4 Dec

Few people can buy a home for cash. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), nearly nine out of 10 buyers of Belleville IL homes finance their purchase, which means that nearly all buyers — especially first-time purchasers — require a loan.  The real issue with real estate financing is not getting a loan (almost anyone mortgagewilling to pay lofty interest rates can find a mortgage). Instead, the idea is to get the loan that’s right for you — the mortgage with the lowest cost and best terms.

Realtors routinely urge prospective buyers to get pre-approved for a loan before they even begin looking at Belleville IL homes. They also stress the importance of obtaining a letter of pre-approval rather than of pre-qualification.  Although many homebuyers use these two terms interchangeably, there are significant differences between the two.  Simply stated, pre-qualification lets sellers know that a prospective buyer of their Belleville IL home is likely to qualify for a loan, whereas pre-approval, although not an absolute guarantee, indicates that a loan officer has determined a borrower is credit-worthy and financially able to qualify for a certain loan.

The advantages of searching for a Belleville IL home with evidence of pre-approval in hand are many.  In essence, they include the following:

  • Mortgage preapproval is going to tell you exactly how much money you can borrow. This way, you will know how much your mortgage payment is going to be ahead of time.
  • You won’t waste time (or be sorely disappointed) by looking at houses you can’t afford.
  • Sellers and Realtors will take you seriously.  They are much more comfortable with the certainty that you can obtain a loan (and that the deal won’t fall through), and thus may be more willing to negotiate.
  • Once you find a home, the mortgage process can proceed more quickly because your lender will already have.

Although lender requirements for pre-approval may vary somewhat, be prepared to supply the following information:

  • Purchase Agreement
  • Social Security Number and Date of Birth
  • W-2/1040 Forms
  • Recent pay stubs
  • Bank account statements
  • Credit card statements
  • Debts and liabilities
  • Mortgage or rental histories
  • Investment properties
  • Employers
  • Asset statements
  • Personal property
  • Current and previous statements

Supplying all this information may seem like a time-consuming process, but in the end of your house-hunting journey, you’ll be glad you did it!

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Holly Norton offers unparalleled service in the Belleville IL real estate market. Holly assists buyers looking for Belleville IL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Belleville homes for sale. Holly serves the entire Saint Clair County Illinois real estate market including the surrounding communities such as Fairview Heights, Belleville, Swansea, Shiloh, O’Fallon, Freeburg, Smithton, Mascoutah and Millstdat area.

 

 

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Don’t Forget the Laundry Room in Your Belleville IL Home

8 Nov

As every seller has learned by now, staging your Belleville IL home is instrumental in ensuring buyer interest and an ensuing sale.  In today’s real estate market, potential home buyers are in a position to be choosy and to insist on a setting that is clean, attractive, and efficient.  Not surprisingly, the laundry room is often overlooked when it’s time to sell a home, but proper stagingcan turn an often dull and unwelcoming area into an asset. Everyone must do laundry, and having a pleasant and functional space in which to do it provides yet another good reason for buying your home.

laundryThe following easy-to-do tips will add appeal to your laundry room—and to your Belleville IL home:

  • Clean and de-clutter:  Begin by emptying your laundry room of its contents.  Even though you do not remove the washer and dryer, do not forget to clean in between and behind them. Gather your vacuum and duster and get to work. Not only should you wash and vacuum the floor, walls, and cabinets, you should also clean the machines themselves. Do not forget to empty the lint traps. Also, remove everything out that you don’t need. The only items that should be in there are currently used laundry supplies.
  • Lighten up:  Most laundry rooms need a fresh coat of paint.  Using colors such as yellow, white, or sky blue will brighten this often dim room in your Belleville IL home.  Bright and/or light colors give the feel of a more open space, which is beneficial if your laundry room is small and congested.  Adding a new, increased wattage light fixture is another good idea.
  • Organize:  Canvas bins and baskets are visually pleasing and make excellent places to store all those detergents on the shelves above the washer and dryer.  Investigate the possibility of installing shelves, wall cabinets, or a small closet, particularly one which can house your ironing board. If you have little or no counter space for folding clothes, add a small table for this purpose.
  • Add Accessories:  Look for practical as well as decorative articles that enhance the efficiency and the appeal of the room. Laundry bags, ironing board covers, protective pressing pads, hangers, laundry caddy, towel warmer, rugs, pegs, drying racks, laundry lint brushes, and wall décor are some of the most common accessories for a laundry room.

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Holly Norton offers unparalleled service in the Belleville IL real estate market. Holly assists buyers looking for Belleville IL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Belleville homes for sale. Holly serves the entire Saint Clair County Illinois real estate market including the surrounding communities such as Fairview Heights, Belleville, Swansea, Shiloh, O’Fallon, Freeburg, Smithton, Mascoutah and Millstdat area. 

Getting Settled In Your Saint Clair County IL Home

2 Oct

Congratulations!  You’ve survived the process of leaving one home and finding another and the onus of packing everything up and then unpacking the same boxes.  Your child is enrolled in a new school; you’ve found a new bank and a new doctor; you’ve investigated trash pick-up times, licensing requirements, and registering your car; and your mail is being forwarded to you on a regular basis.  So now what?

Now that things have calmed down, and you’re somewhat settled in your Saint Clair County IL home, you may feel a bit lonely in an unfamiliar place.  The following tips are designed to help you become acquainted with and feel a part of your new community—the first steps in recreating the sense of belonging you had in your previous location.

  • Go on-line to learn about your new area and what it has to offer.  Look at the city, chamber of commerce, or convention and visitors’ bureau websites and request maps and free visitors’ guides.  Research religious facilities, cultural opportunities, parks and outdoor activities, and so much more.
  • Acquire a regional map and drive around.  Explore shortcuts and pinpoint the location of shopping malls, medical facilities, the post office, libraries, city offices, etc.
  • Talk to neighbors.  Request advice about home maintenance companies, babysitters, doctors and ask about the civic league or HOA associated with your Saint Clair County IL home.
  • Take a walking tour of your neighborhood.  Introduce to and initiate conversations with residents who are outside.  Compliment their yard or ask for directions, for starters.
  • Attend garage/yard sales nearby.  Shoppers at these events are usually friendly and gregarious, so talk to them.
  • Read the local newspaper to discover places of interest and happenings in the area.  Look for clubs or group meetings that focus on your interests—art, gardening, sports, books, crafts, etc.
  • Seek out neighborhood coffee shops and restaurants and get acquainted with the “regulars.”
  • Join a service club such as the Lions or Kiwanis or get involved with a political group.
  • Join a recreation center or gym.  Attend classes there or work with a group who will share your interests.
  • Visit a library or bookstore to pick up books, maps, and visitors guides for your new town.
  • Volunteer.  Check with a local church or synagogue, a hospital, library, or school near your Saint Clair County IL home.  Volunteering is a terrific way to meet people and to make you feel an integral part of the community.
  • Give a housewarming party and invite all your neighbors.  Such an occasion is a good impetus to finish unpacking and finalizing the decorating of your Saint Clair County IL home.  It is also a wonderful way to make friends.

Before long you will become familiar with your new environment and be comfortable there.  Best of all, you’ll “belong” once again!

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Holly Norton offers unparalleled service in the Saint Clair County IL real estate market. Holly assists buyers looking for Saint Clair County IL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Saint Clair homes for sale. Holly serves the entire Saint Clair County Illinois real estate market including the surrounding communities such as Fairview Heights, Belleville, Swansea, Shiloh, O’Fallon, Freeburg, Smithton, Mascoutah and Millstdat area.

Best and Worst Remodeling Projects For Saint Clair County IL Homes

26 Sep

According to many experts in the building business, homeowners are ready to make 2012 a banner year for remodeling, and the latest cost-for-value research suggests that getting the most bang for every buck is more important than ever.  Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value report for 2011-2012 found that the trend right now is replacement over remodeling—swapping out the old for the new rather than doing a total gut job, which can be much more costly. Exterior replacement projects—such as new garage doors or a new entry door—offer some of the best returns at resale, allowing owners of Saint Clair County IL homes to recoup close to 70 percent or more of the costs of the project at times of resale. Based on what home owners stand to recoup at time of resale, RISMediarecommends these mid-range projects:

hard hat1. Replacing the entry door to steel Estimated cost: $1,238 Cost recouped at resale: 73 percent

2. Attic bedroom Estimated cost: $50,148 Cost recouped at resale: 72.5 percent

3. Minor kitchen remodel (including new cabinets and drawers, countertops, hardware, and appliances) Estimated cost: $19,588 Cost recouped at resale: 72.1 percent

4. Garage door replacement Estimated cost: $1,512 Cost recouped at resale: 71.9 percent

5. Deck addition (wood) Estimated cost: $10,350 Cost recouped at resale: 70.1 percent

6. Siding replacement (vinyl) Estimated cost: $11,729 Cost recouped at resale: 69.5 percent

What projects should you avoid?  According to Bankrate and US News these six projects are not cost-effective:

1. Home office remodel: Property owners who remodel a home office recoup on average less than half of the project’s cost when they sell.

2. Sunroom addition: Brings in only about 51 percent of the project’s cost

3. Bathroom addition: Only about 60 percent of the project’s cost is recouped when Saint Clair County IL home owners sell their residence.

4. Backup power generator: Will bring on average a return of only 59 percent of the project’s cost.

5. Garage addition: Saint Clair County IL home owners who build a garage addition get back approximately 62 percent of the project’s cost when they sell their home.

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Holly Norton offers unparalleled service in the Saint Clair County IL real estate market. Holly assists buyers looking for Saint Clair County IL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Saint Clair homes for sale. Holly serves the entire Saint Clair County Illinois real estate market including the surrounding communities such as Fairview Heights, Belleville, Swansea, Shiloh, O’Fallon, Freeburg, Smithton, Mascoutah and Millstdat area.

How Large Should The Down Payment Be On Your Saint Clair County IL Real Estate?

18 Sep

In spite on the current economic problems in the U.S, Saint Clair County IL real estate is more affordable than ever, thanks to low interest rates and lower home values. Many buyers who manage to have a 20% (or more) down payment believe this will get them the lowest monthly mortgage payment. However, simply because buyers can afford to put down this amount does not necessarily mean they should.

Those buyers who have saved enough to put 20%—or more—down on the purchase of a home may want to consider another approach—preserving some of their cash for savings, investing, or other purposes. It may sound coin housecounterintuitive, but with today’s interest rates and the competitive pricing of private mortgage insurance (MI or PMI), borrowers can retain some of their money by putting less money down on a home—say only 10%—and still get a low monthly payment.  Generally, more is better than less when buying Saint Clair County IL real estate.  But purchasers shouldn’t wipe out their savings account to do it.

Too often buyers, especially first-timers, underestimate the costs of all the “extras” that accompany a house purchase and overlook the possibility of a prolonged illness, job loss, or immediate need for a major home repair.  In addition to planning for closing and moving costs, buyers should also strive to maintain an emergency fund to cover 6 months of living expenses.  They need to also keep in mind property taxes and higher utility bills, not to mention the purchase of mundane items such as ladders, hoses, garbage cans, filters, lawn mowers and the like.  Basically, buyers will still need to have funds set aside for a rainy day and for things to buy after buying a home.

Potential purchasers should analyze their cash flow, debt situation, and future financial obligations before meeting with their Realtor and lender to discuss mortgage options for their Saint Clair County IL real estate purchase.  Possibilities might include VA loans which are available to past and present military personnel and require no down payment at all; FHA loans for as little as 3.5% down; and conventional loans, generally preferring 20% down, but where, with a high enough FICO score, 5% may be acceptable. In all three cases, MI would be required.

For those potential buyers who have stayed out of the market over worries of declining property values, they can still purchase a home without funneling all of their available cash into the down payment. By utilizing this strategy, home buyers are able to leverage their current assets, while still keeping a sufficient cash reserve.

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Holly Norton offers unparalleled service in the Saint Clair County IL real estate market. Holly assists buyers looking for Saint Clair County IL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Saint Clair homes for sale. Holly serves the entire Saint Clair County Illinois real estate market including the surrounding communities such as Fairview Heights, Belleville, Swansea, Shiloh, O’Fallon, Freeburg, Smithton, Mascoutah and Millstdat area.

Saint Clair County IL Foreclosure Trends – July 2012

18 Sep

There were 2,011 Saint Clair County, IL homes in July 2012, according to RealtyTrac.com. The average sales price of a Saint Clair County, IL home was $131,263 in July, while the average sales price of a Saint Clair County, IL  foreclosure home was $48,000, a $82,263 savings.

Saint Clair County, IL Foreclosure Activity and 30 Year Interest Rate

The interest rate on a 30 year mortgage was 3.55% in July and there were 285 new foreclosures.

saint clair county il

Foreclosure activity is based on the total number of properties that receive foreclosure filings – default notice, foreclosure auction notice or bank repossession – each month. Interest rate is based on the average 30-year fixed rate from Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Saint Clair County, IL Foreclosure Geographical Comparison

Saint Clair County, IL foreclosures were 0.09% above national statistics and 0.1% below Illinois figures in July.

saint clair county il foreclosure

Saint Clair County, IL Foreclosure Activity by Month

Saint Clair County, IL  foreclosure activity is falling. The number of Bank-owned properties increased from 48 properties in June to 105 in July, while the number of Auctions increased from 11 to 19. Pre-foreclosure activity climbed from 102 homes to 161 homes.

saint clair county il foreclosure

Are you or someone you know behind on mortgage payments and facing a Saint Clair County, IL foreclosure? You do have options. A short sale may be the answer to saving you, your family and your home. Give me a call for a private consultation.

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Holly Norton offers unparalleled service in the Saint Clair County IL real estate market. Holly assists buyers looking for Saint Clair County IL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Saint Clair homes for sale. Holly serves the entire Saint Clair County Illinois real estate market including the surrounding communities such as Fairview Heights, Belleville, Swansea, Shiloh, O’Fallon, Freeburg, Smithton, Mascoutah and Millstdat area.

Are You Overvaluing Your Saint Clair County IL Home?

11 Sep

Despite survey after survey showing that consumers expect home prices to continue to decline next year, most owners of Saint Clair County IL homesstill believe their houses are worth more than what their agents recommend.

saint clair county ilNearly three out of four home owners, 76 percent, believe their homes are worth more than the recommended agent listing price. By contrast, 68 percent of home buyers believe homes are overpriced, according to HomeGain’s latest survey, which involved over 400 real estate agents and brokers and more than 2,000 home owners nationwide. The gap between what sellers expect and what agents recommend has actually grown slightly over the past year even though national median prices have declined about 4-7 percent this year. A year ago 73 percent of owners thought their homes were worth more than their agent’s recommended listing price.

A new study by the Research Institute for Housing America, the think tank affiliate of the Mortgage Bankers Assn., documents a profound market fissure caused by owners’ fears and hesitation — what researchers call “negative selling sentiment.  “Nearly 80% of consumers in the study’s survey think this is a great time to buy a house, but more than 92% of homeowners think it’s not a great time to sell.

According to Syracuse University economist Gary Engelhardt, compared with earlier post-recession periods, today’s owners have been more deeply shocked by the extent and severe side effects of foreclosures, short sales, and unemployment. In the aftermath of earlier recessions, such as in the early 1990s, 40% to 60% of homeowners remained relatively positive about their prospects if they chose to sell — far higher than the very few who see it that way today.

Many owners of Saint Clair County IL homes “have not adjusted their price expectations downward” to keep pace with local declines in property values which occurred after the mortgage bust, Engelhardt says, thereby contributing to the sharp divergence in their real estate visions compared with those of buyers.

This is consistent with the results of a study conducted in mid-2011 by Zillow, the online real estate and mortgage information company. Zillow found that sellers nationwide were having trouble coming to grips with what market forces had done to their property values. They knew prices had declined, but they didn’t necessarily think those devaluations applied to their Saint Clair County IL homes.

Click here for an approximate value of your Saint Clair County IL home.

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Holly Norton offers unparalleled service in the Saint Clair County IL real estate market. Holly assists buyers looking for Saint Clair County IL real estate for sale and aggressively markets Saint Clair homes for sale. Holly serves the entire Saint Clair County Illinois real estate market including the surrounding communities such as Fairview Heights, Belleville, Swansea, Shiloh, O’Fallon, Freeburg, Smithton, Mascoutah and Millstdat area.