Real Estate Blog

Should you pay cash for your home or finance it with your local bank?

Should you pay cash for your home or finance it with your local bank? Before making this big decision, review the pros and cons of each type of purchase. Everywhere you turn, you hear how bad it is to carry debt. So naturally, it is logical to think that buying a home with cash or sinking as much cash as possible into your home to avoid the massive debt associated with a mortgage is the smartest choice for your financial health. But there is a lot to consider when contemplating purchasing a home outright versus financing it. We will discuss some of the major differences between using cash or taking out a mortgage to buy a home.

Paying cash for a home means you won’t have to pay interest on a loan. Cash sales are attractive to sellers because they can close quicker. In this competitive market, a seller is likely to take a cash offer over other offers because they don’t have to worry about a buyer backing out due to financing being denied.

On the other hand, obtaining financing also has significant benefits. Even if a buyer can pay cash for a home, it might not make sense to tie up a lot of cash to purchase real estate. Doing so could limit your options if other needs arise down the road. If the home turns out to need major repairs or renovations, it may be tough to obtain a home-equity loan or mortgage, as you don’t know what your credit score will look like in the future, how much the home will then be worth, or other factors that determine approval for financing.

Paying a mortgage can also provide tax benefits for homeowners who itemize deductions versus taking the standard deduction. And while you should not opt for a mortgage just to get a deduction, a reduced tax obligation never hurts.

The best advice when considering whether cash or mortgage makes the most sense is to opt for the choice that gives you the bigger bang for your buck. Also, ask yourself which will provide a greater return on your investment. If you decide to purchase a house with a loan, make sure you can easily afford the principal and interest payments each month. If you decide to go with cash, make sure you will still have enough to cover ongoing costs like property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and other fees each month.

Talk to your tax advisor, meet with your local mortgage lender and let them guide you to make the best decision for your needs.

Our market is crazy! Homes are going under contract in just hours, some with multiple offers. Inventory is still low. So, if you are considering selling your home, contact your local REALTOR® so they can get you the best price, whether it is a cash sale or a financed option.

Have a great week! Remember to do good things!

Why should you live in Morgantown?

Why should you live in Morgantown? I can only speak from experience as I have lived here my entire life. I am not saying other areas of the state are not beautiful but this town, I can attest to its character.

Morgantown is a great place to grow up and raise a family. We are surrounded by mountains, a river, a lake, wonderful parks and recreation. In addition to our local area, we are within an hour to Pittsburgh and a little over 3 hours to Washington, DC. We have sports including a minor league baseball team, arts and entertainment, and plenty of other activities. West Virginia is known for its mountains. Residents can snow ski, explore our many caves and caverns, go white water rafting, hunt and fish. We have fine dining, good shopping, history and heritage, and great people!

Let us talk sports. We are the home of the Mountaineers! Morgantown is host to WVU baseball, football, basketball, a National Rifle Team, swimming, rowing, track, golf, soccer, volleyball and tennis just to name a few. We have won tournaments and titles and many of our athletes have gone onto play Pro sports.  

WVU has produced a mountain of scholars from the University. Forbes ranked Morgantown as one of the Best Small Places for Business and Careers. (2019). We have a level one trauma center at WVU Hospital, a top ranked business and law school and graduate programs that rank within the top 100 in the nation. We are a diverse community with many of our students coming to study from other countries. Some of our Elementary, Middle and High Schools are top ranking in the state and in the nation.

Our arts and entertainment program stretches from local talent in our county schools to college level plays and performances. The Creative Arts Center or CAC as we locals call it, has hosted Broadway productions and many famous singers. We are fortunate to have some amazing talent in our community.

If you are one for adventure, Cheat Lake is a quick getaway for boating and recreation and the Mon River for kayaking and fishing. We have parks for the family to enjoy and a rail trail for biking, walking and running. Within a short drive, you can be rock climbing and exploring at Cooper’s Rock State Forest which features canyon overlooks, historical sites, picnic shelters, 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, cross-country ski terrain, a lake perfect for reeling in trout and a nearby river for rafting.    

The beauty of Morgantown is like no other. We have awesome sunrises and sunsets. Our seasons, albeit a little off over the last few years, are full of vibrant colors. We have good people here that are always willing to help others.

So, I as sit here on my front porch and write, I am thankful to watch a beautiful sunrise with a sky full of pinks and blues. I would not want to live anywhere else as Morgantown is home to me.

I hope you have a wonderful week and remember to do good things for yourself and others!

Did you ever wonder how REALTORS® price your home?

Did you ever wonder how REALTORS® price your home? Do they just guess or is there some method to the price they suggest? Well, let’s explore how this process works. First, the REALTOR® will view your home in person looking for upgrades, additions and any other improvements. The REALTOR® has already done his or her research before they come by in person. We have access to assessor.org to see how the county has assessed your property, what you paid for it, the size and details of your property.

This is a public website that anyone can use. You can see aerial views of property lines and all details about the property. In addition, REALTORS® have access to the local MLS where your property is located. They can see the history of your property including past sales, photos and updates. This can help the REALTOR® determine the market value of your property. Next, they will do a comparative market analysis looking at active and sold listings similar to your property.

 A REALTOR® determines your home’s value by more than just one factor. While they look at price per square foot to get a starting point, they consider other details such as location, lot size, upgrades and amenities. Layout is important too. If the rooms are smaller in size than other comparable properties, this can affect the price.

Market conditions are a huge factor when determining price. Are houses flying off the market? Is your economy booming? If there is a large amount of inventory, prices may be lower than during a sellers’ market or lack of inventory. If your town has pending layoffs or a lack of jobs, it may be more difficult to sell, and your REALTOR® will suggest a price that fits the area more appropriately.

If you’re selling your house, your goal is to find a buyer willing to pay your asking price. Pricing your home too high may cause it to sit on the market for way too long. Calculating the fair market value of your home can help you price your property right. Market value is what the buyer is willing to pay. If you need to upgrade your kitchen or baths, the buyer may see that as money they need to spend. This may lower your market value.

Most areas across the country are experiencing a Seller’s market or lack of inventory. Multiple offers, cash deals and quick closings are some of the terms I am sure you have heard on the news. The Morgantown area is no different. We currently have 157 single-family listings for sale in the area. The average days on the market are 123. This is a seller’s market. If you are considering listing and have somewhere to go, this may be the time to sell. Contact your REALTOR® today to get your market analysis.

I hope everyone is enjoying the summer, maybe taking some trips and seeing family and friends. Have a great week and remember to do good things!

What is an HOA?

What is an HOA? Real estate developers establish homeowners’ associations as corporations for the purpose of marketing, managing, and selling homes and lots in a residential subdivision. Usually, the developer transfers ownership of the association to the homeowners after selling a predetermined number of lots. When you purchase a condo, townhome or single-family home within a “planned development”, you may also encounter the HOA structure. These structures are put in place to help maintain a clean and cohesive atmosphere in the neighborhood.

Before you buy a home that makes you part of an HOA, there are some questions you should ask of the association. What are the fees? What do they cover? Are there any special assessments? You should review the covenants and restrictions prior to making your offer. These documents detail what is allowed in the development and any expectations as a homeowner. You can obtain them directly from the HOA or ask your REALTOR® to provide them to you. You may need to obtain approval before putting in a pool or installing a fence, so you need to be well informed.

HOA’s are usually run by volunteers that live in the community. Some are very active, and some are not. You should do as much research as possible and talk with current homeowners in the development. Living in a planned development—and being governed in part by the rules of an HOA—can be a mixed blessing. It offers the prospect of exchanging some control over your home for the reduced responsibilities of maintaining it, and for the benefit of enjoying shared amenities and security. It can, however, also trade the diverse look of a typical neighborhood for a more uniform appearance, albeit one with a lower chance of a neighbor’s decorating taste or sloppy maintenance habits becoming a problem for you.

Homeowner Associations can be beneficial for your community. They can help maintain the look of the neighborhood which in turn can keep property values in line with the market. If you move to a neighborhood that has an active or even inactive HOA, get involved. The only way to make a difference is to help those that are volunteering their time to make the development a nice place to live.

There are hundreds of HOA’s in our Morgantown community. The Morgantown Board of REALTORS® has compiled a list of HOA’s including their covenants and restrictions. Contact your local REALTOR® for more information.

I hope everyone is enjoying our crazy weather, hang in there and try to stay cool!

Happy 4th of July to all and remember to do good things!

Safety in the home should be your priority whether you are selling or not.

Safety in the home should be your priority whether you are selling or not. Let’s talk about smoke detectors, locks, appliance service and other potential hazards.

Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of your home to detect rising smoke from a fire. They should be placed inside or directly outside of each bedroom and common areas, and in laundry rooms and kitchens where fires can originate. To reduce false alarms when cooking, consider installing smoke alarms at least 10 feet away from any kitchen appliance. If you have a larger home, you will want to consider more alarms, that are situated in hallways and stairways.  It is best to install smoke detectors that can be interconnected so you will hear the alarm no matter where you are in your home.

Before installing, check to make sure the detector is approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to meet strict testing and safety requirements. Read the smoke detector’s manual before installing for proper set-up and install smoke detectors on the ceiling. If you must mount the smoke detector on the wall, it should be placed less than 12 inches away from the ceiling. Remember to change the batteries twice per year and test the detectors monthly. Detectors should be replaced every 10 years according to the National Fire Prevention Association.

Locks are another important safety feature. When possible install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors. New and improved locks feature keypad entry’s so family members can enter without a key. These locks can also be controlled remotely if you need to let someone in or you forgot to lock the door. Secure basement windows and doors to keep out unwanted visitors.

Security Systems are also another safety feature. You can install cameras, glass breaking mechanisms and fire and burglar alarms all at a reasonable cost. These systems can be controlled remotely as well, and you may get a discount on your insurance premium. Carbon Monoxide detectors protect you and your family from the odorless gas that can cause death. These can also be monitored by the security company or you can install the plug-in ones yourself.

Your HVAC system should be serviced annually. Replacing filters and keeping the area free of debris will help in the longevity of your system. A good serviceman will tell you to set the thermostat at your desired temperature and leave it alone. The system has to work twice as hard to heat up or cool down if you keep changing the temperature.

Another safety tip is to keep exterior areas clear of hazards. This could include gasoline cans, loose deck boards, slippery sidewalks in the winter or faulty staircases. Delivery people should be able to safely bring mail and packages to your home without the potential for a fall. Look at your home from a guest’s perspective and make the necessary changes. Trim trees and bushes away from windows and other areas of your home.

This weekend is a perfect time to review all your safety features in your home and make any necessary changes. Remember to do good things!

Flooding affected our town last week in so many ways.

Flooding affected our town last week in so many ways. People lost their personal belongings, cars and had damages to their homes. Water is a disaster that can have a long-term effect on your property if not properly remediated. There are companies that will assist with clean-up, mold prevention and future waterproofing.

Flooding. No one wants to talk about it or experience it firsthand. As a homeowner or potential buyer, you need to do research about the property to determine if it is in a flood plain. If a property is in a flood zone, this can mean higher insurance premiums and required flood insurance. You can check to see if you are in a flood zone by checking with fema.gov.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides flood insurance to property owners, renters and businesses, and having this coverage helps them recover faster when floodwaters recede. The NFIP, run by FEMA, also encourages communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations that help mitigate the effects of flooding. Flood insurance is a type of property insurance that covers a dwelling for losses sustained by water damage specifically due to flooding caused by heavy or prolonged rain, melting snow, coastal storm surges, blocked storm drainage systems, or levee dam failure. In many places, a flood is considered a major event, and the damage or destruction it causes are uncovered if you do not get supplemental insurance. The NFIP continues to be the primary source of asset protection against flooding, the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States.

If you have experienced a flood, whether a few inches or several feet you know that lives can be destroyed by this disaster. Over the last several years, our great state has experienced some devasting floods. How do you prepare? Can you prepare? If you are in a low-lying area, the most extensive preparations may not be enough. Make sure you are adequately covered with flood protection.

I personally have experienced flooding in my life. Although it was only a few feet in my basement, it was horrible. We were not in a flood zone, and it was a freak storm. Fortunately, FEMA came into our area and assisted with grants to help those in need. Be prepared. Store important documents in a safe area. Check with your insurance company to see if you need flood insurance. Unlike the homeowners’ policy, deductibles on flood losses are applied separately. If the dwelling and contents are damaged, the homeowner pays two separate deductibles. In the homeowners’ policy, one deductible applies to the entire loss.

To end on a positive note, our market is hot! Contact your local REALTOR® today if you are ready to buy or sell. They need inventory, the buyers are looking, and rates are still low. I want to wish all the dad’s out there a Happy Father’s Day and Remember to do good things!

Do you dream of owning a second home?

Do you dream of owning a second home? A house by the ocean or in the mountains situated near a creek? Did you know a second home is also an investment property? When you purchase a second home and do not use it as your primary residence, financing and insurance can be quite different. Maybe you want a vacation home to visit on the weekends, holidays or in the summer. Or you would like to live in the home when you retire or pass it onto your children.

Owning a second home may come with perks, like potential tax write-offs, depending on how you use it. There are many benefits in purchasing a second home. If you decide to rent the property, when not using it, you could have some income potential. But a second home for vacations is different from an investment property you buy to generate income. That difference can affect your finances, including the taxes you owe on the property and the type of the insurance coverage you need.

There are a few steps to consider before purchasing a second home. Run the numbers to consider if you have the down payment you need and if you can afford to take on a second mortgage. Consider the other expenses that come with owning a home such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs, furniture and property management fees. Contact your tax advisor to see if this is a good investment for you and your family.

Next, talk to your local mortgage lender to see which financing options best suit your needs. Mortgage qualifications are tougher for a second home. For conventional financing on a second home, many lenders will want at least 20% down. Income requirements are also stiffer. You will need to show your income is high enough and your debt low enough to qualify for the second home mortgage. The lender will consider your taxes and insurance when calculating your payment and these can be higher especially in a resort area.

If you qualify to purchase a second home, it can be a great investment and a great escape for you and your family. More family time is important. Do some research. Whether you like the beach, the mountains or a villa in another country, make sure you enjoy the area and can see yourself living there. This is a huge purchase that needs careful thought.

In this college town, parents purchase a second home or townhome as an investment for their children to live in while attending school. This makes perfect sense if you have several kids that will be attending the same university. Many times, the mortgage payment is cheaper than the rent and you are hopefully making a wise investment.

Regardless as to which type of home you use, contact your REALTOR® to start looking for that perfect investment. Remember to do good things!

Congratulations, you just accepted an offer…

Congratulations, you just accepted an offer on your home and the closing date is set. What should you do next? In addition to packing and potentially purging items you do not want to take with you, it is time to start planning your move.

If you have a confirmed closing date, go ahead and call the utility companies and plan for terminations. Let them know if you are transferring to another property, that way you won’t have to set up new accounts. Contact the post office and schedule to forward your mail. Keep in mind they will only forward for up to 6 months, so it is a good idea to contact those that send you mail directly.

Your insurance agent should be contacted to schedule for the cancellation of your homeowners’ policy. We always recommend having it set to cancel a few days after closing in case something would happen. The WV DMV requires you to change your address on your license within 20 days to avoid any fines. The human resources department, for your employer, will also need to know your new address. These may be places we do not always consider.

Go through your files and leave any appliance manuals for the new buyer. Ask your REALTOR® if the buyer would want leftover paint that you have used in the home. Any materials that pertain to your house should be left in the garage or attic. This could include shingles and siding or any supplies you have used.

Next, make sure you clean the home and leave it the way you would want to find it. If you can afford it, hire a professional to steam clean the floors and carpets and just do an overall deep clean. Did you remove the family photos and find that you left some holes? Maybe patch those up and paint for the new buyer. You want to make them feel welcome as they already love your home.

Some buyers are very receptive to meeting the homeowner at the property so they can be shown all the ins and outs of the home. It is always good to know if the light switch works an outlet only or how often they flush out the hot water tank. These are all quirky things that only the current owner may know.

As important as the interior is to be cleaned, make sure you are keeping the exterior tidy as well. Cut the grass, clean up the weeds and remove all trash right before closing. No one wants to start their journey in the new home with clutter and dirt.    

If you can’t meet the buyer in person, maybe leave them a note with some things that you love about your home and neighbors. A forwarding address is important too if you are expecting any packages or mail that hasn’t been delivered. These are just some tips that may make the buyers transition pleasant and memorable.

We should see some nice weather this weekend. Best wishes for a relaxing time and remember to do good things!

The Morgantown Board of REALTORS® had the pleasure of listening…

The Morgantown Board of REALTORS® had the pleasure of listening to a presentation this week about Ascend WV. If you do not know what that is, check out their website at Ascendwv.com. However, allow me to offer you some highlights. This program was started by Brad and Alys Smith. He is a native of WV and former CEO of Intuit. Their belief is they “Want you to experience work-life balance in a brand-new way – through community, purpose and the outdoors so you can bring your remote work to the mountains of West Virginia”. They had 7,000 applicants and chose 50 people to participate in the program.

The Youth Cycling Coalition (YCC) is another program working with the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative. The YCC has partnered with 10 Organizations to offer an opportunity for youth ages 6-18 to have access to biking, training and education, racing, and much more all funded by grants and donations. Morgantown was chosen as a pilot program because of our unique proximity to great outdoor activities and an already established rails to trails.

According to their research, within an hour of Morgantown, there are thousands of mountain climbing opportunities, over 50 white water rafting runs and many miles of biking trails. This sets Morgantown apart from larger cities in that you can live here, work here and play here all the while enjoying our beautiful state. Is this the draw for people to live in West Virginia? Possibly. We don’t have large amusement parks, beaches or other main attractions but we do have some beautiful mountains and scenery to explore. West Virginia, specifically Morgantown, is a great place to live. I can attest to this as I am a lifelong resident.

How does this apply to our real estate market? Currently, we have a lack of inventory as does the rest of the country. Research shows Covid produced many buyers, but sellers were still leery of listing. As things start to reopen, we are seeing an increase of listings, especially in Morgantown. The problem is that there are people wanting to sell, but they won’t have anywhere to go if they do. Low interest rates are a huge contributor to this issue.

So, what do we do? Good question. As a buyer, be patient and keep looking. Contact your REALTOR® as soon as you see a house pop up on the market that interests you. For a seller? This is a good time to list if you can. It is a sellers’ market and properties are being sold for over asking price with multiple offers. Morgantown has always weathered the real estate market during its ups and downs. We hope to see more prosperity in our community as these two programs are introduced.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day! Be safe and remember to do good things!

What is a multiple offer?

What is a multiple offer? A seller may like them, and a buyer may not. A multiple offer means that the house is priced right, in a desired location and many buyers are interested. But the true meaning is that many people are competing for the house that you as a buyer so love and there are several offers. This a good reason to hire a REALTOR®. A multiple offer situation can be very confusing and frustrating.

So, let us discuss what to expect if you are a seller. You have several showings, back-to-back, within the first day or two of the listing. While this can be a bit overwhelming, it is a good thing for you as the seller. The more showings, the more chances of offers. Your agent may bring you several offers and will help you negotiate each one. But do you have to negotiate with each offer? You do not. The best option is for your agent to send a multiple offer form and ask for all offers to be in by a certain time. Every offer will be different. You should do what is best for you and your family. Do not let emotion guide you, consider not just the monetary value but the inspection dates and buyers requests.

How do you negotiate all the offers? First, you should review them and determine if the terms meet your selling needs. Do they want a 60-day closing and you need 45 days? Do they want you to assist them with closing costs and money is tight? Are they asking for your washer and dryer and you need to take them with you? These are all things that you can negotiate. Let your REALTOR® help and guide you. He or she is working to represent you and to get you the best and highest offer.

A buyer may not be as excited as the seller to learn of multiple offers. Some may not want to compete; others will go over asking price. Again, your REALTOR® can help. Emotion will be driving you to get the house. Make sure you are not going over market value when making the offer.

Sometimes homebuyers wonder if it is even worth trying to compete against other buyers in a seller’s market. It is not unusual for a seller to receive 5 offers when there’s little inventory on the market. It is almost always a good idea to write an offer anyway. Somebody will be the winning offer. Why can’t that person be you?

In the end, a multiple offer situation will be exciting and scary at the same time. You can only accept one offer so make sure you ask advice from your family, REALTOR® and any other advisor that you trust. This is a huge purchase for everyone and must not be taken lightly.

Happy Graduation weekend to all the high school graduates and especially my beautiful daughter. Have a great weekend and Remember to do good things!