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The number of houses for sale today is significantly lower than the high buyer activity in the curre
Our mission at Ryan Dallas Real Estate goes beyond just real estate. It's about serving at the highe [read more]
Many people are eager to buy a home right now while affordability continues to be a highlight of the current housing market. However, a recent survey by Sparks Research shows that 20% of first-time homebuyers cite a lack of financial education as a barrier to homeownership. This is definitely understandable. If you don’t feel comfortable with the financial process of buying a home, it’s hard to make a confident decision. In fact, four in five homebuyers say they need help to understand what they can even afford in the first place. This is why finding the right professionals to help you through the process is so important. On top of that, the same survey reports over two-thirds of prospective homebuyers believe they’ll need assistance to save enough for a down payment. What they may not realize is that there are a lot of down payment assistance programs at the state and regional levels, and many of them have funds available for potential buyers. Down Payment Resources recently released its Q3 2020 Homeownership Program Index, which explains:
“The number of total programs is 2,340, and over 81 percent (81.1%) of programs currently have funds available for eligible homebuyers.”

Down Payment Assistance Programs Are Not Only for First-Time Homebuyers

Keep in mind, these programs aren’t just for first-time homebuyers, so it’s worth exploring your options no matter where you are in your homeownership journey. For example, if you’re working from home now, you may be thinking of relocating to a more affordable area where you can stretch your dollar further and have more space, inside and out. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:
“Rural areas have mortgages (USDA loans) that don’t require down payments; and some workers who can work from home may want to consider outer suburbs or small towns where USDA home loans are available and where homes are very affordable.”
If affordability is on your mind and you’re expecting to be working from home long-term, the right home may be in an area you haven’t considered yet. In addition, the assistance program you need might be within reach too. If you’re interested in learning more about down payment assistance programs, additional information is available through Down Payment Resource. Your real estate advisor can help you decide which option is best for you personally.

Bottom Line

Thanks to a range of down payment assistance programs, affordable options are out there for today’s hopeful homebuyers. It’s important to get the financial education you need to understand the homebuying process and accomplish your real estate goals. Let’s connect today to get you started on the path to your dream home.
Our mission at Ryan Dallas Real Estate goes beyond just real estate. It's about serving at the highest level possible: to our clients, to our partners, to our families, to our communities. That mission is at the heart of our Ryan Dallas Real Estate Impact! initiative where our company gives back to a local organization in some way each and every month. Our Impact! Day for May was dedicated to Feeding Our Kids of Champaign County, a local organization that provides school children with bags of nutritious snacks so they don't go hungry on weekends and holiday breaks. A group of RDRE team members had the privilege of helping the Feeding Our Kids organization with its mission by unloading and organizing one of their monthly food deliveries. The Feeding Our Kids organization provides deliveries to 33 schools throughout Champaign County and the Tuscola area. In the 2018-2019 school year alone, more than 800 school-aged children were provided with bags of food. The organization is primarily built on donations and volunteers who pack meal bags and deliver to the schools. They intend to continue to grow, and have at least 4 additional schools that need to be added into the program. Please click here to view a full list of donation items needed. If you would like to donate, please check out the Feeding Our Kids website.

If you know of or are part of an organization that has a need for volunteers,

please give us a call at 217-351-4900 or

email us at [email protected]

This is a welcome bit of relief: Over the past two months, mortgage rates, which had been climbing steadily for over a year, started to trend down. In fact, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate has dropped to around 4.45% from a high of 4.94%. For reference, that's the lowest level since April of last year. What's behind this welcome change? Well, there's been a lot of volatility in the stock market since November. This pushes investors into more predictable investments, such as bonds. And this, in turn, pushes bond rates down. Mortgage rates tend to follow bond rates pretty closely, and that's why we're seeing the 0.5% drop in mortgage rates since last November. This is certainly good news for the real estate market as a whole, but how does it affect you in particular? Well, if you're looking to buy, it makes it a lot easier to afford a loan. Imagine, for example, that you wanted to take out a 30-year mortgage for $200,000. The current 0.5% drop in mortgage rates would mean you'd be paying around $100 less each month. And over the lifetime of the mortgage, you would pay around $20,000 less altogether. Those are pretty sizeable numbers, and they clearly show that it makes sense to take advantage of the current low mortgage rate. And that's not the only good news if you're thinking of buying: Several beautiful homes have just come on our local market. If you want to check them out, take a look at this complete listing of available homes: Click here for all available homes for sale What if you're looking to sell? In that case, the current low mortgage rates benefit you in two ways. First, if you're also looking to buy a new home after you sell, the present dip in mortgage rates means you won't be "locked in" to your current low mortgage. Second, lower mortgage rates also make home buying more affordable, which increases demand for your home. This helps you sell quickly and at a better price. Speaking of—do you know what your home is worth in the current market? In case you want to get a good idea, try out this home value calculator, which takes into account recent sales in our area: Enter your home address here to find out what your home is currently worth And finally, whether you're looking to buy or sell, the current low mortgage rates mean that the time to act is now. It’s likely that mortgage rates will start increasing again soon, as they did for much of last year. That means that the opportune moment we're seeing now will be gone, both for buyers and sellers. If you're ready to get the ball rolling, or if you have any questions about your particular situation, give us a call. We're here to help.
I recently read an article in The New York Times titled, "Why do all home repairs cost $1,000?" The author was complaining that it didn't matter much what went wrong at home—be it a leaky faucet, broken garage door, or failed sump pump.In each case, the bill came out to at least $1,000. In fact, most homeowners woefully underestimate the costs of various home repairs, often by as much as four times the actual cost. Can anything be done about this? Here are 3 recommendations to help you deal with home repair costs: Save for a rainy day The average homeowner spends $2,000 a year on maintenance. The trouble is that those repairs are often unexpected. To deal with this, consider starting a maintenance account and adding a little bit to it every month. When the inevitable hits, you'll have a slush fund—plus you'll feel smart for being so well prepared. Take time to enjoy being a homeowner In short, this means giving do-it-yourself home fixes a try. You might balk at this suggestion, but many of those $1,000 repairs can be solved with $15 worth of parts and a few YouTube tutorials. You'll be amazed at what you can do. Start small and build your skills, do what you feel confident about, and pay somebody to do the rest. Negotiate smart No matter what you are quoted for any sort of repair, it's likely that somebody else will do it better for less. Make sure to get a few quotes. If it is time to hire a contractor, never ask whether the job will cost $1,000, or any other price for that matter. Many contractors will gladly tell you yes, even if they were willing to do the job for much less. Finally, when you do hire a professional, realize their fee covers not only their expertise and labor, but also various kinds of insurance, certifications, workspace rent, and so on. In other words, if you've done everything else on this list, you can accept the final repair price without feeling cheated or worrying that you're wasting money. Of course, sometimes it can simply make sense to look for a new home that won't require frequent repairs. If that's on your mind, you can see all the great homes that are available on our local market right now with this complete list: Click here for all available local homes for sale If you're considering selling your current home, you can get an idea of what your home is worth in the current market, based on recent sales with this home value calculator: Enter your home address here to find out what your home is currently worth And if you need recommendations for contractors to fix those things you don't want to deal with yourself, give us a call. We can recommend several reliable businesses and we're here to help.
It is easy to become overwhelmed when you enter the home buying market. Friends, family, colleagues, and even acquaintances will give you their opinions if you are a first time home buyer. While most of them are looking out for your best interest, they are not fully aware of what is happening in the housing market. It is important for you to be prepared and have your own questions ready. No matter what other opinions you are getting, you are the one buying the home and your comfort level will help make your final decision. Here are three important questions to ask before you purchase a home. 1. Why am I Buying a Home? Regardless of the finances, it is important to think about what made you want to buy a home in the first place. Usually the reasons don’t have to do with money. Instead, home buyers are focused on how the house will impact their family in the future. A study done by the Joint Center for House Studies at Harvard found there are four reasons people buy a home. Those reasons include schools for your children, a safe environment, more room for your family to grow, and control of your own space. These factors are the most common reasons people look to buy a new home. When you ask yourself why you are looking to purchase a home, do any of those factors come up? Spend time with your spouse or family members who are involved in this decision and determine why you want a home in the first place. Creating this list will help when searching for a home and can help your real estate agent find the best home for your needs. 2. What is the Trend with Home Values? Our current economy and housing market is strong. That means home values and mortgage rates are increasing. If you are looking to purchase a home but want to stay within a budget, it may be in your best interest to move quickly. It is forecasted for these trends to continue in an upward motion, causing home values to continue to increase. 3. What About Current Mortgage Rates? The ticket price is not the only thing you should be concerned with when purchasing a home. Mortgage rates are always changing and can have a huge impact on your monthly payments. Current trends show mortgage rates are rising. This is something to consider if you are debating the right time to purchase a home, since the rates may be even higher down the road. Bottom Line You and your family are the only ones who can determine the right time to purchase your dream home. It is important to decide exactly why you want a new home for your family and decide on a budget that will be comfortable moving forward. This budget may affect the amount of time you have to search for a home, since home prices and mortgage rates are increasing.
There are 10 important terms you need to know if you’re buying a house for the first time. We sat down with David Nelson, Mortgage Originator, NMLS # 1718338 with Illinois National Bank, to get you the extra insights you need.

Important Terms to Know

1. Fixed-rate mortgage: This is a mortgage with a fixed rate during its term, which means the interest rate you pay won’t change. If you have a 4.75% interest rate and a term of five, 10, 15, or 25 years, that means your rate won’t change unless you refinance. 2. Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM): This is the opposite of a fixed-rate mortgage. With an ARM, you’ll have a shorter term (somewhere between five and 10 years), then once that term concludes, the interest rate will adjust. So while your interest rate and monthly payment may be lower at the beginning, those may increase over the life of the loan. 3. Pre-qualified: This is often viewed as the first step in the mortgage process. With pre-qualification, you talk to a lender, like David, and supply an overview of your financial history, including income, assets, debts, and credit score. The lender can then give you an estimate of the amount you would qualify for. The second step of the mortgage process is pre-approval, which requires you to submit documentation like pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements as well as a credit check. In our local market, sellers expect buyers to have met with a lender to show they are qualified to make a purchase, so the sooner you can meet with a lender like David, the better position you will be in when you find the home you want to buy. 4. Conventional loans: This is one of many loan programs available and typically carries with it a 30-year mortgage or something similar. Conventional loans require minimums when it comes to credit scores and down payments. 5. FHA loan: This is a great loan for anyone who’s gone through some credit dings. An FHA loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration and offers more relaxed credit scores and lower upfront costs. However, borrowers must pay mortgage insurance premiums to protect the lender if a borrower defaults. 6. Appraisal: An appraisal is when a third-party company analyzes the property and compares it to other comparable properties within a certain radius. Factors that are considered include the home’s condition, style of property, and lot size. The appraiser then provides an estimate to determine what the home’s value is so that the bank doesn’t lend you more than the property is worth. 7. Mortgage insurance: Mortgage insurance exists to protect the bank. If you don’t want to pay a mortgage insurance premium, you’ll need a bigger down payment, typically at least 20%. Usually after your payments reach 20% of the value of the home, you no longer have to pay PMI. And there are plenty of programs out there that don’t require you to use mortgage insurance, so it’s worth discussing your options with a local lender. 8. Closing costs: Closing costs are fees related to buying a house that your lender or other third-party vendors, like inspectors, charge you. Roughly, you can expect your closing costs to be between 2% and 5% of your purchase price. Your Ryan Dallas Real Estate buyer specialist can advise you on how to offset some of these costs during the purchasing process. 9. Buying down your rate: If you have a certain credit score but you have a lot of cash, and you have a high interest rate because of that score, you can literally pay to buy a better interest rate. Your mortgage professional can evaluate your best options based on your plans for the property. 10. Escrow: There are a lot of uses of the word escrow. In the context of homeownership, escrow comes up twice. The first instance is during the process of closing on your home when an escrow account is used to hold earnest money. The second instance is as a long-term account that you pay property taxes and insurance into each month as part of your mortgage payment to be held until those payments are due. If you have any more questions about any of these terms or you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We're here to help!
People often ask what simple home improvement projects can help their homes stand out and sell more quickly. As you might expect, when it comes to selling your home, not all home improvements are created equal. That’s why we’ve collected the three top home improvement projects that buyers love, which is backed by a report by the National Association of Home Builders.

#1 A laundry room

More than anything, homebuyers currently want a separate room for washing, folding, and ironing clothes, so they can keep the mess out of their living space. The good news is this project can be surprisingly easy to complete. If you have an unused basement, it makes a lot of sense to put the laundry room there, because all the utility lines will be accessible, and you probably won’t have to demolish anything. In this case, a new laundry room could cost as little as $1,000 and could contribute a lot when you look to sell your home.

#2 Exterior lighting

Exterior lighting is the most desired outdoor feature by homebuyers, appearing on the wish list for 92% of them. Your options for exterior lighting include spotlights, walkway lights, and pendant lights. Fixtures range in price between $65 to $132. As you might guess, beautiful exterior lights can make the difference and convince buyers who are already viewing your home. And the good news is they might do even more than that. That’s because 64% of prospective buyers will drive by your home before even considering a viewing. In other words, exterior lighting will present your home in the best possible light, impressing these potential buyers, and increasing overall interest in your home.

#3 Energy-efficient windows

Most homebuyers today care about energy efficiency. Specifically, 90% want energy-efficient windows in their new home. A set of energy-efficient windows will drive down the costs for your utilities, improve comfort inside your home, and increase your home’s curb appeal. That’s why whether you are planning on staying in your home for a while or are looking to sell quickly, energy efficient windows are worth considering. In fact, that’s true for all of the above projects. If you want to get an idea of what such a project could contribute to the value of your home, then the first step is to find out what your home is worth in our current market. Call us today for your free home valuation.
Working in the real estate industry gives us a unique opportunity to serve local families here in central Illinois. However, our mission at Ryan Dallas Real Estate goes beyond a successful transaction. It’s about making an impact in the lives of the clients and partners we work with and the communities that we serve. That mission to make a difference is at the heart of our Ryan Dallas Real Estate Impact! initiative. In January, our RDRE Impact! Day was dedicated to Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County. Our team members enjoyed prepping the home and painting the interior so the builders can start the finishing touches. What a transformation we saw hour by hour and what a joy it was to learn more about the organization and meet the family who will soon move in! Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County has made a lot of home ownership dreams come true in our community and we’re thankful for the opportunity to make an IMPACT on this home and continue living our mission to #givewhereyoulive!
Who knew one small household item could have so many useful purposes?! Dryer sheets are intended to add a bit of softness and reduce static when tossed into our dryer with our laundry. However, they can do so much more! We put together a handy list of five ways you can use dryer sheets for tasks around the house. Have other uses that you’ve found helpful? Share them with us in the comments!

1. Getting Rid of Stuck-On Food in Your Pots & Pans

If you have baked-on food that you’re struggling to get off your pots and pans, try an unused non-woven polyester dryer sheet. Place it in the pan and then fill it with hot water. Let the pan soak overnight and the coating on the dryer sheet will help soften the food. Use the dryer sheet the next day to wipe away the food! Finish the task by washing the pot or pan with dishwashing detergent and hot water.

2. Remove Pet Hair from Clothes & Furniture

The same qualities that allow dryer sheets to reduce static in the dryer will help lift pet hair from clothes and furniture. Just rub the sheet over the fabric to loosen the hair and then use a lint roller to pick up the rest. You can use new or used dryer sheets for this trick! For used dryer sheets, dampen the sheet slightly to remove dust and hair from ceiling fan blades and shelves.

3. Freshen Your Shoes

You’ve probably got a pair of shoes around the house that have gotten a little too ripe. Add a dryer sheet to take some of the smell away! For kids’ shoes, you can cut each sheet in half and line the sole. This trick can also work in the bottom of your garbage can, in your luggage, in your gym bag, and in your car. And another handy use on shoes… dryer sheets also work to quiet squeaky rubber soles. Rub the bottom of the shoes with a dryer sheet and the residue will minimize the friction and help to get rid of the squeak.

4. Remove Gunk from Your Dryer & Iron

Find melted gum, crayons, or adhesive in the dryer? Wet a non-woven polyester dryer sheet and scrub away! The fabric softener and the texture help to loosen the stickiness without harming the finish. The same technique can work on the bottom of your iron to remove scorch marks or starch build up. Rub the dampened dryer sheet on the bottom of a cold iron. Then heat the iron to a low setting and run it over a couple of clean paper towels to remove any remaining residue.

5. Make a Wreath

This is for the creative ones! If you’re crafty, you can use dryer sheets to make a wreath! To make a lush, full wreath, you’ll need 80-100 used dryer sheets. You can save these up for a couple of months after every load of laundry or you can soften up a new batch by placing them in a mesh laundry bag and tossing them with some wet towels for 15 minutes and they’ll be ready for wreath making!
There are two ways to think about remodeling projects that will boost your home’s value; you can get one or two major remodels done or opt for a bunch of small fixes. Depending on your budget and your timetable, one approach may be better for you than the other. For instance, if you have an unfinished basement, maybe your dream when you first moved into your home was to refinish it. It never happened. But now that you are thinking about selling your home, you feel that a prospective buyer would really appreciate a full finished basement. Is that the remodeling project that you should do before selling? On the other hand, you want to spend as little as possible to squeeze as much value out of your home. Maybe you would prefer to just spruce up the kitchen cabinets or repaint the house. Whichever camp you fall into here are some remodeling project ideas that usually add at least a few thousand dollars to the value of your home. Interior Improvements Depending on where you live, some remodeling projects bring in more dollars on resale than others. Here are some of the interior remodeling projects that can help boost your home’s value: Kitchen Upgrades: Potential buyers these days want spacious, modern kitchens. Simple upgrades like adding new appliances, granite countertops, or new cabinets can pull in the big bucks. Some big-ticket improvements that usually add value include: o   Adding an island o   Adding a breakfast nook o   Adding new ceramic flooring o   Adding accent lighting Removing Walls: The style right now is open concept kitchens and living rooms. If you have an older home, you could knock down a wall or two to really open up more interior space. If they’re load-bearing walls, removing them will usually push the price tag up. But non-load-bearing walls are easy to take out to add a pass-through window or a bigger entryway. Use a professional contractor to make sure the job is done right. Room Additions: Believe it or not, adding a new room to your home is not as expensive as you might think and can greatly increase your home’s value. Think about converting your attic into a spare room or building a new room addition onto your house. The added space increases the overall square footage of your property and will push your asking price up. Exterior Improvements They are often overlooked when making improvements to your home, but there are a number of exterior projects that can boost your home’s value. Here are just a few ideas for exterior improvements: Outdoor Living Space: Especially in warm weather climates, buyers want a home with comfortable outdoor living spaces. That could mean adding in a slate patio or a wooden deck. Make your outdoor living space an oasis by adding in path lights, pathways, plants, shrubs, and trees. Siding Upgrades: If you are making simple upgrades on the cheap just to spiff up your home exterior, a good paint job will do. To really boost your home’s value try adding new siding. If you replace portions of your siding with stone veneers, it will greatly improve curb appeal and your home’s value. Driveways/Garages: If you haven’t paved your driveway in a while, new paving is an excellent exterior improvement that makes a good impression as soon as buyers pull up to your home. Your garage doors and exterior also make a good or bad impression. Even if you do not make any changes to your garage, you should clean it out and organize its contents for resale. Replace broken windows and locks and give it a good paint job. With our experience in the local market, we can help you determine the best improvements to make based on your real estate goals. When you’re ready to learn more, connect with us. We’re here as a resource for you!

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