Barbados is a small island in the Caribbean with well-developed infrastructure and a stable political and economic system. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, not to mention the epic diving, shopping, delicious local cuisine, and all the fun and flavor of island life.
But there's one more important, and brand-new, reason to love Barbados. You can now get a 12-month visa to work there remotely.
"Even as the pandemic continues to rage, the government of Barbados, a country in the eastern Caribbean, is sending a very different message: Come here, not just for a holiday, but for up to a year. Bring your laptop," said the Washington Post."
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley introduced the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp "to allow visitors the option to work remotely from Barbados for a year at a time," according to Barbados Government Information Service. The program is designed to attract remote workers earning more than $50,000 a year in an effort to boost the country's tourist-dependent economy.
The program has, unsurprisingly, sparked global interest. A tropical island is, after all, SLIGHTLY more inviting than your hastily-thrown-together home office, even to those who know little about Barbados.
Though the coronavirus has disrupted many aspects of our work lives, it may end up accelerating some trends--like working remotely. Gallup polling of Americans conducted this spring found that 62 percent said they had worked remotely at some point by April, an increase from 31 percent in mid-March.
That big spike might seem temporary, but according to that same poll, in 2015, 3.9 million U.S. workers were working remotely. Today that number is at 4.7 million, or 3.4% of the population. Remote work is trending up, and as more workers get accustomed to the flexibility, it may end up being a trend that sticks around.
Whether you want to buy or sell a home locally or globally, I can help you finding or selling your home so you can create the life you love! ☎️ 706.530.1114
Whether you're planning to sell or refinance, a home appraisal is a necessary step in determining the true value of your home. This means your home should be in the best possible condition, so it will be appraised at the highest potential value. While it may be tempting to swing for the fences with big-ticket renovations, there are smaller things you can do to efficiently raise the market value of your home.
Start Small with a Little Spackle
If you've lived in your home for any length of time, you've probably hung things on the walls, put up shelves, or simply had accidents that resulted in minor damage. Now is the time to repair those blemishes. Filling these holes and crevices with a little spackle and painting over the area will leave your walls looking like new. While this may not boost the value of your home, it will keep the appraiser from deducting for the damage.
As Long as You're Painting...
After you've touched up your walls, you might want to consider freshening up the paint. Repainting worn trim and moldings around the home can give it a fresh look. Venture outside and touch up the trim around the windows and doors too. This will boost curb appeal and help you add value to the home. Any area where the paint is peeling, chipping, or simply has lost its luster should be retouched with a fresh coat.
Update Your Crawl Spaces
An upgrade that's growing in popularity (and will grow your home value) is crawl space encapsulation. Crawl spaces are essential for providing homeowners and contractors with access to important systems of the home. However, these spaces are vulnerable to moisture and water damage caused by humidity and harsh weather conditions. In drier climates, dust and insects can interfere with HVAC systems. To protect crawl spaces, homeowners have started sealing these spaces with polyethylene barriers to keep out moisture, dust, and pests.
Do a Deep Clean
This is also the time to really clean your home from top to bottom. If you have young children and pets, there may be odors and damage that might not be noticeable to you, but strong odors and scuffed hardwood floors will be the first things your appraiser notices. Consider hiring professionals to wax the floors, shampoo the carpets, and conduct an intensive cleaning of the entire home.
Conduct Other Repairs
At some point, you should tour your home with the mindset of a home buyer. This will help you identify problems that you live with every day but just don't notice anymore. Look for things that need to be repaired, such as a loose handrail, a leaky faucet, or a shorted electrical outlet. Repairing these problems ahead of time will ensure you won't lose money on the appraisal.
By taking the time to spruce up the home ahead of the appraisal, you may be able to increase the value by thousands of dollars. The suggestions offered here should give you a head start, but if you have additional questions on how to add more value to your home, don't hesitate to reach out me.
Real Estate Alert: Home Flipping Hits 14-Year High
While the real estate market in general is adapting to new challenges and market conditions, one segment of the market is going strong. Home flipping is boasting its best numbers in 14 years.
The newly released first-quarter 2020 U.S. Home Flipping Report from ATTOM Data Solutions shows that "53,705 single-family homes and condominiums in the United States were flipped in the first quarter. That number represented 7.5 percent of all home sales in the nation during the quarter, up from 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 and from 7.3 percent in the first quarter of last year." Those are the highest numbers since the second quarter of 2006.
The gross profit for home flips across the country also rose over the same time period, to $62,300. "That was up slightly from $62,000 in the fourth quarter of 2019 and from $60,675 in the first quarter of last year," the report said.
If you're looking to get in on the flipping trend, here are a few insights:
Do you have any questions? I can help!
📞Iveth Caruso, your REALTOR in the North Atlanta Area
A lot has changed in just a few months, and for many that includes the idea of what a 'dream home' looks like. Not long ago, buyers were showing preference toward smaller homes and open concept spaces conducive to gathering. After a few months cooped up inside, those features don't seem so appealing - and developers have taken note.
"While the coronavirus still rages on, it's hard to predict what post-pandemic abodes might look like," according to Barrons. "Yet, developers around the U.S. are already rethinking projects, anticipating residents' needs and preferences that Covid-19 would spur. In doing so, they are re-evaluating current in-unit aesthetics and in-demand amenities."
Here are just a few areas of home design where trends may shift in the coming years:
Homes had been trending smaller, but that may be over. With so many families spending (way) more time around the home lately, there's never been more need for personal space. Expect homes to grow in size accordingly.
Prioritizing the home office
As more and more businesses relax work-from-home policies, or shift to full-time remote work entirely, the home office will become a near-essential for many buyers. A space that was once an after-thought now will need to offer privacy, good lighting and be pre-wired for telecommuting.
Return to the closed-floor plan
For some buyers, the appeal of the open-floor plan was already trending down prior to 2020, and the past few months have only made the reasons why more evident. Sharing more time and space at home demands privacy for school work, hobbies, and entertainment. With more meals being cooked at home, an open concept kitchen becomes noisy epicenter practically all day long. Builders expect a rise in demand for closed floor plans, where rooms are partitioned for purpose.
This is already one of the fastest growing trends in home design, but smart home technology will soon move from a 'plus' to a 'must'. Temperature and lighting control can now be voice or motion-activated. Touchless faucets, once thought superfluous, are now an inexpensive and health-conscious upgrade. Systems that filter air and monitor air quality will become more common and affordable.
Summer is here! The sun is blazing, the temperatures are soaring and the rain is pounding. It’s important that you take the time to maintain your biggest investment this summer and prepare it for the extreme heat.
If you are experiencing difficulty making on-time mortgage payments due to the national Coronavirus emergency, forbearance may be an option for you.Forbearance is when your mortgage servicer, that’s the company that sends your mortgage statement and manages your loan, or lender allows you to pause or reduce your payments for a limited period of time.
Forbearance does not erase what you owe. You’ll have to repay any missed or reduced payments in the future. So, if you’re able to keep up with your payments, keep making them. The types of forbearance available vary by loan type.
These are some universal steps that will help you stay on track if a homeownership program is part of your home financing plan, Follow these steps to get the most of using a homeownership program:
With social distancing being an important part of life at the moment and so many parts of the economy suffering the effects of state lockdowns, some are worried about how all of this will affect the housing market. This is especially a concern for those who were hoping to buy a new home and have seen their plans potentially derailed by the pandemic. Is this a good time to consider buying a new home, assuming that it’s even safe to do so?
The answer may be surprising.
It’s a Buyer’s Market
With the current state of the world, the demand for real estate has dropped significantly. This has left those who have already listed homes for sale or who were planning to list over the summer in a position where there are far fewer people looking at their properties. For some sellers, this isn’t much of an issue; they can simply wait it out and stick to their previous plans. A lot of sellers don’t have that luxury, though. This creates a buyer’s market where a lot of sellers are willing to consider offers that they wouldn’t have in the past, giving potential buyers a lot more control in the home-buying process.
As the name suggests, it’s always good to buy in a buyer’s market. It isn’t necessarily a great time to list a home for sale, of course, since you’d likely have to settle for a lower offer than you were expecting if you want to move the property. This usually helps to balance out the market, with listing rates slowing down to meet demand until things pick back up again. This particular buyer’s market is a bit different than a lot of past ones, though.
Demand Is Staying Low
Most of the time, a buyer’s market is caused by shifts in the economy that have people trying to save money; an example of this would be a recession. These economic shifts temporarily reduce the number of people who are willing to take on large debts, creating a glut of sellers trying to entice a smaller pool of buyers. The buyer’s market typically fizzles out once the number of sellers shrinks or the economy stabilizes.
In the current buyer’s market, the economy certainly plays a factor. There is an external factor at play here as well, however: The physical distancing that COVID-19 requires has added additional worry about open houses and other forms of interpersonal contact that are traditional when buying or selling a house. There’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, including how long it will last, so with this external factor and the currently stunted economy we could see demand stay low for longer than you would expect in a buyer’s market situation.
This isn’t to say that the market won’t recover, of course. Some states have already started reopening non-essential businesses and other parts of the economy, and other states have plans to start reopening soon. The economy will likely stay sluggish for a while, but reopening is the first part of recovery. Even the pandemic is becoming something less of a factor as people continue to practice social caution and science continues to work toward treatment and vaccine options. While market recovery may take longer than in the past, a recovery will happen, and the good deals that buyers can find now will become less common as things move forward.
If you do decide to shop for a home in the current market, make sure that you’re smart about it and stay safe. Maintain all physical distancing practices while looking at homes, even if there is only a seller or agent present. Ask whether no-contact options such as virtual tours or virtual closing with digital signage are options, and if touring the property request that any doors or other barriers be opened before you arrive to reduce contact. Wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer and take the same precautions that you would in any other social situation. This may seem excessive for viewing a home, but keep in mind that these practices not only protect you, but also protect the seller and agent as well.
If you've made a resolution this year to get your credit on track, getting started can feel a bit daunting. After all, it can sometimes seem as if credit agencies want to keep you in the dark about how scores are calculated. Not to worry - with some diligence on your part and a little insight into the world of credit score-keeping, you can get back on track in 2020.
Credit scores follow an algorithm first developed by the data analytics company FICO years ago. For a while, credit scores weren't the primary force behind a credit decision but over time the impact of a credit score became more and more important. Most every loan program available today has a minimum credit score.
There are five characteristics of your credit history that make up your three-digit score: your payment history, account balances, the length of your credit history, the types of credit used and how often you've applied for new credit. Credit scores will improve much more quickly by paying attention to the two categories that have the greatest impact on a score: payment history and account balances.
Payment history accounts for 35 percent of the total score. When someone makes a payment more than 30 days past the due date, scores will fall. An occasional "late pay" won't do much damage to your score but continued payments made more than 30 days past due definitely will. Preventing late payments is a key to recovering your score.
Account balances compare outstanding loan balances with credit lines and make up 30 percent of your score. If a credit card has a $10,000 credit line and there is a $3,300 balance, scores will actually improve, as the ideal balance-to-limit is about one-third of the credit line. As the balance grows and approaches or exceeds the limit, scores will begin to fall.
The remaining three have relatively little impact. How long someone has used credit accounts for 15 percent of the score, but there's really nothing anyone can do to improve this area other than to wait. Types of credit and credit inquiries both make up 10 percent of the score. By concentrating on payment history and account balances, scores will improve significantly over the next few months.
Remodeling Stats and Spending Trends to Inform Your Improvement Plans
Thinking about remodeling? You're not alone. According to a report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, home improvement spending in the U.S. is up more than 50% since 2010.
The study found that, "Spending on improvements and repairs to the US housing stock continued on an upward trend in 2017, setting a new high of $424 billion. This represents a 10% increase from 2015 and more than 50% gain from the low in 2010." According to their analysis, 22 million homeowners across the country completed at least one home improvement project in 2017.
"The report attributed part of the increase to a shortage of new construction and a reliance on aging housing stock that requires upkeep and repair," said the New York Times. "Other factors include higher housing prices that have increased the available equity for home improvement loans, and a growing population of older homeowners who are financially equipped to pay for renovations."
The primary "spenders" fall into three main categories: Homeowners using surging equity to make improvements, homeowners playing catch-up on deferred maintenance and updates, and rental property owners.
The average expenditure on home improvement was rather modest; 40% of participants reported spending less than $2,500, and almost 75% spent less than $10,000.
Most common improvements
The most common project in 2017 was adding or replacing flooring, with 5.2 million homeowners, or 7%, upgrading their floors. The next most common projects were:
USDA Loans: They're Not Just for Homes in the Boonies
Have you heard of USDA loans? If you're a low-to-moderate-income homebuyer who doesn't have a lot of money for a down payment and who needs lenient credit requirements, you (or your lender) are probably focused on FHA loans.
But if you haven't taken a look at USDA loans, you may be missing out on an incredible opportunity.
If you're saying to yourself, "But USDA loans are only for homes out in the sticks," that's understandable. It's true that the loans were designed to help buyers in rural areas. But "rural" is a broader term than you may realize.
On the USDA website, you can enter an address in the search bar and check if it's eligible, or you can drop a pin in a location to find out whether USDA financing is available in the area. Consider these interesting results: Frisco, TX, currently the fastest-growing city in the nation, is not eligible for a USDA loan, but Prosper, just to the north and being called, "The next Frisco," is eligible. The popular Valencia, CA, north of Los Angeles is not eligible, but areas of Santa Clarita, the city in which Valencia is located, are eligible. There's no harm in looking, and you might find a real gem in an up-and-coming area.
Purchasing a home is arguably one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. As you start your hunt, don't forget there will be other costs associated with your purchase then the price of the home. Here are 5 fees to keep in mind as you begin to budget.
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