Real Estate Photography 101 – Tips for the Fall Market

With the Fall Real Estate Market upon us – I thought  I would share this great article to help sellers prepare their homes for sale.  Enjoy!

4 Listing Photo Turn-Offs for Buyers

by: Jovan Hackley

Pictures move the masses and if you’re not careful, they can move prospective buyers away from your listings online.

Check out these 4 buyer photo turn-offs to avoid and tips for making sure your listings are getting the right attention on the Web:

Turn-off #1: The Lonely Listing Photo.

 The number one way to turn off web-surfing and mobile buyers is featuring only one or no listing photo.

Serious buyers need photos to develop a bond with a property and evaluate whether or not they could see themselves living there. The more photos you have online the more time a prospect will spend viewing and connecting with your listing.

Tip: Remember, you can add more than 100 photos to any of your listings on Trulia by visiting My Listings.

Turn-off #2: Amateur lighting mistakes.

Your online listing photos are your shot at making your seller’s property look like a dream home. When photos are gray, grainy, or make your home look like a dreary prison cell, you’re ruining your only chance at a first impression.

Here are a few quick tips for using light to make buyers click “Contact an Agent”:

  • When shooting outside, make sure the sun is behind you. The light will act as your own natural “studio light” brightening up the property.
  • Make your photos look cheerful; show off natural light inside by shooting on a sunny day.
  • If your listing doesn’t have windows or natural light, bring your own “sunlight.” Investing in household lamps (or toting a few in from your office) can go a long way toward producing better photos by brightening things up.

Turn off #3:  Missing photos.

If your listing is being overlooked online, it might be because you’re not showing the right areas.
Be sure to show these areas consumers we surveyed said make a home most attractive:

  • Bathrooms
  • Closets
  • Kitchens
  • Outdoor living spaces

Unique add-ons like hot tubs, special appliances, or wiring for an entertainment system

While you want to show off as much of the home as possible, focusing on these top priority living spaces are what really matters when it comes to generating inquiries and offers.

Turn off #4: The clutter monster.

When it comes to listing photos, clutter can be a seller’s worst enemy. When consumers view listings online, they want to see the property not years of your seller’s decorating and collectibles.

If you and your sellers really want to pique the interest of buyers with staging, focus on simplifying the space.

Here are a few easy staging adjustments you can make right before you shoot pictures to make for better photos:

  • Remove cars from the driveway or garage
  • Completely clear off any table and counter spaces
  • Clear out the corners before you shoot a room

You’ve heard it plenty of times “pictures are worth a thousand words.” Here are a few of our photo tips to help you make a better impression on buyers. What tips would you add to the list?

Need help preparing your home for sale?  The Caton Team is here to help!  Email us at Info@TheCatonTeam.com

I read this article at:  http://pro.truliablog.com/grow-business/4-listing-photo-turn-offs-for-buyers/?ecampaign=tnews&eurl=pro.truliablog.com%2Fgrow-business%2F4-listing-photo-turn-offs-for-buyers

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Two Condos

A Cinderella Story – Michael and Two Condos

With 25+ years of combined Real Estate experience, The Caton Team is blessed with working with our clients one home after the other.

When Michael bought his first condo with Susan years ago – it was only natural for him to call her again now that he was ready to buy his next home.  By now Susan & I had teamed up and I had the joy of working with Michael as well.

Such a professional and patient gentlemen, we started our journey early in 2013.  Faced with limited inventory and competition we took our time to find choice properties and enjoyed finding the right condo complexes that would fit his lifestyle.

Finally on a sunny Tuesday we found a great 2-bedroom 2-bath condo in San Mateo.  It was a short sale but we were up for the task.  Offer in, up against three other offers – we were so happy to let him know his offer was accepted.

Then the wait begins.  For a short sale, the seller has a long to-do list.  Great clients do what they need to do to get a short sale approved.  Other types of people brush their responsibility off.   We knew short sales take time to get approved.  We knew short sales are a LOT of work. Each week we checked in with the seller’s agent and received short and useless updates.  We grew suspicious and Susan hit the Internet to do some investigating.  Much to our surprise, the unit was set for foreclosure auction the following day!  Quickly The Caton Team reached out to the seller’s agent to implore the urgency of a true update.  Sadly, not all Realtors are created equal and this particular agent brushed us off again.  We did all we could do as the buyer’s Realtor and the following day, with baited breath, we watched the auction site to see if it would be postponed.  Right before our eyes the unit was sold at auction.  When we called the sellers agent to get a handle on this situation – she kindly hung up the phone.

Without missing a beat Susan called Michael and we hit the ground running looking for a new home.  It didn’t take long, another unit, very similar to the one we just lost, was for sale – but they were taking offers the following day!

Michael is a trooper; he met Susan at the home the next morning, saw it, wrote the offer and submitted by the deadline.  By that evening we had the joy of telling him is offer was accepted!  Within less than 24 hours we went from bad news to fantastic news.

It ain’t over till it’s over though – that is a fact.  As the escrow proceeded we had a hiccup – the unit did not appraise for our offer price….which was less than the last sale of an identical unit.   When interest rates went up – the market had turned from a sellers market early in the year to a different market in a matter of weeks.  The appraiser was cautious – and we can’t blame him for being prudent.  No one wants another bust!  Thankfully both the listing agent and the sellers understood the situation and we were able to re-negotiate a win/win deal that evening.

The best feeling in the world is handing over the keys.  Though it was a long and bumpy ride, The Caton Team was able to get our client a better home and in the end Michael is happy – and that makes everything worthwhile.

How can The Caton Team help you?

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call The Caton Team at 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Will The Mortgage Rate Spike Slow Market Recovery?

I love finding articles with timely information – had to share this fabulous article by Jed Kolko, Chief Economist on Trulia…

Enjoy and I would love to hear your insight and comments as well!

Will The Mortgage Rate Spike Slow Market Recovery?

Ever since mortgage rates started their steep climb in early May, we’ve all been on high alert, watching how higher rates will affect the housing market. For a would-be buyer calculating the mortgage payment on their dream home, the effects are obvious: the increase in the 30-year fixed rate from 3.59% in early May to 4.73% at the end of August (according to the Mortgage Bankers’ Association, or MBA) means a 15% increase in the monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage. That should deter homebuyers and reduce mortgage applications, sales, and prices, right? In theory, yes, but of course the real world is much more complicated. Mortgage rates aren’t rising all on their own: other housing and economic shifts are happening at the same time.

Fortunately, the recent past is a useful guide. The 30-year fixed rate jumped .47 points in May 2013 and .51 points in June 2013, comparing the levels at months’ end (MBA). (Side point: the 30-year fixed reached 4.80 this morning, September 11, .22 points higher than at the end of June, which means July, August, and early September have seen much milder increases compared with the May & June spike.) But this year isn’t the only time when mortgage rates have jumped up: they also climbed at least .4 points in seven other months since 1999. With some simple time-series regressions, we traced out the typical paths of mortgage applications, sales, and prices in the months immediately after a mortgage rate spike.

The Month-by-Month Impact of a Rate Spike
Our analysis of mortgage rates and other housing data from January 1999 through April 2013 – just before the current spike – shows that mortgage rates hit refinancing applications (MBA) earlier and harder than any other measure of housing market activity. (Not all of the data series are available back to 1999.) Here’s the timeline of what typically happens when rates spike by half a point in a month:

  • The month when rates spike: Refinancing applications typically fall by 45% in the month of a spike, with further falls one and two months after mortgage rates jump, compounding the effect. The drop in refinancing applications this year was roughly 50% cumulatively over two months, which actually looks small compared with similar rate jumps in the recent past.
  • 1-2 months after the spike: Pending home sales and home-purchase mortgage applications typically decline slightly, though the effect isn’t statistically significant. New home sales also decline modestly.
  • 3 months after a spike: New home sales and existing home sales drop. That means that the May mortgage rate spike should show up most strongly in August new home sales and existing home sales, both of which will be reported later this month (on September 25 and September 19, respectively).

Compared with the impact on refinancing, the impact of a rate spike on home-purchase mortgage applications and sales volumes is very small and not always statistically significant.

Refinance mortgage applications (MBA) Same month as rate spike (plus additional impact 1-2 months after)

-45%

Yes May data (already reported)
Pending home sales (NAR) 1 month after

-1.1%

No June data (already reported)
Home-purchase mortgage applications (MBA) 2 months after

-2.6%

No July data (already reported)
New home sales (Census) 3 months after (plus modest impact 1-2 months after)

-2.4%

Yes August data, to be reported Sept 25
Existing home sales (NAR) 3 months after

-1.7%

Yes August data, to be reported Sept 19
Sales prices (Case-Shiller, FHFA) No short-term impact

N/A

N/A N/A
Note: The “effect in month of biggest impact” equals the month-over-month change in the indicator for a 0.5 point rate spike, relative to when the mortgage rate doesn’t change, in percentage points.

The Longer-Term Impact of Sustained Rate Increases
Even if the immediate impact of mortgage rate spikes is small – aside from the huge effect on refinancing – shouldn’t sustained rate increases should depress housing activity? Again, recent history tells a more complicated story. Since 1999, mortgage purchase applications and all measures of sales activity – NAR pending home sales, NAR existing home sales, and Census new home sales – have actually been higher when mortgage rates were higher. Sales prices were also the same level or higher (depending on the sales price index) when mortgage rates were higher compared to periods of lower rates. Of all the measures of housing activity, only refinancing applications were lower during periods of higher mortgage rates.

Here’s the missing piece of the puzzle: over the past decade and a half, mortgage rates have been higher when the economy was doing better. Since 1999, the correlation between the monthly unemployment rate – a good, if imperfect, measure of how the economy is doing overall – and the 30-year fixed rate was -0.8, making it a very strong relationship.

Furthermore, every measure of housing activity (except refinancing activity) improved when the overall economy did better. That means that a stronger economy is associated with BOTH higher mortgage rates AND more sales, higher home prices, and more home-purchase mortgage applications. That’s why these measures of housing activity go up when mortgage rates are higher.

If we statistically remove the effect of changes in the overall economy (by including the unemployment rate as a control in a simple statistical regression), then we see exactly what we’d expect: mortgage applications, sales, and home prices are all lower when mortgage rates are higher. In other words: all else equal, higher mortgage rates do depress housing demand.

As Rates Rise, All Else Won’t Be Equal
When it comes to mortgage rates, all else is never equal. Three other factors will complicate or even offset the impact of the recent rise in mortgage rates, even if rates continue to climb: the strengthening economy, expanding inventory, and looser mortgage credit:

  • A post-recession economic recovery tends to push interest rates higher as demand for credit increases and if investors start to worry more about inflation. Furthermore, the Fed has said it will taper its bond-buying only if the economy seems strong enough to weather it. Both through market forces and the actions of the Fed, rising rates should be accompanied by a strengthening economy.
  • Inventory has been expanding for the past six months on a seasonally adjusted basis. More for-sale inventory on the market slows price gains: in fact, the Trulia Price Monitor and other price indexes have been slowing down before the May rate spike could have affected prices, pointing to expanding inventory as a likelier explanation for the price slowdown. While rising rates and expanding inventory should both slow down prices, these same two factors should pull sales in opposite directions. All else equal, rising rates should slow sales, but expanding inventory should boost sales – since more homes can be sold if there are more homes for sale. Therefore, even though this month’s sales data should be slowed by sales, it could be lifted by rising inventory.
  • Mortgage credit, though still tight, shows signs of loosening for two reasons. First, as they face diminishing demand for refinancing, banks might look to expand their home-purchase lending instead. Furthermore, new mortgage rules coming into effect next year will give banks more clarity about which loans are considered risky, hopefully making banks more willing to write mortgages deemed to be safer. The negative impact of rising rates, therefore, could be partially offset by looser mortgage credit.

All told, the housing market and the economy have a lot of moving parts. Aside from the sharp and immediate effect that rising mortgage rates have on refinancing, the impact of rising rates on the housing recovery is hard to pinpoint. This month’s sales reports, covering new and existing home sales from August, should show some decline from the May rate spike, but mortgage rates are just one of many factors affecting the housing recovery.

I read this article at:  http://pro.truliablog.com/news/will-the-mortgage-rate-spike-slow-market-recovery/?ecampaign=tnews&eurl=pro.truliablog.com%2Fnews%2Fwill-the-mortgage-rate-spike-slow-market-recovery%2F

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram:  http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

For Sale by The Caton Team – 1 Bedroom Condo in Santa Clara – Open Sat & Sun 1-4pm

Check out more photos at – http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby

Or – http://thecatonteam.com/MyListings?operation=MorePictures&listing_id=1713024610

 

Your home is your sanctuary, your retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  151 Buckingham Drive Unit #226 is located on the south end of Santa Clara bordering Campbell and Cupertino – just down the street for Santana Row and Valley Fair Mall.  The property is within the Cupertino School District.

But you wouldn’t know you were living in the heart of Silicon Valley when you look out your 2nd story, wrap-around balcony.  This corner end unit is nestled in prime real estate country.  Close to the front of the complex so your friends and family can easily find you – though tucked away to enjoy lovely views of the treetops and lagoons of the Vista Del Lago condominium complex.

Upon entering this home from the exterior hallway, you are welcomed into a great-room style living area.  Ready for your taste and palate with warm toned carpet and neutral paint.  This allows a buyer to move-in and take their time to decorate their new home.

The updated kitchen with granite wrap-around breakfast bar opens to the great-room so the chef is never left out of the party.  A full size dishwasher, oven-range with microwave hood and refrigerator complete this kitchen. Imagine hors d’ oeuvres sprinkled over the counter while guest lounge on the sofa or enjoy the sun and trees off the balcony.

The living area is spacious and with two sliding glass doors that open out to the balcony – there is ample natural sunlight throughout the day.  When the gorgeous California weather heats up, the convenient air condition unit makes this home quite comfortable as you relax to the sound of the water features and birds.

The master suite adjoins the living area and features ample storage with two large closets and a separate linen closet.  The carpeted bedroom has a floor to ceiling window, ceiling fan and mirrored closet doors.

The bathroom features a large vanity with single sink, enclosed tub with overhead shower, ceiling fan and ample lighting.

This unit comes with a tandem two-vehicle carport and adjoining large storage unit.

Ownership at Vista Del Lago includes a refreshing pool, spa, gym, clubhouse and coin operated laundry in each building.  Home Owner Association dues are approximately $367 a month.

A complete disclosure package is available.  The disclosure package includes a complete set of Home Owner Association documents, Home & Pest Inspection, Natural Hazards Disclosure and all California mandated disclosures.  Click below for disclosure access.

http://thecatonteam.com/PDisclosures?id=1713024610

This unit is a fantastic investment, currently listed at $300,000 for a 1 bedroom at 599 sqft.

For more information – please contact The Caton Team – Susan or Sabrina.  MLS # 81319710

http://thecatonteam.com/PropertyDetails?fl_hook=1713024610&show_description=yes&show_address=yes&presented_by=&show_virtual_tour=yes

FOR PHOTOS CLICK:

http://thecatonteam.com/MyListings?operation=MorePictures&listing_id=1713024610

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218

Free Mobile Real Estate App – By The Caton Team for iPhone & Android

Do you ever find yourself driving around and curious about a house for sale?  Would you like info on a property without having to call or email anyone?  Then you need our Free Mobile Real Estate App.  On your phone please visit:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

We hope you enjoy it – let us know how it works for you!

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

 

7 MORE Hidden Costs of Ownership – Great article I wanted to share by Tara @ Trulia

7 MORE Hidden Costs of Ownership – Great article I wanted to share by Tara @ Trulia

Spreadsheets are a double-edged sword to today’s smart home buyer.  They empower you to track and easily calculate out all sorts of scenarios around your home buying and ongoing costs, allowing you to take the age-old art of due diligence to the next level with today’s technology.  This helps you feel like you’re doing your job and are in control of your purchase, your process and your finances–and like you have a plan that covers every contingency and allows you to make the right decisions.

But have you ever heard that saying about the best laid plans?  Owning a home is like being responsible for any other constantly evolving, complex organism: it is not 100 percent predictable.  You can absolutely get a handle on your mortgage and interest, and ensure that they are predictable for the life of your loan.  But try as you might, even the most diligent and financially responsible of spreadsheet stars can (and often do) miss some home-related expenses.

Don’t let the potential for unexpected costs of home ownership turn you off. Do let it underscore the brilliance of adding in a line item for cushion and buying slightly below what you can afford. I once heard a very frugal friend scoff at the concept of “emergency savings.”  Surprise car and home repairs, unexpected medical expenses and such are not “emergencies”, he argued, “they’re just a part of life!”

Having some financial margin positions you to live the good life–with respect to your home and every other expense category in life.

That said, it is within our power to do a better job of predicting the frequently overlooked expenses associated with owning a home. We’ve talked about the hidden costs of home ownership before, but here are a few more our new home buyer friends have called out – consider inserting spreadsheet rows accordingly!

1. Yard maintenance.  The American Dream of a white picket fence with a beautifully manicured lawn and trimmed hedges may be in your near future.  But think about the maintenance and cost that look requires.  Never had a yard before?  Get ready to buy a mower, edger, hedge trimmers, gardening tools, plant food, weed killer, etc.  Even if you’re an experienced gardener with all the tools you’ll ever need, at minimum you’ll want to buy your own plants and outdoor accessories to help make the space your own.  No matter what, you’ll take more trips to the local garden center than you can count!

And this doesn’t consider the value of your time—regular mowing, weeding, edging, and pruning can take up a considerable chunk.  You may find that it’s a better use of your time and money to find a quality, cost-conscious gardener (or enterprising teenager) to help keep your curb appeal.

2. Furniture and décor.  “I came way in under my decorating budget,” said no one, ever.  There’s no getting around it: decorating a new home is expensive.  And even if you already have enough furniture to technically fill your space, you may get there and decide it just doesn’t look quite right.

Selling your old pieces can give you a leg up on paying for the new ones.  And if you’re not in a hurry to buy immediately, scour local consignment stores and check Craigslist to find great deals that will match your style.  And never underestimate the benefit of a great family photo or inexpensively framed kids’ art to help warm up a space and make it your own—no big costs there!

3. Cost of living. Moving to a new state, or even to a new neighborhood?   The basic cost of living can vary widely from location to location.  Check out prices at things like nearby grocery stores, local restaurants, gas stations, and dry cleaners.  Even the daily commuter costs can add up to a big chunk of change; adding a train stop or two to your daily commute can have a large impact over the course of a year.  Work these differences into your monthly budget before you move, and prevent surprises once you’re there.  (Bonus if you’re moving to a less expensive location!)

4.  Moving expenses.  Seems obvious?  I know.  But there’s more here than what initially meets the eye.  It’s not just the cost of the moving truck or movers themselves.  Consider things like any additional moving insurance you may purchase, the price of gas, long distance travel fees, and charges for things that aren’t packed when the movers get there.  Most moving companies can give you pretty good estimates of the moving costs in advance.  Reach out early so you can plan ahead.

But these moving expenses are just step one—there’s the settling in period to consider, too.  If you’re like most people, the last thing you want to do when you get to your new place is quickly unpack your kitchen to cook a nutritious meal.  Get ready for a week of take out and eating out!  Once you are ready to cook, there’s the price of buying that first round of groceries to fill your completely empty fridge and pantry.  And then you have to buy things like furniture pads and a doormat to protect your floors, hardware to hang family photos, new cleaning supplies, shower curtains, and other home necessities.  The expenses in the first couple weeks of your new place add up fast—not to mention the massive down payment you likely just made—so be ready!

5. Pest control.  Got a good pest report from your inspection?  Fantastic!  But that’s just the initial read.  Buy during the summer, and you may be surprised to see ants and other tiny creatures seeking comfort in your home from the cold, wet winter.  One bad infestation can lead to another, and you may soon find yourself paying for quarterly (or more frequent) pest control.

Even worse: termites.  No termites at the time of inspection doesn’t mean no termites for life—or even for the first year, for that matter.  Paying for regular inspections may feel like unnecessary money to spend, but if you’re in a termite-prone location, it may save you in the long run!

6. Utilities. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating.  Until you’ve lived in a house for all four seasons, you won’t know how much energy you’ll use.  And neither seasons nor energy costs are consistent year-over-year.  You may find yourself suddenly paying hundreds of extra dollars a month for air conditioning during a record-breaking summer.  Or have a three-year old who’s suddenly afraid of the dark?  Get ready for a lovely lift in your electric bill!  Then add in cable, internet, water, garbage, sewer, and other local fees.

Once you’ve been in the house and have an idea of what you expect to pay, you can try to stave off monthly fees by investing in things like more energy-efficient appliances, a new furnace, solar panels, or a whole-house fan.  Do the math to see what those upgrades will save over time, because although they may cost a lot upfront, when amortized over a few years, they may be worth it.

7: Annual maintenance.  When you had a landlord, remember how awful it was to constantly have to call when the heater broke or the A/C went on the blink.  Here’s a hint – when you own your home and these major home systems and appliances become your responsibility, you can often prevent major breakdowns and even optimize their function (read: have lower energy bills) by having them serviced and maintained as recommended.

Of course, maintenance costs!  It’s not overkill to work through your appliance manuals and get a sense for how often your washer, dryer, A/C and heating need to be serviced, as well as such essentials as the septic system, if you have one.

This sort of maintenance can help prevent major breakdowns.  But they’re not always 100% unavoidable.  This is when a home warranty helps (so long as you call the warranty company before any other repair person touches the ailing appliance.) While most smart home buyers *get* the critical nature of having a home warranty many are unaware that it needs to be renewed annually or treat the renewal cost as a non-essential.

Fact is, if your home warranty covers one broken heater, major plumbing drama or A/C that gives up the ghost, that coverage can offset the renewal costs times ten (or more).  The upshot?  Maintenance and home warranty renewal definitely deserve a line item on your spreadsheet.

My two cents:  It’s easy to scare anyone with the truth.  Growing up in our homes, we didn’t think about the cost of living there, but I’m sure we hated mowing the lawn on Saturday while our friends were at the movies. 

Yes, owning a home is a never-ending list of ‘to-do’.  In our first home, on a Thursday at 5pm – the water heater broke, pouring gallons of hot, steaming water onto the balcony.  Thankfully I had a great contractor who came out and fixed it that very night!  It set us back $$$$ and it was a “surprise” we knew was coming.  We should have just replaced it when we moved it but we didn’t.  Live and Learn. 

However, we have to live somewhere and I would rather own my home with all its headaches than live in a white-walled rental.  Nonetheless, homeownership is not for everyone.  The Caton Team is happy to sit down and answer your questions.  We are just a call or click away.

I read this article at:  http://www.trulia.com/blog/taranelson/2013/07/7_more_hidden_costs_of_ownership?ecampaign=cnews201307D&eurl=www.trulia.com%2Fblog%2Ftaranelson%2F2013%2F07%2F7_more_hidden_costs_of_ownership

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call The Caton Team at 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

I had to share this article – with our Fall Real Estate Market starting now – it’s a good time to think about your budget if you are planning on becoming a home owner!  I find so many buyers thinking about the house they want before they consider the impact of home ownership on their day to day finances.  Taking time now, before you house shop, to put your financial house in order – will help your chances in this competitive market today!  Enjoy – Sabrina

4 Tips to Determine How Much Mortgage You Can Afford

By knowing how much mortgage you can handle, you can ensure that home ownership will fit in your budget.

1. The general rule of mortgage affordability

As a rule of thumb, you can typically afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. If you earn $100,000, you can typically afford a home between $200,000 and $300,000.

To understand how that rule applies to your particular financial situation, prepare a family budget and list all the costs of homeownership, like property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, and community association fees, if applicable, as well as costs specific to your family, such as day care costs.

2. Factor in your downpayment

How much money do you have for a downpayment? The higher your downpayment, the lower your monthly payments will be. If you put down at least 20% of the home’s cost, you may not have to get private mortgage insurance, which costs hundreds each month. That leaves more money for your mortgage payment.

The lower your downpayment, the higher the loan amount you’ll need to qualify for and the higher your monthly mortgage payment.

3. Consider your overall debt

Lenders generally follow the 28/41 rule. Your monthly mortgage payments covering your home loan principal, interest, taxes, and insurance shouldn’t total more than 28% of your gross annual income. Your overall monthly payments for your mortgage plus all your other bills, like car loans, utilities, and credit cards, shouldn’t exceed 41% of your gross annual income.

Here’s how that works. If your gross annual income is $100,000, multiply by 28% and then divide by 12 months to arrive at a monthly mortgage payment of $2,333 or less. Next, check the total of all your monthly bills including your potential mortgage and make sure they don’t top 41%, or $3,416 in our example.

4. Use your rent as a mortgage guide

The tax benefits of homeownership generally allow you to afford a mortgage payment—including taxes and insurance—of about one-third more than your current rent payment without changing your lifestyle. So you can multiply your current rent by 1.33 to arrive at a rough estimate of a mortgage payment.

Here’s an example. If you currently pay $1,500 per month in rent, you should be able to comfortably afford a $2,000 monthly mortgage payment after factoring in the tax benefits of homeownership. 

However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your rent, consider what amount would be comfortable and use that for the calcuation instead.

Also consider whether or not you’ll itemize your deductions. If you take the standard deduction, you can’t also deduct mortgage interest payments. Talking to a tax adviser, or using a tax software program to do a “what if” tax return, can help you see your tax situation more clearly.

By: G. M. Filisko

I read this article at:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/4-tips-determine-how-much-mortgage-you-can-afford/preview/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby/

Pintrest: https://pinterest.com/SabrinaCaton/

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina