Posted in Home Seller Tips

Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your Home

Six Key Questions to Ask when Hiring a Real Estate Agent to Market and Sell Your HomeThe work of a real estate agent can make or break how a prospective buyer feels about the property. Now that it’s time to sell your home, you want to find the right agent to market it.

How do you find someone you can trust who will make you feel confident they can sell your home quickly for the best price possible? Here are the questions you should be asking.

Are They Licensed?

This one is the easy one. You should be working with a member of the National Association of Realtors®. It is also important that you check whether they have any complaints on record about their practices.

You can check with your state’s real estate department as well.

Are They Successful?

A successful real estate agent is more than the number of sales they have completed. You should also find out the average difference between listing and selling prices on their most recent sales.

If an agent is closing deals at far below the original asking price consistently, that might be a red flag.

How Busy Are They?

Make sure you ask in advance how often the agent will contact you and how they will keep you informed of potential buyers. If you’re going to be working with one of their associates at times, you should know.

How Familiar Are They With Your Neighborhood?

A real estate agent is not just marketing your home – they’re marketing your entire community. If they have closed nearby sales before, they are familiar with the selling points of the neighborhood as well as the right price range for properties similar to yours.

How Much Commission Do They Expect?

Normally you will pay the agent about 6 percent of the sale price. If you find one that offers their services for a low percentage, you should know why. Are they just trying to stay competitive? Or do they expect you to do a large share of the marketing yourself?

Do They Have A Plan?

The real estate agent should be able to tell you exactly which marketing techniques they would use for your home and how they plan to promote the listing. They should come to the table with ideas from the very beginning.

Now that you have a clearer idea of the basics, use the internet to find trusted real estate agents in your area. Then pick up the phone and begin your journey toward becoming a successful home seller today.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Considering a Major Home Addition? Why a Detached Garage Can Drastically Improve Your Resale Price

Considering a Major Home Addition? Why a Detached Garage Can Drastically Improve Your Resale PriceBefore you make a major structural change to your property, it is important to consider how this will affect your resale value. While there are many steps that you can take to improve your property, the addition of a detached garage may be beneficial to you and may drastically improve your resale price when you are ready to sell.

You can contact a trusted real estate agent today to obtain customized information about how the addition of a detached garage may affect your property’s value.

Adding Square Footage to Your Home

As a property owner, you may be well aware that one of the most common ways the value of your property is determined is by the market rate for price per square foot of homes in the area.

While factors such as age of the property, condition of the property and amenities in the neighborhood may affect whether your property’s price per square foot is above or below market average, the kind of the improvements has a direct impact on property value.

While adding a detached garage adds overall square footage to the property, it generally won’t be considered at the same rate as finished square footage within the home.  However, outbuilding improvements do add value to your property and a real estate agent can help you to determine the true financial gain you may experience through this addition.

Increasing Appeal to Potential Buyers

Properties that are more appealing to potential buyers may sell for a higher price. When you add a detached garage to your property, you may be adding style and function to the property by adding a place to park vehicles and to store items like seasonal items and lawn equipment. You can also create a detached garage with a workshop or another functional area for added appeal.

Transforming Existing Space

Some home additions will add a detached garage to a property because a garage was never constructed on the property, but others will be added because the homeowner wants to transform the existing garage attached to the home into a more functional area. For example, a new home addition, may turn the existing garage into a living room, a bedroom or another functional area. With the addition of a detached garage, the property owner can retain the benefits of having a garage while also improving the functional use of the main area of the home.

The addition of a detached garage can benefit you and your family in a number of ways, and it can also improve the resale value of your home. By speaking with a real estate agent, you can get a better idea about how this addition will affect your property.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Scam Alert! Three Mortgage Modification Scams to Watch out for (And How to Avoid Them)

Scam Alert! Three Mortgage Modification Scams to Watch out for (And How to Avoid Them)As if homeowners who are facing foreclosure don’t have enough to worry about, a multitude of loan modification scam artists have invaded the internet, public files and even foreclosure notices in newspapers in hopes of targeting their next victim. By identifying the top three modification scams and learning how to avoid them, at-risk homeowners can protect themselves (and their homes).

Never Pay For Mortgage Modification Assistance

Many desperate homeowners fall victim to scam artists who offer to provide them with assistance in the loan modification process for an exorbitant fee. Many times the scam artist who promises to provide assistance will require that the homeowner pay the fee upfront, after which they will provide very little assistance or simply take the money and run. Consumers should be aware that assistance and counseling services are offered for free through a number of reputable HUD approved counseling agencies.

Avoid Transferring The Deed

One popular scam that at-risk homeowners often face is the property deed scam in which scam artists promise to purchase the home in question, agreeing to let the desperate homeowner rent it out. They suggest that turning over the deed to a borrower with a better credit rating will offer additional financing opportunities, thus preventing the loss of the home. The scammer often promises to sell the home back to the homeowner, but in reality has no intention of doing so.

Many times the scam artist will sell the home to another buyer. In some instances, the crook will collect any processing fees, take the title to the home and any equity, and then leave the home to default. It is a good idea for consumers who are approached with a property deed scam to report it to the FTC.

Ignore Unrealistic Promises

Mortgage modification scammers often make promises to do such things as negotiate a solution to the foreclosure more quickly, process mortgage payments for the consumer while the negotiation is being worked out, or even guarantee a loan modification. Since the actual lender is the only one who can agree to a loan modification, and this solution requires additional processing time, overnight fixes are almost always scams. Additionally, consumers should never make mortgage payments to anyone other than their lender.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms With

Five Absolute Truths About the Home Buying Process That You Will Need to Come to Terms WithBuying a home is one of the most exciting times that an individual will undertake in life. However, a property purchase is not without its challenges, and these can cause frustration. In this article we’ll share five potential setbacks that home buyers will need to understand and come to terms with to make a successful purchase.

Homeowner’s Insurance is Necessary

Most lenders will require insurance before financing is approved. To fulfill these requirements, the policy should be for at least one year and proof that the policy has been paid for must be presented. Purchasing the policy is something that must be done before closing can take place, so if you’re sure that this is the home for you, don’t delay.

Some Sellers Are Firm, No Matter What

In an ideal situation, the buyer and the seller come to a mutual agreement very easily. However, in most cases negotiation of some type is likely to be a part of the process. As with most negotiations, to reach success both sides will need to compromise.

Probate Properties Have Special Terms

When the original homeowner has died, there are certain considerations to keep in mind that do not typically apply to other types of property. One is the fact that there is a special process that must be completed before the property can be sold, even though the heirs may advertise the property as being for sale ahead of time. Another factor to keep in mind is that a recently probated property may have been uninhabited for some time and will be sold ‘as is’.

Loan Offers May Not Be Set in Stone

A common pitfall for many buyers is the assumption that home financing will be approved without issue. Unexpected circumstances may arise that cause a mortgage loan to be denied, which can cause an unprepared buyer numerous issues. Many sellers, in anticipation of such problems, have a contingency requirement.

Expect Caution from Sellers

If a seller treats your offer with caution or trepidation, don’t take it personally. Many homeowners have been burned during previous sales, and you have no idea what the seller has been through with potential buyers this time around. If someone is exercising caution, there’s likely a good reason for it.

In closing, remember that the best way to purchase a home is through a real estate agent. When you’re ready to jump into the property market, contact a trusted local agent and they’ll be ready to assist.

Posted in Market Outlook

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Aug 11, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Aug 11 2014

Last week’s housing related news was minimal, but a Federal Reserve survey of senior loan officers revealed that although credit standards for commercial and industrial loans as well as credit cards are easing, current mortgage credit standards are more stringent than in 2005. This could be a contributing factor to slowing housing market gains while other sectors of the economy are recovering at a faster pace.

Qualified Mortgage Rules Impact Non-Conforming Mortgages

The Senior Loan Officers survey also noted that qualified mortgage rules have slowed approval of prime jumbo mortgages and non-traditional home loans. This suggests that applicants falling outside of stringent qualified mortgage rules can expect challenges when buying or refinancing their homes.

In other housing news, Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported that last week’s mortgage rates were mixed. Mortgage rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.14 percent with discount points of 0.70 percent against last week’s reading of 4.12 percent with discount points of 0.60 percent. 15-year mortgage rates averaged 3.27 percent with discount points of 0.60 percent. This was an increase of four basis points, although discount points fell from 0.70 percent to 0.60 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was 2.98 percent, a drop of two basis points, with discount points unchanged at 0.50 percent.

Fewer Jobless Claims, Service-Related Business Growth Exceeds Expectations 

The weekly Jobless Claims report brought a lower than expected reading of 289,000 new claims as compared to predictions of 305,000 new jobless claims. In other economic news, the Institute for Service Management (ISM) reported that its non-manufacturing index rose from June’s reading of 56.00 percent to 58.70 percent in July. Analysts had forecasted July’s reading at 56.50 percent. July’s reading represented the highest growth rate for service-related businesses since 2005.

According to the Department of Commerce, June factory orders rose by 1.10 percent over May’s reading of -0.60 percent against an expected reading of 0.60 percent. As business expands and factory orders increase, it’s likely that jobs and hiring will also grow. Steady employment is a compelling factor for most home buyers and positive reports in labor and industrial sectors could boost housing markets as more buyers increase demand for homes.

What’s Ahead

Next week’s economic reports include retail sales, retail sales excluding automotive, industrial production and the weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims. While there isn’t much housing news expected next week, readings in other economic sectors can suggest potential trends in housing markets

Posted in Home Buyer Tips

Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or Condo

Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House or CondoBuying a home is a huge step for people who are ready to make an investment in their future. Getting a great deal on a home is just as important and knowing how much to offer could be confusing. It is important to make sure the home seller is not insulted by the lowball offer and is ready to negotiate to make sure everyone wins.

Make a List of Necessary Improvements

One of the best ways to validate a lowball offer on a home is to list improvements that need to be made to the property. If the home needs a new roof or a new heating and air conditioning system, these are reasons to offer less than the asking price. Sometimes a home may also need new flooring, paint, or matching appliances which all cost money. The buyer can make a lowball offer stating additional expenses of making sure the home is move in ready.

Explain Any Issues with the Location

Another option when considering a lowball offer is to point out problems with the location. If the home is on a busy street or close to a manufacturing district, the buyer has legitimate concerns. In the offer, list the potential problems of living too close to fast food restaurants, train tracks, or airports. A less desirable location could equal a great buy on a new home.

Provide Pricing for Comparable Homes in the Area

A knowledgeable real estate agent can help compare homes that have sold in the area. When you are writing up a lowball offer, look at the lower priced homes that have sold in the same neighborhood. A seller will quickly realize that if he wants to sell the home, he will need to accept a reasonable offer or risk letting his house sit on the market for weeks or months.

Consider the Seller’s Reasons for Selling

Finally, the seller’s situation can also be key in getting a good deal on a home. If the seller is desperate to sell because of a job relocation or if he has already bought a new home this can be the perfect reason to make a low offer and take the home off the seller’s hands. Without insulting the seller, the buyer can make an offer for less than the asking price and agree to a quick closing.

Buying a home can be stressful and getting a good deal on the property without insulting the seller can take some negotiating. Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent will make the experience more enjoyable. Call today to make your dreams come true.

Posted in Around The Home

3 Reasons Why Changing Your Kitchen And Dining Room Lighting Fixtures Can Increase Your Sale Price

3 Reasons Why Changing Your Kitchen And Dining Room Lighting Fixtures Can Increase Your Sale PriceIf you are considering selling your home, you may be wondering if there are things that you can do to increase your sale price. The truth is, you could spend thousands of dollars updating your home, but most homeowners will not want to put in such a large investment without knowing how much it will add to the selling price. Fortunately, there are more affordable things that can be done.

One affordable change to your home that can increase your sale price is to change your kitchen and dining room lighting fixtures. There are a number of reasons why this can work. Here are three of them:

Buyers are Looking for Entertainment Areas in New Homes

One reason that changing your kitchen and dining room lighting fixtures can increase your sale price is because buyers are looking for areas where they can entertain. Most people who are looking for a new home will be thinking about the things they can do with the home, and one of these things is entertaining their friends and family.

Buyers are willing to pay more on homes that have these nicely decorated areas, so updating your kitchen and dining room lighting can help to bring in a bit more money.

The Kitchen and Dining Room are the Center of Family Life

Another reason that people will pay more on a home with new lighting fixtures is because the kitchen and dining room are seen as the center of family life. In this scenario, buyers know that they will be spending a lot of time in these rooms and thus, want to be sure that these areas are nicely decorated.

New Kitchen and Dining Room Light Fixtures Will Brighten Up the Home

Finally, you will want to update the lighting fixtures in your kitchen and dining room because new fixtures can brighten up your home. You might have heard real estate agents talk about how important it is to have bright lights and open window shades during open houses since it can make your home look better. New, brighter lights can also help your rooms look bigger. Sometimes it will all come down to an optical illusion.

For more information on adding new lighting fixtures to your kitchen and dining room in order to increase sales, contact a local real estate professional. They will be able to give you some tips on these rooms and offer information on how you can spruce up the rest of your home before putting it on the market.

Posted in Around The Home

DIY Home Improvement: How to Spice Up That Boring Basement by Adding a New Bar

DIY Home Improvement: How to Spice Up That Boring Basement by Adding a New BarIf you live in a home with a basement, you may have already started finishing it, or you may have big plans to convert the space into something more usable and practical. When it comes to basement renovations, few projects add as much value and opportunity for entertainment as adding in a basement bar.

A bar is an easy home improvement project to complete, and you can use it for entertaining family and friends. Here’s a quick guide to installing a bar in your basement and turning that dank, dreary room into a great space for making new memories.

Preparing For The Bar Addition

First, you need to select the space that is best-suited for the bar. The ideal space will be an open area near the corner of the room or even near an entryway. The space should allow for seating for at least two or three bars stools, but you may desire a larger bar area.

Most bar areas will have water and electricity features, and it will be easier and less expensive if you choose an area of the room that has these services running through the walls. If water and electricity are easily accessible, you simply have to build a wall and add a counter top to the area. If you cannot complete this work on your own, you can hire a contractor for assistance.

Hiring Contractors For Special Tasks

A fully functional bar area may have overhead cabinetry for storage as well as a small sink to rinse out glasses and to wash hands. In addition, it may have electricity for lighting mounted under the cabinets or for display lights over the seating areas.

While some individuals may have the skills to complete this work on their own, you may consider outsourcing these special tasks to a contractor. This will ensure that the work is completed to code, and it also means the work might be completed sooner than if you tried to do it yourself.

Once you’ve built the bar and hooked up the water and electricity, you simply have to add a few bar stools, stock up on glasses and liquor, and start enjoying the space. A new bar addition will be a welcome feature in your home’s basement, and you can easily get started working on this project today. For more fun and trendy basement renovation ideas, contact a real estate professional in your community today.

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips

Five Tips for Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every Time

Five Tips for Managing Your Monthly Budget to Ensure Your Mortgage is Paid On-Time, Every TimeHomeowners who are struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments can make it easier on themselves by cutting costs in other areas. Learning how to budget effectively will likely enable homeowners to pay their mortgage payments on-time, every time. Here are five of the best budget tips:

Conserve Energy

It is advisable to be mindful of energy use in order to keep utility bills down to a minimum. Lights, televisions and other devices requiring electrical power are best to leave off in unoccupied rooms. It is also a good idea to make sure that windows and doors are properly sealed so that energy is not wasted.

Stay Committed to Couponing

All too often, coupons that arrive in newspapers or through emails are quickly discarded. Collecting coupons from various sources can give homeowners the chance to save big on groceries, entertainment and other everyday purchases. Some of the savviest consumers have been known to spend practically nothing on their purchases by simply staying committed to the art of couponing.

Watch Credit Card Usage

Having a credit card often creates a false sense of financial security. Many card holders are tempted to charge their credit cards up to their limits only to be burdened with high interest rates and inflated minimum payments. Credit cards are best to use only in times of emergencies.

Consider Alternative Transportation Methods

Fuel costs, auto repairs and other expenses associated with driving a vehicle on a frequent basis can make it much harder for homeowners to stay on top of their mortgage payments. People who have access to adequate public transportation may be able to significantly reduce their commute costs. Car sharing services give people the opportunity to use a car on an as-needed basis and often prove to be a smarter alternative to owning a vehicle.

Keep Expense Records

It can also be easier to set money aside for mortgage payments if expenses are carefully monitored with a detailed eye. It is best to closely scrutinize receipts, bank statements and other financial documents for any discrepancies. Keeping track of expenses on a spreadsheet so that all financial information is clearly displayed may be another practical idea.

Smart budgeting practices can help homeowners save the extra money they need to pay their monthly mortgage payments before each due date passes.

Posted in Home Seller Tips

Former Smoker? A Quick Guide on Getting Rid of Smoke Smells and Paint Stains Before a Home Sale

Former Smoker? A Quick Guide on Getting Rid of Smoke Smells and Paint Stains Before a Home SaleAs exciting as selling a home should be, there’s no denying that it can be a stressful endeavor for those interested in making their home an attractive option for buyers. Nowhere is this more evident than for homeowners who were former smokers.

While it’s truly commendable to quit smoking, removing the smell of smoke from a home can feel like an impossible task. With that in mind, here are some of the most effective ways to make smoke smell and paint stain removal as effortless as possible.

Make Preparations Beforehand

Cigarette smoke has a nasty habit of permeating through every facet of a home. As such, it can be difficult to pinpoint the areas that are most problematic. Before starting the cleaning process, open all of the doors and windows throughout the home to help it air out naturally.

It’s also worth mentioning that many longtime smokers have difficulty picking up the odor that they’ve become accustomed to. If you know someone that isn’t a smoker, invite them over and ask them to point out any problem areas.

Treat Your Home Like a Quarantine Zone

Unfortunately, a home that is infested with smoke can create a cyclical effect on anything that is washed. If you want your clothing and linens to stop carrying the smell, you’ll need an alternative to your own washer and dryer. Of course, you’ll also need to keep them away from your home for the remaining duration of the cleaning process.

In particular, carpets have a habit of retaining smoke smells long after you’ve quit. With this in mind, taking care of any carpets or curtains in your home should be a top priority.

Account For Deeper Problems

Once you’ve given your home a steam cleaning treatment and washed all of the stained surfaces down with a mixture of water and bleach, you may still discover that some areas of the house are still affected. At this point, it’s time to simply accept your losses and purchase a replacement. A nice smelling home will be far more attractive to buyers than one that inexplicably reeks of smoke.

If you’re unsure of any further steps to take in preparing your home for a sale, don’t hesitate to contact your real estate agent and request more information. Your home deserves a high price for all of the effort you’ve put into cleaning it.