Moving? Avoid Making These Mistakes

Moving? Avoid Making These Mistakes

Whether moving across town or across the country, packing up and moving can be stressful, costly and full of surprises. From shady movers and inaccurate price quotes, to overpacking or not allowing enough time to get the move set up, every step of a move has the potential for mistakes that can make a move a nightmare.

These tips will help anyone preparing for a move, whether they currently live in a house, an apartment, a dorm, with friends or with mom and dad.

1. Hiring a shady mover.

We’ve all heard horror stories about moving scams, and perhaps maybe you’ve been the victim of a moving scam yourself. You can steer clear of a less-than-upstanding mover by doing your homework. The Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, your state transportation regulator and the U.S. Department of Transportation — and even your relatives, friends, neighbors and colleagues — are all good sources of information about whether a moving company is on the up-and-up. Doing some homework online can save you a lot of heartache on moving day.

If you’ve done your research and still aren’t confident in the movers you’ve come across, you always can go the DIY route — just be sure you’re up for the task.

2. Messing up the quotes.

If you hire a mover, you should be able to have someone from that company come to your place for an in-home moving estimate. If a moving company won’t do an in-home estimate, you should think about shopping around for another mover.

Along those lines, don’t rely on just one quote from one mover. Contact several movers for quotes. If you really like one mover over another but your favorite company is a little pricey, try negotiating for a lower price. Always make sure to get a moving estimate in writing.

3. Packing too much stuff.

Do you really need those old boxes of baby clothes that you haven’t laid eyes on since your 6-year-old was in diapers? Before you move, you need to “edit” your belongings. Think about whether you can trash some of your possessions, donate them to charity, or give them away to friends and relatives. Perhaps you could hold a garage sale to clear out some of the clutter. If you haven’t seen, worn or used something in a year, it’s best to think hard about whether you need to keep it — and whether you need to haul it to your new place.

4. Failing to schedule your move well in advance.

During the summer months, good moving companies are booked up quickly. Rather than waiting till the last minute, make sure your move is scheduled weeks — or, better yet, months — in advance. You don’t want to be scrambling to find a mover the day before you’re supposed to head out. Moving already is stressful enough without adding that frustration.

5. Ignoring the need to pack ahead of time.

You’ll find very few people who’ll say that packing is fun. In fact, a survey commissioned by SpareFoot found that people who’d moved in the past year identified packing and unpacking as the biggest hassle in the process.

You can lessen the load by beginning to pack well before moving day comes along. Start by boxing up stuff that you won’t need right away — for instance, if you’re moving in the summer, pack up your winter clothes so that they’re out of the way. Also, be sure to carve out time in your schedule to check items off your packing to-do list.

If you get down to the wire and need help with packing, enlist friends, neighbors, relatives or colleagues to lend a hand. Make sure you’ve got plenty of food and beverages as a “thank you” for your volunteer helpers. If you can’t rustle up any free help, consider hiring laborers to do the packing for you; that may be a small price to pay to alleviate moving-related stress.

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Source: Moving? Avoid Making These Mistakes

Is Blockchain In The Future Of Real Estate?

Is Blockchain In The Future Of Real Estate?

Bitcoin is one of our new moneys. Thousands of merchants now accept Bitcoin payments. A Miami penthouse was listed for 33 Bitcoins (valued at time of listing at $544,500) and the seller refused to take any other currency. Probably trying to avoid paying anything to the IRS.

What is Bitcoin? It is such a new concept, that it wasn’t until earlier this year that Webster’s Dictionary added a definition: “a digital currency created for use in peer-to-peer online transaction.”

How does it work? Compare it to the operating systems for our Iphones, Blockchain is the operating system that makes Bitcoin work. This column will attempt to explain Blockchain.

Let’s go back to Websters: Blockchain is “a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.”

Perhaps a more understandable definition can be found in an IBM report entitled “Blockchain for Dummies”:”Blockchain is a shared, distributed ledger that facilitates the process of recording transactions and tracking assets in a business network. An asset can be tangible — a house, a car, cash, land — or intangible like intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights, or branding. Virtually anything of value can be tracked and traded on a Blockchain network, reducing risk and cutting costs for all involved.” (Published by IBM).

For example, just a couple of months ago, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed a law allowing the creation of “blockchain-based limited liability companies”.That law also requires a study on the use of Blockchain in insurance and banking. And the city of South Burlington, Vermont, has started a pilot project to record title and ownership. According to that city’s clerk, ” we are always interested in taking advantage of technology that enhances its delivery of services to residents.”

Why is it called “Blockchain”? Because it literally involves computerized “blocks”. Unlike paper ledgers that are typically pages long, when someone adds new information, a new “block” is created that links itself to previous ones. Since these “blocks” form a continuous chain, thus the name.

The best way to explain this complicated process is with a simple example, courtesy of Joseph Murray of the public accounting firm of Withum:

“Company A wants to purchase $500 worth of goods from Company B; this purchase would be included in one block on the Blockchain. The vendor, and other parties within the Blockchain, would then be notified of a payment of $500 in return for goods. This transaction is then confirmed by nodes within the Blockchain, and once the pre-required number of parties confirm the accuracy of the transaction, the $500 is moved from the customer’s bank account to the vendor. If there are not enough confirmations, meaning parties cannot agree that these transactions are accurate, the block is not validated and the transaction is not executed.”

Without Blockchain, there would be numerous emails, phone calls, and lots of paper work for this simple transaction.

And unless carefully encripted, this $500 transaction may be available for everyone — including scammers — to see and act upon. In our example, both A and B hold what is known as a “wallet”; this is a private key that only you have. You can, of course, give me a public key to expedite the transaction, but you can limit the availability.

There is much more to Blockchain than can be presented in a short column. You have to learn about miners who create blocks for a fee; you have to understand “nodes” and “masternodes” to better understand how this operating system really works.

What does it have to do with real estate? A 2016 Goldman-Sachs projected an annual 2-4 billion dollar savings in the title insurance industry as a result of applying Blockchain to title examination. As discussed earlier, Vermont is in the forefront of trying to put title documents routinely in Blockchain and the Swedish government recently started using Blockchain to register land and properties. According to Lantmateriet — the Swedish land-ownership authority — land titles are already highly digitized and on a paperless system. However, despite the system, it still takes several months between signing a contract and finally registering a sale. With Blockchain, Swedish officials suggest, it could be just hours.

What are the potential real estate applications here in the United States? Clearly, buying and selling both commercial and residential. Registration of ownership as is being developed in Sweden and Vermont. But any aspect of real estate which requires ledgers — such as property management — is also a prime candidate for Blockchain.

The title insurance industry is raising concerns that Blockchain alone is not an absolute panacea. According to Steven Day, President of the American Land Title Association (ALTA), “there is more to title than just the effective recording of documents. There are covenants, easements, mortgages, leases, legal descriptions, on and on and on, that impact the title of a property. And many of these rights that impact the title are recorded within documents several steps back in the chain, and are not always adequately reflected in current recorded documents.”

The title insurance industry makes the point that a digital ledger will not detect a forgery; nor can it identify a foreclosure defect — a defect which can make title unmarketable. Their position: even though the Blockchain technology has a promising future to make current systems more productive, it can never provide a home buyer the protection offered with a title insurance policy.

Blockchain is transparent; transactions are visible by everyone who has an interest. Blockchain is secure, because every transaction requires a key. And Blockchain will reduce costs for all transactions. However, the jury is still a long way from rendering a verdict.


Source: Is Blockchain In The Future Of Real Estate?

The Best Time to Sell Your House, Based on Real Estate Market Data

The Best Time to Sell Your House, Based on Real Estate Market Data

It’s summertime and you’ve been thinking about selling the house. The weather is great which makes it easy to show your home, and the kids are out of school to help you pack everything up (or just eat ice cream and watch you do it).

If you’re wondering the best time to sell your house and want to take advantage of the current sellers market, then we’ve got the answers for you below.

When to List to Get the Best Price and Sell the Fastest

Every day real estate surges forward with a new abundance of real estate tech tools. These tools are the building blocks of the future of real estate and help to predict the temperature of the market.

We’ve used one of these tools to give you the best time to sell your house based on cold, hard numbers.

If you need to put your home on the market now, you’re in luck. Nationwide housing market data shows August as the best time to list a house in order to get the highest sale price. August was the best time to list overall from 2014 – 2017. Real estate transactions often take a few months to close, which means that homes listed in August will most likely close in November. Homes that closed in November over 2014 – 2017 sold for 4.04% higher than the national average.

If you want your home to sell quickly, aim for a close date this month or a close date in August. Overall from 2014 – 2017, homes that closed in July and August closed 7 days faster than the National average.

You can also predict the best time to sell your house in your local market by searching your city and state in this tool and state in this tool. For example, the best time to sell a house in Las Vegas is the Summer, aiming for a Fall close date.

Current State of the Market: Sellers Hold the Cards

If getting out while it is good is your goal, then it may be in your best interest to sell your house now. Currently the nation is in a sellers market, which means that the demand for homes exceeds the number of homes on the market. Basically, there are more buyers in need of homes than there are people selling.

The problem is that some people are predicting a cooling of the real estate market in 2018. According to USA Today, home buying may be less accessible in 2018 because of higher interest rates and rising home prices. The National Association of Realtors predicts interest rates around 4.5-4.6% for this year.

If you need to sell, it might be best to list the home now for fear of the market leveling off and a big loss of buyers in 2018.


Source: The Best Time to Sell Your House, Based on Real Estate Market Data

Important Clauses In Your Real Estate Contract

Important Clauses In Your Real Estate Contract

You have just found your dream house, and would like to buy it. What do you do now?

When dealing with real estate matters, the law is clear: everything has to be in writing. Thus, you will need a sales contract, which will spell out all of the terms, conditions and special requirements which you may need in order to conclude the transaction and go to closing (settlement) on the house.

If there is no real estate agent involved, your attorney should be able to assist you in preparing the contract offer. If there is a real estate agent, you can get a form sales contract from the agent. In fact, the agent should be able to assist you in preparing the document for presentation to the seller, although your attorney should review it before you sign.

. Typically, the buyer makes a written offer to the seller. The seller has three alternatives:

1. The contract can be accepted;

2. The contract can be rejected in its entirety, or

3. The contract offer will be countered, with different terms.

It is rare that the seller will opt for alternatives one or two; in most cases, the potential buyer will receive a counter-offer. Then, the buyer has the same three alternatives.

There are certain things which must be included in any sales contract.

1. The property must be clearly identified, preferably by street address.

2. The contract must be contingent upon your obtaining financing. You should allow yourself some time — usually 30-45 days — in which to make application from a mortgage lender and get a written commitment that you have been approved for the loan.

3. Unless you are an experienced contractor, it is advisable you make the contract contingent on your obtaining a satisfactory home inspection. You should give yourself 5-7 days after the contract is signed to have the property inspected. If you are not satisfied for any reason after you receive a written report from the inspector, you should have the right to terminate the contract, and get back your earnest money deposit. Although another option is to give the seller three days to let you know if any or all of your issues will be corrected.

4. How much earnest money should you put up when you sign the sales contract? There is no magic formula and no law dictating a certain percentage of the purchase price. When you sign a contract, in order to make it a valid, legal document, the buyer should put up some money as a good faith earnest money deposit. These funds will be held by the real estate broker or the settlement attorney until settlement takes or until either the buyer is entitled to a return of the deposit (because the contingencies cannot be met) or the buyer is in breach of the contract, in which case the moneys would go to the seller.

Real estate agents and brokers usually ask that the buyer put up 10 percent of the purchase price as this earnest money deposit. However, buyers can put up more or less, so long as the seller agrees with the amount. Indeed, in many real estate contracts, the earnest money deposit consists only of a promissory note signed by the buyer, to be redeemed at the settlement itself.

Buyers should understand that although everything in real estate is negotiable, the earnest money should be large enough to convince the seller that you are seriously interested in going forward with the purchase. I usually recommend this deposit be approximately five percent of the purchase price.

5. Finally, the contract should be contingent upon the buyer obtaining — no later than the date of settlement — a “termite” letter. This is a report from a licensed pest inspection company indicating that the house is free and clear of termites and other wood-boring infestation. Some contracts require the seller to obtain and pay for this report; other contracts put the burden on the purchaser. Either way, this is a critical report which all buyers should receive — and carefully review — before settlement is completed.

Many of these contingencies are time-sensitive. You — as buyer — have so many days in which to get financing and so many days in which to complete the home inspection. Mark your calendar with these due dates, and make sure you act on these contingencies before the time has expired. Otherwise, it will be too late and you will be legally bound to comply with the terms of the contract, and proceed to settlement.


Source: Important Clauses In Your Real Estate Contract

Selling Your Home? Consider These Five Landscaping Ideas

Selling Your Home? Consider These Five Landscaping Ideas

You’ve probably heard how important curb appeal is when you’re trying to sell your home. The first thing buyers look at when they pull up to your home is the big picture — the house, the yard, the trees, the flowers. It’s the impression that counts, and all it takes is one thing to ruin the effect — a cracked walkway, dead branches in the trees, leggy bushes.

As you look around at all the things you need to fix or update to sell your home, it can be overwhelming. Many sellers struggle with the costs, the decisions, and the time it takes to market their homes. Since most landscaping isn’t permanent, you may think it’s not as important as other projects that need to be done, but you should strongly consider putting it in the marketing budget.

You can do some of the work yourself or you can get help. But here are five jobs you can do that help you make the most of your home’s drive-up appeal.

1. Get rid of anything dead. Dead leaves, flowers, and trees do nothing for your curb appeal. Snip it, rake it and bag it. As you finish, you’ll see blank areas. Fill these in with fresh flowers, small bushes, potted plants or yard art. No Gnomes or flamingoes need apply.

2. Cut and weed the grass. If you mow your own lawn, make sure it’s freshly mowed every week. Pull or spray weeds so the texture of the grass will be more pleasing.

3. Replace or hide leggy bushes. Nothing makes a front entry look more dated than bushes with longer legs than torsos. Pull them out and replace them, or if it’s more expedient, plant boxwoods or other small bushes in front. You can also cover a lot of blank areas with mulch, wood chips or gravel.

4. Improve both hardscapes and softscapes. Decorative stone, tile, brick, concrete or wood can add a lot of appeal to the softer elements such as flowers, plants, grasses and ground cover. Landscaping doesn’t have to end at the porch. Bring color and vitality to the entry with potted plants and flowers.

5. Light the way. Landscape lighting doesn’t have to be expensive. Lanterns to line the walk, or the occasional uplight for the trees can have a glamorous effect on the exterior of your home. Lighting provides security as well as spotlights what you want to call attention to — a beautiful tree, a flower bed or an architectural element of the house.

If you’re not sure where to begin, go to your local supply with a sketch or photo of your home and ask for ideas. Explain that you’re selling your home and you need help with curb appeal. You may get a lot of free advice that’s really helpful.


Source: Selling Your Home? Consider These Five Landscaping Ideas

5 Tips for Staging Your Home

5 Tips for Staging Your Home

If you’re in a tough seller’s market or just looking to get top dollar for your home, you want to do any little thing you can to make your house stand out in a potential buyer’s mind. Staging is one of those things that can make the difference between a sold sign and a house that lingers on the market.

The National Association of Realtors suggests that staging has a real impact on home sales. In fact, a majority of realtors report that staging increases the sales price of a home anywhere between 1 and 10 percent. However, the real impact of staging seems to be how quickly a home is sold, with 39 percent of Realtors stating that it greatly decreases the time spent on the market. Buyers’ agents confirm the positive impact of staging, stating that 77 percent of buyers were better able to picture a home as their own when it was staged.

Of course, there is an art to staging a home, and a poorly staged home can have a negative impact on a potential sale. Here are five tips for staging your house that will have you putting up that “SOLD” sign in no time.

1. Declutter and Clean

Before thinking about decorations or furniture placement, the No. 1 suggestion of realtors is to declutter and deep clean. Clear countertops and other surfaces, and pack away anything that is not essential. Your goal is to remove anything that will distract buyers from seeing the positive aspects of your house, which is why realtors often suggest removing family photos and overly personalized decorations (like your giant bobble head collection). Remember, decluttering includes removing excess furniture, which help make your rooms feel bigger.

2. Group Furniture

Once you’ve removed furniture that is unnecessary or too large for the space, group furniture into conversational groups away from the wall, instead of pushing sofas and chairs to the corners. You want there to be a flow to each room, and keeping the walls clear of big furniture will actually make the room feel bigger, says HGTV.

3. Accessories in Odd Numbers

Although you’ll need to declutter, you still want your space to feel like a lived-in home. Do this by decorating with groups of accessories like vases, books or plants. Staging professionals often recommend grouping similarly hued objects in odd number pairings of varying heights and shapes.

4. Add 1 or 2 Bold Accents

While you want to keep your staging décor fairly neutral, adding one or two bold accent pieces will help highlight a particularly great feature of your home. Adding a dramatic chandelier that matches the style of your home to a dining room, entryway or even a fabulous bathroom will not only add light to a room, but bring architectural interest to the space as well.

5. Use Mirrors

Mirrors can help brighten a dark hallway, bring light into a room and make a room seem larger, says Forbes. For a big impact, get a cheap mirror and add a decorative frame, or group a lot of small mirrors in differing shapes and sizes. In a room with a window, place mirrors across from the window to reflect the sunlight.

Staging is all about helping potential buyers create an emotional connection with your home. Help buyers picture themselves living in the house by decluttering, grouping furniture and accessories, adding one or two bold accents and using mirrors. Now get ready for the offers to roll in.


Source: 5 Tips for Staging Your Home

Ten Mistakes That Will Keep Your Home From Selling

Ten Mistakes That Will Keep Your Home From Selling

When you’re selling your home, you need every advantage you can get. And there are few homes that are magically market ready without a little help. If your home needs a touch more than a little help, it’s time to get focused. After all, listing your home when it’s not in the right condition to sell will probably only end in frustration. And, in this case, frustration means: your home sitting on the market for months with no offers or the errant, offensive, lowball.

If you want to make sure you get home sold quickly and for the right price, you’ll want to avoid listing it with the following:

1. Excessive damage

Maybe the home you’re selling was used as a rental and trashed by frat boy tenants, or maybe you just haven’t kept it up as you should. Either way, those holes in the wall that look like the living room was used as a boxing gym, the scratched-up wood floors on which dinosaurs have clearly been racing, and the yard that’s barren except for those two-foot-tall patches of weeds are not what buyers are looking for. Unless you’re planning to offer your house for a price that will make buyers emphasize the good and ignore the bad and the ugly, it’s going to need some attention.

2. Carpet in the bathroom

It’s just gross. And everyone who walks into that bathroom is thinking one of two things: 1) There’s gotta be mold under there; 2) There’s gotta be pee on the floor around that toilet. This is one update you’ll want to do before you list. Or, if you’re already listed and your home’s not selling.

3. Big, nasty stains

A buyer shouldn’t know where your dog likes to mark or where your kids spilled the entire bowl of holiday punch. If the stains on your carpet are that bad, potential buyers will stroll in and run right back out. No one wants to buy a pigsty. Invest a few bucks in new carpet. You’ll make the money back since you won’t have to drop your sales price.

4. Pet smells

Speaking of pets…they smell. You probably don’t notice since you live with them everyday, but buyers will, and it might be enough to turn them off. Deep clean the carpets and the upholstery, invest in some air fresheners, and remove cat boxes from the house for showings. The last thing you want is a potential buyer referring to your house as “the stinky one.”

5. Loud dogs who bark every time someone approaches the home

One last word on pets. Barking happens, whether it’s your dog or one that belongs to a neighbor. But you don’t need that on the day of your open house. Offering to pay for doggie day care for a neighbor’s pooch can eliminate the issue and help create the serene setting buyers want.

6. Your dead lawn

Lack of curb appeal won’t necessarily kill a deal. In many cases, you won’t even get potential buyers to get out of the car. If the front yard is a mess, buyers will naturally think the mess continues inside.

7. A bad agent

Face it. Not all of them are winners. If your agent is: rude, uninformed, lazy, uncommunicative, belligerent, or unwilling to take your opinions into consideration, get a new one. An agent who isn’t giving their client the right type of attention probably isn’t going to get the job done.

8. Your sloppiness

Those drawers and cabinets you shoved everything into when you cleaned off your kitchen and bathroom cabinets could be a deal breaker for picky buyers. We all know buyers open stuff. They look in drawers, they open cabinets, they examine closets. If these spaces are messy and overstuffed, they may assume there’s not enough storage space.

9. Unreasonable sellers

Big problems in your house can be deal killers, but they can also be deal sealers, if you are reasonable. If your inspection uncovers plumbing, electrical, or roofing problems (or all three!) and you’re unwilling to negotiate, you can kiss that sale goodbye.

10. Bad Taste

Your poor decorating choices and failure to keep up with trends from this year – or century – may haunt you when it’s time to sell. If it’s true that many buyers have no vision—and all you have to do is watch House Hunters and observe a buyer getting hung up on a paint color to know that’s true – then you are really in for it with your crowded house full of ugly, outdated crap. A few simple updates can help it to look fresh and give buyers something to fall in love with. Not sure where to start? Check out FrontDoor’s 15 Updates That Pay Off and HGTV’s 10 Best-Kept Secrets For Selling Your Home.


Source: Ten Mistakes That Will Keep Your Home From Selling

Patios Can Appeal To Buyers

Patios Can Appeal To Buyers

Depending on where you live, a patio might not be the kind of thing you think about during the cold, and maybe snowy, winter months. But a patio is what many people enjoy on a sunny warm afternoon. It just feels good to sit outside and sip some iced tea or lemonade. That’s the picture your real estate agent would want to capture when listing your home for sale.

Patios are appealing because they can create a sense of peace, open space, freedom, and they can seem to extend the square footage of livable space on those good weather days.

Set out on your patio some simple but comfortable patio furniture when you’re listing your home and you might find that prospective buyers take a seat and think about your home. Good! Let them soak in the energy of the home. The way it feels. The way it allows them to relax. Set some brochures out on a side table. Maybe even a good book. You’d be surprised what these buyers pick up. If they enjoy themselves while sitting on your patio, you’re likely to have piqued their interest in your property.

So, what if you have a backyard but no patio; is it worth investing in one? The answer depends on your financial situation but there’s no doubt that having a patio or a deck – a space outdoors to relax – is a plus.

However, here are a few tips about creating that patio space. If you have a small backyard, you don’t necessarily want to take up the entire space with a concrete patio. The reason? Greenery is also appealing. Basically, you want to have the patio proportionally sized to your yard. So you don’t want to have a huge yard and tiny patio nor the opposite.

Your patio should be located close to an entryway to the home, typically the kitchen. This is so that if there is grilling or eating outside, people can easily access the kitchen as opposed to walking through some other room in the house first.

Patios also should be located in areas where there is some level of privacy. A patio is most appealing when you can sit back, relax and enjoy a good meal, book, or conversation without feeling like you’re being watched. So the backyard is usually the best location.

Buyers often consider a well-built and maintained patio a plus and may create a higher selling price for your home.

To cover or not? Often when homeowners put in patios, they question if adding a covering would help increase the value of their home. That really depends on many things such as if the covering is well built and maintained and if it’s aesthetically pleasing, not blocking views, etc. In the case where it’s crafted and maintained well, the patio and its covering can increase the appeal of your home. That could translate to a higher selling price as well as a faster sale.


Source: Patios Can Appeal To Buyers

Lien Priority Matters

Lien Priority Matters

When it comes to liens, California has adopted a “first in time, first in right” system of priorities. As authors Miller and Starr, the widely-acknowledged gurus of California real estate law, put it, liens, “have relative priorities among themselves according to the time of their creation.” California Civil Code 2897 says, “Other things being equal, different liens upon the same property have priority according to the time of their creation.” That is why people who make private loans, secured by trust deeds, are encouraged to record that instrument ASAP. Someone who waits a month, a week, or even a day to record a trust deed may find that someone else has recorded another, on the same property, during that intervening time. The second person now has lien priority over the first. If the second person ever had to foreclose, the first person could be wiped out.

Though, as we can learn from a recent appellate case (MTC Financial v. Nationstar Mortgage, First Appellate District Court of Appeal, Jan. 22, 2018) it can still get complicated.

In 2003 a borrower obtained two loans from Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. Each loan was secured by the same residential property. One loan was a standard residential mortgage in the principal amount of $205,080. The other was a home equity line of credit (HELOC) for $15,000. This transaction was done as a refinance of an existing Countrywide first trust deed in the amount of $173,000.

The two new loans were secured by deeds of trust. Those two instruments were recorded the same day, Dec. 16, 2003. As is quite common, they were both stamped as deposited in the Recorder’s office at 8:00 A.M. on that day. (As, no doubt, were a number of other documents unrelated to this transaction.) The only difference between the Recorder’s Office treatment of the two was that the equity line was indexed as number 2003-0603657 and the mortgage was indexed as 2003-0603658.

Subsequently, the equity line was assigned to Bank of New York Mellon and the mortgage was assigned to Nationstar. Alas, the borrower ultimately defaulted on the equity line. The Bank of New York Mellon foreclosed. Apparently, by then, the value of the home had increased. After payment of all the funds due the Bank, plus the fees and costs of the foreclosure auction, there was a remaining surplus of $73,085. So, who should get that?

California Civil Code 2924 spells out how the proceeds of a trustee’s auction foreclosure sale are to be distributed. First, to the cost and expenses of conducting the sale; second, to payment of the obligations which were the subject of the sale; third, to the outstanding balance of any junior liens in the order of their priority; and, finally, if there’s anything left, to the borrower.

Three parties made claim to the surplus: the borrower, a homeowner association (a junior lien holder), and Nationstar. The trial court ordered distribution of $13,572 to the HOA, and the balance to the borrower. Nationstar appealed.

Nationstar argued that, according to the indexing numbers, it was junior to the equity line and, per the distribution priorities listed above, it was first in line to receive any of the surplus. But the appellate court said “no”. In its decision it pointed to a 1936 California Supreme Court case where the Court said, if deeds of trust “were filed at the same time or in their proper order and the reverse order of recordation was an inadvertence, that mistake … should not be permitted to alter the intended relation of the parties … where an examination of the recorded documents would provide notice of the true priorities.” In 2011 another appellate court held it “would disrupt the statutory scheme to make priority turn on the random act of indexing … especially where banks and title insurers have no influence over when the recorder indexes trust deeds.”

It’s really curious. Nationstar took the position that it deserved the $73,000 surplus because its $205,000 mortgage had been wiped out due to the equity line’s seniority. The Court said, “No, you were in senior position. You weren’t wiped out. Your loan is still secured. The buyer at auction is taking the property subject to your mortgage.” Nationstar should be happy with that result.

The foreclosure auction buyer, on the other hand, may be less than happy. We don’t know. The buyer was not a party to any of these legal actions. We just have to hope he wasn’t relying on a real estate agent telling him that the Nationstar loan would be gone.

Source: Sellers tips

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

9 Silly Little Things That Could Be Sabotaging Your Home Sale

If your home is in pretty good shape (i.e. it’s decently updated and not in need of a total overhaul), you might think it’s ready to go on the market as is. But little things you wouldn’t expect can end up being deal breakers. And, when you’ve got competition, you need your home to stand out for all the right reasons. Give your home a good look and address the little things now before they become big problems when buyers are balking.

Cords hanging from your mounted TV

This is one of those things that tends to fade into the background in a home we live in every day. But don’t be surprised if new eyes go right to those dangling cords and wonder why you didn’t take the next step and hide them in the wall. Anything that makes a potential buyer question whether you cut corners or were lazy elsewhere could spell bad news for your home sale.

An unkempt yard

So, you had your landscapers out to clean out your flower beds, trim the bushes, plant colorful new blooms and mulch everything. And then, the night before a showing, a storm blew a whole mess of leaves into your yard. Grab that rake and make it a family affair out on the lawn at dawn. You know what they say about first impressions. Buyers likely won’t be forgiving of a messy lawn, and your house may stand out if they can see the effort made to clean it up when the neighbors’ yards are still 15-deep in leaves.

A dingy front door

Again with the first impressions. Your home may look great inside, but if the front door is chipped or faded, or the hardware is worn, your potential buyers may never get past it. This is an easy fix, and one that consistently rates high on the ROI scale.

Animals

While homebuyers in general may not mind if animals live in the home they are considering purchasing (unless there are severe allergy issues), they don’t want to see – and, especially, smell – evidence of them. You have probably gathered up and stowed away the overflowing box of toys and balls. But have you considered the smell? You might not notice it, but first-time visitors likely will.

You don’t have to rehome your pets; Use these tips from petMD to make your home smell pet-free.

Cobwebs

Even if you keep a pretty clean home, there may be areas that need attention, like ceiling fans or windowsills that are out of reach. You may not have a housekeeper on a regular basis, but doing a one-time, super deep clean before your home hits the market is a good way to make sure potential buyers don’t nitpick and find a reason to question the home’s condition.

Poor furniture arrangement

If you’re rolling your eyes at the idea that the way you have your living room laid out could make a difference in whether or not your home sells, remember back to when you saw the home for the first time. Were you picturing your own furniture in the space? That’s what real buyers do, and if they can’t picture how it will work because you have too much stuff in the space or it’s oddly configured – blocking a fireplace or doorway, for instance – you’re keeping them from doing the thing that could make them buy the home.

“Square footage is important to homebuyers, so when you’re selling a house it’s important to maximize the space to appear bigger and highlight each room’s dual functionality to enhance buyer appeal,” said U.S. News & World Report. “A home seller can do this by decluttering, lighting up the room and especially by having your furniture strategically placed to show off the square footage. The layout will determine the visual size and flow of the room.” You can learn more staging tips for arranging your furniture here.

Junk drawers and crammed cabinets

Buyers who are genuinely interested in your home are likely going to open everything and look everywhere. It’s not snooping (at least, we hope it’s not snooping!) – it’s an interest in how much storage there is in the home. You may be forgiven for one “junk drawer,” but the neater and cleaner you can make everything else, the better. You want people to see the space, not your stuff.

Overfilled closets

The need to showcase the space, not the stuff, goes double for closets. “Whether it’s a hallway coat closet or a master suite walk-in, your home’s closets will have a major big impact on prospective buyers,” said Apartment Therapy. “Box up off-season apparel – or better yet, donate it – and remove extra hangers so yours looks spacious and streamlined.”

Cluttered countertops

Eliminating, or at least cutting down on, clutter in your home is key to getting it sale-ready, and this is especially important in kitchens and bathrooms. While people may be impressed by your professional mixer and juicer, they’re much more interested in knowing they have ample countertop space for their own stuff.

Source: Sellers tips

Effective Staging Ideas Can Transform Your Home

Effective Staging Ideas Can Transform Your Home

Appearance is crucial when selling your home. Making your home look sensational will go a long way in being able to get what you want out of the property. It’s here that staging comes into play. But many homeowners aren’t able to afford the cost of a professional stager. Thankfully, you don’t have to turn to a professional. There are a number of things that you can do on your own to transform the look of your home.

#1 Pack up your personal items.

Packing up all of your personal effects is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to prep your condo or home for sale. Removing your personal touches will help a potential buyer to see the home as their own. Sometimes your personal items can make that difficult. Pictures, artwork and other decor are more distracting than you realize. Hide them in the basement or a storage space while conducting tours.

#2 Get rid of the clutter.

Getting rid of any excess clutter is a great way to get potential buyers to look at your home. Sometimes emotional attachments can make throwing out clutter difficult. It’s easy to gather clutter if you have lived in the same home for years. Excess items can have a negative impact on how your potential buyers view your property. De-clutter your home as much as you can to attract more buyers.

#3 Rearrange and neutralize your rooms.

Even though you might enjoy the blue walls in your bedroom, that doesn’t mean a potential buyer will. Loud or eclectic design elements might make a potential buyer think about all of the work that they have to put into the home. The best thing you can do is to repaint your rooms a neutral color, like white, tan or cream. This will appeal to more buyers and allow them to visualize their own decor in the home.

Consider rearranging the furniture in your rooms to increase their functionality. Think about how to show potential buyers how much they could do with a room. Maximizing space is crucial when selling a home.

#4 Eliminate smells and stains by deodorizing and scrubbing your home.

No buyer wants to walk into a home that is dirty and smelly. The best thing you can do is scrub everything from floor to ceiling before having an open house. You don’t want any dirt, dust or odors lurking around the home. You want to make sure your property shines as much as you can. Greet buyers with a clean, fresh smell in every room. If you’re short on time, hire a cleaning service. A pro will save you time and ensure a spotless home.

#5 Replace the hardware around your home.

Most homeowners can afford to replace the hardware around their home. Focus on your doors and kitchen first. Next, make your way through the rest of the home. Swapping out your old hardware with new hardware can make a big difference in how your cabinets and doors look.

Conclusion

In going through the tips above, you can quickly transform the appearance of your home. Even making these small changes can make a major difference in how potential buyers view your home. You don’t need to spend a fortune staging your home. Instead, invest some time and effort in making a difference in the way your home looks.

Andrea Davis is the editor for Home Advisor, which helps homeowners find home improvement professionals in their area at no charge to ensure the best service in the shortest amount of time.

Source: Sellers tips

Using Staging Tips To Update Your Home

Using Staging Tips To Update Your Home

A staged house always looks so fresh, bright and inviting. How can you make your home look as good, even if you’re not selling it? Take some staging tips and use them to update and refresh your space.

Stager/organizer Nina Doiron, president and lead designer of Istagenorganize.com of Toronto, says her No. 1 recommendation is to declutter. But that doesn’t mean buying a bunch of storage containers, filling them up and putting the containers in the basement. She says when homes are staged, the space is decluttered and the items are taken right out of the house. By removing clutter your house will seem larger and you’ll have more usable space than you thought you had.

Donate, give away or recycle items you no longer use or want. There are always people who can use it, says Doiron, who recommends that homeowners declutter two times a year.

“A tidy space means that everything should have a home. I only recommend purchasing a storage solution once the decluttering is complete. If you buy a storage solution beforehand, you’re just adding another piece of furniture to the space. Often once you declutter, you’ll find that your existing storage solution is enough,” she says.

Paint is an inexpensive way to update and refresh a space. “Paint ages, yellows and the sun can fade it,” she says. If you’re handy, it can be a cost-effective project because paint will only cost a couple of hundred dollars per room.

Staging employs lighter paint shades to lend an airy and spacious feeling, but when redesigning for your own enjoyment, go with your own personal sense of style. Doiron says she had clients who want to paint their homes grey. “I asked, ‘do you like grey’ and they said, ‘not really’. I said trend or no trend, do what you love because you will be living in the space.”

When she does a colour consultation, she asks clients what colours they gravitate to and which ones make them happy. “I also look around their space. People tend to buy things in colours they gravitate to.”

There is a way people can use their favourite colours to give an updated look, even if they aren’t considered “in” colours. For example, they may like green, which is not on trend right now. However, they can use a shade of green that gives a sense of being on trend but reflects their own style.

“Painting the cabinets and cupboards is a really inexpensive way to update the kitchen, especially if the hardware is changed as well,” she says. “Despite what’s been said, it’s not a crime to paint over wood.”

If homeowners decide to go with a light paint colour, even if they prefer darker shades, they can use the latter for accessories instead.

“Accessories allow you to bring in your own personal style and colour.”

They add interest and wow to a space, but the key is to use them sparingly. Less is more, she says.

Since well-lit spaces tend to look larger, she suggests putting maximum wattage bulbs in lamps and light fixtures. For those who prefer low ambient light, dimmers can be added so lights can be turned down as desired.

You may also want to look at replacing light fixtures and lamps. Light fixtures can date a house. The good news is that lighting can be swapped out relatively inexpensively. To save money, plan out your light fixtures throughout the house, then have the work done at the same time so you only have to pay the electrician to come out once, she says.

For smaller spaces, add a decorative mirror (limit to one piece per room) to reflect light and make the space feel less heavy.

Great places for mirrors include over the fireplace mantel, in the foyer and in the dining room. A statement piece can be placed over the buffet to add a touch of sparkle. In dining rooms and kitchens, ensure people don’t face their reflections.

Fresh linens and towels are another way to freshen a space. Doiron also suggests getting in the habit of making the bed and keeping things off the floor. Keeping spaces neater will make your home feel more relaxed.

In homes staged for sale, personal pictures are removed. If you’re not selling your home, remove the pictures scattered throughout the house and create a gallery wall instead. Strategically placed frames add interest and a focal point, but don’t use them in every room. “Search online to get information about the best height to hang” pictures and artwork, she says.

Again, think minimal. “It’s not necessary to display every photo. Change out photos as the kids change,” she says. You will appreciate the photos and it won’t be overwhelming.

As for the exterior of the property, keep everything neat and tidy, she says. “Remove dead plants and empty planters. Curb appeal is appreciated by all.”

Start by creating a plan. “If you have the resources, do the painting, flooring and lighting at the same time for continuity, then tackle one room at a time,” Doiron says.

If you are planning to paint, clear out the room as much as possible, she says. Go through everything in the room and decide what you’re going to keep and get rid of the rest. Once the space is decluttered, you can look at redecorating with the pieces that are left,” she says, “or buy a few new accent pieces to add interest, light and a focal point to the space.”

Source: Sellers tips

Sellers: Clutter-Free Tips That Can Make Your Home Look More Appealing

Houzz

Tidying up your home for your open house or a buyer’s showing can make all the difference when it comes to selling your home. Yet, sometimes sellers neglect to do this even though it will help increase their chances of getting an offer.

A little bit of tidying up, organizing and showcasing your home’s best features can help shorten the amount of time your home is on the market.

Here are some hot clutter-free tips that can make your home look more appealing and–an added benefit–easier for you to live in, too.

The kitchen is an area that tends to get cluttered easily. Even if the countertops are cleared off, inside the cabinets often lies a cluttered mess. Those crammed cabinets are not appealing to buyers. They often see the disarray and think there’s less room for their own items than there really is because they can’t see behind the clutter.

Star Hansen, a professional organizer, says cans create the most clutter. She recommends using soup can racks to store them. They’re inexpensive and they store three times as many cans. Spice racks are a great way to clear the clutter out and make it look clutter-free.

Hansen also shows how to use storage solutions like airtight containers, hanging baskets, shelf dividers to separate food items, and how to use chalkboard and magnetic paint.

Painting the inside of your cabinet with magnetic paint allows you to hang light-weight items like aprons, towels, or recipes inside your utility cabinets. Using chalkboard paint, you can write notes inside your cabinet about which supplies you need to purchase.

Using airtight containers to store pastas, grains, and other food works well in the cabinet to conserve space because they’re stackable. Hansen also recommends using a label maker to mark all the food sections.

Grouping food together in categories such as ingredients or prepared food and then placing those items in boxes allows you to easily grab what you need without having to move 15 items just to get to the one you need.

The key to this type of clutter-free reorganization is to make sure it’s portable. Since you’re selling your home, you likely don’t want to spend the money installing professional systems that will remain with the home when you move.

Fortunately, there are wonderful products on the market that help you organize without having to drill or glue them into your cabinets. These shelving products look good and, when all the items are placed inside the shelves or under-shelving hanging baskets, you’ve created the illusion of more cabinet space–a plus for all buyers.

So where do you look for these products? Without even leaving your home, companies like Rubbermaid, make it simple to view a wide selection as well as see some creative options for organizing your pantry. Many of the products are under $20 and well worth the price to reduce the headache of searching through a crammed pantry or over-stuffed cabinet. One of my favorites is the Corner Helper Shelf: it holds up to 10 pounds and allows you to stack food items below it.

The best part of doing this type of reorganization is that when you move, the inside of the cabinets look great for buyers and you’ll be able easily pack up and take all this work with you to your new home.

Source: Sellers tips

Should You Fix Up Your House Before Listing Or Sell It As A Fixer Upper?

Keller Williams Real Estate

If you’re thinking of selling your home, this is probably a question you’ve been asking yourself – and your real estate agent. There is no hard and fast answer; the route you go will depend on numerous factors, the most important of which are: the condition of your home, the strength of the market in your area, and the potential profit to be made both with and without updates. These tips will help you decide whether to sell now or later.

Consider your buyer

The words “fixer upper” might actually be a selling point for some buyers who perceive they’re getting a deal, who are specifically looking for something they can put their stamp on, or who just can’t afford to buy something turnkey. The marketing your agent does is key here so you don’t end up with nothing but unacceptable offers.

“In any marketing communications surrounding a fixer-upper, it’s important to remain focused on value,” said ExtraSpace. “Prospective homebuyers know that a fixer-upper will sell at a lower price point than newer or more modern homes on the market. But that doesn’t mean you need to accept a lowball offer. Instead, emphasize the home’s investment potential by reminding buyers of the future sale opportunities after the home has been remodeled.”

If your home needs A LOT of work and you can’t, or don’t want to, put the time, money, and effort into getting it in top condition, targeting investors could get it sold quickly. “A few years ago, a past client called to say her next-door neighbors needed to immediately sell their home. To say it needed work was an understatement,” said Sacramento-based real estate broker Elizabeth Weintraub on The Balance. “The home appeared inhabitable. It had holes in the walls all the way to the exterior and urine-soaked wood floors; most of the electrical didn’t work and the bathroom tub had fallen through the joists. All the faucets leaked and, in one bedroom, I found a pile of dead rats swept into a pile in the center of the floor. This was not a home that could be easily fixed up. Not even a coat of paint would have helped sell this place. We priced it low enough that it attracted multiple offers and sold with zero days on market. Only contractors and flippers made offers on this home.”

Since flipping is more popular than ever, a home that needs work – especially certain kinds of work – may be attractive enough to investors that you don’t have to do any work at all. “A good rule of thumb: If your home needs kitchen or bath remodels, a new roof, or foundation repairs, there’s an 80%-plus chance your buyer is going to be an investor,” Bruce Ailion, a broker and REALTOR® in Atlanta, said on Realtor.com.

Get an honest assessment – and be able to hear it

If you’ve lived in your home for quite some time and/or haven’t kept up with updates and repairs, your real estate agent’s assessment of its condition and the recommendations he or she makes to get it market-ready may be eye-opening. They may also make you angry. Try to listen and keep an open mind, even if you feel offended. In the end, you share the same goal, which is to get your home sold for the best possible price.

Be realistic on pricing

“Finding out your home’s value isn’t as simple as subtracting the cost of repairs from your home. You also need to factor in ‘aggravation costs,’ said Ailion. “In other words, turnkey homes often sell at a premium to traditional buyers because they don’t have to do any work. If your home needs some sprucing up, you’re likely going to have to incentivize buyers to dig in and get their hands dirty.”

It may be that fixing your home up makes the most sense because of the financial upside. In presenting you with comparables, your real estate agent should be able to show you other properties in your area in varying conditions (depending on the number of active listings or recently sold homes near you). This will help inform the pricing for your home and also give you some idea of how much you’d have to put into it to get top dollar. Now all you have to do is come up with the money!

Choose your updates wisely

A $30,000 kitchen renovation may not be in the budget and may not give you the return on investment you’re looking for, but there are smaller updates you can do to your kitchen to make it look fresh (and, you can use the same principles in other important areas, like bathrooms). Better Homes and Gardens has a great list of updates you can make for under $2,000, including hanging a pendant that “illuminates the sink area” and swapping out a tired sink for a “farmhouse sink (that) adds character to the space.” Also think about painting cabinets and installing new hardware, and, if you’re up to the task, adding an eye-catching backsplash.

Make necessary repairs

Investors aren’t expecting perfection, and their offers will be based on the condition of your home and the potential profit they can make once it’s fixed up. Non-investor types looking for a deal may not necessarily be scared off by a few cosmetic issues, but major repairs that are needed are another story. If you’re looking for the smartest place to put your pre-sale renovation dollars, this may be it.

“It might not be glamorous, but buyers are looking at big-ticket items like the age and condition of the roof, air conditioning and heating systems, water heater, electrical panel and pipes,” said Inman. “If any of these components are on their last leg, you might seriously need to consider replacing them as these items could factor into the kind of financing the buyer is able to obtain as well as insurability of the property.”

Source: Sellers tips

Preparing Your Child To Move

Preparing Your Child To Move

Children respond to the general atmosphere set in the home by the attitudes of their parents. If you look at moving as an exciting adventure full of new possibilities, then chances are very good that you will infect your children with enthusiasm and anticipation.

Many times we forget that making more money or moving to a larger home is not a change that children will understand. The younger the child, the less able they are to “see into the future” as you do. They tend to focus on losing the security they already know, along with missing friends and family. Your job is to turn the sadness and doubt into happiness. Ask yourself what advantages there are for the child in the move. For example, will the family be closer to Grandma, the ocean, or another favorite person, place, or activity?

One of the easiest ways to turn an unhappy frown into joy and excitement is to communicate frequently. Let your children know, step by step, what is happening and what is likely to happen next. Tell them what the move means to the family — how important it is that Mommy got a big promotion or that Daddy is opening a new office for his company, and how other aspects of the move will be good for the child.

Be ready for those “What about me?” questions by researching schools, churches, activities, and community amenities in advance, and offer your child choices and ways to participate where it is appropriate. Whenever possible, look up information on the Internet, or have your agent e-mail, fax, or mail vital information about the community so that you and your child can plan where to go and who to meet in order to help ease the transition into new activities and surroundings. Contact organizations with whom your child is already associated or with whom he or she has an interest, and ask for referrals to your new city. Knowing they won’t have to give up favorite hobbies or sports goes a long way toward helping children adjust.

Making contacts with future friends, classmates, and fellow hobbyists can also go a long way toward helping your child’s transition to a new home and environment. See if your agent, other transferees, or family can put you in touch with other children your child’s age so that a chat room or e-mail friendship can begin.

Your REALTOR® will be able to show you your home either through e-mail, the local MLS service, or Realtor.com. Have your Realtor take pictures of your home and send them to you. Have fun by showing your child the new house plans, or draw them yourself and let your child cut out furniture and toys to place in the rooms. Show your child a typical day in the home as you go from room to room. Draw a map, and show how close Mommy and Daddy work, where schools are, where Aunt Bea lives, and other points of interest to help them orient themselves in their new surroundings.

If time and finances permit, take your child on a trip to visit your new city and home to get acquainted. If that’s not possible, get on the Internet, and show him or her the city, neighborhood, and home where you’ll be living. Most cities have Web sites available that offer a wide range of information, so you can plan activities for after your move, such as visits to the theater, a visit to the local zoo, or a trip to a local restaurant that serves your child’s favorite food.

Allowing your children to participate as much as possible makes the time they spend anticipating the move pass more quickly. Keep them occupied by letting them plan and pack a box or two of their special things. Consider their input on new decor and the layout of their new rooms. Encourage them to take the time to exchange good-byes with friends and loved ones and get addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers to stay in touch.

While you are preparing for the move, try to stick as closely to your normal routine as possible, and let your children know that, although they will soon live in a new house, the rules of the household will still be the same. Bedtime is still at 9 p.m., and homework must still completed before TV time is allowed. And although Mom and Dad are a little busier and distracted with the move, they love their children very much and are giving the entire household a new opportunity to grow.

On moving day, have a bag packed of personal belongings for each member of the family, being careful to include medications, clothes, and personal items. Let your children choose what amusements and favorite “loveys” they wish to take along, and reassure them they will see their other favorite toys when they arrive in their new home.

Your preparedness will go a long way in reassuring your children that their needs are being considered.

Source: Sellers tips

Dealing With Powers Of Attorney

Dealing With Powers Of Attorney

You and your spouse own your home and you would like to sell it. However, your spouse is currently unable to sign the sales contract. This is because he is either out of the country in some exotic far-away-place where fax and overnight delivery is unavailable, or because he is physically and mentally unable to make decisions or sign legal documents.

What to do?

There is a document called a “power of attorney”, whereby your spouse signs a legal document authorizing you to act on his/her behalf. The giver of the power of attorney is called the Principal. The receiver is generally called the “attorney in fact”. The latter is given the right to act on behalf of the principal, for the purposes and functions spelled out in the legal document. Note: the power given to the attorney in fact may be very broad, unless conditions and limitations are spelled out in the legal document.

There are two types of Powers of Attorney:

1. General — here, the principal authorizes the attorney in fact to take any and all actions as if the principal was taking them him or self. This is also known as a Durable Power of Attorney.

Keep in mind that your own State law may have specific requirements in order to sell real property by way of a Power of Attorney. Some states will not permit real estate to be conveyed by such a General power of attorney.

2. Specific — here, the principal gives specific information and instructions to the attorney in fact. For example, sell my house located at 123 ABC Street; or write a $1,000 check to my insurance company from my bank account. The specific instructions are contained in the legal document, and the attorney in fact has no authority to exceed those instructions.

If you plan to sell your house, and find yourself in the situation where one party in title will not be available to sign contracts, deeds or other legal documents pertaining to the sale, it is best to have your attorney draw up a Power of Attorney that meets your needs, as well as the legal requirements in the State where your property is located.

The principal may want to put a time limitation on the Power — for example one or two months. However, with a durable power of attorney, the principal normally does not place any such limitations. The purpose of a durable Power is to assure that in the event the Principal becomes incapacitated, his attorney in fact will be able to step in without having to go to Court.

Let’s go back to our example. If your spouse knows in advance that he/she will be out of the country when you want to sell your house, have the Power of Attorney executed before the trip starts — and give a long lead time before the Power expires. Keep in mind that although we now rely heavily on scanned documents, in many instances the person relying on the power of attorney must have the original with the notary seal clearly shown.

However, if you do not have a Power of Attorney and your spouse suddenly has a stroke — or is otherwise unable to comprehend and sign legal documents, then you will have to go to your local Court and seek permission to become the Conservator of the Estate of your spouse. This is a relatively easy (but potentially time consuming and expensive) process. The Courts, however, want to make absolutely sure you are sincere in your efforts to represent your spouse and that your spouse is, in fact, not able to sign any legal documents. There are, unfortunately, too many cases where someone– including a relative–convinced another party to sign a general power of attorney, which enabled that “attorney in fact” to steal the house or break the bank.

Speaking of banks, if you will need to use a power of attorney to get information or money from a bank, check with the bank first. Many banks have their own power of attorney forms they insist on being used.

Preventive law is the key; consider obtaining a durable power of attorney now, while you both are in good health. Each spouse should sign a separate document, making the other spouse the attorney in fact. However, an alternative attorney in fact should also be designated, just in case both of you become incapacitated at the same time.

Your local attorney should be consulted to make sure that you are using the proper forms and that you fully understand the consequences of your actions. A Power of Attorney gives someone else the right to sell your house, and you want to make sure that you are not giving away the store.

Source: Sellers tips

Don't Be Afraid Of The Seller's Disclosure

Don't Be Afraid Of The Seller's Disclosure

State and federal laws are strict in requiring sellers to tell what they know about the condition of their homes that isn’t obvious or discernable to potential buyers. Buyers can’t see behind walls or under houses, so they rely on truthful information from the seller about the operations, appliances and systems of the home.

When you sell your home, your real estate agent will present you with a federal and/or state-mandated disclosure form called a Real Estate Disclosure Statement, Property Condition Disclosure, or Condition Report. You’re required to disclose the presence of lead paint, radon, asbestos and other toxic products if you know your home has them.

While the forms may ask you to disclose whether or not you know there is lead paint or radon present, you aren’t required to do tests to determine the presence of toxic chemicals. But your buyer’s lender can always require proof of tests and/or remediation for any problem that has been disclosed, such as fire and water damage.

It’s important to answer every question as truthfully as you can. You must answer the questions yourself – your real estate professional can not fill out the disclosure for you, but he or she can help you understand what’s being asked of you. If you’re in doubt about what to disclose, such as a repair, it’s best to err on the side of too much information than not enough.

While disclosure forms allow you to check the “I don’t know” box, you should only do so if you truly don’t know the condition of that item. If you answer that you don’t know the condition of an appliance you use daily, such as a sink or bathtub, you might raise suspicions in the buyer.

The best way to feel confident about the condition of your home is to have it inspected by a licensed professional home inspector. Your real estate professional can recommend someone or provide you with a list. For a few hundred dollars and a few hours of your time, you’ll either find that your home is market-ready, or the inspector will bring a problem to your attention that you can fix.

When you disclose a problem to the buyer that has previously been fixed, be sure to provide a copy of work orders, receipts and invoices. If the problem hasn’t been fixed, expect the buyer to either ask you to fix it, or to offer a little less for the home.

Remember, the more that’s left unrepaired, the more the buyer will discount the offer, if he makes one at all. Homes in the best condition sell the best.

The seller’s disclosure is designed to do one thing — hold you and your real estate agent harmless if you’ve disclosed the truth about your property. You don’t want to give the buyer any room for complaint or litigation after the closing.

To get an idea of the types of questions you’ll be asked in a disclosure, you can find legal forms at FindLegalForms.com.

So, don’t be afraid of the seller’s disclosure. It’s not meant to be a deal-killer, but a deal-maker. Many agents provide a copy of the disclosure to interested buyers, so they can get an idea of the home’s condition before they make an offer or have an inspection.

Source: Sellers tips

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

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

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: Sellers tips

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

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: Sellers tips

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: Sellers tips

An Amicable Home Solution For A Silver Divorce

An Amicable Home Solution For A Silver Divorce

Sam and Sara have been married for a number of years, and have made the difficult decision to get a divorce. They are both in their 70s, and jointly own their house with a value of $600,000.

Sara wants to stay in the family home; Sam is agreeable but wants to be able to buy a small condominium. However, there is a $200,000 mortgage on the family home, and the current lender is not willing to release Sam from that obligation unless it is paid off in full. The lender’s position is that Sam and Sara both signed the loan documents, and this cannot be changed.

Sara does not have the financial ability to refinance the existing loan, and Sam is concerned that if he puts his name on the refinance for Sara, he will not be able to buy the other property.

This is a very common problem throughout the country. With the divorce rate increasing among seniors (the so-called “silver” divorce), too many couples seeking a divorce either have to sell the family home, or the spouse who will not remain in the property is unable to buy something else.

One possible solution: use a reverse mortgage for both transactions, typically referred to as HECM or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage. The minimum age to obtain such a loan is 62. Lenders use the age of the youngest borrower since their life expectancy is theoretically longer, so both owners must be at least 62 years old. The down payment is calculated using the age of the borrower, but the price of the house and current mortgage interest rates are plugged into the calculation. From talking with lenders, the older the borrower, the less down payment is required. If you are interested in going this route, a reverse mortgage lender will be able to assist you in with all of the details and the financials.

Sara opts for a reverse mortgage. Using a calculator that can be found on the web it appears that Sara can get approximately $286,000 from an authorized lender. The $200,000 mortgage will be paid off, and Sara will be able to live in the house without having to make any more monthly mortgage payments. She will, however, have to pay the real estate tax, maintain proper insurance coverage as well as keep the property in good condition.

In our example, in addition to having the current mortgage paid off, Sara can also get a lump sum of $86,000. In consideration for Sam agreeing to transfer his interest to Sara, she can agree to give him those funds, which he can then use as a down payment on the condo he wants to buy. Sam would be using what is known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage for Purchase, HECM for Purchase or simply H4P.

Once again, every situation is different, but in general – and depending on Sam’s age at the time he makes the loan application – he will be able to get a reverse mortgage loan of between 47 and 52 percent of the purchase price of the new property. The older you are, the more money you are eligible to get.

There are a few requirements: You must live in the new property; it must be your principal residence. You must go through consumer counseling; the lender – and the government – want to make sure you fully understand what you are pursuing. And you must prove you are financially able to pay the real estate taxes, insurance, general maintenance and upkeep and any applicable community association dues.

If Sam and Sara both qualify for their HECM, Sara will stay in the family home, Sam will have his own condo, and neither will be obligated to pay any mortgage so long as they continue to reside in their respective properties.

A reverse mortgage — or in this case a double reverse — is not for everyone. While it does solve a major problem many divorcing couples have, you must do your homework as soon as you have reached agreement to divorce. Sam and Sara must talk to their financial counselor and to their respective attorneys.

There is a lot of information on the web about the HECM. Do not, however, rely on promises you hear from celebrities hawking the concept on television. Both the Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Trade Commission — as well as AARP — have extensive informative material on the web.

Source: Sellers tips