Archives for March 2018

How To Keep Your Move As Green As Possible

How To Keep Your Move As Green As Possible

Relocating from one place to another, whether around the corner or all the way to another side of the globe, has an impact on several things, including the cost of moving, disruption, and even an emotional impact. But did you ever stop to think about the impact of relocation on our Mother Nature? Perhaps not!

An impending house move can put enough stress on your mind. Amidst the chaos of packing and ensuring a smooth transition, who has the time to stop and think about where will the things that we are planning to throw out end up? We need a lot of bubble wraps and cardboard boxes to secure our valuables, right? But after unpacking, where will the waste end up, landfills?

Well, the impact of relocation might not be on top of your moving to-do list, but it’s not that difficult or expensive to plan a greener move. In this post, we list out some simple and effective ways to make your move eco-friendly and hassle-free. Dig in!

Donate- Don’t Ditch:

Home removal is a task, but it’s also a chance to make a fresh start!

Although it’s the perfect time to get rid of the things you don’t want anymore, throwing them in a bin is not a good idea. So, before tossing out things to fill boxes, make a bag of the stuff you don’t need. Shuffle smartly and put the donated goods in one bag and non-donated in another.

Recycle! Recycle!

Recycling is not just about donating plastic bottles and boxes; there are many other goods that you can recycle as well. Be it old electronics or batteries; you can use them in many ways.

For batteries: Take batteries to a local library or post office that already has a recycling center for batteries. Stuff like this contains lead, sulfuric acid, and cadmium which can leak. So instead of taking them along, take them to recycling centers.

Electronics: Many local resource recovery centers take old electronics and cords. If you have one lying in the basement, give it to recovery stores or use them for goodwill. Many places accept the donation of such goods.

Paint cans: Many centers accept open bottles of varnish, paint, and stains.

Appliances: Old appliances also contain lead and other harmful substances that can hamper the environment. So instead of putting them in the trash, send them to recycle centers.

Eco-Friendly Packing:

People mostly use bubble wrap and other packing peanuts to safeguard their goods. Although these things are handy, they are not recyclable. So, where do you find recyclable materials?

At home!

Old newspapers and magazines make perfect packing materials. Before moving, gather old newspapers or magazines and make them useful for wrapping. You can also use clothes as packing material. But don’t use fresh ones, use rags or the ones that you can’t donate.

You can also use corrugated boxes for packing as they are very easy to recycle. Or you can use a returnable box service where you can return bins after use.

Use Eco-Friendly Products For Cleaning:

Use grandparent’s tricks for a clean house! Don’t use harmful chemicals; instead, use eco-friendly products. You can use vinegar, baking soda, and even ammonia for cleaning as well as laundering. These eco-friendly products make a perfect replacement for all-purpose cleaners and kitchen cleaners.

Mix baking soda with water and clean spots on cabinets and tables! Get them from your kitchen and give your home that eco-friendly finish!

After all the new owners should see how beautifully you have kept your abode.

Sharing and Caring Mantra:

Transporting from one place to another is a tough and money consuming job. No matter how many loads you have, be it a full truck or not even half, you must have a truck for that. So if you have few cartons, share your truck with someone who is locating to the same place. Many companies provide sharing services.

Make Use of Containers You Already Have:

If you already have containers lying in your home, you would need only few more things to tote your stuff. Haul out your boxes, suitcases, and bins and fill them. Don’t use paper to pack things that are delicate. Instead, use pillows to pack fragile stuff.

Rent Reusable Bins:

Many companies rent reusable containers which are made from plastic. Ask them and get few for your stuff. Not only it is eco-friendly, but they are also more cost-effective than other cartons.

Look For an Eco-Friendly Company:

When looking for reputable home removal company to help you take your stuff, look for the environmental credentials as well. Ask questions like what the company uses for moving, a gas guzzling truck or biodiesel rigs? Do they sell recycled boxes? Will the movers pack your stuff? And, many more.

So, those were some of the most effective and used full tricks to make your moving green!

Source: Sellers tips

Should You Buy A Home For Your College Kid?

Should You Buy A Home For Your College Kid?

If you’re about to send your child to college, you’re undoubtedly suffering from sticker shock. And it’s not just from the cost of tuition and mandatory fees and books and a meal plan and parking, but also from housing. Maybe, especially, from housing. The mouse – hole your dorm – bound child will live in for at least the next year come August or so might as well be the Taj Mahal for what it costs to shelter them in much less extravagant environs.

The high cost of student housing – not just in the first year when they are typically living in on – campus housing – is just one of the reasons people are increasingly looking to purchase property for their college kids to live in. Is this a consideration for your family? We’re breaking down the particulars.

Financial savings

Yes, it may be that buying a property for your college kid to live in is a smart financial decision. “Average prices per year for housing are more than $9,000 in college towns,” said U.S. News & World Report. “In highly desirable college towns outside major cities, housing costs can be much higher. Monthly housing prices in Berkeley, California, home of the flagship of the University of California system, can reach more than $3,000, making the price tag for the academic year more than $27,000. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, outside of university – rich Boston, the four – year price for housing can exceed $100,000 as well.”

If that has you getting ready to search for homes for sale RIGHT THIS SECOND, “Don’t forget to factor in the additional costs of homeownership besides the mortgage, like maintenance expenses, homeowners’ association fees, insurance and taxes,” they said. You may find that buying a home doesn’t make as much financial sense as you think.”

Tax savings

You can enjoy a tax write – off on a second home, which could make a college town purchase much more affordable in the long run, but you have to be careful about how the property is used and the way it is reported on your taxes. “Many homeowners look forward to purchasing a second home that can be used for vacations, rental income, investment purposes or as a primary residence during retirement. Current tax laws offer several tax breaks that can help make second – home ownership more affordable,” said Investopedia. “If you already own, or are thinking about purchasing a second home, it will be in your best interest to understand the tax breaks and how they work. Different tax rules apply depending on how you use the property, for either personal or rental use, or a combination of the two.

As long as you use the property as a second home – and not as a rental – you can deduct mortgage interest the same way you would for your primary home. You can deduct up to 100% of the interest you pay on up to $1.1 million of debt that is secured by your first and second homes (that’s the total amount – – it’s not $1.1 million for each home).”

That would mean adding rent – paying tenants/roommates to the mix would be off the table. Keep in mind also that you can deduct property taxes on a second home. You will want to talk to your tax advisor about the tax situation in the state in which you are considering making a purchase.

Appreciation

Is your child attending college in an area that is appreciating nicely? It might be a good investment to purchase a property that you can sell after graduation for a nice profit, or hold onto for passive income by turning it into a rental for future college students.

Depreciation

Then again, there is the chance that entrusting your child, and your child’s future roommates and friends, with a property you own could spell financial disaster if the home is not maintained. Worried about college parties that trash the place and/or illegal activities like drug – taking in the home, which could endanger your child’s future? If you’re thinking about buying a property for your child (and possibly other people’s children as well) to live in, you need to have an honest conversation with him or her, and with yourself, about the responsibilities involved. Is your offspring responsible enough to make smart decisions and properly care for a home?

To roommate or not to roommate

There are additional questions and potential concerns around the roommate issue. Yes, allowing your child to live with friends will provide companionship that is important for college students and will cut down on your monthly costs – and perhaps even provide some monthly income. But consider these questions from Bader Martin:

“If your child will have roommates, how much do you plan to charge them and can they be depended upon to pay their share of the rent on time each month? What will you do if a roommate – renter moves out and how long are you willing to carry the mortgage without replacing the roommate? And will your child and roommates occupy the property all twelve months of the year or only during the school year? What are your potential liabilities if a roommate is hurt on the property or loses personal possessions in a robbery or fire? Are you adequately insured?”

Retirement strategies

Individual real estate markets differ widely, and what seems like a good investment in one city may be totally undoable in another. Having an alternate or future use for the property in question can tip the scales. In some cases, parents purchase a condo or townhome in the city for their college student child to live in, with the intention of keeping it in the family for the child post – graduation, for another child intending to attend the same college, or even as a place for themselves. Another growing real estate trend has parents following their child to the city in question as part of their retirement plan.

“Increasingly, parents are also considering the move as part of a long – term plan in which they also participate,” said U.S. News & World Report. “If your child goes to school in a city whose lifestyle and cultural offerings are pleasant to you as well, why not retire there? Schools from Berkeley and Cambridge to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Bellingham, Washington, can be pleasant places to retire. The property you purchase could thus be part of your long – term retirement strategy.”

Stability

Having to find a new place and move every year, find storage, and put down new deposits is a drag for anyone. Buying a home that your child can live in for his or her entire college experience provides stability as well as a fixed expense they (and you!) can count on.

In – state tuition

If your child is attending college out of state, you’re being hit with even higher expenses. “About 17 percent of students attend college out – of – state, and they pay dearly for it,” said Parenting. “The typical out – of – state tuition rate at a four – year public university is three to four times more than the in – state rate.”

For this reason, parents often explore options for in – state tuition, like purchasing a property – but with varying success. “Most states have established residency requirements designed to prevent out – of – state students who become residents incidental to their education from qualifying,” said FinAid. Buying a home in the state is a good start, but likely won’t be the only commitment that needs to be made in order to get that elusive in – state tuition. It’s a good idea to learn all you can about the requirements for the school and state in question before making a purchase for this sole reason.

Source: Buying tips

Home Buyers Should Know If The Seller Is Listening

Home Buyers Should Know If The Seller Is Listening

Imagine that you are the buyers’ agent and that you are just finishing showing them a house that, obviously, they feel is perfect for them. As you stand in the foyer talking, they begin to discuss making an offer. The three of you talk about financing and negotiation strategies. They emphasize that, although they could and would pay full price — even more! — they want to start with a lower offer. You may even agree with them, and you start talking about various alternative scenarios. Etc. Etc. All is good, right?

Now suppose that, unbeknownst to you, the seller has recorded your entire conversation and all the remarks made during your tour of the home. Both audio and visual. Not so good after all, right?

As technology evolves, and as houses get smarter and smarter, homeowners have and use expanded opportunities to know about whatever is going on in their homes when they are not physically present. Buyers, agents, and others who may have legitimate access to a house need to be aware of this and to act accordingly. Sellers, on the other hand, would love to have access to these kinds of conversations, but they need to be careful about liabilities.

Paragraph 10 of the CAR (California Association of REALTORS®) standard residential listing agreement says this: “Persons visiting the Property may not be aware that they could be recorded by audio or visual devices installed by Seller (such as ‘nanny cams’ and hidden security cameras). Seller is advised to post notice disclosing the existence of security devices.”

This language was added to the standard form agreement June of 2017. It appears in a paragraph that previously addressed security concerns. It is a safe bet that a significant number of agents are not aware of, and therefore don’t point out, the advice about posting and disclosing the presence of security cameras and/or recording devices.

To understand why the seller is advised to provide notice of recording devices, we need to be aware of California’s privacy law at Penal Code §632. It says, in part, “A person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication, uses an electronic amplifying or recording device to eavesdrop or record the confidential communication …shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) per violation, or imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison, or by both that fine and imprisonment .”

Although the U.S. Constitution does not mention privacy (and isn’t that a surprise to many?) the California Constitution (Article I, Section 1) says that all people have an inalienable right to, among other things, “…pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.” The penal code reflects that. It says that Californians can’t expect confidentiality in public gatherings, or proceedings open to the public, or in circumstances where they can “reasonably expect” to be overheard or recorded, but otherwise they have an expectation of privacy and the ability to communicate confidentially.

The question then arises: What sort of notice should the seller give? Where and how should it be placed?

These matters were recently discussed in a webinar conducted by CAR legal staff. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It was pretty clear that simply putting the notice in the MLS was not sufficient. Though it would be good as one step. Common sense — if it can be found — will probably provide the best answer from circumstance to circumstance. Certainly, the notice(s) should be prominently and clearly placed where a visitor to the property would be likely to see them.

Source: Bob Hunt, Realty Times

Jump Start Your Organizing And Simplify Your Next Move

Jump Start Your Organizing And Simplify Your Next Move

When you’re selling your home, getting your belongings organized can seem like a low priority. You’re dealing with finding the right real estate agent, the best time to list your home on the market, and maybe even house-hunting for a new place to live.

All of that can keep you quite busy considering many of us have to do those things while we work a full-time job. Organizing your home so that you can simplify your move just doesn’t seem practical.

However, there is one main reason why getting organized can not only simplify your next move but also help improve your chances of selling your home faster and for more money.

When you go through the process of getting organized, you should be eliminating items from your home which helps to clear clutter. Clearing clutter is one of the first things agents and experts who stage homes for sale will tell you to do.

When the clutter is gone, the home can be shown much easier. Potential buyers can see what makes your house so special and different from others in the neighborhood.

If you’re putting off the process of getting organized because you think you should wait until you accept an offer, let me encourage you to get motivated to do it sooner. I’ve seen it happen many times. The homeowner thinks there’s plenty of time and then when an offer is accepted they’re thrust into high gear because the buyer wants to close escrow fast.

Of course, your agent can negotiate the closing date but sometimes a faster closing is a must. Yes, you may be able to rent back from the new owners to give you more time to prepare to move but you can’t avoid the fact that you’ll need to move at some point.

Here are five tips that can help you jump start your organizing and simplify your next move. You will be glad you start before you get an offer to purchase your home.

1. Sort piles of belongings into groups: keep, giveaway, maybe, and trash. The “maybe” pile you box up and seal for six to 12 months. If you don’t have a use for your items in the “maybe” box during the year then perhaps you can donate it.

2. Give yourself plenty of time. Be patient this process of getting organized takes time. Know that when it comes to sorting through personal papers and memorabilia it will take you much longer than reviewing other items. Leave some extra time for the expected reminiscing that will occur.

3. Store your items in clear plastic bins. Using clear boxes helps to let you have a quick view of what’s inside. If you used cardboard boxes or colored bins, then use a pen to clearly label what’s inside and which room it will go in at your new home. You might want to use a large piece of paper to write the label on so that you can reuse the bin again later for another purpose.

4. Get rid of the paper. A big problem in many homes is the paper trail they have from room to room. It could be magazines, newspapers, documents, advertisements, receipts, you name it. Most homeowners keep a lot of paper which creates a lot of clutter. Go through your files and reduce the paper by shredding or recycling documents you don’t need. You’ll find that a lot of what you’re hanging on to, you just don’t need.

5. Do it now! This is the most valuable tip. As soon as you finish reading this, go put a time on your calendar when you will begin to get organized. Placing it on your calendar should help you block off time to get started and prevent procrastination. If you take care of things right away, you’ll find that life gets simpler. The same goes for your move. So, get organized and simplify your next move!

Source: Sellers tips

12 Ways Buying New Construction Is Better, Worse, And Way Different From Other Homes

12 Ways Buying New Construction Is Better, Worse, And Way Different From Other Homes

Buying a new home isn’t the same as buying an existing home. The more you know going in, the more prepared you’ll be to roll with the process – or run from the process.

Everything all bright, shiny, and new

No one else’s taste, no one else’s floorplan, no one else’s germs. When you buy a brand – new home, it’s built for you and hasn’t been lived in by anyone but you.

Decisions, decision, decisions

There are those who love the idea of selecting the flooring, the cabinets, the kitchen countertops, the finishes, and the myriad other choices that need to be made when building a new home – and then there are those who get the shakes just thinking about it. If you’re the latter, perhaps an already – built home is a better option for you.

What you see is not what you get

Model homes are typically decked out with beautiful upgrades and multiple options, and those upgrades and options can cost big bucks. If you want your home to look like the model, be prepared to shell out far more money than what the base price of the house indicates.

You’ll have a warranty

“Warranties for newly built homes generally offer limited coverage on workmanship and materials relating to various components of the home, such as windows, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing, and electrical systems for specific periods. Warranties also typically define how repairs will be made,” according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Protection site.

The duration of coverage varies depending on the component of the house. Coverage is provided for workmanship and materials on most components during the first year. For example, most warranties on new construction cover siding and stucco, doors and trim, and drywall and paint during the first year. Coverage for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems is generally two years. Some builders provide coverage for up to 10 years for ‘major structural defects,’ sometimes defined as problems that make a home unsafe and put the owner in danger. For example, a roof that could collapse is a ‘major structural defect.’

Home warranties are typically extendable after that first year, although you’ll be responsible for the cost.

You may have to buy sight unseen

In some cases, model homes may not be built – or only a few of the floorplans will be featured as models – and you won’t have an opportunity to walk through the homes to get a feel for how they live. You should have pictures and floorplans to view, and maybe even a virtual tour, but if you’re the type that needs to be in it to get it, you may be disappointed.

The noise – and the dust

When considering which home to buy, the location of the lot is obviously important. But have you asked about how construction is going to roll out in the neighborhoods? It could be that your home is on a street that serves as a main artery for trucks and other construction traffic. Or perhaps you’re in a location where construction is going to be going on all around you for months. Yes, the noise and dust will disappear – eventually. But how long are you willing to wait?

Don’t expect a price reduction

You may be used to negotiating on the price of an existing home for sale, but new home prices aren’t typically negotiable. The builder or developer may be willing to throw in some upgrades as part of the negotiation, but, the hotter the community, the less likely you are to get anything for free.

You can still work with your real estate agent

Working with an agent who is savvy in new construction will help get you the home you want and any available extras. Keep in mind that many new – home communities today offer real estate agents a commission for bringing in a buyer, but they insist that the real estate agent register their buyer on the first visit. So don’t show up alone to tour the community for the first time! You could cost your agent money and then have to navigate the purchase on your own.

It might behoove you to work with their in – house lender

If you’re already working with a lender, you obviously don’t want to be disloyal. But, there may be financial benefits to working with the builder/developer’s in – house lender. Many times, they offer a lower rate overall, will buy down your rate, or will offer you a “teaser” rate that keeps your payments lower for the first year or first few years.

Get familiar with this term: Standing inventory

If builders have pre – built homes that are waiting to be sold, this is the one place you may have wiggle room room on price. Another advantage of standing inventory is there is no construction wait, and these homes are often nicely amenitized with upgrades.

You might not be able to buy the lot you want

New homes are typically released in phases, and it might be that the lot you have your eye on gets snapped up by someone who was prequalified before you, or higher up on a waiting list if it’s a really popular community. Or, perhaps you want a homesite that isn’t set for release until later when you’re ready to purchase now. Flexibility is the key to being able to get what you want.

Amenities might not be available or built right away

If a community’s amenities are a draw for you, be sure to ask about when they will be built. It could be that the pool and community park you’re so excited about are years out from being realized.

Source: Buying tips

Can You Pass The Flipping Personality Test?

Can You Pass The Flipping Personality Test?

“Ummm, I’m not sure about that countertop. Shouldn’t they be hiring someone to do that? I would do such a better job on that flip.”

Who hasn’t said that? When it comes to flipping, we all think we’d be naturals, right? Or at least more skilled than the novices who are fumbling through it on TV. But it takes more than big dreams and good intentions to execute a successful flip, and with so much money at stake, you want to make sure you do it right. Actually, you want to make sure you’re right for flipping in the first place before you put your financial future on the line.

Take the house flip personality test to make sure you’re a fit.

Are you smart?

No one’s really going to answer, “No,” to a question like this, but put it in the context of flipping. If you think it’s easy money and you aren’t really looking to put in the sweat equity or follow the basic rules of flipping, you might want to move along.

“Don’t believe those late-night infomercials that say you can get into house flipping with no money,” said U.S. News & World Report. “Nobody is going to hand you a house for free, and you can’t go to Home Depot and they’ll give you your supplies for free. If you are using credit cards and have no money, you can get into trouble quickly.”

Are you savvy?

Smart and savvy are not the same thing. Knowing where to save and where to spend is one of the most important factors when flipping.

Are you geographically desirable?

Buying a home just because it’s affordable and in need of renovation is not a great strategy. People actually have to want to live in the area where the home is located. Paying attention to hot areas can help you pinpoint the right spot.

“The market with the biggest increase in flippers last year was Buffalo, NY, which saw a 34% surge, according to a recent report from real estate data firm ATTOM Data Solutions,” said Realtor.com. The struggling upstate New York manufacturing town was followed by New York City, at 29%; Dallas, at 23%; Louisville, KY, at 22%; and Birmingham, AL, at 17%.”

Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM, noted that, “These markets are not the primary markets that many people would think of [for] investing in real estate. “They’re more off the beaten path, so there’s less competition from other investors and there’s more availability for deals.”

You also need to pay attention to the home’s proximity to your home. Trying to manage a flip from afar is hard even for the most experienced investors.

Do you make it personal?

You may have the greatest personal style in the world, but, when it comes to flipping, you want to make sure you’re making the right choices to bring you the most money. Likewise, you may have your eye set on some specific updates and upgrades, but adding in what you want, and not what buyers are looking for, may make your flip a flop.

“Know which home improvements increase the home’s value,” said Money Crashers. “Focus on these projects first. Home improvements that increase the value of a home might include upgrading kitchen appliances, repainting the home’s exteriors, installing additional closet storage space, upgrading the deck, and adding green energy technologies. On the other hand, avoid home improvements that won’t increase the selling price, like installing a pool, installing a whirlpool bath, or adding a sunroom to the house.”

Can you roll with the punches?

Smart planning, extreme organization, and a great, trustworthy team are all crucial to a successful flip, obviously. But if you’re the type that flips out (literally!) if something changes, goes wrong, or looks like it’s all about to fall apart, this might not be for you. Flipping is a roller coaster, and there are going to be frustrations and setbacks along the way. Accept it, deal with it, and move on.

What are your goals?

Is this a get rich quick thing or are you thinking of flipping as a career? Are you interested in doing quality work or is it just about making the place look good and getting out? Being honest about your goals will help guide you throughout the process, but keep this in mind: cut corners and shoddy work may save you money upfront, but may impact your bottom line. And, if you plan to flip more than just one home, you don’t want to earn a reputation for sketchy work.

Do you play well with others?

Even if you’re the DIY King of North America, you’re going to need help somewhere, at some time. The best flippers have a contractor they can count on and assorted other trusted professionals for plumbing and electrical, landscaping, appraisals, title insurance, and so on.

Are you rich?

Flipping is going to cost you, even if you find the magical lipstick on a pig house. And many people underestimate the potential costs, from the down payment to the carrying costs if it doesn’t sell right away.

“To get a conventional investor mortgage, you often need at least 25 percent down, though a good mortgage broker might find other options, including a lower down payment or a loan that provides some money for repairs,” said U.S. News & World Report. “Hard-money lenders will lend to nearly anybody, but interest rates are high. Another major key to success as a flipper is accurately estimating both cost and timeline. That doesn’t mean there won’t be surprises, but you want to calculate the true cost of getting the property ready for sale. When you buy a home, you don’t always know what’s behind the walls: mold, asbestos, water damage, antiquated electrical lines, foundation issues or crumbling plumbing pipes.”

Source: Buying tips

Sellers Have Closing Costs Also

Sellers Have Closing Costs Also

Question: I have recently become licensed as a Real Estate agent. The market is “hot”, and many of my selling clients are asking what they will be charged for closing and settlement costs. Can you summarize these various costs?

Answer: That’s a very good question. In my opinion, when a seller signs a listing agreement with a Real Estate Broker or agent, authorizing that person to sell the house, in addition to all the other forms which sellers receive, the seller should be given a estimated settlement statement. This statement will project the bottom line to the seller, based on the listing price. When an offer is later presented to the seller, the settlement statement should be updated, to reflect the actual terms of the proposed contract. And of course, the lender will also summarize all of the appropriate selling costs.

I have analyzed a number of real estate transactions, and the following charges are generally made to the seller:

Real estate commission: The seller should be informed of the dollar amount to be paid out of settlement for the commission. The broker should also make it clear that the commission is earned only if closing (settlement or escrow) takes place.

Mortgage payoff: Most sellers have at least one mortgage outstanding on the property. The seller’s lender will be able to assist you in obtaining an approximate payoff figure, if you give them a tentative settlement date. Don’t forget to add a daily interest charge until the lender receives the full mortgage payout. You should also inquire whether there will be any prepayment penalty. Some older loans still require the borrower (in this case the seller) to pay a percentage of the loan if it is paid off in full prior to the full expiration of the mortgage term. In some instances, the prepayment penalty can be avoided, or waived by the lender, and you should inquire as to the policy of the particular lending institution.

Points: This is perhaps one of the least understood areas of real estate financing. Sellers often question why they have to pay points to enable the buyer to get their loan. A point is one percent of the loan. For a number of years, no one paid points, especially since interest rates were very low. However, I have recently seen a revival of points being paid, either by buyer or seller or both.

Some loans, such an FHA or VA, put limitations on the amount which the buyer can pay for closing costs. Many buyers who will be obtaining conventional financing also want the seller to pick up some of these settlement charges — including points paid to the lender.

Seller paid points are still deductible for tax purposes by the buyer, but the buyer must confirm this with his/her own attorney or financial advisor. Thus, while sellers want to get the most dollars from their house, there are often negotiation advantages if a seller offers to split points with the buyer. Such an arrangement may be the clue to closing the deal.

Termite: Most buyers require that a termite inspection be performed, at the seller’s expense. Normally, the fee for this service runs between $50 to $75. But I have seen too many instances where the seller is “hit” with a sizeable repair bill, due to termites and damage being discovered by the termite company.

Ask the seller if they have a current contract with a termite company. If so, that company should be willing to give the required letter for no cost or at most a nominal charge. Finally, when you make arrangements with the termite company to do their inspection, make sure they will not do any repair work without informing you in advance. Since the seller is paying for these charges, the seller should have the option to shop around for another company.

Water escrow: In Maryland and the District of Columbia, water is the only utility that creates a lien on the property. In order for the title attorney to give free and clear title to the buyer, all liens must be paid and satisfied. Thus, it is standard practice for the settlement attorney or company to escrow some money to cover the final water bill. Usually, the office conducting settlement will make arrangements to obtain a final water reading, pay the bill, and refund the balance of the escrowed funds, if any, to the seller.

Release charges: When the seller obtained mortgage financing, it usually was in the form of a deed of trust. This is similar to a mortgage, but the property is deeded “in trust” to independent trustees who are authorized to sell the property if a default occurs. When the mortgage is paid in full, the trustees are entitled to a nominal “trustee’s fee” and there is a small governmental charge to record the trustee’s release. These items are always withheld at settlement and deducted from the seller’s funds.

Other government charges: In the Washington metropolitan area, each jurisdiction imposes a tax (called Grantor’s tax in Virginia, and Recordation and Transfer tax in Maryland and the District of Columbia). In Virginia, the seller customarily pays the Grantor’s tax. In the other jurisdictions, payment of this tax is negotiable between buyer and seller, although often the tax is split between the parties.

Settlement charge: Some settlement offices will impose a nominal charge on the seller for “settlement.”

Many sellers are often surprised when they learn, for the first time at the settlement office, that they will not be getting as much from the sale of their house as they had anticipated. In my opinion, it is incumbent on you — as the seller’s agent — to advise your principal as accurately as possible what all of these miscellaneous charges will be.

Source: Benny L. Kass, Realty Times

Trends Cost Sellers Money

Trends Cost Sellers Money

Every new and widely-adopted trend changes what’s considered “standard.” When this happens in real estate — inside or out — a seller’s non-trend or off-trend house or condominium unit may become “substandard” in buyers’ eyes.

Sellers who expect top dollar for their property must ensure it makes an on-trend impression with homebuyers, especially millennials.

In interior design, the trend toward ensuite bathrooms combined with the trend to “spa-like” bathrooms has put expensive-renovation pressure on sellers’ existing bathrooms. No matter how nice they are to use, if bathrooms don’t have the magazine-look buyers lust after, their “this is a gut job” reaction means renovation cost and inconvenience to buyers and the home gets a “too dated to love” mark against it.

To understand what buyers expect, sellers benefit from taking a long hard look at their main rooms after spending a few hours binging on home-renovation shows or pouring over home-decor magazines. Get it?

If the resale house or condominium unit doesn’t have spa-like bathrooms, an oasis-style master bedroom suite, and an airy (that means new, larger windows) open concept (down come those kitchen, diningroom, and livingroom walls) central living space, buyers will only see massive, expensive renovations to achieve these “must haves.” The result?

Buyers may dramatically under-value your house or condo or ignore it altogether. Ask local real estate professionals about the type of buyers who would be interested in the delayed gratification of paying for your “slightly dated” home’s location and then undertaking extensive renovations themselves. Will they pay you top-dollar?

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms to renovate, so it’s annoying to sellers that these are the only rooms that add value to a home. These key rooms may even decide whether a property sells at all.

The last renovation may seem a recent memory to sellers, but they must check the calendar. If it was more than 5 or even 10 years ago, this time lag puts sellers out of phase with millennial buyers — your home reminds them of their parents’ or grandparents’ place. Not a way to add value or evoke a “dream home” atmosphere.

  • If the last renovation was fairly recent, on-trend paint and other cosmetic staging touch-ups may be all that’s necessary for great return on this investment.
  • If your home decor pays homage to the 20th Century, discuss 21st-Century renovations options with real estate, construction, and staging professionals.

Hone down what needs to be done to an effective cosmetic minimum after any necessary repairs. Usually sellers aim for the best potential short-term return on decor investment, not on long-term construction returns.

As well as kitchen overhauls, here are a few common “out dated” problems:

  • Paint color trends now change every year in sync with fashion. The “shades of grey” look is out and color is back. If you have older beige or pink-green color schemes, buyers may discount your home’s value dramatically.
  • Wallpaper is in again, but if you don’t have current wallpaper styles (including ease of removal), you’ve got a home that represents hours of scraping — not a task most buyers want to spend top-dollar to inherit.
  • Stainless steel appliances and brushed nickle finishes were mandatory for years, but they are beginning to fade in popularity. Gold is the new hot metal color even though it hasn’t made it to appliances yet. Buyers want new, matching, preferably high-end appliances. How do yours rate?
  • Floating bathroom vanities or at least vanities with slender, exposed legs are the new norm. Old chunky cabinets, especially those without double sinks, will generate expensive “gut job” reactions from buyers.
  • Solar panels and gas fireplaces have come down in price and so have increased in popularity in many locations. Skip these trends and your home may be considered “out dated” even though you have a new furnace and a classic wood-burning fireplace. “Needs up-dating” responses from buyers mean they see renovation dollar signs instead of the value that sellers believe they live with.

Staging can add cosmetic cleverness, but there still may be a few renovation projects necessary. Staging distracts from negatives and enhances positives with strategic furniture placement, scaled-down furniture, wanna-have pieces, and refreshing repaints. These elements can do a lot to enhance market value, but they can’t overshadow a seriously out-of-date kitchen or a poorly-maintained exterior.

A real estate professional’s thorough evaluation of market value for your property should include a list of simple and more-complex up-dates that may add to your bottom line.

Remember, sellers should concentrate on what target buyers want in their “dream home,” not on what sellers have been comfortable living with for years.

Source: Sellers tips

How To Handle The Stress Of Selling Your Home

How To Handle The Stress Of Selling Your Home

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes … and undue stress caused by moving. Whether or not you use the services of a REALTOR® to help you wade through the uncertain waters of the buy-and-sell process, moving is stressful, period. And there’s not much you can do to avoid it. And we’re not just talking about packing and paperwork. Moving is an emotional process. If your’e not calming down your nervous children, you’re trying to reassure yourself that you’ll meet people in your new neighborhood, that you bought the best house within your means, and that your kids’ new schools will measure up.

It’s easy to forget while we’re dealing with all of these jitters that moving actually can represent an exciting adventure, a growth opportunity and the prospect of new beginnings. Once the dust settles after your move, you’re entering one of the most memorable times of your life. With any luck, you’ve recruited a REALTOR® who’s familiar with the obvious stresses as well as the insidious (and subsequently more detrimental) ones. Depending upon your relationship with your Realtor, you should be able to rely on him or her for more than just closing the deal. Your Realtor also should be able to calm your trepidations by giving you the support you need — giving you the facts about that new school district, reassuring you that your jitters are perfectly normal, and giving you as much information about your new hometown as possible, increasing your familiarity with the previously unknown.

It’s important to remember throughout the entire selling and buying process, however, to reserve time for yourself and your family. It’s not a waste of time, but rather an insurance policy for your sanity and continued happiness. Stress is sneaky, as we’ve all discovered. It can eat away at us during what are supposed to be the happiest of times, because after all, any major change in life is stressful. If it’s supressed, it can wreak havoc both emotionally and physically and spread throughout the family. And there’s nothing worse than moving a grumpy family across the country. For the sake of your continued family unity, keep in mind the following stress-relieving measures:

First, remember that it’s perfect normal to feel unsure of your decision right now. You’ve just made a major commitment, and all of us experience those last-second “What on earth did I just do” worries after signing contracts and making life-changing decisions. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with “what ifs” and dread, reframe this decision as a prime opportunity to begin your lives in a new environment. The old saying “When one door closes, another one opens” definitely applies here. Trust that your Realtor is looking out for your best interests, ask as many questions as you need to throughout the entire process (that’s part of what your Realtor is paid for), and look forward to the adventure that lies ahead of you.

If you can, keep an emergency fund in case you run into any unexpected costs. One example: If your buyer comes forward after a home inspection is completed and requests a series of repairs prior to move-in, you’ll be prepared. Chances are good that you won’t necessarily agree with the buyer’s requests, but at least you won’t face the additional stress of being short the money for repairs if you plan ahead and save some extra cash (no set amount — just as much as you can handle. A goal you might try to shoot for would be in the range of $2,500). It’s probably in your best interests not to try to guess what the buyer will want to repair, and then fix it ahead of time. That’s because buyers have a habit of isolating areas of your home that you never considered having repaired, and not even noticing the ones you expected them to pinpoint. So save yourself any expenses until you’ve determined their requests.

And while we’re on the subject of finances, try to anticipate and prepare for the initial expenses you’ll face upon move-in. Resign yourself to the fact that during the moving process, you’re going to feel as if you’re holding your wallet upside down, and everyone — movers, contractors, buyer, etc. — is sitting underneath, catching the windfall and demanding a larger share. Keep in mind that this is an investment for the good of your family, and that these costs are a one-time inevitability.

Remind yourself of why you’re moving in the first place. A job transfer, or is it a voluntary choice? Obviously, whether or not you had some degree of control over the decision will affect your outlook. Regardless of your answer to that question, round up as much information as you can about your new hometown. What kinds of cultural offerings does the town/city offer? What are its landmarks and natural attractions? Research some possible day trips you might take with the family once you’re settled. Is your new hometown near state borders, giving you the opportunity to explore different regions of the country without much effort?

Envision your new home. Where will you place the furniture? Remind yourself of the home’s primary selling points. Will you have more space? More closets? A large backyard and/or swimming pool? What does your new street look like? Do a lot of young families reside there? If so, your children are likely to be reassured by that knowledge. As often as possible, try to picture yourself and your family fully adapted to your new environment.

Remember to have a little fun occasionally. You’re still allowed, even if you feel as if you don’t have a penny left to your name. Take the family out to dinner, to a movie or a picnic — anything that gets all of you out of the house and away from boxes, paperwork, emotions and all of those pre-move concerns. Keep a regular “date” to get out together — for example, every Friday night leading up to the move. Take your mind off your stress for a few hours, and remind yourself that your family members are experiencing many of the same emotions. Like misery, stress often loves company, so enjoy your time together and remember that this stress won’t last forever. Regardless of what you’re feeling now, the move will happen and everything will eventually fall into place. Journeying into the unknown is what makes life rewarding, so trust in your Realtor’s expertise and in your family’s resilience, and look forward to the journey ahead.

Source: Sellers tips

How To Make Your Small Kitchen More Appealing

How To Make Your Small Kitchen More Appealing

Many people complain about small kitchens but tiny spaces aren’t always to be dreaded. If you’re selling your home and your kitchen is, well, compact, know that you can find ways to achieve big appeal with a little creativity.

Bring in the light. Sometimes small kitchens can be dark, making them feel even smaller. But if you remove the curtains from any windows in your small kitchen, it’ll let light in and open up the area. Instead of curtains, you can use small blinds that are recessed inside the frame of the window. These are easy to clean and still provide some privacy even when the blinds are open.

De-Clutter the counter tops and the walls. Most people have a tendency to let kitchen clutter build up on the counter tops and walls. Removing items from the counters, kitchen table, and even off the walls will make the space feel bigger. Yes, I know these items on the counters are useful but when you’re selling your home, a little inconvenience may help you receive a higher offer and you’ll probably agree, that’s worth it! Take the appliances and either store them in the kitchen cabinets or, if there isn’t enough room, pack them up. You’re moving soon, anyway.

Clearing off photos and miscellaneous papers that are stuck on your refrigerator door or kitchen walls will also help make your kitchen look bigger. If you’re tight for space, mounted storage units can be added to your kitchen walls to free up limited counter-top space. But again, too many storage units, even the decorative kind, will give people a feeling like the walls are closing in on them. The same goes for hanging pot racks from the ceiling. Be sure to leave some open wall space and to use storage units that aren’t completely solid. The open units, if the shelves aren’t stuffed, will give a less closed-in feeling.

My Kitchen

Opt for lighter and brighter wall color. Going with lighter colors tends to open up a room. Light and bright colors are also very inviting and friendly, making them a perfect choice for the kitchen. You can use a darker accent trim to create some contrast. You can also use decorations including floral arrangements or even some colorful kitchen appliances to add spice to the kitchen.

Wall-mounted appliances and reduced counter-top depth. Wall-mounted or under-the-cabinets-mounted appliances can save valuable kitchen counter-top space. You might even have a way to wall-mount your kitchen faucet. In one small home design, the faucet was mounted to the wall, creating a very distinctive look. The counter-top was a standard 24 inches deep but elsewhere the counter-top was reduced just slightly down to 21 inches–very subtle and hardly noticeable but it allowed more floor space in a tiny kitchen.

Small kitchens don’t have to be an eyesore. Some even prefer less space because there’s less to clean. If you know the audience you’re marketing your home to, you can play up the home’s best features–including, perhaps, a small, quaint, and simple kitchen.

Source: Sellers tips

Sell Your Home with Less Stress

Selling your home takes a lot of hard work. After you’ve found a Sales Associate, completed repairs and staged your home, the rest should be easy, right? Most of the hard work will be the job of your Sales Associate, but you’re not done. Showing your home can take a lot of your time but it doesn’t have to cause stress if you have a plan.

How do I Arrange for the House to be Shown?

In addition to open houses, your Sales Associate will be bringing potential buyers to see your home individually. Let him or her know how much notice you will need prior to confirmed appointments and how you want to be notified. You will still need to be flexible since sometimes you will get last minute requests. Remember, even in the worst case scenario, a buyer coming to see your home is what you want. Don’t turn someone away because you’re afraid your home won’t be ready. If someone asks to see your home on short notice, they should understand that it won’t be perfect.

Most of the traffic will occur during the first 3-4 weeks, but don’t worry if you don’t sell your home within this time. Most houses have a longer average Days On Market (DOM). The national average was 66 days in June, 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors®. If you are concerned that you aren’t getting enough traffic after several weeks, speak with your Sales Associate about modifying your marketing strategy.

How do I Keep My House Staged?

One of the most stressful parts of selling your home is keeping it ready for showings on short notice, especially if you have children or pets. In order to sell your home, the buyer must be able to picture themselves in your space, but that’s hard to do if there are toys in the living room or paw prints on the tile. Hopefully, you removed most of the clutter beforehand, so there is less to clean. Still, keeping your home ready to show can be a challenge.

Find a place for everything

It will be easier to clean if everything has a home.

Leave no mess behind

Try not to leave anything for later, as you never know who may call between now and then.

Keep cleaning supplies on hand

It’s easier to wipe up a mess if the necessities are nearby.

Let your children help

Make a game out of returning toys to their proper home.

When in doubt, hide it

Only use this as a last resort, but items can be hidden in drawers, under the bed, in suitcases and in the trunk of your car.

Do I Need a Lock Box?

A lock box is a small electronic device that securely holds your front door key. Your Sales Associate will provide the box and attach it securely somewhere near your front door. Lock boxes have changed significantly over the years. They used to be small, combination boxes opened by a key to your home. Now, most lock boxes can only be opened by a real estate professional and, in some cases, an ID card is required. Many types of lock boxes will now record the time and name of an agent who is accessing your key.

Many types of lock boxes will now
record the time and name of an agent who is accessing your key.

How do I Cope With the Stress of Selling a Home?

In addition to keeping your house clean for short-notice showings, you must find a place to go during these times. This can also be difficult if you have kids or expensive if it happens often during mealtime. Planning ahead can save you both stress and money.

Run errands, visit friends, or relax in a park or your local library. If your showings fall around mealtime, instead of going to a restaurant, try packing a picnic or ask a relative or friend if you can use their kitchen.

It’s also ok to stay at home during a showing and, of course, you can say no if there’s an emergency. Sometimes things happen and we have to deal with them first.

Key Takeaways:

What is My Home Worth?

1) Most of the traffic will occur during the first 3-4 weeks of listing your home, but don’t worry if you don’t sell your home within this time. Most houses have a longer average Days On Market (DOM). The national average was 66 days in June, 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

2) If you get a last minute call to show your home, don’t turn someone away because you’re afraid you won’t be ready. If someone asks to see your home on short notice, they likely understand that it won’t be perfect.

3) Keeping a house ready for a last-minute showing can be stressful. If everything has a home, it will be easier to clean and leave no mess behind. You never know when someone will call.

4) If a showing falls around mealtime, try packing a picnic or asking a relative or friend if you can use their kitchen instead of going to a restaurant.

Content Provided by Weichert Seller’s Guide

Tips To Keep Your Home Show-Ready At All Times

Tips To Keep Your Home Show-Ready At All Times

Once your home goes on the market, real estate agents may call to show your home anytime, day or evening. Keeping your home “showtime” ready can be challenging, especially if you have children and pets.

What you need to stay organized is a handy checklist so you can be ready to show at any time. When you get the call that buyers are on their way, give everyone in the household a basket and assign them each to a room to pick up clutter quickly. Set a timer and tell everyone to grab up any toys on the floor, clear tabletops and countertops of junk, and quickly Swiffer-sweep the floors. Check for hazards like dog chews on the floor.

Turn on all the lights, and get ready to skedaddle. You have to let buyers have privacy so they can assess your home honestly. Take the kids for an outing. Put pets in daycare, sleep cages or take them with you:

Keep your home show-ready with these nine tips:

Eliminate clutter: Not only is clutter unattractive, it’s time-consuming to sort through and expensive for you to move. If you have a lot of stuff, collections, and family mementoes, you would be better off renting a small storage unit for a few months.

Keep, donate, throw away: Go through your belongings and put them into one of these three baskets. You’ll receive more in tax benefits for your donations than pennies on the dollar at a garage sale. It’s faster, more efficient and you’ll help more people.

Remove temptations: Take valuable jewelry and collectibles to a safety deposit box, a safe, or store them in a secure location.

Remove breakables: Figurines, china, crystal and other breakables should be packed and put away in the garage or storage.

Be hospitable: You want your home to look like a home. Stage it to show the possibilities, perhaps set the table, or put a throw on the chair by the fireplace with a bookmarked book on the table.

Have a family plan of action: Sometimes showings aren’t convenient. You can always refuse a showing, but do you really want to? If you have a showing with little notice, get the family engaged. Everyone has a basket and picks up glasses, plates, newspapers, or anything left lying about.

Remove prescription medicines: Despite qualifying by the buyer’s agent, some buyers have other intentions than buying your home. It’s also a good idea to lock your personal papers such as checkbooks away. Do not leave mail out on your desk.

Get in the habit: Wash dishes immediately after meals. Clean off countertops. Make beds in the morning. Keep pet toys and beds washed and smelling fresh.

Clean out the garage and attic: Buyers want to see what kind of storage there is.

Source: Realty Times

No Perfect Home Exists: What You Should Know About Home Inspections

No Perfect Home Exists: What You Should Know About Home Inspections

For many first-time buyers, buying a home can be a scary experience. They know they’ll be maintaining or improving a home with little to no maintenance experience, so the solution is to buy a home in perfect condition. So they hire a home inspector to point out all the flaws.

The problem is — no perfect home exists. Air conditioners break, plumbing pipes leak, and roof tiles blow off in the wind.

If you’re buying a home, start with a reasonable expectation of what home inspectors can do. Their job is to inform you about the integrity and condition of what you’re buying, good and bad.

A home inspection should take several hours, long enough to cover all built-in appliances, all mechanical, electrical, gas and plumbing systems, the roof, foundation, gutters, exterior skins, windows and doors.

An inspector doesn’t test for pests or sample the septic tank. For those, you need industry-specific inspectors.

Here’s what else you need to do.

1. Make sure the inspector you hire is licensed. The responsibilities of home inspectors vary according to state law and their areas of expertise.

2. Ask what the inspection covers. Some inspection companies have extensive divisions that can provide environmental for radon and lead paint. Be prepared to hire and schedule several inspectors according to your lender’s requirements and to pay several hundred dollars for each type of inspection.

3. Some inspection reports only cover the main house, not other buildings on the property. For specialty inspections such as termites, make sure the inspection covers all buildings on the property including guest houses, detached garages, storage buildings, etc.

4. Attend the inspection and follow along with the inspectors. Seeing problems for yourself will help you understand what’s serious, what needs replacement now or later, and what’s not important.

5. Don’t expect the seller to repair or replace every negative found on the report. If you’re getting a VA or FHA-guaranteed loan, some items aren’t negotiable. The seller must address them, but otherwise, pick your battles with the seller carefully.

A home inspection points out problems, they also point out what’s working well. It can help you make your final decision about the home – to ask the seller to make repairs or to offer a little less, to buy as is or not to buy at all.

Source: Buying tips

Want To Buy A House? Here's How To Save For A Down Payment

Want To Buy A House? Here's How To Save For A Down Payment

Thinking about buying a house within the next 3 years? Or a bit farther down the road? Timing is everything and it turns out that simple question makes a difference.

According to Zillow, the median home value in Diamond Bar is $697,000. So how much of that should you put down? Down payments vary depending on the loan type, but in general they are:

*0% for VA loans
*3.5% for FHA loans
*20% for conventional loans
*Or use this handy down payment calculator to help you.

20% is the recommended down payment on a house.

You may have heard this before, but we’ll say it again. Try to put at least 20% down. Why? If you finance more than 80% of the home value, you will have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). (But if you can take out a VA loan, PMI is not required.)

Even just 3.5% or $24,395 on a home in Diamond Bar, CA is a good chunk of money. And whether you’re fighting the good fight as a small business owner, still paying back those student loans, or just trying to save a bit each month like all of us, it’s hard to know what to do with that money you have managed to save. Which brings us to …

When are you looking to purchase a home?

1. I want to buy a home within 3 years.

If you’re looking to buy sooner rather than later, consider keeping your money in a cash account, like a savings account or something similar. Remember that savings accounts will yield greater interest than a regular checking account. You don’t want to invest this money for such a short period because of market volatility. Just think:

Imagine you’ve built up a decent amount for a down payment and you invested this money in the stock market. A recession comes and you take a 30% hit on your balance. That will likely prevent you from buying your home within your three-year goal.

2. I want to wait at least 4 years before buying a home.

If you’re not in a big rush, investing in the market might be a better option for you. Should you invest, do so with caution and don’t be too aggressive. Be smart, calculated, and balanced with your portfolio picks. Make sure you have a healthy mix of stocks and bonds. And keep in mind that you’ll want to rebalance your portfolio at least once a year. Why?

Imagine that you have a portfolio of 10 different stock and bond ETFs, or Exchange-traded funds. Each ETF is invested at a fixed percentage of your overall portfolio. As the year goes on, the allocations will wander from their targets. Those doing well will become a larger part of your portfolio. Those not doing so well will become a smaller part of your portfolio. When you rebalance, you bring things back in line with your target percentages, so you’re selling high and buying low.

Also keep in mind dollar-cost averaging, or investing a certain fixed amount on a regular schedule. Basically, you buy a larger number of shares when the markets are down and everything is at a lower price, and fewer shares when prices are high. This is recommended over making large, infrequent, lump sum contributions because it will bring the average cost per share down over time.

If these investing ideas are a bit daunting to you, you’re not alone! Speak with a financial planner to help you evaluate your options and navigate these uncertain waters. An advisor can be just the direction you need to reach your goal and buy a house.

David Yu, CFP® is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER with over 10 years of industry experience helping people make smart, lasting financial decisions. Visit www.pacunited.com for more information.

Source: Buying tips

Tips for Selling Your Home

Today, there is more to selling a home than listing it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and holding an open house. There are cost-effective tips for reaching more people to sell your home. You’ll be surprised how much your Weichert Sales Associate can do to help get the word out.

Do You have a Marketing Plan for Your Home?

According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of home buyers search online during the home buying process. The internet has opened up the real estate market to a much wider audience. Setting up a specific website for your home and using social media are possible ways your Sales Associate may recommend for making sure the information about your home reaches the widest audience. Ask your Sales Associate about their internet strategy and work together to find the best way to reach potential buyers.

90% of home buyers search online during the home buying process.

Do You Want to Make a Video?

According to the National Association of Realtors® study, “The Digital House Hunt,” 70% of buyers who use the internet use videos to tour the inside of a home. A video can show details and flow in a way that photos cannot. Ask your Sales Associate for recommendations of professional photographers for virtual tours.

As with any marketing idea, speak with your Sales Associate first to make sure you are showing your home in the best light.

How can You Use Social Media Outlets?

Social media is another tool that can be used to reach more people in your local area. Discuss a strategy with your Realtor®. They probably have a plan in place and you may be able to supplement it. If not, ask them to post the images on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and any other sites that you feel might reach potential buyers. Depending on your potential buyer, this could be the best way to let the most people know that your home is for sale.

Do You have a Plan for Publicizing Open Houses?

In addition to the MLS listing, your website or social media pages, there is additional advertising online and in traditional media, like newspapers, for a special event like an open house. In addition to sharing the information with your friends, neighbors and online connections, speak with your Sales Associate to find what has worked best in the past and how you can help get the word out.

Who will Write the Copy for the Listing?

Most often, your Weichert Sales Associate will write the copy describing your house for your listing. Ask to preview the copy and discuss any ideas or features that you would like highlighted. Consulting with your Sales Associate will help you find the best way to showcase your house.

Key Takeaways:

What is My Home Worth?

1) According to the National Association of Realtors, 90% of home buyers search online during the home buying process. Setting up a specific website for your home or using social media as a hub can help you reach a wider audience.

2) A video can show the details and flow of a home in a way that photos cannot. Make sure your home is well lit and show both the inside and outside. Keep the video under 3 minutes.

3) Consult your Sales Associate about posting the images on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and any other social media sites you feel might reach potential buyers.

Content Provided by Weichert Seller’s Guide

Find a Good Realtor

A Realtor® can be the key to selling your home quickly and for the highest price. He or she will be with you from preparing for sale to closing. They have helpful knowledge about the local area and the local real estate market. Realtors understand the intricacies and importance of pricing your home to suit both your needs and the market.

Choosing a Realtor

Not all real estate agents are Realtors, but all Weichert Sales Associates are. To claim the title of Realtor, as our Sales Associates do, you must hold a state license and complete additional training above and beyond federal and state regulations. Realtors are also required to adhere to a code of ethics and professional standards. Using a Sales Associate who’s a licensed Realtor assures you that he or she has been properly trained and has pledged to promote your interests as a client first.

There are multiple ways to find a qualified agent:

  • Search Weichert.com
  • Ask friends and family for a referral
  • Talk to Realtors at open houses
  • Look at neighborhood signs
  • Ask for recommendations from professionals, like other realtors if you are searching for something outside of their specialty, real estate lawyers, accountants, etc.

While all Weichert Sales Associates are members of the National Association of Realtors and receive the added education required to become a Realtor, our new Sales Associates are also given supplementary training through our industry-leading training department, Weichert University. Upon graduation, they are coached in the field by a successful, seasoned professional.

While we hope that you will choose a Weichert Sales Associate, it’s important to be comfortable and confident that the person you choose will help you sell your home as quickly as possible for the best price.

Tips to Find the Right Sales Associate

Your local Weichert office will have many Sales Associates to choose from so you may decide to interview more than one before you sign an agreement. Some questions to ask might be:

How many homes have you sold in the last year? What were the details (the price range, the location, the difference between asking price and final selling price)?

  • Although these answers will depend on market trends, it will give you an idea of a Sales Associate’s experience and ability to price homes correctly.

Do you have any suggestions for me to prepare my home for sale?

  • Your Sales Associate will know the local market and which options are most popular at the moment. Some also offer staging as a service.

How will we communicate and how often?

  • Your Weichert Sales Associate will offer you their Pledge of Service which specifies the type of communication and level of service you can expect.

What separates you from other Sales Associates?

  • Look for someone who communicates clearly their process for pricing your home, including a marketing plan and the tools he or she will use to make your property attractive and visible to as many buyers as possible.

Can I see some references?

  • Speaking to former clients may give you some insight into working with a particular agent.

Which professionals do you recommend during the home buying process?

  • You may need recommendations for staging and packing companies, contractors and real estate attorneys.

How do you plan to market my house?

  • Your Weichert Sales Associate will create a customized marketing plan for your particular home that includes local marketing, open houses and an internet strategy to expose your property to buyers and then respond quickly to all who inquire about it.

How will My Sale Price be Determined?

Choosing a listing price is one of the most important factors in selling your home. It will take a combination of research, strategy and psychology to find the highest number that will attract the largest number of buyers.

The listing price will mostly be based on the prices of comparable homes (comps) in your area. Your Weichert Sales Associate will perform a Price Trend Analysis* that goes beyond a typical Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). It measures the direction of your local market including: the current supply and demand, properties that are under contract as well as those that sold 6 and 12 months ago. It also factors in the average days on market to help predict where prices will be in the future. You should also consider internet search parameters. Most buyers search by wide, round numbers. A home may be worth $305,000, but it could be lost if a majority of comparable homes are under $300,000.

* A Price Trend Analysis is not an appraisal and should not be considered to be the equivalent of an appraisal.

What is My Timeline for Selling?

Be sure to mention any timelines to your Sales Associate. Stating your expectations upfront can eliminate frustrations later.

Remember, a home receives the most attention when it is first listed and can lose value with additional days on market (DOM), so it cannot hurt to implement any of these options even if you are willing to be patient and wait for the right offer.

Key Takeaways:

What is My Home Worth?

1 ) Before you sign an agreement, take the time to ask your Sales Associate some questions and get to know him or her.

2 ) Setting a listing price is a combination of research, strategy and psychology. It is mostly based on the price of comparable homes, but can also be affected by market conditions, seller needs and season.

3 ) If you need to sell your home quickly, staging it well and hiring a professional photographer can help you get a fair price in a short time frame.

 

Content Provided by Weichert Seller’s Guide

Eight Must-Do’s Before You List Your Home For Sale

Eight Must-Do's Before You List Your Home For Sale

The Spring selling season is on, and if you’re considering listing your house, it’s time to get it in tip-top shape. You may think your home is already listing ready right now, but a real estate agent may not agree. These eight activities will help you put your best house forward.

Clean up that yard

You can’t underestimate the power of curb appeal. An unkempt yard, chipping paint, even a mailbox that’s seen better days can turn off a potential buyer – or turn one into a bargain hunter. And you don’t want either.

“Your home’s curb appeal is the first thing buyers see when they drive up to the property. Buyers immediately start assessing the exterior and landscaping, forming a knee-jerk first impression,” said Professional Staging. “This initial reaction is very powerful. It instantly sets the tone of the tour and will have an effect on how buyers perceive the rest of the property. If their first impression is a negative one, then the rest of the home will suffer for it. The state of a home’s exterior usually matches the interior. If the grass is long or patchy, the paint on the house is faded or peeling, and there are cracks in the driveway, then buyers are going to be very wary of what other kinds of maintenance issues could be awaiting them inside and in places that they can’t see. These issues instantly translate to dollar signs and stress for home buyers, so it’s likely they will move on to the competition to avoid them both.”


porch.com

Consider your door

Chances are, you don’t look much at your front door because you come in and out of the garage. A buyer approaching your house will notice if your door isn’t pristine and may project the lack of pristine-ness onto the rest of the house. A fresh coat of paint is inexpensive but the impact is dramatic.

Declutter

A cluttered house can mask its best qualities and also make potential buyers feel like it’s not as spacious as they want it to be. “Resist the urge to roll your eyes at this one,” said Family Handyman. “It is imperative that your home looks livable. Potential buyers may not be able to see past your clutter. Think of it this way – don’t move things you no longer want or need. Make decisions now and your house will sell faster and your move will be easier. Take one room, or even part of one room, at a time and dive in. Recycle or shred paper. Donate books, toys, clothing and duplicate household items. If you’re getting frustrated and you can’t deal with one more stack of papers or shoebox of old photos, put them in a plastic tub, label the tub and stack it somewhere out of the way.”

Depersonalize

You want your home to be memorable, but for the right reasons – not because of your wall full of crosses or bookcase overflowing with antique figurines. Pack them away to neutralize the space. “The next step on your declutter list? You want to remove any distractions so the buyers can visualize themselves and their family living in the property,” Kipton Cronkite, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman in New York, told Realtor.com. “He says that includes personal items and family photos, as well as bold artwork and furniture that might make your home less appealing to the general public. The goal is to create a blank canvas on which house hunters can project their own visions of living there, and loving it.”

Light bulbs, handles, and hardware, oh my!

Burned-out bulbs, loose handles, and hardware that’s worn, scratched, or rusted is easy to take care and can help your place look finished.

Give everything a good dusting

Look up! How’s that ceiling fan? You’d be surprised how a little thing like a dusty fan can impact a buyer and turn them into a non-buyer. Get out that duster and hit all the corners and window sills you never notice. And then clean all those windows so when you open all the blinds and drapes to let the sun shine in, the light doesn’t get blocked by smudges and fingerprints.

Walk through your home like you’re seeing it for the first time

Come in through the front door and examine every inch of the house. You’ve probably been ignoring little things that have just become part of the landscape. A scuffed baseboard here. A broken switchplate there. Even the pile of shoes in the front hall that you don’t even notice anymore. Potential buyers will, and these little things could be enough to turn them off.

“Once you’ve decided it’s time to sell your home, start to look at it with an objective eye,” said Family Handyman. “If you were the potential buyer, what red flags would you see when you walked around your house and yard?

Clean out your closets, your cabinets, and your pantry

Don’t fool yourself into thinking people won’t open doors and drawers and look through everything (Side tip: Hide your valuables before showings, just to be safe!). You don’t have to worry about being judged for your fashion sense—although, you might want to pack away those ‘80s parachute pants! You should be more worried about whether buyers will walk away because they think there isn’t enough closet or storage space, or it’s not efficient space.

You have to pack anyway since you’re moving, so start early. Empty out closets, cabinets, and storage areas so the space looks sufficient and nicely organized. For closets, the idea is to make them look filled, but not overfilled. Create space between hangers and fold other items neatly on shelves. Make sure there is ample space for shoes because, let’s face it, this could be a deal breaker for some people.

Source: Jaymi Naciri, Realty Times

How can I Increase the Value of My House?

Speak to your Sales Associate: Weichert Sales Associates understand the local trends and can give you the best tips for getting the best return on your investment.

Get inspected: Presenting a home inspection to potential buyers makes your bargaining position stronger by bringing any issues with your home into the open.

Create space: The current trend is toward open floor plans and great rooms. De-clutter as much as possible and use light colored drapes or blinds to create the illusion of space.

Keep your landscaping tidy: The appearance of your home will be the first impression and having a neat appearance promises that the interior of the house is well-kept too.

Clean up: Neatness and tidiness give the home a more spacious, open feel. When things are clean, they look newer and more valuable.

Upgrade the bathroom: Some bathroom upgrades can be expensive, but smaller items like replacing faucets and cabinet hardware can give the room a new look.

Paint the walls: Neutral colors make it easier for potential buyers to picture themselves in your home. High traffic areas and bright colored rooms should be repainted.

Update the kitchen: Kitchens are often the center of the home and small changes, like changing the faucet or a single appliance, can yield big results.

Remove or replace any red flags: If you walk by something in your home and think, “We should probably fix that,” now is the time to do so.

Do I have any Contingencies and will They Affect the Selling Price or the Timeline?

Contingencies are terms in the contract that must be met before the transfer of ownership of the home can take place. They can make the sale conditional on inspections, insurance, financing, the sale of another home, and more. Both sellers and buyers can place contingencies in the purchase contract.

Seller’s contingencies that change closing or move-in dates are often enough to scare off buyers. Some people are patient and are willing to rent the property back to you. To facilitate the sale, both parties should try to require as few contingencies as possible.

To facilitate the sale, both parties should try to require as few contingencies as possible.

What is the Process of Working with a Weichert Sales Associate?

  • 1 | Meet with your Sales Associate
    He or she will come to your home to assess it and answer your questions about the current real estate market. Together, you’ll decide which improvements will increase the value of your house. Your Sales Associate will measure your home, take pictures and write the copy to publish when you are ready to list it.

  • 2 | Determine your selling price
    Setting the list price is very important when selling a house. A Weichert Sales Associate will perform a Price Trend Analysis*, a unique pricing tool which incorporates market trends to help you determine a fair price.

  • 3 | List your home
    Once you have made all of the improvements, your Sales Associate will prepare the profile sheet to list your home in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) so that all real estate agents will have access to the information about your home.

  • 4 | Showing your home
    Like your Sales Associate, agents from different companies will want to show your home to their clients. Your Sales Associate will coordinate these visits and host open houses.

  • 5 | Receive offers
    Your Weichert Sales Associate will be the facilitator of all offers from all potential buyers. He or she will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of each offer, as well as any contingencies, and then deliver the signed offer to the buyer’s agent.

  • 6 | Go under contract
    Your Sales Associate will help you through all of the small steps that need to be completed for a successful sale. You’ll need to review the inspection. You’ll have to gather the correct disclosure paperwork, as required by law so the closing won’t be delayed.

  • 7 | Get to closing
    Your Weichert Sales Associate will be present at closing to walk you through the process and explain the steps as necessary.

* A Price Trend Analysis is not an appraisal and should not be considered to be the equivalent of an appraisal.

What is the Average Time for Selling a House in the Current Market? Is There Anything that can be Done to Change that Time?

The average selling time depends on market conditions. Your Weichert Sales Associate will be able to tell you the average Days On Market (DOM) for homes in your area. The pricing and the condition of your home will make a big difference in how quickly it sells. If you are selling a house that is similar to most of the homes in your neighborhood, priced fairly and presented neatly with an inspection to show that there are no hidden issues, it should sell within the average number of days on market in the area.

Does Days on Market (DOM) Affect the Price?

Although the number of days that a home has been on the market is just a number, it can affect how the buyer negotiates. If the home has been up for sale for a long time, they might feel that they can make a lower offer because the owner will be more eager to sell. Most MLS services list the cumulative Days on Market (CDOM), so it’s no longer possible to hide the number of days by de-listing and re-listing a home. Newly listed homes receive the most traffic in the first 30 days. It’s best to put your best foot forward by not listing your home for sale until you are ready. It also underscores the need to price your house fairly at the start if you want to sell it quickly and for the most money.

What are the Costs Associated with Selling a Home?

Realtor® commission
The commission is shared between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent.

Your mortgage
The balance of your loan will be due at closing.

Prorated property taxes
You are responsible for the property taxes until you turn over the deed.

Title insurance premium
It varies by location. Either the buyer or the seller must purchase the title insurance.

Home inspection
It’s a good idea to have a home inspection before you list the house to show that there are no hidden problems.

Federal and local taxes and fees
These vary by state and municipality. Your Weichert Sales Associate can let you know the specifics.

Moving
Whether you do this yourself or hire packers and movers, there are costs associated with relocation.

Homeowner’s association fees
You’ll have to pay any monies owed to your HOA. Some homeowner’s associations charge a transfer fee.

Any buyer’s incentives
If you’ve agreed to pay any of the closing costs for the buyer or purchase a home warranty, this will decrease your profits.

What Does it Mean to Sell a Home “As-Is?”

Selling a house “as-is” means that the seller is not going to make any changes to improve the home. It also gives potential buyers the signal that there might be significant underlying problems and therefore should come at a discount. Most buyers will include a home inspection contingency, so having the inspection done in advance can work in your favor. “As-is” homes are not required to meet codes or to have an inspection unless the buyer has an FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan, but the seller must still disclose all of the known problems.

Seller must still disclose all of the known problems.

Key Takeaways:

What is My Home Worth?
1 ) When selling a house, your Sales Associate can help you assess which improvements will increase the value the most.

2 ) If you are selling a house that is similar to most of the homes in your neighborhood, priced fairly and presented neatly with an inspection to show that there are no hidden issues, it should sell within the average Days On Market (DOM) in your area.

3 ) There are several costs associated with selling a home, including the balance on your mortgage, prorated property taxes, federal and local taxes and fees, commission, homeowners association fees and any buyers’ incentives promised during the negotiation.

4 ) Selling a house “as is” can save the seller money by not needing to make any repairs, but also sends a signal to the buyer that there might be serious underlying problems.

Content Provided by Weichert Seller’s Guide

What is My Home Worth?

Assessing the value of your home, your needs and your timeline can change a multitude of factors. How quickly you need the proceeds of the sale and the market conditions can help decide your path as you prepare to leave your current house. It’s a balance of current and future needs and the route you choose can always be changed until you enter into a contract.

Is It Better for Me to Rent My Home or to Sell?

Deciding whether it’s better to rent or sell will often depend on the conditions in the market, your needs, your timeline, sale prices and rental prices. Historically, owning rental property is a great investment, but it’s not without pitfalls. Determining whether you can cover your mortgage with rent and if the property will appreciate is a challenge that takes research and analysis.

Start by evaluating the current market conditions. Ask yourself the following questions: What is my home worth in this market? How much are homes selling for in my neighborhood? What is the average rent? Is the value of the house likely to rise or fall in the next several years? If it’s likely to fall, it might be best to sell the property now.

Next, analyze your current situation. How much do you owe on your home? Do you have enough for your down payment without selling it? Will the rent checks cover the mortgage? Do you have the temperament or desire to be a landlord? Can you afford to cover the mortgage if your renter cannot? Tax rules for landlords can be favorable, so what will the tax implications/gains be?

If you need to move on quickly or don’t have the patience to deal with potential issues, selling might be the best option. If you think that the house might appreciate and you can move on without needing the income from the sale to purchase your next home, renting might be the answer for you.

Should I Buy First or Sell First?

Current market dynamics and personality can influence whether you choose to buy or sell first. In a buyer’s market, sellers are less likely to have issues with contingencies and may be willing to take more risks to sign a contract. A seller’s market favors buyers who have already sold their homes and can make a cash offer. As for personality, some people like to know that they can sell before they look to buy another home and others like to know where they are going to live before they sell their current home. There are benefits to each. Speaking to a Weichert Sales Associate can help you better understand the current local market conditions and gauge a timeline for each option.

Before making the decision, the first question to ask is, “What is my home worth? The amount of equity that you have in your current home could have a large impact on the home that you are able to afford. Also, you’ll want to evaluate the mortgage for which you’ll qualify and your ability to carry those new monthly payments in addition to your current mortgage. It might also help to start to look for your new home. If you see a few options available that you can afford, it might be a safer option to put your home on the market.

Buying first offers the security of knowing where you are going before you sell your current home, but also comes with some risks. If you have very specific needs which could lead to a prolonged home search, like location, size, age or extended garage space for example, you might want to considerer finding your new home first. One risk is that it can be harder to get a mortgage for a second home. This can be overcome by using a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) to cover the down payment, but this only works with significant equity in your current home, assuming you have the ability to carry new monthly payments in addition to your current mortgage. Another possibility is that you might feel pressured to take a lower offer on your first home to avoid being burdened with long-term debt that you cannot afford.

Selling first offers the most control. If the buyer is agreeable, it might be possible to rent back your home for up to 60 days. It’s always possible to move into another short-term rental, although that adds the stress of moving twice and storing your belongings. If you do choose to sell first, you will not need a sale contingency which means you will have more power when negotiating your purchase price.

What is My Home Worth?

Many factors influence the value of your home. When it’s time to set a price, your Weichert Sales Associate will perform a Price Trend Analysis* that includes local market trends and comparable recent sales so you can determine your home’s true market value by putting your decision in context. If you want to estimate a value before speaking with a Sales Associate, here are the factors to consider:

External Characteristics – Condition of the structure, lot size and exterior amenities, home style, the age of the roof.

Internal Characteristics – The number and size of the rooms, quality of construction, the age of the appliances, the age of the heating and cooling systems, energy-efficiency.

Market Conditions – The number of buyers vs. the number of homes on the market.

Location – The school district, neighborhood, proximity to public transportation or highways.

To gain a more accurate picture, find homes that have recently sold that have comparable lot size, home style, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, age and location. Details of these transactions can be found at the local tax assessor’s office, online and through your Sales Associate. Their final sale price will help you estimate your home’s value.

* A Price Trend Analysis is not an appraisal and should not be considered to be the equivalent of an appraisal.

Should I Try to Sell the Home Myself or Should I Work with a Realtor®?

In the industry, it’s called For Sale By Owner or FSBO (sometimes pronounced fizz-boh). There is no law that requires the use of a Realtor®, but many homeowners don’t realize all of the details that go into completing the sale of a home.

If you decide to go this route, start by learning the laws in your state that govern real estate transactions. There are state-mandated disclosures and rules about who can conduct the actual transaction and what to do if there is a delay in transfer of ownership. If you miss a detail, it could delay the closing and affect your future purchase and final sale price.

After you understand the laws, the next step is to understand the market conditions so that you can present your home in the best light possible and price your house accordingly. You’ll also need to prepare for showings, assemble disclosure documents, create and distribute marketing materials, put up signs, plan open houses and arrange for visits to your home around buyers’ schedules.

Once you receive offers, you’ll evaluate them and choose whether to accept or reject them or continue to negotiate. You will need a way to validate their pre-approval or verify their proof of funds. It will also be up to you to decide whether to continue to look for a backup offer. You’ll coordinate through your closing agent and be available for all inspections and appraisals. You’ll handle all last-minute negotiations over problems found during inspection and attend closing, possibly with an attorney.

Selling a home yourself is a lot of time and effort. Weichert Sales Associates start on the clock when you first call them to list your home and work with you through the closing. They’ll use their considerable resources, including in-depth understanding of the industry, the process and your local market as well as established networks of service companies to help you through this stressful process. What’s more, the risk is all their own. If they don’t sell your home, they don’t get paid.

Key Takeaways:

What is My Home Worth?
1) Historically, owning rental property is a great investment but it’s not without pitfalls. When deciding whether to rent or sell your home, determine whether you can cover your mortgage with rent, if the property will appreciate and if you want the challenge of managing renters.

2) In a buyer’s market, sellers are less likely to have issues with contingencies and may be willing to take more risks to sign a contract. A seller’s market favors buyers who have already sold their homes and can make a cash offer.

3) The square footage, number and size of the rooms, condition of the structure, lot size and condition, current housing market conditions and location factor most heavily into a home’s value.

4) Selling your home yourself can save money, but also requires a lot of time and effort. Without the help of an experienced Sales Associate, you can make mistakes that will either delay or stop the sale of your home or decrease your proceeds from the sale.

Content Provided by Weichert Seller’s Guide

The Weichert Story

Weichert. Built and led by real real estate people
“ People buy people before they buy products and services, and we believe
Weichert people are the very best.”

On a warm spring day in his very first year in real estate,
Jim Weichert was invited to meet a couple looking for someone to help
sell their home. He began by going all over their house, talking to them
about its best features. Then he invested extra time to appreciate
everything about their home’s exterior, even walking the property line.
He ended up in their basement, down on one knee in his best suit
reading their hot water heater. The couple liked him immediately and
trusted him; they appreciated his willingness to go the extra mile.
From then on, Jim worked hard to get to know every prospect he met
and to earn their trust. What’s more, he never stopped working to keep
his relationships up. That’s why so many of his customers came back
to him and even told their friends and family members, “I know a guy
in real estate you’re gonna love working with.”
Jim had discovered a great way to set himself apart from his competition.
But even he couldn’t have imagined that it would lead to a Weichert
family of companies that’s one of the nation’s leading providers of real
estate-related services. Yet, his determination to do everything possible
to help people move into the home of their dreams led exactly there.
Today, his philosophy and the resulting selling system that his
co-president and son, James, has organized as the Weichert Way,
continue to be the basis of our success.

  • Founded in 1969 by Jim Weichert.
    Today, he and his son James run one
    of the largest family-owned real estate
    companies in the U.S.
  • Drawing on their own experience as sales
    associates, Jim and James have created
    a company that answers to buyers, sellers,
    and their families
  • Today, Weichert serves key markets
    throughout the U.S. with over 500 offices
  • Serving nearly 200,000 customers each
    year, The Weichert Family of Companies
    is the Complete Homeownership
    Solution for all your home selling and
    financing needs