All posts by Steve Cook
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September 19, 2017

Welcome to the Fall Sales Season!

Bargains for Buyers and Decisions for Sellers

One word summarizes post-Labor Day real estate markets: motivation. Sellers are motivated to get their deals done by the holidays or risk waiting until the spring season. Buyers are motivated by a temporary reduction in competition and the prospect of bargains. First frost and turning leaves remind both sellers and buyers that time is short to close sales before the year ends.

Traditionally, the fall season begins with a significant decline of buyers. According to National Association of Realtors home buying statistics, about one-third of home buyers are families with children under 18, and most of these try to close on their new [...]

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September 13, 2017

Tips on Buying a Beach Condo and the Best Locations to Buy

Does it make sense to continue to rent a place at your favorite beach resort each summer? With rising rent prices, wouldn’t it make more sense to put that money towards purchasing a vacation house that will build equity, provide a deduction on your mortgage interest and even make you little money if you rent it out for a couple of weeks each year?

A beach condo might be the perfect answer. They cost less than single family homes, the upkeep is cheaper and the buying options can be better in markets where new construction is creating new inventory. The demand is strong for vacation properties, especially in the nation’s hottest beach destinations.

Five [...]
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September 1, 2017

Why It’s Smart to Invest in College Town Real Estate

The annual end-of-summer ritual of returning sons and daughters to their colleges or universities for the coming academic year brings parents to campus communities. As they drive past rows of rental houses and high-rise apartments, some might think about participating in one of the fastest growing trends in real estate.

Why not buy a single-family rental or a condo close to campus to cover their child’s housing expenses and make a profitable real estate investment that will appreciate and generate rental income for years to come?

College town real estate is a hot market because the tenant base of students and faculty in college communities assures a consistent [...]

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August 18, 2017

How Do You List a For-Sale-By-Owner, and More! – Cook’s Corner

Is it possible to purchase a home with no down payment?

Two government programs, the Veterans’ Affairs home loan program and the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Housing program, provide mortgages to eligible borrowers that require no down payment.

To qualify for a VA loan, you must be a veteran with at least 90 days active duty or a surviving spouse of an eligible veteran. You can find more information on qualifying for a VA loan on the VA website. To qualify for a USDA guaranteed home loan, you must live in a rural or semi-rural county and have an income that is lower than the local median income level. To see if you qualify, go to the USDA [...]

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August 11, 2017

Where are the Nation’s Top Magnet Schools?

Proximity to good schools is one of the most important factors influencing home buying. The quality of local schools influences the neighborhood choice of “one out of four buyers” and “half of all buyers who have children younger than 18 years old,” according to a 2016 profile of home buyers and sellers.

Good schools not only make a lasting difference in a child’s quality of life; they also have a direct impact on home values. A recent RealtyTrac study found that in zip codes with at least one good school, the average estimated home value was “77 percent higher” than in other zip codes. Homes bought in zip codes with good schools [...]

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August 9, 2017

Are you Ready for Hurricane Season?

Do you live near the Gulf or Atlantic Coasts? Are you planning to move to or vacation in a city like New Orleans, Orlando, Virginia Beach, Jacksonville, Charleston, or even Atlanta or Washington, DC that may lie in the path of a devastating hurricane this summer?

If so, forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center advise you to be prepared for another worse-than-normal hurricane season. For the upcoming Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, forecasters predict a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season and only a 20 percent chance of a [...]

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July 27, 2017

Real-Estate Property Taxes by State

What states have the lowest property taxes?

Property taxes are one of the annual expenses that some buyers may not include in their calculations of the total cost of owning a primary residence or vacation home. However, they are a substantial expense and they can vary by several thousand dollars a year depending on your state or local jurisdiction.

The amount of property tax owed depends on the appraised fair market value of the property, as determined by the property tax assessor. Appraisals are conducted annually and reflect changing home values. Property tax liability is calculated by multiplying the nominal property tax rate by the assessment ratio (the percentage of the [...]

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July 13, 2017

Does Adding a Deck Increase Your Home’s Value?

Backyard decks have replaced patios and front porches as the social centers of suburbia in the summer. Decks are elevated to catch summer breezes and to facilitate conversations with neighbors on their decks. Large enough for a table and grill, most decks are more versatile than front porches and provide privacy from street traffic.

So how much is a deck worth? If you are house-hunting, how much does a deck add to the value of a home you are considering? If you are thinking about adding a deck, will it pay for itself when you sell, adding more value than the cost of construction? Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report looks at a range of projects by cost, [...]

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