Albuquerque Real Estate Blog & Community News

Aug. 9, 2021

Questions to Ask a Seller When Buying a House

When you’re buying a house, you probably have a lot of questions about the buying process. There are so many questions to be answered. What are all the steps to buying a home? What about closing costs? But, when you find the house you like, there are questions you should ask the seller. Let’s discuss some of the questions to ask a seller when buying a house.

A few key questions to ask a seller

  • Why are you selling?
  • How much did you pay for the house?
  • What’s included in the sale?
  • Is there anything I should know about the house?
  • How are the neighbors and schools?
  • How much do you pay for utilities and taxes?

man asking realtor questioins about buying a house

Why are you selling?

This is probably the most important question to ask. It’s an open-ended question and allows you to find out more about the house and how urgently the seller needs to sell their house. They may have a job offer, want to downsize or upgrade, or they could just want to relocate for personal reasons. Either way, this question will open up a conversation and provide you and your realtor with information you can use when negotiating.

How much did you pay for the house?

Your New Mexico realtor should be able to answer this question, but you can also ask the seller. Find out how much the seller paid for the house and also how long it’s been on the market. This will give you an idea of how much they might owe on the mortgage. It will also give you information on how much the home has gone up in value. Right now it’s a great time to buy a home in New Mexico, but it’s helpful to know you are choosing a home in an area that has increased in value.

What is included in the sale?

Before you can make an offer, you need to know what is included in the sale. Are all the appliances staying? What about window treatments or fixtures? Is there anything you’d like to stay in the home? Sometimes a seller will include items like deep freezers, pool tables, or window unit air conditioners in the sale. Find out what is staying and what the seller plans to take.

How are the neighbors?

Are you going to like living in this neighborhood? A home seller will usually tell you a little bit about their neighbors. You can get an idea of what the neighborhood is like by asking. If they are evasive or don’t have much to say, it could be that they just don’t know their neighbors. But, they may tell you things like who has children your kids age, or who is friendly or annoying. Either way, opening up the discussion will usually reveal more about the neighborhood.

kids in school

How are the schools?

If the seller doesn’t have children in school, they may not be able to answer this. But, most sellers can tell you a little about the school district you are zoned for. Your realtor should be able to help you with this as well. You may know what school district your want your house to be in, but the seller can often tell you more about the schools in the area.

Have you made any improvements or repairs?

Sellers are required to disclose any repairs or issues when they sell a house. For example, if the roof was repaired, this is something you want to know before you buy the house. Of course, you should have a home inspection, but ask questions first. If you notice any obvious issues like water stains, or cracks indicating structural issues, ask the seller directly about this.

How old is the HVAC system?

Take a look at the furnace and air conditioner. Ask the seller how old it is and if they’ve had any issues with it. It’s not unusual for a home to have an older furnace or not include central air. But, before you make your offer you should know if the furnace might need to be replaced. Also, ask about the water heater. Make sure to ask as many questions as you can. When you have the house inspected, your home inspector can review any issues you are concerned about.

How old is the roof?

This should be revealed during a home inspection, but asking ahead of time will help you decide if you even want to make an offer or have it inspected. Find out what kind of roof it is and how old it is. Have there been any repairs to it? You don’t want to have any surprises. How much do you spend on utilities?

How much do you spend on utilities?

This is the time to find out about how expensive the house will be to live in. Ask for their average utility bills for electricity, natural gas, or water. You can also find out which utility companies they use. In addition, think about other services like trash service or any other service you might need.

How much are property taxes?

When you set up your mortgage, your taxes and insurance are usually included as part of the mortgage. Insurance rates can vary depending on how much coverage you have and which carrier you use, but taxes should be similar as long as the property value doesn’t change. Find out how much they pay in property taxes. Keep in mind, if you are paying substantially more for the house than it is currently valued at, the taxes may be higher.

woman using the internet inside her house

How are the cell phone and internet services?

Some areas have a limited selection when it comes to cell phone reception and internet service providers. Depending on where you move, and what type of job you have, cell phone reception and internet service could be an important factors. Try making a call from the area to test the reception. Ask the seller about the providers in the area. It’s better to ask now than to move in and realize your carrier doesn’t service this area well.

Before you make a decision on buying a house, talk to your realtor. There are a lot of homes for sale in New Mexico. You want to choose the one that is right for you and your family. If you have any questions about buying or selling a home, talk to the Bigelow team of experienced New Mexico realtors. We can assist you in every step of the process.

Posted in Buying a Home
July 26, 2021

Can I Withdraw From My 401k to Buy a House?

If you’re ready to buy a house in New Mexico, but you don’t have the money for a down payment, you may be wondering if you can withdraw from your 401k? Now is a great time to buy a home in Albuquerque, but not everyone has enough saved for closing costs and a down payment. Can you withdrawal from a 401k to buy a house, and is it a bad idea?

The short answer is yes. Generally, you can withdraw money from your 401k or take a loan your 401k. Whether or not it is the best option for you depends on your circumstances. Keep reading to learn more about how to withdraw from a 401k to buy a house.

401k paperwork and charts

Should you withdraw from a 401k to buy a house?


There are two things to consider. A 401k plan is intended to be used for long-term savings for retirement. If you withdraw money from a 401k before you are 59 ½ you will have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty. In addition to that, any time you withdraw money from a 401k, you have to pay income tax on it. Depending on how much you take out, you could be paying a significant amount of money in penalties. On top of that, it takes away from your retirement savings.

Interest rates on mortgages are currently at record lows, which makes it really tempting to tap into your 401k. Some things you should consider before you withdraw or take a loan from your 401k. How long did it take you to save the money you plan to withdraw? How long will it take for you to grow that investment back (plus the penalties)? Most financial experts do not recommend withdrawing money from a 401k early, even to buy a house.

Still, it’s your money. If you are ready to buy a house and want to withdraw from your 401k you can. There are two ways to do it, a 401k withdrawal or a loan from your 401k. Which option you choose depends on your circumstances and your 401k. Not all employer plans allow you to withdraw or take loans from your 401k.

young couple looking at their 401k on a laptop

401k Withdrawals

If your employer allows hardship withdrawals, you can withdraw money from your 401k to come up with the cash needed for a down payment or closing costs. The IRS allows hardship withdrawals for immediate financial needs like foreclosure or medical debts. They do not allow hardship withdrawals for consumer purchases (like buying a car). But, a down payment for a primary residence can be considered a hardship withdrawal.

Make sure you understand how much you will be paying in taxes and penalties before you make any withdrawal. For example, according to Fidelty.com, if you make a withdrawal of $15k, you would need to take out $23,810 to cover the taxes and penalties. This is why in most cases taking a withdrawal from your 401k is not the best way to come up with a down payment for a home.

401k Loans

Not all employers allow you to borrow from your 401k. If you are able to take a loan on your 401k, it may be a better option than taking a withdrawal. Taking a loan from your 401k allows you to avoid the high cost in penalties and taxes that happen when you make a withdrawal. Keep in mind, employers are not required to offer loan options with their 401k plans. You must apply for a loan and fulfill all the requirements.

You can borrow up to 50% of your vested account balance or $50,000, whichever is less. The loan must be paid back within 5 years in most cases. However, homebuyers may be exempt from the 5-year requirement if they are using the loan to purchase a primary residence.

couple looking at alternatives to using their 401k to buy a house

Alternatives to using your 401k to buy a house

Before you tap into your 401k, talk to a real estate professional about your options. A real estate agent can provide you with resources on lenders and programs you might qualify for.

FHA loans 

FHA loans require small down payments, as little as 3.5 % down. Additionally, you can qualify for an FHA loan with a much lower credit score than a traditional mortgage. If you are interested in buying a home now and do not have a large down payment to work with, this may be a good alternative for you.


VA loans

VA loans are available to veterans. With a VA loan, you can purchase a home with no down payment. VA loans do not require a minimum credit score, but they are managed by private lenders so the lender may have their own requirements.

Withdraw from an IRA

An IRA withdrawal is a much better alternative than using a 401k. If you have an IRA, you can withdraw up to $10,000 without paying a penalty if you are a qualified first-time home buyer

Posted in Buying a Home
July 12, 2021

How to Sell Your House Quickly in A Seller’s Market

If you’re trying to sell your house in a seller’s market, the dynamics are a lot different than selling a house in a buyer’s market. The challenges, however, are different. If you want to sell your house quickly, you need a great realtor and a plan. Just because the conditions are great for selling a home, doesn’t mean you want to make mistakes when selling your house.

A seller’s market is created when there is a high demand from buyers and a low inventory of homes for sale in the market. Right now, is a really great time to sell or buy a house in Albuquerque. You will likely have multiple offers on your home, no matter what kind of house you have. With high demand and low inventory, buyers are stuck choosing from fewer options. This means even if you’re home isn’t the most beautiful home or has some issues, buyers will still be interested.

couple selling a house in a seller's market

Preparing your house to sell quickly

If your house is one of the best-looking homes in your area, it will sell quickly. With so few homes to pick from, the homes that stand out will get the most attention from buyers. These are the homes that will sell fast! If you want your house to be the one getting attention, you need to prepare for this before you are ready to sell.

How your house looks on the outside will give buyer’s the first impression of your house. They may not even look at photos of the inside of your house if the outside doesn’t catch their attention. If you want your house to sell quickly, consider hiring a landscaper to do it for you.

  • Trim any hedges or bushes
  • Clean and clear any walkways
  • Paint your front door or trim around your door. 
  • Plant flowers 

Once your exterior looks good, start detail cleaning your house. Every room needs to be spotless. If you have carpets, consider having them professionally cleaned. Take care of any minor repairs. Before you go out and spend a lot of money fixing everything in your house, talk to a realtor to see which things are most important to fix before selling your house.

Talk to a realtor

When you ready to get started, call the Bigelow team. Our team of experienced New Mexico real estate agents knows the market. You might be thinking selling your house in a seller’s market means you just list your house and the buyers come running. Even in a seller’s market, selling a house quickly takes work and experience. We find that working as a team, we are able to serve our clients better, and sell your house faster.

Some tips for selling your house fast!

List your house on the right day

For most areas, the weekend is the best day to list your house. Friday or Saturday are generally considered the best days to list your house for sale. Talk to your realtor about how to time your listing and be prepared to start showing it.

Be strategic with your showings

Some real estate experts recommend limiting your showings, and others say you have to be flexible. If you want to sell your house quickly, people need to see your house. An open house is one of the best ways to show your house to multiple buyers at one time. It also lets the other buyers know they have competition. This works to your advantage. If the buyer thinks they are your only option, you may not get as many offers or competitive offers.

couple excited about selling their house quickly

List your house at the right price

This is where you really need a realtor. You can use our free home valuation tool to get an idea of what your home is worth. Any free tool will not be able to tell you exactly what your home is worth or how much it will sell for. The key to selling your house quickly is to start at the best list price. Some sellers want to list the highest price they can possibly sell it for. This is not always the best strategy. Listing your house at the right price to get buyers’ attention is often the better strategy.

Our real estate team will research your property by comparing it to similar properties and factoring in the condition of your house, amenities, and how it compares to other homes in your area. We will use this information to determine the best list price to start with. The goal will be to generate strong buyer activity right off the bat.

Be prepared to negotiate

Even in a seller’s market, homebuyers often want the seller to make concessions. Know this going into your sale. Your realtor will help you list your house at the best price, but understand you may have buyers asking for concessions. Factor this into your decision when settling on your list price. Make sure to talk to your realtor about any of your concerns before you list your house. In a low-inventory market, with the right marketing and real estate team, your house can sell really quickly.

Posted in Selling Your Home
June 28, 2021

Should I Buy a House With a Swimming Pool?

Buying a house with a swimming pool comes with lots of perks, especially here in New Mexico where we have two weather conditions, hot and hotter.  If you’ve been thinking about buying a house with a swimming pool, you may be wondering if it’s really a good idea. Of course, being able to take a dip in the pool whenever you want would be awesome, but is pool ownership more trouble than it’s worth?

Before you make your decision, you should know a few things about owning a house with a swimming pool.  There are definite benefits to owning a house with a swimming pool, but you should go into your home purchase fully armed with information.

The upside of owning a home with a swimming pool

New Mexico man doing work by the swimming pool

A pool can improve your life

Owning a pool brings a lot of good times to your life. When you were a kid didn’t you always love getting to swim in the pool?  Having a pool right in your backyard means you can go for a swim any time you want. Swimming pools are a great way to destress, exercise, and cool off when New Mexico’s sunshine gets to be a bit too much.  

Swimming pools can increase your home value

In some states, a swimming pool isn’t the best feature to add to a home. After all, how much do you need a swimming pool if you live in a midwestern state?  Here in New Mexico, having a pool can increase your home’s value.  Many New Mexico homes for sale have a pool because they are so sought after.

You have the cool house

Sure, being cool isn’t everything but owning a pool can be so much fun, and not just for you. If you have family and friends who love to swim, having a pool means not just you get to enjoy the fun, your friends and family do too!  What many pool owners love about having a pool is that it provides convenient easy entertainment. Having kids over?  No need to come up with things for them to do, just send them all out to swim in the pool.  Planning a BBQ? Your guests can enjoy the food and a good time around the pool.

The downside of buying a house with a swimming pool

Pools require a lot of maintenance

In order to keep a swimming pool clean, there is a lot of maintenance involved.  Your pool will need to be cleaned weekly and treated with chemicals to maintain the correct PH levels.  This takes time and money.  If you don’t want the hassle of cleaning your swimming pool, you can hire a pro, but that typically runs around $80-150 a month. If you don’t maintain your pool, it can lead to problems later if you should decide to sell your home. Before you purchase a house with a swimming pool, you should decide if you have the time and means to maintain it.

cute boy swimming in the pool with a float

Safety issues

If you have young children, you should understand the risks of owning a pool.  Drowning is the leading cause of death in children below the age of four, and the second leading cause of death in children under 15. Even if your children know how to swim there are pool-related injuries every year.  This doesn’t mean you can’t safely own a pool when you have children, but before you purchase a home with a pool in New Mexico, you should have a safety plan written out.  Precautions like having a fence around your pool, having a lock on any doors that lead to the pool, and teaching your young children how to swim are imperative. Children need to be supervised when they swim in the pool, even if they know how to swim.

Higher utility bills

Swimming pools use a lot of water and extra electricity. Homeowners can expect to pay around $25 a month or more on their electric bill, according to Home Advisor.  Your water bill will be higher as well. On average, you can anticipate your water bill to be anywhere from $4-20 a month, depending on where you live.

Your home insurance will be higher

Because pools come with higher risks, your home insurance premiums will be higher. This is due to the fact that swimming pools are a leading cause of the accident and injuries, especially swimming pools that have a diving board or slide installed.  Before you make your decision, talk to an insurance agent to find out how much you can expect to pay in insurance premiums.  

women enjoying her home with a swimming pool

Your house may be more difficult to sell later

Although homes for sale with a pool in New Mexico are much more popular than in other states, not everyone wants to buy a house with a pool.  Your home value might be improved overall, but when it comes to selling it, there may not be as many buyers interested.  This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. After all, you’re interested in buying a house with a pool. There are other buyers that are seeking homes with a pool just like you. This is just something to keep in mind when making your decision.

Overall, there are a lot of great reasons to buy a house with a swimming pool. If you have any questions or want to start your home search, get in touch with the Bigelow Team. We have an experienced team of New Mexico realtors that know the market and can help you find the home of your dreams.

 

Posted in Buying a Home
June 14, 2021

Things to Consider Before You Buy a Mountain Home

If you are thinking about buying a mountain home in New Mexico, there are tew things you should consider before you start for search. New Mexico has some beautiful areas like the East Mountain area, where you can find a house that’s away from the busy city. If you are searching for a luxury home, this is a great place to look for a home. This area overlooks the beautiful Sandia Mountains, providing homeowners with breathtaking views. 

The Four Hills area of New Mexico is another nice area for people to look for a mountain home. Located at the foot of the Sandia Mountains in the Eastern region of Albuquerque, this area is the perfect place to find a mountain home. You can find large lots and luxury homes, as well as ranch and other style homes.

The Manzano Mountains is a lovely area for people who are looking for the country life. The Manzano Mountain range runs through central New Mexico. Although it's less popular than the Sandia Mountains, it's a nice area to find a home away from it all.

If you prefer living in a quieter, rural area, buying a mountain home in New Mexico might be perfect for you. There are homes for sale in New Mexico all over though, so before you settle on a mountain home, you should consider a few things first.

New Mexico mountains

Living in the mountains may require you to commute

You may have a longer commute if you move to a mountain area. What’s nice about the mountain areas of New Mexico though, is that most are located close to Albuquerque. Thankfully, even if you do need to commute, the drive usually takes less than 30 minutes. Before you decide on a location, you might want to make the drive from your workplace to your prospective home to see how much time it will add to your day.

It may be more expensive to live in a mountain area

There are a lot of great reasons to move to a mountain area, but be aware that it may cost more to live in these areas. Electricity sometimes costs more, and property taxes may be higher as well. Depending on where you decide to live, you may pay more in homeowner’s insurance premiums.

man using cell phone in the mountains

Internet and cell phone service may be limited

Certain areas can have limited internet service providers. Satellite internet is available in almost all mountain areas, but if you are looking for cable internet, you may not be able to find a provider to service your area. Additionally, cell phone reception may be poorer in rural or mountain areas. 

You may feel more isolated

One of the biggest reasons people choose to move outside of the city is to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, if you are used to having neighbors close by, you might feel more isolated. This quiet life isn’t for everybody, but if you want to live in a friendly quiet neighborhood, the trade-off is worth it.

Perks of living in the mountains of New Mexico

You’re away from the city but still close to it

Unlike other areas of the country, most of the mountain areas of New Mexico are located close to Albuquerque. This means you can enjoy the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the natural beauty of New Mexico as well as outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, and mountain biking, Instead of having to make a drive to see New Mexico’s beauty, you can enjoy scenic walks right from your home.

dog running

Lots of space for kids and pets

If you have pets, you will love living in a mountain area. Your pets will have plenty of space to roam. With larger lots and peaceful communities, this area is great for kids. Your children won’t feel cooped up. They can run outside, play bikes, and enjoy the outdoors.

Safer neighborhoods

Generally, the mountain areas of New Mexico have lower crime rates and safer neighborhoods. This may be an important factor for parents. If you want your children to grow up in a safe, friendly neighborhood, a mountain home might be right for you. 

If you are thinking about purchasing a mountain home, get in touch with the Bigelow Home. We can help answer any questions you have and help you find the home you are mountain home you’ve been dreaming of.

Posted in Buying a Home
June 7, 2021

Steps for Selling a House

What are the steps for selling a house? If you’ve just started thinking about selling your home, figuring out what to do first can be overwhelming. You probably have a mental list of all the things you need to do before you contact a realtor to start the process. You may be wondering if you should contact a realtor as soon as you start thinking about selling your home or wait till you have your home in tip-top shape, ready to sell.

Is your house ready to sell? Are you ready?

While you are making the decision about whether or not you are ready to sell, you can start the process by getting your house clean, decluttered, and ready for sale. Before you make any major improvements, you should talk to a realtor. Deep cleaning, clearing out your garage, or making minor repairs can be done ahead of time. When you are ready to start the selling process, plan to contact a realtor about 3 months before you plan to sell. If you contact a realtor months before you are actually ready to sell, the market conditions may change. The best approach is to contact a realtor once you’ve committed to selling.

Some things you should ask yourself first are:
Does my house have enough equity? Will I be able to sell it for what I owe or more than what I owe?
If you’re unsure about this, contacting a realtor for a home evaluation can help you determine whether now is the right time or if you should wait.
Are you ready to move?
While the home selling process may take a few months, selling a house can move rather quickly. Do you love your current home? Is your family happy there? Before you make a commitment to sell your house, decide if this is the right time for you and your family. You need to be emotionally and financially prepared to leave your home behind and move out.

What are the most important steps for selling a house?

couple talking to a realtor about selling their house

Start by talking to a realtor

One of the first steps for selling a house is figuring out how much your home is worth. You can use our free property valuation tool to get an estimate of what your home could sell for. Keep in mind this is an estimate. Online tools are useful, but they can’t look inside your home to see what the selling condition of your home is or provide you with expert advice. Before you can really determine what your house could sell for, you should talk to a realtor.

Find out what your house is worth

Our team of experienced real estate brokers knows the New Mexico home market. We will perform a competitive market analysis by comparing your home with similar properties. By reviewing factors including your location, the condition of your home, amenities, and current market conditions, we will provide you with the best competitive price for listing your home.

Get your house ready for sale

couple cleaning their house to prepare for selling it

Once you talk to a realtor, you can start preparing your home for sale. To get the best price for your home, you should take care of any minor repairs. If you have missing tiles, holes in your walls, or carpeting that needs to be cleaned, take care of these issues before you try to sell your home. Sometimes a home can sell in a lived-in condition, but home maintenance issues can be deal-breakers for potential buyers. Your realtor can be your best resource. They can tell what you should do to best prepare your home for sale.

Before your realtor starts showing your home to potential buyers, you want it to look as attractive as possible. This is the time to get your home sparkly clean. Decluttering, cleaning your windows, carpets, or touching up paint will make all the difference when buyers start looking at your home. You might consider hiring a professional cleaning service to really make your home really stand out.

Next steps for selling a house

Market your home to potential buyers

The Bigelow Team will help you with a marketing plan to create excitement and generate buyer interest in your home. They will help you determine your home’s best selling points and create the best marketing plan to sell your house. This includes comprehensive internet marketing through our website, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Google, and more. We will also set up open houses, broker tours, yard signs, property feature sheets, and network with other real estate agents to market your home.

Showing your home

Once your home is listed, your realtor will start setting up showings or open houses to market your home to prospective buyers. A showing is a scheduled one-on-one appointment with a potential buyer to give them a tour of your home. An open house is a scheduled time for any potential buyer to come to look at your home.

couple receiving an offer to buy their house

Receiving offers

One of the next big steps of selling a house is when you start receiving offers. Depending on the location, features of your home, and the current market, you may start receiving offers quickly after your home is shown to buyers. Be prepared to discuss multiple offers with your realtor. Deciding which offer to take involves more than choosing the highest bidder. There are other factors to consider such as the buyer’s financing and the terms of the offer. Once you’ve received an offer, you can accept the offer as is, or make a counteroffer. Your realtor will help you decide which offer you should take and when you should make a counteroffer.

The final steps for selling a house

Accept the offer and prepare for closing

Once you accept the offer, an escrow will be opened and a title policy will be ordered. We work with an outside Transaction Coordinator to handle all the transactional documents involved in completing the sale of your house. The Transaction Coordinator will be in constant communication with you and prepare all the disclosures and reports necessary for closing.

Close of Escrow

The last of the steps of selling a house is the close of escrow. On closing day, you’ll meet with your realtor at the title company to sign all the closing documents. Congratulations. Your house is sold! If you have any questions arise, before or after the close of escrow, we are always available to answer your questions.

Posted in Selling Your Home
May 26, 2021

Should I Sell My House As Is or Fix It Up

Pricing your home when placing your property on the market carries many choices. Should I sell my home as is? Or should I fix up my home to get more money out of it? Depending on the current condition of your home and the circumstances surrounding your reason for selling, there can be a number of factors to consider. If the current condition of your home is not perfect and you really need to move, the question becomes a matter of what you are willing to trade-off. You will need to determine your resources, flexibility, and costs when you consider, "do I fix up my home?" or "do I sell my home as is?"

Typically speaking, agreeing to sell your home "as is" means the buyer agrees to accept the current condition of the property and will not contest or try to negotiate for the seller to make any repairs to the home before closing. Usually selling your home as is means you are compromising on the price of the home. There can be benefits and drawbacks to this approach.

couple asking a realtor if they should sell their house as is or fix it up

When should you sell your home as is?

If time and money up-front are factors for the seller, then selling the home as-is can skip the expense and hassle of making costly repairs to a home before it is sold. Making repairs on a property, depending on whether those repairs are minor or major, can be time-consuming and stressful. Agreeing to "as is" means you can bypass lengthy concessions over the preferences of the buyer. If you want to be rid of the home and move on quickly, selling it "as is" can be the fastest option. This can also be beneficial for people who have inherited property in very poor condition and lack the means to invest in it.

Who buys a home as is?

Both individual buyers and investment companies buy homes "as is." Flippers often make a living off of buying a home at low cost, fixing it up themselves or through trusted contractors, and then turning it over to the market to sell again at a higher cost for profit. Depending on the extent of repairs needed on the home, flippers, cash-buy companies, and buy-and-hold investors can all see a profitable opportunity on a home marketed "sold as is." It can also be an attractive option to someone with a lower income who does not have a large investment for homeownership but does not mind living in a home while they slowly fix it up over time.

woman fixing up her home by painting a staircase

Benefits of fixing up your home

If you have the time and ability to fix up your home before putting it on the market, you will reap the profits yourself instead of passing the profits onto your buyer. You will also attract more buyers because the better condition your home is in, the broader the spectrum of home lenders will be. To qualify for traditional mortgage lending, homes have to be in good enough condition to meet evaluation standards. This means your home will have to be inhabitable and structurally sound during the appraisal process, otherwise, the buyer will need to use alternate sources of financing. Deciding to fix it up yourself will open doors to more potential buyers.

What should you fix up before selling your home?

Major repairs such as a new roof or heating/cooling systems are a lot higher of an investment than minor repairs such as fresh paint or landscape touches. Considerations should be made to which repairs will bring back a return. This depends on the current condition of the home as well as the typical standards of the local housing market. Not all repairs require a high payout. A massive kitchen remodels, for instance, may not be within the scope of what buyers in the area can afford. Whereas, fresh paint on a front patio can often bring the needed curb appeal to send offers in. Sometimes adding a second bath or a legal window to a potential bedroom space can transform the marketability of your home.

front porch of a house

Making the decision to sell as is or fix it up

Ask the experts. Not all sellers can recoup the costs of upgrades made when they fix up their home themselves versus selling their home as is. You should consult with a local New Mexico realtor to discuss the full advantages and disadvantages in your area. A trusted, professional realtor from The Bigelow Team can expertly understand and assess the costs and returns of repairs for marketing your home. 

Posted in Selling Your Home
May 18, 2021

What Should I Look for When Buying a House?

What to look for when buying a house depends on each person's individual needs. While price is the biggest factor when most buyers look at houses, many other factors are at play as well. A specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms are a high-rated need, as well as the location of the home, the safety of the neighborhood, and the condition of the property. Other features buyers look for when buying a house include air conditioning, usable outdoor space, the quality of the school district, and the commute distance.

Factors to consider when buying a house

Wants and needs are two very different things when house shopping. Make sure you concentrate on your needs when looking for a house to buy. Minor cosmetic preferences can be easily adjusted later. Focus on the number of bedrooms, not the color of the bedrooms. Your budget is one of the largest factors when buying a house. Getting pre-approved by your lender or using a mortgage payment calculator can help you estimate your budget based on your income, debt and credit history, property taxes, and insurance rates. The second biggest factor to consider when buying a house is the location of the home. Do you need someplace close to work? A house with lots of property? Close to the school district you prefer? Is the neighborhood walkable and safe? The size and features of the home are also vital to consider. Is the home too big to maintain? Is your family growing? Do you need handicap-accessible entrances? An in-law suite? Make a list of your must-haves and keep it in front of you as you look for a house to buy.

looking at living room of a house

Features most buyers look for when buying a house:

Is the house move-in ready? Renovations can be harder than they first appear. Assessing the condition of the property is a key component to consider when buying a house. The age of the home is important. If the home happens to be older, then the condition or status of any renovations is key. Has it been well maintained? How old is the furnace or HVAC system? Is the home's electricity up to date? Are there any plumbing issues? How old is the roof? The last thing you need when buying a house is to be strapped with an unexpected, costly repair.

stop sign

Red Flags to look for

Do the neighbors take good care of their property? What is the crime rate? Are the floors of the house uneven? It could be a sign of a faulty foundation if they are. Forget about how the sellers have arranged their furniture, which will be removed before you move in. Instead, focus on whether you see any signs of mold in the kitchen cabinets or if the home's hot-water tank is more than 20 years old and needs to be replaced.

Things to look for before you pay for a home inspection

While a home inspection will tell you important factors about the condition and reliability of the house you are looking to buy, there are issues you can spot before you go through the trouble. Noticeable cracks in the foundation or water stains from a damaged roof can be things you can look for when buying a house before you pay for a home inspection.

home biuyer looking at garden area

Other things to look for when buying a house:

Picture yourself in the space. Does it have the potential for personal amenities? If gardening is important to you, make sure you have space to accommodate that. What will the commute to work or school be like? Does the home have ample parking? Does the floor plan fit your lifestyle? The space needs to function for you. Assess and optimize your needs as you look for the house you want to buy.

Posted in Buying a Home
May 12, 2021

Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Home in Albuquerque?

If you are thinking about purchasing a home, you may be wondering if now is a good time to buy a home in Albuquerque. The housing market in Albuquerque is hot right now. Home sales are moving fast, in part because of record-low interest rates. According to GAAR, the average number of days a home spent on the market has dropped from 33 to 16 days in April. With everything going on in the world, and a fast-moving housing market, some buyers may be hesitant to jump into buying a home right now. But, right now is an excellent time to buy a home in Albuquerque.

Here are four great reasons to buy a home in Albuquerque now!

cityscape of Albuquerque, New Mexico homes

Record-low interest rates

One of the best reasons now is the right time to buy a home in Albuquerque is because of record-low interest rates. This is great news for qualified buyers because lower rates mean you will have a lower monthly mortgage payment and be able to borrow more.

How long will these rates last? While interest rates continue to drop, these rates may not last much longer. Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's Chief Economist said, “The low mortgage rate environment has been a boon to the housing market but may not last long as consumer inflation has accelerated at its fastest pace in more than twelve years and may lead to higher mortgage rates in the summer." 

This means that if you’re thinking about buying a home in Albuquerque, the best time is now. If you wait six months or a year to buy, you may end up paying a point or higher in interest rates, which could cost you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your mortgage.

mortgage interest rates dropping

Increasing cost to rent in Albuquerque

If you are renting a house in Albuquerque, you probably know how expensive rent is. Albuquerque has seen some of the largest increases in rent prices in the country. From 2020 to 2021, the average cost to rent went from $937 to $1,014, an increase of 8 percent. If you were to purchase a home right now, your mortgage rate would likely be less than what you are currently paying in rent.

Now is a great time for first-time homebuyers to buy a home as well. If you are renting and have been thinking about buying a home, it’s a really good time to finance your first home as interest rates are at record lows. Some renters have been hesitant to buy a home right now because the Albuquerque market is so competitive. They worry they won’t be able to find a home or will pay higher prices. While it is true, homes are selling quickly, if you wait around for the market to change, you may be missing out on an opportune time to buy your first home.

young family renting a home in Albuquerque

2021 is going to be a wild card year in the housing market

We are living in unprecedented times. This makes the home buying market hard to forecast. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen in the next year. Interest rates will likely go up, which will mean, you will be paying more for your home if you wait to buy. 

Albuquerque is a great place to buy a home. It’s the largest city in New Mexico, with affordable real estate, a good job market, and a great place to live. People from all over the country are moving to the Albuquerque area. According to Synthia Jarmillo, Economic Development Director of the City of Albuquerque, “Our city is becoming a top choice, not only for businesses, but for all people looking for a healthy and robust quality of life.”

Albuquerque Homes are selling fast

If you want to purchase a home with a low-interest mortgage, the best time to start searching for a home is now. Homes are selling quickly, so the sooner you start the process of buying a home, the better. If you are thinking about buying a home, and want to wait until prices drop, you may be disappointed. Although the market is competitive, a fast-moving market means that you can get into a home quickly. The sooner you act, the better chance you will have of purchasing a home while interest rates are still low.

Posted in Buying a Home
May 7, 2021

Home Inspection Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

If you’re a first-time home buyer, you may not know what to expect during a home inspection. A home inspection is the best way to know the condition of your home before you buy it. A home inspection protects you as the buyer from any unexpected issues with your home or property. While a home inspection is generally not required when buying a home, it is in the buyer’s best interest to have a home inspection before committing to purchasing a home.

home for sale

When does the home inspection take place?

Once you find a home you love and make an offer on it, you want to start thinking about a home inspection. If the seller accepts your offer, your realtor will help you with a purchase agreement. Your purchase agreement should include a contingency clause that allows you to back out of the offer, ask for repairs, or renegotiate the price to compensate for repairs. 

When you make an offer on a home, you are making the offer based on the knowledge you have prior to a home inspection. If you are not a licensed contractor or home inspector, you (and the seller) may be unaware of damage that isn’t visible during a walk-through of the home.

home inspector doing a home inspection for a first-time home buyer

Home inspection tips for first-time home buyers

Once you are ready to proceed with a home inspection there are some things you should know as a first-time buyer. You don’t want to purchase your home and realize later that you missed issues or that you have more repairs than you anticipated.

Don’t be tempted to waive the home inspection

You may be tempted to skip the home inspection. There are a few reasons why home buyers sometimes consider waiving a home inspection. There are over 28 million Americans planning to buy a home in the next year, according to NerdWallet. But, the supply of available homes for sale is currently around 10.4 million units. In almost every area of the country, it is a seller’s market. Because of the competition for buyers, many home buyers are waiving contingencies like a home inspection. This comes with some serious risks. While it may be frustrating trying to buy a home with such fierce competition, there are other options for making your offer stand out than waiving the home inspection. Having a fully pre-approved mortgage or a large down payment can make your offer the strongest.

Don’t expect the home to be perfect

A home inspection is intended to inform you of any issues with your home and property. Many homes have some issues that show up on a home inspection report. A home inspector’s job is to inform you of the home’s condition. Their inspection should give you an idea of the age and condition of the home’s roof, plumbing, electrical systems, the exterior and interior. It will also let you know if the home has had water damage, repairs done to it, and the state of the grounds and property. Your realtor can help you evaluate which repairs are minor issues and which issues are deal-breakers.

first-time home buyer signing purchase agreement

Attend the home inspection and ask questions

Your realtor will recommend that you are present for the home inspection. Even though you will receive a report, it’s best that you participate in the home inspection. Talk to the home inspector about the issues you are concerned about. The average home inspection takes 2 or 3 hours. When the inspection is completed, the home inspection will go over his findings with you. You can ask the inspector about his thoughts on how much repairs will cost you or if you should be concerned about anything before you agree to the purchase agreement. Some inspectors will not discuss the costs of repairs, but most can give you some guidance on what repairs are difficult and which issues you shouldn’t really worry about. Don’t be afraid to straight out ask your home inspector, “would you buy this house?”

Don’t be afraid to ask “stupid questions”

One of the best home inspection tips for first-time home buyers is to ask questions! Your home inspector should be a resource for you. While the inspector is doing his inspection, it’s okay to follow him around the home and property and ask questions as you see things. They have experience that you don’t have and know that first-time buyers may not be as knowledgeable about what to look for in a home inspection. Ask as many questions as you can. This is your opportunity to learn everything you can about your home. Once the inspection is done, if you still have questions, you should be able to call your home inspector later to explain your report.

Posted in Buying a Home