Friday, April 26, 2013

Maintain, Update, and Upgrade!

Oh, how I would love to walk into every listing appointment and tell my sellers that their home will sell for top dollar.  Sometimes that is just not the case and it pains me to see that a home may lose some value due to simple maintenance issues.  That is when I try and suggest some things that can be done that will help improve the value. Let's face it, in the real estate market, there is high end and low end, which is based on the size, condition, and location of the home- your home may be anywhere in between.  Even if you are not in the market to sell , there are still things you should do to maintain the value of your home. Here are a few suggestions:

Maintenance-  Keep up with your property…all the time. If you wait until it is time to sell, the cost of repairs may be so much that you won’t want to do it. Set a schedule and paint the house every so often, change the roof in a timely manner, keep those fences looking good. This way, it won’t be overwhelming when you need it the most. Other items that would be on this list would be Hot Water Heaters, A/C and Heat equipments, etc.

Update - Often times we confuse the term ‘Update’ with ‘Upgrade’. Updating the home just means to keep it cosmetically as though it is recent. Sometimes this just means changing out a couple of light fixtures, paint on the walls, color choices on the exterior and maybe even the flooring.

Kitchen - When your appliances are getting to look a little…used- Maybe you are getting tired of them? Change those also, and don’t forget to buy energy efficient appliances! If you want to spice it up a little bit more, change the color of them.  You can also change the paint and the light over the breakfast table, and the faucet on the sink. You would have an "updated" kitchen for little money. You can also update the pulls on the cabinet  doors/drawers, and counter tops.

Bathrooms - The same thing goes here as in the Kitchen. If money allows you can always update the shower and flooring.  If not, just changing out the light fixtures a little paint will go a long way.

Upgrade - If you are changing out items in your home, and your budget allow you to do so, upgrade what you put in. Remember, if you ever do decide to sell the other homes around you will likely be your competition. What can you put in that maybe some other homes won’t have? Just don’t over improve your home- that can be costly and you will not get that money back!
Follow Vin on Facebook

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What's in a Town?

I spend my days helping people find that perfect home.  They give me their vision of the kind of home they see themselves living in, either with their families, by themselves, with a friend; I've basically seen every living situation. Whether they are looking for that home nestled atop a hill in the suburbs, or an eclectic condo in the heart of a bustling city, people start this journey at square one: where they want to live.  So, what's in a town, that is, what is it about a certain city or town that makes it desirable to a certain someone? There are many factors that play into why people choose to live a certain area at any given point in their lives. Family, profession, friends, social expectations, and even the desire to be surrounded by creative influences play a role in making this decision.  I have heard it all when it comes to why a certain town would fit a lifestyle; school systems, politics, taxes, shopping, restaurants, dog restrictions, recycling ; the list never ends.
We all hear certain things about certain towns; this one has the best school system, that one has high property taxes, and so on. Part of my job is to encourage homebuyers not to let one aspect of a town deter you because it has played over in your head.  Look at what fits your lifestyle, budget, and unique needs.  Ask yourself these questions: How long will you live there? What ranks highest on your list of priorities? What are you not willing to give up and also what are you willing to live without?  Wherever you look, trust me, there are always pros and cons.
I recently found a website called Find your Spot where you can actually take a quiz that will then provide you a tailored list of cities and towns that fit your needs. It also offers reports, job listings, and other town info.  It is actually kind of a fun quiz to take and does not bore you with technical questions.
The reality of choosing a new place to live encompasses an incredibly large series of factors, all competing for your attention. In order to be successful in your search, you must determine what is most important to you and your family, do your homework, and then continue to be vigilant in your search until you find the right place to live. It can be intimidating and frustrating at times, but all that effort is worth it in the end once you are settled in your ideal location.
Follow Vin on Facebook

Friday, April 19, 2013

Landscaping Ideas to help Sell your Home

When selling a home, your landscaping can be your best advertisement. If potential homebuyers are excited by your home’s curb appeal, you will have a better chance of getting them inside to tour your home and eventually make an offer.  Here are a few landscaping tips from some home and garden websites to help spruce up your home's outer appearance:

Clean up the lawn. Of all of the landscaping ideas to sell your home, this is one of the most obvious. If you’ve been mowing regularly , you should have a nicely maintained lawn. Mowing too low can cause shallow root growth and make your lawn more susceptible to drought and weeds. Weeds are more prone to grow in areas where the lawn is weak. Patch brown spots in the grass by raking and over-seeding any bald spots in your lawn.

Fix driveways, sidewalks and patios. Potential homebuyers notice things like dirty paving, moss-covered sidewalks, and cracked concrete. If needed, pressure-wash driveways, patios, and sidewalks before putting your home on the market. If you have large cracks in sidewalks or driveways, consider patching or replacing them. Do whatever you need to do to show potential homebuyers that you’re serious about your home’s maintenance.

Keep leaves and other debris picked up. Don’t force a potential homebuyer to walk over grass clippings, leaves, branches or pine cones. The more tidy your home’s landscaping, the easier it will be to sell your home.
Let color help you when selling a home. Colorful flowers generally create an attractive landscape, but yellow can be especially helpful as it may encourage a buying mood, so plant yellow flowers near the entryway.
Follow Vin on Facebook

Friday, April 12, 2013

What you need to know about the Spring Homebuying Season


Springtime has always been about selling houses with April, May, June, and July accounting for 40% of all housing transactions annually. The recovery statistics have consumers feeling optimistic about the housing market the shift is toward a sellers market.  This means that this year's spring and summertime buyers will be facing a very different landscape than those from only a year or two ago.  According to Forbes magazine, here are "4 Essential Things You Need To Know About The 2013 Spring Home Buying Season:"
Inventory Shortages:
The number of available homes has plunged to record lows, thanks to both an abnormally small supply of existing homes for sale and a dearth of new construction. Coupled with the brisk pace of sales, there is currently 4.7-month supply of existing homes on the market (a six-month supply is considered healthy), according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s nearly 20% less nationally that during this time last year, and in the most sought-after markets levels are down by as much as 50%, 60%.
Increased Competition:
In addition to a dwindling supply of available homes, the number of buyers has surged. What does this mean? That you the prospective buyer need to be prepared to move fast if you find a property you’d like to buy. Buyers need to be patient because many will be outbid by others and might have to bid on multiple homes. It also means thinking hard about the tradeoff: what you need to have in your home and what you are willing to bend on because with tight inventory and lots of competition, it will be a temptation to take what you can get.
Cash is still King:
Given the steep competition, all cash buyers who can close a deal relatively quickly offers a great incentive to sellers. Cash is always best when there are multiple bids from a Seller's view because it as seen as a deal with fewer hiccups. Over the past few years mortgage lending has become incredibly tight, but lenders are slowly making it easier to get approved.  All in all, cash is still king in the Seller's eyes.



Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Buyers: How to Win in a Seller's Market

Buyers in this housing market are quickly finding out that they are no longer in the power position. The reason is simply that there are too many bidders and not enough homes. A growing number of Buyers are on the hunt while sellers are still standing on the sidelines waiting.....and waiting!  As the economy keeps improving, we will hopefully see the supply of homes bounce back.  In the meantime, buyers that are in the hunt now can work on making sure they get the winning bid.  In a recent article, CNN Money gave these recommendations:

1. Size up your town. First you'll need to determine whether you could be in for a bidding war. Rising price tags are a sign that sellers are gaining ground, but prices often lag the market. Two other stats, available on real estate site Zillow, can mean an area's heating up: a drop in the percentage of homes with list price cuts, and an increasing ratio of sales to asking prices.

2. Don't skimp on credit. With many sellers worried about deals falling through, you'll need the bank's blessing right away. Don't waste time on prequalification, which is an estimate of how much you might be able to borrow.  Try to obtain a  pre-approval based on your credit, income, and assets is better, and full credit approval, which goes through the bank's underwriting department.

3. Get a veteran on your side. Finding an experienced agent is even more important in a competitive market; you'll want a pro who specializes in working with buyers and who knows the local players and pricing trends. One of your first questions should be whether the agent has experience in multiple-offer situations. A good agent can help you determine whether a home is fairly priced, advise you on how much to offer -- and back up his/her counsel with data and examples.

4. Make a clean offer. When you take the leap, remember that the best offer isn't always the one with the best price. It's the one with the fewest hassles and outs for the buyer. Make yours as straightforward as possible. If it's contingent on selling an existing home, for example, you're unlikely to win a bidding war. Set on a certain closing date? Consider whether it's worth blowing the deal. In this market, the answer is probably no.
Follow Vin on Facebook

Friday, April 5, 2013

Knowing when to accept, reject, or counter an offer on your home

You have put your house up for sale and now you have received an offer. It may be nerve-racking and you may even struggle to find the confidence in knowing how to respond.  Here are six simple steps that will give you  the confidence to accept, reject, or counter an offer:

1. Review the bidding price-

Unless there is a hot prospect looming on the horizon, most real estate agents will suggest accepting an offer if it is within three to five percent of your asking price.

2. Consider the buyer’s contingencies

They may only want to buy your home pending its inspection, the sale of their house or other conditions such as repairs or inclusion of appliances. You can negotiate these points by presenting a counter-offer.

3. Determine the buyer’s ability to pay

A lender qualification letter will reveal if the buyer has the funds to make monthly mortgage payments.

4. Carefully review any seller-binding stipulations in the contract

Pay special attention to escape clauses that allow the buyer to cancel the deal and walk away.

5. Make sure all agreements between you and the buyer are in writing

The purchase agreement should state any conditions and agreements such as inclusion of the refrigerator or repairs to the home. The maximum amount you have agreed to pay for repairs should also be included.

6. Be aware that an accepted offer becomes a binding contract

There is no way to change your mind without both the buyer and seller agreeing to all changes. Be sure you understand the entire Offer To Purchase document and all the clauses. If you are in doubt, have your lawyer review an offer before you sign your acceptance.

With the help of a well qualified Realtor® you should now be able to determine whether to accept, reject, or counter an offer and hopefully be on your way to the sale of your home!
Follow Vin on Facebook

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Making an Offer

One of the hardest, most important decisions homebuyers face is how much to offer for their home. Supply, demand, foreclosure rates, mortgage rates – buyers think they need to run spreadsheets and do fancy math to make a smart offer.  But the fact is, there is a pretty short list of steps you need to take to make a smart offer – one that gets you a great value, but is also likely to be successful at getting the property.  Remember- a low offer does not make a great deal if you don't get the house!  Here are some steps to take before submitting an offer:

Step 1: What do the “comps” say?  When it comes to pricing a home, or making an offer to buy one, the ‘first thing” is the home’s fair market value. Both buyers and sellers should work with an experienced, local agent to understand what the home’s value is. Most agents will do this by offering you a look back at similar properties that have recently sold in the neighborhood.

Step 2: What can you afford?  It's a must to make sure that your offer price for any given home falls within the range of what is affordable for you.  This includes offering a price within the range for which your mortgage was preapproved, but also includes making sure that the monthly payment and cash you’ll need to close the deal (down payment + closing costs) are affordable.

Step 3: What’s your competition? This is another step at which it’s critical to check in with your agent. You need to know what level of competition you’ll face. In today’s market there are properties and neighborhoods in which multiple offers are not uncommon. Work with your agent to understand the list price-to-sale price  ratio , which lets you know how much under or over the asking price properties are selling for in your target home’s neighborhood.  Your agent can also tell you how many offers there are on a property and how many days a home has been on the market.

Step 4:  How much do they need to sell it?  Has the listing in which you’re interested been reduced at all?  By how much?  Has the listing agent informed you that her clients are highly motivated, flexible or have an urgent need to sell?   These factors can certainly work to your advantage in the negotiating stage.

Step 5: How much do you want to buy this house? This step is all about you – what’s your level of motivation? Within the range of the home’s fair market value, it may make sense to move higher within that range if you are highly motivated to get that particular property.
Follow Vin on Facebook