Fun – Sacramento has a lot of recreational activities to offer the many families living in the region. Between the multitude of parks, museums, sports venues, and other special annual events, there is no shortage of things to do all year long!
  • Parks – Did you know that Sacramento was recently ranked number 2 in the nation for best parks by the Trust for Public Land organization? Sacramento has been praised for its easily accessible, roomy and well-equipped parks. Local favorites include McKinley Park in East Sacramento, William Land Park in the Land Park neighborhood, and downtown’s Capitol Park. Why not visit these parks and see for yourselves why they are so beloved by Sacramento residents?
  • Dining – One of Sacramento’s hidden gems is its restaurant scene, particularly in the downtown area. Our restaurants offer diverse choices for “foodies” and rival larger cities in areas of quality, variety, and price. Sacramento also offers a lot of great options for those that like eating local and organic food.
  • Travel – Sacramento is a great place to live if you like to get away for the weekend – Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Yosemite, Napa, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and many other great vacation destinations are all within just a few hours’ drive from Sacramento.
  • Education – Sacramento is home to many excellent schools, including some top performers on the Academic Performance Index. The Greater Sacramento area boasts well-regarded universities and colleges, including Sacramento State University and the University of California Davis.    

Even with the current rise in prices, Sacramento is still considered an affordable place to live. And for all the reasons above (and for many more which didn’t even mention), we think Sacramento is a great place to call home!

If you are interested in purchasing a home in Sacramento, we’d be happy to help you in your search. Please let us know how we can help!

Why Choose a New Home?

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Why Choose a New Home?

Earlier this month the Sacramento Bee featured a story detailing home builders’ plans to construct upwards of 10,000 new homes in the Folsom region within the next several years. Just a few days later that same journal ran a story highlighting the forecast for major new home growth all over the Sacramento region. Similar types of stories are popping up in markets all over the nation right now. So it seems it’s now safe to say without hesitation: It’s official – the new home renaissance has begun!

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home right now, you may be wondering whether you should give serious consideration to purchasing a new home instead of a resale home. Since new homes are generally believed to have a slightly higher price tag than resale homes, are the benefits of a new home purchase really worth the extra cost? Here are a few compelling reasons for you to consider a new home purchase:

Customization

This a huge advantage of purchasing a new home vs. a resale home. When you move into an older home, what you see is what you get. While it’s true that you can make simple esthetic changes such as paint schemes, etc., to fit your preferences, doing this is often both costly, time-consuming, and a hassle. And the majority of changes you might be inclined to make will require a lot more than just a simple bucket of paint and a paintbrush. The costs incurred to make significant improvements in the esthetics, layout, or individual features of your home can really add up. By contrast, when you purchase a new home you will be able to make many of these choices before you ever get the keys to your new home in your hands.

Lower utility costs

Older homes have older appliances and older electrical systems. They can often be poorly insulated, leading to higher utility costs. Frequently, when someone buys an older resale home, the first thing they will be advised to do is purchase new windows and newer energy-efficient appliances to keep utility costs under control. New home builders are aware of what a concern high energy costs are to homeowners and they build their homes with careful attention to energy efficiency. The resulting decrease in utility prices can be quite considerable.

Fitted to modern lifestyles

The home features that many homeowners prefer, and often even require, have changed significantly in recent years. Advances in technology, shifting socio-economic factors, and increased urbanization all play a role in determining what kinds of homes modern families are seeking. New homes are built to be more adaptable and more in tune with what the current generation of homeowners need. This can be a powerful factor in determining what kind of home you purchase.

Be the first!

Last but not least, there is the simple, but not insignificant pleasure of being the first to “inaugurate” your new home. There is just something special about owning something as meaningful as your own home right from its very inception. A new home gives you and your family the opportunity to write your own history in every square inch – something that is truly priceless!

The Advantage Group is currently selling homes in a variety of communities in the Greater Sacramento Region. Check out our New Home Communities page for more information!

Real Estate 101: The Final Walk-Through

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Real Estate 101: The Final Walk-Through

So you’ve finally come to the finish line of the home buying process. You are just a few days away from closing and getting the keys to your new home in your hot little hands. You are more ready than ever to move in and start your new life. But there’s one last step in the process before you close the deal – the final walk-through. Why is this step so important? How can you maximize the value of your final walk-through? Here are a few tips to guide you through this last step of the home buying process:

Verify that all repairs were performed. This step is important for both buyers and sellers. The final walk-through gives us a chance to make sure that no repairs were forgotten or left incomplete, so carefully check that each and every repair that was agreed upon was performed. Resist the temptation to avoid checking on repairs that are challenging to access – for instance, areas in the basement, attic, or crawl spaces. This process will benefit not only the buyer but also the seller – verifying that all repairs were performed protects the seller from any post-escrow legal issues. Bonus tip: If repairs were performed by a contractor, obtain their contact information from the seller. This can be useful if future issues arise related to the repairs they performed.

Check for any major problems that could’ve arisen since the home inspection. While it may be unlikely, it’s possible that new problems have arisen since your home inspection was performed. Check for any problems that could mean major repair work, especially paying attention to anything that can leak – toilets, dishwasher, shower, etc.

Take your time and be thorough. Sometimes even the things you think of as minor may be the most expensive to repair. So give yourself plenty of time for the walk-through and make sure to give attention to every area of the home. Bonus tip: Make sure the final walk-through is not scheduled too far in advance of the closing date. Ideally, your walk-through should be scheduled for 24-48 hours before closing.

Be reasonable. Almost every home will have flaws and it may become clear during your final walk-through that some minor repairs will be necessary. Think carefully about whether or not the repair in question is important enough to  you to potentially jeopardize the closing of the deal.

If you have concerns during your final walk-through, now is that time to address them because it will be too late once the keys are in your hand! In all the excitement of closing your real estate deal, it may be tempting to rush through this important last step. Resist that temptation! The final walk-through is an important part of the home buying process that deserves your full attention.

Have questions about walk-throughs or any other aspect of the real estate process? Our agents are here to help! Contact us at info@taghomes.com with any questions you have and we will be happy to assist you promptly.

The Blackstone Mystery – Questions Answered

Monday, April 15th, 2013

The Blackstone Mystery – Questions Answered

Lately it seems you’d have to be hiding under a rock not to hear something about the mysterious Blackstone and all the real estate they’ve been scooping up in recent months. What are Blackstone’s objectives? How are they affecting the current real estate market? And what is behind their recent slow down in purchases? These questions and many more were recently addressed in an excellent article by Sacramento Real Estate Appraiser Ryan Lundquist. The following are some particularly noteworthy excerpts, shared with Ryan’s permission:

The Local Market: Blackstone has been targeting cities throughout the country, and their presence has definitely been felt in the Sacramento area since they began buying tenaciously last August. Let’s take a look at some stats and areas of focus to help understand what they are doing locally.

Blackstone activity in the Sacramento real estate market - by Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Has Blackstone Been Slowing Down? Blackstone appears to have slowed down a bit over the past few months compared to the previous quarter. Their 96 purchases under $200,000 in Sacramento County on MLS during 2013 represent 4% of all sales under $200,000, which translates to 8% of all cash purchases under $200,000. Previously Blackstone had 324 purchases under $200,000 from August 2012 to December 31, 2012, which was almost 13% of cash sales for the time period. Blackstone has been a big player in the market, though ultimately they are really only one piece of the investor pie since 53% of all sales under $200,000 last quarter were cash deals. However, we must ask of course whether their recent slow down is a result of strategy or a lack of inventory. That is the critical question.

Blackstone Purchases in Sacramento County - Graph by Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Blackstone’s Strategy: As you can see, over 80% of Blackstone’s purchases have been under $200,000. It seems they have been primarily focused on the first-time buyer market, and they’ve purchased traditional sales, flipped properties, foreclosures, short sales, private sales, trustees sales, non-performing loans directly from banks and really whatever they can get their hands on. They are buying as “THR California LP”, and Tax Records indicates they have purchased 548 properties since August 2012. However, some local media outlets state they have picked up over 1000 homes since last year. That could definitely be the case since there may very well be many private sales off the books, but since Tax Records only shows 548, I’ll stick with that and consider it a representative sample.

(Ryan updated his blog shortly after his original post with this message: “I talked with a Sacramento Bee Reporter about their data that shows Blackstone has purchased 1000+ properties since August. The Bee reporter stated that Blackstone confirmed this number and his search of the Sacramento County Recorder also confirms this number (it is very tedious to do this search – I didn’t confirm). All things considered, it looks like only about half of Blackstone’s sales are recording in Tax Records for whatever reason. I am only using Tax Records because that is what I can control best. Nonetheless, despite a difference in numbers in my post, the data in Tax Records still appears representative of the overall trends when comparing the data in this post with The Sac Bee data. The SacBee also reported a huge downtrend in 2013 so far.”)

What are the implications of this data? How can both real estate professionals and potential home buyers use this information to their benefit? Read more from Ryan’s article here for some practical suggestions.

What are your thoughts about Blackstone and the effect they are having on the real estate market in your neck of the woods? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.


Builder Spotlight: Premier United Communities

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Builder Spotlight: Premier United Communities

New home builders have faced a rocky road to economic recovery in recent years. Even now, with the housing market in a greatly improved state, builders face many obstacles – diminishing supply of lots and land, shortages of workers and building materials, and a tougher regulatory climate. And yet with all these challenges, new homes are getting built and sold here in Sacramento and are proving a key to our economic recovery.

This week on the blog we’d like to put a spotlight on one local builder making a huge positive impact in Sacramento – Premier United Communities. Premier United currently has two new home communities open in the greater Sacramento region – Stone Harbor in West Sacramento and West Colonial Estates in Roseville. The homes in these communities, and other recently closed communities, have either completely or nearly completely sold out and have done so with remarkable speed. Additionally, Premier United will open other new home communities this year in Carmichael, Granite Bay, and Lincoln.

The key to Premier United’s recent successes is based on more than just great locations and high quality homes. Their approach to building homes is based on a true partnership with the home buyers. Collaboration with buyers, being in tune with what they want out of their homes and communities, is a crucial part of their business. In this, they provide a great reminder for all of us in the real estate community that being in tune with our clients, listening and communicating freely, is absolutely essential to success.

If you’d like to learn more about Premier United Communities, please visit their official site: http://premierunited.com/

Getting a Quality Home Inspection

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Why Should You Get a Home Inspection?
Part Four: Getting a Quality Inspection

In recent weeks, we’ve been discussing the merits of home inspections – for buyers and sellers, on homes both new and old. But how can you ensure that you are getting a quality home inspection?

The value of your home inspection will depend largely on the quality of your home inspector. What should you be looking for when you hire an inspector? Here are two keys to achieving a quality home inspection:

CHOOSING YOUR INSPECTOR

You may want to save a little money by hiring a friend who is house-handy to perform an inspection for you. Big mistake! Anyone hired to inspect your home should have the training and qualifications necessary to perform a sound inspection. This includes meeting, or exceeding, state licensing requirements. A good home inspection company will require that its service professionals have rigorous training and meet ongoing quality review standards. How can you verify this? Ask! You should always feel comfortable asking a home inspector for their credentials and experience.

Additionally, it’s important to work with an inspector with a good reputation. Ask others you know who’ve recently gone through the home inspection process if they had a good experience with their inspector. When considering using a home inspector or inspection company, ask for referrals. A quality company or inspector will happily provide these.

ATTENDING THE INSPECTION

Depending on the size of the home and other details, a home inspection will generally last 2 – 4 hours. It is crucial that you attend the inspection. It gives you a chance to see what the inspector is doing, ask questions (as you will likely have many), and give him a chance to explain his process and findings. This doesn’t mean you have to crawl underneath the house with him or follow him onto the roof. But being available in person gives you an invaluable opportunity to ask questions and feel confident that your home inspection is being done thoroughly.

Some people might be inclined to worry that they will annoy a home inspector by asking many questions, but a quality home inspector will both expect and welcome questions and appreciate the opportunity to explain his process and findings in better detail. So don’t hold back. A good home inspector will never be annoyed by your interest in your future investment.

It’s true that there are many factors to consider when arranging for a home inspection. But the satisfaction and confidence that a good inspection provides is surely worth the effort!

Looking for a quality home inspector in the Sacramento area? We recommend our good friends at Buyers Protection Group!

Why Should You Get a Home Inspection for a New Home?

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Why Should You Get a Home Inspection?
Part Three: New Homes

Our previous two blog posts have discussed the value of home inspections for both homebuyers and sellers. Many homebuyers, though, question whether or not a home inspection is really necessary if they are purchasing a new home.

There are a couple of reasons why buyers are tempted to skip an inspection on a new home. They may reason that since the home is brand new, there hasn’t been time for decay to take place. Since everything is brand new, it must be in tip-top shape, right?

Another factor that can come into play when buyers are shopping for any home, but especially a new home, is their desire to save money wherever possible. Many buyers go into the home buying process without knowledge of the many associative costs of a home purchase. They think about down payments, mortgage payments and perhaps about closing costs. For most people, these are not trivial costs. They may have saved for a long time to be in a position to purchase a home and when they are confronted with costs that they didn’t foresee – for instance, appraisal and home inspection fees – there can be a tendency to balk. “Is this really necessary?” they may wonder, particularly when the home in question is a new home.

So what are the valid reasons for getting a home inspection on a new home?

In a word – defects. Just because a home is brand new does not mean it is without defect. Even if it has passed code, significant problems can still be present in a new home. Why?

While a new home may be inspected by a municipal inspector, his inspection will not be as thorough as the kind an independent home inspector performs. Municipal inspectors will be judging a home based primarily on its code compliance, giving little attention to craftsmanship – an area that can cause serious and costly headaches down the road for the home buyer.

Blindly trusting that your home builder did everything just right is a potentially serious mistake. With an investment this important, the relatively small cost of getting a home inspection is well worth it. In short, regardless of when a home was built, a home inspection is always a smart idea.

Next time on our blog we will discuss the final subject of our home inspection series – How Can You Ensure You Get a Quality Home Inspection?

Why Should You Get a Home Inspection – Part One

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Why Should You Get a Home Inspection?
Part One: Homebuyers

The process of purchasing a home can be stressful, especially for first-time homebuyers. There are so many different recommendations on a myriad of subjects that you will receive from friends and family, from your real estate agent, and from others, that you can end up feeling overwhelmed. But there is one piece of advice you should never ignore when shopping for a home: Get a home inspection!

Since home inspections are not cheap, many are tempted to skip this process. They might assume they know enough about home repair to do their own inspection or that if they are purchasing a new home they don’t really need an inspection. What are some good reasons that all homebuyers, and even home sellers, should get a home inspection? Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing a four-part series on our blog related to the following questions: Why should a homebuyer get an inspection? Why can a home inspection be valuable to home sellers?  Why should you get a home inspection even when purchasing a new home? How can you ensure that you are getting a quality inspection? This week we will consider the question:

Why should a homebuyer get an inspection?

Remember that Tom Hanks movie from the 1980s – The Money Pit? It tells the story of a young couple who are buying their first home on a budget. They think they’ve found the home of their dreams – until the stairway starts collapsing, and the bathtub falls through the floor, and the chimney breaks into a million pieces, and…well you get the picture. The point is, without a proper home inspection, that could be your future life story!

It can be a challenge for some homebuyers not to get emotionally attached to a home as soon as they see it. Shopping for a home can feel like falling in love – you feel convinced you’ve met the home you want to grow old in! However, it’s best if you can keep your emotions in check until after a home inspection has been performed. An inspection will help you see things in your prospective home that you may not notice at first blush, things that are under the surface. This is invaluable in helping you make a truly informed decision to purchase.

Unexpected repairs are one of the things that all homeowners, especially new homeowners, dread. A thorough home inspection from a qualified professional will give you the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you are buying. An inspector will not only be able to tell you about the overall condition of the home but about potential trouble spots or aspects of the home that might need repair down the road. This can really set your mind at ease as you proceed with your purchase – or conversely, help you avoid a money pit of your own!

But home inspections aren’t just for homebuyers. Next week on the blog, we’ll discuss this question: Why can a home inspection be valuable to home sellers?

Blog Post: How to Be a Likeable Real Estate Agent

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

How to Be a Likeable Real Estate Agent

 

I recently had an interaction with a salesperson that literally left my mouth hanging open in disbelief. I couldn’t imagine how this person could think his method of communication was actually going to win him a sale. But the sad fact of the matter is that some sales professionals are shockingly out of touch with how to connect with their audience. In a real estate sale, perhaps more than any other kind of sales transaction, the salesperson and the client will be have to form a bond to reach the finish line together. As a real estate agent, how can you engender respect and trust in your relationship with your clients?

Listen, and look like it

Listening and hearing are two very different things. When your clients are speaking to you, truly focus on what they’re saying to you and stop thinking about what you will say once they’re done talking. Avoid interrupting them, even if you are sure you know what direction the conversation is going. If you aren’t positive you understand what they are saying or asking, use follow-up questions to get clarification. Never make your clients feel foolish for asking questions you think are basic. You are the real estate professional – not them! They aren’t supposed to have all the answers. Also, make sure that you not only listen carefully but look like you are listening. Keep eye contact.  Don’t check your phone for messages or let your eyes wander around the room. Give them your whole attention, physically and mentally.

Report, even if you have nothing to report

Your clients are likely feeling quite anxious about how their real estate deal is progressing. Don’t assume your clients only want you to hear from you when you have something new to report. Communicate with them often, even if it’s just to tell them everything is proceeding as normal. When you check in with them regularly, your clients will feel reassured that you are taking good care of them and their anxiety will lessen.

Take the time to explain stuff

Real estate professionals tend to take certain things for granted – like the fact that everyone they talk to know what terms like “contingencies”, “origination fees”, etc., refer to. Always take the time to explain the different aspects of the real estate process to your clients, including explanations of what certain terms refer to. The more informed your clients are, the less likely they will be to end up feeling frustrated by the unexpected later on.

Let them down easy

Unfortunately, disappointments are usually part of the real estate process. You may be used this and take it in stride but your clients may take it harder. This can especially be the case with buyer clients. They can get attached to a home quickly and when their offer is not accepted, they can feel somewhat dejected. When delivering disappointing news to a client, be sensitive about it. While being realistic with them about their situation, always be optimistic about future opportunities. Your positive attitude will keep them from giving in to discouragement.

Give them as much time as they need – offer advice, but no pressure

Some buyers will be very motivated. Some may not be overly particular. But others will only feel secure if they are given plenty of time to make decisions. Understandably, these clients may need to be advised that moving faster can be in their best interests. Even in this case, focus on offering advice, not putting pressure on your clients. If clients feel pressured to make a decision they’re not ready to make, they may blame you later on when things don’t work out as they hoped.

Be careful about even the appearance of dishonesty

Some Realtors® are tempted to avoid mentioning low-ball offers to their seller clients. Bad idea! Agents are legally obligated to inform their clients of ALL offers on their home, regardless of price. Also, be careful not to give even the impression that you are not sharing all pertinent information with your clients. Even the appearance of dishonesty can cause your client to lose their trust in you.

Genuinely have their best interests at heart!

You can’t fake this. So fight the inclination to think primarily of your own convenience or bottom line. Your clients will be able to tell, even instinctively, if you genuinely care about them or are just watching out for yourself. So when you start to notice a selfish inclination taking over, try to adjust your focus back to your clients and what’s best for them.

Now we want to hear from you home buyers and sellers, past, present, or future: What can a real estate agent do to make you feel comfortable and secure? Have you ever had a great experience with a real estate agent? Or a terrible one? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!