Karen Adelson - Barrett Sotheby's International Realty



Posted by Karen Adelson on 12/29/2015

The news has been bombarded with negative stories about the real estate market over the past few years, but the tides are turning and inventory is now lower than ever. There are still many opportunities for buyers as prices still remain low. For savvy homebuyers looking to buy in the high-end or luxury marketplace there is tremendous opportunity. If you’ve always dreamed about buying a luxury property but considered it just out of reach, today’s market may has put downward pressure on the prices of higher-end homes making them more affordable than ever. To buy your dream home you will want to have a strategy. 1. Choose your agent wisely. Your agent is your advocate. You will need an agent who is experienced and successful in the luxury home market. Agents who deal in luxury property have the right knowledge to help you locate and negotiate an offer on a high-end home. 2. Take the time necessary. The high-end home search may take more time and patience. The supply of luxury homes may be smaller, you may even need to expand your search or rely or your agent to find homes that may not be currently up for sale. The home will be bigger, have more features and thus there will be more to consider in the purchase decision. 3. Prepare the perfect offer. Cash is king in today’s market. According to the May 2011 REALTORS® Confidence Index from the National Association of REALTORS®, 30 percent of all purchases between mid-April and mid-May of last year were financed with cash. The number was even higher for luxury properties. Even though many luxury sellers may also be in a distressed property situation they are typically more particular about who was buying their property as well as the final selling price. Use your agent to carefully craft the perfect offer.





Posted by Karen Adelson on 12/15/2015

Could condo living be for you? For many condominium living can be an attractive alternative to a single family home. The price per square foot of a condo is often less than a single family home. Before you make the leap to condo living make sure to do your homework to see if it truly is the best choice for you. Here is a checklist of a few things you may want to consider before signing on the dotted line.

  • Condominiums have monthly maintenance fees.
  • Check with the condominium association to see what the annual increase in the monthly maintenance fee has been for the past few years.
  • What is the percentage of residents are current with their monthly association payments. Look for about ninety-seven percent of the development's residents to be current with their monthly payments.
  • What percentage of the association fees are dedicated to a reserve fund. A good number would be at least 10 percent of the association's annual budget.
  • What are the condition of the condo's roof and major mechanical systems? When were they last replaced or repaired. When the condo requires big upgrades, costly "special assessment" fees are passed on to the homeowners.
Most importantly try and talk to some of the residents. They can be your most valuable resource for learning about the development's pros and cons of the condominium development.





Posted by Karen Adelson on 1/20/2015

The first step in home buying is getting a mortgage. Many home owners also find themselves in a maze when they start the refinance process. Navigating the mortgage process can be confusing. There is so much to know between rates, types of mortgages and payment schedules. Avoiding making a mistake in the mortgage process can save you a lot of money and headaches. Here is a list of the biggest mortgage mistakes that potential borrowers make. 1. No or Low Down Payment Buying a home with no or a low down payment is not a good idea. A large down payment increases the amount of equity the borrower has in the home. It also reduces the bank’s liability on the home. Research has shown that borrowers that place down a large down payment are much more likely to make their mortgage payments. If they do not they will also lose money. Borrowers who put little to nothing down on their homes find themselves upside down on their mortgage and end up just walking away. They owe more money than the home is worth. The more a borrower owes, the more likely they are to walk away and be subject to credit damaging foreclosure. 2. Adjustable Rate Mortgages or ARMs Adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs sound too good to be true and they can be. The loan starts off with a low interest rate for the first two to five years. This allows the borrower to buy a larger house than they can normally qualify for. After two to five years the low adjustable rate expires and the interest rate resets to a higher market rate. Now the borrowers can no longer make the higher payment not can they refinance to a lower rate because they often do not have the equity in the home to qualify for a refinance. Many borrowers end up with high mortgage payments that are two to three times their original payments. 3. No Documentation Loans No documentation loans or sometimes called “liar loans” were very popular prior to the subprime meltdown. These loans requires little to no documentation. They do not require verification of the borrower's income, assets and/or expenses. Unfortunately borrowers have a tendency to inflate their income so that they can buy a larger house. The problems start once the mortgage payment is due. Because the borrower does not have the income they are unable to make mortgage payments and often end up face bankruptcy and foreclosure. 4. Reverse Mortgages You have seen the commercials and even infomercials devoted to advocating reverse mortgages. A reverse mortgage is a loan available to borrowers age 62 and up. It uses the equity from the borrower’s home. The available equity is paid out in a steady stream of payments or in a lump sum like an annuity. Reverse mortgage have can be dangerous and have many drawbacks. There are many fees associated with reverse mortgages. These includes origination fees, mortgage insurance, title insurance, appraisal fees, attorney fees and many other miscellaneous fees that can quickly eat at the home’s equity. Another drawback; the borrower loses full ownership of their home and the bank now owns the home Avoiding the pitfalls of the mortgage maze will hopefully help you keep in good financial health as a home can be your best investment. .





Posted by Karen Adelson on 5/20/2014

It is a great time to be a real-estate investor. If you are looking to jump in the investor market low home prices and low interest rates make this a great time. According to Zillow.com. the real-estate market is starting to recover: U.S. houses lost $489 billion in value during the first 11 months of 2009, but that was significantly lower than the $3.6 trillion lost during 2008 and things only continue to look up. While the timing may be right, you will need to have all your ducks in a row. An investment purchase is different than your typical purchase. Consider your options. Have a strategy and know what kind of investor you would like to be. Ask yourself if you want to be a landlord, or are you planning on flipping or restoring and reselling properties. What types of properties are you interested in? There are many choices from land, to apartment buildings, residential housing and other commercial real estate. Partner with experience. Real estate agents experienced in investment property deals know what to look for in a deal. You may also want to consider asking a more experienced real-estate investor for advice. If you plan on becoming a landlord make sure to familiarize yourself with the local laws regarding being a landlord. Location, location, location. If you buy a property with hopes of renting it out, location is key. Homes in high-rent or highly populated areas are ideal; stay away from rural areas where there are fewer people and a small pool of potential renters. Also, look for homes with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms in neighborhoods that have a low crime rate. Also think about potential selling points for your property. If it's near public transportation, shopping malls or other amenities, it will attract renters, as well as potential buyers if you decide to sell later. The more you have to offer, the more likely you are to please potential renters. Have capital lined up. Speak to potential lenders or a financial planner about what you will need for assets and cash flow. You will need to have enough assets to handle the ups and downs that could come with investing. Most experts suggest a fallback of about six months of mortgage payments for landlords. You will need this in case or vacancy or repairs. If you're planning to fix up a home and sell it, you will need reserves to cover the costs to maintain the home while it is on the market. Becoming a real-estate investor is much different than being a residential homebuyer. A buying decision is a business decision not one based on emotions.





Posted by Karen Adelson on 1/28/2014

Are you thinking of buying a home with a septic system? Septic systems are common in the suburbs and more rural areas where municipal sewers are not available. So what is a septic system? It is a self-contained, underground waste water treatment system. It consists of a septic tank and a drainage system. The septic tank is a large, watertight container. It can be made of concrete, steel, fiberglass, or polyethylene. The septic tank is connected to your home's sewer line and collects all water and the waste in it. The drainage system has several parts; an outflow pipe, a distribution box, a network of perforated pipes, and a leach field. When liquids inside the septic tank get high enough, they flow out of the tank into the outflow pipe. The outflow pipe leads to the distribution box which then channels waste water into the perforated pipes. The waste water is then distributed into the leach field. There is usually no cause to worry when buying a home with a septic system. It is prudent to have the septic system inspected or ask for proof of inspection during the purchase process.  If maintained properly, a septic system can last between 25 to 35 years.