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How to Take Good Listing Pictures that Sell Your Home

How to Take Good Listing Pictures that Sell Your Home - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Are you thinking about selling your home? Looking at everything that needs to get done, such as repairs, painting, cleaning, finding the right real estate agent, etc.; you may think that the listing pictures are the least of your worries. Well, it turns out that they’re a huge part of getting your home sold.

Because estimates by the National Association of Realtors suggest approximately 90% of home buyers search for homes for sale online using sites like Zillow and Trulia, it’s no surprise that listing pictures are very important. Home buyers want to see as much of a home as possible before they even make an appointment to see it.  Some sellers and agents may think that taking pictures with their phone is enough. After all, phones nowadays have high-resolution cameras and you can always add a cool filter to make anything look better, right? Well, taking property pictures for a listing is much different than taking selfies or pictures of your dog cuddling up on your lap. It takes a trained eye to figure out the right angle, light and spaces to take pictures that sell.

Want to see some not-so-good examples of how to take pictures? Check this page out.

Things to Avoid While Taking Listing Pictures 

Basically, some of the things you want to avoid while taking listing pictures are:

  • Photoshop or filters – yes, you want to catch the home buyer’s attention, but you also want to show the true condition of the property.
  • Reflection of the photographer in mirrors.
  • Using a Google Map picture of your property – They’re outdated and sometimes blurry.
  • Random people or pets in the picturePhotobombing is fun, but you don’t want it to happen when you want buyers to take your listing seriously.
  • Taking pictures from inside a car – Does it really take that much effort to get out of the car?
  • Taking pictures while a TV is on – This distracts the viewer from the actual room.
  • Sideway, blurry, grainy, dark, and washed-out pictures – a big no-no.
  • Photos with personal items showing – Make sure pictures and knickknacks are put away.
  • The obvious – clutter and dirty rooms. Clear off tables and countertops.
  • Not having any pictures at all –try to have at least one picture of the exterior. There’s nothing worse than reading all the wonderful features that a home has but not being able to see them.

If you’re just worried about the quality of the listing pictures, feel free to ask the real estate agent (before you list the home) if he or she uses a professional photographer to take photos. If he or she says no, then you may want to see some examples of pictures they’ve used in the past to help you decide if they’re the right agent for you.

If you’re listing your home as “For Sale by Owner,” then you definitely need to take all these tips into account, unless you choose to hire a professional to do it for you.

How to Take Good Listing Pictures

Not only is quality important, but also how they’re organized makes an impact. A recent study found that the quality and order of the pictures make a big difference. Some of the key findings of this study were:

  • If people don’t like one of your pictures, they’ll move on to the next listing.
  • Professional photography gave a better sense of the home condition and dimensions.
  • People prefer larger images in a gallery-style format.
  • The order of the pictures is important! People want to see photos in the same order as you’d see a house in person, starting with the front exterior and ending with a view of the rear of the home. Check out this SlideShare to see an example.

To see more details about this study, check out this article posted on Inman News.

To see more tips from professional photographers, check out this MSN Real Estate article.

Follow these useful tips to make your home look its best; your home will not only likely sell faster, but you may even sell it at a higher price than expected!

Do you have any other tips? Share them with us!

The post How to Take Good Listing Pictures that Sell Your Home appeared first on the ZING Blog by Quicken Loans.

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Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Point Since June

Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Point Since June - Zing Blog

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It’s been a long time since rates have been this low. In fact, the last time 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were this low, the MLB season wasn’t even halfway over. The Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks were competing in the Stanley Cup Final and the NFL season was still too far away to get excited about.

Fast forward to today. The MLB playoffs have begun. The NHL regular season is in its first week. The NFL season is already a quarter of the way through. And the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is at its lowest level since the week ending June 20, 2013. It’s safe to say there’s been a lot of change in the sporting and mortgage worlds. Let’s take a look at the numbers to see just how much things have changed (in the mortgage world, that is).

30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.22% with an average 0.7 point for the week ending October 3, 2013, down from last week when it averaged 4.32%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.36%.

15-year FRM this week averaged 3.29% with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.37%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.69%.

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.03% this week with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.07%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.72%.

1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.63% this week with an average 0.4 point, unchanged from last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.57%.

As always, Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist from Freddie Mac, presented us with some useful information.

“With the onset of the federal government shutdown and declining consumer confidence, fixed mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week. Consumer sentiment fell for the second month in a row in September to its lowest reading since April, according to the University of Michigan. Moreover, a recent Bloomberg survey of professional forecasters suggests that a partial federal shutdown lasting one week would shave 0.1% points off of GDP growth in the fourth quarter and even more if the shutdown lasts longer.”

What have we learned today? Rates haven’t been this low since June. While rates are low now, who knows when they’ll jump? If you’re looking to refinance or get a new mortgage, the time is now. Don’t wait. Call us today!

The post Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Point Since June appeared first on the ZING Blog by Quicken Loans.

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Mortgage Rates Drop Again

Mortgage Rates Drop Again - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

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For two weeks now mortgage rates have been imitating Alicia Keys’ biggest hit. No, they’re not a Girl on Fire, They’re Fallin’. Although mortgage rates haven’t been falling in and out of love with you, they have reduced their numbers significantly in the past two weeks. This is due mostly to the Federal Reserve’s decision not to taper bond purchases, and if you’re looking to refinance or purchase a home, your opportunity hasn’t looked better in months. Nine weeks to be exact; the Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed the 30-year fixed rate fall to its lowest level since July 25 of this year. Let’s take a look at the raw numbers, shall we?

30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.32% with an average 0.7 point for the week ending September 26, 2013, down from last week when it averaged 4.50%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.40%. 

15-year FRM this week averaged 3.37% with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.54%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.73%. 

5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.07% this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.11%. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.71%.

1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.63% this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.65%. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.60%. 

 Some people want it all, but I don’t want nothing at all if I ain’t got low rates. Rumor has it that was the original lyrics in Ms. Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You,” at least that’s what’s said around home loan circles. But if you’re looking for factual information, let’s take a look at this quote from Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates fell following the Federal Reserve announcement that it will maintain its bond buying stimulus. These low rates should somewhat offset the house price gains seen the last number of months and keep housing affordability elevated. For instance, the S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-city composite house price index rose 12.4% over the 12-months ending in July, which represented the largest annual increase since February 2006. In addition, more than half of the cities had annual growth exceeding 10% and four cities saw increases exceeding 20%.

“These increases in home values have also increased homeowner wealth. For example, homeowners experienced an aggregate $1.4 trillion increase in equity in their homes over the first half of this year which contributed to the overall $4.2 trillion gain in household net worth.”

The post Mortgage Rates Drop Again appeared first on the ZING Blog by Quicken Loans.

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3 Reasons Home Buyers Should Rethink “Fixer-Upper”

This article was written by Kelly McMurtrie, contributor to the blog. The blog serves as a resource center for insurance consumers and home buyers across the country.

Some prospective home buyers love the idea of spending weekends on do-it-yourself projects and transforming older houses with some potential into their own dream homes. Plus, the tag price is often drastically lower on houses considered “fixer-uppers.” However, here are just a few reasons an older, cheaper home that may appear to just need a little elbow grease could actually end up costing you a fortune down the road.

Out-of-Date Systems and “Renovations”

Sure, some appliances in the kitchen are older than you are, but this retro house was a steal. However, while dated features such as shag carpeting and paneled walls may be harmless and easy to renovate, they could be an indication that other, more important features of the home have been neglected over the years.

So before you set your heart on a vintage fixer-upper, find out when the electrical systems and plumbing systems were last updated. If either or both are out of date, you’ll either need to find room in your budget to renovate them before you move in or walk away.

It can make a huge difference when it comes to getting home insurance for the residence. Your lender will require you have insurance in place before it gives you a mortgage. Your premiums for coverage could be much larger than if you buy a similarly sized house that isn’t so old.

Here’s why: In 2011, nearly 50,000 home structure fires reported to U.S. fire departments were ignited by malfunctions in home electrical systems. On average, repairing damage from home fires costs more than $33,000 per incidence. You home insurance provider doesn’t want to be stuck with that bill any more than you do.

Additionally, you should ask about the roof. If it hasn’t been inspected or updated in the last 10 years, add that to your to-do list as well. Older roofs are vulnerable to wind and hail damage – the average claim is $7,177. A new or updated roof could actually help you qualify for savings on home insurance.

You Can’t “Fix” a Bad Location

If you’re looking in a lower-priced or “up-and-coming” area with the hopes that your property value will appreciate over time, consider the risks involved and how they could actually start to show up in your budget now.

Take a look at safety factors such as crime rates and other statistics. In addition to increasing your chances of theft or crime-related claims (the average cost of which is more than $3,000), that higher risk also often translates into higher insurance rates.

Other location-related risks to consider include flood zones, natural disaster and distance to hospitals, police departments and even the closest fire hydrant. While higher risks could force you to spend even more on insurance premiums and claims, a safer location could actually help you qualify for savings.

Spending More for Safety Now Could Save You More in the Long Run

Rather than focusing on the current price tag, smart home buyers consider the long-term investment of a house. If it’s not built to last, it’s probably not worth throwing thousands of dollars into renovations anyway.

In order to minimize your risk of add these basic home features to your walk-through checklist:

  • Safety features such as deadbolts, storm shutters and smoke detecting devices that could help prevent big losses due to theft, weather and other disasters.
  • Security features such as a burglar alarm or privacy fence that could greatly reduce your risk of theft.
  • Liability issues such as uneven landscaping or second-story decks that could lead to falls. Swimming pools are also a huge liability and could result in sky-high home insurance premiums.

It’s not impossible to find a great steal and fix up an old house without going over budget. Just remember to look at the whole picture rather than just the current price tag,

The post 3 Reasons Home Buyers Should Rethink “Fixer-Upper” appeared first on the ZING Blog by Quicken Loans.

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What Is a Housing Counselor?

Housing Counselors - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

Housing counselors are professionals who assist you in the process of saving your home from foreclosure. Once you meet with a housing counselor, explain your objectives and give them specific information about your situation, they’ll guide you through a series of actions to lead you in the right direction. Some services charge a fee, while others, like HUD, offer the help of housing counselors free of charge.

Services Offered by Housing Counselors

  • Housing counselors will contact your lender and make you aware of any deadlines coming up, particularly the foreclosure sale date. This will help set the pace of the following actions.
  • One of your counselor’s first steps will be helping you draft your hardship letter, explaining why you fell behind on paying your mortgage and how you plan to change your payment pattern in the future.
  • Next on the list is creating a spending plan. This is something you’ll create on your own based on your current budget. If your current budget doesn’t leave a surplus to help you pay off your mortgage, your counselor will sit down with you and explain how you can alter your spending plan so that you have a surplus.
  • Housing counselors brainstorm ways that you and your family can bring extra income into your home and bring forth opportunities for additional money.
  • After that, you’ll sit down together and figure out if you currently have any unpaid fees, taxes or repairs. If so, the housing counselor is prepared to help you prioritize what needs to be taken care of first, and what can be put off in the meantime to save money for your mortgage.
  • Once you and your counselor contact your lender or servicer for exact information on the balance of your loan, your counselor will start paperwork to verify income and expenses, to avoid foreclosure.
  • Next, your housing counselor will assist you in filing an official request to delay the foreclosure sale date and decide if any other action is necessary, like filing for bankruptcy or going to court.
  • Once you’ve completed those steps, your housing counselor will keep you up- to- date on the situation and eventually let you know if your plan has been approved or denied.

Housing counselors are a great tool to use if you’re feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of getting foreclosed on. They’re educated on the process of avoiding foreclosure, and together, you can help save your home.

Have you or anyone you know ever used a housing counselor? Tell us about that experience in the comments below!

The post What Is a Housing Counselor? appeared first on the ZING Blog by Quicken Loans.

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