Feb. 19, 2018

Pre-Pack for your Daphne AL Move

Pre-Pack for your Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay Move

Are you ready to sell your Daphne home? Get a head start and go ahead and pack up non-essential items, it will save time later. 

Feb. 19, 2018

Selling the Main Rooms in Your Home

Selling the Most Important Rooms in Your Daphne AL Home

Buyers focus on the kitchen, great room, dining room, and baths first put most of your energy into getting these rooms in tip-top shape.

Jan. 29, 2018

Steps to Prepare your Daphne Home for Sale

Steps to Prepare your Daphne Home for Sale

Top of the list is deep clean, a spotless home is a home a buyer can easily see themselves living in.

Jan. 12, 2018

Home for Sale in Lakeland 25152 Raynagua Blvd Loxley AL 36551

 

This Home is Gorgeous - Schedule your Showing Now

Loxley AL home for sale with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, large cook's kitchen, large great room with a fireplace, formal dining room, office and a large deck overlooking the lake. Move in ready!

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Nov. 30, 2017

Want Your Own Mini Ranch?

Own Your Own Mini Ranch in Grove Hill AL 36451

Updated home for sale in Grove Hill with 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, 2 half baths, large great room with gas logs, large kitchen, recreation room with 432 sq ft not included in the footage, barn and workshop with electricity & water.

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Nov. 15, 2017

Pherin Woods Home for Sale in Mobile AL

Pherin Woods Home for Sale In Mobile AL 36608

Springhill home for sale, walking distance to USA with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, large great room with soaring ceilings, formal dining, office, kitchen breakfast room. Call to see this beauty before it is gone.

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April 5, 2017

ANYONE Can Afford a New Home in Daphne AL & It’s Easier Than You Think

ANYONE Can Afford a New Home in Daphne AL & It’s Easier Than You Think

When is buying a new home often cheaper than pre-owned homes? More often than you think.

Many people looking for a home in Daphne AL, or the surrounding areas of Fairhope, Spanish Fort or Mobile AL avoid new construction. The reason is they believe they’ll never be able to afford it. Only really rich people buy new homes, right? Actually, the answer is no. While it is true that custom homes can be expensive, there is a cost-effective alternative that many home buyers don’t consider (or even know exists). It’s called the production built home, also known as ‘homes built on spec’.  It’s a home that a contractor has started to build and hasn’t finished yet. You can have the home YOU want, save thousands of dollars and move in faster than a pre-owned home.  

Why Buying a New Home Might Be Quicker than a Pre-owned Home

Humans can be impatient. They might not want to wait a few months to get the amenities they want so what happens? They buy an older home and figure they’ll remodel it. For those homebuyers new to the housing market, they might not realize how much major remodeling projects cost, so here’s an example. According to a ‘Remodeling Magazine’ report, a mid-level bathroom renovation that’s 5’ x 7’ can cost around $17,000, on average in most metro areas. To make matters worse, only 74% of that renovations can be recouped at resale.

 

Today, most homebuyers want more modern features, like a large ensuite bath, walk-in closets or a bigger kitchen for entertaining… or another way to put it, they want features not typically found in older homes. That’s why waiting a few weeks or a couple of months for a new home is the better option. You’ll have up-to-date amenities at move in and you avoid expensive remodeling costs that you’ll never completely recoup.

Options on a Home Built on Spec

Now, you might wonder, “If a home on spec is already under construction what options do I have?” The answer depends on how far along the project is. For example, if the kitchen is finished you’re stuck with that black granite countertop. However, if it isn’t finished yet, you might be able to pick white features instead. Maybe you want a partition in the dining area or French doors for the den. Perhaps you want a wood fireplace and gas logs. If you do a contract early enough, some of these changes can be made for your home. 

 

Other changes you can make in a spec home might include things like wall colors, cabinet door styles, lighting choices, carpets vs. hardwood, etc. It’s true when you buy a spec home you have to limit the choice regarding what changes to make (so you stay within your budget). However, you have much greater control over where to spend your money. More often than naught, your new home will be closer to exactly what you want while also having a fairly shorter ‘move-in’ timeframe.

New Home Cost vs. Pre-owned Home Cost

But there’s another side to buying a new home that many people don’t realize…It can cost less than a pre-owned home. Yes, you read that correctly. Here are some examples of how a new home is cheaper…

  • Stricter building codes mean you have lower energy and insurance bills. That saves you hundreds each year and saves you thousands over the life of your residence in a new home.  
  • No costly remodeling projects since new homes are designed to meet today’s families’ needs
  • Get the latest design trends like walk-in closets, ensuite bathrooms, double vanities, etc. rather than trying to build them yourself.
  • Choose decorative finishes, such as countertops and flooring, which are brand new and match your style.
  • Avoid spending time and money on a to-do list of inherited problems.
  • With a knowledgeable Realtor®, you can negotiate with the builder for extras, like appliances, fencing, etc.
  • Not only does a new home offer a home warranty for peace of mind, you get a fresh, clean home that no one else has ever owned.

So how do you navigate through all of this to find ways to afford a new home? It starts with finding a Realtor® with a "Certified New Home Specialist" designation, like me. They’ll help guide you through the process from start to finish. Now, if you live outside the Gulf Coast areas of Daphne, Fairhope and Spanish Fort, you can find local agents near you who can help.  But to learn more about getting the house you’ve been dreaming of owning without extra work or added expense, call or text me at 251-510-0629 or email RealtorBarbaraReeves@gmail.com today.

 

 

Posted in Real Estate News
April 4, 2017

Remove the Down Payment Roadblock to New Home Ownership

Remove the Down Payment Roadblock to New Home Ownership

Moderately priced home shoppers can find down payment money to make the leap to a new house.

Many homebuyers think that they can’t afford new construction here in Daphne because they need a huge down payment. In reality, if you qualify for a moderately priced home then the leap to a brand new house might be shorter than you think. While a custom built home can be expensive, a spec home in the early phase of construction is affordable for most serious home shoppers. With a ‘semi-custom built home’ the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is decided since the house is already at the black-in stage. However, you can still choose fixtures, floor coverings, wall colors, etc. to create a new home that accents your style. The question then becomes: “How do I find down payment money for a new home?” 

How Do I Get a Loan for a Newly Constructed Home in Daphne AL? 

First, find a Realtor®, like myself, who does a buyer consult. During this consultation, we discuss everything about your decision to buy a home in Daphne AL or the surrounding areas of Fairhope and Spanish Fort. Some of these factors include how many bedrooms you need, the location, etc. Often real estate agents tell their clients they get ‘more house for the money’ by buying an older home, but that’s not often the case. Plus, when you buy a new construction it can mean lower homeowners insurance and lower utility bills, which saves you money every month. Why not buy a new home if it costs slightly more or just as much as a pre-owned home?

 

Keep in mind, though… a buyer needs to be realistic. Can you buy a new home with 6 bedrooms at a moderate price? I never say never, but probably not.  However, most people today don’t have 5 children that need their rooms. For the majority of home shoppers around the Daphne Al area, their requirements aren’t out of the ordinary. That means a new home is realistically within their grasp.

 

Second, during our meeting, we examine your finances. It’s important to note that I’m not a banker. However, I have dealt with countless new construction transactions over the years. There are many programs that people (home buyers and other Realtors®) don’t know about or simply don’t understand. This is where the agent you pick matters. While I won’t divulge every possible opportunity, I will discuss a few here, like the USDA program for homes and the VA loan.

Little Known Zero Down Loan Programs

The USDA program for homes is open to buyers that are outside of the city limits of a city with a population of less than 6,500. It’s a 100% loan and on a $150K house, you can save buyers around $125 a month over an FHA loan. So you save money each month, but you also don’t require down payment money. For buyers who are worried about lowering their monthly payment, it’s a wonderful program. Keep in mind, there are some income requirements that every borrower must meet, which can be tighter than other loan requirements. But again, it depends on finding a Realtor® who can help lead you to the right loan officer and proper direction.

 

If you’re wondering how it works, here’s a great example: I recently helped a couple who had scraped and saved for ten years to buy a home. They started out trying to buy a $100K home and after looking at the home conditions, repairs and insurance costs of older homes, they finally bought a brand new home for $189K. While it was almost twice as much as they expected to pay, thanks to the USDA program, they were able to keep their down payment money and have a payment they could comfortably afford each month. This is why having the right loan, and Realtor®, makes a difference. You could be living in a new home and pay less (or almost equal to a pre-owned home) while keeping your money in the bank.

 

The other option is a VA loan. If you are in the military or have been in the military with good standing (meaning honorably discharged) loans through the VA are also 100%. Like the USDA, the home needs to be in good condition. When you’re buying a new home, the condition of the home is generally not an issue.  The funding fee that’s required is added to the loan instead of mortgage insurance, but persons who have an award of a minimum percent military disability don’t have to pay a funding fee at all. So if you’ve served your country, the VA loan program can be a great way to buy a home with no money down.

Down Payment Grants 

Now, what happens if you don’t qualify for a zero down loan and you need down payment money? There are a few other methods you can try, which include:

 

  • A gift from parents or other relatives. As long it’s documented in a letter that the money is a gift, and not borrowed funds, the mortgage company allows it.
  • A 401K retirement fund. This is my favorite source of funds if it’s attained without a penalty. And FYI, an IRA will not allow a loan, but in some cases, a withdrawal may be possible.
  • FHA Step Up Program. Typically, funds from this program don’t have to be repaid unless the individual sells the home within a pre-set timeframe, usually 5 to 7 years.
  • State and city government first-time homebuyer grants. You have to attend classes on financial responsibility, and if you sell the home within the pre-set time frame, you have to pay the money back. However, if you follow the rules, it’s ‘free money’ if you qualify.

 

Keep in mind, just because there are ways to find down payment funds, you’re still required to have some money on hand to buy a new home. For example, many sales contracts require earnest money, usually $500 to $1000, to ensure your sincerity as a buyer. Plus, some programs require you have some small amount of funds you’re willing to pay. In addition, as the buyer, you have closing costs.

 

In my home state of Alabama there are closing fees the buyer pays that can include the origination fee, document fees, appraisal, credit report, flood certificate (to ensure the property is not in a flood zone), one-year homeowner insurance (or three months’ insurance), title insurance, title search and title examination. Plus, since the interest is paid in arrears, you pay pre-paid interest for the number of days left in the month to when your first payment is due (usually you’re given a month until your first payment is due). For example, if you closed on your home on May 26th, you would pay 6 days interest for May and interest for June is paid on your first payment, which would be on July 1st.

 

While it’s true buyers closing costs can be rolled into the cost of the home, in some cases, I caution against it. If the house does not appraise for the full amount of the home and the closing costs, the whole deal can unravel and not close. That leaves you, the buyer, having spent money on a professional home inspection and appraisal with nothing to show. I do have another option for paid closing cost in my “bag of tricks” that I will not reveal here. It’s for my client’s eyes only, but you are welcome to become my client. 

 

In conclusion, there are over 2000 different programs designed to find down payment help in the form of grants, FHA programs, delayed repayment loans, interest-free loans and such. These programs may seem too good to be true, but for buyers that meet the minimum credit score and income standards (while not exceed maximum liquidity tests), they could be just what you need to buy your newly built home in Daphne. It all starts with finding a real estate professional who can lead you in the right direction.

 

 

April 3, 2017

Daphne AL Homes for Sale Tips to Save Money This Summer

Daphne AL Homes for Sale Tips to Save Money This Summer

The summer months can be costly for Daphne AL homes for sale as the nice weather usually draws out those long-anticipated home improvement projects to the top of the to-do list.  Summer is also the time when homeowners use sprinkler systems or air conditioning regularly, which can be very expensive.  Here are some tips on keeping your costs down this summer:

  • Get your annual HVAC service at the beginning of the hot weather season common in Daphne AL. Make sure your Air Conditioning in working order at the beginning of the summer.  You will save a lot of time and hassle as well as money by making sure your air conditioning unit is inspected by an HVAC contractor and is in prime condition.  The energy costs of running an air conditioner all summer that are not functioning at peak condition can be phenomenal, so head off these costs now before they start to build. If your Daphne AL home has an old outdated system it can be more cost efficient to replace rather than repair.

  • Use Window coverings or blinds that are insulated or made of wood, work to protect the inside of your home against sun and heat.  Though you may have to invest in these, it will help your air conditioning run more efficiently by not having to turn on as much to regulate the indoor temperature.

  • Organize a block party to coordinate with neighbors for professional services. Consider sharing the rental fee for landscaping equipment like tillers or chippers, so the total cost to each family is less. Also, some contractors may offer a group special if several Daphne AL neighbors use their services during the same timeframe.

  • Water lawns only when it begins to get dry. Installing rain sensors on your sprinkler system will cause the sprinklers to shut off when it rains, thus reducing the cost of watering your lawn.  It is best to water your lawn during the early morning hours from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. so that less evaporation occurs and more soaks into your lawn and landscaping.

And for more on buying or selling real estate on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay AL, including Homes for Sale in Fairhope, Homes for Sale in Daphne, Homes for Sale in Spanish Fort AL.

Posted in Energy Saving Tips
April 2, 2017

Enjoy Seafood Jubilee at Waterfront Fairhope Al Homes for Sale

Enjoy Seafood Jubilee at Waterfront Fairhope Al Homes for Sale

Jubilee is a phenomenon that takes place in only two parts of the world:  Tokyo Bay in Japan and the Mobile Bay here in Alabama. A Jubilee occurs whenever there is a reduced amount of oxygen in the ocean, thereby causing aquatic life to come into shallower waters by the thousands. When this happens, shrimp, crab, flounder, and eel can easily be caught by bystanders. Fairhope AL homes for sale a prime location for you to enjoy Jubilee, just smell the crab boiling on the stove, the crab stuffed flounder on the grill and the plump juicy shrimp fried in peanut oil on the stove.

Jubilee can happen anytime between June and September; however, August is the most common month for it. It can occur anywhere along the Eastern Shore or along only a few feet of beach. It typically begins in the wee hours of the morning just before daylight, but can sometimes start late at night as well. When you hear the cry "Jubilee" get ready for the feast listed above, what better reason to look for Fairhope AL homes for sale. imagine food, and a house all rolled into one!

In order for a Jubilee to happen, certain conditions must be favorable in order to allow this. Skies the previous day could have been cloudy or overcast before this phenomenon can take place. An easterly wind, rising tide, and generally calm bay are also required. Once the conditions are ripe for Jubilee, residents here can begin making preparations to take advantage of it.

I saw the Jubilee once when I was a little girl, my first thought was "Gosh, no need for a fishing pole and bait, all that is needed is a bucket and a dip net." Needless to say, the Jubilee was over when we arrived back at the site where fish would have just jumped in the bucket and dinner was caught. 

It can be helpful to have a crab net and gigs that can be grabbed at a moment’s notice if you are to haul in some fresh catch. You should also have a lantern or large flashlight equipped with working batteries. Wading boots are also important, as stingray often rise to the surface during a Jubilee, and can deliver a piercing bolt should their stinger come into contact with your foot.

Keep several large buckets handy so you will be able to transport your catch back home once the Jubilee is over. Call or text 251-510-0629 Barbara S. Reeves, Associate Broker Realtor, RE/MAX By The Bay for homes near Jubilee areas.

Fairhope Al Homes for sale on the water allow you to enjoy this world-class phenomenon during the summer, and a casual lifestyle in a small town atmosphere the rest of the year.