Why Fall and Winter May be the Best Time to Sell Your Home

New Home

Summer is saying its farewell. And with cooler temperatures, we usually see a cooling in the housing market. But before you put your intentions to sell your current home on the back burner, take a minute to consider all the reasons now is the RIGHT time to sell a home.

There’s less competition.

No matter where you are, it’s a sellers’ market right now. But in the fall and winter, you’ll have an even bigger leg up on the competition with fewer homes on the market. This may pay off big time, making it easier for you to sell your home at the right price.

Fall and winter homebuyers are ready to make move.

Spring and summer buyers may be easing into the market. They know it’s home buying season, so they stick their toe into the water. But fall and winter homebuyers are serious purchasers. They really are planning to make a move, and in this tight market, that will work out well for the home seller.

Your agent can make different and potentially more accurate plans to market your home.

Because most parents don’t want to move their kids in the middle of the school year, it may be easier for your real estate agent to market more accurately to the true potential buyers – perhaps young professionals with no kids, older adults looking to downsize, people hoping to start a family “some day.” Often, these are the people more likely to make a move in the fall.

Note: This is a great reason to work with a listing agent and not try to sell your home on your own. An agent will know who the most likely buyers of your property are and will know how to reach them.

You could save money.

You won’t be hiring movers during the busiest time of the year, so they may offer you a less expensive rate than “peak moving season.” Everyone likes a bargain, so consider how much money you might save by selling in the fall.

Fall colors are great for curb appeal.

Run a rake over your yard, put out a few fall flowers and a fresh welcome mat, and your house can be read for fall in no time at all. Don’t discount the beauty of the season when it comes to curb appeal. If you’re selling in the winter, make sure you keep your home freshly shoveled and well lit.

Home owners will be home for the holidays.

If you sell in the fall, you’ll be in your new home by the time the holidays roll around, and the new owners of your house will also be home. That’s a big bonus. A lot of homebuyers picture themselves at home and settled in time for the holidays to roll around.

You may find your dream home easier.

You may be able to sell your home easier in the fall or winter, and surprisingly, you may be able to find your dream home in the fall or winter, too. In the summer homes move faster because there are more buyers out looking. In the fall or winter, even in a tight sellers’ market, you may find you have a little more time to make your move.

No matter when you decide to make your move out of your home and into your new home, we encourage you to solicit the help of a trusted real estate partner. A real estate agent can make selling your home easier and more profitable for you. Happy fall and happy house selling!

Consider it Sold – To You! Get Your Offer Accepted on Your Dream Home.

Family with Sold Home

It’s been a long, hard journey. But you’ve made it. You have found your dream home. However, your dream home is the dream home of a lot of other people, too. Offering asking price isn’t  enough – Your offer needs to stand out from the crowd. Let us help you with a few ways to get your offer accepted so you can move into your new home.

1. Get a Performance Guarantee with Universal Lending. Our Performance Guarantee is a conditional loan commitment that guarantees your earnest money up to $10,000. Essentially, you’re putting in an offer that has already gone through underwriting. Other homebuyers may offer a pre-approval letter, but a Performance Guarantee is the next best thing to a cash offer.

2. If you don’t have a Performance Guarantee, submit your pre-approval letter with your offer. Other buyers will have this. so going in without a pre-approval letter will put you at a disadvantage.

3. Work with a real estate agent. You may think “you’ve got this,” but an agent who is familiar with the neighborhood you are buying in, knows how to help buyers stand out in a seller’s market, and who is a genuine champion of buyers will be ready to get you into your home.

4. Have your lender go the extra mile. Can your lender vouch for your ability to close this loan? Your agent can reach out to your lender and ask for a video or testimonial about your offer and ability to pay. A Universal Lending loan officer sent a video testimonial to her borrower’s agent, who sent it to the sellers, and it was the ticket to an accepted offer. Encourage your team be creative!

5. Offer a fast close. Make your offer stand out by offering a shorter closing date. Universal Lending prides itself on the ability to do quick, clean closings – another reason we stand out.

6. Offer above the asking price. Now is not the time to low ball. Check comps in the neighborhood to see what a strong offer was on the homes that have sold most recently.

7. Make a good, clean offer. If you’re trying to sell a property, making the purchase of this home contingent on selling another home may not work in a seller’s market. It’s also going to be difficult to ask for additional concessions such as help with closing costs.

8. In fact, you may want to offer to pay the seller’s portion of closing costs.

9. Don’t ask for extras to be thrown in. Lawn furniture? A grill that’s not staying with the house? A painting that you “must have.” Asking for extras may be just the thing that moves you down the list of accepted offers.

10. Put down a larger down payment than is expected. Putting more down on the house shows that you are serious about making this purchase.

11. Include an escalation clause in your offer. An escalation clause means that your offer will outbid other offers up to a maximum price. This means that you make an offer saying you will pay X price for a home, but if a higher offer is received, you will increase your offer to Y price.

12. Offer one month of free occupancy. When purchasing a home with a mortgage, your payment doesn’t come due until a month after you close. A seller could very well need that time to figure out where they are going and offering to pay their “rent” for a month could strengthen your offer.

Don’t lose your dream home. Be prepared when the time comes to make an offer and make your offer stand out.

To Buy or not to Buy? Top Reasons People Become Homeowners

Happy family at home with their dogs

If you’re on the fence about buying a home, you’ve likely done a lot of research on interest rates and home prices, and have heard about lack of inventory locally and across the U.S. What you’re hearing may be enough to make you want to put your dream of homeownership on hold.

Not so fast!

Think about all the reasons that homeownership may be right for you, including the fact that if you wait even a year, it’s predicted that you’ll face higher home prices and interest rates, and ultimately a higher monthly mortgage payment. Here are a few of the top reasons people buy homes.

Pride of ownership. You can paint the walls any color you desire, attach permanent fixtures, and decorate your home according to your own taste. Home ownership gives you and your family a sense of stability. It’s an investment in your future. And a lot of people would say that the independence and sense of accomplishment that owning a home brings is an essential part of their way of life.

Build equity. Real estate moves in cycles, but over the years, real estate has consistently appreciated. As property value increases, you build equity in your home and your home becomes worth more than you owe. If you are renting a home, your landlord builds this equity every time you pay rent, and you get nothing in return.

Have more space. A lot of renters find they are short on space. They have few closets, no yard to call their own, and no attic, garage or basement. Many renters even pay an additional fee for a storage space on or off the property. Homeowners are often glad to have extra storage space, a place for their cars, and a yard to host barbecues, play with their kids or to run around with a new dog!

Make room for Fido. A recent survey by SunTrust Mortgage found that a third of millennials who had already purchased their first home said they were influenced by the need to have space for a dog. Not only do you get more space for your pet with a yard to play in and room to roam about, you can eliminate the pet deposit and monthly fee that a landlord tacks on to your rent payment.

Upgrade to your heart’s content. A lot of renters are not rewarded for upgrading their homes. The landlord may benefit from a fresh coat of paint, new flooring and overall upgrades that make the space a home, but there is no reward for the renter who sinks money into projects that benefit someone else’s pocketbook.

Keep your distance. Even if your new home has a small yard, if you buy a single-family home, you don’t have to deal with heavy-footed clomping walker above you, or the loud talkers below you.

There’s no single reason that makes homeownership the right option. But when you consider all the reasons that are important to you, you really have a reason to buy a home. What makes you want to be a homeowner? Call us today to get on the road to making your dream a reality!

Home Buying Secrets for Any Market

Family With Children And Pet Dog Outside House On Moving Day

There are some good things to do before buying a home, even if you think you are “just contemplating buying.” Especially in a market as tight as the one we are in today, you want to be ready when you find your dream home or you realize you’re ready to make an offer. Here are some home buying secrets to keep in mind. But don’t go it alone. 

1. Don’t go it alone. You’ll want a good team on your side when you make a purchase as big as this. Work with a mortgage loan officer and real estate agent to make sure you’re educated along the way. You want to make decisions thoughtfully and efficiently every step of the way.

2. Keep your money where it is. Don’t make any big purchases or move your money within three to six months of buying your home. This means, even if you’re just thinking about buying, leave your money in the bank. It’s easy to get a good loan and have the necessary paper trail if you don’t make any big financial moves.

3. Get pre-approved. This means a lender has looked at your financial information and has let you know how much you can afford and how much they will lend you. Now is the time to really sit down and go over all fees, interest rates, types of loans, etc. Do this before you start shopping for a home. Make sure you are pre-approved. It is different than pre-qualified.

4. Don’t try to time the market. You’ll never be able to figure out the perfect time to buy a home if you’re trying to time the housing market. The best time to buy is when you find the right home and you can afford it. Like all investment markets, real estate is cyclical.

5. Don’t buy the biggest house. Buy the best! You want a home that is appealing to you and to others when you go to re-sell. Your home only goes up in value as much as the homes around you. You don’t necessarily want to have the most expensive house on the block.

6. Factor in all costs. Don’t forget to include your utilities, taxes, maintenance, homeowners association fees, insurance and all other costs that go into homeownership when you are budgeting for your house. It’s important to be able to pay for all costs, not only the mortgage.

7. Get a home inspection done. OF COURSE, you’ll want to have an unbiased home inspector check out your home. An inspection can save you thousands of dollars, provide you with negotiation options and even help you decide a particular house is not for you. Click here to read more about hiring a home inspector.

8. Bid right. You should base your opening bid on a couple of factors – what you can afford and what the property is worth. Be fair and reasonable. Check to see what other homes in the area are going for, what the square footage is worth, and what could add to the value of the home or take away from the value of a home. Be specific about your number so the seller takes your seriously.

For most people a home is the biggest purchase they will ever make. Make sure you make the right move by being ready when the time is right. If you have questions one of our loan officers would be happy to discuss your questions, concerns and options. 

Why Working with a Local Lender Beats Working with a Big Bank

Searching for real estate property, house or new home

Anyone who has gotten a home loan will tell you it’s not always an easy process. But if you ask a borrower who shopped for a home loan at a big bank and a borrower who shopped for a loan at a local lender, you’ll hear distinctly different stories. And the ending is almost always the same:

Working with a local lender is a more positive experience for homebuyers.

We focus on customer service.
Reputation is the cornerstone of a thriving business, and we rely on referrals rather than flashy advertisement. Unlike many big banks, we do not have other sources of revenue, like credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, etc.

Issues that arise can be more easily resolved because we have streamlined our operations. We hire only the best and most professional loan support team, and our operations are centrally located. With our support staff in one place and not spread across time zones, it’s easy to contact someone whenever you have a question or concern, and decision making is quicker and more thoughtful.

We have faster turn times for loans.
Because our systems and teams are centrally located, our borrowers often see faster loan processing, faster underwriting, and ultimately, faster closings.

We do one thing – mortgage loans – so we must do them well.

You have a main point of contact who’s accountable for your experience and your transaction.
At Universal Lending, each loan and each borrower is personal to us. We answer your calls, even outside of normal business hours, and get answers right away. Big banks often don’t take this personally, and most don’t answer their phones after 5 p.m. or on weekends.

We are not beholden to shareholders.
We keep our focus on our customers at all times, because we don’t have to answer to anyone else.

You are trusting your savings and your financial future to the loan officer with whom you work.
Our lenders are subject to strict licensing standards. Loan Officers at many big banks are not required to meet the same high standards. You want to work with someone you can put your faith in to handle your home loan intelligently and ethically.

You are helping to support a community business and jobs in your area.
Dollars spent in your community help to support the community – keeping other businesses and local nonprofits strong.

These are just a few of the reasons local is better. Stop by or give us a call. We are confident that you’ll see for yourself why working with a local lender makes sense, and you’ll be glad you worked with Universal Lending.