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Monday, August 18, 2014

What Can I Afford?

There is a rule of thumb that says that if you have the capacity to repay the mortgage, you can afford a single-family house that costs up to two and one-half times your annual gross income. (Annual gross income is the amount you make before taxes are deducted.) Like other rules of thumb, this is a general idea of how large a mortgage you can afford. But, because it is so simple, it doesn't take into account all the information that will help you feel comfortable with your mortgage payments.

If you are buying a house with someone else (spouse, parent, adult child, partner/companion, brother or sister or other relative), you should consider your co-purchaser's earnings and existing debts as well. Remember, if you apply for a loan with somebody else, you and your coborrower are both legally responsible for repayment of the mortgage.

Your buying power depends on how much you have available for the down payment and how much a financial institution will agree to lend you.

Your down payment
If you are a first-time home buyer, the price you can afford to pay for a house may well be limited by your ability to come up with the required down payment and closing costs. If you haven't accumulated much savings, you may want to set aside funds for a down payment on a regular basis from your paycheck. Monies in your checking and savings accounts, mutual funds, stocks and bonds, the cash value of your life insurance policy, and gifts from parents or other relatives may all be suitable sources for a down payment.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Depending on the lender and loan type, you may be able to get a mortgage with as little as 3 percent or 5 percent down. However, putting less than 20 percent down often means you will be required to purchase private mortgage insurance. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) helps protect the lending institution in case you fail to make payments on your mortgage.

Avoiding PMI
It is possible to get financing with 0-10% down and not pay PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). This is why 80-10-10 financing was created. It is called 80-10-10 because a lender provides a traditional 80% first mortgage, a 10% second mortgage, and makes a cash down payment equal to 10% of the home’s purchase price. The same principle applies if the borrower can only afford to make a 5% down payment: 80-15-5 financing is also available.

Your closing costs
In addition to the down payment, you will also need to consider closing costs. The closing is the final step during which ownership of the house is transferred to you. The purpose of the closing is to make sure the property is ready and able to be transferred from the seller to you.

Closing costs generally range from 3 percent to 6 percent of the amount of the mortgage. So, if you were to buy a $100,000 house with a 5 percent ($5,000) down payment, you could expect to pay between $2,850 and $5,700 on your $95,000 mortgage. Sometimes, you can negotiate with the seller of a property to pay some of your closing costs, which will reduce the amount of money you will need to bring to closing.

How much a financial institution will lend you
Apart from having available funds for a down payment and closing costs, the other major factor limiting how expensive a house you can buy will be how much you can borrow.

When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will consider both your earnings and your existing debts in determining the size of your loan. Lenders generally use the following two qualifying guidelines to determine what size mortgage you are eligible for:

The amount of money you owe for mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and condominium or co-op fee, if applicable, should total no more than 28 percent of your monthly gross (before-tax) income. This is called the Housing Expense Ratio. The amount of money you owe for the above items plus other long-term debts should total no more than 36 percent of your monthly gross income. This is called the total Debt-to-Income Ratio.

Basically, lenders are saying that a household should spend no more than about one-fourth of its income (up to 28 percent) on housing and no more than about one-third of its income (up to 36 percent) on total indebtedness (housing plus other debts). Lenders feel that if they follow these guidelines, homeowners will be able to pay off their mortgages fairly comfortably.

These lender ratios are flexible guidelines. If you have a consistent record of paying rent that is very close in amount to your proposed monthly mortgage payments or if you make a large down payment, you may be able to use somewhat higher ratios. Some lenders offer special loans for low- and moderate-income home buyers that allow them to use as much as 33 percent of their gross monthly income for housing expenses and 38 percent for total debt.

Don’t Despair, There is a Loan For You
When you go to apply for a mortgage, the lender will use all the relevant data -- your income, your existing debts, the purchase price of the house, your down payment, the interest rate on the loan, and the cost of property taxes and insurance -- and calculate whether you qualify to borrow the amount of money you need to buy the house.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Zillow’s going coast-to-coast shining the spotlight on some of the best agents in cities across the country

A few days ago, I received an email to the Zillow Pros blog. Much to my surprise, when I clicked the link, I found Zillow had done a feature on me! Wow!

Below is the blog, or you can also click here to see it on Zillow.

Top Real Estate Agent: Julie Wyss, San Jose, CA
DATE:AUGUST 12, 2014 | CATEGORY:REAL ESTATE PROS | AUTHOR:ALENA PILICHOWSKI

Zillow’s going coast-to-coast shining the spotlight on some of the best agents in cities across the country. These Zillow Premier Agents are successful in their community and have used Zillow to help grow their business.

Today’s San Jose, CA agent uses her entrepreneurial spirit and understanding of the unique Bay Area housing market to get the best deals for buyers, sellers and real estate investors alike. And, in return for their trust and business, she hosts biannual parties for her clients and vendors as a way to show her appreciation.


Introducing:

Name: Julie Wyss

Brokerage: Keller Williams Los Gatos Bay Area Estates

Years in business: 13

Years as a Zillow Premier Agent: 4

Favorite home style: Mediterranean

We asked Julie what makes her successful. Here’s what she had to say:

Zillow: Why are you successful as a real estate agent?
Julie: I have a team of very talented professionals providing the ultimate level of service and seamless support for every transaction. I earn client trust by demonstrating commitment and high values, communicating completely and clearly, and making transactions excitingly enjoyable. I am passionate about achieving the best possible price for both my buyers and my sellers.

Zillow: Who or what inspired you to work in real estate?
Julie: I’ve been an entrepreneur for many years, and I also worked in the mortgage business. I’m exceptionally driven and detail-oriented, understand the Bay Area housing market, and generally love helping people. All of these things led me to the real estate industry.

Zillow: What is the best part of your job?
Julie: I love working with both buyers and sellers in the Bay Area because each listing is a new challenge, and it’s always rewarding to help my clients get the best possible price for their property. The “residential matchmaking” process is exciting as well; helping buyers find a home that is just perfect for them. I also have a few real estate investors I work closely with. Finding them that next “diamond in the rough” is great fun!

Twice a year, I hold appreciation events to thank all of my clients and vendors. I thoroughly enjoy being able to hold parties in honor of all of these wonderful people.

Zillow: What are three pieces of advice you have for success on Zillow?
Julie:

1. Follow up with all valid leads.
2. Be sure to get reviews.
3. Contribute to the Zillow platform to boost your visibility by boosting theirs.[Julie Wyss picnic]Hosting appreciation events for her clients is one of Julie Wyss’ favorite parts of her job as a real estate agent.

Zillow: What real estate time-saving tips do you have?
Julie: Find capable, talented people to be a part of your team. Let them manage certain aspects of transactions (marketing, project and document management, etc.) so you, as the agent, can focus on bringing in new business.

Zillow: How do you manage your to-do list?
Julie: I use Evernote to keep track of individual listings and I use checklists for both buyer and seller transactions.

Zillow: When you’re not selling real estate, what do you enjoy in your free time?
Julie: I enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and generally staying fit. I also enjoy great restaurants, wine tasting, traveling, and spending time with my family and friends. Most of all, I love having a happy home life with my husband and three children.

Zillow: How do you stay active in the local community?
Julie: I stay active in the local community by participating in local trail running events, supporting local schools, and hosting music festivals.

To learn from top agents, be sure to attend one of the free Zillow Agent Events, coming to a city near you. Know someone who deserves to be in the spotlight? Tweet @ZillowForPros with your nomination. View past pros featured in the Agent Spotlight here.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.


                                       
                 408.687.2026 |  Julie@JulieWyss.com | www.JulieWyss.com

Monday, August 4, 2014

What Happens When You List Your Home

What Happens When You List Your Home  

If you list your home with me, be assured that, a high priority of mine, is keeping you informed of all interest and market activity. Whether by phone, by e-mail, or by written notification, I will report regularly to you and keep you apprised of all relevant information including:
  • Broker feedback from broker tours and open houses
  • Client feedback from showing appointments including broker feedback
  • Advertising notifications
  • Any new market data or trends affecting the sale of your home
  • Review of your home’s marketing activities
  • Suggested adjustments to your marketing plan or pricing strategy

If you are interested in selling your property but have not listed yet, it would be my pleasure to show you all the ways in which I can effectively market your property through a Listing Presentation.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.




Monday, July 21, 2014

Selling Your Home: Where To Begin

Selling Your Home: Where To Begin

First Impressions

Remember what first attracted you to your house when you bought it? What excited you about its most appealing features? Now that you're selling your home, you'll need to look at it as if you were buying it all over again.

A spruced up house makes a great first impression on potential buyers. An attractive property grabs their attention and makes them excited about finding a house that looks and feels well-cared for. Because buyers know they’ll encounter fewer problems if they buy it, your house becomes more appealing and stands out from the competition. So if you prepare your home correctly, you’ll save time selling it when it’s on the market.

A good first impression makes an impact on a number of levels. It’s not just the way your house looks to potential buyers, but how it feels and smells to them, how their friends and family will react, how they imagine it would be to live there.
With simple improvements you can grab the attention of potential buyers and help them see why your house is right for them.

Curb Appeal

The "Wow" factor — that first visual, high-impact impression your home makes on potential buyers — can turn a looker into a buyer. To determine your property’s curb appeal, drive through your neighborhood and note other properties; then approach your own house as if you were a potential buyer. How does it look? Does it "wow" you? Will its curb appeal attract buyers? Note what needs improving, such as trimming trees, planting shrubs, or painting gutters. Little things convey that you’ve cared for your home, and this is your opportunity to sell that important message to buyers who are shopping from the street, simply cruising neighborhoods just looking for houses for sale. To get them through your door, do what you can to make your property look like someone’s dream home.

Paint/Stain

If it’s peeling or blistering and you can’t remember the last time you painted it, your house needs some attention. That also goes for stain that is significantly faded. A newly painted or stained exterior will help sell your house faster. And whether you do it yourself or hire someone, you’ll also increase your home’s value.

In the Yard

Grab people’s attention by enhancing your yard and landscaping. If your house looks inviting and well-maintained from the street, people will imagine that it’s attractive on the inside, too.
  • Prune bushes and hedges; trim trees.
  • Keep your lawn looking healthy and green by mowing it often, fertilizing it, and keeping it edged and trimmed.
  • Clean up and dispose of pet mess.
  • Weed your gardens; add fertilizer and mulch; then plant colorful flowers.
  • In winter, keep your driveway and sidewalks shoveled, de-iced, and well-lit.
  • Stack firewood, clean out birdbaths, repair and paint fences.
The Front Door

An attractive entry catches a buyer’s eye and says, "Welcome," so highlight this area of your house with decorative touches, such as a wreath on the door or new shrubs and flowers around the steps. For an even grander entry, clean and paint your front door, or replace it with a new one for a few hundred dollars. Don’t forget to fix and polish doorknobs, repair torn screens, and then put out that new welcome mat.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.






Monday, July 7, 2014

We've Launched Our New Website!

We've Launched Our New Website!

A few weeks ago, we launched our new, robust website to better serve our clients.

In addition to real-time inventory in all local towns and neighborhoods, an MLS search, my listings, testimonials from past clients and an introduction to all of the Team Wyss players, the site now includes a fantastic school locator application powered by School Scout!


We welcome you to visit our new site and put the school search app through its paces.


If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.




 408.687.2026 |  Julie@JulieWyss.comwww.JulieWyss.com

Monday, June 23, 2014

Seller Disclosure Requirements


During the escrow process, you must inform the buyer of specialized conditions that affect your home. These may include the following conditions:

Lead Paint
Sellers of properties built prior to 1978 have the following obligations:
  • Provide buyers with a HUD pamphlet entitled "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home"
  • Disclose all known lead-based paint and related hazards and provide any available reports
  • Include a standardized warning as an attachment to the contract
  • Complete and sign statements verifying that requirements have been met
  • Retain the signed acknowledgement for 3 years
  • In addition, you must provide the buyers with a 10-day opportunity to test for lead

Natural Hazards
California law requires sellers to disclose, via a "Natural Hazard Disclosure Statement" or NHD, if properties are located in one of six predetermined "natural hazard" zones. (If the property is not within one of these zones, you, of course, have no such obligation.)

The six zones are:
  1. A flood hazard zone as designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  2. An area of potential flooding after a dam failure (also known as an inundation area)
  3. A very high fire hazard zone
  4. A wildland fire area, also known as a state fire responsibility area
  5. An earthquake fault zone
  6. A seismic hazard zone

If an NHD is delivered to the buyer after both parties have signed the Purchase Agreement, the buyer will have three days to rescind the agreement. However, if the buyer received the NHD before they signed the Purchase Agreement, then they cannot use the NHD to rescind.

Mello-Roos Districts
Especially (but not exclusively) if you are selling a home in a newer area, you may be within a Mello-Roos tax district, and you must provide to the buyer a "Notice of Special Tax." If this notice is delivered to the buyer in person, they have three days to rescind their offer. If it’s delivered via U.S. mail, they have five days to decide.

Basically, a "Mello-Roos Community Facilities District" is formed by a local government, district, or agency to finance public services and facilities including police and fire departments, ambulance and paramedic services, parks, schools, libraries, museums and cultural facilities.

Condominiums etc.
If you’re selling a condominium, townhouse or other planned development (for purposes of this discussion, we will call them all "condominiums"), there are the buyer needs to know about common areas (such as greenbelts and recreational rooms) and the homeowner’s association.

The buyer will be required to make monthly payments, known as regular assessments, to maintain common areas, as well as special assessments to replace a roof or repair the plumbing, as determined by the homeowner’s association (HOA.)

Condominiums also may have regulations regarding architectural requirements, limitations on pets, and age restrictions (i.e., senior housing). These must be formally disclosed to the buyer during escrow. You may provide this information via the following documents, to the extent that they exist and are available:

Declaration of Restrictions:
  • Commonly known as "CC&Rs", or Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions
  • Articles of Incorporation or Articles of Association
  • Bylaws
  • All current financial information and related statements, including operating budget, estimated revenue and expenses, HOA reserves, estimated remaining life of major components (including roofs, plumbing etc.), and regular and special assessments
  • A statement describing the HOA’s policies and practices in enforcing lien rights or other legal remedies for default in payment of its assessments
  • A summary of the HOA’s property, general liability, and earthquake and flood insurance policies
  • On existing HOA’s, a statement describing any restrictions on the basis of age, such as authorized senior citizen housing

Many smaller HOAs will not have all of these documents, but must provide what they do have.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.
                                        
    


              
                      Top Producing Agent at Keller Williams Bay Area Estates, Los Gatos

                   
                            408.687.2026 |  Julie@JulieWyss.comwww.JulieWyss.com

Monday, June 9, 2014

Preparing Your Property for Sale

Fully preparing your home for sale can make a considerable difference in the time it takes to sell it. You can eliminate buyer objections before they arise by making necessary repairs and improvements, some of which are suggested in the article.
Outdoors
  • Spruce up your garden and lawn; trim shrubbery and replace dead plants.
  • Yard and patio should be neat; outdoor furniture clean and in good shape.
  • Manicure your front yard; make sure your driveway and entryway are free of clutter.
  • Kitchen Sinks, appliances and countertops should sparkle. Remove any clutter.
  • Wax the floor.
  • Clean the oven, range and other appliances.
  • Clean tile and grout. Replace if necessary.
Exterior
  • Ensure the house numbers, mailbox and exterior lighting are in good condition.
  • Touch up with fresh paint as needed.
  • Inspect chimney for cracks and earthquake damage.
  • Repair loose trim, drain pipes and fencing.
  • Clean stains and window screens.
Bathrooms
  • Clean mirrors, glass, chrome and porcelain surfaces.
  • Replace shower curtain if needed.
  • Fix any faucet drips or leaks.
  • Clean grout and caulking. Replace if needed.
Garage
  • Remove clutter and tidy up the shelves.
  • Clean the floor.
Closets
  • Doors and drawers should open and close easily.
  • Remove clutter, tidy up shelves and racks.
  • Shoes and clothes should be neatly arranged.
Living Areas
  • Paint if needed. Think about brightening interiors with neutral toned paint.
  • Clean draperies and carpets.
  • Replace burned out light bulbs.
Overall

  • Checks basics: doors, windows, cabinets.
  • Clean fireplace and remove smoke stains from wall and mantle.
  • Clean your furnace and water heater.

If you have a need for a real estate professional, please contact me. I would also appreciate your vote of confidence by passing my name to anyone you may know who would benefit from my services.


Top Producing Agent at Keller Williams Bay Area Estates, Los Gatos