Some Homeowners ask: How Can I Package My Home to Impress Buyers?

Even the hardiest shopper has difficulty remembering each home they visited after a full day of house-hunting. As a seller, you want to feature your property’s benefits as a great way to be sure your home stands out. The following marketing strategies have been used successfully in selling many homes. They could very well work for you too!

Creativity Counts

You can make a poster or photo album or even a loose-leaf binder showing your home’s best attributes which can be attractively displayed on your dining table or near the front door. Home shoppers appreciate take-home flyer as a memory-jogger, for later study. The flyer should always include the property address, price, and a brief description .

Focus on Features

Every home a buyer is looking at has its own outstanding features. When you and I talk about a marketing strategy for your home, we will consider what to include in your display and on the flyer. Here are some worthwhile ideas.

  • Capital improvements. Including project description, year completed and your investment in the improvements.
  • Upgrades or replacements. List new appliances, paint, wallpaper, attic fan—anything you’ve accomplished that buyers won’t have to do after they move in. You can mention special features and benefits. For example: “Easy-care kitchen range with self-cleaning oven, sealed burners, electronic ignition, digital controls etc.
  • Energy-saving features. Important to list money-saving extra insulation, high-efficiency heating/cooling system, and thermal double-pane windows.
  • Mention affordable property taxes. Buyers want to know!
  • Provide a floor plan. Room arrangement and dimensions are important when the buyer is thinking about their furniture. Home builders and renovators can often provide floor plans, or one can be drawn for your home.
  • Gardening highlights. Have pictures to show the work you’ve done. Identify trees and plants, especially if you have unusual ones. Provide photos of bushes and flowers in full bloom, if you’re selling off-season.
  • Pre-listing home inspection report. Impress buyers with proof of your home’s excellent condition. Show receipts for correcting any problems the inspector noted.
  • Neighborhood map. Highlight nearby schools, convenient transportation, shopping, parks, libraries, hospitals and any other amenities or points of interest.
  • School data. Feature excellent schools. Mention honors and awards, good student-teacher ratios, sports and athletics, drama presentations and special programs (i.e. for learning disabilities or English as a second language).
  • Neighborhood information. List HOA dues (if any), annual community events, Neighborhood Watch programs etc. If yours is a friendly, quiet neighborhood, be sure buyers know it!
  • Community services. Include helpful information such as days for recyclable material and bulk trash pick-ups, availability of swimming pools, children’s summer day camps, adult education and so on.

For more ideas on making a lasting impression with potential buyers, CALL me Jeff Howard, your realtor for life.  I have many ways to make your home stand out when you decide to sell so potential buyers will have a great impression of your home.

Do you have a need for commercial/industrial/retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want a guaranteed cash offer? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

What is a HELOC and Why Would I Want One?

Home values have risen dramatically in the last few years, and many homeowners would like to tap into their equity to make home improvements or go on a great vacation or even payoff some high interest credit cards, but they don’t want to refinance their primary mortgage because the rate they have is much better than today’s rates. If you purchased your home 2 years ago or more, chances are you have significant equity. Or maybe you have paid so much of the mortgage down that you’ve and now you wish you had held onto some of that cash.

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) are a very popular option for homeowners in this very situation. They’re flexible loans that give you a lot of options and time to decide what you want to do with your equity.  However they can also be a bit confusing because they don’t work like a more traditional home loan.

HELOCs Are Lines of Credit

HELOCs are unlike a traditional home equity loan, where you borrow a set amount all at once, and then repay it. HELOCs are lines of credit that they work much more like a credit card than a mortgage. You’re approved for a maximum amount that represents the most money you can charge to your HELOC (just like with a credit card), and your payments are based on how much of that line of credit you’ve used.

If you max out your HELOC, you can pay it down and charge again, just like with a credit card. Unlike a credit card, however, your home is being used as the security for this loan, so if you get in over your head, your home is at risk of foreclosure. So you must be very careful with this particular kind of credit line. Of course rates are almost always a lot lower than your credit card rates.

HELOCs Have Two Separate Loan Periods

HELOCs start out as open lines of credit, allowing you to charge or pay off as much as you wish at any given time. You’re usually expected to make at least an interest payment each month, but beyond that, you can charge a lot or a little and only pay based on the percentage of the credit line you’ve utilized. This is known as the “draw” period.

This period of the HELOC, where it functions as a line of credit, is usually about 10 years, but can be more or less, depending on the specific terms. Immediately following this period, your HELOC becomes a set loan, and you can no longer charge anything else to the line of credit.

In this repayment period, your HELOC becomes much more like a traditional second mortgage, with a payment that’s based on the amount of credit you ultimately used during the draw period. From here on, your payment is more or less fixed, but can vary if you have an adjustable-rate loan. The repayment period is usually about 20 years, but, again, can be different based on your agreement with your bank.

There is often a balloon payment due at the end of the repayment period, so if this is a concern for you, make sure that your loan either will fully amortize or that you’re paying extra each month to ensure your last payment takes your note to a zero balance.

HELOC Requirements

Just like other home equity loans, you’ll need to qualify for a HELOC with a reasonable credit score (ask your lender for specifics), a debt-to-income ratio of about 40% or below, and a high amount of home equity. Most lenders won’t lend more than about 85% of your home’s equity back to you, in case of default.

There are exceptions to all of these rules of thumb, so it’s very important to understand the specifics of the loan program you have chosen. You’ll also need an appraisal to assess the current value of your home, as well as minimal closing paperwork to finalize and record the loan and there is typically an annual fee.

Need Help  to Find Your HELOC Lender?

If you need a recommendation for a lending company to use for a HELOC – CALL me Jeff Howard, your realtor for life. I have a list of great lenders that I trust and I would be happy to recommend.

Do you have a need for commercial/industrial/retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want a guaranteed cash offer? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Due Diligence is a Lot More than a Home Inspection

The Due Diligence in your purchase contract is more than just a home inspection! You need to verify, confirm and sign off that you are OK with every aspect of the home you intend to buy. Here are some more important items that should be included in your due diligence as a home buyer. 

Verify & Obtain Historical Water Usage

Verifying water usage is very important. While a good home inspector makes every effort to detect an underground water leak in the course of a home inspection (i.e., checking water meter for movement,) they do not have the ability to spot underground water leaks because this is a visual service as defined by NAC 645D, an underground leak may be detected by excessive water usage.

You can call your water provider to verify water usage and historical use by going to their website or calling them.

Review Homeowner’s Association (AKA CIC or HOA) Documentation

After the seller sends a written request to the HOA, in Nevada, that HOA has 10 days to deliver the documents, and the prospective purchaser has 5 days to review and approve those documents. If a prospective purchaser disapproves the documents, they have the right to cancel the purchase contract, not ask for changes. 

Verify School Zoning

If schools are important to you, utilize the school’s online zoning tools to verify school zoning. Do not rely solely on what the listing agent stated. For Clark County Nevada schools, go here: https://www.ccsd.net/schools/zoning/ For other areas, ask Google.

Verify Value with an Appraisal

You will want to verify the value of the home:

a)     an independent CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) that can be done by your real estate agent (me)

b)    a licensed appraiser (even if you are paying with cash). Try not to rely on online valuation sites as they are notoriously unreliable sources. They gather date but can’t actually visit the house being valued. A trained human brain and eyeballs is your best source for valuation!

Check for Kitec Re-Plumb

If the home you are buying was built in between 1996 through 2006, Kitec may be an issue. A good inspector does their best to look for signs of defective Kitec plumbing. If they find signs, or even if you are just curious, you may check to see if the home had a Kitec re-plumb as part of the class action lawsuit:

http://kitec.totalclasssolutions.com/pages/propertysearch

If built with Kitec and not replumbed, you will want to ensure you are getting enough of a discount to make it worth having the replumb done professionally after you buy it.

Review Title Report

You will receive a Preliminary Title report from the Title agency that you selected on your contract. Review the Title report for any inconsistencies, liens, encumbrances or red flags. These documents can be a little confusing, so ask your Title Officer if you have any questions. Title and Escrow Officers are often the same people in the Las Vegas market. Make sure you return the information sheet promptly to your Escrow Officer when you receive it. 

Verify Building Permits

Many property owners (especially flippers) do not hire licensed contractors so you will really want to verify permits issued (or the lack of) if extensive work was done to the home you are purchasing!

Here are your resources for verifying permits:

City of Las Vegas: https://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/Business/Permits-Licenses/Building-Permits/Permit-Application-Status

Clark County: https://citizenaccess.clarkcountynv.gov/citizenaccess/Cap/CapHome.aspx?module=Building&TabName=Building

City of Henderson: https://eportalprod.cityofhenderson.com/ePortalProd/Permit/Search

City of North Las Vegas: http://www.cityofnorthlasvegas.com/departments/ldcs/building_safety.php  

Review Seller’s Real Property Disclosure (SRPD) & Any Other Disclosures

Sellers are required, by law, to disclose property defects. This includes, but is not limited to “non-traditional” sellers: investors, flippers, bank owned entities, etc. There are very few exclusions to this law.

It is important to remember SRPD’s convey with the property and run with title, so this should be a comprehensive disclosure of the property’s history.

Check Crime Statistics

Crime Mapping – https://www.crimemapping.com/ – is an excellent tool. You can plug the address of the home you are purchasing into the website and set yourself up for alerts to be sent directly to your email. Just make sure that you put your current address in the map as well for comparison. There is probably more crime in your own neighborhood than you think, and I wouldn’t want you to walk away from a great property because it looks like they have a lot of crime, when in fact, it may have less crime than your current neighborhood.

Verify Zoning

Verify Zoning with your local zoning office. There is always a lot of new construction in the Las Vegas valley and you will want to make sure that all land zoned around you is acceptable to your needs.

Order a C.L.U.E. Report

A C.L.U.E. report is also known as “Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange”. You may obtain this report from your home insurance providers. Some insurers will provide it for free and some will charge a nominal fee.

You do not want to go through all of this due diligence process to find out in the end that the home you are purchasing is uninsurable due to a large claim in the past.   

Research & Order Your Home Warranty

Having a home warranty can save you from spending a lot of money on replacing water heaters, appliances, and many other systems in your home. I have Dwellness Home warranty. They are local and have their own techs and I think they are great! Many HW companies are terrible, so if you have had terrible experiences in the past, ask me about Dwellness.

Check for Airplane Noise

Is the home you’re buying directly under a common flight path? And if it is, does that bother you when you’re inside?

Review and Turn Around Documentation to Your Lender Promptly

If you are working with a Lender, make sure you turn around paperwork quickly to avoid last minute closing delays. Also, do not make any large credit purchases (like a car) because this could throw off your ratios. Do not open any new lines of credit and believe it or not, don’t close any existing lines of credit… that can cause you issues too.

Obtain Historical Electrical & Natural Gas or Propane Usage

Call the electric and gas providers to check historical usage specific to the house you are purchasing.

Review Nevada Sex Offender Registry

The Nevada Sex Offender Registry is located online: http://www.nvsexoffenders.gov/ Keep in mind that the Las Vegas area is very transient, and people move around often.

Review the Nevada Residential Disclosure Guide (RDG)

Order Uncommon Inspections That Are Specific to the House & Important to You

a)  Lead based paint is hazardous to young children who ingest paint chips. Lead-based paint was outlawed a long time ago and it is extremely difficult to test for paint as it is generally under several layers of paint. There is a good chance that if the home was built prior to 1977 that it does have lead-based paint. You can buy lead-based paint test kits at Home Depot or any hardware store, and if you are really concerned about it, you can hire a professional to do the testing. If there aren’t going to be any young children in the home, it may not be important to you (unless you are prone to eating paint chips).

b)  If the home has a septic system, definitely get the septic professionally inspected.

c) Well or Public Water Quality: Nevada Division of Environmental Protection is a resource to get well water quality testing done: https://ndep.nv.gov/water/lab-certification/drinking-water-testing.  You may also check the SNWA website for additional guidance: https://www.snwa.com/water-quality/treatment-testing/index.html

d) Mold: If moisture or suspicious biological growth was found during your home inspection you may want to find a qualified and experienced mold inspector.

e) Pest: Scorpions, black Widows, pigeons and roof rats are just a few of the common pests in the Las Vegas Valley. You may want to hire a pest inspector that is licensed by the State of Nevada Department of Agriculture. http://agri.nv.gov/Pest-Control/    

Verify Repairs Were Done Correctly

If you have requested the seller to do repairs prior to close, make sure you verify that the repairs are done before you close. Also obtain receipts for those repairs, licensed Nevada contractors must provide a statutory warranty for work done. 

Final Walk Through & Release

A Final-Walk Through & Release is vital at the conclusion of your escrow period. Mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems will fail from time to time during an escrow. I highly encourage all of my clients to do their own walk-through Inspection and test all systems to make sure they are running correctly. I have a checklist for you to complete this walk-through in a thorough manner!

Do you have a need for commercial/industrial/retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want a guaranteed cash offer? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

What the Heck is a SEER Rating?

If you are considering a new HVAC unit (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) you’ll need a way to see beyond all the hype and tell just how efficient different units are. That’s where SEER ratings come in. With the cost of cooling and heating your home throughout the year, homeowners want to have the most efficient units that they can afford. Asking for recommendations for a specific unit can bring about a wide range of different answers.

An HVAC unit’s SEER rating is one of the most important factors to consider when trying to decide on a model. Most likely if you don’t know what a SEER rating is or how it’s used, the acronym can seem mysterious. To help, here’s a basic rundown of what SEER ratings are, how they level the playing field so to speak, and where you can turn to get more information.

Latin descent, blue collar air conditioner repairman working at residential home. He prepares to begin work by gathering appropriate tools and referring to digital tablet.

SEER Ratings Explained

SEER is one of the details provided on those big yellow “EnergyGuide” stickers that you’ll see on things like air conditioners, heaters, and HVAC units and it stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio”. It’s the ratio that takes the output of the unit over the course of an average season and divides it by the average energy estimated to be used during that same season. The ratio provides you with an idea of how cost-effective it will be to run the unit, since the ratio sums up how much energy it will take to keep your living space comfortable for an entire season.

It’s important to note that the rating represents the unit’s maximum potential efficiency; your actual experience may (and likely will be) at least somewhat less than that potential based on weather conditions and other factors such as routine maintenance. With that in mind, the SEER rating provides a basis for comparing different options and finding the best solution for your home.

Using a SEER Rating

The smallest SEER rating you can legally install in the US as of today is 13 SEER, and 14-15 is more common (and you can go as high as 21). Higher SEER units use less energy to create the output that the unit achieved. This translates to a significant reduction in cost for you. If you are upgrading from a unit that is maybe 10 to 15 years old, you might save as much as 20 to 40 percent on your energy bills because of the higher efficiency of modern units. Using the SEER rating as a guide will help you to maximize that savings.

Also, SEER ratings can help you to compare models from different manufacturers to find the one that provides the best value for you. A unit that’s more expensive up front because it has a notably higher SEER rating than cheaper models may save you money in the long run.

While there are typically limits to how much your budget can handle, using the SEER rating should help you to find the most efficient option from among multiple models and vendors that otherwise seem very similar.

Choosing the Right HVAC Unit

If you still aren’t sure just which HVAC unit you need, don’t be afraid to interview a few professionals. Get in touch with pros that specialize in HVAC sales and installation, as they’ll not only know how to find the most efficient unit within your budget, they’ll know what type of unit is best for the area you live in. Best of all, they’ll be able to deliver and install the unit for you to make sure that everything is done correctly. This is not what I would consider a DIY project!

If you need a recommendation for which local HVAC company to use – CALL me Jeff Howard, your realtor for life. I have companies that have been checked out and I am happy to recommend.

Do you have a need for commercial/industrial/retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want a guaranteed cash offer? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Benefits of Homeownership

Owning your own home has so many benefits when compared to renting. Some benefits are intangible and some are very tangible. Below are some things to consider on the road to homeownership.

Tax advantages: you probably know the mortgage interest deduction has essentially been eliminated for many, but taxpayers who have additional itemized deductions may still be able to take advantage of it. And property taxes are still deductible within limits. Homeowners who sell can also take advantage of the capital gain exclusion, up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple, provided they’ve lived in their home for two of the past five years.

Equity loans: the rates on home equity loans are typically much lower than credit card rates (and often the interest is deductible). The ability to take out an equity loan is still a definite benefit to homeownership.

Leverage: Where else can you obtain appreciation on 100% of an investment when you have only paid for a small percentage of it? Imagine you’re deciding between financing a home and placing $20,000 in the bank. Banks may return 2% interest on your investment (2% × $20,000 = $400 per year). But if you use $20,000 as a down payment on a $400,000 home, and housing prices rise just 2%, you’ve just increased your return by $8,000 (2% × $400,000).  Doesn’t that sound better?

Stability: In addition to stable housing payments (principal and interest on a fixed-rate mortgage remains the same amount for the life of the loan), you will not have to worry about being asked to leave by a landlord who decides to convert apartments to condos, for instance.  Or the current landlord sells to a new landlord who wants to move his mother in at the end of your lease. It’s a fact that homeowners tend to remain in place longer than renters.  So it’s possible to build relationships with neighbors and feel the appreciation of community as well.

Hedge against inflation: The principal and interest of a fixed-rate mortgage don’t change over 30 years, and your real estate taxes, homeowners insurance and homeowners association dues typically increase slower rental price increases, and a 4% to 6% rent increase per year isn’t unheard of in a normal market. (Of course many renters have seen much sharper increases recently.)

Pride of ownership:  this has been a part of the American Dream forever. Owning one’s own home and maintaining and improving it provides a feeling of security, a built-in savings plan (equity), and a sense of success. Real estate you own can be passed on to your heirs; your rental can’t. Plus pets aren’t an issue (as long as you follow local codes). Have you ever had trouble getting a rental that would accept Fifi? It happens!

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want a guaranteed cash offer? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

How To Know if You Need a Handyperson or a Specialist

Everything in your home that has been getting on your nerves from that squeaky door to the leaky faucet, and you’ have decided to get all these little annoyances fixed all at once. Hiring a handyperson service is a great way to cross everything off this to-do list in a hurry.

Even if you have a reliable handyperson on speed-dial, you might not be sure if you should hire them or a licensed trade specialist for the work. How can you tell the difference?  You also should you find out if your handy person is licensed or unlicensed.  An unlicensed handyman can only do up to $500 worth of repairs total including parts and labor.

First you should ask your handyperson if they’re capable of handling all the items on your list.  An honest pro should be able to give a clear answer. You can also research local regulations and find out what needs a license. Several cities have their licensing requirements online, or staff who will be happy to answer specific questions.

Licensing requirements vary significantly by state, but generally speaking, small jobs like fixing leaky faucets or replacing a light switch don’t require a license. However, anything that gets into the guts of the pipes or wiring most likely needs a license.

Large jobs that involve multiple workers and/or significant investment, such as a remodel or addition, usually require a licensed general contractor to oversee.

The following are types of jobs you can usually hire a handyperson to take care of:

— Replacing small electrical components, such as thermostats, light switches and outlets

— Repairing drywall

— Fixing leaks

— Hanging shelving

— Hanging doors

— Repairing woodwork

— Replacing window glass

— Wiring home theater components

And here is a list of examples some jobs that commonly require a licensed specialist:

— Adding a stairway

— Installing a new roof

— Installing a fireplace or wood stove

— Building a raised deck

— Installing or replacing certain plumbing fixtures such as water heaters

— Major remodeling

— Putting in new windows

— Building a retaining wall to block soil or erosion

— Any work requiring the repair or modification of the existing electrical, plumbing or gas systems

These are a few additional tips:

Some handy services do carry specialty licensing or have particular trades on staff, so don’t hesitate to ask if they have a plumber or electrician available for licensed work!

Whether you hire a handy service or specialty contractor, make sure they carry liability insurance and acquire whatever permits are required for the job.

Most handy service companies charge by the hour, and often their jobs take much less time than that. To get the most out of your handyperson’s time, prepare a list in advance of all the small jobs you’d like them to cover in one visit. The person you hire to fix some drywall and mount a TV might also be able to repair a leak or hang a light fixture while they’re already at your house. They’ll get more done for you and will appreciate your respect for their time.

Make sure you know ahead of time who’ll be responsible for supplying materials. If you have specific materials you’d like to be used for your project, you’ll save time by purchasing them in advance and not have to be charged for the handyperson’s time to pick them up.

As your Realtor for life, you can always call me if you need help with getting a handyperson or finding a licensed contractor for bigger jobs.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want 3 cash offers? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Artificial Grass Helps to Combat the Drought

As I wrote about a few weeks ago, in June, Governor Steve Sisolak signed into law a measure that would require nearly a third of all of Southern Nevada’s grass to be removed by the end of 2026. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has estimated the measure will save 10 percent of the area’s allocation of water from the Colorado River — about 30,000 acre-feet.  Click here for the link to the post http://www.jeffhoward.net/index.php/2021/07/01/nevada-enacts-ban-on-non-functional-grass/

The law is in response to the drought and water shortage occurring throughout the Southwest and is driving more homeowners to consider artificial turf, which is much more eco-friendly than a natural lawn. Growing and caring for grass requires regular watering and fertilizing that can produce a negative impact on the environment. Installing artificial grass or desert landscaping can conserve water and reduce the carbon footprint.

If you don’t want to have desert landscaping, eco-friendly lawns may be the way to go.

Elizabeth Mullally, general manager at Las Vegas Artificial Lawns, said homeowners are making the change to artificial turf. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years and have never seen anything quite like it,” she said. “We have always been busy, but what is going on now is just unreal with what people are doing to their homes. Usually, I’m booked two weeks in advance. Right now, we’re booked through the end of August.

But it makes sense because this is a home improvement project where SNWA pays you to get rid of grass. You can keep your trees, flowers and bushes but convert the grass, which is a drain on water resources.”

The SNWA will rebate $3 per square foot of grass removed and replaced with desert landscaping up to the first 10,000 square feet converted per property, per year. Beyond the first 10,000 feet, the authority will provide a rebate of $1.50 per square foot. The maximum award for any property in a fiscal year is $500,000. Over the years, the Water Smart Landscapes rebate program has upgraded about 200 million square feet of lawn to water-efficient landscaping, saving billions of gallons of water.

Mullally stated,  “Some prefer a more manicured look like it was just mowed, while others want the yard to look lush like it needs to be mowed in the next couple of days.” 

“When we consult with a customer, we have in-depth conversations to determine which of our 12 products best fits their needs. You don’t need high traffic turf in the front yard, but it’s altogether different in the backyard.” Among the features of the artificial grass installed by Las Vegas Artificial Lawns is its fiber heat reduction technology that lowers surface temperature, evaporative cooling infills, soy-based BioCel coating that replaces petroleum components, antimicrobials infused in the backing to help mitigate pet odors, and nylon products that will not melt from reflective lighting off windows.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want 3 cash offers? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

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My Thoughts on Reverse Mortgages

I recently read an article in Investopedia entitled “5 Signs a Reverse Mortgage Is a Bad Idea” and I thought I might learn something new about reverse mortgages. All I saw was a “glass half full” explanation of them. Let’s be honest, every financial tool is not perfect for every situation, and if you are over 62, you may be considering a reverse mortgage, so let me tell you what I think about them. Then, read other opinions and decide for yourself.

What is a reverse mortgage? Let’s start with what is a mortgage? (just in case). If you are clear what a mortgage is, skip to the next paragraph. A Mortgage (called a Deed of Trust in some states) is a loan, secured by real estate, and they were really made popular after the Great Depression when the time to repay was stretched from 5 years to 30 years. That’s right, many years ago, if you could not pay off your house in 5 years you couldn’t buy one, and the Federal Government stepped in to create the 30 year mortgage in order to increase homeownership. When you buy a home, most people borrow most of the money and the repayment is usually spread out over 30 years. We won’t get too deep into amortized interest here, so suffice it to say that for the first several years, most of your payment goes to pay interest, and a small portion goes to pay down the amount you need to repay (principal). Usually, your real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance are also bundled into that payment. You also might pay a fee called Mortgage Insurance, which is essentially an insurance policy in case you can’t pay your mortgage and they need to begin collection proceedings. Yes, they can take your home away if you do not pay your mortgage (that’s fair, right?).

So, what is a reverse mortgage? Well, it’s a mortgage that works in reverse… With a mortgage, you start with a high balance, and pay it down. If you stay in mortgage for the full 30 year term and never make extra payments, at the end of the term, you no longer owe a mortgage payment (you still owe real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance). In a reverse mortgage, you start with a low loan balance (as low as zero if you have paid your house off already) and your balance increases as you receive money. You must start with at least 50% equity, so if your home is worth $400,000 and you owe less than $200,000, you have enough equity. You could also use a reverse mortgage to buy a $400,000 home with a $200,000 down payment and, because the house is going to pay you, you do not need to have good credit or income.

What? Why would I receive money from my house? That sounds like a scam to me!

Based on my conversations with people, there are 4 primary reasons people don’t get a reverse mortgage when they should, and the above reason is

#1. People think it must be a scam, so let me explain why a bank would send you money. Remember, the loan is secured by real estate, and banks are just investors who are in business to make money by loaning it out. And if you remember that you must be 62 or older to obtain a reverse mortgage, then you’ll realize that you are closer to the end of your life than the beginning, and reverse mortgage is only valid while you are alive and living in the home. When you die, the bank loan must be paid off. The 2 most common ways this happens is that your heirs pay off the loan by getting a new mortgage, or they sell the property. If there is any money left over after selling it, the heirs get to keep it. However (and this is pretty cool) if there is not enough money from the sale to pay off the loan, your heirs do not owe the difference. Now you can see, it makes business sense for a bank to offer a reverse mortgage.

#2 (THIS IS FALSE) People think the bank will eventually foreclose on me and kick me out! As long as you are alive and living in the home, the bank cannot take it away from you. The worst thing they can do is stop sending you money if they have sent you the maximum they originally agreed upon, and very often, by the time they have sent you that amount of money, the home has gone up substantially in value, however it is possible that you stop receiving money. In fact, if you really beat the odds and live to a healthy 150 years old, the bank will just have to wait until you die (or voluntarily move), in order to get the mortgage paid back. Of course, interest will continue to accrue, but remember, your heirs do not owe the difference if the sale does not bring in enough to pay what is owed.

What if you are still alive and want to move? Just like any home you own with a mortgage, sell the home, pay off the mortgage, and move. No problem. Which brings me to reason

#3. There are high upfront fees to get a reverse mortgage. Now these high fees, spread out over many years, seem reasonable to me. And let’s be honest, when I die, I can’t take the rest of the money with me, so personally, I am ok with spending that money today to not have a house payment in my later years and create some additional income. Which brings me to reason

#4 If you get reverse mortgage, you are spending your children’s inheritance (or at least some of it). This is a true statement! The more you spend while you’re alive, the less your heirs will receive when you are gone. So here is how I view this; when you’re gone, (depending on what you believe) you will not get to watch them spend it anyway, so if you want them to enjoy your money, why not have them enjoy it with you? Get the reverse mortgage and use the money to spend your last years creating wonderful memories with the ones you love! Also, as a parent, I believe it is my job to teach my children the life skills they need to surpass my accomplishments, not to just leave them a pile of money when I am gone.

Closing thoughts:

I am not 62 yet, and at some point, after I turn 62, I fully intend to get a reverse mortgage. I have paid into my home for years and I will feel good when it pays me back.

To be clear, there are legitimate reverse mortgages and there are certainly reverse mortgage scams out there too, so if you want to talk to a reputable reverse mortgage lender, just let me know and I will be happy to recommend someone, after all I’m Jeff Howard – you’re Realtor for life.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want 3 cash offers? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

What is a Bug Zapper and how do You Use It?

I would think most people know what a bug zapper is, however, I recently talked to a guy who had never heard of one. There’s also a chance that you’ve never actually used one in real life and have just seen them used in an ad or cartoon or a TV show. Bug zappers have sort of become a part of pop culture, usually indicating that a character lives in a very rural setting and more often than not comes from the poorer side of the tracks. So let’s get rid of that mental image right now. Bug zappers are actually very useful tools that can make your home and yard a bit more comfortable when bugs that bite are out looking for a nibble in the heat of summer or even for those annoying flies that just won’t go away.

How Bug Zappers WorkWhile the “zap” in the name gives away a large part of how bug zappers work, the system is a bit more complex than just tossing out some voltage and killing wayward bugs. Inside the average bug zapper is an ultraviolet light source, which depending on the model of the zapper could be a light bulb, a fluorescent light tube or even UV LEDs. It’s this light source that attracts insects to the device, causing them to fly in between a grid of wires in hopes of reaching the light within. This is where the zap comes in; the grid contains electrified wires that provide a small shock to any insects that fly inside.  This kills them and causing them to drop onto a removable tray for easy cleanup.

Keep in mind that this is just a general description of how they work, and different models may have additional features such as scent or pheromone cartridges designed to attract specific types of insects. There also may be some differences in design between bug zappers intended for indoor use and those designed to use outside. Some small units may even be battery powered or built into the form factor of a flyswatter to make killing specific insect pests easier.

Placing Bug ZappersFor stationary bug zappers, there are two main types: Indoor units and outdoor units. Indoor bug zappers are typically only needed in residential homes if you have problems with bugs in certain areas (such as flies in the kitchen or flying bugs coming in through sliding doors in the summer.) If that’s the case, a bug zapper can be placed around the area where you have the largest problem or near the most obvious entry point.

Outdoor bug zappers are much more commonly used by homeowners, especially during the summer when everyone wants to spend time outdoors. The best locations to place bug zappers outdoors are typically around the edges of the area where you plan to spend time, such as the outskirts of a pool or play area, so that insects will be drawn to the zappers instead of the people within that perimeter. It can also be beneficial to place a bug zapper near outdoor tables where you’ll be serving food, just so long as it’s far enough away that wayward zapped bugs won’t fall out and land on the table. Garden hangers and shepherd’s hooks can be used to hold up the bug zapper units wherever you place them.

Personally, I am a big fan of the tennis racket looking zappers… those don’t attract the bugs, you have to “hunt” them, so it’s more like a game with those!

Bug Zapper SafetySince bug zappers use electricity, keep in mind that you’re likely going to need extension cords to provide them with the juice they need. This means that you’ll need cords that are rated for outdoor use, as well as a grounded outdoor outlet to plug them into. It’s also important that the zappers are mounted in such a way that pets or children aren’t going to grab them; even though bug zappers don’t provide enough of a zap to be dangerous to people or pets, it could still hurt or startle them.

Using a bug zapper can be beneficial around the house, though it’s important to remember that not all bugs will be attracted to one. For other insect pests, calling in an exterminator or other pest removal pro can be a good idea. If you are having a insect problem that a bug zapper will not help with, contact me – Jeff Howard, your Realtor for life – and I can give you a recommendation for great bug people that can solve your problem.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want 3 cash offers? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff

Window Coverings Help Beat the Summer Heat

We all love living in Las Vegas even during the hot summer months and keeping your home cool during the hot summer months can be an expensive prospect. This is especially true if you have large windows or rooms that have multiple windows that let sunlight in. While it’s great to have natural light during the day, it can work against your AC by heating up the air in those rooms at the same time you’re pumping cool air throughout the house. This can lead to your air conditioning running almost constantly throughout the day, and in some cases may even prompt an expensive HVAC upgrade if your current unit can’t keep up with the summer heat to your liking.

Various types of window coverings will help cut down your cooling costs during the summer without having to spend potentially thousands of dollars on a more powerful air conditioning solution. Window coverings can make a big difference in how much heat is added to your home through your windows. Not only does this have the potential to cut your cooling costs significantly, but it can enhance the overall style of your home as well.

Curtains, blinds, and other internal window coverings can have a significant impact on how much heat you gain from the sun during the summer. Medium to dark-colored curtains and drapes, especially those with white backings, block sunlight and heat gain significantly and can also help to hold heat in during the cold winter months. Blinds and rolling shades also offer some protection against heat gain, though their effectiveness depends on a number of factors including color, material, and reflectiveness.

Regardless of the covering type you choose, they are typically most effective when closed on south or west-facing windows, since these are the most likely to get direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day. However, closing the curtains or blinds on any window receiving direct sunlight can have at least some beneficial effect.

One of the big problems with using coverings such as curtains and shades to prevent heat gain during the summer is that they block light and visibility as well as heat. If you still want to be able to see through your windows and enjoy some natural sunlight while preventing heat gain, a low-E window film might be a better option to meet your needs.

Low-E films are mildly tinted plastic films that have reflective particles of metal or metal oxide in them, reflecting UV rays while still allowing for some natural light and visibility. Because the UV rays are reflected back out into the outside, they are not able to heat up the air inside of your home. While the effectiveness of low-E films can vary depending on the manufacturer, thickness of the film, and how well they are installed, it’s estimated that some low-E films can reduce summer heat gain from sunlight by as much as 70 percent or more.

There are a variety of other upgrades you can make to your home that will also help to block UV rays and prevent unwanted heat gain during the summer. Functional exterior shutters that can be closed during the heat of the day can make a significant difference in solar heat gain, blocking the sunlight from actually reaching your windows in the first place. Awnings installed over windows can also block some light and heat, while still allowing for some visibility. Exterior solar screens are also an option, blocking UV rays and increasing your energy efficiency while preserving some light and visibility as well.

How do you find qualified window covering companies?  Or what if you just want an interior designer to help you make it all look great? Just ask me for recommendations, after all I’m Jeff Howard – you’re Realtor for life.

Do you have a need for commercial / industrial / retail buildings or land? Are you ready to buy or sell a home? Do you want 3 cash offers? We can help you with all of that… just call us at 702 SELL NOW or click on this link to my website http://www.702SellNow.com

Choose to have an amazing day….Jeff