Top 3 Reasons to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Before you start your home search, you want to know how much you can afford, right?

There are two ways to do this: with a mortgage pre-qualification and a mortgage pre-approval. As a home buyer, the pre-approval is more valuable to you during your home search.

How Pre-Approval Helps You as a Home Buyer

One of the main differences between mortgage pre-qualification and mortgage pre-approval is how the lender gives you the mortgage amount.

calculator and finance sheetFor pre-qualification, you give the mortgage lender your general financial history (including debts and income), and the lender gives you a mortgage estimate. For pre-approval, the lender digs deep into your credit report and gives you the exact loan amount.

If you’re choosing between getting pre-qualified for a home mortgage and getting pre-approved, choose to get pre-approved. Here are the top three reasons why:

3. You Learn Exactly What You Can Afford

There’s no estimates in a pre-approval. The lender has looked into your credit history and you’ve given the required documentation to go through with the pre-approval process.

A mortgage pre-approval is not a commitment to the loan, but it paves the way to transition into applying for a specific property — your dream home in your price range.

2.  You Can Narrow Your Home Search

person searching online on laptopSearching through online listings can be a tedious process, especially if there are hundreds of homes for sale in the area. How do you narrow down your home search?

When you’re pre-approved, you’ll know exactly what you can afford, and tailor your home search around the mortgage amount. Now you can easily search through the listings with confidence and renewed energy.

1. The Home Seller Takes Your Offer Seriously

Home sellers like to see that you’re pre-approved — it tells them that you’re serious about buying their home.

So when you’re competing with other home buyers to make the best offer on your dream home, being pre-approved will give you the competitive edge over buyers who are not. Then you can focus on moving into your new home!

We’re Your Real Estate Experts

If you want more information about the mortgage pre-approval process or about finding the perfect home that fits your lifestyle, contact us today and we can get started. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about the mortgage pre-approval process.

6 Simple Home Decorating Ideas for Fall

orange leaves in the fallSeptember is quickly approaching! That means it’s time to bring out the jackets, long-sleeve shirts, and denim jeans.

But what are you doing to bring your home into fall?

Here are a few easy decorating ideas you can do to welcome the cooler temperatures and beautiful colors into your home.

DIY Home Decorating Tips for Fall

You don’t have to paint your walls or buy new furniture to get your home ready for fall.

Instead, you can use some simple seasonal tricks to welcome autumn leaves and pumpkin spices into your home, and impress your visitors in the process.

1. Bring Out the Cinnamon- and Pumpkin-Scented Candles

The smell of those warm spices gently wafting throughout your home is enough to energize you for the season.

Light a few candles in your kitchen or living room, as well as other rooms that receive the most traffic in your home. Your home will be looking — and smelling — festive in no time.

2. Stick a Seasonal Flag Outside

Personalize your front yard by placing a welcoming fall flag by the mailbox, in your front garden, or hanging from your front porch. Let people know that you’re ready for autumn!

3. Swap Out Your Dining Table Centerpiece

Put the colorful summer tones away for next year and bring out your festive fall accents.

roses and flowers in table centerpieceMake a seasonal statement with the centerpiece on your dining room or kitchen table. Some simple autumn centerpiece ideas include:

  • red, orange, and yellow pillar candles
  • roses or colorful leaves in a vase
  • small pumpkins
  • old-fashioned lanterns
  • a bowl of apples

4. Hang a Festive Wreath on Your Front Door

Add some fall foliage, colorful ribbon, or burlap accents to an autumn wreath and catch the eye of your friends and neighbors.

People tend to notice your home’s decorations when they first spy your house, which is why front door accents are often included in tips for increasing curb appeal. Display your fall home readiness with a red, gold, and brown wreath on your door!

5. Decorate Your Shelves with Pine Cones and Oak Leaves

If you have a mantle above your fireplace or an empty space on a bookshelf, fill it with simple arrangements of fall foliage — pine cones, oak leaves, acorns, and pumpkins.

To truly make a statement with your decor, pair vibrantly colored leaves with a white or neutral color base, and enjoy the display capture the attention of passersby.

white fence outside house in autumn6. Put a Pumpkin on Your Front Porch

Nothing says fall as much as a round pumpkin sitting on your porch steps.

When pumpkins come in season, you can purchase one for Halloween fun or simply as a seasonal accent.

Staging Your Home for Sale This Fall?

These DIY home decorating tips work well to increase your curb appeal if you’re selling your property this season.

If you have any questions about home staging tips or about selling your home, contact us at any time. We would be happy to provide you with the answers you need.

The post 6 Simple Home Decorating Ideas for Fall appeared first on Dakno Blog.

Santa Clara: Home to the Best Corporate Citizens in the US

corporate office building viewed from belowMany people value transparency — especially with corporations.

People generally favor companies that have positive employee relations and environmental impact. Every year, a publication researches several factors and ranks corporations based on their overall accountability. This year, a Santa Clara business once again made the list.

Intel Ranks #5 in the Nation in 2015

Corporate Responsibility Magazine published their list of 100 best “corporate citizens” for 2015, and Santa Clara-based Intel topped the list at #5.

The technology company has been highly ranked before, earning distinctions like #15 Best Global Green Brands and Best Global Brands, not to mention pursuing company goals of diversity and global responsibility.

Read the full list of 2015 corporate citizens to find where Intel and other corporations rank in terms of climate change, human rights, and philanthropy.

Consistent Rankings in the Top 10

For the past three years, Intel has remained in the top 10 of best corporate citizens. Outperforming many of the other companies on the list, Intel’s highest individual rankings have been in these Corporate Responsibility Magazine‘s designated categories:

  • corporate governance
  • employee relations
  • philanthropy

Living and Working in Santa Clara

computer processor chipIntel’s high rankings mean good news for Santa Clara. Not only does the locally based company truly value its employees, the good press will likely increase business — possibly ushering in more jobs in Santa Clara and a stronger local economy.

But the city isn’t only known as the headquarters for its corporate citizens. Santa Clara is a vibrant area that offers plenty of opportunities to work and live well in Silicon Valley.

Gary & Robert Real Estate Team — Santa Clara Real Estate Experts

We specialize in the local real estate market and would be happy to provide you any assistance.

If you have any questions about Santa Clara homes for sale or what it’s like to live in the area, feel free to ask us. Contact us at 408.357.4611 or Info@GaryandRobert.com.

 

3 Best Practices for Real Estate Investment

Investing In Real Estate: AchieveYour Real Estate Goals

RS926_iStock_000010136948SmallWith mortgage rates so low, many investors choose to invest in real estate, as opposed to the stock market. In addition, real estate is a prime investment for novice investors, as it is more tangible and understandable than stocks and the index. According to Bankrate’s annual investment research, 27% of Americans with money to invest would choose to invest in real estate over any other investment. Because real estate is becoming a popular commodity, especially among investors, here are three tips for investing in real estate:

3 Essential Elements to Real Estate Investment

1. Quantity over Quality = A Fair Cash-on-Cash Return

When investing, you are probably going to be using money from CD accounts, stocks, or bonds, which means that you are no longer going to be getting the 4 – 6 percent return. The goal in real estate investment is getting a higher return than what you would have received, had you left the money as liquid financial assets.

Many investors, especially those newer to the game, come into the market looking for prize homes. This can be an extremely risky investment, as finding a renter may be difficult and you need to be prepared for an unforeseen market turn. With that in mind, investing in the average homes that are cash-flow positive, which may not be as fancy as those prized properties, are ideal. View Zillows’ “A Tale of Two Townhomes” for more information.

2. Do Your Due Diligence

It’s common knowledge that investment comes with an involved risk. Yet, real estate developments, parcel/land, Tenant in Common, and fixer uppers have a much higher risk than the previously mentioned cash-flow positive property. With TV shows like “Flipping Boston” or “Flip This House” on A&E, many people want to purchase a foreclosure fixer upper, with a low cost, flip it, and sell it later for a large profit. While this can be a lucrative investment, it takes practice and due diligence (and possibly luck). Even for those looking to purchase the cash-flow investment properties, as mentioned above, doing your homework (viewing reports, analyzing, crunching numbers, etc) is required to make the best real estate investment decisions.

3. Time is Money

When purchasing investment property, you also need to consider the amount of time you have to put into managing the property. Rental properties in vacation destinations and college rentals constantly have tenants coming and going. If you do not have the time to put into the property, you need to make sure that you are investing in the right type of real estate. Find a calm neighborhood or area, further away from colleges, to attract families or individuals that will rent and stay for as long as possible. While there will be issues, having a long term relationship with your tenants will help in the long run, as they usually require less time and management.

Let Us Help You Achieve Your Real Estate Goals

Real estate can be a risky investment, especially for individuals new to the real estate market and industry. As real estate professionals, we are area experts that are privy to real estate trends, as well as market and industry news. Contact us today to learn more about the services we can provide.

Cupertino Ranks in the Top 10 Most Educated Places in America

library in college universityCupertino landed toward the top of NerdWallet’s 2015 most educated cities in America. As the headquarters of Apple, Seagate Technology, and other thriving electronics companies, the city is known for its intelligent and highly qualified residents who have engineering and technology degrees.

San Jose also ranked among the larger cities, beating out California’s largest city for a spot in the middle. Let’s see how these two areas compared with the nation.

Cupertino: #10 Educated City in America

High School / Associate’s: 96.8% 

Bachelor’s: 76.7%

Master’s: 31.0%

While it may rank in the top 10, Cupertino easily beats out the other high-ranking cities — and the nation— for the largest percentage of residents with a master’s degree.

The area has enjoyed the spotlight before. It will likely continue to inch on up the list as Silicon Valley continues to attract technology start-ups and skillful employees.

With such highly educated residents, Cupertino provides more unique opportunities for starting careers and living in an appealing residential environment, not to mention bolstering the local economy as the in-demand industries seek the best minds for the job.

San Jose: #44 Most Educated Large City

computer motherboard High School / Associate’s: 82.5%

Bachelor’s: 37.6%

Master’s: 10.7%

San Jose easily surpassed Los Angeles in all three categories. As the so-called capital of Silicon Valley, it too will likely rank among the giants and perhaps become the most educated city in California.

High demands for engineering, computer science, electronics, and other thriving industries in San Jose will also bring an influx of the most qualified people with years of post-secondary education.

Come Join the Rankings in the San Jose Area

If you’re relocating to the area for work or became interested in these two most educated cities in the US, you can find out more about residential life in the San Jose area by checking out our real estate website.

If you have any questions about Cupertino or San Jose real estate in particular, please contact us at 408-357-4611 or info@garyandrobert.com. We would love to help.

San Jose: One of the 35 Best Cities for People Under 35

San Jose California Earlier this year, San Jose made the list of “35 Best Cities for People 35 and Under.” And it’s small wonder that this area is attractive, with its prime location in Silicon Valley and entertainment options.

Let’s explore what makes San Jose an ideal city for people under age 35.

Tech Employment Options

Last week, we discussed how nearby Sunnyvale ranked #2 in the nation for jobs. San Jose shares the same tech appeal, and Forbes cites the area as “the capital of Silicon Valley.”

For professionals under the age of 35, the nation’s cutting-edge technology hub is automatically appealing for those who are starting or continuing their careers.

Shopping, Dining, and Entertainment

San Jose offers an array of diverse entertainment options, from its plethora of shopping centers and outdoor spaces ideal for relaxing.

Walkability is important to young professionals, especially since many people in San Jose tend to walk or bike to work and around the area.

You can view more about San Jose’s individual rankings on Vocative’s livability report.

It’s Appealing as a Fit City

Alongside San Francisco, San Jose made the top 10 in the 2015 American Fitness Index. The report primarily cited the city’s abundance of farmers’ markets, low percentage of people who smoke cigarettes, and high percentage of commuters who bike or walk to work.

young professional at computerSearching for Housing?

If you’re relocating to San Jose and would like information about homes for sale, local schools, or home buying resources, contact us at 408.357.4611 or Info@GaryandRobert.com to get started. We would be happy to answer any of your real estate questions.

 

What Every First Time Home Buyer Should Know About Home Loans

Home Buying 11First-time home buyers who work with us often have the same question: Should we or shouldn’t we get a first-time home buyer loan?

In fact, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages attached to this type of loan.

So today, we thought we would take a few moments to share with you what you can expect from getting this type of loan as a first-time home buyer. That way, when it comes time for your to decide how you’re going to finance your first home, you’ll have all of the information you need right at your fingertips.

First-Time Home Buyer Loans 101

A first time home buyer loan offers financial assistance to qualified buyers by utilizing a variety of methods:

  • Very low down payments or none at all
  • Subsidezed interest costs
  • Grants
  • Forgive loans
  • Defer payments

Generally speaking, the best candidates for this type of loan are home buyers who have never owned a home, although those who have not owned a home in more than three years may also qualify.

With these types of loans, certain restrictions may apply in order to qualify. Thus, it’s important to research beforehand whether you meet those restrictions.

First-time home buyers should also be aware of the specific restrictions attached to using the loan. These may or may not include:

  • Being prohibited from buying homes in higher price ranges
  • Being required to make the newly purchased home your primary residence
  • Being prohibited from renting the home to others

These types of loans are certainly great for those buyers who otherwise might not be able to purchase the home. But there are some disadvantages to this type of loan.

Some of those drawbacks include:

  • Buyers are limited to the type of home they want by price range
  • Buyers may not be eligible for certain program benefits if they sell their home before a predetermined time limit.
  • Buyers may have a limited number of loan types to choose from.
  • Buyers may have to pay for recapture taxes in exchange for benefits they receive through the program

For these reasons and more, some first-time home buyers may find it just as beneficial to get a traditional loan, although this should be considered on a case by case basis.

We’ll Help You Through Your First Home Buying Experience

Contact us today to learn even more valuable information that is sure to help you as a first-time home buyer. We are glad to offer you our expert assistance, which includes straight-forward advice and user-friendly resources.

Until next time!

Sunnyvale Area Ranks #2 for Jobs in 2015

Forbes has named the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area as the second best place in the nation for jobs in 2015. After hitting some bumps in the road about ten years ago, the area has rebounded into a thriving job center. See what makes the greater Sunnyvale area so appealing for businesses.

high tech circuit boardHigh-Tech Headquarters

Sunnyvale is located within Silicon Valley and thus provides a nurturing business environment for tech companies. It’s also the home of a number of other industries, like aerospace and information services.

Entrepreneurial Environment

Forbes notes that the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area is a hub for people who know how to create their own businesses. In fact, Sunnyvale offers a “Small Business Ignite” program to help entrepreneurs kickstart their company and grow their business.

A Prime Opportunity to Invest in Sunnyvale

The Sunnyvale area’s national recognition for jobs is just part of the area’s appeal. If you’re considering making Sunnyvale your new home, let us know. We can provide you with area highlights, school information, and home buying resources.

Contact us today at 408.357.4611 or info@garyandrobert.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Buying a Home? 4 Things You Should Know About Home Appraisals

home mortgageAs you might already know, summertime is a very busy time for real estate agents. That’s why so many home buyers decide to enter the market during this time of year.

If you too are a prospective home buyer planning to enter the market soon, then you’ve visited the right real estate blog!

Today, we’re going to share four things that every home buyer should know about appraisals.

What Are Appraisals and Why Are They Important?

An appraisal is the valuation of a property by the estimate of an authorized person.

These are particularly important for those who will be taking out a loan on their next home.

And unless you’re independently wealthy (or have been successful in building a sizeable savings account), you will more than likely end up requesting a loan.

When you ask for that loan, banks reference your home’s appraisal as a way of deciding how much to give you. That’s why appraisals are so important.

Consider this example: Let’s say you make a purchase offer on a home for $120,000. You need a loan for exactly that amount.

However, when the appraisal comes back, it says the home is worth only $100,000 – and the bank isn’t willing to give you a penny more.

This means that you’re faced with a $20,000 budget gap. And that’s enough to kill many a real estate deal.

But Don’t Worry – We Can Help!

Here is some valuable information on appraisals that may help you avoid unfortunate situations like the one above:

Appraisers must meet certain criteria first. According to the Appraisal Institute, a qualified appraiser should be licensed or certified and also should be familiar with the local area. What’s more, federal regulations stipulate that the appraiser must be impartial and have no direct or indirect interest in the transaction. Fannie Mae even requires that appraisers certify that they have experience appraising similar properties in the same area.

Appraisal values are influenced by a number of factors. For instance, appraisers will consider recent sales of similar properties as well as current market trends. They’ll also factor in such things as the home’s amenities, number of bedrooms, floor plan functionality and more.

Appraisers are required to do a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior of the home. During this time, they’re also required to note any conditions that may adversely impact the property’s value. This may include needed repairs.

Generally speaking, appraisers use Fannie Mae’s Uniform Residential Appraisal Report for single-family homes. This report asks the appraiser a number of questions, including what the home’s interior and exterior look like, what neighborhood it’s located in and what nearby comparable sales there are. Other parts of the report include: a street map showing the appraised property, an exterior building sketch, an explanation of how the square footage was calculated, and photos of the home. After providing all of this information, the appraiser offers an analysis and conclusions about the property’s value based on this information.

We’ll Help You At Every Stage of the Home Buying Process

We hope you found the above information insightful as a prospective home buyer.

Hopefully, if all goes well, the appraisal on your next home will go smoothly and you’ll be that much closer to owning your own home.

For EVERY stage of the home buying process, we want you to know that we’ll be there to assist you in order to make the experience as seamless as possible. Contact us today to learn more about the services we provide and the valuable advice and insight we can offer.

Your Sunnyvale CA Housing Market Report for June

Home Selling 4It certainly is a great time to be a home seller on the Sunnyvale, CA real estate market, at least according to the latest market data.

Evidently, the average price per square foot for Sunnyvale homes has increased significantly, as has the median sales price.

Thus, if you’re looking to get a great price for your home for sale, now would be a great time to act!

A Closer Look at Sunnyvale CA Housing Activity

Here’s what every home seller should know about the current state of the market:

  • Currently there are 99 homes for sale on the market, including a couple of dozen in some stage of the foreclosure process.
  • Between March and June, the average price per square foot for homes was $826, up 23.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
  • Also during that time, the median sales price for homes was $1,179,250, based on 246 homes sales.
    Compared to a year ago, the median home sales price increased 31 percent, or $279,250.
  • And the number of home sales decreased 7.2 percent.
  • Broken down further, the median sales price for a 1-bedroom home was $500,000.
  • The median sales price for a 2-bedroom home was $825,000.
  • The median sales price for a 3-bedroom home was $1,170,000.
  • And the median sales price for a 4-bedroom home was $1,700,000
  • During the week ending on June 10, the average listing price for Sunnyvale homes was $774,382, down 0.3 percent from the week before.
  • During that previous week, the average listing price was $$776,400.
  • Popular neighborhoods in Sunnyvale include Sunnyvale West and Ponderosa Park, with average listing prices of $1,237,552 and $903,987, respectively.
  • More specifically, during the week ending June 10, the average listing price for a 2-bedroom home was $450,360
  • The average listing price for a 3-bedroom home was $792,066.
  • And the average listing price for a 4-bedroom home was $1,084,266

We’ll Help You Sell Your Sunnyvale CA Home

As you can see, home sellers are getting some great prices for their properties right now in Sunnyvale. Perhaps the only issue is that there aren’t enough homes listed on the market to meet demand.

Thus, if you’ve been on the fence about whether to list your own Silicon Valley home on the market, we encourage you to take that next step toward listing your home on the market.

Contact us at The Gary and Robert Real Estate Team for assistance in selling your home today! We’d love to help you every step of the way!

Until next time,

Gary and Robert