Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sellers- Home Inspection gone Bad? Consider your options!

Most real estate meltdowns are usually the result of surprises. When your home has some minor imperfections you do not expect a major to do over a home inspection, but when major problems arise after a home inspection it can lead to a small dose of devastation. Trust me, I know the feeling- bad inspection results are scary because you do not know what a buyer's response will be and what you will have to shell out to make it right. Minimally you will end up having to make some repairs or renegotiate the price, but on occasion the worst can happen- a buyer will back out. Either way, the initial shock of a bad home inspection can create a lot of uncertainty.

Even if you are surprised by inspection results it is important to keep calm and quiet until the buyer has actually asked for specific repairs or a price reduction. Most buyers actually expect to put a little work not a home when they buy it, so they may not interpret the report as completely negative. You are best off to expect some kind of compromise that works for both of you.

When a homebuyer does ask for repairs, you can rest assured that the ball has somewhat been put back in your court. Before you agree to anything, get a few estimates on big ticket items from repair companies you know and trust. Multiple bids will give you stronger negotiating power to show that a repair may not be as costly as a buyer has estimated.

When a deal goes completely bad after a home inspection a seller may think that they will never sell, but it is important to remember that not every buyer is or expects the same from a home.  Some may be more willing to negotiate or make repairs.  Take a step back to assess your situation and consider your options.  You may want to consider reducing the asking price of your home based on anything major that needs to be done and the estimates you have received.  Within reason, a lower price could free up more money to buyers to make repairs themselves.  You would then want to disclose what has come up in the home inspection and possibly sell the home "as-is" which would make buyers aware that you have priced your home with the understanding that the lower price is indicative of the repairs that need to be made.  Another option is to hire a contractor to do the repairs, but remember to take the inconvenience and time into consideration.

When a home inspection goes bad it can certainly throw you for a loop, but it is important to remember that you have options.  Work with your Realtor on a plan of action and get your home sold!
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Improvements- Update without Breaking the Bank

Before dipping into the home improvement pool , I would like to warn you that over-improving can be costly and you may never see the return.  Even if you are not thinking of selling in the near future, it is still a good idea to consider the financial investment you are making and whether or not you will  reap the benefits.  There are plenty of things you can do to update and upgrade your home without spending a fortune.  On a daily basis I see simple upgrades that have an impact on the for-seen value of a home. Here are a few that stand out:
The Kitchen-

For a few hundred dollars, you can replace the kitchen faucet set, add new cabinet door handles and update old lighting fixtures with brighter, more energy-efficient ones. If you have a slightly larger budget, you can give the cabinets themselves a makeover. Rather than completely replacing cabinets, look into re-facing the ones you have. If your kitchen appliances don't match, try ordering new doors or face panels from the manufacturer. Many dishwasher panels are white on one side and black on the other. It can be as simple as removing a couple of screws, sliding the panel out and flipping it over.
Next to the kitchen, bathrooms are often the most important rooms to update. They, too, can be improved without a lot of cash. Simple things like a new toilet seat and a pedestal sink are pretty easy for homeowners to install, and they make a big difference.
New paint makes everything look clean and bright again. And don't forget the ceiling. Paint the trim a contrasting color. Another option: Paint a wall three different shades of the same color. Measure equal sections and use painter's masking tape to mark off each area. Do the bottom of the wall first with the darkest shade. Once it dries, do the middle section with the next lightest shade and so on.

Carpeting is another detail that can quickly update a home and make it look cleaner. A professional carpet cleaning is an inexpensive investment, especially if your rugs are in good shape and are neutral colors. If your carpet is showing serious wear, however, you may want to consider replacing it if it is in the budget.

The entryway is first thing you, and your guests, will see. Repaint or refinish that front door. If you have a basic steel front door that has gotten dented, consider replacing it with either another inexpensive steel door or a fiberglass, wood grain door for a slightly higher cost. Next, replace that worn, flimsy little knob on your main entry door with a more substantial-looking handle-and-lock set.
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Homeownership- Be Prepared!

I have seen it all too often- a happy young couple excited to buy their first home, and then...the disappointment. Their excitement is shattered by the realization that their credit is not what they thought it was, they do not have enough of a down payment, or something hinders them for getting that coveted mortgage. They will have to wait a little longer and start some major repairs on their finances. Want to avoid the heartache? With a little investigating and preparation you can put yourself in good shape to buy a home if you are ready and willing to do your homework. Try to follow these guidelines up to 1 year in advance of making that purchase.

Take a look a your credit reports-

Errors on your reports can force you to pay a higher interest rate on your mortgage or even torpedo your chances of getting a loan. You can get free copies of your reports from the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion.
Try to improve your credit scores -
Your credit scores, which are three-digit numbers used to decide your creditworthiness, help mortgage companies determine the rates and terms you can get for a loan. There are hundreds of different credit-scoring formulas, but the one used by the vast majority of mortgage lenders is the FICO.
Pay down some debt-
Don't rush to pay off your student loans, auto loans or other generally low-rate debt before getting a mortgage. What you want pay down is  credit-card balances and any other "revolving" debt. These are signs you're living beyond your means. If you don't get your overspending problem fixed before you buy a home, your problems likely will get worse because home ownership typically involves plenty of big costs (property taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs, improvements, decorating). Get your act together before you house shop!
Save as much as possible-
Stop eating out. Drop your cable-TV subscription. Do everything you can think of to put as much money aside as possible, using your dream of home ownership as motivation. The more of a down payment you can save for, the more financing options you will have.  Beyond that, try an put some aside for the first few mortgage payments.
With a little dedication and self-discipline you will be on that path toward home ownership in no time!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Leaving your Emotions at the Door

Anyone that has had an emotional experience when buying a home is not alone.  In fact, this is one of the most emotional times we go through in life simply because it has such high implications such as where you will live to how you will make ends meet.  It is one of the largest, if not, the largest financial transaction we will make in a lifetime.  I have seen it all, tears, anger, laughs, smiles, shouting, screaming...I could go on and unfortunately I am not a licensed psychiatrist! The best advice I can give to anyone starting the process of buying or selling a home is to keep your emotions in check so that you can make the best rational decisions possible.  Easier said than done?  Of course, but if you can follow at least some of the following tips, then hopefully your next experience can be a little less stressful and a little more pleasurable!

Don't fall in love with a house that you can't afford- Once you have fallen in love with a home it is hard to turn back. You start dreaming of the home and how happy your life would be there and the parties you will host, and the family you will raise there- the spacious kitchen, the high-end appliances, etc.  If you can't afford the house, then you are only hurting yourself by dreaming of you in it. Moving on to a more reasonable affordable house will only seem like a disappointment and as if you are settling for less than you deserve.  Only look at homes in your price range!

Don't be desperate-
When you've been looking for a while and you're not seeing anything you like  you're getting outbid on the houses you do want - it's easy to get desperate to get into your new house now. If you move into a house you'll end up hating, you will probably end up dealing with the hassle and expense of moving again. If you decide not to move but to try to make the best of what you have you may end up spending more than you anticipated on renovations. It's okay to wait until something that suits you comes along, assuming time is on your side and as long as your demands are realistic for your budget.

Don't overestimate your handyman skills- A fixer-upper is a great idea for those with the financial means  and the ability. If you think you can do all the work yourself only to find out the repairs are greater than your handyman skills can handle, you may end up doubling your budget and lose precious time. evaluate your skills and your budget before trying to jump into a project you may not be able to handle.  you will avoid a lot of sweat, tears, and financial heartache!

Don't drag your feet-
It is important to make sure you make a careful decision, but don't take too long to make it. Losing out on a property that you were almost ready to make an offer on because someone beat you to the punch can be heartbreaking and in the current market it can happen in an instant.  Dragging your feet can have other implications as well- the more time and energy you have to take out of your normal activities to search for a house, the less time and energy you have available to work, spend time with loved ones, and live life!  Don't underestimate how time-consuming and routine-disrupting house shopping can be.

It is natural to let emotions come into play in the homebuying process because it is a big decision, but that is also exactly why it is important to make rational choices. Take a step back, try to overcome your emotions and make a home purchase that makes you feel good and  financially responsible!
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Maybe you just had your second child and the"stuff" has taken over, or maybe your 3 room, 1 bedroom condo downtown is getting a little too tight after a recent walk down the aisle with that special someone.  Are you suddenly an ex-empty-nester with  your children and  grandchildren invading your space?  Because home prices and mortgage interest rates currently desirable, if you are in a stable financial position, now might be a good time to  sell your current house and buy a bigger one.

How do you know when it is time to up-size? Well, an obvious sign is that you have run out of space, but here are some tell-tale signs that it is time to make the move:

Growing pains

The number one reason people decide to buy a larger home is an increase in family size. Many people buy their first home before they have children and only realize they need more space once more kids come into the picture. Children aren’t the only way families grow, either. From a new pet to a live-in parent, families expand in all sorts of ways which means a need for more bedrooms, bathrooms, and even parking spaces.

Your Needs have Changed

Large homes are not always appropriate at every stage of life. A single male 20-something may need less space with a more centralized location, but his needs may change when he’s 35, married, and has two kids. You may have started an at-home business and you need an extra bedroom to use as an office. Maybe your kids are of an age where you’d like a finished basement for them to spread out. Whatever the case, shifting priorities are a fact of life and they’re often the motivating factor for a move up buyer.


If you purchased your current home before the real estate downturn five years ago you have likely been waiting to sell until the timing is right.  Mortgage rates are hitting record lows and the “seller’s market” is back. The best time to buy a bigger home is when you can sell your current home for close to if not more than you bought it for. We are experiencing exactly these conditions making 2013 one of the best times to buy a bigger home in years.

You can afford it

If most people  have learned anything from the real estate crisis a few years back, it is never to buy a home that they can’t afford. Before you know if you’re ready for a bigger home, take a look at mortgage rates and talk to your family or a financial adviser if you have one. Real estate has always been solid long-term financial investment and buying a bigger home when needed can be a smart move. If you determine you can comfortably afford the mortgage,  utility expenses, and furnish a larger house, you may be ready to upgrade.
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Saturday, May 4, 2013

House Hunting- Don't get your Heart Broken

How will you know when you’ve found  that house you've been feverishly hunting for and how can you determine when it’s time to move on?  It’s important to keep your eye on the prize. Usually the house of your dreams doesn't show up overnight. House hunting is an evolution. A buyer needs to see many houses, learn about the market and maybe even have a heartbreak or two. Here are some tips for not getting your heart broken in the home search process.

Prepare to get your feelings hurt by a seller
The seller doesn’t have to sell to you. It’s entirely possible that, especially given the lack of inventory and the large amount of home shoppers today, even if you offer the seller their list price the home may not be yours. Another buyer may offer more than you, may have a larger down payment or may offer the seller a quick closing and better terms. Even if you think this is the perfect home for you and your family, an unwillingness to let it go will only lead to disappointment down the road.

Don’t obsess over one home
Most buyers begin their home search with a list of wants, needs, must-haves and nice-to-haves as well as deal-breakers. You will never get it all, so it’s important to know when to compromise. Often the “perfect” home will come along, but the buyer loses sight of their objective. Saw a home with a designer kitchen that you can’t get out of your head? That might be great, but if the home doesn’t have room for two cars, doesn’t have the required square footage or lacks that all-important second bathroom, you need to move on. Harboring feelings for a home that you know won’t work only serves to get you sidetracked and out of focus.

Don’t fall too hard
It’s no longer a done deal once the contract is signed. Many times a buyer and seller come to an agreement on terms and price, even sign a contract, only to have a series of issues come up in the disclosure and inspection phase. Don’t fall hard once you have a signed contract. This will only make the discovery process more heartbreaking. Know that dozens of issues can come up in escrow. If it’s not working out, be ready to move on. The longer you hang around and obsess over one home, the bigger the chance that you’ll miss out on Mr. or Ms. Right around the corner.

Know upfront that the home shopping process will be a journey
Expect to see a lot of homes and learn a lot along the way. No matter how frustrating the process is, believe that the journey will eventually come to an end and that “the one” will present itself.  Touring several homes will allow you to play the field, see what’s out there and learn the market. The more you see, the more you will know when the right “one” comes along and you’re ready to seal the deal.
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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Finding a Needle in a Haystack

The world is full of real estate agents, but today, it is more important than ever to have an agent that is fully connected to your needs and who can help you navigate through this fast paced market.  Whether you're buying or selling, the difference between having an average real-estate agent or a superstar can mean thousands of dollars in your pocket. It can mean selling your home for top dollar or losing the house of your dreams to a more organized buyer.  You want a pro in your corner when you make what may be the biggest transaction of your life.
So how do you spot this needle in a haystack?  Fortunately, a little legwork and the right questions go a long way. As an agent and as a consumer, I believe the best way to find an agent is by getting a recommendation from someone you trust. Not only is your friend's experience the best predictor of your satisfaction, but, since an agent's personal network is his lifeline, he is likely to work harder knowing that a friend or client will hear about his performance.  Most real estate agents stay in business because satisfied clients refer them to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers. Ask the people around you who they have used and ask them to describe their experiences with this real estate agent. Successful agents make customer satisfaction their number one priority and put their customers' needs before their own.
Don't settle for someone who just promises to show you homes or list, advertise and sell your place; every agent has to do those things. What you want to know is, What sets them apart? What will he/she do to go the extra mile for me? Having an agent that is committed to going above and beyond average expectations will set your home buying/selling experience apart from the others. When you get right down to it, it's that willingness to go the extra mile that distinguishes the true professionals from the fakes. Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest transactions you'll make. With several million real estate professionals out there, it's not hard to find an agent, the challenge lies in finding a good one, so be sure you do your homework.
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