Selling your house

Advice You Should Ignore

Everyone has an opinion and when you are buying or selling a home, you’ll most likely hear a few. Here are some common phrases you should ignore.

  1. “Only sell in the spring.” Many people like to assume that spring is the best time to sell a home. However, winter (especially in January) is a good selling season if you live in states that aren’t subjected to harsh winter weather (like Florida). Every area is different, so don’t hold off because someone told you to wait. The busier the season, the busier buyers will be. Keeping this in mind, there will also be more sellers and more competition. Even in the seasons that aren’t as busy, someone will still be looking for a home.
  2. “Go to an open house, you’ll find the buyer there.” While it is possible to meet a buyer at your open house, many attend these events simply to look. The buyers that are more serious about the purchase will ask for a private showing.
  3. “Save your money by paying less in commission.” There is a lot of work realtors do when helping someone buy and sell a home. Their job duties extend past simply listing a home. Paying the realtor their commission helps them obtain posters, flyers, yard signs, as well as plan and host an open house event at your home.
  4. “List your price and don’t budge on it. Wait until someone offers to pay it.” Setting the price super high then waiting for someone to agree to pay it may not be the best choice. Homebuyers steer away from overpaying for a home. This hurts you, as the longer your home sits on the market, the more buyers will question why it hasn’t been bought yet. Set a fair price and be willing to negotiate.
  5. “This is what the market will look like next year.” The market is unpredictable and changes all of the time. Anything can happen!
real estate deal

How to Close Your Deal Successfully

Whether you’re closing a deal on an apartment, your dream, a beach condo, etc., it’s certainly an exciting time to be at the end of the road so a new chapter of your life can begin. Don’t get too overwhelmed in the paperwork and legalities, as there are some ways to close your deal in a successful manner without causing too much stress upon yourself.

  1. Have faith in yourself. Be confident; this can carry over into the deal. If you believe in the deal, it will happen. State what you wish to happen and claim it, aim for it, make it your goal. Work hard to achieve that goal. Every detail and step may not go as planned but stick to your guns to ensure your wants and needs are received.
  2. Don’t complicate things. Don’t hound buyers with info, facts, figures, etc. This won’t truly impact their decision when the time comes. Maintain a straight-forward, direct, personable persona. Make things as simple and easy as possible. This is best for both parties involved.
  3. Listen to your potential buyers. Know what they want and what their conditions are; work to help them get what they want and need in a home. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get a better idea of what they’re searching for and what you can do to help them receive this. If they express any doubts, reassure them. Don’t ignore any issues; face them head on and help get them resolved in a quick manner.
  4. Be yourself. Stay honest and genuine. Show your best to them and chances are, you’ll get their best in return. Good energy promotes good energy!
buying a home

Why You Shouldn’t Buy or Sell a Home Without a Realtor

While it’s not entirely impossible to buy or sell a home on your own, that certainly isn’t recommended. What you will find to be the most helpful during the buying or selling process is hiring a realtor to help you navigate through the process and ensure you get what you’ve been hoping for from the buyer or seller. But if you’re seriously considering doing this on your own, consider these reasons below as to why it’s best to have a realtor by your side.

  1. They’re experts. The world of real estate can be complex; it even has its own language! A language that a realtor can speak in a fluent manner. Not to mention they’re great at handling the ins and outs of buying and selling, as it requires quite an extensive amount of paperwork – forms, reports, disclosures, etc. These professionals can help you get the deal you’ve been dreaming of without delays and pricey mistakes.
  2. They’re quicker at finding the home for you. Not to say you don’t have the ability to go lightning speed on your keyboard and find some houses, but realtors, when given info about your needs and wants in a home and neighborhood, can easily find the right match for you. Sure, you can search listings on your own time; however, realtors have access to more listings that may not even come up in a typical search, as they may not be advertised. Realtors are great at finding local hidden gems!
  3. They’re tough when it comes to negotiations. Meaning that they don’t back down easily! It’s possible for competition, cut-throat antics, cash offers, and bidding wars to occur. Would you be prepared to handle this on your own? Realtors certainly know how to negotiate. They also help design a purchase agreement that will allow adequate time for inspections, contingencies, etc.
  4. They have connections. Realtors know plenty of mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, home stagers, interior designers, contractors, etc. All of which can help you when buying or selling a home.
  5. They abide by a code of ethics. It’s important to know that not every real estate agent is a realtor. A realtor is a licensed real estate salesperson who is a member of the National Association of Realtors. What’s the difference, you ask? Realtors are held to a higher ethical standard and must abide by a code of ethics in order to maintain their job.
  6. They’re more than just a salesperson. Realtors work hard and complete many different tasks in order to receive their commission. They drive around, check listings for you, spend money out of their own bank account to market your home if you’re selling it, conduct research to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth, etc. Not to mention they work almost all hours of the day and late into the evening. If you have any questions or concerns, they address them and they keep you informed. You’re not just a commission to them; realtors truly care about their clients.
moving out

Signs It’s Time to Move Out of Your Home

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average amount of time a homeowner occupies a house is 10 years. However, some stay much longer than that while others are moving out sooner. It all depends on each resident’s time frame. Whatever the reason may be, there are some issues that can occur that ultimately cause a homeowner to move on to something new. Sometimes it’s financial, other times it’s emotional. Regardless, here are six ways to tell it’s time to move out.

  1. The market is skyrocketing and you want to profit from it. Depending on the area you live in, it may become a popular new place on the market. What better time to cash in, especially if you’ve been debating on moving out. The price per square foot could be increasing, houses in your neighborhood could be selling at a rapid pace, new additions to your town could be bringing in more residents, etc.
  2. Your neighbors got quite a nice chunk of change for their home(s). If you’ve noticed properties in your area are being put up for sale, search them online and see what they’re being listed for, also pay attention to how quickly they sell. If the houses that have the same amount of bedrooms and bathrooms as yours are being sold for an amount that you would love to have in your bank account, consider putting yours up for sale.
  3. Your house has become a financial burden. Perhaps you’ve fallen on hard times and you’re struggling with property taxes or mortgage payments. It may be time to find something more affordable.
  4. Your family has overgrown the home. If you bought a home when you first got married but now have multiple children, pets, etc., it may be time to move into a larger home.
  5. You need a change of scenery. Whether you want out because a loved one has passed away and it’s time to move on, or if you simply want to move to a different part of town.
  6. Maintenance has become too costly. This could be landscaping, snow removal, issues with your septic tank, trash and recycling, house-cleaning, etc. All of these add up over time and many of these services don’t come cheap, especially if they occur often.

You’ve stayed for at least five years (the recommended minimum time). Selling too soon means there is a chance you haven’t built up equity beyond the down payment, as mortgage payments are mostly just interest payments in the beginning. It’s not a good look to buyers if you haven’t been in the house for long. They’ll wonder if something is wrong with the house or the neighborhood to cause you to exit quickly. This could affect their decision to buy

best reator

How to Spot a Successful Realtor

While every realtor is different, there are ways to spot who is more successful in your area. Below are some tips to help you pick out the best realtor from your list of options.

  1. They’re quick to respond. Whether it’s a phone call or an email, exceptional realtors don’t hesitate to get back in touch with you. Keep in mind they are busy and have other clients, but they will make time for you as soon as they can, which usually isn’t long at all.
  2. They keep you informed and help you along the way. Great realtors want clients/customers to know as many details as possible – how the process works, potential issues/scenarios that could arise, etc. Ultimately, realtors want the best for their clients. They are willing to go above and beyond to make sure you get the home you’re looking for or get the most out of the home you’re selling. They’re also willing to work around your schedule so you have time to view different houses, meet with them, etc.
  3. They stay updated with current trends in technology. If you prefer to communicate through texting, this shouldn’t be an issue for the realtor, as many carry smartphones and/or smart tablets with them.
  4. They know neighborhoods. If you have one in mind, ask your realtor about the environment – what has sold recently, what the residents are like, what’s in close proximity, what the crime rate is (if any), etc. If you’re looking for a home near a playground or close to downtown, they will be able to point you in the right direction.
  5. They experiment with leads to get new clients. Leads are how realtors get clients; many try out different forms, such as advertisements (billboards, bench ads, bus ads, radio, newsprint, etc.), social media, flyers, etc.
  6. They have a great circle around them. What this means is that they network – not only just for new clients, but also for potential business partners. Realtors develop relationships with contractors, appraisers, lenders, insurance providers, etc. Their suggestions often make things easier for clients who need the help/professional advice of such an individual.

 

rental house

What You Will Need to Know from Potential Tenants

Choosing the right tenant for your property can, at times, be stressful. But the task is made so much easier if you’re prepared and know what to look for in each individual. Here are some things you’ll need to know from potential renters.

  1. When they plan on moving in. This depends on how soon you would like a tenant to move in; if they’re not planning on moving for another three months, you may want to hold out and wait for someone who is ready to move in much sooner.
  2. If they’re able to pay move-in costs after signing the lease. Let them know you require first month’s rent and a security deposit, followed by what the amount will be. If they’re prepared to pay as soon as the lease is signed, continue with the process. If they’re hesitant and ask about payment plans, consider this to be a red flag. Chances are, you will have difficulties getting the full payment on time. If they say they don’t have the money “right now,” move on to the next candidate.
  3. If they have pets. This depends on whether you have a no pet policy or if you only allow certain types of pets. You can use this moment to explain your policy and if you have any pet fees.
  4. If they’re able to pass a background check, as well as a credit check. You can show the place to them, but you’ll need to inform them that an application and a check will be required before they can rent the property. If you’re charging a fee for this, tell them the amount.
  5. Why they’re leaving their current residence. Some may say, “Well, it’s because I don’t get along with my landlord.” Or, “My lease was terminated.” If this is the case, contact the landlord to determine why this tenant is trying to leave. This will give you an idea of what to expect, should they rent from you.
rental house

Tips for First Time Property Managers

Property management has its perks, but it also has its challenges – as is the case with most aspects of life. However, your first time managing a property doesn’t have to be a total nightmare. Here are some tips to help you, should you be new to the field.

  1. Take your time with screening candidates. Set your standards high and complete a thorough screening of each prospective candidate.
  2. Make payment options easy for both you and the renter. Many use the option of paying online, which is perfect in today’s technologically driven world. When using this payment option, include it in the lease and use a reputable online rent payment company, such as Cozy or Appfolio.
  3. Finalize your lease and stand by it. Your success will be determined by the strength and fairness of the lease you’ve created. A written lease is always best, even if they’re renting month-to-month. You’ll want everything in writing, should issues appear later on.
  4. Thoroughly inspect your property once a quarter. There will most likely be a repair, issue, or maintenance needed once a quarter. Sure, you can hire a contractor; but follow up on their work to make sure the issue was resolved.
  5. Be a model citizen. Everyone knows that customer satisfaction is the number one goal, or at least should be, for every business. Be fair and honest in your work; be timely in following up on promises and repairs. If you’re good to them, chances are, they’ll be great to you.
  6. Don’t refrain from using notices. While every state has their own requirements, abide by the law and use a notice – this applies to whether you will be visiting the property or terminating the lease. It’s what’s right and what’s fair.
  7. Withhold the deposit amount ONLY if damages have occurred. This is in regards to material and financial damages, such as rent, late fees, cost of repairs, etc. Don’t withhold the deposit if you and the tenant got into a disagreement or if they found a way out of the lease. If damages are present, you will need proof through either a receipt or the contract/lease.

Costs You Should Know About as a First-Time Homeowner

So you’re close to signing the dotted line on your very first house. Congratulations! Before you seal the deal, however, there are some costs you should be aware of so you aren’t blindsided as a brand new homeowner.

  1. Inspections. It’s of the utmost importance to have the home you’re purchasing fully inspected before you buy it. This will save you money on repairs and possibly even prevent putting you and/or your loved ones at risk, should something dangerous that you’re unaware of is occurring within the walls of the home. Many are worried when it comes to home inspections, but these professionals are here to look out for your best interests and to keep you safe. They will check everything from the electrical work to plumbing to the home’s structure. Prices depend upon the size of the home and how thorough the inspection is. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential home inspector how much they will charge to look at your home.
  2. Taxes. More specifically, the property tax. While the amount you pay depends on where you’re living, it’s important to find out what that payment will be per year before you buy the home. Of course, large cities and urban regions will have higher taxes than those living in rural areas.
  3. The cost of utilities. Look into what the estimate of your bills will be as far as electricity and the AC unit. Of course, this is ultimately determined by how often you leave your lights on as well as the size of your home (for heating and air). It’s common to pay around $300 a month for utilities, but it would be a good idea to ask the seller what they typically had to pay each month to get an idea.
  4. Various forms of insurance. If you live near water, it may be in your best interest to purchase flood insurance. If you live in areas where wildfires are common, then, of course, it’s best to purchase fire insurance. Disaster insurance is always a good investment if you live in areas known for flooding, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes or tornados, etc. Look into the different types you will need and the cost of each.
  5. Cleaning services. If you don’t have time to clean (or just simply don’t have the desire to), research local cleaning companies in your area and compare the costs. This will depend upon the size of your home and how often services will be needed.
  6. Repairs or improvements. If there are some repairs needed, these can add up quickly depending on the severity of each issue. Whether you need a new deck, need to build a ramp for a handicapped family member, add handrails to a staircase before the new baby arrives, etc., look into each repair/improvement and “shop” around when it comes to finding the best price for you.
  7. An escrow account. The Federal Housing Administration requires buyers to create escrow accounts, which is where all of the money needed for the transaction is held until the deal is made final between buyer and seller. As soon as the contract has been signed, the mortgage will need to be paid monthly to that escrow account; this lets the lender know you will make payments on time. Additional fees may be required, such as interest, taxes, and insurance.
  8. The Homeowners Association fee. If you’ve chosen to live in a subdivision, development, or suburb, you’re more than likely now a part of a homeowners association and will be required to pay fees annually or monthly. In addition, you’ll need to join as a member and follow their rules.
  9. A home warranty. This differs from home insurance in the sense that while home insurance offers protection from disasters and damages, a home warranty covers the costs of repairs and replacements. This is optional, but overall a good investment. For example, if a pipe bursts in your kitchen, home insurance will cover it. If the pipe bursting is due to a plumbing problem or the kitchen appliance breaks, a home warranty will cover this. This proves beneficial should an appliance break just a few weeks after moving into your new home.
  10. Maintenance work. Whether you will have a spacious backyard that will need landscaping or a large pool that will need cleaning, you can bet you’ll be spending money at some point on maintenance work.
  11. Closing fees. These are associated with the home purchase and are paid at the time of closing when the title of the property is transferred from seller to buyer. This includes application fees, attorney fees, appraisal, inspection, insurance, etc. You will see the total amount you’re paying during this time.

Five Tips for a Quick Home Sell

If you’re ready to sell your home much faster than you would with the usual process, here are some tips to help ensure a quick sell:
1.       Improve the outside. Perhaps there are some dead plants in the yard, debris scattered out back, or maybe the grass needs watering and the house could stand a good pressure wash. Whatever the issue, take a long hard look at the outside of your home. Don’t be afraid to ask the opinions of family members, friends, and even your realtor. You’ll want to make sure everything looks nice, as this will be the first impression your home gives to a potential buyer.
2.       Identify and utilize your home’s selling point. Your home’s selling point is what makes it stand out from other homes on the market. If you’re unsure as to what that is, consider what made you want to buy it. If you still aren’t sure, don’t be afraid to ask your realtor. Maybe it has a spacious backyard, is in close proximity to good schools for your children to attend, it’s near a thriving downtown area, it has a walk-in closet, etc. Find what will make a buyer sold on the thought of living in your home and let that be the main focus of selling.
3.       Remove all personal items. It may seem distracting, or even strange, for potential buyers to visit your home with your personal belongings still in it. Rid all rooms of any personal items, including photos. This will make it easier for the buyer to imagine what it would be like to live there. Be sure the home is free of clutter and junk also, as this can create a bad image as well as a safety hazard.
4.       Prevent foul smells. This can be done by cleaning your drains and wash bins, allowing the proper amount of air flow and ventilation, using scented room sprays in the kitchen to mask cooking smells, cleaning the carpet, and removing old furniture (especially if you smoke indoors and the furniture has fabric). You may also brew coffee, which is an enjoyable smell to many. Some may wish to light candles, but keep in mind what may smell pleasant to you may not always be the same for others.
5.       Keep your offer reasonable. Your realtor can help you come up with a price that buyers cannot resist. You’ll need to be careful in selecting the price; if it’s too high, it will sit on the market for a lot longer than desired. If your house sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may notice and assume something is wrong with the home since it has yet to be sold.

How to Select a Closing Attorney

It’s always an exciting adventure in purchasing your new home. While it can be a tedious and, at times, challenging process, buying a home can overall be a very rewarding experience. Before starting the process, however, it’s a good idea to look into hiring a real estate attorney, a licensed professional who will help cover all legal documents and make sure your rights are protected. Below are some tips to consider when searching for the right lawyer for you:
1.      The early you search, the better. While browsing homes, also be on the lookout for a good quality real estate lawyer. Make a list of your wants and needs in a lawyer and start the search in your area. The sooner you find one, the quicker you can get the homebuying process started.
2.      Ask around. If you know of anyone who recently purchased a home, see if they have any suggestions as to who would be a great fit. Your real estate agent should also be able to give you a list of candidates. Don’t be afraid to ask about each lawyer’s fees and the person’s experiences with them.
3.      Aim to hire those with experience. Go for the lawyer who specializes in this field rather than one who occasionally or “once in a blue moon” handles a real estate purchase. Your state bar association will have a list of candidates, along with their credentials, and will be more than happy to provide this list to you. There are also lawyer referral websites available for usage.
4.      Conduct online research. Browse different lawyers’ websites, where you can see their educational background and case experience. Don’t be afraid to look them up on sites such as Google, Yelp and Facebook, where people can leave ratings and comments on their experiences. You can also search for online articles written about them as well as look into their methods of advertising. Of course, you’ll want someone who is professional and top notch in their field.
5.      Schedule an interview. There is nothing quite like meeting a potential hire face-to-face, as you’ll be able to tell if this is a relationship that can work. Comprise a list of questions to ask each candidate and ask for client references to back up what they say. You can also ask about fees and how often you will be charged for their services, as well as how often they communicate during the week with clients. You’ll want to make sure there is no conflict of interest, either, meaning that the lawyer doesn’t work with the seller or anyone affiliated with the home you’re looking into purchasing.
6.      Obtain a written copy of your agreement. Once you’ve read the retainer in full and completely understand what services and fees are being offered, get a copy for your personal records.