Real Estate Advice for Singles

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on January 20, 2017

 Real Estate Advice for SinglesMillennials don’t necessarily link home ownership with life events, like marriage or graduation. As a result, more single millennials are looking to buy homes for themselves. Making a mortgage payment on a single income can be more challenging than attempting to buy with a spouse, it is possible if you budget well and buy conservatively.

  • Don’t buy if you are thinking about moving. If you’re in college, grad school, or are job hunting, now is not the time to buy. Not only are major life changes challenging for your credit score, moving in fewer than five years after buying puts any appreciation you may experience at risk.
  • Don’t max out on your home loan. Even if you are looking at home loans that will have the same monthly cost as your rent, remember that home ownership come with additional expenses, such as larger utility bills, yard upkeep, repairs, and COA or HOA dues. All of these impact your budget.
  • Get a property that is roommate-friendly. Even if it’s not your idea of the perfect situation, having a home that easily accommodates a roommate situation can give you added flexibility in your budget. Look for homes with two master suites and additional exterior entrances.
  • Get an energy efficient home. Keep extra costs down by ensuring your home has energy-saving features like added insulation, double-paned windows, and smart thermostats. Don’t base your energy costs on the homeowners’ current costs, because energy prices are subject to change. What they are paying now could change substantially in the next five years.
  • Consider your social life. If you love walkable areas and being close to friends, nightlife and restaurants, moving away from a city center may not be a good idea, even if it’s the cheapest way to go. Remember that cost is only one factor. Quality of life is important, too.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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What You Should Know Before Hiring a Contractor

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on January 19, 2017

 What You Should Know Before Hiring a ContractorAs homeowners gear up for the spring sales season, many are looking at home improvements they could make to increase the value of their home. The improvements that make the biggest difference are simple: updating hardware and light fixtures, painting and putting about one-third of your things in storage or out of sight.

If your property is vacant, staging adds warmth and can help potential buyers reimagine a space, and it’s come a long way in the past few years, with several time and money-saving pop-up options in the market now.

But if you have already done those things and still feel like a remodel project is needed, here are some tips from the experts on choosing a contractor:

  • Don’t automatically take the lowest or highest bid. Sometimes the lowest price can still be a quality job, but not always. The same is true for highest bids. Ask for an itemized estimate of all the costs involved to make sure that the number is realistic, and check references.
  • Get everything in writing. Once you have chosen a contractor, get everything in writing, including a summary of the scope of work, what permits are needed, completion dates and a payment schedule.
  • Get a recommendation. Real estate professionals are a great source for recommendations, because they will have worked with a wide variety and heard good and bad from different clients. You can also ask homeowners in your neighborhood who have had work done.
  • Get more than one estimate. Five is optimal, because then you can throw out those charging 20 percent more or less than the average price for your job and still have a few to choose from. Once you have a few names, ask for information for former clients who might let you look at a completed project. Seeing a job in person will tell you much more about the contractor than photos you find on the Internet.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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Tips for Young Homebuyers Looking for Affordability

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on January 18, 2017

 Tips for Young Homebuyers Looking for AffordabilityFor several years since the housing bust, millennials were indifferent to homeownership, happy to rent and drift. But now, whether it’s because they are getting older, have paid off more of their student debt, or because rental costs have surpassed the average mortgage cost, millenials are ready to buy.

However, due to the current lending climate, it’s still tough for first-time homebuyers to qualify for home loans. Experts advise checking out your options first, before you do any house hunting. Even with a rate hike on the horizon, rates are currently at historic lows, so don’t get fancy. Only consider fixed-rate mortgage products.

Having a larger down payment than is required may help, too. Many first-time homebuyer programs require small down payments, but it’s better to go as big as you can. You can also check out down-payment gift assistance to help make your case even stronger.

After you get approved, keep in mind the amount you’re approved for is likely larger than is realistic for a monthly budget. That’s because home ownership generally comes with larger utility bills, HOA dues, insurance, and upkeep costs that you aren’t experiencing as a renter. Make sure you factor these things into your monthly budget before deciding how much home you can afford. For budgeting purposes, you can expect your house payment to be about $100 a month for every $1,000 you borrow.

When you do finally start your house hunt, think about resale values. Choosing a smaller home in a nicer area is a better investment than getting the nicest home on the block in a less desirable area. One day, you’ll want or need to sell, and choosing a home in a growth area, near cultural or transportation amenities, and in a good school district, even if you never plan to have kids. All of these things will affect your resale value.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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Tips for Buying and Selling in the Winter

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on January 17, 2017

 Tips for Buying and Selling in the WinterThe South Florida housing market has an advantage over other markets in that the temperate climate allows for a more favorable market year-round. Markets with intense winter seasons experience extreme slowdowns during the winter months since people don’t generally want to get out in the cold to look at homes.

Here’s how to make the most of the winter housing market, from either side of the deal.

Buyers
But even in temperate climates, many markets still experience winter lulls due to other factors, such as the holidays and the school year. This means there are fewer buyers and therefore supply inherently goes up, which can mean better deals and more motivated sellers. If you’re really flexible on your moving dates, think about closing a deal the week of Christmas or right after New Years for the best deals.

Sellers
Sellers can face a variety of seasonal obstacles in addition to having fewer buyers in the hunt. Earlier sunset may mean people are less likely to get out after work and look at homes since it just feels later. The earlier dusk times can also work against you by decreasing the amount of natural light in your home. Aim to schedule showings during the daylight hours as much as possible, and make sure each room has two lamps on in addition to an overhead light. Recessed lighting in walk-through rooms can also help make your home feel warmer.

Also make sure your home isn’t cold. If you’re selling a vacant property, this may mean you have to think ahead and get the heat going before someone comes to see the property. You can install a smart thermostat that you can adjust via your smartphone to make this easier.

If possible, photograph your home in the spring months, even if you plan to sell in the winter. Yards and trees look drastically different in the winter months, even in warmer areas, so make sure the buyer can tell how beautiful it is no matter what time of year you’re selling your home.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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Securing Your Smart Home Before You Sell

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on January 16, 2017

 Securing Your Smart Home Before You SellHomeowners know the basics about turning over ownership when you buy a home: change the locks, reprogram the garage door opener. Done and done. But what about smart homes?

Many homeowners today have smart-home technologies at work in their homes that make things run more smoothly. Whether it’s a home security system that you can access on your smart phone, programmable thermostat or sprinkler system, Wi-Fi door locks, or a total-home system like Amazon echo or Google Home, smart-home technology makes life a little easier. Securing these systems once you move is slightly more complicated than changing the locks.

Currently, smart home features don’t add any value to a home, mainly because the technology is still changing so fast. There’s no standard definition of a smart home, and because of that it’s hard to quantify the value. But one thing is sure: smart technologies make a home more marketable and smart features are a hot selling point.

Coldwell Banker is attempting to standardize the notion of the “smart home” by offering a $1,000 package that includes a Nest thermostat, August Home smart door locks, and remote-controlled lighting by Lutron. It’s still another $550 to install, however.

So what should buyers do? First, make sure that your inspector is aware of smart features and prepared to inspect them as well as the standard features in the home. Second, include in your contract that you are given the owner’s manuals and passwords for every smart device in the home. Once you take ownership, you should restore each device to original factory settings.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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