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Mary Kennedy's Blog from Las Vegas

"Helping YOU Find Your Way Home in the Las Vegas Valley"

By Mary Kennedy | Agent in 89135
  • A Yearly Home Inspection can Drive Good Annual Maintenance Habits!

    Posted Under: How To... in Las Vegas, Property Q&A in Las Vegas, Home Ownership in Las Vegas  |  September 15, 2014 5:20 PM  |  42 views  |  1 comment

    This may be a bit of over kill, but your home is over 10 years old, 
    you could save a bundle of cash by having a reliable Home Inspection Service perform a Home Inspection on your property to identify the small problems before they get bigger.

    A common expectation of homeowners is to want the components and systems in their home to
     work when they need them. Periodic maintenance is just as important as having a trusted service provider to make necessary repairs.

    Victims of Murphy’s Law can attest that their air conditioner goes out on the hottest day of the year or the water heater fails when you have out of town visitors.

    If the convenience of having things work doesn’t justify a yearly home inspection, consider that it can be less expensive than the results of neglect causing repairs or replacement of the following list of items:

    • Replace burned-out, dim or missing bulbs in light fixtures and lamps. Consider switching to LED bulbs.
    • Dryer exhaust vents build up lint even though you may be cleaning the filter regularly.
    • Fire extinguishers need to be recharged or replaced after expiration date.
    • Establish a recurring appointment on your calendar to change filters in your HVAC.
    • Replace missing or damaged caulk around sinks, bathtubs, showers, windows and other areas.
    • Clean gutters.
    • Schedule an inspection with a pest control a minimum of once a year unless you have a service contract.
    • Schedule a chimney cleaning prior to using the fireplace for the first time in the season.
    • Keep all tree branches and shrubs trimmed away from the home.
    • Pressure wash exterior, deck, patio, sidewalks and driveway.
    • Keep levels of insulation in the attic above your ceiling joists.
    • Check appliances with water lines for leaks or worn hoses. 
      ice maker  • washing machine   • dishwasher   • others
    • Test all GFI breakers and reset.
    • Inspect all electrical outlets for broken receptacles, fire hazards or loose fitting plugs.
    • Have furnace and air conditioner serviced annually.
    • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries.

    The early fall is a great time to take care of these items before the weather becomes harsh. If you need any help here in the Las Vegas Valley, click here to download my latest list of Preferred Service Providers, email or give me a call if I can help.

  • 15 & 30 Conforming, Doctor, Construction & Jumbo ARM Mortgage Products

    Posted Under: Financing in Las Vegas, Property Q&A in Las Vegas, Credit Score in Las Vegas  |  August 9, 2014 1:00 PM  |  132 views  |  No comments

    Freddie Mac chief economist, Frank Nothaft, says that
    affordability, stability and flexibility are
     the three reasons homebuyers overwhelmingly choose a 30 year term.  However, for those who can afford a higher payment, there are three additional reasons to choose a 15 year term: save interest, build equity and retire the debt sooner.

    First-time buyers have a higher tendency to use a minimum and are very concerned with affordable payments.  It is understandable that the majority of these buyers select 30 year, fixed-rate mortgages.

    Consider a $200,000 mortgage at 30 year and 15 year terms with recent mortgage rates atand 3.31% respectively. The payment is $433.15 less on the 30 year term but the interest rate being charged is higher.  The total interest paid by the borrower if each of the loans was retired would be almost three times more for the 30
    year term.
     

    Another interesting thing about the 15 years mortgage is that more of the payment is going to principal than interest from the very first payment.  It would take over 13 years on the 30 year mortgage for the Freddie Mac chief economist, Frank Nothaft, says that affordability, stability and flexibility are the three reasons homebuyers overwhelmingly choose a 30 year term.  However, for those who can afford a higher payment, there are three additional reasons to choose a 15 year term: save interest, build equity and retire the debt
    sooner.

    First-time buyers have a higher tendency to use a minimum down payment and are very concerned with affordable payments.  It is understandable that the majority of these buyers select 30 year, fixed-rate mortgages.

    Some people might suggest getting a 30 year loan and making the payments as if they were on a 15 year loan.  That would certainly accelerate amortization and save interest. The real challenge is the discipline to actually make the payments on a consistent basis if you don’t have to.  Many experts cite that one of the benefits of homeownership is a forced savings that occurs due to the amortization that is not necessarily done by renters.

    For more information on Loan Products for your New Home, print out this Product Matrix and give Mardell Wylie a call at Talmar Bank & Trust. She will expalin your best options and get you Prequalified.

  • How Does Your Home Measure Up in Value to Others in Your Neighborhood?

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Las Vegas, In My Neighborhood in Las Vegas, Property Q&A in Las Vegas  |  August 9, 2014 12:18 PM  |  183 views  |  2 comments

    In an attempt to compare homes, one of the
    common denominators has been price per square foot.  It seems like a fairly, straight forward method but there are differences in the way homes are measured.

    The first assumption that has to be made is that the comparable homes are similar in size, location, condition and amenities.  Obviously, a variance in any of these things affects the price per square foot which will not give you a fair comparison.

    The second critical area is that the square footage is correct.  The three most common sources for the square footage are from the builder or original plans, an appraisal or the tax assessor.  The problem is that none of sources are infallible and errors can always be made.

    Still another issue that causes confusion is what is included in measuring square footage.  It is commonly accepted to measure the outside of the dwelling but then, do you include porches and patios?  Do you give any value for the garage, storage or other areas that are not covered by air-conditioning?

    Then, there’s the subject of basements.  Many local areas don’t include anything below the grade in the square footage calculation but almost everyone agrees that the finish of the basement area could add significant value to the property.

    Accurate square footage matters because it is used to value homes that both buyers and sellers base their decisions upon.

    Let’s say that an appraiser measures a home with 2,800 square feet and values it at $275,000 making the price per square foot to be $98.21.  If the assessor reports there are 2,650 square feet in the dwelling and the owner believes based on the builder, there is 2,975 square feet, you can see the challenge.

    If the property sold for the $275,000, based on the assessor’s measurements, it sold for $103.77 per square foot and by the owner’s measurements, it sold for $92.44 per square foot. Depending on which price per square foot was used for a comparable, valuing another property with similar square footage could have a $30,000 difference.

    The solution to the dilemma is to let me dig a little deeper into where the numbers come from and not to take the square footage at “face value”.  It is important to recognize that there are differences in the way square footage is calculated.

    If you have more questions about "What Your Home is Worth in the Las Vegas Valley, feel FREE to contact me at anytime.

  • Consideration could be the Key to Your New Las Vegas Valley Home.

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Las Vegas, Agent2Agent in Las Vegas, Property Q&A in Las Vegas  |  May 8, 2014 9:55 AM  |  486 views  |  3 comments

    C
    onsideration associated with a contract is generally thought to be the price and terms but being sympathetic and courteous towards the seller could make a difference in getting the home you want.

    Business people, like store owners, expect to deal with customers and even become to expect behavior that might not be accepted in a purely social atmosphere. Homeowners, on the other hand, may not be aware of what to expect.  They are opening the sanctity of their 
    home to the public for review and criticism. Buyers may be detached from emotional feelings while the sellers might react unfavorably to comments that are taken personally. So let me offer this advice:

    • Be on time for appointments; cancel if necessary. The sellers may be rearranging their schedules and making an additional effort to make it convenient for you to see the property.
    • Be a good guest and respect the seller’s privacy.  Look at the home and avoid looking at the seller’s personal items; there is no reason to look in refrigerators or furniture drawers.
    • Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Try to focus on critical items of a home like location, floor plan, layout, size and not dwell on cosmetic items that are easily and inexpensively changed.
    • It’s not a good negotiating technique to list the defects. Most people become defensive when presented with a list which could have the opposite effect of helping you get a better deal.
    • Limit your visits until you actually own the home. It’s natural to be excited and making plans to move into your new home but it is still the seller’s until closing and they’re making plans to move too.
    • Negotiations are generally finished when a contract is completed. It can be frustrating to continually be asked for “one more thing.
    • Make a deal with the seller and live with it. If there’s something you’re not sure about, specify it in writing in the contract.
    Some things are obvious: The seller wants the most for their home and the buyer wants to pay the least possible.  Showing consideration to the seller about things that don’t have anything directly to do with price can actually benefit the buyer.

    If there is anything I can do to help, you can contact me directly in Las Vegas at
    877-300-5390

    Mary Kennedy

    Related Blog Posts for Home Buyers:

    Las Vegas Relocation Timeline for a Successful Move

    Moving to Las Vegas and Managing Every Critical Detail

  • Las Vegas Real Estate 411

    Posted Under: General Area in Las Vegas, Market Conditions in Las Vegas, Property Q&A in Las Vegas  |  November 26, 2013 8:21 AM  |  754 views  |  No comments

    When you’re buying or selling, the obvious source to get your real estate question answered is your agent but where do you go the rest of the time? As a homeowner for many years to come, you’ll need reliable help and solid suggestions.

    Our business goal is to have a select group of our friends and past customers who consider us their lifelong real estate professional. We want to earn that trusted position so they’ll enthusiastically refer their friends to us. Our plan to achieve this is simply to help these people with all of their real estate needs not just when they buy or sell but for all the years in between.

    Throughout the year, we offer reminders and suggestions by email and social media that benefit your homeowner experience. You can Join Our Social Networks.
















    When we find good articles to help you be a better homeowner, we’ll pass them along. You’ll discover new ways to maintain your property, minimize expenses and manage debt and risk.

    We want to be your “Go-To” person for everything to do with real estate. If we don’t have the answer you need, we’ll point you in the right direction to find it.

    We’re here for you and your friends…now and in the future. Please let us know how we can help you.

    If you have anymore questions, you can contact me at 702-324-5390 or email  Mary.Kennedy@Remax.net .

  • Refinance to Remove a Person

    Posted Under: Financing in Las Vegas, Property Q&A in Las Vegas, Home Ownership in Las Vegas  |  November 18, 2013 8:20 AM  |  769 views  |  2 comments
    Most people are familiar with the various reasons a homeowner refinances their home which generally result in two major benefits: saving interest and building equity.

    There is however another reason to refinance which may not be as common which is to remove a person from the loan. In the case of a divorce, when one party wants to keep the home and the other party wants their equity out of the home, it is possible for the remaining party to refinance the home. If the equity is sufficient to justify it and the remaining owner can qualify for the new loan, the refinance can provide the proceeds to buy out the other spouse. 

    Refinancing to remove a person from the loan could also involve a situation where two or more heirs jointly own a property and have differing opinions on when to sell. The same situation could apply to a rental property with multiple owners and the refinance would provide a way to buy out a partner.

    Sometimes, it’s not about taking cash out of the home to buy out the other party. If a person’s name is on the mortgage, they’re responsible if it goes to default. One party may be willing to deed the home to the other party but it doesn’t necessarily relieve them of the liability of the mortgage they originated.

    Many times, once a person has made their mind to move on, they’ll take the fastest and easiest way out. Removing a person from the deed or a mortgage is a reason to consider obtaining legal advice to protect your interests.

    Refinance Analysis Calculator

    Reasons to Refinance 
    1. Lower the rate 
    2. Shorten the term 
    3. Take cash out of the equity 
    4. Combine loans 
    5. Remove a person from a loan 

    If you have anymore questions, you can contact me at 702-324-5390 or email to Mary.Kennedy@Remax.net and I'll get you redirected to some resources that that could really help.
  • Home Prices have Increased Nearly 35% during the past 12 months in the Las Vegas Valley. Is it too late to get a good deal?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Las Vegas, Property Q&A in Las Vegas, Investment Properties in Las Vegas  |  July 14, 2013 7:04 AM  |  957 views  |  No comments

    I can't tell you how many times I have answered the following question from Home Buyers during the past 6 months:

    "Home Prices have really Increased during the past 12 months in the Las Vegas Valley...Is it too late for me to get a really good deal?"

    To be Frank and the short answer, that you would expect to get from a Realtor is No!

    Now! That's what I think from my perspective, but let me layout a few frank thoughts and let you decide for yourself. After all, it's your money and your investment. You asked and I'm happy to share.

    According to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors the median price of a single family home was $170,000 in May of 2013. That was up nearly 33% from May of 2012 when the median price was just South of $128,000. Although that was a big increase year over year, you have to take the base number that we started from into consideration. $42,000 is a drop in the bucket compared to what was lost from 2005 to 2009.

    In 2005-06, when the market crashed, the values dropped 40% on average and up to 60% in some areas when you considered the condition of the homes. So in reality, if you look at home prices today, we are currently sitting where home prices were in 2000-02... That's well before the housing bubble really started to accelerate from 2003 to 2006 when the median price peaked at $315,000.

    So if you're looking to buy at 1999 prices "That's Not Going to Happen" That party ended about 3 years ago. I have learned that if you're waiting for the bottom of the market to buy, it has a way of sneaking by you.... Remember the saying "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda"?

    As we all know, hindsight is 20/20... Let's look forward and apply the same question from above to today.

    My longer answer to the question, that you would expect to hear from a Realtor, is "I don't think your too late to get a good buy in the Las Vegas Valley. By the same token if you or someone you know has been waiting for the last 3 to 4 years, now is the time to act and here's why I think the stars are aligned for some slow and steady growth starting now:

    1.    The National Housing Market is in a recovery along with the Las Vegas Valley. From here going forward we will probably see year over year increases of say 5% to 8%. How's that passbook or money market savings account working for you? All of my investors (single and multiple property) tell me that owning a home here is way better and I'm happy to have played a part in it.

    2.    Even though we have seen a modest increase in interest rates, 4.5% is still a very low rate to borrow for a home.... Now! I know that you could have borrowed at 3.3% back in May, but these damn ships keep sailing and for some reason some of us don't make it to the pier on time.

    3.    The Feds are doing an adequate job of keeping the prime interest rate down, controlling the banks that took TARP Funds and watching the others. They notched the rates up in June and July to slow buying down and adjust values. This will help the all important housing market come back and strengthen slowly. New jobs and the rest of the economy will follow because housing sales and starts are the big driver that politicians don't want to talk about.

    4.    There are, so called, experts that think we are in the midst of another Housing Bubble. I'm not buying it! People have a right to their own views but my definition of a Housing Bubble is when you have a lot of properties with loans out to nearly 100% of the homes value to home buyers and investors with no skin in the game. Some big investors really scattered when the house of cards fell.

    My sources tell me that well over 50% of the homes that have sold since 2010 have been paid for in CASH. Think about that for a second.... That's a lot of money! Home purchases that are sold with a loan require 20% down (with the exception of VA loans) and must be owner occupied. When you minimize leveraged properties and tighten lending guidelines, that helps solidify home values. Then it becomes all about supply and demand.

    5.    The last item I want to address is Short Sales. A short sale is when a lender agrees to sell the property for less than what is owed on it and once approved the owner according to the law, has to move out. Even with the large increase in home values during the past year, the Las Vegas Valley still has many homeowners that are underwater on their mortgage I have heard numbers of up to 65%. I can only imagine how paralyzed and stressed out these people are. Did they go in with their eyes wide open? Maybe, but that's another discussion.

    There is a new Nevada Law, currently being worked on, that will help homeowners looking to sell their home as part of a short sale, stay in their homes. For more info,
    click here. If that law goes into effect, this will help flush some bad loans and allow these homeowners to get their lives back together and start feeding our economy again.


    I hope I answered your questions and was able to interject a little humor into what can be a very stressful time for home buyers and sellers. As my husband John and I follow what's going on around the country in real estate and after moving here nearly 11 years ago from Minneapolis, MN, we still find that Las Vegas is a Special place to live, invest and ride out a recession.

    Want to know more about what our Clients and Business Partners have to say about our Customer Service? Click Here!

    Make it e GREAT Day and if I can help, please e-mail or give me a call at 702-324-5390.

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