Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Making an Offer in a Seller's Market

In today's fast paced real estate market it is not uncommon to see multiple offers and buyers are feeling the heat.  Low inventory  has buyers scrambling to put their best foot forward when making an offer.  Sometimes home buyers wonder if it's even worth trying to compete against other buyers in a sellers market and can often get frustrated.  If you love the home, it's almost always a good idea to write an offer anyway. Here are tips to make your  offer more appealing than the rest:

 Submit a good earnest money deposit. 

Many sellers are worried that once they commit to an offer, the winning buyers might back out of the transactionafter all the other buyers have disappeared. The earnest money deposit is part of your down payment. By increasing it above normal limits, you are showing the seller you are serious about closing. You're only offering the seller more money a little sooner than later, but it shows you mean business.

Show the Sellers You Are Qualified.

Almost every multiple offer will be accompanied by a lender letter. To stand out, ask your lender for a pre-approval letter, which is different than a prequalified letter. Being preapproved makes you a stronger buyer in the seller's eyes.

Shorten Contingencies.

By federal law, you have 10 days for inspections due to lead based paint, unless you waive that right in writing. Always get a home inspection, but tighten the time period so the sellers don't feel like they have to wait too long.  Leaving less time from offer to close, granted your lender can live up to the deadlines, is a great way to entice sellers

Write Your Best Offer.

Last word of advice-don't hope for negotiation. Offer your highest price and make it attractive, even a bit above list price if you know there are multiple offers. Ask your agent for a market analysis to determine pricing. Sometimes sellers deliberately set a price below comparable sales in an effort to generate multiple offers, so paying a little extra doesn't necessarily mean you are paying over market value.
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Friday, June 21, 2013

Securing your home while on vacation

Summer is here which, for many of us, means vacationing and long weekend getaways.  No matter where you  live, you are always vulnerable to burglary when your home is left unattended for an extended period of time. I found some tips from the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies to help keep your home secure while away:

  • Ask a neighbor to take in the newspaper, mail, and any other deliveries.

  • Arrange to have the lawn mowed at regular intervals.

  • Store all valuables.

  • Leave window shades and draperies in their usual positions, but do not close them all the way on the street side of the house.

  • Lock all doors and windows including those in the garage, the basement, and the attic.

  • Disconnect electrical appliances and lower air conditioning/heating units to energy-saving levels.

  • Make sure auto, fire, and health insurance policies are correct.

  • Leave a house key and itinerary with a neighbor, friend, or relative. Be sure someone knows how to operate your alarm system if your home has one.

  • An alarm system is a very effective deterrent to burglary especially if the system is advertised by a window sticker or a sign on the property.
    You've packed up your suitcase and planned your itinerary be sure to take the time to protect your home while you’re away.  Keep in mind that July and August are popular vacation months, and not surprisingly, they’re also the months when home burglaries peak. You want to fully enjoy your trip, so be sure to give yourself that peace of mind that your home is secure.

    Wednesday, June 19, 2013

    How much space do you need?

    I have shown  homes to many different people, whether it be a family of five with small children, or a young professional looking for his/her own space.  I have come to see that space is often the first consideration when choosing a home. While it may be somewhat unrealistic that you stay in one home your entire life anymore,  it is still a good idea to keep that mindset when looking to purchase a home.   Instead of thinking that you aren't going to be in a house for a long , you may want to think about what would happen if you DID stay in a home for a long time. Here are some things to consider when deciding how much space you will need:

    How Often are You or Others in your Home?

    Though most of us would admit to the fact that we want to have the biggest home possible, it isn't usually realistic for most people.  If you're working full time or you travel a lot for your work, you might want to consider whether or not you actually need a lot of space. If you're not going to be around a lot to enjoy it or maintain it, you might want to spend your money on other things that you do have time for.

    In the other respect, if you think you need more space because you want to entertain, you may want to factor in that space when searching for a home. If you have parties on a weekly basis, this is an important consideration in terms of your home purchase. Also, if you plan to have overnight guests on a regular basis, you will need to have space for a guest room for their comfort.

    Any Kids?

    If you have kids now or you plan to in the future, you will want to factor in space for their rooms and belongings. One large extra room can even give you  enough space for up to two children for a time.  Until these rooms become the kids' rooms, they can give you added storage space, another another  room or office.

    Any unique needs?

    The space in your house can also be used for any special needs or arrangements you may have. For example, if you work from a home office, you might want to have a special space for you to set this  up. If you have a hobby that takes up a lot of space, you might want to make sure that you have ample room for this to reside as well.
    Think Long Term

    If you do stay in your home for a long time, you might need to consider adding on additional space if your current space doesn't work out. To make sure you have enough room, you may also want to consider any space for a potential addition down the road.

    When you're trying to envision what your life  your new home, try to map out all of the activities that will take place both now and in the future. This will help you to see just how much space you might need.
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    Friday, June 14, 2013

    Furniture Arrangement that will appeal to Buyers

    Often I have shown homes that loose their appeal simply by the way furniture is arranged.  Good furniture arrangement is the secret to making a room look its best and give it the appeal that a potential buyer may be looking for.  Yet, most people struggle with what goes where. Who  has not stood at the doorway to a bedroom, or the center of our living room, and wondered, “What’s wrong with this room?” We may sense that it is  awkward, but we’re not sure why. Potential buyers may feel this instantly upon entering a room and can leave them with a bad taste in their mouth leading them to overlook a really great home.

    The good news is that every room has an ideal arrangement for home staging, and you can discover it by avoiding the most common mistakes.  Here are a few things to avoid:

    Too much furniture. Select your best pieces. It’s better to have a few great pieces, than a roomful of some good and some not-so-good pieces. Keep the big pieces unless they are in bad condition or very dated. No one expects you to be an interior designer, but colors and styles from a few decades ago don’t make your home look fresh and appealing.

    Remember that potential home buyers are looking at other homes and will most likely compare your home to one with updated, stylish furniture.

    Not enough furniture. When selling a home, no room should be empty. Buyers see an empty room as a problem that may raise red flags.  Buyers may think the ceiling leaks, or that the climate of the room is not livable.

    No Focal Point.  Every room has a focal point, but if you do not arrange your furniture properly, you may be ignoring it. You will want to attract buyers to this when they enter. Find the dramatic element that draws your immediate attention. If your room has an attractive feature, such as a fireplace or picture window, center your furniture arrangement around it.

    Poor Traffic Flow.  Walking through a room should be effortless, especially for buyers.  You do not want them to feel cramped or that they have to maneuver around things to get through the room.  This will lead them to believe that there is actually less space in the home.  Make sure furniture is placed so that people have adequate room to maneuver easily around the room.

    Figuring out how to arrange furniture in a room can be a daunting task, but with a little trial and error you should be able to pull it off.  The best advice I can give would be to view each room as if you were a buyer.  Figure out the pros and cons and work to improve the feel of the entire space.
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    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    What to look for when buying a house

    Each person has different ideals when buying a home. There are many factors to consider before picking a and purchasing. By thoroughly considering your options and figuring in your personal ideas of a house, you will be able to find and buy one that can be made into a home.

    How does it make you feel when you first see it? While curb appeal is often what sells a home, it is always good for a buyer to stop and look beyond this. If you really love it, slow down and take a good hard look of the reality of the home. Look at the location: convenience to schools, shopping, transportation, sports, etc., whatever you need or enjoy. Is anything changing (new park, new freeway, factories closing down, crime rate rising)?

    Consider which factors will make the house your home: quiet/busy neighborhood, corner lot, distance to neighbors, yard, view, other amenities (parking, fence, landscaping), size and layout of the rooms (bathrooms on each floor? privacy? common spaces? workshop? garage?), general age and condition (Victorian needs rehab, or brand new, move-in condition), depending on your preferences.
    Do you have any furniture that will fit? Can you see yourself making breakfast every day in that kitchen? Ask to come back at a different time of day so you can see how the daylight changes in and around the home. What do you hear when standing in the bedroom (car alarms? traffic? airplanes? children playing? nothing but birds twittering)?

    Consider if it is a good investment: can you afford to purchase it, pay the taxes and other costs, make repairs, do maintenance? How does the value compare with other similar houses recently sold in the area? Is it already the most expensive house on the street? Over-priced "fixer upper"?

    While there are always pros and cons to every property, it is up to you to decide what is most important in a home. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as obtaining too much information. Buying a new house is never easy, but by thoroughly weighing your options and it can be much more manageable.
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    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Organizing your Kitchen

    The kitchen is viewed as the "hub' of the home as it is the most used room in the house.  Your family gathers there, you cook, kids do homework, and everyone raids the cabinets and fridge looking for food!  It is easy to see why it can become unorganized so quickly. It is not always easy to keep the kitchen in order, but here are a few simple things you can do to try and keep organized:

    Clear the counters-

     Having too many items on your kitchen counters will make it seem cluttered and unorganized. Items that are not used often should be stored under the counters in your cabinets. These may be things like a waffle maker, mixer, or a blender; items that do not get used everyday.

    Buy clear storage-

    Using clear, plastic storage bins in your kitchen is an easy way to keep like items together while being able to do a quick inventory before heading out to the grocery store. For your pantry, have bins for snacks, bread and produce. Use over-the-door organizers for canned goods, spices,  pastas and sauces.

    Things that work together should be stored together-

    Pots, pans and cooking utensils should be kept near the stove. This gives you easy access to the tools you’ll need while cooking. Keep bowls, mixers, measuring cups, spoons and other baking items in the baking area. Plates, dishes, cups and eating utensils should be stored close together. Items that are seldom used should go on top shelves. Mugs, coffee creamers and coffee supplies should be stored near the coffee maker.  Seems obvious, right?!

    Install Shelf Organizers-

    Sliding shelf organizers make it easy to get to frequently used items in the cabinets and creates a neater look when doors are open.

    Since you probably do not always have time to do a complete
    kitchen overhaul, you can try doing these few things to keep your the space as inviting and organized as possible.
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    Wednesday, June 5, 2013

    Saving on Summer Energy Costs

    As the summer approaches and the heat rises, we will be cranking the air conditioning, and running more water to cool off.  With this comes higher energy costs.  I talk with a lot of homeowners and often get ideas from those who are moving into new homes and looking for ways to save.  Here are a few ideas that may be helpful:

    Adjust your thermostat-

    Air conditioning costs a fortune, and if it runs around the clock, you can surely expect a huge bill. To reduce the expense, gradually raise the temperature of your thermostat by at least three degrees. Doing so will save you approximately 20 percent on your summer electric bills.

    Request a Home Energy Audit

    Many power companies can come to your home and perform a home energy audit for free. Providers have to borrow power from other companies at peak usage times in order to meet demands, which cost them a lot of money. Therefore, they have just as much motivation as you do to save energy at home. The audit typically takes about an hour, and the tips and advice provided can help you save a significant amount.

    Turn on Ceiling Fans

    If you have ceiling fans, utilize them. They cost pennies to run, and by doing so, your air conditioning unit runs more efficiently. If you don't have them, consider installing them—it's a one-time cost that will pay for itself quickly. Just be sure to run your fans counter-clockwise in the summertime, as this draws cooler air upward.

    Adjust Your Habits

    Typical household duties, such as running the dishwasher or washer and dryer, can significantly heat up your home and run up your electric bill during each use. Consider doing these chores during the early morning or late evening hours to minimize the effect on your cooling bills. Furthermore, only wash full loads of laundry, and only run the dishwasher when it is entirely full. By using these appliances less, you save even more money on your monthly utility bill.

    When it comes to saving on energy bills, we can all agree that doing a few simple things can make a big difference and save money.  Do you have any other ideas on how to save on home energy bills?
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