Tucson Real Estate and Community News

April 17, 2018

How Much Does That Tucson Home Really Cost?

You've decided to buy a Tucson home. Congratulations! Why pay someone else's mortgage when you can be paying your own? Maybe you needed some assistance with your down payment. But that's only one part of the total money you'll need to buy a home. Exactly how much does that Tucson home really cost? Here are some hidden expenses you might not have thought about.

Your down payment is only one portion of the money involved in buying a Tucson home. Other expenses might creep up on you if you don't know what they are. How much does it really cost to buy a home?

How Much Does That Tucson Home Really Cost?

Closing Costs

Search homes for sale in TucsonIn addition to your down payment, you're going to need money to pay the closing costs on your Tucson home. These include loan origination fees, title fees, recording fees, taxes, insurance, and prepaid interest among other things. The total for these closing costs typically run between 3% and 5% of your home's purchase price. So, if you pay $200,000 for your home, expect to pay $6000-$10,000 in closing costs alone. Your mortgage company may also require that an appraisal be performed to assess the value of the home you wish to purchase. Depending on the size of the house, you could be paying anywhere from $400 to $1000 for an appraisal. You might be able to negotiate that the seller pays some or all of the closing costs. But, that doesn't always happen. It's best to have this money saved up just in case.

Inspections

I always recommend that a buyer get a home inspection done right away. This might alert you to major, costly issues in the home. However, these professionals only perform a cursory inspection. If they see that there could be an issue with pests, the roof or the plumbing, you might need to call in a specialist to perform a more thorough inspection of the potential problem areas. Depending on how many different inspections you end up with, you could spend anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Keep in mind, though, that this money could save you tens of thousands in the long run. So, this is an investment worth making.

HOA Fees

Another hidden cost of buying a Tucson home involves HOA fees. These vary depending on the association your home is located in. It's important to find out 1) if your home is located in an HOA and 2) how much that monthly fee will be. Also, ask about what it costs to set you up with the HOA once you become a new homeowner. 

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Finally, we come to the miscellaneous stuff. Moving costs, regular ongoing maintenance, any repairs needed when you move in, utilities, etc. We don't normally associate these as the regular cost of purchasing a Tucson home. But they are very real. Even if you move everything yourself, there's the cost of renting a truck, gas, and packaging materials.

If you've only ever rented before, you're probably used to just calling the landlord when something breaks. No more. One of the joys of homeownership is that you are now responsible for the hassle and expense when something goes wrong. A bigger home means more square footage to cool down in the hot Tucson summers, too. So, it might be a good idea to invest in some energy-efficient upgrades.

Don't let these "hidden costs" deter you from your dream of owning a Tucson home. Just make sure you budget wisely. And remember that you still get a tax break by being a homeowner. That helps offset some of these costs over time. When you're ready to look for your dream Tucson home, give me a call. I'd love to show you what's available right now.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Buying a Home
April 3, 2018

What Tucson Buyers Are Looking For in Today's Market

One of the keys to successfully selling your home is knowing your audience. While Baby Boomers comprised the majority of the market in the past, Gen X-ers and Millennials dominate the real estate market nowadays. Learn more about what Tucson buyers are looking for in today's market so you can make any necessary changes before you list.

When selling your home, it helps to know what your target audience is looking for. Find out what today's Tucson buyers want in order to stage and market your home appropriately for a successful sale.

What Tucson Buyers Want

Design Trends

Search all available Tucson homes for saleIn the past, experts recommended using a completely neutral palette to appeal to a wider audience when staging a home. Ditch the brown and gray tones. Today's Tucson buyers want a nice creamy white and beige background with pops of color throughout. Also, depersonalizing is out. Now, I'm not saying you should continue to display your collection of commemorative Elvis plates. But, a couple of family photos and some of your nicer art pieces put here and there throughout add a nice, homey touch that helps buyers see themselves living in.

Open Floor Plans

Another trend that isn't going away anytime soon is the open floor plan. By and large, this is the #1 thing Tucson buyers want. No matter the size of the home, opening up walls so that you can see from the kitchen to the front room makes the living area appear much larger. It would be worth the investment to open up your main living area if at all possible.

Smart Home Features

Yet another thing Tucson buyers of all demographics ask for is smart home features. Energy-efficient appliances remain high on their priority list. But, "smart" features rule the roost. The most requested item? Smart thermostats. Nest and Ecobee4 offer great systems that learn your habits as they go, increasing efficiency. A smart security system and lighting system are also high on the priority list. ADT and Vivint rank tops for security experts. And Lutron provides a wireless kit that allows you to turn lights on and off as well as dim them from your smartphone or tablet. Also, consider adding voice-activated controls like the Echo Dot ("Alexa") or Apple's iOS system ("Siri"). Tucson buyers want to see these features already installed in the home before they purchase.

Curb Appeal

Finally, don't neglect your home's curb appeal. Making sure your property looks its best from the very first moment a Tucson buyer sees it needs to be at the top of your "honey-do" list. Set yourself apart from the terra-cotta tones we see in most other Tucson homes. A fresh white or light gray on the exterior could set your home apart from the others in the neighborhood. Make sure to get rid of any weeds that pop up. Add flowering succulents to your landscaping. Keep all shrubs trimmed up. You only have one chance to make a first impression. So, make it good.

When selling your Tucson home, it helps to know what your target audience wants. That way, you can market and stage your home appropriately. When you're ready to sell your home, contact me. I'm always ready to help.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate

Posted in Selling Your Home
March 27, 2018

How to Seal Your Tucson Home Mortgage Pre-Approval

One of the first things you should take care of when you want to buy a home is your financing. For one thing, you look much stronger to sellers if you already have your financing in place when you make an offer. In fact, some agents insist you have a pre-approval letter to present with your offer. Also, it can take a little while to go through the whole pre-approval process. Learn how you can seal your Tucson home mortgage pre-approval before you even start looking at houses.

Want to know how to seal your Tucson home mortgage pre-approval before looking for a home? Get your credit in top shape. Gather all necessary paperwork. And save as much as you can for your down payment.

How to Seal Your Tucson Home Mortgage Pre-Approval

Tucson Home Buyers: Pre-Qualified vs Pre-Approved

Search homes for sale in TucsonBefore the real estate market crash of the mid-2000's, all you really needed to start off your Tucson home search was a pre-qualification from a lender. This takes a short amount of time. The lender asks for your income, total debt load, and down payment amount. Then, they take this information and determine the maximum amount you would qualify for in a mortgage loan. This pre-qualification is based solely on the information you provide verbally. They don't verify anything.

On the other hand, a Tucson home mortgage pre-approval requires you to provide documentation of your income, assets, down payment funds, and debt. Then, the lender pulls your credit and verifies the validity of the information you provide as well as employment status. All of this takes a few weeks to complete. At the end, you'll know whether or not you are actually approved for a mortgage loan. Having a concrete amount approved ahead of time helps you determine how much you're willing to spend on your new Tucson home. Remember, just because you were approved for a higher dollar amount doesn't mean you necessarily need to spend that much. Stay within a comfortable budget so that you don't compromise your lifestyle.

Perform a Credit Check on Yourself

The first thing you must do to seal your Tucson home mortgage pre-approval is to pull your credit report. Lenders want to see a good FICO score. You'd be surprised at how often erroneous information can be found on credit reports. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to obtain a free report from each of the three reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Scour each report in search of errors. If you find any, report them to the appropriate agency. Each agency offers their own rules for reporting erroneous information. Simply visit their corresponding website to find out how to go about reporting an error. To obtain a loan with a great interest rate, you need to have a great FICO score. So, it pays to put in the effort to improve your credit score wherever possible.

Gather Necessary Paperwork

When applying for your Tucson home mortgage pre-approval, you must provide some necessary financial paperwork. So, it's important to gather this paperwork in one central location to make the loan process run a bit smoother. For example, you'll need your most recent income tax return. Banks need to see two to four weeks of paycheck stubs. If you're self-employed, they'll want to see a profit and loss statement. Also, get a copy of your last two months' bank statements as well as any investments or other assets you may own. Don't transfer big sums of money into or out of your accounts either. This throws up a red flag for mortgage companies. They want to see a solid, steady, easily-traceable income trail.

Increase Your Down Payment

Finally, if at all possible, pour more money into your down payment savings. Even if you currently have 20% of a home's purchase price saved for your down payment, raise it to 25% or more. It never hurts to show that you have a nice amount of money set aside for your Tucson home purchase. This shows banks that you are financially sound and serious about buying a home. You may not end up using all of your savings for your down payment in the end. But, it's always good to have some cushion to allow for unforeseen expenses that may arise once you actually move into your home.

Use these tips to seal your Tucson home mortgage pre-approval. Then, when you're ready to start looking for your next Tucson home, contact me. I'd be happy to help you find what you're looking for.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate

Posted in Buying a Home
March 22, 2018

Tucson Seller Closing Costs

You may be familiar with closing costs when buying a home. They include various fees, insurance, and taxes required to perform a real estate transaction. But buyers aren't the only ones who pay closing costs. Tucson seller closing costs exist as well. While not as extensive of a list as buyers, sellers pay certain costs in order to complete a sale. Knowing what they eliminate any "surprises" come closing time.

sellers pay certain costs in order to complete a sale. Knowing what they are eliminates any "surprises" come closing time.

Tucson Seller Closing Costs

 

Commission

One of the biggest portions of Tucson seller closing costs is the commission paid to the REALTOR@. This comes out of the final settlement of the home purchase. Usually, it runs about 6% of the final sale price. This fee gets split evenly between the buyer's agent and the seller's agent.

 

Loan Payoff

Another one of the Tucson seller closing costs that often gets ignored is the mortgage payoff. It's a good idea to know what your payoff amount is before you list your home. Talk to your lender about an exact figure. This amount could change depending on how long it takes to sell your home. Also, find out if there is a prepayment penalty. Most loans don't include one anymore. But, if you bought your home several years ago, it may include a prepayment penalty clause in the paperwork.

 

Points

Some buyers need a little help in order to obtain their loan for your property. They may negotiate that the seller pays "points". This lowers the interest rate, making their mortgage loan more affordable and lessening their closing costs. FHA and VA loans put restrictions on the amount a buyer pays in closing costs. By having the seller pay points, this lowers those costs and gets you the sale. Talk to your Tucson REALTOR@ to see if this is a good tactic to take with your situation.

 

Termite Inspection

Many buyers request that a termite inspection is done before close of sale. Sellers usually pay for this. If you already have a pest control company servicing your property, they should be able to give you a report at low to no cost if they cover regular spraying for termites. However, if they find that termite damage is apparent, shop around for a company to take care of it. Your contracted pest control company may not be the best deal in town.

 

Trustee Fee

Finally, when you purchased your Tucson home, you most likely did it as a "deed of trust". This allows trustees to sell it if you go into default. When the loan is paid in full with funds from the sale, a trustee fee will be paid to release them from the deed of trust.

With the exception of the termite inspection and any subsequent action required to get rid of them, all fees are paid out of your portion of the funds at closing. A termite inspection comes directly out of your pocket at the time it is performed. Understanding your Tucson seller closing costs ahead of time prepares you for what to expect when you receive your portion of the sale's proceeds. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

 

 

Rebecca Schulte, your Tucson real estate specialist

Posted in Selling Your Home
March 13, 2018

Tucson Down Payment Assistance Program Benefits Buyers

One of the biggest obstacles Tucson buyers face is saving for their down payment. You've got your credit score right where it should be. You know you can afford the monthly mortgage payment easily. And you've managed to save up some money for the inspections, closing costs, and down payment. But you need more money to solidify your loan approval. The government offers up a Tucson down payment assistance program that just might help: the Pima Tucson Homebuyer's Solution.

Don't have enough for your down payment and closing costs? The Pima Tucson Homebuyer's Solution provides a Tucson down payment assistance program to use with any type of home loan.

Tucson Down Payment Assistance Program - Pima Tucson Homebuyer's Solution

If you're a veteran, you won't need a down payment. However, closing costs can run as high as 5% of the purchase price. Luckily, vets can utilize the Pima Tucson Homebuyer's Solution to pay for these costs, too. This Tucson down payment assistance program can be used for FHA, USDA, or conventional loans as well.

Pima Tucson Homebuyer's Solution allows you to borrow 3%, 4% or 5% of your purchase price. This gets added on to your mortgage loan as a "silent second". This interest-free loan doesn't require a payment, per se. Instead, it gets "forgiven" in equal monthly increments for the first 36 months of your loan. You must stay in your Tucson home for at least three years without any refinancing. Then, you've fulfilled your down payment assistance obligation.

You're still going to need a decent credit score (minimum of 640). And your debt-to-income ratio cannot exceed 45%. For conventional loans, your household income cannot be more than $88,950. For all other loans, it can't go above $83,020. Anyone who utilizes this Tucson down payment assistance program must attend a required homebuyer education course as well. Currently, FHA only allows for loans up to $294,515 in Pima County. Other loan programs include their own restrictions and must be adhered to. Discuss all of your options with your lender before deciding whether or not this program will work for your needs.

To find out more about this Tucson down payment assistance program, visit the Down Payment Assistance of Arizona website here. You don't have to be a first-time home buyer to reap the benefits of this program. And when you're ready to start looking for your next Tucson home, contact me. I'd be happy to show you what's available.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate

Posted in Buying a Home
March 6, 2018

Tucson Home Seller "Honey Do" List

Spring officially breaks on March 20th. As the weather warms up (but before it gets too hot), buyers begin looking at houses. Families prefer to move while the kids are out of school for the summer. That makes spring prime time for home buying. Now, if you want to sell your home, you need to prepare it now. Here are a few items for your Tucson home seller "honey do" list that need to be completed before you put your home on the market.

Spring is almost here. That's when the buyers really start looking for homes. But, before listing a property, every Tucson home seller needs to complete these items on their "honey do" list first.

What Every Tucson Home Seller Should Do Before They List Their House

Spring Cleaning...and Then Some!

First, clean. Baseboards, windows, carpets, upholstery, sinks, tubs, showers, toilets. It all needs to shine! Wipe down the walls. Clean off the counters. Mop the floors. Don't forget to dust your ceiling fan blades. And before you think you can stuff things into cupboards and closets, don't! Buyers open up everything when they inspect your Tucson home. Take a little time to organize the dishes in your cupboards, the foodstuff in your pantry, and the clothes in your closets. You want to show the space being used but not cluttered.

Store, Sell or Toss

And speaking of closets...time to get rid of any old clothes, shoes, and accessories you never wear anymore. Buyers want to see ample closet space. If it's filled to the brim with clothes and shoes, buyers can't see its size. Pare down to the basics you use on a weekly basis and pack up, sell or donate the rest. Leave space in between clothes by adding empty hangars. And always make sure to show that there is plenty of space for shoes.

In other decluttering news, now's the time to start your packing. Begin with items you don't use regularly (heavy blankets, holiday decorations, china plates, crystal glasses, etc). Then, take down family photos, kids art, spoon collections, anything personal. These can all be packed away carefully and kept in a rented storage unit. You're going to want to keep your garage clear of any excess items, too. If you or your family have outgrown something but it's still in good condition, sell it or donate it. If it's beyond repair, toss it. For the Tucson home seller, less is definitely more.

Repair the "Little Things"

Next up on the "honey do" list? Repair anything that you've put off taking care of. For example, replace your burned out light bulbs. Tighten up loose knobs or handles on your doors, drawers, and cabinets. Oil squeaky hinges. Replace torn or cracked flooring. You may have been content to live with it as it is, but buyers start listing these small things in their head as demerits towards what they will offer you for a purchase price. It also wouldn't hurt to have a home inspection performed to identify any larger problem areas that need to be addressed. This helps avoid any "surprises" down the road.

Freshen Up Your Curb Appeal

Living in a desert climate, our landscaping tends to be pretty minimal. But it shouldn't be neglected. Weed regularly. Trim back overgrown brush. Add flowering succulents for a pretty pop of color. A nice recycling water feature adds a beautiful touch without putting a strain on your water consumption. Brand new exterior light fixtures may be in order. And, if your door is looking a little worse for wear, paint it a bright color for a fresh, new look. Always make sure trash bins are tucked neatly out of sight on the side of the house and any tools or toys are stored away in an orderly fashion in the garage.

Take your personal feelings out of the equation. Every Tucson home seller should walk around their property, inspecting it like a buyer would. If it's something you would question if you were the buyer, make sure you address it before you list. Then, when you're ready to sell, give me a call. I'd love to work with you.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate

Posted in Selling Your Home
Feb. 27, 2018

Tips for a Successful Tucson Home Purchase

Buying a home comes with its own set of stresses. Searching, finding, funding, waiting. It can all be a bit overwhelming at times. But it doesn't have to be when you utilize my tips for a successful Tucson home purchase.

Use my buyer tips for a successful Tucson home purchase to reduce your stress throughout the entire process.

Tips for a Successful Tucson Home Purchase

Financing First

Always, always start the financing process first. It helps you focus on a specific price range. In turn, this whittles down your choices and allows you to make an informed final decision. Get your credit in shape first. Talk to your bank or ask your REALTOR@ for a lender recommendation. Get approved for a loan, not pre-qualified. Pre-qualification only shows you what you might be approved for based on your income and debt load. It doesn't mean you will be approved for that amount. And you'll still need to go through the actual loan process to be approved in the end anyway. The approval process takes much longer, which is why you should get started on it right away. Besides, many real estate agents prefer that their clients include an approval letter when they present an offer.

Keep an Open Mind

Face facts, it's hard to find a "perfect" home. More likely than not, you're going to have to make some compromises. Things like paint color, carpeting, and light fixtures can all be changed easily and relatively inexpensively. Don't dismiss a Tucson home simply because it doesn't check every box on your list. Also, pay attention to the neighborhood. You can remodel a home to fit your needs. But you can't change its location. A Tucson home that needs a little work in a highly sought-after neighborhood might be better for you than the "perfect" home in a less popular area.

Be Ready to Commit

Another tip for a successful Tucson home purchase is to be ready to commit. Don't wait too long when you find a house you like. We should see more and more buyers searching for homes in the next couple of months. That means more competition for existing listings. If you wait too long, you may find yourself in a bidding war or lose out on a listing altogether.

Don't Lowball

If you want a successful Tucson home purchase, don't present a lowball offer. Yes, we all want the best deal possible. But, if you offer a substantially lower price than what a seller asks, you risk insulting the seller and losing the deal. Instead, discuss with your REALTOR@ what would be a reasonable offer to make initially. Use their knowledge of the market to your advantage.

Pay Attention to Deadlines

Finally, don't ignore deadlines. They are crucial in a successful Tucson home purchase. Miss one and your whole transaction could be canceled. Earnest money, appraisals, home inspections...they all have deadlines. If you are unsure of when they are, ask your REALTOR@.  Mark it on your calendar or set an alert on your phone so you don't miss anything.

I would love to help you find your next Tucson home. Contact me when you're ready to start looking.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate

Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 20, 2018

Tucson Sellers Benefit from Home Inspections, Too

Buyers understand the importance of a home inspection in the home buying process. It helps uncover potential problems that might not be caught on a regular walkthrough. But did you know that Tucson sellers benefit from home inspections, too? It's true. And, oftentimes, for the exact same reasons.

Home inspections aren't just for buyers. A pre-listing home inspection gives Tucson sellers valuable insight into what potential problems they should address before putting their home on the market.

Why Tucson Sellers Should Have a Home Inspection Performed

Identify Potential Problems

First of all (and, possibly, most importantly), Tucson sellers need a pre-listing home inspection to identify potential problems. That way, you're not surprised when the buyer eventually gets theirs done. When you have a pre-listing home inspection done, you get to decide which issues you can tackle first and which may not be in the budget. 

Save Money on Fixing Problems

Speaking of budgets, a pre-listing home inspection allows Tucson sellers to save money on repairs. How? It gives them time to fix these concerns. With time, you can shop around to negotiate the best prices. Once fixed, these potential negatives turn into definite positives. You can show the buyer that they inherit a brand new roof, an overhauled electrical system, updated appliances, etc. They will be less likely to come back to the negotiating table with a list of items to be fixed or request credits to fix issues that their home inspector found.

If repairs cost more than your budget allows, complete your due diligence. Get estimates for repairs from three reputable companies. Do this for any major repair needed. These can be presented to the buyer if they come back to you asking for a discount on the sale price to pay for repairs.

Make Your Home More Attractive to Buyers

When Tucson sellers perform an official pre-listing inspection, they show buyers that they were proactive in making sure the home was ready for a new owner. This instills trust. It also saves time. That's good news for all parties concerned.

Before you put your Tucson home on the market, have a professional home inspection performed. They cost the same as the buyer's home inspection. But they can save you so much in terms of time and money down the road.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate

Posted in Selling Your Home
Feb. 13, 2018

Credit Score Tips for the Tucson Home Buyer

When buying a Tucson home, you need to get your financing in order first. For that, you need a good FICO score. While it doesn't have to be excellent, there are perks to possessing a higher credit score. A higher score qualifies you for better interest rates. That translates to lower mortgage payments each month. If your credit is less than stellar, you may want to follow these credit score tips for the Tucson home buyer. Whip your credit into shape before you buy your next home.

Utilize these credit score tips to put yourself in the best position when you go to buy your next Tucson home.

Credit Score Tips for the Tucson Home Buyer

Pull Your Credit Report

First things first. At the top of my credit score tips list is pulling your credit report. This provides a real look at what lenders see. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to request free copies of your report from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Each report contains different information. Not all creditors inform all three agencies of your credit history. That's why credit scores can vary. Lenders look at all three scores but only use the middle one for your loan. For example, let's say TransUnion shows a score of 650. Equifax shows your score at 645. Meanwhile, Experian reveals a 675 score. Lenders throw out the top and bottom, leaving you with 650. A score of 675 puts you in the "good credit" category. However, 650 falls in the "fair credit" range. While that's enough to qualify for most mortgage loans, it could cost you more in interest.

Search your credit reports for errors. You'd be surprised how many contain inaccurate information. When you find an error, dispute it with the appropriate reporting agency. They each utilize different methods to dispute erroneous information. Click on any of the links below to be taken directly to the respective agency's dispute department:

Goal: 750+

While a perfect score of 850 would be ideal, 750 or above puts you in the rarified air of "excellent" credit. It opens the door to the best interest rates and most diverse loan choices. You'll even find that lenders fight for your business. Talk to your lender about which items on your credit report you should concentrate on taking care of in order to boost your score right now. Not all debt is created equal. They can tell you which accounts to take care of now and which ones can be set aside for a later time.

Credit Card Debt

Let's face it. Most of us have credit card debt. If paying it all off seems daunting, focus your efforts on paying each card down to half of their limit. After that, shoot for 25-30%. And don't cancel old credit accounts, especially if they're paid off. These affect your credit-to-debt ratio. For example, you have three credit cards: one with a $1500 limit, one with a $2000 limit, and one with a $500 limit. You carry a balance of $600 and $750 on the first two but the third is paid off. With all three cards, your debt-to-credit ratio is 33.8% ($1350 balance / $4000 combined limit). If you closed the smaller credit card, your debt-to-credit ratio increases to 38.6% (same $1350 balance but with a lower $3500 combined limit). 

One of the best credit score tips I can offer the Tucson home buyer is to talk to your lender first. Your bank is the perfect place to start. Make an appointment with one of the loan specialists there to discuss what you need to do to put yourself in the best position for a mortgage loan. When you're ready to start looking for your next Tucson home, feel free to contact me.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate