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Expert Tips for Navigating the Real Estate Market

Our mission at venturi realty group is to be your best resource for real estate advice. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or investor, our team of professionals can answer any questions you might have about real estate. Subscribe to this blog to get the latest news on local market trends and receive expert tips for buying or selling a home.

Happy 2012 Holidays and Warm Season’s Greetings!

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To all our cherished friends, neighbors, family and clients – we are so proud to have been able to work with you and be a part of your lives! As we end this year and turn to the exciting time and events that 2013 holds, we just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all that you bring to our lives.

We have some really great plans in the coming year to bring more success to all your real estate endeavors. And with each transaction that makes it to the closing table in the coming months and years ahead – we know that there will continue to be new and exciting things to follow for all of us.

On behalf of the entire group – Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Peace and Joy!

Tips for Moving Into a New Home

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Moving into a new home can be an extremely exciting time in a person’s life.  However, it can also be incredibly hectic.  There are some things that can be placed on the back burner during the move in process.  With these five easy tips on moving into a new home, you can be sure to back your house as safe and cost efficient as possible.
Change the Locks

At closing time, the seller of a house turns over the keys to the new owners.  Many times, though, the previous owner will have given a spare key to a friend or neighbor in case of emergency.  Enlist a locksmith to come to the house and change all of the locks and get new keys made.  This final transition from one owner to the next will give the new homeowner peace of mind.

Reprogram Your Garage Door Remote

Along with changing the locks of your home, reprograming your garage door remote will ensure the safety of your house.  Depending on the brand of remote, steps in reprograming it may differ, but the process is simple for nearly all brands.  Most remotes have a “Learn” button, which you must hold until the indicator light blinks.  While the indicator light blinks, press the button on your remote.  This should reprogram your garage door opener remote.  If this does not work, contact your remote manufacturer or local hardware store for assistance.  Also, make sure you change the code on the garage door pad to something personal that isn’t easily guessed.

Change Your Home’s Air Filters

Most air filter manufacturers recommend that you change the HVAC air filters once every month. Due to the increased amount of activity of moving furniture in and out of the house, a larger concentration of dust will collect in the ventilation system.   In order to improve the air quality in your home and increase heating and cooling efficiency, make sure you change your air filters right when you move in.

Install New Batteries in Smoke Alarms 

When a person is selling their home, there are many different procedures they must do to ensure that it is ready for sale.  Often times, during the stress of the home selling process, the smoke alarms are forgot about.  Ensure the safety of your home and family by changing the batteries in the smoke detectors when you move into a new house.  This cheap and quick home improvement has the potential to save your family’s life.

Get a Fire Extinguisher 

While there's a good chance that your fire extinguisher will sit on the wall for years, collecting dust, it could end up saving your property and even your life. The kitchen is the best place to keep an extinguisher for this is the place most likely for a fire to start. Also, make sure that you and your family members are familiar with how to work your fire extinguisher; it will do you no good in the case of an emergency if you don’t know how to use it.

Install an Alarm for Your Fridge and/or Freezer

If the power goes out in your home or if someone leaves the door open on your refrigerator or freezer, you can lose weeks’ worth of food to spoil. In addition to rotten food, an ajar refrigerator door can kill your energy bill by forcing the appliance to work overtime to keep the food cool. The best way to prevent this is to install an alarm on your refrigerator and freezer that lets you know if the temperature is too high for the appliances to work properly.

By following these easy steps, a person who has just moved into a new home can make their house as safe and cost efficient as possible.

Harness the Power of the Fall Season – List Your Home Now To Sell it Lightning Fast

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Many sellers are unsure whether or not to wait until next spring before listing their home. The confusion comes with a combination of age-old schools of thought that predict the spring season as being almost the only season for homes to sell successfully. Not true.

A lot of homeowners are under the impression that homes are not selling at all, whereas in our own experience, time and again we continue to see completely the opposite results. So much so, that we are defying the myths of never ending days on market statistics with many properties going under contract in approximately two weeks. Here’s why.

There are so many buyers in the marketplace right now that are eager to lock in the phenomenal interest rates and market conditions that continue to allow a very significant amount of buying power. The interesting thing is that while it is a strong buyers’ market in that sense, sellers are still enjoying an edge with the lower inventory that comes with it being this time of year.

Regardless of which side of the fence you are on, either way you look at it the market is strong. People are out there buying. If there are fewer homes available on the market, then that only means that there is less selling competition. This of course translates to top dollar and incredibly quick, hassle-free transactions in which everyone comes out a smiling winner.

So to answer one of the most frequently asked questions I am getting these days, it IS a great time to sell your home. Sure, you could wait till spring. But keep in mind that so will countless other sellers and by the time springtime blooms are back out, so will equally as many more “for sale” signs, competing with you.

By listing your home now, you can harness the power of the buyers that are striving to find that perfect property before the holidays kick in.

Contact us today if you’d like a custom, home valuation report detailing exactly what we expect your home will sell for in today’s marketplace. Our team looks forward to hearing from you and helping your real estate goals come to fruition.

Are Bi-Weekly Mortgage Payments Worth the Time and Effort?

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In most cases, yes! It’s essentially a process by which you make extra payments on your mortgage. That way, you save interest costs and pay off the loan faster.

How Does It Work?

You make a payment to your lender every two weeks instead of once a month. This means that each payment is equal to half of the monthly amount due. The result – you’re paying the equivalent of 13 full payments rather than the usual 12.

It gets even better! The full amount of the extra payment is applied toward the principal. And because the principal balance is the amount on which interest is calculated, paying down principal results in a reduction in accrued interest!

Let’s look a traditional payment monthly schedule vs. a bi-weekly schedule so you can see exactly how it works.

Example 1: Traditional monthly payments

Let’s assume you have a loan balance of $250,000 with a 6 percent interest rate and a 30-year loan term. In this example, your monthly payments are $1,498.88. So, over the life of the loan, you’d pay a total interest of about $289,595.

Example 2: Bi-weekly payments

Using the same loan balance and terms described above, the difference would be the following:

• $749.44 paid every two weeks
• About $225,490 paid in total interest
• This results in a savings of more than $64,000 in interest!
• In addition, the loan is paid off in 24 rather than 30 years

Bi-monthly payments are still a good strategy if you’re an individual who doesn’t plan to keep your house for 24 or 30 years. Why? Because bi-weekly payments still reduce principle, even over a short period of time.

For example, in the first year, the principle is reduced by nearly $1,600. And, at the end of the fifth year, the principle amount has been reduced by about $9,000!

How Do I Arrange Bi-Weekly Payments?

The first task is to contact lenders to find out if they do offer a bi-weekly payment schedule.

If they offer one, ask what the participation requirements are. In typical situations, lenders require you to have payments automatically withdrawn from your bank account since they dislike processing checks every two weeks.

Often, it’s the case that a one-time fee is charged for this service. The fee can be minimal or be in the several-hundred-dollar range, depending on the lender.

So, after all these benefits, how can there possibly be disadvantages to bi-weekly mortgage payments?

Well, the first disadvantage relates to a situation I mentioned above - the lender’s fee is very expensive for the service provided. In such a case, the costs may outweigh or cut down your overall savings.
A second disadvantage occurs when paying bi-weekly is too hard on your budget. Upfront, you need to make sure that you have the money available for the increased payments.

The final potential disadvantage relates to the length of time you plan to stay in your home. That can affect your overall savings on interest.

I recommend that you weigh the pros and cons of bi-weekly mortgage payments by using one of the many online calculators. Just enter your numbers and the calculator will give you a comparison.

If you’d like the assistance of an expert on the subject, contact us immediately!

Online Home Rental Scams Are Stealing From Homeowners

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This is a short but very important post about some of the things we have been watching online. Along with the real estate industry’s increased presence on the Internet have come some very unfortunate instances of scammers trying to pose as homeowners renting out a property. In the process they are scamming people of money as if they owned or managed the property being advertised.

These scammers access photos, property information and even the listing agents’ information and then turn around and advertise the property as a rental unit with their information to be able to collect payments on these falsely advertised “rental units”.

We strongly suggest that you keep your eyes open for these types of scams and if something does not seem right, check and double check with us to be sure. Major websites including Craig’s List and other largely self-controlled online advertising forums constantly provide warnings against such fraudulent activity. To learn more, check out this blog that is dedicated to preventing online rental scams.

In sharing this with our friends and associates, we hope to spread awareness of the problem so that together we can obliterate or at least reduce this kind of thing from happening.

As always, if you have any real estate related queries, concerns or guidance needed – please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to serving you!

Venturi Team Realtors Help Homeowners Smoothly Relocate To and From Albuquerque

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Are you one of the many people that need to relocate to or from Albuquerque or Rio Rancho? Are you a member of military, getting ready to move to the Kirtland Air Force Base? Is there a new job on the horizon or does family prompt you to move elsewhere?

No matter what your reason, if you are in the market to relocate either to or from the Albuquerque or Rio Rancho area – we would like to help! As active members of the community, we have years of experience not only as real estate agents but also more importantly as residents of the area. There would be nothing more wonderful for us than to help you with your move to our area or to assist with your journey onward.

Regardless of your timelines – whether you need to relocate over the next few days or the next few years, the many systems we have in place will only make the process run smoother and more efficient, leaving you time to focus on other things.

If you are selling a home here in our locale and need to do it quickly, we work to get it sold quickly. One of the things we do to make sure your property sells as closely as possible to your expectations is to utilize our amazing market program to its fullest. We scour market statistics to fully understand the area’s other sales so that when it comes time to pricing your home, we do it competitively. Our aim is always to achieve top-level results and after working with many relocating clients for years, we are able to confidently say that we do our jobs pretty well.

If moving out of the area is in the cards for you – we can assist in finding a good Realtor in your new area. We have an extensive network of agents nationwide that we can vouch for – leaving you in good hands as you transition into a new phase of your life.

Living in the 21st century, we make sure to incorporate as many facets of technology into our professional lives as possible. That’s why we stand apart from many agents by utilizing to the fullest available technologies and tools. We conduct full-blown property photography shoots for our out-of-town buyers that cannot make it, use satellite imagery to communicate unique aspects of a property or the surrounding areas – and keep in touch via real time updates. All these tools (and more) make it entirely doable to buy a home without ever setting foot in your new location.

If you would like to realize your dream of living in New Mexico – or you need to relocate to another place for whatever reason, please contact us. We would be honored to assist you with your relocation!

Short Sales In Albuquerque and Rio Rancho Take a Turn for the Better

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Even though they have been around for a long time, short sales did not really become a household term until relatively recently. In 2007, when all things in the housing market came crashing down, many of us saw the worst our real estate market had ever been. That was when countless homeowners found themselves in the impossible situation of owing more on their home than the property was worth.

You and I both know that no matter what a market might predict is the value of a home – sometimes life does not give us choices where we need them most. So for people that were equally as hard hit by the corresponding economic strife faced by the country at that time, there were almost no options.

Short sales were back then and remain till today, one of the best options for homeowners that have underwater mortgages. Alternatives to foreclosures, short sales allow homeowners to walk away from their mortgages, having paid the bank at least the fair market value on the property. Since it is a matter of the bank needing to accept a lesser amount than what is owed, the process is usually very lengthy and involves several steps and lots of people.

Though a short sale is never a good experience, it is definitely better than having to endure foreclosure. There are some credit ramifications of dealing with an underwater mortgage in this manner but they are not nearly as damaging as a foreclosure because it demonstrates the homeowners’ attempt to make good on the debt. Usually, most homeowners can purchase another home about two years from the time they did a short sale on their property whereas a foreclosure has lasting negative impact on a borrower.

Short Sale Activity Changing in the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho Markets

Locally, we have seen some changing trends in the short sale market. Three years ago there were 355 short sale closings in the area. One year later, the number was approximately 600 and this past year we saw an increase in the number of homes sold by short sale to about 855. What this means is that more banks are willing to process this alternative for struggling homeowners and the process is becoming more streamlined. In fact, some banks are realizing that the cost to litigate foreclosed properties is not worth the loss many short sale properties would help to avoid.

Here in our area, the actual number of short sale listings is going down – indicating less distress in the area and fewer homeowners with underwater mortgages. At a time when the nation’s economic outlook is still suffering and with the impending uncertainty that comes with an election year plus the shaky European economy, we are grateful for smoother short sales.

If you are dealing with this or other situations of distress concerning your property and are considering the alternatives – contact us today so we can go through your situation together and come up with a plan!  We’d love the opportunity to serve you!

Albuquerque Journal Shares New Insight About Real Estate

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What can be better than knowledge?  And in the world of real estate, this couldn’t be truer. In fact, since the advent of technology the real estate world has changed immensely. Consider that you are reading my real estate video blog that I established so that I could reach my valued community of clients, friends, family, coworkers and peers. Gone are the days of simple telephone only communication.  Now we have email, instant chat, social media, blogs and video to name a few.

In an effort to utilize these technologies that we have available to us today, protect our resources and also to maximize exposure to the happenings in Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Journal’s newspaper Sage recently changed to an online format. As part of the change, new and exciting additions were made to the magazine.  I was asked to take part in a panel of columnists to share expert opinions of their respective areas of expertise.

Very gratefully, I now have yet another forum through which to share the news, views, tips and tricks of an industry I am proud to be associated with. Today, I invite you to come visit the website and browse through the valuable information you will find. And while you’re at it, please stop by and read the most recent blog post about moving up or downsizing property. I hope you enjoy my online column and leave a comment!  I would love to hear more about what you would like to read about. Whether it is information on the latest market statistics, news about up and coming new developments, buyer or seller trends – whatever it is you want to read about, let me know.

I hope to see you there!

May 2012 Real Estate Market Update for Albuquerque

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I know that our office has been very busy with all the activity on our real estate market lately.  So much so, that there are so many days when we are working late into the evening.  Recently when I was in a meeting with the title company closing on a property for one of our clients, I learned that this phenomenon spreads far and wide into all facets of the real estate community.

With all this activity in our marketplace, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you what we have to look forward to this year and what, if anything, our clients should look out for in the process.

Interest Rates Still At All Time Lows

We have been watching interest rates dive during the past couple years and we can honestly say that this is quite possibly the best opportunity that will ever be presenting to potential buyers, homeowners and investors.  Whether you are considering buying your first home, trading up into something bigger and better or taking the opportunity to own an investment property – now is the time to do it.  Warren Buffett recently said that if it were practical, he would buy up “a couple hundred thousand single-family homes” as an excellent investment.  Especially for property owners willing to hold onto their home for at least 7 to 8 years and the low price of homes these days, the return on investment is expected to be a significant one.

Sellers Enjoying Multiple Offer Situations

As inventory continues to dwindle with the number of sales on the books, coupled with savvy buyers wanting to seize the low interest rate opportunity before they jump back up, it is no surprise that some sellers are seeing multiple offers. If the home is priced well, in great condition, located in a desirable location and has features that are on most buyers’ wish list, chances are the home will receive multiple offers.  Not only that, many homeowners are receiving top dollar on their homes – when bidding wars come into play and the sellers get at or near asking price.

Great Time to Refinance For Lower Monthly Payment

The extremely low cost of borrowing money these days provides an unprecedented opportunity for homeowners with an existing mortgage to pare down their monthly payment.  Another alternative is to switch to a 15-year fixed mortgage and get the home paid off much sooner. President Obama recently brought into fruition some programs that make homes affordable for mortgage holders by offering lower initial fees on qualified refinances as well as lower PMI rates.
If you would like to explore the current market, take advantage and get into your dream home for pennies on the dollar of what you might have paid just a few short years ago, contact us today.  If you have been eyeing your dream home and did not think it was possible – think again!  It might just be within reach to buy now with today’s incredible rates.  Before the market hits bottom – as many are saying it already has – jump on the bandwagon and get your dream home today.  We are here to help you and look forward to making your dream a reality!

Protesting the Amount of Taxes on Your Property

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This is the time of year when homeowners across America are receiving notices from their County Tax Assessor’s office informing them of their home’s value on which they will be taxed.  Sounds simple enough – until and unless you find that the value they are using seems too high.  Of course, higher assessed value translates to more out of pocket property taxes so the last thing you want to be doing is paying more when you do not need to.

How To Determine Whether You Are Overpaying Property Taxes

There are two ways to find out whether your property taxes are higher than they should be.  First, you can go the traditional route, which is to investigate sale prices of homes in the area that are similar to yours.  The sales you are looking for should be completed in the 2011 calendar year (since property values are assessed based on the previous year’s sales).

You can also contact your Realtor to get an idea of whether you should pursue a property tax appeal.  For a quick view and an instant reply you can visit this website, input your address and the site will come back instantly with a reply.  If there are unusual circumstances to the property (for instance if it was sold recently) then you may be asked for your email address to get a reply later.

The Tax Appeal Process

Depending on which county you reside in, the process will vary slightly but for the most part it is a matter of presenting supporting documentation to a board of review, demonstrating your values have gone down.  With the supporting data you can then request that your taxable value be reassessed prior to the next property tax payment due date.

Some counties provide only one window of opportunity for homeowners to appeal their property tax values while others offer two times during the year.  To confirm the policy in your area visit your county treasurer’s office or website for more information.  Similarly, the process of appealing your taxes will also vary from county to county.  There are companies and also attorneys that can assist you through the process but an important part of the process is to gather data supporting your claim for lower tax values.

Comparing Area Values

While you can investigate the sale prices of recently sold properties in your area a challenge might arise when it comes to finding near identical properties to yours or at least very similar ones.  In terms of amenities, square footage, style and structure – homes used to compare values must be like kind in order to be usable data. The best way to manage this aspect of your tax appeal process is to engage your Realtor and utilize their resources in finding good comparables. No one knows the area and its homes better than your Realtor.  They will compile a list of several properties that have sold for less than your home’s current assessed value and through that documentation be able to prove the need to reduce your taxes.

Other Ways to Save on Property Taxes

Aside from lowering your tax dues on the home you may also be eligible for certain exemptions depending on your situation.  Contact your local county tax assessor’s office to learn of the exemptions offered in your state.  Some examples include exemptions for military personnel and veterans, owners of farm property or daycare facilities and non-profit student housing.
To find out if savings amounting to hundreds of dollars seems possible for you, find out now and beat the deadline!