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Google Plus Real Estate Articles April

Best Google+ Real Estate Articles April 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once a month we like to gather a collection of pertinent information from our Google network. These articles are designed to be beneficial to home buyers, home sellers, real estate agents and mortgage lenders.

This month we have an eclectic mix of content. We have some tips for sellers and buyers about working with real estate agents along with general information about buying or selling a home in the spring.

There is also a collection of articles about a specific kind of mortgage for the elderly and preparing for a purchase of a home in an affluent community.

Finally, there are some tips for home owners to spruce up their property.

Positives and Negatives of the Open House phenomenon

It is quite common to see lots of signs on the weekend that advertise an upcoming open house either in your neighborhood or a nearby neighborhood. This is a very common tactic used by real estate agents. However, if you are a homeowner, you should be aware of the possible risks of this selling strategy.

Although the goal here is not to scare you, we do want to provide realistic data that explains whether or not an open house is a viable way to attract a potential buyer.

First of all, there is the possibility that lazy criminals are looking for an easy way to gain access to your home and make off with whatever can be hid in their pockets.

Secondly, it is possible that predators use the possibility of an open house to find their next female victim.

While it is also possible that the person who buys your home only finds out about it through an open house, you should not rely on this as the only form of advertising your home.

Is Your Real Estate Agent Being Totally Honest With You?

Every profession is made up of a large number of honest, hardworking people that are genuinely trying to serve their customers with great service. However, a small percentage of bad people can ruin the whole profession for the rest of us.

There are a few ways that a real estate agent may try to win your business with less than ethical methods. It is not uncommon for people in the business of sales to fudge on their annual production numbers or pretend to be an expert in a specific area.

One of the simplest ways to check out a person’s claims is to ask for specific references who can verify specific claims made by the agent.

Why do People Avoid Working with a Real Estate Agent ?

If you are looking to buy a home you may frequently run across an ad or a sign that reads “for sale by owner.” See enough of these ads and you may start to wonder why people choose to refrain from working with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home.

Part of the reason is the lack of familiarity with the agents work. Since most people will only buy 2 or 3 homes in their life, they don’t have enough experience dealing with an agent to build up a firm level of trust.

However, as mentioned earlier, a few bad real estate agents ruin the whole industry for the rest of the hard working souls.

It is a good idea to sit down with a prospective real estate agent and have a thorough interview with them. Get as much information from them as possible as well as references not only to past clients but also from mortgage lenders. This will give you a full picture of how the agent works.

Advice for Purchasing a Home In the Spring

There are lots of things for prospective buyers to know about buying a home in the spring.

First and foremost, it is the busiest time of the year to purchase a property. This means you will likely be competing with multiple buyers on each home that you inspect.

Secondly, in order to be considered a serious buyer, you will need to get pre-approved for a home loan first. A letter from a lender that states you have the financial strength to buy a home will show sellers that you mean business.

Third, you need to investigate not only the home itself, but also the neighborhood and the surrounding area. There is much more to purchasing a property than just the roof and walls and home payment.

Being thoroughly prepared for the purchase will make the process easier for you and help you to get the right home.

Buying an Upscale Home

There are categories of homes in almost every market. There are brick homes, ranch style homes, single story properties, rustic home with a couple of acres and there are condos. Almost any of these homes can also be considered a luxury home if the property meets certain criteria.

Buying a luxury home, or a upscale property, will normally necessitate the use of a jumbo mortgage. This is a specific type of loan of an amount over $417,000 in most areas. These mortgages are different from other types of loans.

In a nutshell, a jumbo mortgage will require a higher down payment than other loans, may have a slightly higher interest rate, and may not allow you to have a fixed rate for 30 years.

Determining When it is Time to Replace your Roof

As a homeowner it is important to understand the value of regular maintenance. Certain items, like the plumbing system and the heating/air conditioning unit, can last for many years as long as the owner takes the time and effort to keep things running smoothly.

One of the most expensive replacement costs of owning a home is the price to upgrade or replace a roof. Therefore, it is wise for most homeowners to take some time to learn what to look for to see if their roof is in need of a simple repair, more expensive work or if they will need a new roof.

One simple method is to inspect a home on the outside. Be on the lookout for buckles in the roof as well as missing shingles. If you are willing and able you may also take a trip to your attic and look for signs of decay there as well.

For good reason, most people consult with professional roof contractors to do the inspection and any necessary work on their home.

Taking the Good with the Bad in Reverse Mortgages

A wise person once said that money is amoral. That means it is neither good nor bad. How we choose to use it determines the morality of the situation.

A reverse mortgage is a type of loan, and essentially, a way to get money. Therefore, there is no such thing as a good reverse mortgage or a bad reverse mortgage. However, it is possible for these loans to have positive and negative results for the homeowner. Here are just a few of the disadvantages and advantages of a reverse mortgage.

Advantage: relatively easy to meet qualifications. Most seniors that own a home and have significant equity can qualify for the home.

Disadvantage: The loan must be paid off in order to keep the home. In the event that the homeowners pass away and leave the property to their offspring as part of a will, the debt has to be completely paid in order to retain the home.

Advantage: The majority of reverse mortgages will not hinder any existing medicare or Social Security payments.

Disadvantage: The fees associated with a reverse mortgage are normally much higher than a regular mortgage.

While there are obviously more points to consider than these few, it is important to note how serious this can be for some people. Borrowing money should never be done without a complete plan for the repayment and this holds true for a reverse mortgage too.

Tips for Creating Amazing Bookshelves

Most homes have a variety of items that can be displayed in order to accent a room or merely show off the collection. This makes a eye catching bookshelves a necessity.

An attractive bookshelf can be a simple piece located in a hallway for a few pictures or it can be an elaborate piece of furniture used in the den to house books, artwork and plants. For this reason, it is a good idea to decide how you plan to use the shelves before you start to build.

Once you have determined the use for the shelves you will then be able to come up with the right size for them as well as the location.

Don’t forget that one-of-a-kind bookends can be used to add to the look or make the story more interesting.

In summary, we hope that you find this information helpful. We have provided tips that can be used for sellers and buyers as well as ideas for real estate agents to improve their relations with their clients in order to improve their service offerings.

Previous Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

 

Luke SkarThis article was written by Luke Skar of Inlanta Mortgage – Madison which serves Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Florida. Since 1993 Inlanta Mortgage has provided award winning customer service to clients who need to purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage.

Luke serves as the Social Media Strategist for Inlanta Mortgage. His role is to provide original content for all of their social media profiles as well as generating new leads from his website MadisonMortgageGuys.com NMLS ID #1016

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Very Best Real Estate Articles From Google Plus

Best Google Plus Real Estate Articles Mar 2016What will you find that these articles all have in common? I’d start by saying, they’ve all got some good meat on the bones; words, lots of words and well thought out content. So important, particularly that everyone seems to be beefing up their content and as the experts recommend when SEO matters.

These articles all show that these writers know a thing or two about Real Estate and selling homes. Do not just trust anyone with one of your most prized investments.

It was not an easy task to select from all the articles presented on Google+ during March. I could have gone on and on adding articles here, but I had to trim and now I’m already busting at the seams as it is, but here it is, presented for you, like a much anticipated good movie that hits the theaters. Enjoy the best Google+ real estate articles from March 2016.

The Featured Articles

Probably the meatiest of all articles for March comes from Luke Skar of Inlanta Mortgage and the Madison Mortgage Guys. It’s timing is just right too, as Spring is in the air. Luke discusses home selling tips for the Spring and also invited in Real Estate professionals to share their expert advice on getting a home ready to sell in the Springs. An incredible gift for any home Seller who is thinking Spring is the time to sell their home.

Read Luke’s article: Spring Home Selling Tips

Tenants can be wonderful when they’re cooperative, treat your home like your own and pay their rent on time, especially when the time has come to sell your investment home. Then there are those tenants that aren’t such a prize – what do you do with them? Either way with the good and bad there are a number of things that you must consider when selling a home with tenants. Xavier De Buck of North Cliff Real Estate provides 5 terrific tips that will make the arrangement of selling your property a whole lot easier.

Read Xavier’s article: Selling a House with Tenants

What better time to hunt for the perfect house then Spring time. There is so much that you can do as a prospective home Buyer, to find your perfect house and it simply requires a bit of proper planning. The excitement that goes along with the thought of owning a new house can often blur your vision. Ferris Property Group has gathered up 5 savvy tips to get you closer to moving day.

Read Ferris Property Group’s article: The Hunt for the Perfect House

Are you considering buying or selling a home? If so, are you looking for some solid guidance to get you on track and keep you on track? There’s nothing like being guided from someone who knows about buying and selling homes, and that someone is Paul Sian of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Real Estate. Paul covers this with first-rate advice in his article.

Read Paul’s article: Guide to Buying or Selling a Home

What should you expect from the Realtor you hire? It’s a huge decision and of critical importance when you’re dealing with one of life’s most important investment. Do you really want to approach the subject lightly? No way! Don’t worry however, as Sylvie Zolezzi of Your Piece of Marin, has put together a list of 12 questions that you should ask the Realtor you’re considering hiring. Sylvie’s list is a magnificent list of questions that will put your mind at ease once you have these questions answered.

Read Sylvie’s article: 12 Questions to Ask a Realtor

Appraisals are an integral part of a home sale. Not always an often used strategy, but a home appraisal can provide relief to a stale listing. When a home Seller views their home as pure perfection that surely a home Buyer would pay top dollar for, the appraisal can help to set the value straight as Tom Horn of Birmingham Appraisal expertly discusses 5 ways to do this in his article.

Read Tom’s article: 5 Ways to Help a Stale Listing

I don’t think we can talk enough about the right way to price a home for sale. In one of Bill Gassett of Maximum Real Estate Exposure’s, latest articles, he masterfully, hits on many of the myths about pricing a home for sale. You’ve got to read this from Bill, as remember everything that you read on the internet or hear from a not-so-knowledgeable source will likely lead you to your home not selling. Bill knows Real Estate so you can trust what he writes.

Read Bill’s article: Home Pricing Myths

Adding value to your home without breaking the bank is a dream for any homeowner wanting to spruce up their home. How would you feel about doing several projects for under $100 while increasing your home’s value?! It can be done and it can certainly make a difference to a home, especially if your goal is to sell a home for top dollar. The Keadle Real Estate Group of Search for Mount Pleasant Real Estate has compiled a super list of home projects to tackle.

Read The Keadle Real Estate Group’s article: 100 Projects to add Value to Your Home

You’ve started the planning and preparation of buying a new home. How exciting – that’s great! There’s nothing like a new home to begin creating wonderful, new memories that will last a lifetime. Before you get there however, you need to determine which type of mortgage is going to work best for you. Kyle Hiscock of Rochester Real Estate Blog has put together an exceptional article that assists you in determining what type of mortgage will be the right fit.

Read Kyle’s article: Determining the Best Mortgage for Your Home Purchase

Our daily habits can make or break our success in Real Estate. Are you just starting out in Real Estate or perhaps you need to tweak your habits for better success in Real Estate. Dustin Brohm of Search Salt Lake reveals some remarkable habits of 8 top Real Estate Agents. I’m sure you could incorporate a few of these habits into your daily routine to get yourself kicked into gear. You’ll certainly pick up a few good tips from Dustin’s article.

Read Dustin’s article: Daily Habits of Top Real Estate Agents

You’ve just gone under contract on a home you’re purchasing, you’ve completed the inspection, the Inspector provided you with the results of the inspection and there are items on the list that you want addressed. Where do you begin? Don’t let a home inspection worry you as there are ways in which to best negotiate after you have completed a home inspection. Anita Clark of Selling Warner Robins has put together a crucial “how to” article on negotiations after a home inspection. Don’t blow your negotiations and dig into Anita’s helpful article.

Read Anita’s article: How to Negotiate After Your Home Inspection

When buying a luxury home, there are number of important considerations that need to be made before you make a luxury home purchase. Here Debbie Drummond of The Las Vegas Luxury Home Pro, provides some first-class tips and reminds us that it’s not always as simple as the view!

Read Debbie’s article: Luxury Home Buying Tips for 2016

We all know how huge social media has become with Real Estate Agents. If you’re not an active participate, you’re certainly missing out on Real Estate business. Do we all know how to make it work and want not to do? Lori Thomas Dickert of Social Media by Lori very clearly illustrates those glaring social media mistakes made by Real Estate Agents across all of the many social media platforms in her article. Lori lets us know what you need to do to have success with her article on the popular RESAAS Blog.

Read Lori’s article: Common Social Media Mistakes that Real Estate Agents Make

It’s moving time. Where do you begin? I don’t know about you, but I love checklists. Checklists can make any task that much easier. Ryan Fitzgerald of Raleigh Realty Homes has put together one heck of a checklist, detailing each step for you. Don’t let a move overwhelm you. Use Ryan’s incredibly useful list.

Read Ryan’s article: Moving Checklist

Did you know there are Listing Agents and Buyer’s Agents? When you’re searching for a home do you think it’s easier to simply call the Listing Agent from that sign you see posted in their front yard? Think long and hard about that. Andrew Fortune of Great Colorado Homes provides the glaring reasons why it’s dangerous to use a Listing Agent when you’re the Buyer. Andrew explains, very well, the reasoning behind such dangers. Don’t do it. Listen to Andrew.

Read Andrew’s article: The Dangers of Using the Listing Agent when Buying a Home

You’ve found the perfect home to buy and you have no idea of where to begin with the offer price. How much money should you offer the Seller? Do you come in low or right on the list price? Do you love the home? Are you in a hurry or are you taking your time to find a home? I (Lynn Pineda of Imagine Your House), share some solid reasoning behind what you should do depending upon your circumstances.

Read Lynn’s article: How much money to offer on the home you want to buy

So as you can see, March was a simply amazing month for incredible Real Estate articles on Google+. We’re finding Real Estate professionals are pumping out better and better Real Estate articles all the time. It is never an easy job to select those to highlight and I sure hope that I didn’t miss any, yet I’m sure I likely did, as it’s hard to run across them all. In the meantime, enjoy this month’s selection.

Previous Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Lynn PinedaAbout the author: Lynn Pineda, a licensed Southeast Florida Real Estate agent for 10 years currently at Keller Williams Coral Springs Realty.

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Facebook Real Estate Marketing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing real estate and prospecting for new clients in 2016 had come a long way over the last 10-20 years. If your marketing is still stuck somewhere in the Flintstones era, then you may be finding it rather difficult to keep up with the new trends of selling real estate today.

Without any doubt, the transition into the new digital age had changed everything, including how buyers look for homes and how business is done in every industry. Unfortunately, those who are not willing to invest into their own education by adapting to the online world, are going to find themselves foot paddling at their own pace while others are beating them to the finish lines.

Home sellers, rightfully expect real estate agents to bring their “A” game to the table and turn every rock over to find a buyer for their property. If you are finding it a bit challenging to gain new clients and to be successful in real estate, then you need to bootstrap yourself and buckle your seat belt because what you are to learn about Facebook marketing is going to be the game changer that you may have been looking for. I am going to show you how to use Facebook to boost your real estate marketing! With these Facebook real estate tips you may start to actually see some actual business coming your way.

The Good Old Days of Marketing

In 2005 when I first got licensed and started selling real estate in Calgary, my broker told me that if I want to be successful in real estate, I need to connect with people every day. He suggested to lock myself into a room for 2-3 hours and prospect like there is no tomorrow. As much as this makes sense in theory, after the first 20 minutes I had decided that I rather go and wash dirty dishes, instead of being an annoyance to people. I am sure that there are many real estate agents still cold calling and being successful at it, but being on the phone with people who hung up on me just wasn’t my gig.

Cold calling may have worked in the 80’s and 90’s. When someone’s phone had ringed at dinner time, they were happy to answer it just for the sake of someone being interested in calling them. Then came the professional telemarketers who had ruined it for everyone. Fast forward 20-30 years to 2016, if you tried calling someone at 6:00p.m. today, almost nobody would answer their telephone. Also never mind the fact that fewer people have landlines, as there are more cell phones than people on the planet.

There is also the good old “farming” a neighborhood and sending out print advertisement to be top of mind when someone is planning on selling or buying. This has worked for many seasoned agents in the past and there may still be an opportunity again as less people are interested in printing flyers. There are however two problems that I see with print media. It costs a ton of money every month to print and mail your advertisement and a large percentage of your real estate flyers never get looked at and they go directly into the recycling bin. This is of course unless you are being very creative as mentioned in the article I have provided.

Facebook the Paradigm Shift

As you can tell, in the old days most marketers were just shooting from the hip and hoping that something is going to work. Unfortunately not too many people like to admit their failures, but I can tell you that you can quickly get into spending tens of thousands of dollars if you are not willing to keep up with technology and scientifically measure the return on your investment.

Suffering from Marketing ADD

The most popular advertising messages that real estate agents send out when they do direct mail marketing are Just Listed, Just Sold and Open Houses. While many of these ideas are quite original, they can be still used effectively, but the conversion time may take forever and often people need to see your mail 15-20 times before they see you as an authority in their community.

Unfortunately with old fashioned mail outs, all we are able to do is “carpet bomb” the entire neighborhood and rely on a small number of people to respond to us. This can be a very ineffective way of marketing if the target audience is not selected wisely. Unfortunately it is practically impossible to hand-pick a desired audience.

Using Science to Market with Facebook

96% of all home buyers utilize the power of the internet during their home search process. People still spend billions of dollars each year on newspaper advertising, but it’s really no different from going fishing in a pond where aren’t any fish. If people are on the internet, shouldn’t we try to connect with our clients where they hang out at?

80% of the time when marketing efforts fail, it is usually the result of missing a key element of basic marketing fundamentals. When it comes to marketing, the golden rule of being effective can be boiled down to three basic pillars.

  1. Need to speak to the right audience
  2. You must have the right message
  3. The timing has to make sense for the client

It appears that Facebook has hit a home run by delivering all three pillars to marketers at a fraction of a cost compared to what we have been paying in the past. Let’s use community mail-outs as an example and find out why it isn’t working for most REALTORS any longer and what Facebook is able offer in contrast to print media. You can take a look at some innovative Facebook marketing for real estate, as well as Re-targeting which I will explain.

Identifying Your Potential Clients

Facebook has done an incredible job with collecting reasonably credible information from its users. When someone gets engaged, changes jobs, moves to a new city or announces the arrival of a new baby is captured by Facebook because users voluntarily enter their information. Knowing that people typically relocate when lifestyle changes occur we can safely assume that shortly after someone gets married or celebrates a newborn, there is a good chance that they are going to be involved in a real estate transaction.

With Facebook Ads you can also chose to only display your ad to a segment who has an income that would be necessary to purchase the property that you are having up for sale. As an example, if you were to list a luxury home for sale over a million dollars, then the individual would need to earn so much to qualify for financing.

Next you can dig a little deeper when you are identifying your avatar and ask the question of where the buyers are moving from? In this case if you were to go after first time home buyers in the lower price category of the market, you could target them by not only income, but you can identify them by geographical location based on zip codes. Or you can only market to real estate investors who are looking for fixer-uppers.

The Facebook Audience Tool allows you to accurately pin-point your target audience. This is known as Facebook re-targeting. When your ad isn’t performing to your expectations, reviewing the selected audience should be the first place where you need to go to make adjustments. You can see a very good explanation of how to use re-targeting for your real estate business in the article above.

Are the They Ready for You?

When someone visits your website, most of the time they are not ready to engage with you just yet. Most online users love the fact that they can safely hide behind their computers screens while they are collecting data and preparing themselves for the big decision that they are about to make. It may be some time before they will pull the trigger. While time passes, your website can have a major influence in building trust with your future clients, but in order for that to happen, you need to lure them back to your website.

With Facebook “Re-targeting” you can also create ads to only show up on those Facebook user’s news feeds who have been to your website over a specified period of time. This is a great, effective way of remaining at top of mind to everyone who has been on your website in the past.

Measure Your Facebook Efforts to Improve Results

Once you have created your ad, you need to be able to test to see how the audience is responding. Back in the days, marketing firms needed to send out sample materials to a smaller segment and they engineered different types of methods to respond or call to actions by which they were able to gauge which marketing material received the highest amount of engagement. Sometimes this could have taken them weeks or months and great expense to analyze the data.

Facebook makes this so easy by providing analytical comparisons of details such as what age group, gender, location, devices were used. Once you have reviewed the results, you can narrow your audience and you can start running your actual ad. You’ll be surprised to lean that it will cost you pennies on the dollar if you were to compare it to the “old school” of doing marketing.

This is just one way you can use Facebook to improve your real estate business!

Other Helpful Real Estate Social Media Articles

Joe SamsonAbout the author: Using Facebook to Rocket Boost Real Estate Marketing was written by Joe Samson. Joe is a real estate agent in Calgary, AB and he has been in the business for 11 years and counting. Ever since the beginning of his career, Joe had focused on online marketing and building a successful real estate website in the Calgary market. Spending time learning new techniques of online marketing and collaborating with other marketing experts is at the forefront of Joe’s passion and it is the driver to help his clients to sell and buyer real estate.

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How Can Home Staging Help Sell a Home

Staging Helps Sell Homes

Staging Helps Sell a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrolling through multiple listing photos online it’s easy to see why buyers get discouraged or have a tough time choosing a new place to call home. A home buyer will base their decision on visiting the listing within seconds of viewing that image and if it’s not a show-worthy room they see on the screen, plan on kissing that lead good-bye.

There are only two major factors that matter at this point the listing’s price and condition. That’s where home staging comes in, we reached out to top home staging expert Tori Toth, who wrote the best-selling book “Feel at Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell” and is the founder of the Stage 2 Sell Strategy, the world’s first online home staging video course for home sellers to prepare their own homes for sale. Tori has helped sell homes 78% faster with home staging, so I thought why not have her explain how staging a home can help in the selling process, this is what she had to say.

“Bill thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my knowledge with your readers. Although home staging is not necessarily a new concept, many real estate agents and home sellers are misled that this powerful marketing tool is expensive and time consuming. Most agents use a stager when the home is vacant or has a complicated layout, but I believe every home could benefit from home staging.

I was amazed when the National Association of Realtor’s 2015 Profile of Home Staging Report revealed only 34-percent of seller’s agents stage all homes, however, 44-percent of agents surveyed do suggest to the seller de-clutter and fix property faults only and do not stage the home. This tells me there is a real disconnect between what agents believe home staging actually is because those suggestions are apart of the entire home staging process.

By definition home staging, according to the Real Estate Staging Association, is the act of preparing and showing a property for sale. It is a systematic and coordinated methodology in which knowledge of real estate, home renovations and creative design principles are applied to attract a buyer. Preparing the property involves all or part of cleaning, de-cluttering, updating and repairing while showcasing is the process of arranging furniture, accessories, art and light.

When selling a home it’s important for the homeowner to understand their home is a product, that must be marketed and merchandised properly. How would you sell your car? Or have your kid dress for school picture day? Or present yourself on a job interview? Most of you would pay close attention to the details to reap the rewards of more money for your car, a great photo to share with the world, or getting the call you’re hired. So, why should selling a home be any different? If you want to sell quickly at the highest price your priority should be paying attention to the home’s details.

Connect On An Emotional Level

The first and most important reason home staging can help sell a home is that it instantly connects the buyer to the home emotionally. Emotions are what drive a sale because the decision will affect the buyer’s family, lifestyle and reputation. When a home seller depersonalizes the house and ultimately thinks as a buyer would to instill moments in time that connect to the buyer’s lifestyle that increases the chances of a buyer getting emotionally attached and truly believing the house was made for them.

Think Like a Buyer

Let’s dive deeper into being able to empathize with a buyer. When I tell a seller puts themselves in the buyer’s shoes they begin to detach themselves from the home, which can be difficult for some. This hypothetical shoe swap also allows them to set their own feeling asides in the real estate transaction. Thinking like a buyer opens the seller’s eyes to the actual condition of the home and makes them more proactive to refresh their space and maintain the home while on the market. According to the NAR report, 81-percent of buyers find it easier to visualize the property as a future home when it’s staged.

Detailing Your Home

I recently mentioned that detailing your car helps in the sales process, the same holds true when detailing your home. Home staging gives sellers a plan of action to tackle clutter, dirt and repairs before putting their home on the market. These are easy, cost effective suggestions the seller can do to make their home stand out among neighborhood competition. By removing clutter from a home, the seller is reducing not only the amount of items in plain-sight, but beginning the actual packing process, so you’re ready on moving day. If you don’t plan on using an item in the next 90 days or so, pack it up! De-cluttering also makes the home cleaning process easier to handle. Dirty dishes, laundry and extreme dust must be taken care of on a regular basis so a buyer can visualize the lifestyle they can aspire to.

Deters Low Ball Offers

A major detail that will deter low-ball offers is making those necessary minor repairs. If you walked into a store and found an item that you loved on the shelf that had a crack or a dirt spot on it wouldn’t you try to get a discount at the register? Of course you would or it wouldn’t be worth the purchase. This is how a home buyer feels when they come across homes that are not staged. A home has to be worth the price you’re trying to sell it for and home staging cannot only deter offers, but in most cases the price has increased after staging. I’ve personally seen my client’s staged homes sell for up to $45,000 over asking price on bidding wars.

Less Time Showing Off

Home selling can be a grueling process for sellers when their lives become public display to strangers and their criticisms. If a homeowner is going to be living in their home when selling they have to willingly be inconvenienced not only emotionally, but physically. So what’s the best way to get out from under the microscope? Sell fast. By having a home properly prepared for sale, you don’t have to wait a long time for the right offer, which means you don’t have to sit on the market constantly trying to upkeep the space. As a home stager, I’ve had client’s homes sell in days not months after staging the space allowing for the seller to the start the next chapter in life.

That’s what home staging does best transition and transform a home seller and their most valuable asset, the home, to get to that next chapter with less stress quickly. It’s disappointing that NAR statistic mentioned above where only 34-percent of seller’s agents surveyed stage all homes. Home staging can benefit real estate agents too by beating out competition, growing business and attracting bigger payouts. I recently created a video on Why You Need a Home Stager on Your Real Estate Team that provides six reasons to embrace this powerful marketing tool.

Every home can benefit from home staging –from a quick checklist to a video course to one-on-one help, we can make a difference for a seller or agent to make sure you attract the most amount of buyers in the shortest period of time. There are 10-steps to make a house feel like a home to buyers, do you have a home missing one or more of these steps? Don’t risk losing the biggest return on your investment transform your home. Make it show-worthy. There you have it folks – there are many ways home staging can help sell a home!

Tori TothAbout the author: Tori Toth is the Amazon best-selling author of “Feel At Home: Home Staging Secrets for a Quick and Easy Sell.” She is also the founder of The Stage 2 Sell Strategy, the world’s first online home staging video course for home sellers. In 2009, Toth opened her staging company, Stylish Stagers, Inc. in New York City. Her book, how-to videos, newsletters, products and appearances now inspire hundreds of thousands of home owners and real estate experts worldwide.

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Expenses a Home Seller Will Have to Pay

Possible Home Selling Expenses

Costs to Sell a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re selling your home, it’s important to know what you’ll profit from the sale. The only way to get an accurate estimation is if you take into account all of your expenses. You don’t want to wind up like many sellers and have unforeseen expenses chip away at your hard earned cash. To help you avoid that, here are some of the most common expenses you’ll encounter as a seller:

Mortgage payoff balance – Unless you’re part of the lucky few that can call your home your own, you will still have a mortgage balance when you sell your home. After you make the sale, you’ll have to pay off the mortgage balance before you leave. How much this will run you depends on how far along you are with your payments.

Lien releases – If there is an unpaid lien on your home, you’ll have to get that cleared away before you can sell your home. Getting sued by your lender because of failure to make payments is an expense that most sellers try to avoid.

Prepayment penalty – When you sell your home and pay off the mortgage balance, you’re usually making a significant payment. Some lenders charge a prepayment penalty on deposits of more than 20% of the mortgage balance, which means you could have to possibly pay a fee. Unfortunately, prepayment penalties aren’t cheap. Typically, they are 80% of six months interest. So if you have a 200,000 mortgage balance with a mortgage rate of 5%, your interest-only payment would be $833.33. Multiplied by six (months) that would be $4999.98. It’s a decent chunk of change that you definitely don’t want to overlook when planning your budget.

Recording fees – In order to get it into the public record that the debt has been paid on your house, you’ll have to pay a recording fee. The cost will vary depending on where you live.

Commissions for listing and selling agents – It’s not necessary to hire a listing and/or selling agent, but if you do, you’ll have to pay out. These agents get paid on commission at the close of the sale (they will often split the commission), and while rates vary, you can expect somewhere around 5-6% of the selling price.

Notary fees – You’ll have to get a notary to verify your identity and make sure your documents have all been completed properly. It shouldn’t cost too much, but every little bit adds up.

Escrow/Closing fee – You’ll have to pay the title company, escrow company, or attorney that administered the closing. This fee will usually amount to $250, plus around $2 per thousand of the purchase price.

Title search fees – You need proof that you have a legal right to sell your home. Title companies go through public records and will give you a title insurance commitment. A title search is another fee that can vary in price, but it’s not unusual for it to cost around $100-$250.

Repairs – We’re not talking about full-scale remodeling (although, depending on your situation, you might consider it), but there’s no denying that a drippy faucet, creaking door, or some other little maintenance issue is worth taking care of before an inspector comes to evaluate your home. Preparing for a buyers home inspection is something all sellers should do but many don’t. This can end up costing a sale in many circumstances.

Seller concession – If you’re trying to sell your home quickly, seller concessions like a closing cost credit are one way to draw in buyers. There are a variety of different fees that you could pay for the seller. If you went all out, they could run you a few thousand dollars.

Smoke detector inspection – in many states having working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is a requirement as part of the home sale. The fee is usually minimal to get the inspection done by the local fire department but something to keep in mind none the less.

Home warranty – The home warranty is another way to separate yourself from the other sellers. First time home buyers who are nervous about repair expenses will be especially drawn toward the safety of a home warranty. It’ll most likely cost you around $300 to $500, and will last for one year after the closing date.

Termite letter – While it’s not required for the seller to submit a termite letter, getting one won’t hurt. It’s important to know what you’re dealing with before you put your home on the market. The last thing you want is for the buyer to dig up some dirty laundry on your home. If your home gets a clean bill, then the cost could be minimal, but if repairs need to be done it could be $100-$300.

Landscaping – If you’ve got a flourishing garden, you’ll want to flaunt it. Depending on your landscaping skills, you might be able to get away with doing the work yourself, but if not, you’ll have to shell out for a professional crew. The size of your yard and the scope of the project will determine the cost, but if you spring for the crew, it could be over a thousand dollars.

Painting – If you want to freshen up your home without spending too much money, a new coat of paint is the way to go.

Inspection reports – You won’t have to pay for the buyer’s inspection, but if you want to be one step ahead of the game, you could have your own home inspection done prior to theirs. This would ensure that their inspector doesn’t find a deal breaker. For around $200, it can be worth the peace of mind knowing there isn’t some serious problem that you’re unaware of.

Staging – Staging a home isn’t cheap. You’re likely to shell out a few thousand dollars if new furniture has to be brought in. While it’s been proven that borrowers pay more for staged homes, whether or not it’s worth the money is something you’ll have to decide.

Window washing – If you’re like most people, it’s been a while since you washed your home’s windows, especially the ones on the second floor. Every little detail is important when selling your home, so if your windows are crystal clear, that’s one more advantage in your favor. Hiring professionals is the safe and smart decision, and will usually cost $2 to $7 per pane.

Bottom Line:

If you’ve taken a hard look at your property and have a carefully crafted budget, there’s no reason why selling your home shouldn’t be a rewarding and profitable experience.

Carter Wessman Total Home MortgageCarter Wessman is a writer and marketing analyst at Total Mortgage Services, a nationwide lender based in Milford, Connecticut. He is a mortgage market junkie who closely follows the latest rates and trends.

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Low Down Payment Loans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real estate agents know many things, but sometimes overlook valuable information that could otherwise lead to more sales opportunities. For example, some real estate agents may not understand the value of knowing about all of the low-down-payment options available to their clients.

Consider the following: The most recent NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers states, 40% of repeat buyers, and 66% of first-time home buyers, are putting less than 10% down. Understanding all of the low-down-payment mortgage options available to borrowers and leveraging this information to help them save money has the potential to positively impact your business growth.

The Housing Landscape is Shifting

Last year, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) estimated that about 45% of all mortgage transactions were refinances, a 5% increase from 2014. Because there were more purchase transactions than refinances, 2015 was technically a purchase market, although it may not have felt like one. Well, 2016 may feel much different. The MBA is forecasting a 66% purchase to 33% refinance market for 2016, which is certainly tremendous news for those who help people buy and sell homes. Of course, there are two hurdles standing in the way of this purchase-market forecast becoming a reality: Buyers and sellers.

Home Sellers Are Also Buyers

Helping a seller means you are most likely helping a future buyer. According to Fannie Mae, home prices rose approximately 20% from Q1 2011 to Q4 2014. But despite this increase in value, many homeowners largely underestimate the amount of equity they have.

In fact, Fannie Mae and CoreLogic reported that at the end of 2014, 37% of homeowners perceived that they had more than 20% equity in their homes. In reality that number was probably closer to 69% of homeowners with “significant equity” in their homes, which CoreLogic defines as 20% or more. By the end of Q3 2015, the number of homeowners with significant equity in their homes grew to 74.3%.

This lack of knowledge has created an opportunity for us to educate homeowners and ultimately, drive more purchase business. We need to get the word out that sellers should contact their local, friendly real estate agents to find out what their homes are actually worth, whether we reach out to them through traditional marketing efforts, by conducting a first-time home SELLER seminar or via social media.

What may be compounding the fact that homeowners don’t know how much equity they have in their homes is the fact that they may not know how much they will need to put down on their next mortgage loan. Being able to guide them towards the appropriate low-down-payment options will help you get more deals done – and provide a valuable service to your sellers (and future buyers).

Low-down-Payment Buyers Are a Real Opportunity

Saving your customers money when they purchase a home is vital to maintaining positive and trusting relationships with them, particularly with first-time home buyers. The opportunity to expand business has never been greater. According to the National Association of Realtors’ HOME Survey, as of December 2015, 83% of renters wanted to own a home. The desire to own is even stronger in younger renters under the age of 34 — in fact, 94% of that demographic aspire to be homeowners one day. Opportunity does exist in the mortgage marketplace, but far too many renters simply don’t know what they don’t know. This may prevent them from achieving their goals, or from even attempting to try.

If today’s renters plan to fulfill the dream of owning a home, the goal of the real estate agent should be to help educate them on their low-down-payment options, especially since the down payment is often cited as the biggest hurdle to home ownership.

5 Things Real Estate Agents Should Know About Low-Down-Payment Options:

When a borrower decides to put less than 20% down on the purchase of a home (unless they qualify for a VA or USDA loan), they will likely need to use mortgage insurance. Admittedly there is a great deal of misinformation about mortgage insurance, which can lead to confusion for the majority of today’s buyers. Having the facts about low-down-payment options will give you a leg up on the competition!

1. FHA is Mortgage Insurance

Many people think that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides a service that is markedly different than the service private mortgage insurers provide. The reality is both FHA and PMI provide the exact same service, but with some key differences.

2. PMI Allows a Borrower to Put Less Money Down

A conventional loan with private mortgage insurance allows for slightly less money for a down payment (as little as 3% down), whereas FHA requires a 3.5% down payment. The ability to use gift funds is another low-down-payment option for borrowers. Many don’t realize that conventional loans with PMI do allow for the use of 100% gift funds.

3. FHA Can Lead to More Borrower Debt

Even though a borrower may put less down using a conventional loan with private mortgage insurance, they still end up with less debt than borrowers who take out FHA loans. This is because FHA charges an upfront premium along with the monthly mortgage insurance amount. That upfront premium is most often financed into the loan, increasing the total amount borrowed. Keep this in mind when discussing low-down-payment options with borrowers who have higher credit scores, since they stand to gain more by going conventional.

4. Credit Score Makes a Difference

Most PMI premiums are based on credit scores, meaning the higher the borrower’s credit score, the lower the premium. FHA does not base its premiums on credit score, so borrowers with lower credit scores often find FHA a lower-cost option whereas borrowers with higher scores would save more money by going conventional.

5. FHA Mortgage Insurance Can’t Be Terminated

One of the biggest concerns for low-down-payment borrowers relying on government mortgage insurance through FHA is that unless the borrowers put at least 10% down, they won’t be able to cancel their FHA mortgage insurance. One of the advantages private mortgage insurance offers is that it is a short-term solution. It is automatically dropped when the loan reaches 78% loan-to-value. Additionally, the borrower can request the private mortgage insurance to be cancelled once the loan reaches 80% of the original value, based on either the actual payments made, or the initial amortization schedule (for fixed rate loans) or current amortization schedule (adjustable rate loans), irrespective of the actual loan balance.

When you know as much as possible about borrowers’ low-down-payment options, you can help guide your customers to the best option for them.

As a trusted real estate agent, you’ll gain the repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals that are so crucial to generating more sales. We expect the purchase market will only increase as 2016 pushes on. Take this opportunity to start a conversation with the first-time home buyers who are seeking low-down-payment options for a home and let them know you understand the financing options that are available to them. This insight will propel you above others in the industry, and help your valued customers secure the best and most responsible financing options for their new homes. Either before the mortgage process starts or right after make sure you have a conversation with the buyer about what not to do that could get their mortgage pre-approval terminated. Many first time buyers have no idea that going out and buying a car after applying for a home mortgage could end up costing them their dream home!

Looking for easy to digest infographics about Millennials, credit, first-time home buyers and renters that you can share with your clients? Check out our co-brandable mortgage infographic library!

About the author:
Vance EdwardsVance Edwards joined MGIC in 1999 and currently serves as MGIC’s Marketing Program Director. Among Vance’s responsibilities is heading up MGIC’s Marketing Promotions Team which oversees MGIC sales training efforts, marketing of MGIC programs and co-branding efforts with MGIC customers. In addition, Vance leads MGIC initiatives with Realtors and consumers, especially first-time home buyers. He has spoken numerous times to Realtors® and loan originator audiences on topics including: first-time home buyers, QM, economic overview, mortgage industry, and sales skills. Vance lives in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin with his wife Carrie and children Hailey and Trevan.

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Best Google+ Real Estate February 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing the top real estate articles for February was a challenge. The list could have been twice the size. The selection is organized with articles for home buyers first. Articles for sellers are next. Without further adieu lets have a look at the best real estate articles for February 2016.

Preparing for the Emotions Involved in Buying and Selling a Home

In this humorous article, Janis Borgueta explains that home buying can be like Valentine’s Day. Home buyers need only make one mistake and the fallout can be dreadful. Passions, expectations, chemistry all play a roll in buying a home. Planning ahead will help you avoid a lot of the dangers those emotions bring to the process.

Get pre-approved. Finding a good Realtor. Determine what you really need. These are all steps you should take care of before you start looking. The article closes with a quote from L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs. “Houses are like people – some you like and some you don’t like – and once in a while there is one you love.”

Lee Davenport also checked in with an article explaining how home selling and a Valentines Day break up can be similar. Most people who have ever broken up on Valentines Day probably have “stress”as one of their top emotions. Anyone who is selling a home probably has experienced the same. Lee ties the two together in this interesting post at The Huffington Post. Anyone who says that buying and selling a home is not emotional experience probably has a heart of stone!

First Time Home Buyer Mortgage Mistakes

First time home buyers often want to start looking at homes before they’ve even talked to a lender. Not a good idea. You have no idea how much home you can afford until you understand how much mortgage you qualify for. You should review your credit scores before talking to the lender. As Xavier de Buck points out 80% of credit reports contain errors.

On top of qualifying for the mortgage, buyers will need a down payment. Even when using a VA 100% mortgage, the sellers expect an Earnest Money Deposit. It’s necessary before they’ll take their home off the market.

With a VA loan, the EMD gets refunded at closing. Other loans need at least 3% down. Xavier explains, putting more money down can make it easier to qualify for the mortgage.

The deal isn’t done just because the loan is approved. Avoid changing jobs or incurring more debt until the loan has closed. Other mistakes include not planning for closing costs or the costs to maintain the home once you own it. You’ll want to avoid making the mistakes in this article.

Home Inspection Questions

Home buyers are always have questions about home inspections. Example should I attend the home inspection? David Cronin recommends that buyers attend the home inspections if possible. I agree. You will understand anything the inspector finds better if you’re there in person. I recommend my buyers show up at the end if they can’t be there the entire time. The inspector can show them any issues they’ll be reading about in the report..

David gives estimates of what inspections cost in his area. They’re similar to prices in Las Vegas for typical homes. Luxury homes tend to cost more due to the size and the sophisticated systems they have. Cronin includes great tips for hiring an inspector and what to expect at the inspection.

Before You Buy a Short Sale

We don’t see as many short sales available as a few years ago, but they can still be good values. As Ferris Property Group explains things to know before buying a short sale. The most important advice they give about short sales is not to fall for the home. Less than a quarter of short sales actually get to the closing table.

Short sales can be great values if you have the luxury of being able to wait for them to close. If you decide to buy a short sale, work with a Realtor who has short sale experience. They’ll be able to help you know what to expect. They’ll work with the listing agent to bring the deal to the best conclusion.

Realistic Expectations When Searching for a Home

We all dream of getting lucky, especially when buying a home. We picture a beautiful home with all our favorite features. And we expect to find it at a great price. It’s easy to search website after website until we drive ourselves crazy.

Are you searching for a home or Bigfoot? is my latest blog. It looks at tips to help us stay focused and realistic in our home search. Start by finding a good local real estate website. Sorry, but those National sites sometimes show homes that aren’t for sale. Some of them don’t have access to all the current listings. Best of all, find a good Realtor who knows the area. They’ll be able to send you the latest listings that meet your criteria and budget.

Who Should You Hire to Sell Your Home?

Joe Manausa believes you should hire a real estate marketing expert to sell your home. Realtors who are good “Content Marketers” know how to get online exposure. They do it for their blogs. They do it for their website. They do it for the homes they list.

Their experience gives them insight about what buyers want. They’ll know how to make your home appealing. This article is the shortest of the ones picked for January, but one of the most valuable for sellers.

Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home

As we head into Spring, many homeowners are preparing to put their home on the market. Teresa Cowart takes us through seven of the biggest mistakes you can make. Picking the wrong agent is one of the first mistakes. That is often a result of hiring the agent who agrees with your unrealistic price.

Once the home is listed, don’t forget to make it show worthy. Get rid of the clutter. Touch up the exterior and the landscaping. And always disclose, disclose, disclose.

David R Miller wrote house not selling, try this. It shouldn’t be a surprise that many of his suggestions are also the Top Home Selling Mistakes. Tons of articles have been written about pricing and staging. If Sellers didn’t make these mistakes, their homes wouldn’t languish on the market. Sellers would be well advised to read both of these articles before putting their home on the market.

Selling Your Home and Taxes

If you show a profit when you sell your home, it may be subject to Capital Gains taxes. They’re currently at 20%, which would be a big chunk for most homeowners. Sylvie Zolezzi has written an outstanding guide to cut capital gains taxes when selling your home.

She starts with the basics that apply if you’ve lived in the home for at least 2 of the last 5 years. It’s $250K for single homeowners. $500K for married homeowners. She gives details for how home improvements can increase your tax basis. You can even use your sales expenses to reduce the taxable amount.

If you’re selling an investment property, you’ll find her information on 1031 exchanges valuable. The article also covers seller financing and what if the home doesn’t sell in your lifetime. This one’s a great resource to keep on file even if you’re not selling soon.

Selling Your Home During Divorce

Selling a home can be nerve-wrecking under the best circumstances. Even friendly divorces are unpleasant on some level. Selling a home while going through a divorce is a double whammy. Kyle Hiscock authored a guide for selling your home during divorce.

One of the first steps is to find the right Realtor. Ask the agents you interview how much experience they have with sellers who are divorcing. Find out how the Realtor will handle conflicts. Ask how they will communicate with both of you. Both partners in the home should be informed of offers, updates, etc.

Things will go much better if both parties are on the same page. Price the home right so that it doesn’t sit on the market forever. Even in a divorce, best marketing practices pay off. Don’t forget to prepare your home for showings. Not preparing it will cost you both. On top of the excellent advice in this article, Hiscock provides links to other excellent resources.

Is a Home Energy Audit Worthwhile?

Whether it’s saving on energy during the cold Northeast Winters or the hot Desert Summers, energy efficient homes are popular. Bill Gassett asks if a home energy audits are worth the money. The HERS index allows you to compare your home’s energy efficiency to that of a new home.

An energy audit is one of the best ways to find out what areas may need improvement in your home. Of course, getting an energy audit may not be too useful if you aren’t prepared to make some upgrades. The cost of the suggested upgrades will vary. If you plan to sell the home right away, you may not be there long enough to recover the cost thru energy savings. The amount you can recover through improved resale value will vary depending on the improvement and your local market.

You should check with your local power company. In some areas, they will provide an energy audit for free. A free energy audit is a no-brainer. If your utility charges, consider how long you plan to stay in the home. If you plan to stay, you could easily save the cost of the audit on your monthly bill.

The Best Tech in Real Estate

Dallas Broker, Jeff Knox is a self proclaimed “techie Broker”. In a recent RISMedia article he states if you’re not using Tech in 2016 you’re potentially losing big money each day. Websites come in a variety of styles and price ranges. As Knox says, “Nowadays, all good agents have a website”. We couldn’t agree more.

After the website, you need to develop your follow up and drip campaigns. Follow up is something I wish I had known as a newbie agent. My database has grown quite large over the last several years. It would be at least 25% larger if I had maintained it in the early years. The drip campaigns are essential to follow up with online leads. They’re also great for keeping in contact with current and past clients.

The final part of the tech pyramid is video. If you haven’t considered video as part of your marketing, you should. YouTube now has over a billion users. It’s a market waiting for you. Producing good videos doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Knox confesses he still uses a cheap, easy video editing program that he only paid $100 for. He shares great resources for everything from website companies to software for drip campaigns and video editing.

Have you enjoyed reading so far and want more? Check out 6 more featured writers who have exceptional real estate expert posts on multiple topics regarding buying and selling a home.

There you have it – the best Google+ real estate articles from February 2016. I hope you enjoyed reading these as much as I enjoyed reviewing them!

Previous Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Debbie DrummondAbout the author:  Debbie Drummond is a full time Las Vegas Realtor with over 13 years experience in The Las Vegas luxury homes and high rise market. She’s worked through the boom, the bust and now the recovery. During that time she’s earned numerous designations, including the CRS, CNE. Debbie and her team have sold homes that ranging from entry level to multi-million dollar luxury homes

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Best of Google+ Real Estate Jan 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another year has started and all over the country real estate buyers, investors, and sellers are gearing up for what they hope is a fantastic year. Buyers and investors want a great deal with plenty of built-in equity in a superb location and sellers want a large return on their investment so they can move on and perhaps buy a home elsewhere.

It is a cycle that gets played out daily around the nation. Often times those same consumers find themselves looking online for real estate information to help educate, guide, and provide insight into both the national and their local real estate market.

Fortunately, there is an incredible amount of quality online content being produced by real estate professionals who want to help better educate the general public on real estate terms, practices, and a host of other topics. Such is the case yet again this month as I found several articles on Google Plus that are sure to pique consumer interest and are definitely worth sharing.

Let’s jump right in and check out the top real estate articles in January 2016 on Google+.

Programs for First-Time Home Buyer

Did you know there are programs available that do not require you to put 20% down to become a homeowner thereby avoiding private mortgage insurance? Some of these programs require no down payment at all. There are even grants available that can assist with your closing costs or help ease the financing burden. The point is there are numerous options available to assist consumers who are ready to take the next step and own their own home, they just need to know what is available and where to look.

For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a program that brings 100% financing to home buying in selective areas. Another quality option that also requires no down payment is available to active duty military, those who have been honorably discharged, or those who retired from a military service. This is a Veterans Administration Loan and is available wherever you decide to settle down in the states. There are even local grants (often state run) in many areas with special options to encourage consumers to join the ranks of those who call themselves homeowners!

These are just a few of the available programs for first-time home buyers to help them go from renters to future homeowners.  Ryan Fitzgerald did a fantastic job in this article of outlining several options that potential buyers around the country as well as in the Raleigh NC area have available to them. If you are looking to buy or invest in a home, and want to know the grants and programs you may qualify for, this article will get you started on the right track.

Tips For Buying a Vacation Home

If you have the means to purchase a vacation home, you will find this article incredibly helpful as you begin the process of looking to purchase a vacation home. Kyle Hiscock outlines the necessary steps to assist in determining if you can afford a vacation home, provides food for thought as to whether or not it will be visited and utilized, poses questions that need to be considered when looking for vacation home locations, and prompts consumers to review what they plan on doing with the property when not actively staying in it.

Another covered consideration in this article is the impact owning a vacation home can have on your taxes. While owning a property near the beach, in the mountains, or a hide-a-way elsewhere sounds ideal to most people, understanding the tax implications of owning a vacation home is an important consideration. Should you rent the property out? What other tax considerations need to be fleshed out? A key takeaway is to make sure you discuss your options with a tax professional before making a move.

Lastly, Kyle lays out the pros and cons of renting vs buying a vacation property. He gives those interested in becoming a vacation home owner plenty to think about as he expertly covers both sides of the fence. Finally, he smartly ensures consumers are left understanding the best approach if they decide to buy is to find a top real estate agent to assist with their real estate needs.

Should Sellers List Now or Wait Until Spring

By all accounts, it has been a very mild winter thus far. Certainly much tamer for many parts of the nation than in recent years. With milder temperatures, many sellers are having to decide whether they should list now or wait until Spring. Of course the best option for potential sellers is always the one that works best for your schedule and your needs! There is no telling what type of home buyers will fall in love with, or when, but there are definitely several things worth considering as you decide if listing now or waiting for warmer weather is the right move for you.

It is a misnomer that homes do not sell in the winter time. Statistics bear out that buyers are motivated, out looking in all types of weather, in search of their perfect home. As you would expect in colder weather, consumers who brave the elements to view homes, are often very serious about finding a property. Why else would they leave behind their creature comforts and go looking at properties with their family and real estate agent in tow! Often those buyers have less inventory to peruse because many sellers decide to wait until warmer weather before putting their home on the market.

Bill Gassett at RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton MA goes on to provide more solid examples letting sellers know that listing your home in winter can be a great idea. Whether it is having more control over showings or playing on the emotions of buyers during the holidays, if your home is well maintained and ready to be shown, there is every opportunity you can have a Spring closing instead of a Spring listing. Personally, I think the best time to list your home is when it is ready to sell and that includes the dead of winter!

Reasons Why Buyers Need Their Own Agent

It is blogged about, talked about, and well advertised everywhere, yet some real estate buyers continue to decide to go into one of the most important decisions of their life without adequate representation. In my latest article, I share 10 reasons buyers need their own real estate agent, in the hope buyers will not foolishly attempt to purchase a home alone but will instead utilize the services of a local real estate professional. Utilizing the skills of an agent who fully understands the real estate market, has your best interest at heart, and will keep their cool during the inspection and negotiation process makes good sense!

Also discussed are the myriad of other important things your agent will do for you including navigating through all the potential hazards and glitches that are bound to come up during your real estate transaction. Because you have other important things to do, like prepare for your upcoming move, they will also expertly handle the paperwork that always accompanies a real estate deal. is while helping take much of the emotion out of the buying process.

It stands to reason the more they do on your behalf the lower your stress level will be as well. Moreover, the last thing you want is a bad real estate experience so find and hire a top local agent and let them do what they do best. As you prepare for closing, there is no substitute to having peace of mind knowing your agent has done everything in their power to make the home buying process as successful and pleasant as possible.

Investment Property Buying Tips

This article comes to us courtesy of Paul Sian, a Cincinnati Ohio Realtor® who provides sage advice for buyers who are in the market for an investment property. The process of purchasing an investment home is slightly different than buying a primary residence, as are the financing options, and Paul does a great job of spelling that out. While flippers make the process look sexy on television, it is vitally important to have a clear plan when venturing into the purchase of rental properties or when your intent is to flip homes.

Tips on a fix and flip investment include visible and hidden repair issues, the importance of proper permits, and the use of home contractors to perform additions, remodels, and major repairs. Flipping a home can be lucrative, and that is certainly part of the allure for many buyers, but you need to go into the proposition with your eyes wide open to ensure you stay on time and on budget.

Also included is an exceptional section that discusses purchasing an investment home for the purpose of turning it into a rental property. One of the key components is whether you want to deal with tenants yourself or hire a property management team to take care of that responsibility on your behalf. Only you can determine which of these two courses of action best suites your needs and goals.

A Listing Process Guide for Sellers

The prospect of listing your home can be overwhelming, especially if you have never sold a property before. Where do you start? What are the key things you should focus on? Is the best move to hire a local real estate expert or try to sell the home yourself? In my experiences, it is overwhelmingly the best move to hire an agent to list, market, and get your home sold in any market!

In this fantastic offering, Teresa Cowart, a Savannah GA real estate professional does a great job of walking sellers through the listing process once they have chosen an agent to list their home. There are things that need to occur before the listing appointment, during the meetup, and after all the documentation has been signed. It starts with right pricing the home so ensure your agent comes prepared to provide you with a detailed comparative market analysis so you know the price range your home is likely to sell in.

During the appointment having open communication to discuss existing issues with the home, possible staging options, the marketing your agent will be doing to get your home seen,  and a full explanation and understanding of all the paperwork you will be signing to put your home on the market. Once listed, ensure your agent does everything they said they would during your appointment, including periodic communications to alleviate any stress you may feel if your home does not find a buyer straight away.

A Home Buyer Checklist

There are many consumers who go into the home buying process with rose colored glasses on, oblivious to the many things that can turn their joyous property search into a full fledged five-alarm disaster. That is why it is very important to make sure you know what to check for when you are viewing a home, which systems are critical to have in working condition, as well as important outside influences that can affect whether you are willing to make an offer on a home or keep looking.

Clearly, it is important to thoroughly review all the major systems such as the heating and air system and the roofing for any defects. It is equally important to analyze any intangible items like homeowner association restrictions, permits for any additions or changes made to the property, the area schools, existing and future amenities in the area, neighborhood pet restrictions, and the future potential resale value. When you take the time in the beginning to look with a critical eye the home you eventually choose should be void of any major concerns when you get the keys at closing.

Andrew Fortune circled the wagons and expertly covered all the key things buyers should check out when viewing homes in his latest article. With this home buyer checklist in hand, consumers now have a blueprint they can follow to avoid pitfalls and reap the rewards of owning their own home.

The Best Real Estate Blogs to Read in 2016

Last but not least is one of my favorite articles to start the year off right. Xavier De Buck has put together a mega post featured 40 of the best real estate bloggers on the planet. Many of these exceptional writers have been featured right here on Mass Real Estate News over the last year and a half. Xavier does a nice job not only featuring each blogger by pointing out their site but also sharing one of his favorite articles these real estate experts have written. If you want to find a ton of great content all in one place be sure to have a look at this article!

If you found this information useful, please take a few minutes and review previous G+ real estate articles below. As always, share this information via your social media channels so others can benefit from the quality content.

Previous G+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Anita Clark RealtorAbout the author: The Top Google+ Real Estate Articles in January 2016 was written by Anita Clark, a top Houston County GA real estate agent with Coldwell Banker SSK Realtors. Anita has been helping buyers, investors, and sellers in the middle Georgia area since 2007.  If you are considering moving to Warner Robins GA, contact Anita with your residential real estate needs needs.

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Top Google+ Real Estate Articles – December 2015

The Best Of Google+ Real Estate December 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the year comes to an end, it is a great time to sit back and reflect what has transpired over the past 12 months. 2015 was truly a remarkable year for many reasons, both personally and professionally.

2015 will forever be remembered as the year I married my best friend. Our wedding was something that we will truly never forget and will always cherish! 2015 was also another productive year for real estate in general and certainly the Rochester real estate market was no exception!

2015 will also always be remembered as a year when an explosion for online real estate blogging occurred. Over the past 12 months there have been a ton of new faces who have exploded onto the scene of real estate blogging, social media, and content curation.

Many of these new faces have been featured in past recaps of the best Google+ real estate articles here on Bill’s Mass RE News website.

As per the norm, December was another incredible month for real estate articles on Google+ and I’m honored to close out 2015 with the top real estate articles for the past month. Below are 10 of the top real estate articles from December 2015, enjoy and Happy Holidays!

10 Ways To Chase Away Your Home Buyer

Some home buyers can be rattled quite easily and others it takes something significant. One thing is for sure, there are certain things that a homeowner can do to scare away a potential buyer from their home.

For example, have you ever walked into a home after they just cooked a meal and the smell is enough to make you sick? How about those times you got smacked in the face by a disgusting pet odor? I know you’re shaking nodding your head right now in agreement.

These are just a couple of ways to chase away a home buyer when selling a home. Xavier De Buck does an excellent job in this article detailing 10 ways to scare away buyers. This is a great read for anyone who is thinking of selling their home so you know what NOT to do.

How Location & Neighborhoods Can Affect Your Home Sale

Most people have heard the saying, “Location, Location, Location,” when it comes to real estate. The location and neighborhood a home is located in can impact the number of potential buyers who may be interested in your home.

A couple things buyers are interested in when it comes to location and neighborhoods include things such as the proximity to their job, the safety within the neighborhood, and whether or not it’s located closely to friends and family.

Lynn Pineda has done an excellent job writing about this topic, of course with her creative twist, in her article how does a home buyers narrative affect the home you’re selling? Take a look at Lynn’s article to find out in detail what buyers are looking for when it comes to these important factors, neighborhood and location!

Zillow Home Values & Missing Information

Zillow is a controversial topic in the real estate industry. To Zillow’s defense, they do provide some helpful tools for potential buyers and sellers, however, what they do not provide is accurate home values and information.

The reality is that Zillow’s home values are frequently inaccurate. Zillow also lacks accurate information relating to homes for sale and recent sales. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to ask a real estate agent about a home they saw for sale on Zillow only to find out it has been sold for 6 months. Pretty accurate huh?

Ryan Fitzgerald from Raleigh Realty adds another excellent article regarding the inaccuracies of Zillow home values and their missing information. Not only does Ryan provide some excellent insight into this topic, he also provides some excellent resources to other articles pertaining to Zillow home values.

Real Estate agents love to point out the downside to Zillow and with good reason. Realtor’s constantly have to educate the public on a weekly basis why Zillow is not able to accurately predict the value of every home in America. Sorry folks that’s not realistic!

How To Stop Deer From Destroying Your Landscaping

If you follow Bill Gassett at all on social media or follow his popular, Maximum Real Estate Exposure Blog, you know that Bill comes up with some very creative topics to write about.

One of my favorite articles over the past month is Bill’s article on how to prevent deer from ruining your landscaping. As a homeowner it’s likely that you’ve had a tree, bush, or plant destroyed by a deer. It can be very frustrating especially since some landscaping can be very expensive.

Bill provides some excellent information about the different types of deer, various plants & shrubs that deer don’t typically like, and some excellent tips to deter deer from eating your landscaping. This creative article is definitely worth the read!

Tips For Selling Your Mountain Home

The article comes to use from Susie Cortright, a Colorado Realtor who certainly knows what it takes to sell a mountain home. Susie provides some sage advice in her article that relates not only to selling a mountain home but selling any home.

Tips such as pricing the property right, properly marketing the property, and properly timing the sale are a few of the tips for selling a home mountain home that are provided in this excellent article. If you’re going to be selling a mountain home, you cannot miss this great article.

Satirical 12 Days Of Christmas For Realtors

One of the most important things when it comes to writing epic content is being creative and captivating the audience. In one of the best blog articles of December, Jeff Knox has put a funny twist on the 12 days of Christmas.

This Satirical 12 days of Christmas for Real estate agents is funny, plain and simple. If you’re a real estate professional, you will be able to relate to the 12 days of Christmas that Jeff has tailored for Realtors. Jeff’s article is sure to cheer you up and provide you a good laugh!

Blogging, SEO, & Building Relationships – Advice From A PRO

Over the past month (and year for that matter) there have been some excellent resources provided for real estate blogging, SEO tips, and how to build relationships online for real estate agents. The folks over at Pipeline ROI reached out to one of the industry leaders when it comes to online exposure, Bill Gassett, for his advice on these topics.

Bill provides some excellent advice for real estate professionals who are starting out online in this Q & A interview. Additionally, there are some fantastic links in the article to other helpful articles on how to use Google+ and Linkedin for real estate. This one is well worth reading if you are a Realtor looking to increase your business exposure on Linkedin.

Bill is never afraid to share his “Secrets” when it comes to increasing the ranking of a website or various tips on how to use certain social networks and this Q&A is another great example of this. Be sure to check out this article from Pipeline ROI if you’re just getting started online or if you need a refresher on how to crush it online in real estate.

2016 Real Estate Predictions From 6 Experts

Unfortunately there is no crystal ball when it comes to real estate. There is absolutely no way to guarantee what is going to happen in the upcoming year. There are however always lots of different predictions that float around the internet.

Tim Lucas of My Mortgage Insider reached out to 6 experts for their predictions for the upcoming year in real estate. Will home prices increase or decrease and what will happen with interest rates are just a couple of the questions that the 6 experts give their prediction on.

These 2016 real estate predictions are very well thought out and as you will see, all different between the experts. After reading, do you agree with these predictions? What are your predictions for the upcoming year in real estate? We’d love for your comments below!

2015’s Real Estate Articles Of The Year

The last two articles of the best of December 2015 from G+ are both incredible recaps of articles from the past year. The first recap comes to use from Paul Sian who does an excellent job recapping and linking to about 20 real estate articles from the past 12 months.

There are a nice mixture of articles in Paul’s year end review. The topics range from 10 things you should look into before buying a home to what you should disclose when selling a home to the top 10 FAQs about mortgages. There truly are some excellent recaps and links to some of the most popular articles from the past year!

Top Real Estate Blog Articles From 2015

Last but certainly not least (I may be a little biased), the final Google+ real estate article from December 2015 comes from my blog, Rochester’s Real Estate Blog. After the monumental response to the article I wrote recapping the top 2014 real estate blog articles, I had no choice than to put together a 2015 recap.

This years recap certainly raised the bar for future years. The top real estate blog articles from 2015 recap is not one that can be read in one sitting. With over 7,000 words and a recap and links to almost 30 articles from the past year, there are some killer articles here.

The article has a convenient table of contents at the beginning that allows you to jump to the different sections. The articles are broken into categories ranging from tips for home buyers to mortgage advice to home improvement and remodeling. The 2015 recap of the best real estate articles is one that cannot be missed, like the rest of these excellent articles from December 2015.

Last but not least we close out the year with what real estate agents do that everyone hates. Are you making one of these real estate or social media blunders? Take a look at these twenty items that make your look unprofessional as a real estate agent. Many of your peers scratch their head in disbelief when you make these mistakes. 2016 is a new year. Make the best of it by increasing your knowledge and becoming a better Realtor both on and offline!

 

Kyle HiscockAbout the author: This article, the Top Google+ Real Estate Articles from December 2015 was written by Kyle Hiscock, a top Rochester real estate agent with Nothnagle Realtors. Kyle has helped hundreds of buyers and sellers move in, out, and around Rochester since 2011! Kyle actively writes helpful content on his popular, Rochester’s Real Estate Blog. If you’re thinking of moving to Rochester NY, contact Kyle to assist with your relocation needs.

 

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Home Cleanliness is Vital to Market Readiness

Have you ever walked into someones house and thought “I would love to live in a house like this”? Chances are, you’ve stepped inside a well-maintained home. It’s not necessarily new, but judging by its overall appearance, it might as well have been.

You’ve probably pulled up a mental image of that house by now: spotless floors, walls and windows, a clutter-free living room, an immaculate kitchen. The list goes on and on.

Now, as a home owner trying to sell your house, ask yourself: If someone walked into my home right now, would they have the same impression? Would they want to buy my home? Having a clean home is one of the least expensive improvements that increase a homes value. Getting your property in ultra clean condition is an absolute must especially when you don’t have the financial ability to do other needed improvements.

MARKET READY

Most of the time, home owners fail to consider cleanliness as a factor in determining the market value of their home, when tidying up is one of the most inexpensive ways to increase it. Perhaps this is because they have lived in the same place for a considerable amount of time that they overlook certain things, such as the wear and tear of certain fixtures, old, forgotten stains on the carpet, or a lingering bad smell that’s not supposed to be there.

Imagine going on a first date and realizing how the other person hadn’t washed their hair. It looks filthy and smells like it too. Sure, their personality may eventually win you over, but before you even got past introductions, you’ve probably considered not going on a second date.

For potential romantic connections, first impressions count. It’s the same with home buyers who are looking to fall in love with their possible new home. Property size, build, amenities, and location are undoubtedly important factors to their decision-making, but it doesn’t end there. It will also matter how well the previous home owners have maintained the place, and they will have no problem shelling out more money for something that has clearly been treasured.

Now ask yourself: Is my home market ready?

Clean Conscience came up with a handy pre-listing cleaning checklist you could use as a guide while you go around your property for an initial look-see:

Real-Estate-Pre-Sale-Cleaning-Checklist

TOP THREE PRIORITIES

The entry way/living room is the first point of reference for a buyer as they walk into your humble abode. It is important to keep it simple and clutter-free. Meanwhile, the kitchen and the bathroom are places that are very susceptible to collecting dirt and grime, which eventually cause foul odors or molds.

Entry Way/Living Room

☐ WALLS. Dirt and stain-free walls make your home more welcoming from the get-go. Wipe them clean, including baseboards and trim work. Pay attention to the spaces around light switch plates as they tend to gather dirt and fingerprints.

☐ FIXTURES. Lamp shades and other light fixtures, ceiling fans, shelves and other visible horizontal surfaces must not have a film of dust covering them. Meanwhile, polish wood and/or metal furnishings to give them a “brand new” glow.

☐ WINDOWS. Spotless windows are attractive whichever way you look at them, but you mustn’t forget about the window sills as well.

☐ FLOORS. Vacuum and shampoo rugs and/or carpets to remove dust, odors and stubborn stains. Clear traces of clutter—toys, pet beds, litter boxes, etc.—from the floor. It’s easier to appreciate the beauty of a space when it is free of all the mess, and reducing the likelihood of a buyer tripping over something is a bonus.

☐ DIRT COLLECTORS. Scrub and wash trash cans inside out to get rid of accumulated deep-seated dirt and foul odors. Don’t forget to clear your dusty vents too!

Kitchen

☐ SINK & DRAIN. While it’s important to get your sink to sparkle and shine, it’s equally important to scrub the drain area, because this is where foul smells usually come from.

☐ STOVE & COUNTER TOPS. Frequent cooking often results to a messy, grease-laden stove top. Scrubbing the stove top and burners will not only contribute to your kitchen’s overall cleanliness, it also makes your stove more efficient. Counter tops should be clutter free. Keep dishwashers and racks clean. You don’t want buyers to see last night’s dishes still undone.

☐ FIXTURES. Wipe appliances as well as cabinet faces clean. Organize the contents of your cabinets in such a way that the buyers see its storage capacity. Do the same for the contents of your refrigerator, and remember to check its vacuum vents too.

Bathroom

☐ SHOWER. Would you like to shower in a moldy bathroom? Didn’t think so. Keep your bathroom hygienic by removing molds and stains from the tiles, floors, tub (if applicable), and sink. It’s also highly recommended to re-grout and reseal bathroom tiles.

☐ TOILET. Sanitize and deodorize the toilet by scrubbing the whole bowl, including the underside of the rim. Use a disinfectant when swabbing the seat and lid, or you may choose to replace the seat if necessary.

☐ STORAGE SPACES. Clear shelves and cabinets of personal items like toothbrushes, soaps or shampoos. Make sure towels are clean, folded and neatly arranged. Lastly, empty all wastebaskets.

MORE CLEAN UP POINTS

Bedroom

The room inside the house that’s specifically meant to provide comfort after a long day also needs to be kept nice and tidy, don’t you think? To keep your bedroom smelling pleasant, avoid keeping laundry in the room for long periods of time and make sure to put them away when a buyer is set to visit. Remember to rotate clean bedding and sheets often. Regularly maintaining a clean bed also helps you minimize the possibility of having bedbugs and other bacteria.

Home Office

Organized chaos may help boost personal productivity from time to time, but it might not be of much help if you’re trying to sell your house. Keep your computers, monitors, desks and shelves clean at all times, and make sure your documents and files are not just messily piled on your work area. Have a book collection? Remember to keep them dust-free too.

Closets

Walk-in closets are an attractive feature to a home, especially for buyers who need a bigger-than-usual storage space for clothes, shoes, and other items. As much as possible, clear or minimize items on the floor and organize your items neatly. Keep your closets organized to make buyers find your home more appealing.

Outdoor Spaces

Your home exterior could well may be considered its face, so make sure it is attractive by cleaning the way to the entrance, the front door, and the walls around it. Sweep your deck and patio, and hose down or wipe any outdoor furniture. You don’t want your buyer to be sitting there and getting dirt on their clothes, do you? Finally, be a responsible pet owner and don’t forget to pick up after your pets.

When in doubt about the decisions you are making over maintaining your home, always remember to put yourself in a home buyer’s shoes. Look around your property and ask yourself, “Would I buy a house that looks like this?” If the answer is no, then it’s probably time to reassess the condition of your home.

In any case, it’s always advisable to keep your home clean. After all, it could be the biggest investment you have, and what better way to protect that investment than to make sure everything that comes with it is organized and functional.

It’s a win-win situation, so feel free to use the provided checklist for your reference the next time you plan a general cleaning. Make it so that the next time someone steps inside your home, they’d think, “I would love to live in a house like this.” When selling a home you can also follow these additional ways to clear the clutter before selling a home. Ask any real estate agent and they will tell you a clean house is far easier to show and sell than one that is not.

By keeping your home clean when it is for sale increases your odds you will sell it for a good price.

Other Home Maintenance/Improvement Articles Worth a Look

Use these helpful home maintenance and home improvement articles to make sound decisions when selling your home. Along with cleanliness making the right improvement choices can go a long way in having a successful home sale!

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Mortgage Options For a New Homeowner

Buying a Home? You’re in Luck!

Mortgage Options For a New Homeowner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the market for a new home? You’re not alone. According to Realtor.com, existing-home sales increased in the third quarter despite the ongoing inventory shortages, consequently driving home prices up in most of the country. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun believes there is no question that the housing market had its best quarter in nearly a decade. Home prices rose above levels of the 2006-2007 housing bubble, yet experts like Yun say Americans should not be concerned about another crash.

So it’s time to buy. Luckily, several options exist today that allow borrowers with good credit to buy a home with little or zero down, as long as they meet other underwriting requirements. And companies like Credit Sesame are here to provide you with the tools you need to make sure you are in the best credit position possible before you take the plunge into the real estate market.

Low Down Payment Loan Options

Until recently, the FHA loan was the best option for home buyers who wanted to purchase a home with a small down payment. However, in the past six months, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have introduced new alternatives to the FHA.

With an FHA loan, borrowers need a down payment of at least 3.5 percent, but the qualifications are less stringent than they are for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac 3 percent programs. For example, borrowers don’t have to meet income level requirements or be first-time homebuyers to qualify, and the borrower’s credit score can be as low as 580.

FHA borrowers must pay a private mortgage insurance (PMI) fee up front (1.75 percent of the full amount of the loan) and a monthly PMI fee, which insures the lender in case of default. To compete with Fannie and Freddie, FHA recently lowered its monthly PMI payment from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent of the full loan amount on 30-year fixed mortgages for borrowers who make a down payment of 5 percent or less. With an FHA loan, PMI payments last for the life of the loan.

Borrowers with higher credit scores will pay less, overall, for the new Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans.
Fannie Mae has two 3 percent down options: its standard 97 percent loan or the My Community Mortgage. Both were introduced last December as alternatives to the FHA, and both loans are available to first-time home buyers only (at least one co-borrower must not have owned a home in the past three years). Fannie Mae requires a credit score of at least 620, and borrowers may not exceed certain income limits.

Unlike Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac’s new 3 percent down program is available to repeat buyers with low and moderate income levels, in addition to first-time home buyers. However, Freddie Mac’s programs are similar to Fannie Mae’s in other ways.

1. Home Possible, which became available last December, requires a 5 percent down payment for buyers in the market for a 1 to 4-unit primary residence, including a house, condo, PUD (planned unit development) or manufactured home.
2. Home Possible Advantage, Freddie Mac’s 3 percent down loan, became available in March, and only those purchasing a 1-unit primary residence are eligible. Borrowers must have at least a 660 credit score, and first-time buyers must participate in a home ownership education program.

With the Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae 3 percent down loans, borrowers can choose either to pay one upfront PMI fee accompanied by a slightly higher loan interest rate, or a monthly PMI fee that stops when twenty percent equity is achieved. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae both allow gifts and grants to be included in the down payment.

One of the key considerations for most home buyers is understanding how to get the lowest mortgage interest rates with the most favorable terms for their current situation. There are so many loan programs out there now for first time buyers it makes sense to do research to find the best options.

Down Payment Assistance

What about down payment assistance? Otherwise creditworthy borrowers who seek assistance with the down payment will find options that vary state-by-state and county-by-county. Many of them come in the form of a second loan, which means the borrower will need to again meet loan guidelines, but repayment plans are generally designed to be non-burdensome.

For example, California borrowers who qualify can take out a CHDAP loan, which covers a down payment up to 3 percent of the purchase price and requires no payments until the primary mortgage is paid off or the home is sold (simple interest accrues).
The CalPLUS FHA loan is a similar piggyback loan program in which the junior loan covers a down payment of up to 3.5 percent, but the interest rate is zero.

Qualified Arizona borrowers can apply for the Home Plus home loan program, which includes a grant (non-repayable) of up to 5 percent to assist with the down payment and closing costs.

Google “[your state] down payment assistance” to find programs available in your area.
Borrowers take note:
● The higher the down payment, the lower the monthly payments
● The higher the borrower’s credit score, the lower the loan’s interest rate
● Some lenders will not approve a first mortgage that uses a second mortgage for a down payment
● Some lenders maintain stricter lending guidelines than those outlined by these programs

Finding the Right Mortgage Loan

Finding the right loan is no easy task. With teaser mortgage interest rates and monthly savings across the web, how do you know if the mortgage rate you are applying for really fits with your credit profile and your budget?

First things first, you need to know your credit score. Your credit score determines whether or not you can get approved for a loan, and at what interest rate. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you will receive.

Next, you need to look at your credit report. Lenders want to see candidates that have low debt balances, a long history of timely payments, and varied credit utilization. Ideally, you will obtain your credit report from all three agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) to compare.

It is imperative that you do this one year prior to buying a house so that you can look over your credit reports to make sure there are no errors. This way, even if you find errors, you will have ample time to correct them.
While varying interest rates between borrowers with different credit scores may seem minuscule (ranging from 0.1-1.5%) they actually make a significant difference. See the following chart which compares interest rates for a $250,000 30 Year Fixed Mortgage.

Credit Sesame Interest Rates

 

 

 

 

So once you know your credit score, how do you go about finding the best loan for you? Credit Sesame’s analytics engine analyzes your credit history and debt picture against national lender mortgage rates to find you personalized mortgage offers for which you actually pre-qualify, suite your budget and are best matched with your financial goals. Once you have the perfect mortgage plan for your needs a pre-approval will be put in place. If you are shopping for a home this will let home sellers and real estate agents feel confident in your ability to purchase.

During the process of getting the loan you will want to make sure your finances remain in order. There is nothing more unpleasant than finding your mortgage pre-approval letter has been denied due to some kind of change in your qualifying ratios. It is important not to make any big purchases during the loan process as this is the main causes of mortgage denial. Best of luck in your future home purchase!
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Credit SesameAuthor Bio: This article was researched and written by the Credit Sesame Financial Research team. Credit Sesame is a personal finance website that helps users do more with their credit score and manage their loans. They offer tools and tips to manage personal finance and loans

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5 Surprising Real Estate Facts From 2015

5 Real Estate Facts 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the year starts to wind down, we all have a tendency to look backwards and review the past year. In the real estate business, I like to review a few news sources to see what has transpired this past year. Even though the year is not yet complete, the reports have come back with some interesting real estate stories from 2015.

Every year, there are new findings on which real estate markets are most popular, most expensive or most affordable. The demographics of buyers may shift and there are new reasons cited to buy or not to buy. From out of all of the normal real estate type of stories reported in the popular press, I have collected five that I found interesting and that I didn’t see coming.

1. Louisville’s 40205 named One Of “America’s Hottest Zip Codes”

Local Louisville Realtors have long known they’ve been sitting on a hidden gem with upscale neighborhoods like Seneca Gardens, the Highlands, Cherokee Hills, Deer Park, Dundee Estates, Strathmoor and Belknap. Now the rest of the country recognizes the popularity of 40205 as a top housing market offering easy access to parks, dining, entertainment and attractions. The 40205 zip code was chosen from a pool of more than 32,000 across the U.S.

Unlike other booming real estate zones, 40205 is blessed with a great interstate system in close proximity to most neighborhoods, so there is very minimal traffic congestion. With a blend of new construction homes and mature estates, the average home price is surprisingly affordable compared to nearby zip codes like 40204.

“Listings in 40205 have received almost three times the views as the average listing in the U.S., and two to four times the views as the average listing in Louisville,” according to a press release issued by Realtor.com. “At the same time, inventory in the ZIP (code) has a median age of 38 days, which is 23 days lower than the market median and 35 days faster than the national median.”

2. More buyers bid on homes they’ve never been in

Technology is truly changing the name of the game, reports Survey Monkey. In a recent survey, 21 percent of respondents said they’d made an offer on a house without having ever seen it in person. Among Millennials surveyed, the percentage was even higher at nearly a third. Even more surprising was the fact that 53 percent of buyers in this survey who paid more than $750,000 for their home made their offers without a tour.

New technology like 3D scans, video virtual tours and real estate apps are making it easier than ever to muster up the confidence to buy remotely. Live broadcasting of home walk-throughs using services like Meerkat and Periscope has been an exciting innovation for real estate agents this year. Even though less than half of buyers were confident with the accuracy of listing information on popular sites like Zillow and Trulia, it didn’t stop them from opening their checkbooks.

3. The first quarter of 2015 was the most affordable housing market in two years

It’s a very affordable time to buy a home in America – despite the fact that the average U.S. home price is increasing at more than double the pace of the average weekly wage nationwide. The average home price has risen 24 percent since 2012, while the average weekly wage has gone up 7 percent and the average 30-year fixed interest rate has gone down 5 percent.

According to Clear Capital and RealtyTrac data, it was twice as affordable to buy a home in the first quarter of 2015 as it was in the second quarter of 2006, when the market was the least affordable. Compared to a decade ago, the average U.S. home price is 12 percent lower, while the average wage has increased 34 percent and interest rates have dropped 44 percent – so that’s really where we see the 48 percent improvement in affordability overall.

Assuming a 3% down payment, monthly payments on the average U.S. home (including property tax, home insurance and private mortgage insurance) took up 36.5 percent of the average worker’s wage – which was down from 37.4 percent at the same time last year. At best, this number hit as low as 32 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Yet, it’s still a far cry from the second quarter of 2006, when monthly house payments sucked up 70.7 percent of the average worker’s wage!

“Affordability is improving in most markets thanks to falling interest rates and slowing home price growth,” said Daren Blomquist, VP of RealtyTrac. Currently, the interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage has dropped 13 percent from 4.34% in 2014 to 3.77% in 2015.

Some real estate metros actually saw faster growth of wages than home prices, notably: Cook County, Illinois (just outside Chicago); Orange County, California (just outside LA); Brooklyn, New York; Fairfax County, Virginia (just outside Washington D.C.); and Riverside County in Southern California. The most affordable places to find a home included Hamilton County, FL; Saint Louis County, Missouri; Lake County, Indiana; and Fairfield County, South Carolina.

By contrast, the least affordable counties included: Eagle County, Colorado; Kings County, New York; Marin County, California; Santa Cruz County, California; and Maui County, Hawaii. Not surprisingly, metros like Key West, San Francisco, San Jose, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Denver continue to be expensive places to buy a home, despite wage increases.

4. The number of first-time home buyers hits a 30-year low

The fading first time home buyer trend is even more surprising, given the last fact, that we’re in the midst of the most affordable housing market we have seen – and will likely see – for quite some time. According to the National Association of Realtors’ “2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” first-timers only made up 32 percent of the market this year – down from 33 percent last year and 40 percent historically.

One of the biggest challenges for first time home buyers has always been saving up a down payment without a home to sell. Fifty-three percent of repeat buyers use money from the sale of their primary residence for their down payment. A quarter of new buyers cited savings as the chief reason for not purchasing a home this year. More than half of young buyers said they’re saddled with a median student loan debt of $25,000, which has delayed their dreams of home ownership.

Other reasons cited included: lack of affordable inventory and poor access to credit. Ninety percent of buyers surveyed said they worked with a real estate agent to bring all the moving parts together. Of those who did buy their first homes this year, the median age was 31, the median income was $69,400, and the typical home was a 1,620-square-foot property costing around $170,000. A quarter of first-time buyers used a gift or tapped into stocks and 401K savings for financial help.

By contrast, repeat buyers – particularly married couples with dual incomes — were responsible for the burgeoning market this year. The typical repeat buyer was 53 with a median income of $98,700. The typical home purchased was a 2,020-square-foot single family home costing about $246,400. This group relied on bank financing and home sale proceeds to fund their purchases.

5. Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals investing heavily in Western markets

Top luxury buyer real estate firms like Sotheby’s International and Wealth-X report that 2015 is a big year for the Ultra-High Net Worth Individual (UHNWI) demographic, which has invested roughly 10 percent of all assets in real estate around the world totaling nearly $3 trillion USD. Though this demographic prefers to remain anonymous and is notoriously difficult to track, some of the numbers trickling in do reveal impressive growth in the high-end market. For six consecutive quarters, investments in ultra-luxury real estate have risen, with an 8.3% year-over-year increase.

Foreign investors from countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are investing heavily in luxury residential real estate in Western Markets, viewing their purchases as a safe haven for investment and an opportunity to enjoy a better lifestyle. New York and London continue to be top sellers among UHNWIs. In London, home prices have skyrocketed 42 percent due to an increase in demand. In New York, the number of $30M+ listings have increased to 114 from 73 since last year.

These are the most surprising real estate facts from 2015 so far but we have another month to go and who knows what will happen between now and the end of the year!

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Best Google+ Real Estate November 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the New Year rapidly approaches the majority of real estate agents and mortgage lenders see a decline in business. This period of time is usually focused on making business plans that will help elevate our overall success. Part of those plans should include attention for your online presence.

Listed below are summaries of some of the best articles we have witnessed on our Google+ circles. These are contributions from current real estate agents that make their living representing buyers and sellers. The articles are divided in two areas:

  1. Information you can use to educate your sellers and potential buyers
  2. Information for your own use.

The information includes valuable advice for valuable home renovations as well as tips for preparing the property for winter. There is a special section aimed just at real estate agents to help you improve in your business.

Look over some of the best real estate articles on Google+ this November and leave us some feedback about how you plan to improve your online presence in the upcoming year.

Articles for Buyers and Sellers:

Selling a Home During the Holidays: Good Idea or Bad Idea?

There is no denying that the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is extremely busy. Most people are making plans for visiting family, attending a few dinners and parties and shopping for gifts. This would seem like a less than ideal time to try to sell a home.

However, Bill Gassett walks us through how selling a home around the holidays can yield some great advantages. Namely, you will likely be dealing with a serious buyer who is ready to purchase quickly. It is also advantageous to sell a home for tax purposes at the end of the year.

Protecting a Home against Winter Weather

The winter months pose specific situations that can lead to damage on your home if you are not vigilant. Most of the country will experience temperatures below freezing at some time during the year. Places as far south as Louisiana and Georgia have seen temperatures below 32 at various times in January and early February. Other areas further north deal with accumulation of snow and extended periods of time with temperatures in the single digits.

Some of the most important things to consider when getting ready for the cold months are the condition of the chimney, roof and gutters. These areas take a lot of abuse and need to be thoroughly inspected long before the north winds howl. Kyle Hiscock has some specific action steps to winterize your home along with some other areas that are often neglected.

Home Maintenance Tips for the Winter

There are other things that a lot of people can either do on their own or pay someone to do inexpensively. Items like checking the filter to the furnace, changing the direction of blades on a ceiling fan and ensuring the irrigation system are completed drained are just a few examples of ways people can prepare their home for the winter.

David Cronnin has put together a full list of home maintenance tips for the winter aimed at people who are handy and like to tackle DIY projects at his blog.

Renovations for Historic Properties that LOWER the Value

It would seem that any type of work done around a home that increases safety or modernizes the home would add value. However, historic homes are a unique structure. The items that make the homes historic actually need to be preserved, if possible.

For example, if you are considering replacing the exterior windows, there are guidelines set forth by the historic district board that dictates what is allowed and what is prohibited.

However, this does not mean that a historic home cannot be modified or improved upon. It simply means that you must take extra care when undertaking any type of project.

Karen Highland lets you know which historic renovations to stay away from to avoid costly headaches.

Home Improvement Projects that Actually Increase Property Value

There are many ways people can customize or improve their home in terms of comfort, utility efficiency and appearance. Yet not all of those projects yield a significant increase in the home’s value.

Anita Clark has a nice graphic that outlines some of the most common remodeling projects that increase a home’s value. The graphic shows average costs to complete the project as well as how much you can anticipate recovering through a higher sales price.

Most Important FHA Guidelines

There is no denying that the FHA mortgages have their fair share of paperwork. However, it is not necessary for a new homeowner to be an expert in every possible FHA rule in order to feel comfortable buying their next house.

The following summary from Inlanta Mortgage covers the 10 most important FHA guidelines that will likely influence almost every transaction. Things like the necessary down payment, explanation of mortgage insurance, limits on loan amounts and allowable property types can all be found there.

Important Jargon for Mortgages

Paul Sian understands that the mortgage world has its own language. While a nurse or doctor has one definition of an ARM, a real estate agent or mortgage lender has a completely different definition. Getting a handle on all of the terms that are specific to this industry would fill a large book. However, that much reading is not necessary for the typical customer.

This list of 20 mortgage terms will help home buyers and sellers alike get a better feel for the work done by lenders and be able to follow along with a conversation more closely.

An Open House or a Broker Open House; what’s the Difference?

Many people who have simply bought one or two homes in their life may not even be aware that there is an open house just for agents which are completely separate from the typical Sunday afternoon open house.

Since agents in any area are licensed to sell almost every home in their market, it can be tough for agents to have the fine details of each and every property. A broker open house gives the agents in the area a chance to inspect a home at their leisure and ask questions to fully understand the attributes of the house.

David O’Doherty goes into more detail about what makes a Broker Open house better.

Financing for New Construction

Buying a home versus getting a construction loan are two extremely different animals. Some real estate agents avoid new construction transactions due to the added complexity. However, there are alternatives that can make a construction transaction a real possibility.

The top options are turnkey financing or the renovation loans offered by FHA and Fannie Mae. Michael Roberts outlines these two alternatives to construction loans that could help make the entire process much easier.

Articles for Agents:

As the Old Adage says, SAFETY FIRST

Although the risks are different from those faced by a solider or police officer, real estate agents are often put in precarious situations. Riding around in a car with a person that you met yesterday can pose quite a bit of risk. Similarly, meeting a prospective buyer at a vacant home could spell disaster.

Whether you are a new agent looking to sell that first home or you have 15+ years of experience in the industry, it pays to keep yourself and your clients safe. Several veteran agents provided insight to Neighborhood Loans about Realtor safety.

Home Sellers: Let Your Agent Work for You

People that are trying to sell a home often feel pressured to consider any offer, regardless of how ridiculous it may be. This sense of desperation can lead sellers to make a bad choice that will ultimately cost them.

Angela Duong has some specific action steps to ensure sellers are showing their home in the best way possible without making themselves vulnerable to damage.

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Learn from Experienced Real Estate Agents

In every profession, there are people who offer their services as mentors. Young doctors fresh out of medical school often go to work at a practice with more seasoned professionals. Rookie firefighters will spend time with the older guys to learn the proper techniques of their profession.

For real estate agents, there is a wealth of information available on the internet about how to sell homes. Unfortunately, some of it may be best for newcomers while other pieces of information will work better for someone with a bit of experience.

If you are new to the real estate business, we have some great information for you. Ryan Fitzgerald knocks it out of the park as 17 different agents offer their single biggest advice for your first year in real estate. Take a look and soak in this valuable information.

Avoid the Hassle: How to Decide Whether to Fire Your Client

The Pareto principle states that 80% of your productivity will come from 20% of your efforts. This principle has been proven in nature with crops, in animal colonies and in the work place. There is no denying it.

For this reason, it is important to identify the problem clients that are wasting your time and keeping you from focusing on the 20% of your work that will yield results.

In the following article Debbie Drummond lays out some items you need to cover with your clients and also how to decide when it’s time fire your real estate client.

If you found this information valuable then you need to check out previous issues of the best of Google+ real estate! In your search for the best content found on the Google+ network you have come to the right place.

Luke SkarThis article was written by Luke Skar of Inlanta Mortgage – Madison which serves Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Florida. Since 1993 Inlanta Mortgage has provided award winning customer service to clients who need to purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage.

Luke serves as the Social Media Strategist for Inlanta Mortgage. His role is to provide original content for all of their social media profiles as well as generating new leads from his website MadisonMortgageGuys.com NMLS ID #1016

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Best of Google+ Real Estate October 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we move from Summer to Winter, many of us will experience a natural slow down in our local real estate markets. This is a great time to work on your website and get some new content created for next year. Here’s some material to help inspire you to create some great articles during the slow season.

These articles were written in October, 2015 and were shared throughout the real estate communities on Google Plus. Every month we pick some of the best real estate content found withing Google Plus and showcase the expertise of the authors who have taken the time to write them. Each of the article are packed with outstanding advice! Grab a cup of coffee and head over to each of the titles that grabs your interest.

Articles For Buyers & Sellers:

Real Estate Disclosure Issues

Halloween is here! Are you ready for spooky decorations and creepy Halloween movies? Well, this article will let you know how to avoid a spooky situation. Do you know whether you are required to disclose a murder that happened in a house when selling? How about if the house is haunted? Do real estate agents also have to let perspective buyers there is a sex offender living nearby?  These are all interesting topics and questions that Bill covers in great detail. This is good info for agents and consumers alike. Take a look and see if you know the answers. You better as the chances of getting sued will go up exponentially if you don’t!

10 Really Smart Ideas about Selling a Home

There are SMART ideas and then there are REALLY SMART ideas. This article by Lynn Pineda covers 10 smart thoughts for home sellers. Lynn talks about the importance of getting a pre-home inspection, as well as several other ideas that will help your home sell faster. This article is a must-read for home sellers ready to get their house on the market for the fall/winter selling seasons.

What Comes After a Seller Accepts your Offer?

Looking at homes can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Once you have found the right home, you may feel like the majority of your work load is complete. That’s not necessarily true though. In this article, Ryan Fitzgerald explains the process to get from a signed contract to the closing table. There are important steps that have to be completed in a timely manner and this article covers them all from top to bottom!

Top 5 Reasons A Mortgage May Be Denied After Pre-Approval

Receiving your mortgage pre-approval from your lender is a great feeling. But don’t let that pre-approval convince you that your loan is guaranteed. In this article, Kyle Hiscock explains the top 5 reasons why a loan can still fall apart after the pre-approval has been granted. This is a great article for home buyers and agents alike. Knowing the pitfalls to avoid can save you plenty of stress later on!

Signs That You are Ready to Purchase a Home This Fall

Many real estate markets start to slow down in the Fall. Some home buyers may feel that their local market has less to offer in the Fall and that maybe they should wait until next year to buy a house. Well, that may not be the best idea. In this article, Luke Skar offers some insight to help you determine whether this fall may be a good time for you to buy a home. Oftentimes homeowners really need to sell and know that if the don’t accept now it could be a long time before they get another good offer. This is a great read for those who are now considering jumping into the real estate market to purchase a home.

How to Buy a House from Start to Finish

The home buying process is exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know what to expect through each step of the process, the home buying experience is actually very fun. In this article, Jeff Knox offers a HUGE info-packed info-graphic and article that will take you through each step of the home buying process. This article covers just about everything you can imagine! After reading this helpful article you will be far more prepared to purchase a home.

Top 8 Real Estate Articles: Every Buyer Should Read

As we all know, there is no shortage of real estate content on the web. Sometimes it can be hard to find the best articles in the mix. In this article, Nathan gathers the top 8 recent real estate blog posts for home buyers. These article represent some of the best home buyer material on the internet today. This is a great resource to keep handy! What’s great about this one is it has advice from top real estate experts scattered throughout the country. If you are considering purchasing a home make sure you have a look at some of the top notch home buying advice presented here.

Articles For Agents:

15 Real Estate Agents Show How Their Website Helps Business

Got a real estate website that is dormant and needs to be brought to life? Maybe you’ve been planning on starting a new one? Then this is the article for you. This article contains insights from 15 top agents who are willing to share their best advice on starting a real estate website. It’s loaded with great info that will help you earn more business by using a real estate website effectively. Specific advice is given on what should be included in a top performing website that increase your odds dramatically of capturing business.

How to Promote Your Real Estate Content Like An Expert

Creating good real estate content is only half the battle. Figuring out how to promote real estate content and get it shared all over the internet is a whole other story. In this article on RESAAS’ blog, Bill talks in depth about the many ways to properly promote your content and get your stuff out there to be shared. This is great info for any professionals who uses content marketing as a business growth strategy! Whether you are looking to improve your understanding of social media as a promotional tool or are looking for some lesser known content marketing platforms, this is well worth the read!

Articles About SEO:

Real Estate SEO: Building a Real Estate Website

Trying to get your real estate website to rank organically for valuable keywords is a daunting task. In this article, Tony discusses how the foundation of your site should be built around linking structure and great content. He advises not to get too caught up in chasing backlinks, but to focus more on creating a better website experience for consumers and search engines alike. Most real estate agents lack an understanding of how SEO works. If this sounds like you reading this article will give you a better understanding of how onsite search optimization works.

Why Google Rewards Re-Publishing

Ok, so this is not a real estate article, but I’m sharing it anyway. This is a great article by Rank Fishkin that explains the value of re-purposing older content. If you have a huge library of content and you are constantly producing more, it may be time to look at your library and re-purpose some of it. This article explains the best ways to do that and the benefits of doing it right.

Previous Best Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Make sure you check out some of the above mentioned previous issues of the best of Google+ real estate! When looking for the best content found on the Google+ social network you have come to the right place!

Andrew FortuneThis article was written by Andrew Fortune at GreatColoradoHomes.com. He is a top Realtor in Colorado Springs who enjoys creating content for the real estate community and networking with other real estate professionals on all social channels.

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Cost Effective Kitchen Upgrades

Low Cost Kitchen Improvements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you are preparing your house to be put on the market before a move or simply want to revamp your living space, a lot of people are realizing that their kitchen needs to be a focal point for home improvement. A full kitchen renovation can cost upward of $40,000, so I have prepared a guide to renovating this room on your own without needing to sell your car! These are all cost effective kitchen upgrades that won’t empty your wallet!

Fresh Flowers and Fruits

Fresh flowers on your counter top provide an immediate impact on the appeal of your cooking space. Fruits that do not need to be refrigerated (such as apples and bananas) are in this category as well and would have the same effect. These fruits bring beautiful natural colors into your kitchen, and they will improve the smell in there as well. Kitchens without flowers or fruit often consist of a few neutral colors and everything matches. Fresh plants are a bright, easy and affordable way to spruce up your kitchen.

Small Appliances Are Opportunities

When purchasing smaller appliances such as toasters and blenders, it’s imperative that you realize the full decorating potential that is available. Theme-specific small appliances are the small—and all-too-often—overlooked details necessary for creating your perfect kitchen. Swapping out your standard toaster for a certain color or targeting decorative versions is also a great way to update your kitchen without emptying your bank account!

Another idea to make your appliance really shine is by using a stainless steel sleeve by using something like Faux steel.

“These sleeves can be purchased online, and can be cut to exacting shapes for your appliances. You’ll need scissors, pencil, rule, squeegee, sharp knife, and a hairdryer to apply the material,” according to Home Stratosphere.

Cabinet Hardware

The handles on your kitchen cabinets are a second area that is often over looked but can make large contributions to the overall look of your homes central area. The cabinet handles can have many different looks that can apply to any theme or color scheme. Wooden know handles are effective for a farmhouse style kitchen where stainless steel may be a better option for more modern looking kitchens.

Or if you’d like to make your kitchen a bit clearer, consider clear glass cabinet doors. ”For this project, you’ll want to start with cabinet doors pre-cut for glass. You’ll need a drill, sandpaper, caulk, glass clip, and the glass itself,” Home Stratosphere stats. “To purchase glass at the correct size, go to a local store like Lowe’s or Home Depot and have them custom cut glass pieces for you. The fasteners can be found here as well.”

Replace Faucet

The faucet on your kitchen sink is remarkably easy to change, and replacement faucets are not over the top expensive. This is why I think that replacing the faucet at your sink is another easy and cost efficient way to improve your kitchen. Faucets are available at most home improvement stores and usually come with simple instructions for making the switch!

Change Lighting

The lighting in your kitchen is a major determinant of the overall atmosphere. Installing hanging pendant lamps over an island, or adding a modern lighting fixture can make a huge difference even without the smaller details already discussed. “Task lights” are very trendy right now and inexpensive at large retailers. The lights installed by the contractor are usually bland and low quality making this upgrade an easy decision, with lots of creative freedom!

Change Cabinet Look

Standard cabinets in new homes are all very similar. They have outward opening doors and are all a neutral wood color. While they start off the same, people often fail to realize how creative they can get with the cabinets. Taking the doors of the cabinets completely, or replacing them with glass, is an easy way to make your kitchen uniquely yours. Painting over the wood of your cabinets also poses a lot of opportunities for differentiation. The worst mistake you can make is replacing cabinets that don’t have the look you want. Usually it is achievable with the standard cabinets but you may have to think a little outside the box. If you have a slightly larger budget you can opt for some of these luxury home kitchen ideas shared by real estate expert Anita Clark.

Counter Space

The counter space is yet another area that is often left as it came by the contractors. While it is more expensive then the other upgrade ideas so far it can also have the biggest impact. A hardwood counter top covering your island is a great way to tie in more of the wood color already found in your cabinets. Even if you have decided to paint the cabinets, this counter top could be painted to match and still provide utility as a cutting board. The most popular route by far but certainly the one that would be near the top of most buyers desires is installing granite counter tops. Granite just has a way of adding some real pizzazz to a kitchen.While granite is a little more expensive than some other potential counter top selections, it is one of the top choices of home buyers and can really add some serious punch to your kitchen!

Kitchen Floors

Kitchen floors come in many varieties of materials and looks. Tile is a very popular option and if you have a tile pattern you are particularly fond of, you can buy extra and put it on the wall as a backdrop behind the sink and under the cabinets. If you are not in love with your tile, linoleum is a low cost option that comes in many colors and patterns. If you are willing to make a larger investment in your house then hardwood floors or more expensive tile are other options as well.

Paint

One of the best low cost home improvements that will add the biggest bang for your buck without breaking the bank is painting! Changing the color of the walls in your kitchen can make it feel like a brand new room. The kitchen is an area where people are often more willing to be bold with wall color choices, which makes this a very fun project. Once you have decided on the counter tops, cabinets and floors you can decide what color works best with your new kitchen and really bring the new room to life! If you are worried about your kitchen being out of commission for too long then just call these one-day painters!

Appliance Upgrade

One of the most expensive suggestions for upgrading your kitchen is updating your appliances. There are many different looks and styles of large appliances available to choose from and this upgrade would have also have a positive impact on your home’s resale value. The appliances in a kitchen can make it feel years older then it really is if they go far too long between upgrades. Stainless steel and dark appliances are very popular right now and make a kitchen feel much more modern. Use the new appliances to match with your upgraded lights, cabinet handles, small appliances and really pull the whole kitchen together. Then, just hire a construction clean out service to take care of the trash!

Add a Tile Back Splash

The wall space behind your kitchen sink and underneath your kitchen counter can be greatly improved by adding a tile back splash where there was only solid color paint before. Adding the back splash can be done by yourself and is a fun project for those looking to ramp up the value of their home. The reason many consider it fun is because you have the opportunity to decorate as you please. Find a tile that you feel matches the design of the house. Then find an easy to follow do it yourself guide and you can improve the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen without emptying your wallet.

Making all these cost effective kitchen upgrades will not only change the appearance of your kitchen dramatically but you won’t feel that buyers remorse some people get having spent a lot of money.

Matt LawlerAbout the author: Matt Lawler is an Internet marketing specialist from Tempe, Arizona where he attended Arizona State University. Whenever he can step away from the computer, Matt enjoys playing sports, traveling and exploring the great outdoors.

 

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Top Real Estate Articles on Google Plus

Best-Real-Estate-Articles-Google-Plus-September-2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With so many great real estate articles published on Google+ each month it makes it hard to pin-point the best information for buyers, sellers, and Realtor’s alike. September saw new faces in the real estate community, as well as familiar faces, and as always, a lot of great real estate content!

Each month a Realtor is selected to put together what they feel is the best information for Bill Gassett’s monthly round-up. It’s typical for people to miss a few of these, and the best of google plus segment gives you an opportunity to go back and read up on what you might have missed!

This month’s ‘best real estate articles on Google+’ are written by some of the Internets top real estate professionals. If you haven’t already, be sure to connect with the authors on google plus by clicking on their names below.

So without further ado…

The Best Real Estate Articles on Google+ from September 2015!

How to Handle an Expired Listing

Expired listings are unfortunate. They happen though. Knowing your options when your home becomes an expired listing, and what to do following is an important next step. Cincinnati Realtor®, Paul Sian, writes an excellent article on how to handle an expired listing.

In Paul’s article he analyzes why homes don’t sell and breaks it down into two categories: Things you can control, and things that are outside of your control. This is helpful for homeowners, especially the ones who are likely to freak out over the fact their home didn’t sell. Paul’s article will help you ease your nerves as you diagnose where your home sale went wrong.

Paul begins his article with the number one reason why a home does or doesn’t sell, and that is price. There are a lot of factors that go into determining the proper list price for a home and you should place your confidence in a top local Realtor before you start assuming the online ‘guestimates’ are accurate. Check out Paul’s article to see his other recommendations on why your home expired, and what you should do next!

Why are Mortgage Pre-approvals so Important?

Mortgage pre-approvals are a critical step towards purchasing a home. Coral Springs Realtor, Lynn Pineda, highlights the importance of a mortgage pre-approval for buyers and sellers. If you’re a buyer and you’ve made the decision to buy a home, your next step should be pre-approval. Without a pre-approval, and assuming you’re not paying cash, a seller will not take your offer seriously. You may also be shopping in the wrong price range.

Some of the financial documentation a lender will require to pre-approve you are things like:

  • investment account statements
  • bank statements
  • pay-stubs and/or any income records
  • W-2’s
  • tax returns
  • retirement account statements

These items help prove to yourself, the seller, and the lender, that you are an able buyer for their home. Smart buyers make pre-approval their first step when shopping for homes. As Lynn states, mortgage pre-approvals are not optional when you’re serious about buying homes. They are what gives you purchasing power!

How to Sell your House Fast, for Top Dollar

If you want to sell your home fast, and for top dollar, it starts with hiring a great Realtor. Luxury Las Vegas Real Estate Agent, Debbie Drummond, demonstrates exactly what it takes to sell a home fast for the most money. It starts with hiring a full-time, top Realtor, who has what it takes to get the job done.

It’s important for sellers to understand that not all Realtor’s are created equal, writes Debbie. This is clearly demonstrated with their marketing, communication, and negotiating skills. Some Real Estate Agents will list your home at whatever price you want them to, and these are the Agents you should stay away from. You need to use all available data to set your list price or you’ll just create future problems for yourself, whether your home expires or it doesn’t appraise.

Assuming you don’t want to sell your house at a steep discount, sellers should stay away from the ‘we will sell your home in under 90 days, or we’ll buy it!’ guaranteed home sale programs.

With the tips in Debbie’s article you can set yourself up for success as a seller, assuming your goal is to sell your home fast and for the highest price. Check it out!

Buying a Home – Fixtures vs. Real Property

One of the most common problems in a real estate transaction is when there is not a clear communication between parties as to what is a fixture and what is real property. While it creates for great stories (sellers taking door knobs with them), it embodies the problems real estate agents face on a weekly basis. Metrowest Realtor, Bill Gassett, writes what is considered personal property vs. real property and gives tips on how to avoid any confusion.

Whether you’re the buyer or the seller, you’ll want to make sure you’re absolutely clear about what stays with the home and what goes. In real estate lingo this is called an “exclusion”. Bill describes some of the typical reasons there is confusion between what stays and what goes in the sale of a home, like window treatments and basketball hoops.

If you want to avoid confusion between what is a fixture and real property in your home sale, do a final walk through. While you may assume some things are clearly defined as a fixture and others as real property there are often times when the two parties aren’t on the same page. The final walk through offers the buyers and sellers an opportunity to inspect the home one last time to make sure all is well with the sale.

Influencing the Price of your Home Sale

Rochester Real Estate Agent, Kyle Hiscock, has put together a great resource for sellers who want to sell their home for top dollar. There are ways in which you can influence the selling price of your home and it starts with finding a top local Realtor!

It’s common sellers will ask ‘what are you going to sell my home for?’ This is a loaded question and without a complete understanding of all the facts cannot be answered without studying the local market trends, your motivation, and comparable properties.

Many sellers want to know right away what you’re going to sell their home for. There are sellers who will hire an agent specifically based on the price they will list their home at. This is a terrible way of selecting a Real Estate Agent.

Check out how you can sell your home at a price you’ll love, by setting yourself up for success with Kyle’s article!

Upgrading your Rental Property

There are many ways renters can upgrade their rental property, through temporary changes. As a renter, you should receive permission from your landlord first before you do anything to make sure they’re OK with it. Warner Robins Realtor, Anita Clark, answers the question, what are some of the changes I can make to upgrade my rental property? In the list you will notice these are temporary changes designed to benefit the renter’s lifestyle while keeping the home intact.

Anita gives renters 10 options to upgrade their rental property, and some of my favorite include painting walls a color of your preference, fixing outdated cabinets in the kitchen, and going green. Again, it’s important to make sure your landlord is OK with the upgrades. It’s your living space, and to a certain degree your landlord should be comfortable with any improvements you make.

Check out Anita’s article to learn about other updates you can make to your rental property!

How to Sell your House For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

It’s not uncommon for someone to want to sell their home themselves, especially in a hot seller’s market. The thought process is to save a few percentage points on the listing side of the sale. Colorado Springs Realtor, Andrew Fortune, puts together a great resource for those wanting to sell their home by owner.

Broken down into 4 important steps, Andrew demonstrates exactly how one can sell their home by themselves. It starts with research, in which you will need to study the neighborhood comparable sales and your competition. Next, you need to prepare your home for sale with upgrades that will increase it’s value and appeal to more buyers. After that, it’s time to get your home listed with professional photography and a video walk-through. You want to make sure you market your home everywhere online because you never know where you’ll find a buyer. The final step is getting your home sold through negotiations, and clearing the title for sale.

From personal experience, and before he ended up in Real Estate, Andrew shares his real life story about selling his home for sale by owner. He highlights the fact that selling your home for the most money is not as easy as you may think!

Is it Smart to Buy a Home When You’re Young?

Buying real estate at a young age makes a lot of sense if you want to obtain a financially free lifestyle. In my article I discuss 10 reasons why buying real estate when you’re in your twenties is a wise decision.

You can pay off someone else’s mortgage or you can pay off your own. Which one makes more sense for you?

Do you want to escape the pressures of not having enough money, or owing someone rent at the end of each month? You can do that. Buy real estate, and either pay off a mortgage or rent out the bedrooms in your home to pay off your mortgage for you.

In my article I discuss the difference between buying assets and liabilities in order to obtain financial freedom. Real estate can be seen as both an asset and a liability so make sure you’re buying because you’re going to make it an asset.

There are many people who will tell you buying a home to live in is a liability. Well what is rent?
By buying your own house you can reduce your other liabilities (rent) which is an asset in itself. Whether you choose to rent out other bedrooms to friends is up to you. If you decide to rent out bedrooms than your real estate purchase instantly becomes an asset which is producing you income.

So not only are you no longer paying rent (a huge liability reduction) you’re gaining additional income (other people paying you rent money = asset) to pay off your own mortgage and live a financially free lifestyle.

If you’re considering buying real estate when you’re in your twenties, let me know. I’d love to chat with you about my own personal experiences!

Previous Best Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Make sure you check out some previous issues of the best of Google+ real estate! When looking for the best content found on the Google+ social network you have come to the right place!

Ryan FitzgeraldThis article is written by Ryan Fitzgerald of Raleigh Realty. Ryan, is a top Raleigh, NC Real Estate Agent who enjoys creating valuable content for the real estate community, and connecting with industry professionals on social media. His website is a great place to learn about real estate or search homes for sale in Raleigh.

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Ice Dams Why They Happen and What to Do

Tina Gleisner - Ice DamsWe live in New England for lots of reasons, starting with most of us were born here. Our expectations are based on what we knew as children — our homes, towns, shopping and recreational activities. We love water sports and in the winter, we love skiing which isn’t something you do if you grow up in Florida.

Of course we all know living in New England means dealing with a few winter storms. We’ve got our shovels along with rock salt and sand, to keep our families safe when storms happen. But weather patterns are changing and we’re getting a lot more snow (New England snow records on Weather.com). And it’s not just the amount of snow. We’re also not getting enough warm spells between snow falls to melt the first storms snow before new snow arrives, so it’s piling up higher and higher.

So what happens when we get record snow falls & extended cold spells?

We know our streets get clogged and transportation bogs down. Last year there was so much snow, that plowing wasn’t enough — it had to be trucked outside the city. We’re less aware that we also get dangerous snow loads on our roofs, and even more often, we get ice dams that cause roof leaks. But once we notice the dripping water or stains inside the house, a lot of damage has already occurred. It means in addition to shoveling snow, you’re going to have to deal with insurance claims and contractors, getting estimates and making repairs.

That’s why we wanted to share this article with you, to explain:

  • Why ice dams happen in New England.
  • What you can do to lower the risk of New England ice dams.
  • How to remove ice dams from your roof once you’ve got them and how to prevent them from coming back.

Why New England Ice Dams Happen

New England ice dams are the result of many factors, and it might even be related to the age of your house. Massachusetts has the second oldest housing stock in the US, with a median age of 54 years. This is important according to the National Association of Home Builders, as ” … older homes are less energy-efficient” and it’s the heat escaping from your house to the roof, that causes ice dams.

Older houses used to leak warm air everywhere but with our focus on energy efficiency, we’ve reduced the loss of conditioned (heated or cooled) air tremendously. Building codes require new houses to be insulated to standards for where your house is located (Read: Insulation 101 for Smart Homeowners) and smart homeowners have been adding insulation to their walls when they get new siding.

Attic insulation is a popular home improvement to reduce heat loss rising to the roof. But wait, because insulation is only part of the solution. There are three concepts you need to understand, to reduce heat loss from your attic to the roof (Read: Insulation Doesn’t Work by Itself):

  • Insulation slows the movement of air, as physics works to equalize the air temperature between your attic and your warmed home.How to Prevent Ice Dams
  • Sealing large gaps where electrical wires, plumbing, light fixtures and your attic hatch, touch the attic are equally important to stopping air flow.
  • Ventilation replaces warmed air in your attic with cooler outdoor air, using a system of vents. Older homes have gable vents while newer homes have ridge and soffit vents. There’s controversy about adding ridge vents with a new roof, so make this decision carefully. (Read: Fine Home Building’s Does a Roof Need a Ridge Vent?)

Ice dams are the result of warm air reaching the roof and melting the snow touching the roof. As the snow turns to water, it flows down the roof until it reaches the eaves where the roof is colder. Where the roof is cold, the water starts to freeze and ice dams start to build, along with the icicles you see dripping down from your roof.

As more snow melts, the ice dam gets taller and the water starts to back up the roof. That’s where the real problems occur because roofs are only built to shed water flowing down and ice dams cause water to pool and move up. Gravity works against us as the water looks for the easiest path to flow down, and finds gaps and cracks in the roof.

So if you’ve had ice dams, you know you really don’t want to ever see them again. And maybe you’ve tried one or more ways of preventing them already, so here are the ones we know work, and some that don’t always work the way you expect.

New England Ice Dam Prevention Solutions

While the ideal solution to preventing New England ice dams is the right combination of insulation, sealing and ventilation, there are still circumstances when you simply can’t prevent ice dams.

With many ice dam prevention solutions on the market, you should remember that you get what you pay for. The trade-off you need to make is time and aggravation (insurance claims and repairs) versus money. And don’t assume your homeowner’s insurance will cover all repairs. They might with the first occurrence, and maybe a second time but your rates might go up and they might even cancel your insurance.

So the oldest solution is to constantly shovel the snow off your roof, but this isn’t a realistic solution. It would mean staying home all winter, and tremendous physical exercise to climb the ladder and shovel all that snow. Then there’s the risk of falling and/or damaging the roof while shoveling.

Alternative solutions used to prevent New England ice dams include:

  • Ice melting heat cables – provide limited help as the photo above illustrates. Cables may not carry enough heat, and if they do, may not heat a large enough surface to prevent some ice dams.
  • Heated gutter cables – like the heat cables you put on the roof, they run through the gutters to melt water (melted snow) so it can reach the downspout and flow down to the ground. But remember, the water has to reach the gutters before these can help.
  • Ice belt panels – are typically aluminum panels or sheets that are run along the edge of the roof. where you typically see ice dams. They work on many roofs unless there are problems like not enough slope to the roof or constant shade coverage.
  • Integrated roof heating solutions – offer solutions for the roofs edge, or custom solutions that target trouble spots all over your roof. New England Ice Solutions (below) offer aluminum channels delivering heat at the roofs edge, in valleys and along dormers or other multi-level roofs with problems resulting from water melt.
  • Metal roofs – are similar to ice belts, with standing seam panels or metal shingles installed over the entire roof. The interlocking design helps prevent water from penetrating the roof. It’s rare for metal roofs to have problems although a snow retention system can hold snow on the roof.

Removing Snow & New England Ice Dams

When you get ice dams, your first priority is to eliminate them as quickly as possible. There are a number of ways to get rid of ice dams on your roof:

  • Calcium chloride – in pantyhose or tablets shaped like hockey pucks, can be placed on the ice dams to melt them.
  • Ice dam steamers – can melt ice dams without damaging the roof. They’ve been used in the Midwest for years, and came to the rescue of many New England homeowners in 2015.
  • Other methods – include breaking up ice dams with hand held tools, a hot water pressure washer or chain saw. Take care to avoid situations where anyone might fall or damage the roof from sharp tools, or even walking on brittle asphalt shingles.

Additional Helpful Ice Dam Prevention and Removal Articles

Tina GleisnerThis article on how ice dams occur and how to prevent them from coming back was written by Tina Gleisner. Tina assists women homeowners to save time and money while creating homes they will love. Tina leverages her experience owning 14 houses and running a handyman business for 8 years as the basis for her great guidance.

 

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The Very Best Real Estate Content on Google Plus

Best Google + Real Estate Articles Aug 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As August comes to a close and I look over the landscape of great real estate content on Google +, as usual, it’s difficult to narrow it down to the best handful of posts to offer up to you. So here’s the deal…I’m in the midst of selling my own house, and it seems it’s all I can think about! So the articles that have meant the most to me this month are from a home seller’s point of view, not a Realtor’s.

This month, it’s all about the house…from getting the house ready, staging the house, and, hardest of all, getting rid of all the stuff we’ve collected over the years! These are my very biased picks for the best real estate articles on Google + in August:

Great Home Selling Tips

1. Obviously, I’d love to Sell My House for More Than My Neighbor’s. Wouldn’t every home seller? Ryan Fitzgerald, real estate agent in Raleigh NC, has put together 11 great tips for sellers. This article is full of logic, tips, statistics, compelling graphics and common sense. I really like Ryan’s use of info-graphics. (note to self…do more of that on my blog!)

Ryan’s advice about having a positive attitude is something that I think we agents may take for granted. But now that I’m in the place of the seller, it’s really necessary to be reminded to be positive. There is a lot of work involved in preparing a home for the market. There is a lot of risk involved in making the right choices as far as repairs and upgrades. Choosing a good REALTOR that you can trust is also a big decision that sellers face. I can see where negativity can begin to set in for a home seller. The last thing you want is a client thinking to themselves how do I fire my Realtor. Staying positive is great advice.

Another tip in Ryan’s article that I found useful is to assess your home’s weak spots in light of your competition. If your home has weak spots that cannot be minimized or overlooked by it’s strong points, then try to address them. Today’s buyers want homes that are move-in ready and updated with modern features. They are even willing to pay top dollar for a home with all the best bells and whistles. If you want top dollar, then you will need to do the work.

You’ll get a lot of good information in Ryan’s post, with stories, tips, stats and videos that add to the great advice. This one is certainly worth bookmarking for later reference.

Exceptional Home Staging Tips

2. While I’m planning the staging of each room of my house, this article by NC Homebuyers makes so much sense to me: 13 Tips to Stage Your House as if it was Going on a Date. I mean…right?! Of course it’s going on a date! And my house wants to hook up with the perfect buyer. I love this metaphor.

Since first impressions are so important on a date, it doesn’t surprise me that the majority of buyers make up their mind about a house within the first 10 seconds they approach the home. Yes, curb appeal matters. We want to have a love-at-first-sight moment if we can! (note to self: a little bit sexy/a little bit classy makes for the perfect curb appeal 😉

One of the 13 tips is speaking to me the home seller: Appeal to the lifestyle your buyers are looking for. It’s true, today’s buyers are buying a lifestyle as much as they are buying a house. Great staging advice from NC Homebuyers: “Usually, you want to try to stick to the lifestyle your home is most likely to attract. BAIT THE HOOK TO SUIT THE FISH!”

3. And speaking of lifestyle, even though my kids have flown the nest, our home and neighborhood will most likely appeal to families. (Not to say that only a family will buy it, but if that’s the most likely buyer, then that’s who I will appeal to in my staging.) Chelle and Melle Wiggins, real estate agents with Berkshire Hathaway | Professional Home Services, have written several articles about staging your home. Successful Home Staging: Children’s Rooms has some good tips and advice for staging a child’s or teenager’s room.

I plan to take advantage of their advice, from the colors to the toys and the bedding. There are tips for parents that will help the rooms stay clean and even get the children involved. It sounds like it will even be fun. Many home sellers have children in some stage, so this advice is bound to be helpful to a large number of sellers.

How to Sell a Home With Kids

4. Along the same theme, I found Rochester NY Realtor, Kyle Hiscock’s article full of value: Tips for Selling A Home with Kids. Selling a home when you have children has it’s own particular challenges. One of the most overlooked issues is probably the “stuff” that comes along with having kids. When staging your home for sale, Kyle points out the importance of remembering that “less is more”. So, the stuff has to be thinned out and stored.

Another super tip for parents when they are selling their home is to have a game plan for showings. Having a system for quick clean-ups and a place to go during the showing will help a lot during crunch time. Remember, the better you prepare for selling your home, the quicker it will sell…and the sooner you can move on with the family and get back to normal living.

Note to self: Even though my children are grown and gone, I’m keeping some of these tips in mind for my fur-child. It’s best to keep him out of the way, clean up his toys, and have a plan for showings!

Must Have Luxury Home Amenities

5. I have to admit, I do not have a luxury home. I mean, it’s nice and all, but I must be honest.

However, I want buyers to feel like it’s a luxury home. So I’m going to take some of Anita Clark’s advice in her article, 6 Amenities Every Luxury Home Needs.

  • I may not have a home gym, but my bonus room can be staged as an exercise room.
  • Sans the wine cellar, I can add a beautiful wine shelf and put pretty glasses on display in my dining room.
  • Luxury features are often about spaciousness. Staging a home to enhance a sense of spaciousness is a great way to add some luxurious feeling to what you have.

Every home has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Accentuating the best features and adding some luxe touches will be of value to any home, whether it fits the luxury category or not.

Real Estate Photography Matters

6. Dan Miller, of Mad City Dream Homes in Madison WI, has written some great tips for sellers concerning outdoor photography. Make the Most of Your Outdoor Photos. The best tip: Take photos at the peak of summer glory. I’m taking this to heart, because our home isn’t quite ready to be on the market, but the yard looks it’s very best right now. What a great idea! I’m glad I ran across your tips Dan.

There are several more tips that I will remember. Professional photos are a must for listings, I couldn’t agree more. For a home with a particularly beautiful setting, a digital photo frame is a wonderful idea. A motion-activated Hi resolution display is a great solution to show off a nearby conservancy or acreage that the buyer may not tour themselves. Great listing photos matter.

Understanding Home Buyer Feedback

7. Once the home is listed and the buyers are coming through, Lynn Pineda has put together an article with some sound advice: Decoding Buyer Feedback when Selling a Home. Now I’ve put my REALTOR hat back on when reading Lynn’s post! It’s important to take buyer feedback and listen to what they’re really saying and determine what and how to make the necessary changes in response. And like she says, sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find out what they really mean.

When a buyer says, “We didn’t like the home’s layout.” well, there’s nothing a seller can do about that. But when a buyer says, “the home is too small,” or “we found another home,” then you may want to consider that your home is not priced right for the competition.

I’ll definitely keep Lynn’s article bookmarked and remind myself to listen to buyer feedback when I have my home seller’s hat on!

Sell As is or Fix My Place Up

In my latest article, whether to sell as-is or update? I explore the question of whether it’s worth it for a seller to spend the money on updates. Like most things…it depends. It depends on the market, the competition, and it depends on a seller’s goals. If you want top dollar, then you’ll need to put in the work and money to update your home. If you can’t do that for some reason, then you should understand that buyers will want a discount. You should expect to sell for less than market value and price your home accordingly. Everything will sell for the right price! As with most issues concerning real estate, having the proper expectations is key for a seller.

Previous Best Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Make sure you check out some previous issues of the best of Google+ real estate where you will see nothing but the best content found on the Google+ social network!

Karen HighlandThis article was written by Karen Highland, who, along with her husband Chris, sells real estate in Frederick Md. Karen is cheerfully taking the very same advice she’s handed out to sellers for 23 years, as well as much of your advice, as she prepares her own home for the market this summer!

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Ramp Up Your Online Real Estate Visibility

Being a real estate agent has changed dramatically over the past decade.  And the trends continue to point in the direction of more technology.  Yet, the reality for most real estate agents is that they simply don’t know how to keep up with all the changes in marketing and online lead generation.

Nowhere is this more pervasive than on a typical agents website.  Realtor.com says that over 90% of home buyers and sellers start their process online. That must mean there is tons of traffic to be had in real estate. Motivated buyers and sellers are simply there online looking for solutions. There’s no denying that.

Yet, the average agent is lucky to get over 50 visitors to their website every month. 

This presents a problem and huge opportunity for agents looking to stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re looking to get more listings, buyers, or help sell your listings faster, the road to success is building up consistent website traffic. 

Website traffic will be as important to Realtors over the next 5-10 years as referrals are. In fact, website traffic is largely like referral marketing. You get traffic from social media and other websites that link to your site and refer traffic your way.

That’s how the web works. And that’s how real estate works.

But how do you go about building up more traffic to your real estate website?

The answer isn’t complicated. You only have 3 ways to get traffic to your website. And there are proven methods of using these 3 tactics to increase the number of visits to your own website.

The main three ways you can get traffic to your real estate website are:

  1. By having a popular real estate blog
  2. Understanding how to use social media for real estate
  3. Paid Ads in various channels

Do you want to see some good examples of top real estate websites? In my post there are real estate agents who have mastered the art of driving qualified traffic to their sites. These Realtors understand what it takes to have a thriving business from their online activities. Go ahead and take a look – it may give you some ideas on how you can change up your marketing strategy moving forward. You will see exactly why these agents are well past their first ten thousand visitors!

Let’s start by discussing the first option, blogging:

Blogging is simply the practice of putting written or video content on your website.  The most useful blogs in real estate are ones that are helpful.

How does this help build up traffic?

Well, the only way to get anyone to visit your website without paid ads relies on some type of content. Do you want people to visit your website from social media? You need helpful blogs that educate them on topics they are interested in. Bill Gassett does a great job at this over at his Maximum Real Estate Exposure blog. In a recent article Bill provides helpful information on taxes when getting a divorce. This is the kind of information that people will search online for. Bill provides a thorough understanding of how divorce can impact your finances especially when it comes to taxes. In speaking with Bill he told me that he is averaging around 44,000 visitors a month to his blog/website!

Do you want traffic from Google eventually? One of the best ways to get people visiting your website is by publishing useful blog content just like Bill does on a regular basis. I encourage you to go take a look at the top sites that show up for your keywords.  Most of the sites like Zillow, Trulia, and other top ranked websites publish more than one blog post per day.  They aren’t doing this for nothing. Publishing helpful content almost automatically does SEO for you.

The second way to get traffic is through social media. 

Social media traffic can actually be pretty predictable and growth can be exponential over time.  If you’re writing blog posts, you can easily schedule their publication to multiple social media accounts. And then get clicks back to your website. 

You have the standard social media sites that you should be on like Twitter and Facebook.  But there are also newcomers like Youtube and Pinterest that are having a huge effect on real estate website traffic.  In 2014, the number of people who typed find a Realtor into Youtube grew by over 41%. Mastering how to use social media channels for real estate should be a key consideration for all Realtors looking to ramp up their online exposure.

The thing to realize here is that it is almost impossible to get large amounts of social media traffic directly to your IDX listings. Social media just doesn’t work like that! Think of these networks as a cocktail party. If you met someone who was remotely interested in buying a house soon at a party, you wouldn’t take them through all the listings you have. You’d answer their questions they have about buying.

If you want to succeed at getting more traffic from social media, you have to “Give to Get.”  Overtime, a healthy mixture of blogging with social media marketing will yield a consistent stream of traffic to your website. And the cool thing is that this stream acts a little bit like an annuity.

It grows with time.  Once you start getting search engine and social media traffic to a website, it’s hard to lose that traffic.  You will find that if you keep blogging at this point new blogs get new traffic. And older blog posts continue to bring in traffic.  This creates a multiple effect which can be really useful for finding new clients month after month.

The third way to get traffic to your real estate website is through paid advertising. 

Unlike social media and blogging, this method has a more immediate impact. You’re able to get people directly interested in real estate transactions to your website.  The two big players for this type of marketing are largely Facebook and Google. There are ways to setup profitable sources of leads on both of these networks.

That being said, the downside of a advertising only based approach to website traffic is that you’re renting traffic.  The moment you turn off the ads or run out of ad spend you are going to stop getting traffic. You are also then tied directly to the success of the advertiser. For example, Facebook ads were around half the price one year ago that they are today.

You’ll also find that the leads from these ads are sometimes of lesser quality than from organic traffic methods.  Organic traffic typically builds more trust with individual leads before they give you their information. This yields a higher quality of lead that on average converts to clients at a much better percentage.

All this being said, I firmly believe that real estate agents need to prioritize getting traffic to their websites now. A good first goal should be hitting 10,000 visitors a month.  And to help every realtor do that the Easy Agent Pro team put together this helpful info-graphic that explains every step of the process.  We talk about blogging, social media, email marketing, and over arching goals for your traffic growth. You can also see 16 hacks for real estate websites that drive more leads and real estate business.

Here’s How To Get Your First 10,000 Website Visitors:

What do you think?

If you have any questions about getting real estate website traffic, let me know in the comments below. Or reach out on social media. And I’ll be sure to help you out!

Tyler ZeyTyler Zey is the digital marketing director and contributing editor for the real estate digital marketing blog on easyagentpro.com.Easy Agent Pro helps Realtors with some of the best websites and marketing available.

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The Best of Google Plus Real Estate Articles

July 2015 Best Google+ Real Estate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each month the Real Estate articles here on Google+ seem to dig a little deeper and continue to shine with a lot of well written and entertaining articles by Real Estate bloggers highlighting words at their best; words demonstrating their virtuoso in Real Estate. It’s not an easy task to choose between all the articles for our reading pleasure either. This monthly tradition was started by Bill Gassett as his aim was to pick out some of the best articles out there on Google+. Here’s what stuck out to me this month and perhaps it includes one or two that you might have missed, as I know I always seem to miss a few myself. Happy reading!

Sellers Making More Money With Great Strategies

Realtors who are masters at their craft know how to analyze the local market and trends. Knowing the local markets can make all the difference to a homeowner wanting to sell their home. When selling a home, I’m confident that selling a home for top dollar is likely top of mind for most homeowners. There are home selling strategies to accomplish this as Ryan Fitzgerald lays out in his article.

Ryan Fitzgerald a Real Estate Agent serving Raleigh, North Carolina and surrounding areas, details exceptionally well, exactly what strategies Realtors use to get a home sold. Strategies you won’t want to miss. Is your Realtor taking these steps to get your home sold? Maybe you better check!

Listing With a Realtor and Why it Beats FSBO

“Buyers hate when the owner of a property is around during the showing. Allow me to repeat, Buyers hate when the owner of the home is present during a showing” Jeff’s comment was so true, that I too found it important to repeat! If you’re considering the selling of your home alone as a FSBO (For Sale By Owner), would you have any idea that this is the truth? Likely not and this is just one issue that a valuable Realtor will advise you of when it’s time to sell your home.

Jeff Knox a Real Estate Agent serving Dallas, Texas and surrounding areas discusses 9 reasons why listing a home for sale with a Realtor sure beats selling it as a FSBO in his savvy article. When saving money is on your mind, you won’t want to miss this one. This has to be one of the most comprehensive articles you will find on the subject of selling your own home!

Avoid Home Buyer’s Remorse

Having remorse about a purchase is awful. Have you ever bought a pair of shoes, bought them home and thought, oh geez, do I really like these after all? Did you save your receipt? Sure you did, then just go ahead and return the shoes that you bought in a flurry of rushing. (You always seem to be rushing, don’t you?!)

Now, what if that happened when you bought a new home? Go to your all important file box, pull out your settlement statement and then go back to the closing agent and tell them you changed your mind about the home and want to return it. It does not work that way when you buy a home. You’d better make an educated decision when you buy a home because, simply said, you just can’t return it.

Kyle Hiscock a Real Estate Agent serving Rochester, New York and surrounding areas tells you in his brilliant article just how to avoid remorse when buying a home. This is home buying advice worth following.

Home Selling Disclosures

“I’ll just keep this moldy little secret to myself”, you thought as you get ready to sell your home. You’ll just paint over the mold right before you put your home on the market to sell, so the prospective Buyers won’t even notice it. What happens when the Buyers discover that the mold was hidden from them? Did you really think this wasn’t going to be a big deal? Better hire an Attorney!

Debbie Drummond a Real Estate Agent serving Las Vegas Nevada and surrounding areas expresses keen insight on what should be be disclosed when selling a home. She discusses the importance of disclosing all that is known about a home that can and will affect it’s value. This is a very interesting read as it contains two recent disclosure cases where the seller and real estate agent are getting sued for non disclosure. Pay careful attention to the story about the “stalker”. It is a riveting story that every Realtor should be familiar with.

Avoid Mistakes in Real Estate Agent Selection

Choosing a Real Estate Agent matters in whether or not you want to get your home sold fast and for top dollar. Do you really think that it’s the wisest thing to do in selecting the agent that agrees with you on everything, especially the price?! You aren’t the least bit concerned that they’re just trying to land your listing at all costs?

Xavier De Buck a Real Estate Agent serving Johannesburg, South Africa and surrounding areas addresses home selling mistakes in his astute article on the mistakes that home sellers keep making over and over again. These are blunders any home seller will want to avoid as they cost you money and time.

Seller’s Home Improvements to Avoid

Not every home improvement is a plus for home sellers as Karen illustrates in her article. There are some home improvements that will not benefit your wallet as you had hoped for when you went all out making radical changes to your home. In fact, the hiring of a landscape designer and architect to plan out your garden paradise in the home you’re now trying to sell could bring you much regret when you determine you over improved your home.

Karen Highland a Real Estate Agent serving Frederick, Maryland and surrounding areas points out what to avoid and which improvements afford the greatest return on investment in her outstanding article. Before you consider home improvements, you’ll want to read her advice.

Moving and What to Leave Behind

Moving is never easy. It’s a big job trying to sort through all your belongings getting them packed up to move. Where do you begin? Here Anita gives you a heads up on where to begin and what to tackle. Have you ever considered having a “maybe box” when at that moment you can’t stomach throwing anything away? That’s a great idea, a “maybe box”!

Anita Clark a Real Estate Agent serving Warner Robins, Georgia and surrounding areas shares some very sound advice on what exactly should be left behind when moving and how best to process it all. Don’t fret, just be sure to read it. You are guaranteed to see some moving tips you never thought of!

Dealing With Low Ball Offers

Unfortunately, as a home Seller, it’s best to expect some buyers to throw a low ball offer at you when you’ve listed your home for sale. It’s not meant to offend you, but rather as Paul points out, it’s all about somebody that will always try their best at getting a deal. How you handle the low ball offer is what matters which Paul addresses here.

Paul Sian a Real Estate Agent serving Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky offers up smart recommendations on just how to handle a low ball offer. Be sure to take Paul’s advice so you’re well equipped when the low ball offers come in. Above all else keep your emotions in check if you are dealt with an offer you find revolting. It is not where the buyers starts, it’s where they end up that matters.

What Are The Tax Benefits of Owning a Home

You may be trying to decide whether you should renew your lease for one more year or take the plunge into home ownership? There are a lot of buyers who are on the fence on whether they should rent of buy a home. Oftentimes buyers do not have the full financial picture of what home ownership can do for your long term finances. When you purchase a home more than likely over time you will rack up some considerable equity.

Bill Gassett, the owner of Maximum Real Estate Exposure, a Realtor serving Hopkinton, Massachusetts and surrounding areas explains brilliantly the tax advantages of owning your own home. In addition to building equity, Bill explains all of the financial benefits that can be gained over the time you own a home, as well as when you go to sell. Whether you are taking advantage of the yearly mortgage interest tax deduction you can file yearly, or all of the capital gains that are sheltered when it’s time to sell, Bill details it all so well. If you are still on the fence of whether to buy or rent this article may be the kicker that makes you stop and think about how great it will be to have your own place.

Common Home Buying Pitfalls

Pitfall – a danger or problem that is hidden or not obvious at first. Is that ever the truth in how Merriam Webster defines Pitfall! Everyone wants to avoid pitfalls and unfortunately they seem to be ever present in home buying when a Buyer either doesn’t plan properly or let’s their emotions get the best of them.

As Lynn Pineda, a Real Estate Agent serving Coral Springs, Florida and surrounding areas, I’ve gone over some of the most common buying pitfalls and how best to avoid them. I’ve done my best at drilling home the message in hopes of saving home buyers from living any of the scenarios I’ve described.

Previous Best Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

See some previous issues of the best of Google+ real estate where you will see nothing but the best content found on the Google+ social network!

Lynn PinedaThe following Google Plus real estate review was written by Lynn Pineda, a licensed Southeast Florida Real Estate agent for 9 years currently at Keller Williams Coral Springs Realty.
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10 Quick Tips on Downsizing Your Home

Tips on Downsizing Your HomeHas your home outgrown you?

Are you living in this big house of which you only use a few rooms in a year (e.g. kitchen, living room, main bedroom and en-suite bathroom)?
You more than likely haven’t set foot in any of the other rooms for months!

Would moving to a smaller place be an option?

Based on the latest data, it’s estimated that a person moves about 12 times in their lifetime. As you reach the mature age stage in life (earlier for some than others), you will be looking at downsizing from your current living condition; whether it be caused by financial reasons, the children having moved out of the house, divorce, partner passed away, or just plain practical convenience of having to run a huge house for 1 or 2 people!

Perhaps now would be a good time to think about downsizing!

Where does one even start? There are so many closets and cupboards filled with stuff. Don’t even mention what’s been accumulated over the years/decades in the garage, basement and attic! Which stuff stays, goes, comes with?

This article on downsizing will discuss a number of tips which one needs to consider about downsizing before actually starting with all the moving! Going from a full-blown house with plenty of bedrooms and living areas to a one-or-two bedroom place does need some preparation!

Here are 10 quick tips on downsizing:

Tip 1: Assess your actual needs

Start by walking through your present home and analyzing how each room is currently being used. How long since you have last been there? Would you miss not having that room anymore? What if you could combine a number of the rooms into one new setup?

The kitchen breakfast nook and dining area could become one? Or your current library/home office and guest bedroom could perhaps merge once you’re in your new place?
The best way would be to start assessing what you consider a need and want. You will need to be realistic. If you’re serious about downsizing from this huge house, you will need to get rid of quite a few bits!

Time to optimize!

Tip 2: Go through your home, every cabinet, shelf and closet should be cleared

We tend to hang on to things that are either going to be used or taken care of one day, or things that have served its purpose and are being kept side for that special day in the future when we’ll finally get around to using it again.

Remember how you bought that canoe at 75% discount as you couldn’t let that one just slip past you? That was in the 20th century and you haven’t used it once.

How about your aerodynamic (read: expensive) triathlon bike you raced with for years when you were younger & had plenty of time but haven’t used the bike once in the last 10 years?

How many porcelain dining sets does one actually need? We all have that corner cupboard which stores a handful of them, just in case we ever need it!

Biting the bullet might be your new favorite expression!

Don’t take me wrong: many of these previous items of value (emotional & financial) took a long time to acquire but if you’re taking a good long look at how your life has changed since, perhaps re-prioritizing their place in your current environment might put things in perspective.

Before you start to go through that rigorous and timely exercise (yes, do take it seriously and expect it to take a while if done correctly), be warned that there will be a number of items which you’ll struggle with classifying.

Make the following agreement with yourself: the UN-classified stuff will be put in storage but if they haven’t been used once in the next 12 months, it’ll automatically mean it needs to ‘exit your life’, by either selling it, giving it away or throwing it away.

That’s a very fair agreement, right?

Tip 3: Think carefully about design

Whereas in the bigger house, there was always room to shift furniture sets, paintings and toys around, this smaller setup will need some extra attention how one would like to have things placed.

Keep in mind not to block any windows or passage ways!

Too much stuff in one room will be cramped and likely, untidy. That includes any small gardens, patios or balconies!

Tip 4: Measure your furniture

By now, you will have a good idea of how many rooms and space you have at your new home.

Practically, you will need to measure up each room, so you can take each of your larger furniture items and see where they’d fit. So, when moving day comes, you know exactly where what will go!

Heck, other than just having a better idea of knowing in which room each large piece will go, if you want to take it a step further, there are a number of (free!) floor plan software applications available online for you to properly map everything out and visually see where things will go!

These furniture placement applications weren’t around when you initially moved to your house, but this time around, why not take advantage of this very helpful technology to make your life so much easier?!

If that sounds like too much work, keep in mind that changing to this new lifestyle of living smaller will require some organization on your part to make sure you don’t feel like you’re living in a one-room place cramped with stuff stacked from floor-to-ceiling!

Tip 5: Evaluate what you have

Having gone through all your cupboards, drawers, current storage rooms and measured which furniture will go where in your new place, you ought to be able to evaluate your moving status.

Some of the best advice I can give you is establishing what should come with you or not. Without a doubt I would recommend using some of the best packing tips when moving. This advice will save a lot of time and effort, as well as reducing your stress levels.

Across a number of lists, you now have a clear understanding what to do with each large furniture item (as well as the other items such as smaller appliances, clothing etc):

• Make sure to properly label your cardboard boxes ‘per destination’ as that will become vital information in loading the moving truck, unloading it into the appropriate rooms and to know which boxes will head to the storage facility!

• Don’t worry about trying to fix the items you re-discovered along the way: if you haven’t fixed it by now, it’s safe to say that it’ll probably never will!

• As it turns out, those big plastic garden bags come in quite handy now as they’re easily stack-able and ‘shippable’!

It may seem like a lot of work as you’re packing, but you’ll be very grateful you did and way less stressed on moving day once you see all those boxes/bags come out of the moving van!

Tip 6: Sell your stuff

As mentioned before, (fortunately or unfortunately) some of your larger furniture items will no longer have a future in your new life. Why not sell it and use the proceeds towards buying furniture which will be used in your new home?

Which might be useless or no longer functional for you, might be exactly what someone else is looking for, so why throw it away? Call it a pre-move windfall, if you wish. Let the old house stuff that doesn’t suit you anymore, help you pay for that which will suit you now!

There are so many ways for you to sell your used furniture – let’s list the most evident ones here:

• Right off the bat, a garage sale (a.k.a. yard sale) or series of them as you go filtering through the rooms what’s no longer needed, might be a great option to start off with.

• Next step will be to try your luck online via eBay-type sites and see who might be interested in buying your new unwanted items (it also means opening an account, taking decent pictures, correct descriptions, making appointments with potential buyers, arrange for pickup/delivery, so don’t be discouraged that it’ll take some extra organization, work and time!)

• Assuming not everything gets sold during your big sale endeavors cited above, you can turn to professional services which will buy everything in bulk and pick it up from your home!

Having gone through this exercise might turn out more beneficial than you initially expected. Not only will you getting money out of it, you’re clearing up quite the stuff and are getting organized along the way!

Tip 7: Assess your new storage area

Once you’ve measured up the new space, your furniture sizes and have assessed which items don’t qualify to (1) get on the For Sale list or (2) get an invitation to move to your new home, it’s time to think about your storage area!

Specifically, you will need to research the size of your new storage facility. After all, it’ll likely determine how severe of a space cutting you will need to do at your old house. How much storage space is available at your new house?

Try to err on the side of caution as people tend to overestimate the size of storage available at their new place (most of the time too late)!
How much of your stuff will eventually survive the journey? Using the measurements done earlier (of both the new house and larger items), you ought to have compiled a list of items which will need to head for storage.

Here as well, you ought to have a rule: if you place items in storage and haven’t touched any of it for 2 years, there’s a good chance it will never be used again!

Sounds like a plan?

Why bother letting it take up space in your newly acquired storage facility?

Tip 8: Move large items first

There’s no doubt about it: take your biggest pieces of furniture and move those into your new home first!

Besides having the most energy at the beginning of your moving day to (help) carry the bigger/heavier pieces of your household furniture, those tend to take priority when starting to arrange a room. Where to put the dining room table, queen-sized bed set, antique cupboard etc?

Do not make the mistake of just moving the furniture from the moving van into the rooms and “organizing it later”!

As the larger items are being brought into the new house, use the layout made during planning stage to redirect the correct furniture to the appropriate rooms. No need to shove all the furniture in one space, as well as all the moving boxes, only having to tackle everything the next few days (or “one day”!).

Having distributed the larger pieces into the designated areas from the get-go, unpacking, re-shelving and cleaning up will go that much smoother!

Tip 9: Put away storage items

As all the furniture items and boxes were brought into the new house, those labeled with ‘storage’ have been properly put aside near the entrance, out of the way.

In an ideal world, you’d leave most of those storage boxes on the moving truck and head straight to the storage facilities, but we all know how hectic things on moving day can be! So, practically, we will now have placed all those storage boxes aside at the new house, ready to shipped out as soon as possible.

Tip 10: Organize your space as you unpack

If you have followed some of the above mentioned guidelines, you ought not to have any stress at this point: you have identified its destination in the new house through proper labeling during packing.

Time to maximize your new (smaller) spaces: every new closet and cupboard space will need to be properly optimized as you’re unpacking.
Do yourself a huge favor: try not to fall back into your ‘previous self’ by stacking on new stuff all the time!

How about setting yourself a rule (yet another!): for every incoming new relatively size-able item, you need to move out another one (e.g. sell, get it to storage, give away or throw away).

Quick bonus tip:

Tip 11: Try to minimize storage space

It is very tempting to get a larger storage facility than you actually need.
Don’t forget: the more storage space you have available, the more likely you are going to amass stuff and store it there!

Whereas you’ve done a great job in sorting through all your stuff at your old house before the move to get to a normal level, it’s up to you now to avoid cluttering things again! Try to achieve the opposite: aim to minimize storage space!

Closing thoughts

Let me congratulate you on making the effort in reading the above 10 Quick Tips On Downsizing article! There are so many things that can go wrong on moving day which could easily have been prevented, properly anticipated and prepared!

Let’s hope you will make great memories at your new small place!
Sometimes all is takes is for you to read one single article on downsizing and to realize how relatively painless downsizing can actually be!

I’m not saying it won’t take work to get there, but it’ll be far less stressful!
Welcome to the world of those living small(er)!

If you give the above 10 Quick Tips On Downsizing some thought, I’m sure you’re already half-way through a properly-organized moving experience once the big day arrives!

Other Tips On Downsizing & Related Resources:

Four Approaches for Downsizing via Karen Highland
How to pick a storage unit via Bill Gassett
Tips for Downsizing Your Home via Debbie Drummond

If you found this article interesting, please help share it across your social media networks!

 


 

Xavier De-BuckAbout the author: The above article “10 Quick Tips On Downsizing” was provided by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Northcliff (Johannesburg – South Africa) real estate agent with Pam Golding Properties. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of selling or buying in Northcliff, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.

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Best of Google+ Real Estate June 2015

The Very Best Of Real Estate on Google Plus

Google Plus is an excellent place to research the latest trends in real estate. You’ll find top Real Estate pros are sharing the latest info for sellers, buyers or homeowners who just want to keep an eye on the market. With so many great articles available online, it’s easy to miss some of them. Bill Gassett helps solve this by publishing the best real estate articles found on Google+ each month.

This month, he asked if I would pick the top articles. There were a lot of great choices. Topics range from the details involved in selling a home to a
comprehensive guide for first time home buyers. As Raleigh Realty advises, grab some popcorn and enjoy the read.

How to Buy Your First Home

First time home buyers are coming back into the housing market. Ryan Fitzgerald of Raleigh Realty has given us a guide to buying your first house. This may be the most comprehensive first time home buyer guide we’ve seen. From “finding the money” to “getting the keys”, you’ll find useful tips.

It includes an info-graphic that lays out the steps involved in buying your first home. From educating yourself to getting the keys, the first time buyer is given top notch advice. Fitzgerald focuses on the Raleigh market but his First Time Home Buyer suggestions work in any market. There is only one exception. Step 9 to “Hire a Great Attorney”. Western States use Escrow Officers and Title companies rather than the banks and attorneys used back East.

21 Important Real Estate Terms

Paul Sian shares 21 important real estate terms you should be familiar with.Unless you buy and sell homes everyday, you may not be familiar with some of the common real estate terms. Don’t worry. Paul not only defines the terms but adds in observations about how they apply in today’s market. This is a great reference for buyers and sellers. Many of these terms come second nature to Realtors and often time we forget that the general public does not always know our lingo. This is a great refresher for buyers and sellers alike!

Protect Your Earnest Money Deposit

Protecting an earnest money deposit when buying a home by Debbie Drummond looks at why the EMD is necessary. This deposit will count as part
of your down payment. It’s deposited in an escrow account until closing and seldom released to sellers before closing. In the event that you cancel, you mayor may not lose your Earnest Money Deposit. Since the Earnest Money Deposit may be at risk, buyers will often try to make them as small as possible.

In a seller’s market, a more generous EMD can give the seller’s confidence that you’re a serious buyer. It can give you an advantage over other bidders. In this article, we explore some of the situations where you may be able to cancel without losing the EMD.

Game Changing Real Estate Regulations

Game Changing New CFPB Regulations – Part I: Who chooses the title company now by Andrew Fortune. This is an absolute MUST READ for Realtors, Lenders and anyone involved in real estate. We expected the new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Regulations to go into effect on August 1.

They’ve now been delayed until October 1st. In the first part of this series, Andrew reviews the question of who chooses the Title Company. Sellers pay for the buyer’s Title Insurance. It might seem logical that they should choose the Title Company since they’re paying. Not true. Sellers may be paying but buyers are the ones who will have to work with the Title Insurance if a problem does occur.

For that reason, buyers should choose the Title company. This hasn’t been enforced in recent years. It isn’t unusual for a listing agent to suggest using their preferred Title Officer. Experienced agents prefer an Escrow officer who responds to phone calls and emails promptly. Now that buyers can choose, it is important that you work with an experienced buyer’s agent. They will refer you to an Escrow Officer who is on top of their game.

Enforcement of the new regulations has been delayed until October 1. And they are likely to be a game changer. We look forward to more articles in this
series.

Understand Your Local Real Estate Market

How to move with the heartbeat of your local real estate market is from Lynn Pineda. As she points out, “There are international real estate markets, national real estate markets and local real estate markets.” The local markets can be “drilled down” even further to your specific neighborhood.

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it is important to understand the current real estate market in your area. Is it a seller’s market? Does it favor buyers? Are homes selling fast? Or maybe it’s a balanced market? The answer to these questions will affect how you negotiate whether you are buying or selling. “The ways in which you move with the local real estate market can make all the difference in the world with whether or not you accomplish your real estate goals”.

Does The Real Estate Commission Matter

Why a Real Estate commission split matters is one of my personal favorites. Bill Gassett looks at the oldest argument between sellers and agents. As he points out, in the “real world”, buyer’s agents don’t have to discount their fees. They may have a “buyer’s broker agreement” with their buyer. The buyer will have to pay any difference between the commission you offer and the commission stated in the agreement. Usually when this happens they will just deduct this difference off the offer for your home.

If you’re discounting the commission, there could be negative consequences. Bill explains very well why a low real estate commission makes a home more difficult to sell. Many owners think they are putting more money in their pocket when the exact opposite is happening. The more you discount the buyer’s agent, the less likely they are to show your home. If the house down the street is offering a better fee, which home do you think the buyer’s agent will show first? Which home do you think they’ll build up as having a better location, upgrades, etc.?

Hiring a Discount Brokerage is often a double mistake. The top physicians do not discount their fees. They know they have a steady clientele who will pay a bit more because they’re worth it. The same is true of the top Realtors. The Realtor who will discount their fees, may not return phone calls as promptly. They’re also the kind of agent who may agree to over-price your home.

In most cases, you get what you pay for. Hire a “discount” agent and you may find out why they’re “discounted”.

Why For Sale By Owners Lack Success

Maybe you’re considering skipping the selling agent’s commission altogether. Kyle Hiscock takes a close look at the top ten reasons why for sale by owners fail. Did you know that less than 10% of the folks who attempt to sell their own home succeed?

This article looks at many of the difficulties involved in selling your own home.You need to be everywhere. Answer all the calls from potential buyers. Show the home. Negotiate with the buyers and their agent. And what happens when problems arise? What if it doesn’t appraise and the buyer wants you to drop the price? Maybe the buyer’s financing falls apart. There are just so many moving parts in selling a home. Before you try doing it without a Realtor, this is an article you should consider.

How to Handle Multiple Offers

How to handle multiple offers in the Frederick Real Estate Market. This article by Karen Highland is useful in any market. The National Association of
Realtors is reporting a lack of homes for sale throughout the Country. This is leading to multiple offers for homes that are in the best shape at the best price.

Buyers should be prepared to act when they find the home of their dreams. In a competitive situation, they should focus more on getting the home they want than getting a “steal”. Multiple offers aren’t easy on sellers either. Sellers have to carefully weigh the offers. Their Realtor needs to evaluate the buyer’s mortgage approval.

Is it a full approval or just a pre-qualification letter? Just because one offer looks better doesn’t mean it is if the buyer is less qualified. Is the down payment large enough to show commitment to the home? In an appreciating market, the appraisal can be another issue. Whether you are buying or selling, being prepared for multiple offers is a good move in today’s real estate market.

Real Estate Agents VS Clients

Sizzling situations between real estate agents and clients by Joe Samson. When buying or selling a home, a Real Estate agent can be your best assets.
Sometimes issues arise where you and your agent may not see things from the same perspective. Joe takes a look at some of the most common situations where Realtors and clients disagree. He explores them from both an agent’s view and the client’s view. After looking at both sides, he suggests a reasonable compromise.

Exploring how the other side feels is an important exercise for both agents and our clients. Next time your buyer is late or they ask to see homes they can’t afford, maybe you’ll try some of these compromise suggestions. One thing is certain, you aren’t the first agent to find yourself in one of these “sizzling situations”.

Realtors That Rock!

Good Real Estate Agents – R.O.C.K.I.N.G. by Greg Hancock takes a look at how to hire a Realtor. He admits it’s a subject that has been written about over and over. Still he brings a straightforward approach to identifying a good Realtor. Starting with how responsive they are. He continues through the letters of R.O.C.K.I.N.G. This is the first in a series based on the amalgam. At the bottom of his post, you’ll find links to the first four letters. We look forward to reading the entire series from Greg.

How to Be a Successful Realtor

Last but not least, 10 things successful Real Estate agents never do is from Xavier De Buck, a top Realtor in South Africa. This article is perfect for the U.S. Real Estate market. It’s easy to get a Real Estate License and call yourself a “Realtor”. In reality, only 20% of the agents are doing 80% of the business. (This is something they don’t tell you when getting you to sign up for Real Estate School. 🙂

So how do you become one of the successful 20%? In this article, De Buck points out ten of the traits you’ll notice in those successful agents. No, they
don’t let themselves fall behind the curve. They don’t waste anyone’s time. They don’t skimp on advertising. And they “never forget it’s all about doing the basics”.

Newbie Realtors can give themselves an advantage by aligning themselves with a great Brokerage. They should realize that it isn’t the easy job seen on TV. Considering a career in Real Estate? This is a must read and it’s a great reminder for seasoned agents.

We hope you enjoyed the June installment of the top Google Plus Real Estate articles. If you are a real estate agent and are participating regularly in the Google+ real estate groups there is a good chance you could be featured in an upcoming round-up.

Previous Best Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Debbie DrummondThis article was written by Debbie Drummond, a top Realtor who is lucky enough to be working in the Las Vegas Real Estate market.

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7 Biggest Obstacles to Selling a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you’ve lived in your home for a short period of time or for most of your life, selling it can certainly be an emotional and difficult matter in hand.
The decision alone to sell your property takes a lot of careful thought and consideration. Once you reach a conclusion, it’s time to prepare and there’s no time like the present to practice your patience and prepare yourself for the potential obstacles that lie ahead.

Choosing The Best Price

Deciding on an asking price might be your most difficult task, because you don’t want to drive potential buyers away by asking too much, and you don’t want to close the deal with an amount less than what you believe is the true value of your property.

Changes in the real estate market can add to this difficulty, so one of the better solutions is to consult a property appraiser who can provide you with an appropriate asking price based on the building cost, problems with the property, renovations and changes in market value. In addition, a real estate agent will help you to set a fair market price based on the market history and similar properties for sale in the area.

Making Repairs

Your buyers would like a home that’s functional. To ensure that your house doesn’t sit on the market for too long, you’ll want to check that your property is in top quality condition. This means you’ll have to put aside some time and money to change the unappealing paint colors, replace that dirty and stained carpet, and fix that broken, rusty faucet.

These efforts shouldn’t go to waste either, as updates typically call for a small return on investment. Potential buyers want to know that they can move right into your home without any hassle of repairs. Your property should have a spotless appearance for every house showing, so that buyers know the place is well taken care of and will take care of them. Here are some great tips on how to make your house more appealing to buyers. This advice will go a long way in helping your property sell for top dollar!

Finding a Good Agent

Your property has likely been one of your largest investments you’ve made so far,and therefore, you’ll want to be sure to have it in good hands with a real estate agent that will help to sell it for its true value. It’s important to find an agent that has experience in the field and is knowledgeable about market trends for your specific area. Take some time and do a little research on the web. Make sure you ask some appropriate real estate interview questions. Choose an agent that has an extensive marketing strategy to get your property sold in a reasonable amount of time. Your agent should have good reviews and testimonials to back up their promises.

Living in a Busy Market

If you live in a prime location, with lots of properties on the market for sale, numerous foreclosures and new construction, it can be tough to compete. This can leave you at a slight disadvantage because buyers have more options for homes in your area. This could end up in you having to lower your asking price.

On the flip side, living in a strong market switches the advantage to you, because the small competition could mean buyers will be more willing to pay a higher price in fear of someone else snagging up the property. You’ll definitely want to create a place that’s unique and most appealing to buyers to thrive in your current market. While it can certainly be a challenge selling in an area where your home is similar to the rest, it can present you with an exciting challenge to make yours unique.

Dealing With Life Challenges

Life can certainly pull some setbacks. Sometimes, you have to sell a home during circumstances beyond your control, and combating the emotional stress can be a hindrance in preparing for your sale. For example, if you’re currently selling your house while going through a divorce, you’re already facing numerous challenges in addition to selling your home. Hiring an attorney can provide you with guidance throughout this difficult situation. Life happens, and as long as you maintain a good stride and accept the challenges, you’ll overcome them in time.

Selling During The Off-Season

While some seasons aren’t a complete flop to sell in, there are certain seasons that definitely hold more success than others. Most often, the cold winter weather can slow down the real estate market. Not to say that it’s impossible to sell a home in the winter, but many obstacles can get in the way. When you throw in the big holiday season, it doesn’t do much to help your case either. Sometimes, you don’t have a choice and are stuck trying to sell your home amidst unfavorable weather and the busy holiday season.

If this situation rings true to you, then you’ll need to try and distract buyers from the unpleasant weather by creating a home atmosphere that’s as warm and inviting as possible. Turn on lots of lights and offer hot chocolate to buyers who tour your home to lighten the mood.

Closing The Deal

If the time you’ve enjoyed at your home has flown by, and you’ve lived on your property for a long time, the task of closing the deal might cause some trouble for you. It’s likely you’ve built a strong emotional attachment to your property. It’s tough to say goodbye to the place where you’ve grown, and perhaps have created a family in.

However, if you’ve made the big decision to sell your property, then you must be prepared to let the property go. At this point in the process, it’s crucial that you leave your emotions at the door and focus solely on selling the home at a price that’s reasonable for both you and the buyer.

Sure, selling a home presents many challenges, like choosing the right asking price, staging your home to look its best, and making any last-minute repairs to ensure the home is move-in ready, but when you find that one buyer looking to put in a solid offer, all of your efforts will be worth it. Keep in mind that once you put your home on the market, it’s no longer your home, which means it’s time to part ways with the property you’ve grown to love and sell it to someone else to enjoy.

This article was written by real estate expert Shannon Bachar of Neighborhood Loans. Contact Shannon for your home loan and mortgage needs.

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Best Google+ Real Estate May 2015With so much great real estate content found daily on Google Plus, I think it’s important to recap and pull out those articles that really stood out. Every month, Bill Gassett asks a regular contributor to the Google Plus Real Estate group to gather the articles that meant the most to them into a “best of” list.

I’m thankful for those who take the time to put these posts together, as they usually have some articles that I didn’t get a chance to read because I was too busy at the time they were posted. The month of May was packed with excellent real estate articles on Google Plus. It’s likely that you may have missed a few of these, or all of them if you’re not on Google Plus (which you should be). Dig in and reach out to the bloggers below to let them know that you appreciate their articles.

What are Closing Cost Credits and How Do They Work?

When real estate market conditions change, the way buyers structure their offers also changes. Knowing how closing cost credits work is essential to knowing how to properly structure an offer, based on the market. It’s also important to understand these credits as a seller and not get flustered if you receive an offer form a buyer asking for closing assistance. In this article, Bill Gassett does a great job of breaking down all the details of closing cost credits and how they work. He explains how closing cost credits often times are the difference between being able to put a transaction together or not.

10 Common Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

Buying a home for the first time is a big deal. There are many mistakes that can be made as a rookie home buyer. In this article, Xavier DeBuck covers the 10 most common mistakes made by first-time home buyers. A couple of the points talk about not letting your emotions control you throughout the process and not automatically assuming that every house will appreciate over time. Xavier has some really great info for 1st time buyers including some exceptional references in his articles that first timers can soak up!

23 Must Read Real Estate Blogs

Tyler Zey at Easy Agent Pro has put together a great list of real estate marketing blogs that are packed full of useful information for real estate agents. There are a few blogs on this list that are not real estate related and are more focused on general marketing. Finally there are some excellent individual real estate bloggers featured. That is one of the main reasons I appreciate this list so much. I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with these blogs; be sure to bookmark them for easy reference later on.

How To Buy A Home In A Sellers Market

In my local real estate market of Colorado Springs we have seen a large shift from a buyers market to a seller’s market within the past 18 months. When markets shift, the requirements of buyers go up. In order to compete with all of the other buyers in the market, you need to know how to adapt. In this article, Kyle Hiscock does a great job explaining how you can be a successful home buyer in a seller’s market. This article is very relevant to most local real estate markets right now.

4 Methods to Selling A Home – Which Works Best?

Have you seen those listings in your area that have terrible pictures? Ever wonder how those agents got hired to list those homes? Well, in this article, Lynn Pineda explains the 4 main methods that home sellers use to find their listing agents. If you’ve ever sold a home, I’m sure you will be able to relate to the 4 scenarios she lays out in the article. Take her advice and don’t hire cousin Jimmy! This kind of agent is the one that gives real estate agents a bad wrap. Unfortunately it is all too easy to pick one so make sure you do your home work when buying or selling a home.

When Right Brain and Left Brain Buy A Home Together

The psychology behind the home buyers process is fascinating. After being in the business for many years now, it is still interesting to watch how people react differently to the home buying process, depending on their personality type. In this article, Chris Highland of The Highland Group with Turning Point Real Estate talks about how the left brain and right brain work together to buy a home. It’s a great read that helps explain how people think when they are shopping for a home.

A Realtor’s Intro Guide to Search Engine Optimization

The topic of SEO is not one most Realtors are well schooled in. The average Realtor is 57 years old, according to NAR. So how is the average Realtor supposed to learn nerdy lingo about the complicated topic of search engine optimization? Well, they can start by checking out this great real estate SEO resource on RESAAS’ blog by Anita Clark. She covers the basic details that you need to know to get your website cooperating with the major search engines. Anita is a real estate website pro and her guide is set up to help agents through the intimidating topic of SEO.

How To Make The Most Money When You Sell Your House

Most consumers know that pricing a home right, getting it cleaned up and presented well are essential to making money when they sell their home. Unfortunately, they do not always realize that great marketing is equally as important as price and condition. In this article, I cover the main aspects of marketing real estate to sell for the most amount of money. From professional photography to full HD video walk-through, it’s all covered in this article.

If you enjoyed this May’s recap of the best Google Plus real estate articles make sure you also have a look at previous installments. Each month there are new real estate bloggers featured who put out exceptional content!

Pool or No Pool?

One of the more popular questions both on and offline you will see people ask is whether a pool will add value to a home? There really is not a definitive answer to this question as Debbie Drummond explains in her article frequently asked questions about pools. As Debbie points out in her article to answer this question you have to dive (no pun intended) into what type of home and where the pool will be installed. For example a pool installed in a warm weather climate will more than likely have far more appeal than a place where the seasons are limited. There may also be a much better ROI when the pool is installed at a luxury residence where it is almost expected.

Previous Best Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Andrew FortuneThis article was written by Andrew Fortune at GreatColoradoHomes.com. He is a top Realtor in Colorado Springs who enjoys creating content for the real estate community and networking with other real estate professionals on all social channels.

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For Sale By Owner Pricing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you really sell your house by yourself? Yes, of course you can! But the question you have to ask is: What provides the biggest value to me as a homeowner?

Perhaps you are looking to save costs? Or maybe save on the amount of time it takes to sell your home. You may even had a bad experience in the past with a Real Estate agent and want to see if you can avoid dealing with one again. Everybody has different reasons why they attempt to sell a home on their own.

I’m going to break down three simple facts you need to understand when considering selling your home as a for sale by owner.

All Selling Prices Aren’t Created Equal

Pricing is not nearly as simple as it seems. Real estate markets have a lot of moving parts that only a seasoned Real Estate agent can understand. And pricing your individual property is often a lot more of an art than a science.  According to Realtor.com, for sale by owner properties sell for $40,000 less than properties with proper representation.

Here’s the deal:

The price your home will sell for is very hard to predict. Bill Gassett explains in this article the various methodology required to price a home properly. The right Realtor will understand all the offerings in the housing market and this alone should cover their cost. A properly priced home will net you more money at the end of the day.

You also will have a seasoned negotiator in the room when it comes time to deal with buyer’s offers. The experience of a Realtor can help you get the most for your home and help you navigate the sometimes tricky negotiation process.

For example, the offer price isn’t the only thing that matters in a real estate contract. There are many other terms and conditions that might make a seemingly lower offer advantageous. Maybe there is an attractive closing date? How about buyer who is putting down a significant down payment? There are always 0ther things worth considering besides the offer amount.

Time On The Market Impacts Negotiations

When it comes to selling your home, the length of time you have it on the market is very important.  The longer you let your home sit on the market unsold, the more you are going to risk seeing a negative viewpoint of your valuation. This means you will lose some power in terms of negotiating. Houses that sit on the market for a long time make potential buyers feel like they might be missing something about the value of your house. The buyers slowly get the upper hand in negotiating, and you can end up netting less money.

Additionally, the longer selling process puts increased stress on your family. The level of cleanliness and staging involved in modern real estate transactions is not easy to maintain.

Homes that are sold by the owner typically are on the market for 19 more days than those represented by a Realtor. This average has a lot to do with a quality Realtors marketing experience, pricing expertise, and knowledge of accessing buyers in the marketplace.

Finally, the marketing power of a Realtor is what creates the difference in selling times. A professional Real Estate agent will understand how to best use photography, social media, websites, and relationships to help sell the property faster. Time on the market does impact the final selling price. A qualified Realtor can help lower the time you spend with your home on the market and get you a better result.

Stress Levels And Professionalism Are Factors To Consider

The stress of selling a home can soon become a part-time job. In fact, Realtor.com found that FSBO sales typically result in a 70% higher stress level.
Perhaps the biggest reason for this is the amount of time it takes to field calls, schedule showings and manage the sale. You’ll have to take calls and emails while you are doing your full-time job. There will be buyers and agents seeking you out and taking up what little time you have outside of your current job.

Additionally, you’ll need to be prepared for a showing almost everyday. On top of keeping the property in showroom like conditions, you’ll have to be ready to show potential buyers around the house. These are some of the considerations that are discussed at great length in how to sell your home as a FSBO. You really should have a solid grasp if you have the time and energy to sell on your own before putting the for sale sign out in your yard.

This added stress will soon feel like a part-time job that may be worth the Realtor’s commission you think you’ll be saving. In addition to all of this, you’ll have to deal with the marketing and pricing of the house yourself. You probably are very attached to the property. This can make it hard to price the house accurately leading to longer time on the market and netting less at the conclusion of the sale. You’ll also be busy with everything related to moving after the home is sold. The stress of moving is often enough for most families without the added stress of selling a home.

There are people who can manage these things. And also understand every step of the paperwork associated with a home sale. If you are one of those individuals, then selling your home without representation might not be as stressful. But be prepared to set aside a good amount of time with marketing, paperwork, and showing the property. You’ll also want to do your research online about all the paperwork involved in a sale. It’s very important that you don’t miss something.

What’s the biggest takeaway?

The biggest take away from these data points is that on average its quicker, less stressful, and more profitable to sell your home with representation. And the decision to not use representation is one that needs to be made with care. Once you list by yourself, the days on the market start to accumulate.

This is a buyer’s measuring stick to see how competitive your home. If you get close to 90 days on the market, buyers can use that against you in negotiations even after you list with a Realtor. You’ll want to make sure you are ready to hit the marketing very hard the moment you list your home.

Selling a home is a lot different than selling things like used-cars and electronics. The sales are typically complicated and involve a lot of moving parts. These are just 3 simple points to consider. But they help paint the picture as to why it might be best to use a Realtor when deciding how to sell your home.


Tyler Zey

Tyler Zey is the digital marketing director and contributing editor for the real estate digital marketing blog on easyagentpro.com.

Easy Agent Pro helps Realtors with some of the best websites and marketing available.

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Best Google Plus Real Estate April 2015In most areas of the country, the spring real estate market is in “full swing!” April, May, and June in my local, Webster NY Real Estate Market, are the busiest months of the entire year for real estate.

Just because it’s the busiest time of the year, doesn’t mean the number of top real estate articles that are being written rapidly decreases. The best real estate bloggers from Google+ spend countless hours and put forward a ton of effort, no matter the time of year.

It’s time for the recap of the best Google+ Real Estate articles from April 2015. If you were too busy to stay on top of your Google+ feed, don’t fret, the articles below are some of the best articles you may have missed during April!

Tips From Top Real Estate Agents For New Realtors

Starting out as a new real estate agent is not always an easy task. In fact, most people who get into the real estate business think it’s very easy and they will be making boatloads of money in no-time. This is actually the furthest from the actual truth.

Tyler Zey, from Easy Agent Pro, reached out to several top real estate agents across the country to ask them what their number one tip would be for a new real estate agent getting into the business. Andrew Fortune, Bill Gassett, Karen Highland, Anita Clark, and Connor MacIvor are just a few of the top Realtors who were included in this expert round-up.

Even if you’re an experienced Realtor, you still may learn a few things from these top Realtors who were included in this article. If you’re a new agent, make sure you do NOT miss this great article over on the Easy Agent Pro blog!

Tips To Help You Sell Your Home

Selling a home is not as hard as some seller’s make it seem. Having the proper knowledge and information can make a huge difference when it comes to selling a home. Paul Sian, Top Cincinnati Realtor, provides 10 excellent tips to help sell a home.

Certainly the number one tip to help ensure your home is sold is that it needs to be priced properly. An overpriced home will not sell, plain and simple. Paul also provides some other great tips including the need to de-clutter your home, make sure deferred repairs are made, and that the proper staging is done.

If you’re going to be selling a home, make sure you check out Paul’s article as it can give you a significant advantage over your neighbors who maybe selling their home.

Open Houses – The Pros & Cons

Open houses are a very highly debated topic in the real estate industry. Many Realtors will swear that open houses are the best thing since sliced bread and others will swear they are a complete waste of time.

As with most things in life, there are PROS and CONS, and open houses are no different. Most of the PROS of open houses benefit the Realtor who is holding the open house. It gives the Realtor the opportunity to prospect and pick up new buyers, and possibly sellers. This certainly can be beneficial for a newer agent, however, Realtors who tell their seller’s that open houses benefit them are not being completely honest, since open houses truly don’t benefit sellers in most cases.

There are many more CONS to holding open houses. Just a few of the CONS to open houses include possible theft, possible security issues, and the fact the nosy neighbors and “looky-loos” will be coming through the home with no intention to purchase it.

If you’re selling a home, before you decide whether or not open houses are for you or not, make sure you check out the Pros and Cons to open houses written by yours truly over on Rochester’s Real Estate Blog.

How to Get The Best Mortgage Terms and Conditions

When you are buying a home one of the most important things you will do unless paying cash is getting a mortgage. For most people the terms on their mortgage are extremely important.

Given the fact you could possibly have the mortgage for an extended period of time it makes sense to be financially conscious. Understanding how to get the best mortgage rates is important because even a quarter point difference can mean the difference in paying thousands of dollars in extra interest over the time you have the loan. Bill Gassett does a great job here in his article that lays out a blueprint for getting not only the best interest rate but the terms and conditions you are looking for.

There are so many loan programs out there so it is important you are comparing apples to apples when getting a loan!

Small Home Improvements That Can Make A Huge Difference

Every home owner when it comes time to sell their home wants to make the most money for their home. A very common question from sellers is how that can be achieved. What home improvement projects should be completed? Should a kitchen remodel be completed? A bathroom remodel?

Frederick, MD real estate blogger, Karen Highland, provides some home improvement projects that are small that may make a huge difference for home owners! Projects such as a fresh coat of paint, improving the lighting, buying a programmable thermostat, and planting some new flowers are just a few of the projects that Karen explains can be very minimal in cost but can yield some huge returns!

If you’re considering the sale of your home, be sure to check out all of these improvement projects as they may make the difference between getting the most amount of money for your home or not!

10 Money Saving Tips For First Time Home Buyers

Do you like saving money? Of course you do! For first time home buyers, saving money is always a great thing. Jake Durtschi, the owner of Jacob Property Management, wrote an awesome article here on the MASS RE News website that provides some killer money saving tips for 1st time home buyers!

It’s critical when buying a home for the first time that you shop around for mortgages, have a home inspection, and consider the real estate taxes. These are a few of the tips that Jake provides in his excellent article.

Having the “know-how” when it comes to buying a home for the first time is critical. It can save a first time buyer lots of money in the short term as well as the long term. Make sure you check out Jake’s article if you plan on purchasing a home for the first time in the near future!

What’s To Like About USDA Mortgages

When most people hear about a USDA mortgage they probably realize it is one of the few remaining no down payment mortgage options besides Veterans loan. Some may even know that the USDA loan is only able to be exercised in what would be considered in a rural area. In other words you won’t be able to get this type of mortgage if you live in a city or highly populated area. There are however many other advantages to a USDA loan that you may not be familiar with. Luke Skar of Madison Mortgage does an excellent job of pointing out what makes the USDA loan a great mortgage option.

How to Get Noticed as a Real Estate Blogger

It seems like every day there is a new real estate blog on the scene. Realtors have finally caught on to the fact that a well developed real estate blog can be a great source of business. The problem however is getting noticed when the competition is fierce in the online space. Most people realize that without quality content the chances of getting noticed are slim to none.

Having great content does not ensure you will be recognized. There are quite a few out there who put out excellent content but don’t know some of the tips and trick to be more visible. Karen Highland shares her expertise over at the RIS Media House Call Blog on how a real estate blogger can get noticed online. If you are thinking about blogging or are looking to improve your own skills make sure you have a look at Karen’s latest post.

If you enjoyed this April’s recap of the best Google Plus real estate articles make sure you also have a look at previous installments. Each month there are new real estate bloggers featured who put out exceptional content!

Previous Best Google+ Real Estate Article Recaps

Kyle HiscockThe Best Google+ Real Estate Article Recap for April 2015 was written by Kyle Hiscock, a top Webster, NY Realtor. Follow Kyle on Kyle Hiscock Google+ and also be sure to check out his real estate blog at http://www.RochesterRealEstateBlog.com.

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Jake DurtschiThis post was written by Jake Durtschi, the owner of Jacob Grant Property Management located in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Jake and his team manage over 400 rental properties in east Idaho. He is a successful real estate investor and has been featured on several reputable industry podcasts. Check out his blog.

How First-Time Home Buyers Can Save Money

Money Saving 1st Time Buyer Tips Buying a home will probably be the biggest investment you ever make. For first-time home buyers it’s a huge achievement, but it’s not without it’s fair share of headaches. Finding the right property can take months, but that’s just the first step in what can be a long process. Buyers can quickly become blinded by granite and quartz counter tops, hardwood floors, and fenced-in backyards, without giving due diligence to proper financial planning. If you’re a first-time home buyer, here are 11 things you can do to get the best mortgage and save a lot of money in the long run.

As a buyer there are also a number of things you can do to avoid mishaps that plague many when purchasing a home. Quite a few of these issues are based solely on the fact there is not much experience to draw on. This is where family, friends and a real estate professional can really come in handy to guide you into a smart home buying decision. Below we offer some of the best guidance for saving money when buying your first home!

#1: Sign Contingency Clauses

Contingency clauses are a form of protection. There are a number of contingency clauses available to protect you as a buyer. Here is a big one:

A mortgage financing contingency clause protects you, if say, you lose your job and the loans fall through or the appraisal prices comes in over the purchase price. Should one of these occur, the buyer gets the money back he/she used to secure the property, also known as “earnest money”.

Without this clause, you could lose that money and still be obligated to buy the house. As you can imagine, this could be devastating. Generally, the more outs the better.

#2: Geography and Taxes

When you buy a home you’re expected to pay a certain amount in closing costs before the transaction is finalized. These closing costs will typically include things like credit check fees, title insurance and appraisal fees. Closing costs generally add up to 2-5% of the cost of the home purchase price but will depend on the geographic location of the property. Buyers can sometimes see huge closing cost variations in small geographic areas.

If you live in a low-tax area closing costs can be as low as 1%, but if you’re buying in a higher tax district you can pay upwards of 6%. On a $200,000 home, this can mean the difference between paying $2,000 in closing fees versus $12,000. For most first-time buyers, this difference can mean the difference between making an offer and moving on to another area. Do your homework and find out what the closing costs are in all the areas you are interested in buying a home.

#3: Pay for Home Inspections…Please!

During your house hunt, you may find a house that looks great at first glance. Then, as you walk through the home you notice problems – the floors squeak, there’s mold in the bathroom, the kitchen island is off-center. After walking through the house, you notice the house was touched up to pass buyer inspection. Pay a trained home inspector to look through the property.

They’ll find problems you weren’t able to find. This could save you thousands in repairs down the road and make your first experience as a homeowner a complete nightmare. This is a common case in many fix-and-flip sales. The buyer quickly rehabs the property to turn a quick profit. Do your research and make sure you know about any problems before you sign. If there are problems, deduct expense estimates from your offer, or better still, get the sellers to pay for repairs before you buy.

#4: Shop for Your Mortgage

When you’re a first-time home buyer it’s easy to focus on the end goal without thinking of the big picture. Research your financing options with multiple lenders is the best way to get the lowest interest rates. I recommend consulting with a mortgage broker for this process.

Don’t start shopping for a house before you get a pre-approval for a mortgage. Understand there is a difference between a mortgage pre-approval and a pre-qualification when getting a loan. You absolutely want to be pre-approved for the reasons mentioned! Saving a half a percentage point on a $200,000 home loan can save you $64/month, or $23,000 over the life of a 30 year mortgage.

#5: Consider All Expenses

When you rent a home, you generally only have one payment – rent – and maybe renter’s insurance, which is typically optional. When you buy a house, your mortgage payment is just the beginning of a long line of expenses. You’ll have homeowners insurance and property taxes to consider. These vary largely based on your geographic location. For example, you can pay over $150 in monthly home owner insurance. In Idaho and Wisconsin you pay under $50 a month. Property taxes will also vary widely.

When budgeting for the house, don’t stop with principal, interest, taxes and insurance; add in utilities, cost of commuting and upgrades. Call utility companies and get estimates on monthly bills. Also, see if they will transfer your service for free if you continue with them. It’s not uncommon to see an $800 mortgage payment turn into $1,200 with these additional expenses. Take it all into consideration when determining if you can in fact afford the home. Not doing your homework is a recipe for disaster. We call this being fiscally responsible as a homeowner. You should have a good grasp of all your external expenses.

Typically, maintenance expenses will wind up being 2-3% of the sale price each year. Another way to measure is a percentage of the income on the property. For example, if rent is $1,000/month you may estimate a percentage for maintenance costs. Talk to a local property manager to find out what the average expense ratios are for the area. For a $200,000 home this means you could spend up to $6,000 a year for regular home maintenance, meaning you should be able to set aside $500/month to cover these added costs. You don’t want the A/C to go out in the middle of summer and not have the money set aside to repair it.

Remember, just because you have a few months that you have no expenses doesn’t necessarily indicate less expenses in the future. Always budget for the average. Deferring maintenance may pad your pocket in the short term, but is sure to reduce long term performance of your property, with higher vacancy, less qualified tenants and increased risk of liability.

#6: Avoid PMI…If Possible

On top of the laundry list of home owner expenses, if your down payment is less than 20% of the selling price, you may end up paying another fee – private mortgage insurance (PMI) – which is insurance for the lender in case you default on the loan. This can be upwards of $100/month depending on your location. Add this up, and it could mean thousands over the life of the loan term. If possible, save and put down the 20%. You’ll avoid PMI and likely get a better interest rate which can more than offset the cost of the initial added down payment.

Do the math and see if it makes sense for you in the long run. Many states will drop the PMI after a set time period too, which is worth noting.

#7: Don’t Count The Chickens Before They Hatch

When you are determining the amount of mortgage you are able to afford, base the number on much you are making today. Don’t base mortgage payment potential off you expected bonus or salary increase. No one can predict the future, and although you may be in a better financial situation a year down the road, nothing is certain. Make conservative estimates based on stable income sources.

#8: Location, Location, Location…With A View?

Buy the view, not the house. Have you ever heard of those stories of people going to court warring over a new development that will restrict their view of the lake or nature reserve. These people bought the house for the view, now within a year of moving in, the view is gone. Unless you own the land between your house and the view, never buy a house for the view. It could change overnight.

#9: Look At Your HOA Contract (Very Carefully)

Homeowner’s association fees can be as low as $0 or as high as a few hundred dollars per month, depending on where you live and the amenities/services offered.

Another thing to consider is the long-term plan for your property. If your plan is to move out and turn the property into a rental property in the future, make sure you read the fine print in the neighborhood’s HOA agreement. Some HOA contracts will make it so houses in the neighborhood cannot be rented out.

Not paying due diligence could prevent an owner from turning their property into a passive income stream. This means they would need to sell and buy another rental property incurring unnecessary closing fees, capital gains taxes and other expenses.

#10: Don’t Be House Poor

This is a common one. Many first-time buyers fall in love with their dream home and neighborhood (or the idea of owning a home) and pay above their budget. This leaves them with zero money left over to do the things they like, or even worse, enough money to cover home, car and medical bills. This can quickly get ugly.

Try living for 6 months on a pretend mortgage payment and look at your quality of life. This is the best way to gauge how much mortgage payment you can comfortably afford.

#11: Choose The Right Type of Mortgage

Many first-time buyers go with the traditional 30-year mortgage setup, but if you can go with a different mortgage you could save a lot of money in the long run. An example is choosing a 15 year mortgage. You pay higher monthly payments, but will have the home paid off twice as fast with lower interest rates.

If you can’t afford the 15 year term repayments, consider paying an extra $100 a month. Any extra you pay above the stated mortgage payment comes off the only principal. Instead of going out for dinner to that fancy restaurant each month, have a pizza movie night at home and pay a little extra off the principal each month. Do understand there are more loan programs available besides a conventional loan. One of these mortgage programs could be perfect for your financial situation!

#11: Negotiate Closing Costs

It’s not uncommon to negotiate the sale terms to have the seller pay part, or all, of the closing fees. At 2-5% of the sales price, this can save you several thousand dollars.

#12: Bundle Insurance

Explore bundling your home, auto and other insurance together. Shop around, you can save hundreds of dollars each year if you find a good package deal.

#13: Know Your Market Inside and Out

Make sure you know exactly what other homes are listed and selling for in the area you are looking to buy. This will give you a solid idea about how much you can expect to pay for a home of similar specs. This will make you more informed in the negotiation process and keep your agent honest when working through the terms of the contract.

The bottom line, do your homework. Make sure you understand exactly how much you can afford, what the market is doing and look for ways to maximize your budget. Following our 10 money-saving tips for first-time home buyers will put you in a solid position to get the house of your dreams and still be able to afford to do the things you love!

Additional Helpful Articles For First Time Home Buyers

Use these additional helpful first time home buyer articles and you will be well on your way to having a very successful real estate transaction!

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Mortgage Questions to Ask Your Broker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your loan officer has the power to grant or deny you the money to buy your dream home! He’s the one who can make your mortgage possible or deny your move altogether. He’s obviously an important person, and you should ensure that you have clear communication with him or her throughout your real estate transaction.

But too many buyers wind up with a massive mortgage and no real clarity because they don’t ask the right questions! Over half of first-time buyers admit that they were never clear on the options available to them.

Here is some clarity on the role of a loan officer, and what kind of information he or she is supposed to provide at various stages of realty transactions. These are the questions people most often forget to ask their loan officer, but could make all the difference in your confidence as a new homeowner. This is all part of the smart things to do before getting a mortgage. Being well prepared will increase your odds on the loan process going much more smoothly.

The Role of a Loan Officer

In short, a loan officer is a representative from a bank, credit union, mortgage brokerage, or some other institution with a lot of money. The loan officer’s job is to assist you in acquiring the money for said loan. In the case of a home buyer, you’ll also need a specialized kind of loan officer called a loan underwriter. Don’t worry about finding an underwriter yourself, though; the primary loan officer will establish that connection. That person will oversee your full underwriting approval after analyzing and assessing your credit.

How to Find a Loan Officer

There will be a lot of lenders fighting for your business when you start looking for a home loan. There are a lot of options, so feel free to be picky! Over the course of a 30-year mortgage, you’ll potentially spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (not on the house – just the loan!) so you deserve great interest rates and positive customer service.

The first places you’ll want to check for great loan programs are the banks where you’re already customer. Anywhere you have a checking or savings account set up, see what special deals they can offer their existing customers. While a solid starting point, many professionals don’t recommend going through a bank because they rarely offer the most competitive rates.

After that, check with your friends and family who have purchased a home. They can either recommend or discourage the lenders they went through, and tell you why.

Most importantly, however, you need to check with your real estate agent. If you’ve found an agent you can trust, then pay attention to their discernment. Realtors have been in the business a long time and networked with the local professionals. Your agent already knows your needs and limitations, and can find you the perfect loan officer accordingly.

Most home-buyers end up going with a mortgage brokerage. Brokerages serve as a middle man to find you the best possible rates. They also have a lot of connections in the real estate industry. Your Realtor will know the brokerage options in your area.

Main Questions to Ask

As you start to shop around and gather recommendations for a loan officer, it’s important to know the basic questions to ask. For this, just think of P.I.T.I. This is the lingo among mortgage professionals for the basics of a home loan – principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.

Principal – Obviously this is important. What is the dollar amount that’s being approved for this loan? Without taking into account any of the other fees or expenses, that’s called your principal.

Interest – Obviously the lender needs to make money off the loan, so this is the amount you’ll pay back in addition to the principal loan. Still pretty basic, right?

Taxes – You can pay your property taxes through your mortgage program, as well. This breaks up the sometimes-startling fee around tax time in manageable, monthly payments.

Insurance – Most lenders will require hazard insurance on the property for which you’re taking out a mortgage. The insurance may not be through your lender, but you still need to be clear how this expense will calculate into your loan payments.

Questions Buyers Forget to Ask

Once you’ve covered the basics, there could still be a lot of ground to cover. Make sure you have all of your questions thoroughly answered before moving forward with any loan officer. Here are the questions a lot of people don’t know to ask:

1. What documents do I need for a loan? There is some paperwork you need to have on hand any time you meet with a mortgage representative, but upon your first meeting, you may be asked to prepare additional documents. This is a really simple question that you can’t afford to overlook.

2. What specialty/government loans do I qualify for? There are first time homeowner programs, VA loans, and more that every loan officer needs to check on for you. There may also be programs through your state or bank that can help you qualify for better loans or interest rates.

3. What are the lender fees? Sure, the lender gets paid through the interest on the loan. Many lenders, however, also have fees for their initial services. Calculate this out-of-pocket expense before you agree to any other terms.

4. What’s the minimum down payment to qualify for the loan? The standard amount for a down payment is 20% of the cost of the real estate. However, with some qualifications, lenders will approve as little as 3% down.

5. What are interest rates expected to do? Do the professionals expect mortgage rates to plummet right after you buy? If so, maybe now is not the time to apply for a loan. Or just get an ARM instead of a fixed-rate loan.

6. Is my rate locked in? On the other hand, if interest is expected to rise after you purchase your home, ensure that your rate is steady. Check to see if lock fees apply to your locked-in rate!

7. Does my approval have an expiration date? There could likely be a time limit on your loan approval, which would obviously light a fire under the home searching process.

8. Are there any prepayment penalties? Doesn’t the term prepayment penalty sound terrifying? That’s because it is! Prepayment penalties are a way for the lender to charge you for paying off your mortgage early. Luckily these are pretty much an outdated concept, so you shouldn’t have to worry about running into them. If you do, it’s probably best to walk away and find a different lender.

9. Is there a negative amortization option? You probably want the answer to this to be “no.” Negative amortization is a window of a payment plan to allow flexibility; you can pay the high or the low option on the bill. The trouble is, the money that doesn’t get paid when you opt for the lesser amount will gain additional interest, so you can end up paying way more than your original calculations. This option is more common in adjustable rate mortgages than fixed-rate loans. However, like with prepayment penalties, it’s probably just best to stay away this option altogether.

10. How long will the loan process take? You have 100 different balls in the air during a real estate transaction, so perhaps the most important thing you need to know is how long it will take to process the application. Lenders may answer as low as two weeks, but realistically it could take up to two months. Whatever the answer, check with your real estate agent that the loan officer’s timeline is sufficient.

What Borrowers Forget to Ask

Buying a home may not be the only time you work with a loan officer. If you ever refinance your home, you’ll be working with him/her again. In this stage of home ownership, there are still a couple overlooked questions that you need to address.

• What do I need to know about prepayment penalty clauses? There’s that pesky term again! Even though prepayment clauses have been all but eradicated from the mortgage process, they are more likely to rear their ugly head during a refinance. Be clear on the terms, and again, don’t forget you can always walk away from a contract that penalizes you for diligent payments!

• Am I likely to qualify for the rate I want? 11% of people refinancing homeowners go through all the hassle of the process only to meet disappointment on the other side. Don’t be a part of that statistic. Clarify your goals with your lender before starting the process to ensure you have realistic expectations.

Cover Your Assets

The mortgage process can be the most overwhelming part of buying a home! However, when you’re prepared with the questions listed above, you show that you mean business. The questions people forget to ask their loan officer not only ensure the best principal and interest, but they guarantee you are unexpectedly fined or penalized down the road.

About the Author: Jesse McCarl is the Communications Manager at HouseHunt.com, a lead generation resource for agents with exclusive areas. He creates info-graphics designed to equip homeowners and those about to start their real estate journey.

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Best Google+ Real Estate March 2015 March has arrived with the promise of warmer weather and spring blooms (those are things we can all rejoice about). With a hint of newness in the air, it is a wonderful time for new growth in the real estate industry, with good options for both buyers and sellers across the country. That also makes it an ideal time for consumers and industry pros alike to catch up on some of the best Google Plus real estate articles produced by real estate professionals this month.

This series was started by Bill Gassett and has blossomed into a monthly installment with the intent of putting good content in front of real estate consumers. Honestly, it was tough narrowing down the choices this month as there was so much quality content to choose from.

Consider this month’s list an RE buffet with a little bit of everything to whet your appetite and leave you feeling full. The March Google+ real estate 2015 round-up is below with a variety of information on a host of real estate topics to pique your interest.

Storage Spaces with a Purpose

Jenna Thuening is a Realtor® in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. In this excellent article she offers tips to help sellers de-clutter their home, create storage spaces that maximize potential, and also assist homeowners with getting better organized. As she cleverly points out, “You can reuse your favorite things, save money and add personal style to unique storage solutions that make life organized and easier“. I think we all want that!

This is a must read for anyone who is getting ready to put their home on the market, needs to generate more storage space, or just wants to get a better handle on their home organization options! From nooks to cabinets to garages, these practical storage space tips will help put your home in its best light!

Hard Money Loans

This practical list by the folks at North Coast Financial in San Diego, California, provides a blueprint for real estate investors who want fast cash to fund their RE deals. With the potential for increased profits and more closed deals, this guide to hard money loans provides 11 reasons why this is a good option for investors in today’s markets.

Like all investment opportunities, those seeking loans need to understand exactly what is expected, what the terms and conditions are, and have a clear road map to help them reach their financial security destination. Balancing risk vs. reward can pay off well if you understand how to utilize hard money loans to build your investment portfolio.

Ice Dam Prevention and Removal

This is foreign to those of us who call the south our home, so of course I was intrigued when I saw that Bill Gassett, a top Metrowest Massachusetts Realtor®, had posted his guide on how to fix ice dams. If you have to deal with ice dams each winter or just have a thirst for knowledge, this article takes you through the entire process from the first snowflake all the way to making a claim.

No one wants to deal with weather related home damage so a little prevention and snow removal (if necessary) will go a long way to keeping your home looking its best and keeping you warm and dry. If you heed Bill’s advice and “…do your best to remove any existing ice dams, and prevent the future accumulation of ice for the long term“, you will make it through the winter unscathed and be ready for what the spring season brings!

Investing in Real Estate with a Self-Directed Roth IRA

Tax season is here and the last thing any of us want is to give Uncle Sam our hard earned funds. Thankfully there are still a few ways we can best the tax man and see our investment grow! Seth Williams who is a commercial real estate banker and part-time real estate investor, shows us how to use a Self-Directed Roth IRA to invest in real estate to do just that.

Seth clearly lays out the process and provides outstanding examples to help clarify and simplify how using a Self-Directed Roth IRA can be a good financial move. Having transparency, he also discusses a few of the potential pitfalls with this investment approach.

If you have aspirations of retiring with enough funds to live how you like, want to be able to pay for your kids to go to college, or maybe just want some extra cash for toys or travel options, this article is a must read!

Luxury Home Features You Do Not Need

San Francisco area based Move, Inc., senior editor and writer Cicely Wedgeworth holds nothing back as she outlines several luxury home features buyers will not use. Her assessment that “You’re likely to find that some of your longed-for luxuries will simply gather dust—and worse, taking up space” is spot on. Although I thoroughly agreed with her review, the diva in me was secretly wishing I had many of those cool options in my own home.

She also opens up the checkbook and lists several luxury things those with the funds to afford should not go without. If I had a money tree I could easily see my home with heated floors throughout and a ready-for-TV pool oasis. OK, perhaps having a candy wall is taking things to the extreme, but it does beg the question…What creative things would your home have if funds were not an issue?

Why Buyers Need a Home Inspection

Purchasing a property without having a home inspection is one of the most dangerous things a buyer can do. With so much at stake, and for literally pennies on the dollar compared to the price of the home, getting a home inspection should be a top priority for all buyers! In his why you need a home inspection article, Kyle Hiscock who is a Rochester, New York, area Realtor® provides 9 reasons why it makes perfect sense to have a home inspection by a professional inspector.

Whether you are buying your first house, next property, or making your last home purchase, it is advisable to get your future home checked out by a qualified source before you close on the property. The last thing you want after closing is to deal with mold, termite/rodent infestation, electrical/plumbing/roofing issues, or even structural concerns.

I know I want peace of mind the house I am about to make my home is safe, secure, and is not a money pit. I imagine you want exactly the same thing so get a home inspection and rest easy in the home of your dreams!

Avoiding Home Tour Mistakes

Lisa Ross is a writer at Tour Wizard who outlines a host of things sellers should avoid doing when prepping their home to sell. The last thing you want to do is turn off potential buyers. Whether it is lack of attention to detail outside the home or avoidable mistakes inside the property, following her advice will put your abode in its best light to be seen and sold.

It is not rocket science. As Lisa points out, paying attention to detail and ensuring your home appeals to the masses, are great ways to increase your selling opportunities. The bottom line for sellers is a quick sale for the highest price possible. Avoid these home tour mistakes and you may end up getting both!

Reduce the Stress of Moving with Pets

Personally, I do not know many people who enjoy the physical act of moving house. Add pets to the equation and the process can become quite overwhelming. In my post on tips for moving with pets I outline several things that homeowners can do to make the experience a healthy, relaxed, and safe journey for both them and their furry friends.

As a retired military spouse, and Warner Robins real estate agent, I have relocated several times with pets (including moves abroad), and know first-hand what it takes to keep pets from getting too stressed out during a move.

By following the 8 simple steps outlined in this article, the impact on your pets routine will be minimized and their anxiety will stay at acceptable levels. When your pets are taken care of you can fully concentrate on the other moving tasks that require your undivided attention.

7 Things You Do Not Say to Buyers

In this well thought out real estate piece, Russian River Valley real estate agent David R. Millar identifies several things you should never say to buyers. Whether you are a new agent or a seasoned veteran, you can bet saying any of these whoppers to potential buyers can kill a relationship and a deal. It is never a good idea say things that could be construed as offensive or disrespectful to our clients…Never!

As agents, we need to guide, facilitate, and help buyers find the right home for their needs. It is that simple. When that circle-of-trust is broken, you can bet those buyers will disappear quickly never to be heard from again.

As David points out, “let the buyer reach this conclusion on their own, so that they feel like it was their decision, instead of feeling like their agent is bullying or manipulating them“. Anyone can sell a home but it takes a good agent to earn trust and turn a buyer into a lifetime client.

Mortgage Timelines

I am always on the lookout for online tutorials, handouts, or easy to follow instructions that help real estate consumers either make informed decisions or provide guidance to help them along their RE journey. In his fantastic buyer mortgage timeline guide, Tallahassee, Florida, real estate expert Joe Manausa clearly details the wait period buyers who have experienced bankruptcies, foreclosures, or short-sales must sit through before applying for home loans.

Joe covers all the bases, highlighting the wait times for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, USDA, VA, and even Jumbo loans. While it is understood the guidelines can change, this timely post is a good tool to assist consumers who have made it through their struggles and are ready to realize the American Dream once again.

Previous Google Plus Real Estate Reviews

See previous installments of the best Google+ Real Estate articles below for some terrific reading.

Anita Clark RealtorThis March 2015 roundup of top Google Plus real estate articles was assembled by Anita Clark. She is a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker SSK who enjoys helping consumers satisfy their real estate needs in Warner Robins GA!

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Best Real Estate on Google + For February

Best Google+ Real Estate February 2015

While half of us were battling winter snow and cold during the month of February, and…ahem… half of us were bragging about the warm temperatures they were experiencing in the southern climates, it was a great month to catch up on some great real estate reads!

Bill Gassett has asked me to pick some of my favorite blog posts for the month, and I have to confess, it’s difficult! So many good and thoughtful posts…so I decided to choose some articles that employed the technique of debunking or explaining. There are many skeptics out there, many myths that get circulated, and a lot of misunderstandings. Here are my picks:

Let’s start out with one of the most controversial topics…Open Houses!

Is an Open House a Sketchy Real Estate Practice

Todd Waller, self-proclaimed “destroyer of the real estate fortress of suckitude”, is a Realtor in Southeast Michigan. In what is probably my favorite article on the topic, Todd brings facts and an honest look at the strategy that’s necessary for a successful open house, and whether an open is even advisable.

Todd declared an open house to be a sketchy real estate practice and you know what it probably is when real estate agents don’t explain their motives for holding one.

As real estate agents we know what most will say ” I am here to sell your home Mr. & Mrs Seller. What you don’t know is that the agent is crossing their fingers behind their back. Realtors hold open houses to pick up additional clients!

By the way this is perfectly fine just be honest about it. Please also let your client know that open houses present security risks. When anyone and everyone is allowed through the front door the chances of theft increase greatly.

Does Real Estate Investing Work

Seth Williams, Real Estate Investor, on his blog RE Tipster, has written a very informative post about real estate investing, addressing the skeptics. He highlights two independent success stories. This is a great read where Seth explains how to make money investing in real estate. If you have never read his blog and are thinking about investing make sure you do.

  • One bought a home by paying the back taxes, then sold it a little over 2 months later for a profit of $7,600.
  • The other investor shares 4 deals that involve land, for a total of approximately $180,000, before expenses.

If you’ve ever considered investing in real estate, Seth’s blog and podcasts are a super resource.

Hilarious Phrases About Real Estate

David Millar, Russian River, California Realtor, has written a fun article debunking some of the silly statements that we often hear from people, like

  • “If I List My Home For A Little More, Then Lower Offers Won’t Be A Big Deal”
  • “Selling Real Estate Is Easy! You Just Show A Couple Homes And Make A Ton Of Money In Commission!”

Sometimes we need a laugh. In Dave’s article he explores all the funny things we hear from clients about buying and selling real estate. His article hilarious things we hear in real estate is worth a read if you are looking for something to smile about today!

Who Does My Real Estate Agent Work For

Kevin Vitali, Merrimack Valley Mass Realtor, has written an article explaining Agency. There often seems to be confusion in the public about who an agent represents, or who they work for. Knowing why it’s important for the public to understand is another aspect that Kevin explains in this informative article, who does my real estate agent work for? What many consumers do not realize is agency laws differ from state to state. Some states don’t even have different types of agency.

In Massachusetts where Kevin is based there is seller’s agency, buyer’s agency and disclosed duel agency. Kevin does a wonderful job of explaining each of these concepts.

When to Fire a Buyer Client

Juanita Limes, Greater Dayton Area Ohio Realtor, has written a story on the company blog, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Professional Realty, about firing a buyer. I’m sure that most of us cringe at the thought, and many Realtors probably have never done it. But if you have a client who “leaves you wanting to pull your hair out,” you may do better by firing them.

Read Janita’s story about how the same buyer came back, and came back repentant. If you are a real estate agent you probably realize that sometimes it is worth it to get rid of someone that takes more time than ten clients combined. The hard part is doing it but once it’s done the feeling can be gratifying.

9 Tax Mistakes Homeowners Make

Making a mistake on your taxes can cost you real money coming out of your pocket. Who want to needlessly lose money? There won’t be many takers here. Fortunately for us and all their readers. Houselogic has a great (and timely) article that you’ll probably want to share with your social media followers. The article is nine easy mistakes homeowners make on their taxes. Are you guilty of making any of these blunders? Make sure you don’t!

What to Think About When Buying a Condo

Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate Agent, has written a good article about the details of buying a Condominium. Buying a Condo certainly has many nuances that the average home buyer may not be aware of, like the necessity and costs of a Condo Association. Buying a condo is much different than purchasing a home. In his excellent article, Bill shares numerous tips for purchasing a condo. If you are still up in the air on which housing choice works best for you, make sure you have a look at his article. Bill offers up some advice that includes:

  • Verifying how much is available in the reserve fund.
  • Find out if the complex is approved for FHA financing.
  • Find out who is responsible for what.
  • Work with a Realtor who understands that buying a condo is just a bit more complex than purchasing a home.

Bill shares quite a few more tips when buying a condo but you will need to read his article to see the rest!

Myths About Home Buying People Think Are True

In the last featured Google+ article for February I share fifteen myths about home buying everyone thinks are true. I had a really fun time putting together this post debunking 15 myths that I run into often. It seems that some erroneous information seems to live forever on the internet, and in people’s conversations.

Here are a few quick myths I talk about to give you a sneak peak:

  • Homes are way overvalued – there is nothing I can buy in my budget.
  • My house is worth more than my neighbors because……..insert your reason here.
  • We are headed for another housing bubble.
  • I am waiting for mortgage rates to fall.

There are of course more but you will have to take a look to see the rest. With contributions from several excellent real estate bloggers, I hope you enjoy it!

Karen HighlandsWe hope you enjoyed February’s roundup of Google + real estate articles! This review was composed by Karen Highland, Frederick Md Real Estate blogger, with The Highland Group – Turning Point Real Estate.

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Best Google+ real estate articles January 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each month here on Google+, you can find some incredibly good Real Estate articles that we find to be both educational and entertaining. With content marketing being such an integral part of the Real Estate brands that we develop and project, it isn’t a mystery, that each month, the articles seem to kick it up a notch with their quality and visual appeal. This month of top Real Estate articles for January 2015, isn’t any different.

When it comes to selling a home, buying a home or promoting our business within the Real Estate industry, it’s always important to being in the know, as we know that knowledge is power. If you’re selling a home, we have advice here for you that will help you to stand out from the competition to get your home sold for the most money in the shortest amount of time and includes what impacts your home’s value.

If you’re buying a home, you’ll find ways in which to make your home purchase more affordable, along with doing it the right way to lessen any disasters along the way, plus how to keep your home safe for the little ones. Lastly, if you’re a Real Estate professional in the Real Industry, you’ll find ways to get yourself seen, plus who else to connect with in your industry.

Let’s get started to find out what we’ve got for you to read today!

Best Low Cost Home Improvements

When it’s time to sell a home, homeowners are likely thinking of ways in which to improve the look and feel of their home with home improvements that don’t break the bank. Here the Coastal Real Estate Group of Orange county, California does just that when they gathered advice from Real Estate experts across the nation who tell you what you can do with $5000 of less. If you are going to be selling your home and are working on a limited budget this will be a great resource to take a look at!

Ten Tips to Get Your Home Sold

Who couldn’t use a list of 10 things to help get a home sold?! Here Kyle Hiscock of Rochester, New York provides some fabulous home selling advice when a homeowner decides it’s time to sell. You’ll find tips on how to prepare to get your home sold and whether or not you should have open houses, plus many other tips on home selling. So if home selling is in your future, Kyle’s tips will help you immensely. Keep reading below to find out all the particulars about the 10 things you need to know when selling a home. Use these ten tips to dramatically increase the success as well as keeping the stress level down when selling your property.

How Schools Impact Real Estate Values

Many families seek out the best schools for their children and are willing to move across city lines when a family begins to grow with the addition of their first child and more on the way. Even without any children currently in a household, many young couples will anticipate children in their future and will plan by looking to settle down in a neighborhood with high quality schools. As a Seller, how can schools impact your home sale prices? They can certainly impact a home’s value, whether or not the schools are top rated or poorly rated. Here Bill Gassett of Hopkinton, Massachusetts has written an excellent article detailing just how schools affect home values so be sure take a look especially if you are in the process of choosing a community to live in! There is no doubt that the school system will have a dramatic affect on the price as well as long term value of your home.

Who to Follow on Twitter For Real Estate

Sometimes, Google+ will bring in other social media networks that could benefit it’s followers and Jacob Grant Property Management of Idaho Falls, Idaho has put together an excellent resource of 29 Real Estate Experts to follow on Twitter; the fast moving social media network. If you’re anything like most Real Estate professionals, learning and growing from other professionals keeps you on the right track for your continued business success. This list illustrates some great “must follow” real estate people and companies on Twitter. Click through to find out who you’ve been missing on Twitter. It’s not too late to add a few more people! These are real estate pro’s who are on Twitter daily sharing great information.

FHA Making Mortgage Changes Again

With the recent changes to FHA reducing mortgage insurance premiums that becomes effective January 26, 2015, you’ll find that Sean Young of Highlands Ranch, Colorado has done a great job with his article in explaining exactly what it means to the home Buyer which ultimately can affect home Sellers too. Take a look at Sean’s informative article and learn what The FHA has been up to.

How to Set Up Google Adwords

Who has time to dig in and learn one more thing?! We already have such jammed-filled days, so we’re always looking for the ease in which to learn. Have you wondered about how to set up a Google Adwords Campaign? Today is your lucky day where Andrew Fortune of Colorado Springs, Colorado has made this so easy for you to set up a Google Adwords Campaign. Here he has presented easy to follow, step by step instructions. See I told you today was your lucky day! Read just how to do it here as Andrew shows you how! This is yet another way to bring exposure to your real estate business. Are you beginning to see the value of being involved with some of the top Google+ real estate communities yet?

How to Make Your Home Safe For Children

It seems to take just seconds for something to go wrong in our homes when we turn our backs for a second when we have little ones running around. Here Anita Clark of Warner Robins, Georgia has provided some excellent tips to keep our little loved ones safe at home. A very important read from Anita so you don’t have to learn the hard way, something you’ll want to avoid at all costs. Anita has thought of it all in childproofing your home, so make sure you have a look.

First Time Home Buyer Tips

Buying a home for the first time? Where do you begin? Wouldn’t it be great to avoid the pitfalls of first time Buyers? Here Karen Highland of Frederick, Maryland provides the best of the best advice to get you on the right track to buying your first home – how exciting! A must read for the first time home Buyer. Karen thinks of everything to benefit the first time home Buyer, so don’t stop reading now if buying a home is in your future.

Why A Final Walk-Through is Important

You’re so excited to close on your home purchase tomorrow and everything has gone so well that you think you’ll just skip the walk thru of the home that is commonly done right before the closing on your home purchase. Here Debbie Drummond of Las Vegas, Nevada lets you know to don’t even think about skipping the walk thru! Debbie has done an incredible job at shedding some light on why you shouldn’t skip it. There have been buyers who have and it has come back to bite them in the you know where!

What is Real Estate Title Insurance

What the heck is Title Insurance? You’ve heard it mentioned or perhaps ran across an article or two on it as your eyes glazed over, yet never dug in to find out what it’s really all about. Believe me, you need to know what Title Insurance is and how it’s coverage can impact the home you’re about to purchase and later sell. Here Seth Williams has done a superb job in explaining all about Title Insurance and how it will benefit you that will make perfect sense to you. Seth’s article is a must read especially for first time homeowners. Title insurance is one thing a home buyer should not fool around with.

Price Your Home Properly

How do you price a home for sale? One thing I can tell you for sure is that it’s not according to The Price is Right Game Show? Remember the show? Here, I, Lynn Pineda, go over what is the best way to price a home for sale and also what you should never do. If you read my article closer you’ll discover that there is a way in which to price a home right in order to get it sold. I service home Sellers in Coral Springs, Florida who’ve been happy to know that I know how to price a home right. Keep reading so you too can discover just how I do it, which includes a little bit of art.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s selection of prime Real Estate content. And remember, after reading this month’s selection, before you know it, a new round of top picks will be out for your reading enjoyment next month. Until next month, happy reading.

Previous Google Plus Real Estate Reviews

Lynn PinedaThe following Google Plus real estate review was written by Lynn Pineda, a licensed Southeast Florida Real Estate agent for 9 years currently at Keller Williams Coral Springs Realty.
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What Makes a Neighborhood WalkableWhat makes any particular neighborhood or area walkable? Sure, you walk from your house to your car, or from your car to wherever you’re going once you’ve parked; however, that’s not what we mean by walkable. A neighborhood’s walkability rating is based on how much on average the local populace is able to walk to and from their places of interest with minimum use of cars or other road vehicles. Walk-ability is one of the major factors buyers use in how to choose a neighborhood when purchasing a home. The location of a neighborhood in relation to major conveniences can become a major search factor for numerous buyers. Other important considerations include top schools, highway access and crime rate to name a few.

“Made for Walking” author Julie Campoli describes five main pillars that are critical characteristics of walk-ability:
● Connections: an extensive network of walking paths and expansive sidewalks that have numerous intersections throughout.
● Tissue: Smaller buildings constructed with impressive architecture with multiple functions rather than large skyscrapers and expansive warehouse-sized buildings.
● Density: All buildings are built very close together to accommodate walk-ability and people live in very close proximity to one another to promote a sense of community.
● Street-scape: Streamlined streets designed with wide sidewalks to minimize walking traffic and promote business visibility.
● Green Networks: There are many trees that line the streets and surrounding areas in addition to plenty of grassy areas and parks for recreation and relaxation.

Campoli claims that “Increasing densities to levels near or exceeding those typical of cities in 1910 by concentrating housing, jobs, schools, stores, parks, and population is the best way to shrink commute zones from 80 or 20 square miles to zones as small as two and a half square miles.”

Walk-ability is not just about making overall cities smaller, but also reducing human carbon footprint and accelerated global warming. Campoli mentions three recent studies that all agree that developing more compact cities with dense populations will decrease overall VMT (vehicle miles traveled), and give way to more pedestrian/public transit city planning methods.

These were the studies consulted:

Growing Cooler (Ewing et al. 2008) – predicts that compact development could decrease VMT by 20-40% and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) by 18-36%
Moving Cooler (Cambridge Systematics 2009) – focused on better practices for mixed-use land utilization, reducing VMT by 20% and emissions by 60%
Driving and the Built Environment (Transportation Research Board 2009) – predicts that with people’s current ravel habits, VMT could be reduced by 1-11%

There have been critics that have said compact urban development will not make that large of a dent in America’s emissions output, and is not worth pursuing; critics instead believe that relying solely on things like improved fuel technology in vehicles will have more impact. While it is true that technology will play a large role, it is only a piece of the puzzle. Campoli also states that “Unlike other carbon-reduction strategies, realization of a sufficiently compact pattern will take several decades to materialize, which is why most studies of the potential of compact development predict only minimal CO2 reductions in the early years.”

When it comes to planning and executing compact urban development, Cervero and Kockelman first stated in 1997 (and later expanded by following studies) that there are five D’s and a P that urban developers follow:

● Diversity: Not that different kinds of people living in a single neighborhood isn’t important, but in the context of compact urban development, this ‘D’ refers to there being a healthy mix different kinds of businesses with homes. Also, most buildings are optimized for mixed-use, meaning that you could have a shop on the bottom floor and an apartment on the top floor, for example. The more functional diversity you have in a neighborhood of businesses and services, the more likely residents are to walk or bike to popular destinations rather than drive farther.
● Density: This ‘D’ references the amount of people and employment opportunities in a given area such as population per square mile. Having a higher concentration of people in a smaller area encourages better community engagement while having more opportunities in tandem also provides the local populace with incentive to use transportation that yields less emissions (walking, biking, and public transit).
● Distance to Transit: Though there are many variables, the biggest determining factor for most people is how far the nearest stop is from their home when deciding to take a bus or train. This has become an issue in sprawling communities who will often opt to drive instead of walking a long distance to and from stations. This goes hand-in-hand with density since proximity to way-points are compacted along with neighborhoods in their distances from a person’s home, work, or other places of interest.
● Design: Possibly the most important ‘D’ initially, this falls on the urban developers themselves from the get-go. It’s difficult to have compact urban development without first planning street and building lot layouts in association to their proximity to each other as well as transportation modes. Design is not only just for functionality though; in order to persuade people to want to walk more, you must make the route in which they are taking as aesthetically pleasing and interconnected as possible so that there are no perceived limits to where one can travel by foot.
● Destination Accessibility: How close is your home to some of the more popular spots in town? One’s ability to easily and quickly gain access to points of interest and central business districts (CBD) where many jobs and amenities like restaurants and shops are concentrated is paramount to making compact urban development work smoothly. Additionally, a given populace’s ability to get many basic goods and services (food, groceries, basic products) in their own neighborhood as opposed to driving 5-10 miles away facilitates good destination accessibility.
● Parking: The odd-letter-out, most current land development is centered around the ability of drivers to be able to park their cars easily and in large numbers. However, by limiting parking spaces and/or charging for parking, public transit, biking, and walking is vicariously encouraged among the local population. Land development is also freer to use lots for more housing or businesses instead of allocating more space for cars.

So how do you know if your own neighborhood currently possess, or shows potential for, walkable urbanism? When evaluating your own neighborhood, see if it has, or plans to have, the following:

❏ Low vehicle speeds and traffic flow
❏ Roads with only one lane for each direction
❏ Multiple street crossings that are wide and defined
❏ Wide sidewalks that are unobstructed and allow people to pass by with ease
❏ Pavement is maintained and even to prevent tripping and falling
❏ Walking paths that are level for ease of walking
❏ Areas that have hills and inclines have plenty of benches for resting
❏ Street names and signposts are clearly visible at street level
❏ Map kiosks are numerous and include average walk times for easy navigation
❏ All streets and areas are well-lit with street lamps for safety and visibility
❏ Numerous police officers and/or private security personnel for added security
❏ Dense commerce areas to deter criminal and disruptive behavior
❏ Streets are kept clean from littering and trash/recycle bins are plentiful
❏ A good amount of land space is used for parks, nature paths, trees, and other greenery
❏ Architecture is built to seem more inviting and warm rather than steely and sterile
❏ All business and store fronts face the street for easy accessibility and visibility
❏ Designated play areas that are safe for children
❏ Low traffic noise and minimal stress in the local environment

Walkable Urban Places (WalkUps) have been known to decrease pollution, stress, traffic, and crime as well as increase economic growth, safe places for kids, bike paths, and better areas for recreation and socialization. WalkUP neighborhoods seem to be the new wave of land development, so how does your own neighborhood compare?

About the Author:
Based in Los Angeles, Jonathan Dean has been writing professionally since 2009. He writes for JustRentToOwn.com and his professional interests include housing trends, personal finance, and new urban development.

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Social Media Accounts Bill Gassett

Social Media Bill GassettIf you know me at all then you know I am a huge fan of social media! Using social media is a must for smart Realtors who have a blog that is used for sharing their expertise. My blog is the foundation for everything I do online. All of my active social channels revolve around my main blog site that is found at RE/MAX Executive Realty. The site is well known as the Massachusetts Real Estate Exposure blog. This is where I share my best real estate content. Once a new article goes live the work has just begun. The content needs to be discovered by others and one of the smartest ways to do this is through social media. There are endless places to share content but I am going to share what I feel is some of the best. These are all of the place where you can find me online. Social media exposure is important not only for me but my clients as well. There is no question that social media is a communication medium that is not going away any time soon!

Social Media Channels You May Not Know About:

Storify

Storify is a social media channel I added to my repertoire in 2014. Storify allows you to magnify your content by making pages that emphasize a topic you would like to discuss. The beauty of Storify is how you are able to move content from an endless supply of sources into a page you create on your topic. You can see Bill Gassett Storify for a look at my profile. This is a place you will be seeing me using more in the coming year. I use the site to highlight great real estate content whether it is mine or other terrific real estate bloggers. You can see an example of Storify in action by checking out some of the top towns to buy real estate in Massachusetts. These are all communities in which I sell real estate in the Metrowest area which is about 30-40 miles West of Boston. These are a compilation of reviews found in one Storify page.

List.ly

List.ly is just an exceptional tool! What List.ly allows you to do is create lists surrounding any subject. What I have been doing is putting some of the best real estate content into lists which can then be shared. There is no question that people love lists. If you look at some of the most popular blog posts they usually feature some kind of list. You can see my profile at Bill Gassett List.ly. To give you an idea just how cool List.ly can be see this list I have created that highlights the top real estate blogs for 2015. This is a list of some of the best real estate bloggers I know. Nearly everything these people publish is exceptional.

Scoop.it

If you are not using Scoop.it then you are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to make your content more visible. Scoop.it is one of the most popular content curation tools available. With Scoop.it you can share any article you find and then add your own two cents to what it is about. In other words Scoop.it allows you the opportunity to share great content but to also include your voice with the post. You can see my profile at Bill Gassett Scoop.it. I have three channels on Scoop.it including, real estate, social media and SEO. My Scoop.it real estate channel is in fact featured with a gold badge because the content has been well received. Click the link and check out how to use Scoop.it to put a charge in your real estate content for the coming year.

RebelMouse

Rebelmouse is frankly a place I am just starting to investigate. I know a lot of people who are using it to expand their contents visibility. I will be spending some time in the near future to not only improve the look of my page but to use the site as it should be. Until then you can check out my profile at Bill Gassett Rebelmouse. Hopefully I will get this one down and you will see some of my best real estate and social media content. I have done one post over at Rebelmouse that features some of the real estate reviews for Massachusetts towns that I have done on other social platforms.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a site that I am just starting to get my feet wet with. Tumblr is unique in that it is both a social media site and blog all wrapped into one package. You can see my profile at Bill Gassett Tumblr. I expect that in the coming year to be using Tumblr more to share some of my better real estate content.

Bundlr

Another cool option for content curation is Bundlr. As a Realtor, you are trying to create as many different types of content as you can, so you can hit the widest audience. This means sharing great photos, exciting videos,  and of course your blog articles! documents.

Bundlr allows you to collect all of your content into one convenient “bundle”. You can even create a bunch of different bundles on different themes or topics of interest. Here is a specific topic bundle I created on why sellers don’t need open houses. You can see numerous articles on this topic all in one place!

Another example is a review of all the towns in which I sell real estate. Here is a bundle of articles that include community reviews for real estate in Massachusetts. Bundlr allowed me to share information on some of my top service areas including Hopkinton, Holliston, Milford, Ashland, Franklin, Grafton, Bellingham, Southborough, Westborough and others.

Bundlr also offers a pay feature, where you can make some of your bundles private – useful for sharing with a particular real estate client, but not the world. You can also display your bundles on your website without any Bundlr branding, and you get access to statistics on who visits your content and where they come from. Want to see my Bundlr profile?  This is everything I have shared to date in one convenient place.

Pearltrees

Pearltrees is another cool content sharing platform that can best be described as a visual bookmarking site. Pearltrees is designed to let you collect all of your interests into one place, including web pages, photos, videos and more. As you can see from my Pearltrees account I have used it to gather a number of my best real estate articles. It allows you to organize all of this in a natural fashion, dragging and dropping into different categories.

Pearltrees works for Realtors because it lets you bring all of your different content into one place, and to organize that content exactly how you want it. Pearltrees also lets you explore the “trees” of other members, which can give you a bunch of ways to gather new content for your needs. If you see someone who has a home design category, for example you can dive in and pull out a bunch of ideas for your own business.

Active Rain/Trulia

The Active Rain/Trulia site in one of the most well respected social sites in the real estate industry. The Active Rain platform allows you to have a blog where you can share your content. Years ago it was where I cut my teeth as a real estate blogger. I have since moved on to having my own blog as previously mentioned above but this is a great place to start as a blogger. In addition to having a blog, Active Rain also provides a profile page where you can share everything about yourself as well as sharing some of your content you would like to feature. You can see my profile at Bill Gassett Active Rain. The Active Rain site is a must have channel for a real estate agent to use.

RESAAS

Resaas is a social media site that is specifically set up for those in the real estate industry. It is the new kid of the block as it just went live this past year (2014). The concept behind Resaas is to share re-blasts out to others in the real estate field. While most of the members in the site share real estate listings, I like to share my best content. You can see my real estate profile at RESAAS Bill Gassett. In order to see what a re-blast looks like you can see an example of one I did on home inspection problems that may be missed. This is an article that can be found on Maximum Real Estate Exposure that I wanted to be seen by a different audience.

About.Me

About.Me is more like a social page than it is a social network. This however is a great place for a real estate agent to create a page. You are able to right a quick summary about your business and the site allows you to have three do-follow links. You can see my profile page at Bill Gassett About.Me. If you are a Realtor make sure you create a detailed page and link to your main website and possible some of your best real estate articles you would like to feature.

Quora

Quora is well known as a site where people answer your questions. What you may not know is that Quora also allows you to have a blog where you can share your expertise. I have created a few posts over at Quora but plan to do more in the coming year. This is a great place to connect with a different audience of people that might not otherwise find your content. You can see my profile at Bill Gassett Quora. Remember when posting your real estate content not to duplicate your efforts. Use the blog to link back to your original content but don’t copy and paste what you have already written. See an example of a quick post about local real estate on Quora. The site is also excellent for answering questions in your area of expertise.

Bag The Web

Bag The Web is another content curation site that is super simple to use. The premise of Bag The Web is like others that have already been mentioned above such as Bundlr and Listly. With Bag The Web you are sharing “bags of content”. It is as easy as taking a link and dropping it into the site. Like any other content marketing platform it is important to not duplicate your original article title. Make sure you change the title when adding it to the site. Pay careful attention and take the time to write a detailed description of the article. Make people understand what the topic is about and why they should read it. You can see my profile at the site by visiting Bag The Web Bill Gassett. You will notice some of my better real estate articles along with posts I have written about social media.

Main Stream Social Media Sites:

Google+

Google+ is easily one of my favorite social sharing channels. You can see my profile at Google+ Bill Gassett. Obviously the fact that it is a social channel owned by Google should be a no-brainer for real estate agents to join. At the present time I have 31,000 plus followers which makes my content very visible when sharing at Google+. One of the other better features of Google+ is the fact there are communities you can join to share your expertise. There are in fact a number of real estate communities at Google+. One of the most popular is one that I started the first day they were released by Google. If you are a Realtor I would encourage you to join. If you just love reading great real estate content by all means join as well.

Pinterest

Pinterest is another social channel that I absolutely love. Pinterest works perfectly for the real estate industry because of how visual it can be. One of the things that has been very successful for me is creating exceptional graphics that go with all of my real estate articles. You can see my Pinterest Bill Gassett for a look at my profile. Pay attention to the fact that I have personal boards as well as real estate group boards that I have joined. A group board gives you the opportunity to have your content be seen by far more people.

Twitter

Twitter is a social site that I spend quite a bit of time on throughout the day. At the present time I have over 20,000 Twitter followers. Twitter is a great place to get your message out quickly. I use the Buffer App to set up a schedule every morning. I will put together all the real estate articles that I would like tweeted throughout the day. This is a great time saver expecially when you know it will be hard to get on and participate at a given moment in time. Buffer is an excellent tool that works super well with Twitter. You can follow me at Bill Gassett Twitter. If you enjoy real estate, social media and SEO these are the topics I primarily share.

Linkedin

Linkedin is yet another great social channel that can expand the reach of your content. Keep in mind Linkedin is set up strictly for business professionals to it is not a place to be sharing pictures of your cat. With Linkedin you can share content to your profile. What most people fail to realize is the fact that Linkedin has some exceptional real estate groups to share content with. Some of my favorites include The Real Estate Professionals Group where I happen to be a moderator and Inman News. If you would like to follow me check out Bill Gassett Linkedin. The vast majority of what you will see from me are real estate related articles.

Facebook

Facebook is my least favorite social media platform. One of the things that annoys me about Facebook is their constant restriction of content being seen by people that should see it. If I make a post on Facebook I expect everyone that follows me and is a friend to be able to see it. Unfortunately that is not the case. Facebook has changed the site so that if you really want your content to be seen you must pay them. No thanks! There are too many other places that are equally effective. Never the less here is my profile Bill Gassett Facebook. You can expect to see real estate along with occasional personal posts.

Slideshare

Slideshare is a great place to re-purpose your content. With Slideshare you can make visuals of content you have created elsewhere. People love visuals and Slideshare allows you to do just that. I plan on using Slideshare more in the coming year as it is an excellent place to curate your content. You can see my profile at Bill Gassett Slideshare. If you want to see an example of a real estate slideshare check out the one I created for Bellingham Massachusetts. This is a slideshare that was created from a real estate community page found on Maximum Real Estate Exposure.

Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon is yet another social channel where your content can be found. Stumblers all across the globe share great content daily. Stumbleupon is a favorite among most social sharing tools. You can see the real estate content I have shared on my profile at Bill Gassett Stumbleupon. If you have never used Stumbleupon it an excellent social media site to add to your repertoire.

Popular Book Marking Sites:

Delicious

Delicious is an under utilized social media site. It is a bookmarking channel where you can share all the best content you find. I share every one of my posts into delicious along with other terrific content I find. This is something all Realtors should be doing but don’t. How do I know this? Anytime I have written a guest post or have been mentioned on another persons site I bookmark it. Most of the time I am the only one who has bookmarked it. This means the original author has not bookmarked their own site – a mistake! Here is my profile Bill Gassett Delicious. Make sure you check out some of my best real estate bookmarks!

As you can see there are quite a few places that a real estate agent can enhance their social media presence. If you have a real estate blog these are must use sites for your content marketing efforts!

Diigo

A second bookmark site I use is called Diigo. I use this site to put all of my top real estate articles as well as others that I find interesting. It is a site worth using to organize the best content. You can see my profile of posts at Bill Gassett Diigo. Just another site to add into your social media mix.

Hopefully by now the light bulbs are going off in your head and you realize there are a lot of places where a real estate agent can have a social presence. Content marketing is a critical aspect of having your best real estate articles become more visible online. I would encourage anyone reading to follow a similar blueprint that I have outlined here!


 

About Bill Gassett: The above Real Estate information on Real Estate social media profiles was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 27+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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December had some great real estate articles submitted to the Google Plus real estate communities. It was was hard to narrow down a list with so many great pieces of content being shared, but I managed to do it. Here are 10 of the best real estate articles from December 2014 that I found on Google Plus, in no particular order.  If you enjoy reading about real estate then you are in for a treat as you will see some of the best real estate bloggers around share their expertise. Dig in and enjoy!

Best Google Plus Article December 2014

 


 Fantastic real estate marketing!

107 Proven Real Estate Marketing Ideas

Placester

Many Realtors struggle to properly market themselves in today’s changing technology driven industry. In this article, Placester covers 107 marketing ideas to help you get more exposure and ultimately generate more leads. If you are looking for direction as a real state agent when it comes to acquiring new leads, you’ll definitely want to check out this article. It’s packed with great info.

 


 Interviewing a Realtor is something all consumers should do!

How To Interview A Buyers Agent When Buying a Home

Kyle Hiscock

In this article, Kyle Hiscock explains the importance of interviewing your real state agent when buying a home. Many people interview Realtors when they are looking to list their house for sale, but most Realtors will agree that they rarely get interviewed when working with homebuyers. Kyle does a great job of directing consumers through the interviewing process.

 


When getting a mortgage the source of your funds is key!

Making Sure Your Cash-To-Close Comes From The Proper Source

Ken Caiani

As a Realtor, I get asked many mortgage related questions that I may not know the answer to. I just had a buyer ask me whether it mattered where the source of her funds came from when she showed up at closing. I knew that it mattered, but I didn’t know all the specific details to this question. In this article, Ken Caiani covers all of the major points to help understand where your money needs to come from when buying a home.

 


How do you know when it is the right time to buy a home?

5 Signs That You’re Ready To Buy Your First House

Andrew Fortune

This is an article that I wrote to help potential first-time home buyers determine whether or not they are ready to buy a house. I cover 5 main areas that can help you determine if you are ready to buy your first house. The information is based off of my personal experience as well as my extensive experience working with lots of first-time home buyers.

 


What are the latest bathroom trends for the coming year?

Bathroom Design Trends 2015

Karen Highlands

In real estate, kitchen and bathroom design trends are very important. In this article, Karen Highland covers some of the most desirable bathroom design trends of 2015. She walks us through new technologies, popular design materials, the use of natural elements, and many other details you should know about when remodeling and designing a bathroom. Karen provides some great visual examples, as well as a Pinterest board that she created on this subject.

 


How do you know you hired a bad Realtor?

Signs You Hired The Wrong Real Estate Agent

Bil Gassett

Hiring a real estate agent can be difficult. In this article, Bill Gassett explains the learning curve that most consumers face when hiring a real estate agent. Bill covers all of the main warning signs that you may have hired the wrong real estate agent to represent you. He also provides some helpful advice on how to fix the situation, should this ever happen to you. This is a great article loaded with expert tips and insights.

 


 Understanding how to negotiate is a priceless skill!

The Ultimate Negotiation Technique That Nobody Talks About

Seth Williams

Real estate negotiations can be tough. Good negotiation techniques are very valuable. In this article, Seth Williams walks us through a recent real estate transaction and provides detailed negotiation techniques that he used to help the deal work in his favor. It’s a unique article that has strong educational points, while being an easy read to follow with real life experience.

 


 Before selling your home look it over with a fine tooth comb!

Inspect your Home a Little Closer, Before Selling

Lynn Pineda

When you sell your house, it’s inevitable that the home buyer is going to hire an inspector to inspect your home before moving forward with the deal. In this article, Lynn Pineda connects with some great home inspectors to give you a list of things that you should inspect before listing your house for sale. The information is very valuable and can help save home sellers money and frustration by dealing with these items before entering into a sales contract with a potential buyer.

 


What’s the difference between a pre-approval and pre-qualification?

Home Loan Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval?

Sean Young

Yes, there is definitely a difference between a mortgage loan pre-qualification and a pre-approval. Most consumers do not know that there is a difference though. In this article, Sean Young uses some great graphics, along with easy to follow information, to quickly explain the main differences so that we all understand why a pre-approval is so much better.

 


What are some of the best gift for a real estate agent?

Top 10 Gifts for Real Estate Professionals

House Hunt Agents

This may be my favorite article on the list…. because it’s about giving gifts to real estate professionals. If you know a real estate professional who is a friend, family member, or co-worker and you would like to buy them something special for Christmas this year, check out this great article form HouseHunt.com that covers some of the most popular gift ideas.

 


 

Thanks for taking the time to browse through this list of real estate articles found on Google Plus. If you found any of the articles useful and interesting, please consider commenting, sharing, or reaching out to the authors to let them know your thoughts. Google Plus is my favorite social environment to interact with other real estate professionals. If you are not actively involved with Google Plus, I recommend getting the app on your phone and hanging out in the real estate communities on there. You will meet some great professionals and find the best content being created in our industry.

Previous Google Plus Real Estate Reviews

Do you enjoy the Google+ real estate article reviews? Take a look at all of the above links where you will see additional real estate articles that have been highlighted from previous months on Google Plus!

Andrew FortuneThis post was put together by Andrew Fortune of GreatColoradoHomes.com. He is a Realtor in Colorado Springs, CO who enjoys technology, advances in small business, online marketing, and helping home buyers and sellers in his local real estate market, and beyond.

 

 

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The Very Best Google Plus Real Estate Articles November 2014

Best Google+ Real Estate Articles November 2014Have you seen any of the installments of the best Google Plus real estate articles? Bill Gassett has started a monthly column featuring the best Real Estate articles shared on Google Plus. If you haven’t been following this series, you may want to bookmark or pin his blog so you can catch up on what you’ve missed. The series of articles provides useful info for anyone getting ready to buy or sell a home.

This month Bill asked me to do the round up for November. The approach of a New Year must be inspiring our favorite Google+ bloggers. We could have picked at least a dozen articles for the “Best of November”. It wasn’t easy, but we’ve narrowed it down to something more manageable.

The first article this month is 2015 Mortgage Rate Predictions from 3 Industry Experts. Written by Tim Lucas who dives in with his thoughts on the mortgage market for next year. His opinion is that rates will go up, but when and how much is hard to say. Lucas provides a table showing what the rates were each year since 2007. They started at 6.34% in 2007 before sinking to 3.66% in 2012. They’ve been in the low 4s for awhile but Lucas doesn’t think this will last forever.

Brad Yzermans notes that all interest rate predictions should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. Yzermins goes on to say he doesn’t see how rates can continue at current levels. His expectation is for moderate increases to as much as 4.75%. He doesn’t advise rushing to buy just because rates might go up. He suggests anyone with an FHA loan to re-finance now and get rid of their Mortgage Insurance Premium.

Luke Skar with the Madison Mortgage Guys adds the third voice to the article. Luke feels the improving market could signal higher rates. He backs up his assumptions with numbers from the National Association of Home Builders. He quotes their prediction that we’ll see a “26% increase in the overall number of single family homes”. He takes unemployment into consideration and predicts that rates will reach 5-5.5% by the end of 2015.

While the Mortgage Pros are optimistic about the housing market in 2015, we have seen a slight drop in sales volume. Bill Gassett explores the dip in his article titled Why Has The Real Estate Market Taken a Breather?. One key factor – the number of first time home buyers is down to 33% of all homes purchased this year. That is down from the historical average of 40%. First time home buyer purchases are at the lowest level since 1987.

In his excellent article Bill discusses the reasons why first time home buyers aren’t purchasing homes? The reasons start with high student loan debt. Add higher rents that make it hard for first time buyers to save for the down payment. Throw in a weaker job market, stricter lending standards and the destruction of family wealth. Gassett takes a close look at this trend before offering tips and making his argument that it’s better to buy now. This is a good read for anyone who is looking at long term trends in the housing market. It’s a must read for those hoping to buy their first home.

The Non-Occupying Co-Borrower Option” by Inlanta Mortgage – Madison is our third choice. This one goes hand in hand with Gassett’s article. This mortgage product is a possible solution for first time home buyers. Inlanta Madison covers the current requirements for this type of mortgage. If the co-borrower is related to the buyer, the loan to value can be as high as 96.75%. If the non-owner is helping with the down payment, they don’t have to complete the usual paperwork for the gift. They can just use their own funds. Starting your career with a mountain of college debt? The “Non-Occupying Co-Borrower Mortgage” may be your best chance to own rather than rent.

Corrine Guest answers the question Home Value Estimator – Which One Should You Use? Recent articles have looked at how inaccurate these computer generated values can be. Guest doesn’t waste time on the Zillow Zestimate valuations that have proven to be unpredictable and sometimes grossly innacurate. She points out three alternate sites where you can get a computer generated value without registering. She received three different answers for her home’s value but they were all similar. Guest feels the tools are useful if you consult with more than one. She doesn’t recommend looking at them every month unless you’re getting ready to sell. Instead, take a look every quarter. And when you want an accurate opinion of your home’s value, ask your Realtor.

The fifth article is Lynn Pineda’s guest blog for Rismedia. Is Your Realtor Sharpening an Axe? Lynn asks if your Realtor is prepared for the job. As she says, being prepared “goes beyond getting a license.” A Realtor has to stay on top of the latest trends and the mortgage market. They need to network with other real estate professionals. They should be at the forefront of the internet and social media. Her tips are just as useful for hiring a buyer’s agent as for hiring a listing agent. For other Real Estate Professionals, they’re a guide to help you stay on top of your game.

One of the last featured articles is really well done  and could certainly be called “the best Real Estate investing advice ever” which would not be too far off the mark!  RETipster Seth Williams wrote 101 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Real Estate Investing. Williams interviews a host of today’s leading real estate and mortgage professionals. He didn’t follow the usual formula of publishing each pro’s three tips together.

Williams mixed the suggestions from all contributors so they flow from the first tip to the last one. Starting with “Collaboration” and ending with “Create a Written Game Plan”. Seth’s technique of weaving the different tips together pays off. This is not only one of the most thorough guides for investors, it’s a good read.

Last but not least is an article I wrote about whether or not it makes sense to buy a home in a home owners association or not.

An important decision for any home buyer is whether to buy in an area that has a Homeowner’s Association.  A high percentage of our newer, upscale communities are subject to the home owners association rules and restrictions. In an HOA they have to approve your landscaping.  They have a voice about the vehicles you’re allowed to park in front of your home.  They’ll decide what your options are if you want to paint your home a new color.
It is possible to buy a home that isn’t governed by an HOA.  And for some buyers, it’s the only way to go.  Should you buy a home that isn’t in a homeowner’s association looks at the pros and cons of life without an HOA.

Narrowing down the options wasn’t easy this month. We wanted to include articles from: Andrew Fortune, Karen Highland, Kyle Hiscock, Anita Clark, Andrew Fortune, Andrew Dougill and Greg Hancock. We recommend that you include them all in your Google Plus real estate circles for useful real estate info.

Previous Google Plus Real Estate Reviews

Do you enjoy the Google+ real estate article reviews? Take a look at all of the above links where you will see additional real estate articles that have been highlighted from previous months on Google Plus!

About the author: Debbie Drummond has over ten years experience in the Las Vegas real estate market. She specializes in luxury homes and high rise properties.

 

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The Very Best of Google+ Real Estate Articles

Best Google+ Real Estate Articles October 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this is the first recap of the “Best Google Plus Real Estate Articles” you’re reading, you’ve missed out! Google Plus is a great place to find real estate content from some of the best real estate bloggers. There are many Real Estate communities that are geared towards real estate industry professionals who create and share excellent articles, tips, and tricks! Google Plus communities are not only a great place to find excellent content, but also a place to network and interact with top real estate industry professionals! One of the most popular real estate communities on Google+ is where all of these monthly featured articles come from. Every month the real estate advice is hand picked among all of the posts shared on Google plus.

Thank you Bill for asking me to once again put together a recap of the Best Google Plus Real Estate Articles for October 2014! So without further ado, here is a recap of some of the most informative articles found in the Google+ real estate community in case you missed them the first time around. If you are in the real estate industry or just like reading about it consider joining the group where there are already nearly 14,000 members.

Surviving the home loan process

The first article of this month’s Google+ recap comes to us from Grace Keister, the content marketing specialist for First Team Real Estate. In Grace’s article, surviving the home loan process: Homebuyer FAQs, she does an excellent job breaking down the process of a home loan. The article explains the importance of being pre-approved when it comes time to negotiate on a home. There are many people who think a mortgage pre-qualification letter is the same as a mortgage pre-approval, which is completely false! A pre-qualification is not worth the paper it is written on as it does not assure the seller of anything. A pre-approval on the other hand checks the buyers credit, income and employment history.

In many regions of the United States, the cooler and cold weather is certainly upon us! This means it’s time to inspect and clean those chimneys and fireplaces. The next article by Tammy Behnam, regarding fireplace and chimney maintenance, gives some very nice tips to those who have fireplaces in their homes. The article points out some simple but important maintenance tips. Only burning wood, burning dry wood, and building a fire slowly are just a handful of useful tips that are found in the article. Take a look as you are sure to learn a trick or two about having a wonderful fire in your home!

Writing excellent real estate headlines

Learning to become a successful blogger is not impossible, even for those who feel they are “bad writers.” One of the most important tips for someone learning to blog is understanding the importance of creating quality titles and headlines for articles. Our next article, how to write successful real estate headlines for increased sales, comes to us from the folks over at HomeFolio Media. In this excellent article there are many tips provided for writing successful real estate headlines. Does the article sound useful? Is the headline unique? Does the title provide an urgency? These are all questions that a blogger should ask themselves before hitting that “Publish” button! You only have a few seconds to capture a reader and the title is a critical aspect in achieving this goal.

Why you need home owners insurance

Buyers commonly ask for recommendations to insurance companies as they are required to have home owners insurance. But the question I pose is, do they really understand what Homeowners Insurance is? In our next article done by Anita Clark, what is Homeowners Insurance and Why Do I Need It?, she has done an excellent and in-depth job explaining homeowners insurance. In the article you’ll find not only an explanation of what homeowners insurance is, but also quality tips such as knowing what your credit score is as it can impact the premium and also finding out if the home is located in a flood zone. This is a helpful article on home owners insurance you won’t want to miss!

Buying a home with little or no money down

Much of the general public has the misunderstanding that the only way to purchase a home is with a large amount of money down. This is not the case at all! The next article done by Luke Skar at Inlanta Mortgage, 6 ways to buy a home with little or no money, which was featured on my blog provides 6 methods to purchasing a home without “breaking the bank!” There are many grants, incentives, and mortgage products available to buyers who don’t have buckets of money laying around. One example is the 100% Financed VA Loan which allows a Veteran the option to put no money down! The are also additional programs where home buyer are able to put down 3 to 5 %.

Selling a home with tenants

Selling a home that is tenant occupied is less than desirable. If at all possible, it’s best and easiest to sell a home that is vacant or owner occupied. Coordinating showings, inspections, and bank appraisals are normally more difficult with a tenant in place, in most cases. This is especially true if the tenant has no desire to leave. Our last article done by Bill Gassett, how to sell a house with tenants, provides some awesome tips for selling a home with a tenant. As Bill points out, it’s best to wait for a lease to expire, but if this isn’t possible, he provides some actionable tips that will help your transaction proceed more smoothly. In addition, Bill explains the importance of knowing the tenancy rules and also establishing a rental game plan. This topic is rarely talked about, so make sure not to miss Bill’s article!

The above recaps and articles are just a teaser of what to expect on Google Plus, especially within the Real Estate Communities. If you haven’t started using Google Plus, don’t wait any longer and you won’t have to miss out on other great articles!

Previous Google Plus Real Estate Reviews

Best Google+ real estate articles September 2014
Best Google+ real estate articles August 2014
Best Google+ real estate articles June- July 2014

Do you enjoy the Google+ real estate article reviews? Take a look at all of the above links where you will see additional real estate articles that have been highlighted from previous months on Google Plus!

Kyle Hiscock is a top producing Webster, NY real estate agent with Nothnagle Realtors, based out of Rochester, NY. He has helped hundreds of buyers and sellers move in and out of the Greater Rochester, NY area. In addition to his vast real estate knowledge, Kyle is very active on many different social media websites! Connect with Kyle on Google+.

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7 Mistakes First Time Home Buyers Make

First Time Home buyers Mistakes

First Time Home Buyer MistakesRight now, the US housing market has yet to fully recover from its peak in 2006. Yes, things are healing quite nicely in many markets with some decent price appreciation, but the costs of buying a home are still very affordable. Between low home prices and favorable interest rates, this is a great time for first time home buyers to get into the real estate game.

But, becoming a first time home buyer can be a daunting decision. These are just so many complexities that jumping in at the wrong time might not be the best decision. Instead, it’s much wiser to be prepared for the ups and downs of home buying.

Getting into the market when you are certain it’s the right time is one of the best moves your can make as a first time home owner. When the time is right here are seven common mistakes made by first time home buyers that should be avoided at all costs.

Not Getting The Right Real Estate Agent

When you set out to buy your first home one of the top priorities should be finding a Realtor you are comfortable working with. The agent should have some experience and be competent enough to answer questions pertaining to buying and selling homes. Never under estimate the important of having a good agent. Just like any other business this really matters. You wouldn’t just hire any doctor to operate on you would you? Buying a home is a very large investment. You want to have someone in your corner that is a real pro! Here is a neat info-graphic that summarizes the importance of a real estate agent. You will realize this is great advice the moment you pick any ole real estate agent to work with you and find yourself in a tough spot where a great agent would be welcome.

Not Considering Renting May be Better Decision

Home ownership has long since been the American Dream. But, that same dream had thousands of homeowners facing foreclosure just a few years ago. So, be wise. Weigh your options. If the costs of owning a home are unaffordable or not feasible for you at this time, continue renting until you’re ready.

If you are going to make the leap into home ownership you want to be aware that you costs are not just principle, taxes and insurance but also the day to day expenses of owning a home. Buyers should always have emergency funds available for those occasions where financial difficulties arrive. As Kyle Hiscock, a New York Realtor points out in his first time home buyer advice, understanding your complete financial picture is an important element before jumping in and looking at properties. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be a fiscally irresponsible home buyer. Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime.

Not Prepared for All-Cash Competitors

In expensive, competitive markets, such as the San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles and New York City areas, all-cash offers are very common. That’s because they almost guarantee potential buyers’ winning bids. As a first time home buyer, be prepared for this competition by being well educated on the current market. Above all else make sure you have your finances in order. Make getting a pre-approval letter from a lender one of your top priorities.

Not Taking DTI Seriously

DTI stands for debt-to-income ratio. It’s one of the very first things your lender will investigate when assessing your mortgage borrowing power. So, if you’re planning to buy a home in the near future, do not pick up any new debts, especially unaffordable ones. Many buyers have made the mistake of going out and finding their dream home while also deciding to purchase a car. When the lender finds out you have done this you could be facing the fact you might not get the loan. So be smart with your finances when purchasing a home.

Not Working with Lenders in Person

Starting your search for mortgage information online is okay. But, this should not be your last stop when shopping for mortgages. You need to personally work with a lender in order to get a full line of mortgage options, such as FHA loans and VA loans, as well as any local first time buyers programs that may exist. Do your home work on choosing a lender to work with. Not every lender has the same rates or even the same loan programs. Ask around with family, friends and your Realtor on who they would recommend to work with for financing.

Not Getting a Home Inspection

Finding the “perfect” home can be very exciting. But, don’t get too carried away. You still need to protect yourself by investing wisely. Oftentimes, first time home buyers try to cut costs by skipping the home inspection. Having a home inspection is for your own protection. There are lots of qualified home inspectors that a Realtor can recommend that will look for defects in the property. Not having the home inspected by a professional could result in thousands of dollars worth of defect damages later on down the line. This could easily become a first time buyer’s nightmare, just to save around $500. Here are some examples of  home inspections problems that would be real problematic to deal with after purchasing a home. Not only could they be expensive to remedy but also affect your health and well being.

Skipping home inspections has become quite common in areas where the market is booming as buyers are doing everything they can to win some of the crazy bidding wars that are taking place. Unless you are 100 percent certain there are no major defects in the property, skipping a home inspection is a big mistake!

Not Leaving Negative Emotions at the Door

The current market trends are leading to sellers receiving multiple offers on their homes. Not all of them allow the highest bid to make the final decision. Oftentimes, sellers will choose the buyer who seems to have the most love for the property. Smart buyers are even using emotion as a tool to win over the seller. Hand written letters are delivered by the buyers agent explaining how much the buyer loves the property and the years of enjoyment they can see ahead with their family. Buyers who come in complaining, adding unreasonable terms into an offer and having a generally negative attitude tend to get passed over. When buyers do this they make it easy for a seller to choose the best real estate offer for them!

Not Understanding How Home Value Appreciation Works

Many first time home buyers invest their entire life’s savings into buying a home. These buyers hope to make a hefty profit on the property’s appreciation within just a few years. But, a home is not a very liquid investment. It will take time to appreciate. So, be sure you’re investing for the long haul as a first time buyer. If the last ten years is any indicator you should be buying a home for the use and enjoyment. A place of shelter for you and your family. Not your ticket to paradise and ultimate wealth. More than likely those days are gone for a while.

Other Excellent First Time Home Buyer Articles

Use these additional resources to make sound decisions when buying your first home. Research and education provides a great way to go in with your eyes wide open when purchasing your first home.

The best first time home buyer tips come courtesy of Jackson Cooper who is an agent with Jensen and Company. You can visit their website at JensenAndCompany.com for all of your Park City Real Estate needs. Jackson loves working with first time home buyers and would love to share his expertise.

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Google Plus Real Estate Articles

Best Google Plus Real Estate ArticlesIt’s that time again, time for a roundup of the best Google Plus articles of the month. You will find some great real estate content from the Real Estate Community on Google Plus for the month of September. It’s all right here.

If you are a real estate professional and you are not currently networking with other professionals on Google Plus, you are missing out. I network with professionals on many social platforms and Google Plus is my favorite, by far. Great discussions happen every day in this community and the original content from other real estate professionals is second to none. This group will inspire and encourage you as a real estate professional.

Let’s start off with a great article from Lynn Pineda entitled 41 Home Selling Mistakes That Prevent You From Having Success.

This is an extensive list covering every aspect of selling real estate. If you have every had your home stuck on the market waiting months for an offer, then you know the agonizing tension that haunts the home seller in this position. The bottom-line is that there are always recognizable problems that keep a home from selling. Lynn’s comprehensive list of problems can help any home seller who is wondering why their house hasn’t sold, and also offers some top level advice for other Realtors who may have a house on the market that won’t sell.

Continuing the discussion on home selling, Bill Gassett discusses some timely advice in his article entitled fall home selling tips. Selling a home this fall? This is one you won’t want to miss.

Seasonal home selling tips can be great for those looking to put their house on the market, or those who have had their house stuck on the market and need a new perspective. In Bill’s article, he discuses tips such as the importance of keeping your yard clean of fall leaves, decorating for the fall, and many other timeless tips to increase your potential success in selling your home in the fall. These tips are great for real estate professionals as well. Take advantage this seasonally relevant advice and learn some new fall selling tactics to implement into your home selling tool kit. Bill advice is always right on track and very valuable.

Our next article covers a topic that is relevant to both home buyers and sellers alike. Kyle Hiscock’s article entitled “Are Home Warranties for a Buyer Worth It?” covers some great points on this common selling tactic.

Home sellers are often coached by their Realtor that offering a home warranty can help sell their house faster. Whether a home warranty is really worth it to a buyer has been a topic of debate in the real estate community for some time. Kyle does a nice job of laying out the pros and cons and really hammers home that a home warranty can definitely be beneficial to home buyers. Seasoned agents know the value of offering a home warranty to home buyers and Kyle’s perspective on this topic makes it easy to understand why home sellers should seriously consider offering a home warranty to buyers when listing their home for sale. This article is easy to follow and a must read for real estate professionals who are on the fence about home warranties.

In our next two articles, we’ll be discussing real estate investments. First, Debbie Drummond wrote an excellent article for investors entitled “Is the time right to Invest in residential Real Estate?”

Debbie does a great job discussing the up and down cycle of the real estate market to help gauge how an investor should react. She explains the difference between the Florida real estate market today in comparison to Las Vegas market. She makes a great case for Las Vegas being a prime investment market and how you can leverage this current market to do very well with your real estate dollars. Debbie’s in-depth analysis of the Las Vegas real estate market is valuable and well laid out. Definitely a must read for real estate investors in Las Vegas, or any market for that matter.

Continuing our discussion on real estate investments, Seth Williams discusses more market timing details in his article entitled “What Investors Needs To Know About Choosing The Right Real Estate Market

Seth illustrates the importance of identifying markets that are easy to work in, compared to others. Choosing an area that allows for easy access to county records is important. Communicating with the county office and obtaining good local mailing lists make some areas easier to deal with than others. Seth also talks about the value of working in an area that has a solid government structure, which makes real estate investing more desirable. The accessibility of the County Treasurer and the Assessors fees can real make a difference when dealing with local investment properties. Seth makes a strong case and helps direct investors to research and compare areas. His advice is timely and well laid out. Anyone who is currently investing in real estate, or has future plans to do so would benefit greatly from this article.

Our final blog entry comes from myself and is entitled “First Time Buyer Tips: Buying a First House”.

In this article, I break down the process of buying a home into an easy to read visual guide (infographic) and then elaborate in more details through the text. Buying your first home can be extremely intimidating. I spent a lot of time trying to simplify the process for first time home buyers and make it as easy to follow as possible, while still making sure to not leave any steps out. If you’re looking to buy your first house and you are wondering how it works, this is a great article to help you feel more comfortable with the home buying process. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Previous Google Plus Real Estate Reviews

Take a look at these Google Plus articles from previous months.

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Flood Insurance: Do You Need it

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

If you have ever lived through a flood you know first-hand how devastating they can be. Not only can they destroy a home and its belongings but in the ensuing aftermath they can bring about mold, bacteria, and unsafe living conditions. It is not surprising they are the most common natural disaster in the world, accounting for billions of dollars in damage and countless claims each year.

Some of the more common reasons for flooding are:Why is Flood Insurance Important

  • Dams/levees
  • Flash floods
  • Heavy rains
  • Ice jams
  • Mud slides
  • New/under developed areas
  • Snow melt
  • Tropical storms

Flood Tips You May Not Know

A common misconception is that if you do not live near a body of water you are not at risk of flooding. The truth is every home is at risk of being flooded! An overflowing dam, a broken sewer line, an unkempt or overwhelmed drainage system, or even a major storm can cause flooding. It can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone with devastating results.

Another misleading thought is that the Government will step in and bail you out. Think again. Unless your area is a federally declared disaster area (i.e. New Orleans and surrounding coastal towns after Hurricane Katrina hit or nearly the entire eastern seaboard after Hurricane Sandy), you could find yourself without federal, state, or often even local assistance. If you are in an area that does receive assistance, it is important to note you will have to pay back (with interest) whatever amount you receive. This assistance is not meant to compensate you for your losses, but rather, it is given out as a low interest loan to assist you with critical expenses incurred as you start the process of getting things back in order.

Most alarming is that many homeowners believe that when a flood disaster occurs, their home insurance will pay for the damages. That misnomer is quickly replaced with panic as they check with their insurance company and find their insurance policy does not cover for floods. A typical home insurance policy will cover damages in case of a fire, robbery, and other incidents, but will not include flood related damages, meaning homeowners must take care of their flood losses from their own pocket. All the more reason to make sure you have a flood insurance policy on your home.

What is Flood Insurance and Why Do You Need It?

Be Prepared For a FloodAs you would expect, flood insurance takes care of damages relating to flood and is the first and most important step to take if you want to protect yourself from a flood disaster. What you need to know about flood insurance is something every homeowner should consider! The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) a program directed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is the leading provider of flood insurance policies to protect homeowners from flood related losses.  Here are 3 reasons you need to consider getting flood insurance:

The primary reason is because you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) that requires a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. In an SFHA, where it is likely flooding will occur while you own your home, flood insurance is mandatory. This could include oceanfront or near-ocean properties or living next to a major body of water like a big river, lake, or creek. For some of these areas, heavy rainfall can cause the body of water to swell over the banks, flooding houses and destroying properties. For others, the potential of large waves or tropical storms puts them in the highest risk category. While the allure of living near water has its advantages, there is an inherent flooding risk that consumers need to be aware of and understand.

A second reason you should consider getting flood insurance is because you live in a community that benefit’s from the NFIP. The benefit is receiving flood insurance that is backed by the government. Whether you reside in a SFHA or low risk area, as your community benefits from the program, and nearly 21K communities do, it is hoped that all the residents will take advantage of the program. There are no fees to live in an NFIP community but each area is required to have a flood plain management ordinance, enforced by a local official. The official ensures the flood plain is periodically inspected and that no violations of the ordinance occur. If your community is not NFIP supported, then you would have to look for a federally supported private insurance company that offers flood insurance.

Third, although they are not the most dangerous natural disaster in the world, floods are the most common, causing incredible amounts of damage around the globe every year. According to Floodsmart.gov, the cost of flooding goes up exponentially with each inch of water in a home. For example, one inch of standing water can cause nearly $21,000 worth of damage while one foot of water puts the damage over $52,000. While these are only estimates, it is clear that any amount of flooding can have serious consequences for every homeowner and property affected.

How Flood Insurance Works

When you pay for flood insurance, and your insurance policy is handed out to you, it takes a whole month (thirty days from the issued date) to take effect. So if you decide to wait until the storms come a calling before getting a policy, you will definitely be paying for your losses yourself. If you have not gotten your flood insurance policy yet, it is advisable to seriously consider it before a calamity occurs.

Your flood insurance policy is dependent on how much coverage you are willing to buy. You could decide to cover both your home (the building) and the contents of your house, with the maximum limits of flood coverage for your house of $250,000 and the contents of your home with a ceiling of $100,000. The flood insurance policy pays for the estimated value of the damaged property, or the total cost of replacing your property up to the coverage limit.

In addition, the cost of flood insurance may vary depending on the flood zone you live in. High risk zones usually pay a higher sum compared to the medium and low risk zones. The FEMA maps out the flood risk zones, and it is advisable to check out your address on FEMA’s flood risk zones chart to find out what zone your locality falls under.

If your community has taken preemptive measures to reduce flood risks, you get as much as 45 percent off on flood insurance costs. You should meet with your insurance agent to find out what coverage and cost would be suitable for you, or you could decide to use the website calculator on the NFIP site to have an idea of the cost and the benefit.

Flood Insurance Advice

Like any other insurance policy, obtaining flood insurance should definitely put your mind at rest, especially with the unpredictability of floods and flooding occurring at a moment’s notice. As a reminder, it takes 30 days for your policy to take effect, so if you do not currently have flood insurance, it would be of great benefit to get a policy immediately.

If you think you are safe because you live in a low risk area, think again. A report from FEMA says that twenty five percent of all flood insurance claims since 1978 has been from low risk zones. Every homeowner is potentially at risk, regardless where you live!

Unless it is mandated to have flood insurance, many will roll the dice and opt to save those extra funds for something else. Depending on your tolerance for risk and where you live, that may be a bad gamble. For most, the results of a flood would be devastating, and the ensuing financial burden crippling…all it takes is better planning to give you peace of mind and security knowing your home is covered. Why risk it!

Other Useful Flood Insurance Information

Use these additional resources to understand all you need to know about flood insurance.

Anita Clark RealtorThis article was written by Georgia real estate professional, Anita Clark. Anita works at Coldwell Banker SSK Realtors in Warner Robins, GA. 478-960-8055

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Google Plus For Real Estate

Google Plus Real Estate Articles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What better place to find a wealth of useful Real Estate articles than on Google+. On Google+ you’ll find some of the best Real Estate professionals located in states nationwide. What do you do when you come across a Real Estate article that really stands out? In other words, the headline grabs you, or its on a topic that you’ve been dying to learn more about or what about those eye popping images? You’ll likely head back again and again to the spot where you’ve found these type of articles; welcome to Google+ where these amazing articles are found.You’ll also find one of the best Real Estate Communities is also on Google+ so be sure to check it out too.

Bill Gassett has been publishing monthly lists highlighting some of the best articles each month and he asked for my help in gathering up the list to feature here. You’ll discover modern, non-boring Real Estate articles below that you’ll be able to sink your teeth into to discover some great finds. Read them now, or bookmark, or pin for reading later. And be sure to share them and not hoard them all to yourselves!

Our first article highlighted is: Top Five Mistakes When Selling Your Home.

There are certain situations during the home selling experience that can and should be avoided at all costs. Here, Andrew Fortune goes over 5 mistakes to avoid when selling your home.

He touches on how pricing your home wrong can be downright scary to a Buyer; you’ll see a Buyer’s reaction to an overpriced home too! In addition, Andrew’s article goes over what can happen when you hire the wrong Real Estate Agent. This can have very adverse consequences and you’ll be advised on how to avoid this experience.

Keep on reading here to discover the entire article: “Top five mistakes when selling a home

A compilation of great Real Estate articles wouldn’t be complete without including one from Bill Gassett. Here Bill’s article is: What Appraisers Look At During A Real Estate Appraisal.

A Real Estate Appraisal is a simple part of the home selling and home buying process. Being in the know when it comes to appraisals can get you on the path that leads to a successful Real Estate closing. Here Bill tells you what you can do to make the most of your home’s appraisal, what will affect an appraisal and how to prepare for an appraisal from the inside to outside. He also covers how a Appraiser calculates your home’s value, appraisal myths, what happens when you need to challenge a low appraisal and a whole lot more.

Keep on reading here to discover the entire article: “How to challenge a low real estate appraisal”. As Realtors being involved in a low appraisal is never fun because we are usually in the middle trying to solve a problem one way or the other for one of our clients.

This next featured article by Seth Williams is pretty cool as it talks about cool inventions to be used in Real Estate. This article is: 20 Cool New Inventions for the Modern Day Real Estate Investor.

Who doesn’t like cool inventions? Especially when it can make our jobs and lives easier! This is an incredible list and you’ll be happy to now you can get these inventions now, as their not only available to George Jetson. You remember, George Jetson, right … from The Jetsons of futuristic 2062. If you’re scratching your head wondering, probably you’re too young as it ran in prime time series between 1962-1963 and then new episodes ran from 1984-1987. You can still see re-runs today. Anyhow, look at the list for George Jetson-like inventions!

Here Seth talks about the crazy looking Ball Chair, the under desk hammock that I have got to get, or how about an IPhone Stun gun case? These are just a few of the really cool items you’ll discover in Seth’s list.
Keep on reading here to discover the entire article: “ Inventions for the Modern Day Real Estate Investor”. The article is a fun way to look at the real estate business.

Top Google+ Real Estate ArticlesIn this last article, I talk about sweeping a Buyer off their feet, you’ll find sure-fire ways to sweep a Buyer off their feet to get a home sold. This answers the frequently asked Real Estate question of “How to attract Buyers when selling your home”. This article is: How can we Sweep a Buyer off their Feet?

Told in not a typical manner but rather in the form of a story; the story of Olivia and Jacob selling their home. Topics will be discussed that include; pricing a home right, how to make a home pop with excitement to blasting the home across the internet and more! You’ll hear how you can sell a home within 9 days.

Keep on reading here to discover the entire article: “How can we sweep our real estate clients off their feet“. As real estate agents we should always be looking to go above and beyond for our clients. The article shares how this can be done fairly easily!

The next article is by Kyle Hiscock who brings to the table his article My home expired, Why and now what should I do. Kyle explains why some homeowners are not successful selling their homes and what can be done to correct the mistakes they have made. The vast majority of sellers who run into home sale failure have a few common denominators which are pricing their home incorrectly and believing that all real estate agents do the same things to sell homes.   For some reason many who are selling their home believe that all Realtors are alike. This lesson is often times learned the hard way when the owner is unsuccessful and have to turn to someone who is a real pro.

In this next article, the dreaded low ball offer that we see all too frequently is discussed.  Here Debbie Drummond’s article is about Low Ball Offers in Real Estate – Do They Ever Work? From what should Buyers do in their low ball offer they present to how should Sellers respond to a Buyer’s low ball offer, Debbie provides solid advice enabling you to put your emotions aside to get the ultimate scenario you desire.

You’ll find that quite often low ball offers can be avoided simply by pricing a home right at the onset, which would discourage the need by Buyers to present a low ball offer as the home being sold is seen as being priced fairly.  By no means, will this always do the trick as some just like to try and get something for nothing. It’s how it’s handled that can make all the difference as Debbie points out.

Continue your reading here to Debbie’s complete article: Low Ball Offers in Real Estate sales – Do they work?

In the last article to round out the lot here is Seth Price’s article on 7 Keys to Local SEO for Real Estate Marketing. If you’re able to grasp SEO for your local Real Estate business, you’ll be reaching your target audience. Seth provides incredible recommendations to do just that.
Seth offers up tips on how to do it, provides examples of who’s doing it, how to create headlines and that incredible content to attract an audience.

Seth also reminds us about good, quality reviews. Customer reviews are powerful and likely can draw in many a new customer when you’ve proven to be great at what you do, selling homes. There’s so much more to learn in this article by Seth.

Keep on reading here to discover the entire article: “7 Keys to Local SEO Real Estate Marketing”. If you are a real estate agent or anyone who runs a small business for that matter, this is a great article to take your online visibility to another level.

Previous Google Plus Real Estate Reviews

Lynn PinedaThe following Google Plus real estate review was written by Lynn Pineda, a licensed Southeast Florida Real Estate agent for 9 years currently at Keller Williams Coral Springs Realty.

 

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Home Sellers: Expect More From Your Realtor

Home Sellers Should Expect More From RealtorsAfter 27 years of selling real estate, I’ve come to notice the gap in professionalism in the real estate industry. I see agents who are doing a stellar job, rising above and beyond in their efforts to bring their clients the very best in the industry. I also see agents who do the bare minimum required to sell a home. The sad truth is that many unsuspecting home sellers don’t know the difference.

I’ve written extensively on the issues surrounding the sale of your home, and have taken a strong stand on the need for an experienced, capable real estate agent to market your home. I know there are some other excellent Realtors who feel exactly as I do so I’ve asked my social media friend and fellow real estate blogger, Karen Highland, of The Highland Group – Frederick Maryland, to share her thoughts on what sellers can and should expect from a real estate agent if they desire excellence in service and marketing.

Karen and Chris Highland have been helping buyers and sellers for 22 years, and feel passionately about offering the very best in real estate marketing and services to their clients in central Maryland. All you need to do is check out their real estate marketing videos and photography to know they practice what they preach! Along with leading their team, Chris is the residential sales manager at his brokerage and mentors newer agents. Karen trains and coaches in internet marketing, and writes for their blog, Frederick Real Estate Online. Chris and Karen always have something to say, and fortunately for me, they have agreed to share some of their passion with us. Take it away guys!

Are You Settling for Less from Your Real Estate Agent?

“Bill Gassett has been so gracious to ask me to lend my insights through a guest post on his real estate blog. This post is my version of what I know his readers have often heard from him: Home Sellers: You Can, And Should Expect More from your real estate agent!

It’s time to expect more from a listing agent. The process of buying and selling homes has only gotten more complicated in the recent decade. With the increase in disclosures and legally necessary paperwork, and the added tasks of internet marketing, to the increase in complexity in the process, the bar has been raised a number of times. Is your listing agent up to the task? There is one simple question to ask yourself as you choose a real estate agent to market your home:

Is the Realtor Able to Handle the Complexities of Today’s Real Estate Sale?

I remember when the pages in a contract to purchase a home could be counted on both hands. Yes, I’m certainly dating myself! The last contract I had in both hands was far heavier and had upward of 60 pages, with all the disclosures and addendum’s. To say that the process has become complex is an understatement.

Technical Complexities

Today’s Realtor has to be more than just proficient in the process and the language of the contract; they need to be replete with experience and technical expertise. They need to have a holistic view of where we are in the local real estate market, and where we’ve come from. They need to have a view of other aspects of the real estate industry in the same way…what is happening and why. As we have seen changes in the industry, our understanding of the issues has deepened. Having that background knowledge is an invaluable for a real estate agent.

An example of depth of knowledge:

Realtor Does Not Know Short SalesWe recently got a call from a homeowner who, with his wife, has been looking for a home for two years and were emotionally exhausted from their efforts with two different real estate agents. They put an offer on a short sale and waited 9 months to find out that their offer was not accepted. We were astonished to hear their story because that should have never happened. If their agent had known anything about short sales, they would have known that a bank would never approve an offer with a house to sell contingency.

Some observations:

• An agent may not want to specialize in short sales and go through the training and hard work of learning the process, but they still need to have a basic understanding of the issues surrounding a short sale. If they represent a buyer in a purchase, they are not doing them any favors by not having a depth of knowledge about all the aspects of real estate.

• As with short sales, there are many changes in the real estate industry that have impacted the way we buy and sell. A real estate agent need not specialize in everything, but they need to have a holistic understanding to help buyers and sellers with whatever they may possibly encounter.

• On the flip side, just because an agent specializes, doesn’t mean that they don’t need to know enough about all other aspects to help their clients.

You should expect your listing agent to have that experience and know-how, or at least have resources to draw upon for it.

Transaction Complexities

After vetting the best offer, there are many moving parts to the sale of a home. The success of the transaction depends largely on the skill of the listing agent to negotiate, handle inspections, follow-up, and see the deal through to the closing. Many sellers are quick to realize that the listing agent really earns their pay during the time from contract to close. This is the time when experience and local know-how are most valuable.

What does all this mean to you as a seller? You should expect your listing agent to have that experience and know-how.

An example of depth of knowledge:

Our single-family listing in a desired neighborhood sold in 3 days with 2 offers. At the home inspection, a crack in the foundation brought up a concern. Our seller had purchased the home 10 years earlier as a new home, and in the first year, the settling of the home resulted in a crack. The builder sent an engineer to study the crack and determined it was not of consequence.

The buyers, however, in a state of panic, asked for a $5,000 repair in the home inspection response, at the encouragement of their (inexperienced) agent. We brought in an engineer for a small fee and he gave us his opinion that the crack was still just the result of the initial settling, and was still of no consequence. With his expert opinion, we were able to calm down the entire situation. We all settled happily.
My thoughts on this experience are:

• We’ve seen dozens of, maybe more, foundation cracks. There are inconsequential cracks that result from the home settling, and there are serious cracks that warrant foundation work. Every crack, or every problem, should not elicit panic from the agent. When real estate agents encourage panic-driven actions at the first sign of any problem, it never helps the situation. It actually minimizes truly serious problems that sometimes occur, by turning every problem into something serious. An experienced negotiator will approach problems with an appropriate solution, not with drama. Every real estate agent should have a basic understanding of major home inspection issues so when they surface they are better equipped to handle the negotiations. This is what our clients expect from us. Our purpose isn’t to collect offers and wait to pass go like Monopoly!

• Approaching problems with a “scorched earth” policy blows them out of proportion, and makes their resolution that much more difficult. To address a problem with the request of an expert opinion is usually much better than asking for an exorbitant dollar amount for a fix… a fix to something that is not yet even clearly defined. An experienced negotiator will move toward further understanding and clarity, resulting in real workable solutions. The problems become hurdles rather than road blocks.

• Creating drama, panic, or adversarial conditions does NOT equal the duty to advocate for your client. An experienced and professional agent will not create drama. Rather, they will look for clarity and solutions.

Complexities in Lending

Karen Highland Real Estate AgentIn recent years, we’ve seen upheaval in the financing industry. Getting a mortgage is often a process that takes planning and strategy, as there are many types of loan products and more scrutiny involved.

What does all this mean to you as a seller? A listing agent does much more than market a home. They vet offers, and in that process, they must have an in-depth knowledge of all of the possibilities that each offer presents. This includes the credibility of the buyer’s financing, the potential of all contingencies presented, and the ramifications of inspections and their outcomes. The nuances of a transaction can be many. You should expect your listing agent to have that experience and know-how.

An example of depth of knowledge:

Our seller’s received two offers on their home. One of the buyers was using a loan program which had a down-payment matching feature for county workers. After a quick perusal of the pre-approval letter, Chris remembered that the program was for county workers, but not for school teachers, like this particular buyer. Without the matching funds, they were not able to come up with the down-payment. The lender should have known, but we didn’t know that lender, and we know better than to assume. We encouraged our sellers to accept the other offer, resulting in a successful settlement, without the wasted time and heartache of watching the first contract fall through.

There are many moving parts to a real estate transaction. The nuances of all of these parts are learned over years of real estate sales. The industry changes have meaning to the way a listing agent guides their sellers through the transaction to the best settlement possible. Make sure you choose an agent with a depth of experience.

How Do You Know?

Home sellers, you can and should expect more. When you are considering a listing agent, ask them to tell you their stories. Listen for depth of understanding, even if you don’t understand all of the issues yourself. After all, you should expect the very best when you are selling your home, probably your biggest financial investment.These are just a few quick examples – there are many more!

Choosing a great real estate agent is not about picking the one that gives you an unrealistic market value or that whispers in your ear they will have your home sold in 5 days because they are #1 at everything they do. Pick an agent that has your interests at heart and the knowledge behind them to represent your interests every step of the way throughout the transaction.

This is the kind of real estate agent you will be smiling at across the closing table!

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Mortgage Loan Programs Reviewed

Navigating the Alphabet Soup of Mortgage Lending

Mortgage Loan Programs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many home buyers are overwhelmed by the alphabet soup they encounter when shopping for the right mortgage. Lenders throw out acronyms like FHA, conventional, VA and USDA, but most consumers don’t know the ins and outs of each loan type, or which one is best for them. Knowing about these home loan programs gets buyers better rates and lower payments!

It is not necessary however to know every detail of every loan type. You just need to know enough to choose the best long-term option for your situation. Here’s a short run-down below on each mortgage loan program to help you do just that. You can also find a ton of information on every question you may have regarding mortgage loans by following the link to this excellent resource. There is an amazing amount of mortgage information to absorb.

FHA Loans. These loans are named as such because the Federal Housing Administration oversees and backs them. This government backing allows lenders to issue loans at less stringent qualification standards.

For example, FHA loans only require 3.5% down, much less than the 5% to 20% down required for conventional loans. And, that entire amount can come for an eligible gift source, such as a family member or non-profit organization.

Also, lenders allow a lower minimum credit score to qualify, usually between 600 and 640. Borrowers with lower income qualify easier, since FHA allows borrowers to have a higher payment compared to their income.

As a trade-off for lenient guidelines, FHA loans do come with higher fees. Monthly mortgage insurance fees are $112 per month for every $100,000 borrowed, payable for the life of the loan. In addition, there’s an upfront fee of 1.75% of the loan amount.

The good news is that FHA loan rates are typically about one-half percent lower than are available for standard loans. This compensates for at least some of the extra fees. All told, FHA is a great program for many first time and repeat buyers.
Bottom Line:

FHA loans are great for home buyers with

• Dings on their credit report.
• Less money saved for a down payment.
• Higher home payment compared to income.

USDA Loans. This is a little-know loan program with big benefits. The USDA home loan is a zero-down loan program for buyers in rural and suburban areas. The loan is backed by the United States Department of Agriculture, whose goal it is to develop less urban areas by offering affordable mortgages.

The USDA loan helps buyers who are looking for homes in certain geographical areas. These loans are not farm loans or loans with big properties. The USDA loan is available to purchase just about any single-family home within certain geographical areas.

USDA-eligible areas are vast, encompassing about 97% of U.S. land mass and the 109 million people who live there. It’s worth checking USDA’s eligibility map to see if you can buy with a USDA home loan, even if you think your area is fairly suburban.

Upfront and monthly fees for USDA loans are lower than those of FHA loans. And USDA rates are comparable with FHA rates. Most borrowers end up with lower upfront and monthly costs by choosing USDA over FHA.

Bottom line:

USDA loans are a great choice because

• There’s no down payment required.
• Borrowers with a credit score of 620 and below can qualify.
• Most mortgage companies and banks across the country offer USDA loans.
• USDA loans require lower overall costs than FHA.

VA Loans. This mortgage takes the cake as far as benefits to the borrower. A VA home loan requires zero down and no monthly mortgage insurance. VA loan rates are extremely low. Many VA home buyers pay less each month for their own home than they did to rent.

All these benefits are provided by the Veterans Administration. The VA backs these loans which leads to lower risk for the lender, and lower cost for the borrower.

VA home loans are offered to those with current or former military service. Typically veterans must have served at least 90 days in the military, or up to two years, depending on their dates of service. For eligible veterans, the VA home loan yields a lower payment than any other low-down payment option.

Bottom line:

Borrowers with military experience enjoy

• Credit scores minimums down to 620
• No mortgage insurance
• Zero down payment
• Lower monthly payments compared to other low down payment loan options.

Conventional Loans. While no acronyms are required for conventional loans, they are worth including in this overview since they represent 60% of all loans. These loans are approved based on guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Credit and income requirements are little tougher on conventional loans, but borrowers who qualify enjoy lower overall costs. There are no upfront fees and mortgage insurance costs are often hundreds of dollars per month lower than with FHA. No mortgage insurance is required at all with a 20% down payment.

Conventional loans are best for applicants with 660+ credit scores although those with 720 or higher will get the best rates. A conventional loan can be approved with a sub-660 credit score, but borrowers will receive a higher rate.

Bottom Line:

Conventional loans work best for home buyers

• With a medium-to-high credit score (660-740+).
• With at least 5% down.
• Who want to buy in an urban area
• Who want to avoid high FHA upfront and monthly fees.

Shopping for a mortgage can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know just a little about the different home finance options you will relieve a lot of stress and make the best decision. Make sure when you are ready to buy a home you get pre-approved for a mortgage. It is important to understand there is a difference between getting pre-approved and pre-qualified for a mortgage. Any good real estate agent representing a homeowner will want to know a buyer has been pre-approved to protect their clients interests. Most pre-qualification letters do not verify a borrowers credit, employment or income. This is not the case with a pre-approval making the two documents night and day from one another.

And don’t think it’s the end of the world if you’re not quite qualified for your ideal loan option. The important thing is that you meet your goal of home ownership. Most buyers refinance into a better loan within a few years anyway. Get into your home, and the rest will fall in place at the right time. Hopefully you now have a better understanding of all the mortgage loan programs available when purchasing a home!

Tim LucasTim Lucas (NMLS 118763) is editor of MyMortgageInsider.com. He has been helping mortgage consumers purchase and refinance their homes for over 12 years. Visit Tim on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Protect Your Home From Storms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Severe summer weather, such as hail, thunder, and heavy rain, can result in a great deal of damage to your home and other property. There are many steps that homeowners can take to protect themselves from the flooding and power outages that can result from severe weather events, so prepare ahead of time so that you’re not caught off guard. In this article, we’ll be looking at some of the most effective actions you can take to safeguard your home and property from dangerous and destructive summer storms.

Steps to Take Before a Storm

Typically you will receive warning at least a few days before a major storm arrives. This window of time gives you a chance to make the necessary preparations. Keep in mind that weather forecasts are never perfect; it’s better to prepare for a storm that never arrives, or that turns out to be weaker than anticipated, than not to be ready at all. Keep reading to learn a few things you can do when a major storm is ahead in the forecast.

• Thoroughly inspect your home and make sure you have done everything you can to secure it. This includes the items in your backyard and on your porch as well as indoors. Bring items such as trash cans, toys, lawn or patio furniture or any lightweight items that could become airborne indoors so they cannot blow away or become projectiles. If you have a swimming pool, make sure it’s securely covered.

• If you don’t have storm shutters on your windows, installing these can be an added layer of protection for your home. Another option is to upgrade your windows to a shatterproof material. These steps will help insulate your home during cold weather and protect it during storm season.

• If you have trees with loose branches, this is a good time to give them a trimming. You should also inspect your roof and make sure all of the shingles are secure. Your drains and gutters should be clear so they are able to do their job if there’s a heavy downpour.

• It’s always sensible to stock up on essentials when a severe storm is headed your way. This includes canned food, bottled water and toiletries. It never hurts to have extra supplies in your home even if you end up not needing them right away.

Dealing with Power Outages

Power outages are common during storms. This is something you should be prepared for. One of the best ways to be ready for a power outage is to have a backup generator. You can choose one that is sized appropriately for your needs. This can ensure that your home’s pumps, heating systems and any security systems keep working. A generator can prevent many problems associated with storms, such as flooding and food spoilage.

Whether you have a backup generator or not, you should also have some low tech solutions available in case of a power outage. This includes several heavy duty flashlights with plenty of batteries. Candles are also useful for keeping your home lit when the lights go out.

Preventing Floods

One of the most potentially destructive aspects of severe storms is the flooding they can cause. In terms of threats to both property and your family’s safety, floods are a top concern. Read on to find out a few ways you can protect your home from dangerous and costly water damage.

• Make sure that your gutters divert rain away from your home. If necessary, extend your rain gutters. Gutter should be free of debris. The slope of your yard should not cause water to enter your basement. It may be necessary to consult with a landscaper or other specialist to make adjustments in the direction surface water flows. For example, you may need to upgrade the quality of your soil.

• One of the most common causes of flooding is the failure of sump pumps and other systems in your home. As noted above, a backup generator will keep your sump pump powered and ready to remove water. The next best thing would be to get a battery-operated backup sump pump that will keep working if your main sump pump goes off due to a power outage.

• Fill in any cracks in your basement walls or foundation. Water can enter these cracks and cause flooding. You can seal cracks yourself or call a professional.

• Consider installing a home security system, geared specifically to notice if floodwater has entered your home. Many people hear “alarm” and think fire or burglar protection, but local ADT services in your area, and other flood sensor manufacturers, can install a system that will alert you if water rises even 1/16th of an inch in your home.

• Inspect your sewer or septic system. A clogged sewer or a septic tank that needs cleaning can cause a flood during a storm. Make sure to have your system inspected and maintained regularly.

Have insurance against flooding. While this won’t prevent floods, it will at least ensure that you are protected in case a flood does occur. A typical home insurance policy doesn’t cover floods, so you will probably need an additional policy for this.

Severe storms can unleash their fury any time of year, but they are especially common in spring and summer seasons. Keep track of the weather forecast in your area, and plan ahead. If you live in an area where storms are common, taking additional precautions might be necessary to ensure your home and your family are safe.

Don’t be caught by surprise. When you’re secure in the knowledge that you’ve done everything you can to prepare, you don’t have to fear Mother Nature. Protect your home by staying ahead of summer storms!

This article comes to Massachusetts real estate news via Beth Kelly who is a freelance writer based in Massachusetts.

 

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Best Google Plus Real Estate Posts June-July 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The internet makes it incredibly easy for information to be found. The problem is much of the information that is found on the internet is junk. Google Plus is one of the best places, if not the best place, to find quality real estate information! Google Plus communities, such as the Real Estate Community owned by Bill Gassett, are loaded with knowledge not only to make all of us better Realtors but to help consumers by providing rich content about buying and selling homes. This is a fantastic reason to encourage anyone who has an interest in real estate to join!

There have been many great articles published since Bill’s Best Google Plus Real Estate Articles May 2014 was published. Bill was actually kind enough to ask me to come over here to his blog to share my opinion on which articles I enjoyed reading the most. Here are several articles from the months of June and July that you should absolutely check out!

The Movement Against Zillow Estimates (“Zestimates”)

Over the past couple month’s there has been many real estate professionals writing about Zillow and other third-party real estate websites. Most of these articles have discussed and proven how inaccurate Zillow and other third-party websites truly are!
The first article, are Zillow estimates accurate by Bill Gassett is an in-depth explanation of the many problems with Zillow and their estimates. He explains the process by which Zillow uses to establish these estimates, explains why the estimates fail so often, and also gives some great reasons why real estate professionals hate Zillow.

Bill’s article was just the beginning to this movement over the past month against Zillow’s estimates. Debbie Drummond, a Las Vegas Real Estate Agent, followed up Bill’s article by giving an in-depth analysis of the effect of Zillows Estimates on the Las Vegas Real Estate Market. In this article she discusses why buyer’s need to take Zillows estimates with a grain of salt, which is absolutely true. During her analysis, she found that only 8 out of the 18 homes sold relatively close to what Zillow estimated these homes were worth. There aren’t many professions out there that allow a less than 50% accuracy!

Debbie’s article was followed by a great article by Andrew Fortune, “3 Reasons Why Local Real Estate Websites Are Better Than National Ones.”  In addition to the excellent infographic, Andrew discusses why consumers need to use local real estate websites, not national ones. Many consumers don’t realize that national real estate websites make money by selling advertising and leads to real estate agents. There are no requirements to be advertised on Zillow and other national real estate websites, other than the willingness to pay!

Andrew’s article was followed up by an article by myself, Zillow’s Home Value Estimates “Zestimates” – Accurate or Not?” . Like Debbie’s analysis of her Las Vegas Real Estate Market, I decided to perform an analysis on my local Rochester NY Real Estate Market. To no one’s surprise, less than 50% of Zillow’s “Zestimates” were relatively close to the 38 homes that were used in this analysis of recently sold Rochester homes.

This article also discussed other important reasons to not trust Zillow and other third-party websites. Third-party real estate websites often have outdated data due to the fact they are not held to any National, State, or Local regulations.
Four excellent articles within a month discussing the inaccuracies of Zillow and other national, third-party real estate websites. Bottom line, they cannot be trusted, and it is important that buyer’s and seller’s remember “LOCAL, LOCAL, LOCAL” when looking for real estate advice and information!

Real Estate & Internet Marketing

I want to make one thing clear, not every real estate agent markets the homes they sell the same, PERIOD! Over the past couple months, there have been a couple excellent articles discussing real estate and internet marketing.

Choose the right Realtor.

Many real estate agents will take a listing, put their sign up in the front yard, enter the listing into the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), and wait for the home to sell! Bill comes up with another gem of an article with his “Is Your Real Estate Agent a Post and Pray Realtor”.  In his post he gives many examples of a how to know you hired a bad real estate agent. These are the Realtors that are notorious for taking bad photographs, writing terrible descriptions of their listings, and don’t know how to market. Before hiring a Realtor, make sure to check out this terrific article on how to pick a Realtor!

Have a real estate blog.

Many real estate agents have discovered the power of having a real estate blog. There is nothing that can brand you better or show off your market expertise than having a blog. Of course if you know a little something about SEO it is even better as your content is likely to be found by consumers doing some kind of online real estate search. Seth Williams a blogger at RE- Tipster put an excellent reference together of some of the best real estate blogs at the current time. In Seth’s overview of some of the leading real estate industry blogs he groups them by collaborative blogs, real estate investing, marketing/technology, real estate economy and local Realtor blogs.

Have a visible internet presence.

The internet plays a huge role in the real estate industry nowadays! Buyers and sellers are beginning to their research online. A real estate agent who doesn’t use social media, doesn’t blog, and doesn’t have a website is stuck in the stone age of real estate! It is necessary and don’t ever let anyone tell you it isn’t! Karen Highland’s Real Estate and Internet Marketing article discusses the secret sauce of internet real estate marketing. Search engine optimization or SEO, is this “secret sauce” that isn’t really secret.

Any Real estate agent who has taken the time to blog regularly with quality content, interact socially, and work on their websites understands what internet marketing is and the impact it has on their business! Check out Karen’s article if you don’t believe that internet marketing is a huge part of the real estate industry, I think you will change your mind afterwards!

How to Buy a Home in a Seller’s Market

Many real estate markets across the country right now are in the midst of an extremely competitive seller’s market! Sellers are being able to “pick and choose” which of the multiple offers they would like to accept. While this is great for sellers, not so great for buyers! The good news is that there are things that can be done to help a buyer succeed in a seller’s market!

First and foremost, a buyer needs to be pre-approved, not pre-qualified! There is a major difference! In the article buying a home in a seller’s market, by Lynn Pineda, she does a marvelous job on explaining what a buyer can do to help themselves succeed with their home purchase. The tips given by Lynn can prevent the heartbreak associated with losing in a multiple offer situation.

These June and July “Best of Google Plus Articles” are just a small taste of what you can expect to find on Google Plus and more specifically, in a Real Estate Community, like the one owned by Bill Gassett! If you haven’t joined, what are you waiting for?

This review of what the Google Plus real estate community has to offer was written by Kyle Hiscock a top Realtor covering the Rochester New York area.

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Top Flooring Choices Examined

Top Flooring Choices When Buying a Home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are looking to sell your home soon (or even a few years down the road), it’s helpful to know what buyers are searching for. I work with many new home buyers, so I see what they are doing before they move in. Trends and preferences may vary based on area of country and construction of home. These preferences are for the Northeast and Mid Atlantic states and focuses on single family homes (as opposed to apartments or rentals). I will start with overall trends, and then go room by room.

By far, the biggest preference is towards hardwood flooring. This should not come as no surprise to anyone, as it is not a new trend. This preference has been growing since the early 1980’s and became the preferred surface in the 1990’s, and it continues to grow year after year.

Realtors will confirm this, as this is often a requirement for the homes that many people look for, and some will screen homes out that don’t have hardwood. In a recent, unscientific survey I did on my site, 95% of consumers prefer hardwood for the common living areas (i.e. living room, dining room, and family room.)

So, if you have hardwood flooring and if it’s hiding underneath your carpet, by all means, rip up the carpet and refinish the hardwood floors. It will instantaneously improve the value of your home, and help it sell faster. If you can’t afford to do all of it, or if it’s too inconvenient, at least start with one room to show buyers what the wood could look like.

Even just removing the carpet to show the hardwood floors is a big step in the right direction. Many are pleasantly surprised by the relatively low cost of refinishing hardwood, so it’s usually an investment that gets a strong ROI (return on investment). And, it will help sell your house faster. Take a look as we examine what types of flooring home buyer’s prefer the most!

Room By Room Flooring Preferences

Dark Hardwood FlooringLiving room/dining room/family room – areas on the main level – By far, the preference here is for hardwood. No other surface even comes close. If you have hardwood in these areas, show it off. If you don’t have hardwood in the living room/dining room, I would strongly consider adding it. You will get your return on investment (assuming you have a plywood sub-floor…if you have concrete sub-floor it will be more expensive). Choose either very dark or very light floors, as these are the most stylish. And, satin finish is the most popular sheen.

 

Hardwood Floors in The KitchenKitchens – Believe it or not, now hardwood is now the preferred flooring surface for kitchens. This is followed closely by tile. Hardwood is often preferred as it’s more in style, easier on your feet, makes space look larger and easier to clean.

Hardwood is often less expensive, too. You can read more about it in this article: Kitchen floors – hardwood vs. tile. But, either way, it should, if you are remodeling, hardwood or tile is the way to go w/ 90% of homeowners preferring one of these two surfaces (10% prefer laminate, vinyl, linoleum or cork).

If you are just preparing your home for sale, and/or not doing a full remodel, your choices may be limited due to height of cabinets and appliances, so definitely involve a flooring expert before your run into an issue where you might either lock your appliances in or worse yet find that they don’t fit.

If you are selling your house, I would recommend you consult with your Realtor and/or stager before making changes here. It is easy to spend a lot of money in the kitchen and not get back your return on investment.

Bedroom flooring choicesBedrooms – Homeowners seem to be split on this one. Slightly more than half (56%) prefer hardwood for the bedrooms and 44% prefer carpet. This preference often has been influenced by homeowner’s experiences growing up and whether they are concerned about their feet being cold in the morning. But, either way, virtually all home buyers will NOT keep the carpet you have in your bedrooms.

They will either replace them or they will add hardwood (or refinish if you have hardwood underneath the carpet). Buyers do not like to live with other people’s carpets as there are usually odors and/or germs in there…or a perception that they are present. They seem to be even more concerned if they have young kids and/or babies.

So, those carpets will get ripped up – one way or another. (Unless the homeowner has moved out and then installed new carpets…and this will be obvious as there will be no furniture marks on the carpet). A small percent of customers will clean them, but my guess is this is about 10% and rarely will those furniture marks come out.

So, what should you do if you have carpet in the bedroom and you are selling your house? This depends! And, it’s a good idea to consult your Realtor. If your carpet is in bad condition, and if it smells, it’s best to get rid of it somehow. Leaving dirty carpet in place will definitely hinder your sale, especially if there is a bad odor.

If you have hardwood underneath the carpet, rip up the carpet and refinish the hardwood. (BTW, this is usually LESS expensive than replacing it with carpet)…you can read more here: If you have hardwood underneath the carpet, is it better to refinish the wood or re-carpet? If you can’t afford to refinish the floors, at least rip up the carpet. This is a step in the right direction to improving the value and saleability of your home.

If you have plywood underneath the carpet, you may prefer to re-carpet as this will be less expensive than adding hardwood. Hardwood will often give you a better return on investment, but it will also cost you more. And, be sure that you consult your real estate agent as they will know the types of flooring used and preferred in your specific neighborhood.

Foyer with Dark HardwoodEntryways – This one depends on the size of your entryway and how it flows with the rest of the home. More often than not, most new home buyers prefer to have wood in the entry, if there is wood in the adjoining areas. When you convert this area to wood, it makes the space look larger and more cohesive.

In fact, many new home buyers convert perfectly good tile hardwood when they are refinishing the floors. (This of course assumes that you have plywood underneath and that your entryway is not on a cement slab). The 2nd logical choice is to install tile in the entryway as it is waterproof.

If you are in the process of selling your house, it may or may not be worth it to change this area. If your flooring is in bad condition (e.g. if til,e is cracking or vinyl is peeling) and/or the space looks very dark (e.g. if you have slate tiles), it may be worth it to change, especially since this is your first impression of the house. If it’s just a small area, though, it may not make a huge difference and you may find the cost to fix a small area seems high. (Smaller jobs cost more per sf). But, if you can combine it with another project, it may be much more cost effective.

Bathroom flooring choicesBathrooms – This one should be obvious – tile is the preferred surface! Do not even attempt to put hardwood in a here (assuming there is a shower or bathtub). It will warp and it won’t last very long. Bathrooms are often expensive to renovate, and very often you will not get your return on investment here if you are selling.

Kitchens and bathrooms sell homes…but they also cost a lot of money. So if your bathroom is in bad shape, have a discussion with your Realtor on your selling strategy. Sometimes, it’s better to just leave it and let the new home buyer choose what they prefer; other times, it’s such an eye sore that you have no choice. In terms of style, most prefer a natural stone look – often a porcelain tile will look best and be cost effective. If you have the colored (and dated) 4 x 4 glazed tiles (pink, yellow, blue, green), a less expensive alternative is to re-glaze them white.

While tile is the strong preference for bathroom floors, luxury vinyl is often an acceptable alternative if you need to save money. Luxury vinyl has come a long way, and it does look like hardwood or tile, pending on which selection you prefer. Luxury vinyl should only be used on the floors, and never on the walls. Also, wainscoting is very stylish for bathroom walls (but not good for the shower area).

Powder rooms – New home buyers generally prefer either hardwood for powder rooms or tile. Ironically, many that install tile in powder rooms, select tile that looks like hardwood. Both tend to work really well in this area.

Basement CarpetDens (on lower levels) – Dens are tricky. While most prefer hardwood, many end up with carpet as it’s more affordable. This all depends on whether the den is on a concrete slab or over plywood, as this has major implications for cost, as well as moisture and warmth in the room. If the room is over plywood, and if it’s on or above ground level (on grade), most prefer hardwood.

If it’s over a concrete slab, there can be many complications and added expenses as the slab is often neither level nor smooth. And, many rooms like this tend to have poor insulation, so often carpet is a more practical and economic choice both for initial installation and for ongoing heating bills (at least here in the northeast).

Basements – Most people are all over the board on this and basements are very tricky. Most prefer hard surfaces (as they are concerned about moisture), but when they hear the prices on hard surfaces, they often revert back to carpet as it is much less expensive, especially given the complications that most basements in the northeast have – they are over concrete, they are cold, floor isn’t level and surface isn’t smooth.

Flooring on stairsAnd, in some basements there is asbestos tile, further limiting the options. The other factor is that most people want to spend less in this area since it’s a basement…so it’s ironic that this area often costs more. If you are selling your home, this is probably the area that will get you the least return on investment when selling your home as it’s the basement.

Steps – Most home buyers prefer hardwood steps with a carpet runner. The carpet runner is for safety, as well as style. This is followed by carpet on steps, and then that is followed by just plain hardwood on the steps. If you are selling your home, and you have carpet on the steps, but hardwood underneath, my advice to you is to rip up the carpet and refinish.

Let the new homeowner pick out their own runner for the steps, rather than trying to guess their style. Different people have different preferences, and you are more likely to be wrong than right here. The types of flooring home buyers prefer comes from many years of experience!

 Other useful flooring articles:

This article was written by flooring expert, Debbie Gartner. Debbie is the owner of Floor Coverings International in Westchester, NY. 914-937-2950.

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How to Purchase From a FSBOWe talk a lot about buyer’s agents and listings agents and the benefits of both but what happens if your buyer finds a home that’s not listed with an agent? This is actually not that unusual because buyers will look for homes everywhere and they don’t really care where they find the house, only that they want to try and buy it.

This is what happened with one of my favorite clients. A young, single woman of about 22 working at the local pharmacy in town doing very well for herself and wanted to start investing in the real estate world. This is a great direction for her since she was young, had the funds for an FHA down payment and had a great head on her shoulders.

In my mind, there was no concern for her age when it came to jumping in with both feet. She found me online so she was well versed in searching the Internet. Even though I sent her several homes that met her criteria, the one she wanted to see came from an ad in the local newspaper. Of course it was a FSBO (for sale by owner) and in most cases those sellers may not want to deal with an agent, hence the FSBO in the first place.

But I still advocated on her behalf and called for an appointment. The gentleman was also young and in the military and couldn’t afford listing agent fees so he decided to try it on his own. Here we come, agent in tow.

He was very cordial but I could see he was nervous about the idea of an agent in the mix. My buyer loved the home however and wanted to make a full price offer. The seller asked me if I could assist in the sale and I said sure, for 3% of the sale price. A modest fee since I was now facilitating the deal on both sides. He understood and because he had no previous knowledge of how real estate worked, he agreed.

I found it odd that those that don’t know the process would risk such a high liability in legal documents by listing themselves but in his case, he lucked out with an agent that was not about to swindle, cheat or lie to him throughout the process even though my loyalties were first to my buyer.

We wrote up the deal and I explained everything to both buyer and seller and even though he was a little apprehensive as to all the documentation, I assured him it was all valid and above board. He signed and on we went to inspection.

Because this was an FHA, the house had to be approved under the strict guidelines for an FHA loan. But the previous owner purchased the house under VA terms so we were more than covered for FHA.

The snag came when the appraisal came in. The appraisal came in lower than the list price, and of course, lower than my buyer was willing to pay. When I informed the seller, again he was apprehensive but I gave proof and informed him of his options. He could terminate the transaction, my buyer could make up the difference or he could lower his price. Since my buyer didn’t have the extra funds and I informed him that any appraisal might return the same results, he agreed to lower the price.

I was able to open escrow for them, help them both through the procedure and close on time. The seller was happy and satisfied and I felt that he was my client just about as much as the buyer. I even gave him a moving away gift on closing day.

A Fine Balance of Power

Now this set up worked well but it can always go south quickly. Sellers can go behind the agent’s back and persuade the buyer to drop their agent and just deal one on one. This is where close communication between buyer and agent is so crucial. Buyers that think they know everything and how it all works and can be easily dissuaded into ditching their agent. The benefit I had with my first time buyer is that she trusted me to work for her no matter which home she chose. Regardless of what home you buy, have a buyer’s agent on your side.

I can’t stress this enough. Even though I am not in real estate any more I constantly tell my friends, family and just about anyone I know, get yourself a buyer’s agent! Don’t buy a house without one. You need the protection and assistance in case there is anything you don’t agree with or understand.

Buyers may think they understand the process and they may have even closed a few real estate transactions in the past but things change; rules, laws and requirements change and real estate agents are required to keep up with all of these. If you don’t understand something you’re signing and you don’t have a buyer’s agent to help, you may be signing something you really don’t agree with and it could lead to legal issues down the line.

Read more: Differences between listing agents and buyer’s agents

Also, listing agents have one primary goal – to sell that home! They don’t care if you don’t have a buyer’s agent, they may help with the transaction but again, you are not fully protected. Just as in my buyer going for a house without a listing agent, that seller had to trust that I knew what I was doing and wasn’t going to screw him over. Of course we didn’t, but if he had his own agent, that agent could have verified the purchase and sale agreement and made sure the seller was protected.

Yes, you can buy a house from a seller that does not have the property listed with an agent and still use your buyer’s agent. It’s up to the agent to negotiate with the seller on any commissions or fees paid at closing to the agent. The buyer doesn’t have to pay for the help of a buyer’s agent. Just another one of the many reasons I always say “Have your own agent when buying a home!”

Tammy EmenethAbout the author: Tammy Emineth writes dozens of  monthly blogs to offer assistance to real estate websites as well as all types of personal websites. Tammy does marketing and online promotion through various social media channels for her clients.

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What Makes a Real Estate Agent Military Friendly?

How to be a military friendly real estate agentYou may have heard the term “military friendly” used in and around the real estate industry. But what does it really mean to be considered a military friendly real estate agent? While the definition may vary from user to user, the central idea remains the same. These agents want to support military home buyers.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to support our nation’s heroes in their home search by becoming a military friendly agent.

Identifying Military Home buyers

The first step to working with military home buyers is identifying who’s a veteran or current service member. Most of your military clients aren’t going to walk into your office in uniform. You need to be proactive and ask each and every one of your new clients “Did you serve?” By taking the pledge to ask you’re on your way to helping achieve the dream of home ownership.

Asking the question opens the door to identifying who’s eligible for the VA mortgage guaranty. If they answer yes, you have an opportunity to set yourself apart as an expert. Educate them on their benefits and connect them with an experienced VA mortgage lender. The VA home loan isn’t the answer for every veteran, but its significant benefits make it so powerful for so many.

Understanding Their Unique Needs

Military service members, veterans and their families often have a unique set of needs. It’s important for you to understand how their current service status may impact their VA loan application. Become familiar with different stages of service. Then listen to understand their needs and ask questions.

One service member may be looking for a home in a quiet neighborhood to limit sounds or situations that could trigger their post-traumatic stress disorder. Another service member may just be moving to the area due to a permanent change of station (PCS). They’ll need guidance on the community as a whole and recommendations for service providers.

Each and every buyer is unique. Spend the time to understand why certain home qualities are desired over others and you’ll be on the right track.

Promoting Use of VA Benefits

Once you identify your VA buyers by asking “Did you serve?” and educate them on their VA benefits take things a step further by promoting the use of their hard-earned benefits. With no down payment required and lower credit score requirements the VA mortgage guaranty opens the door to home ownership for many who don’t qualify for other types of financing.

When comparing a VA loan to conventional and FHA financing, a VA buyer can save a significant amount on their monthly payments. To understand how significant the savings can be, consider this: Veterans who obtained VA financing last year will save $19 Billion over the life of their loan due to the fact that VA buyers don’t pay mortgage insurance.

To promote the use of veteran’s VA benefits you simply need to do two things. The first we’ve already covered, and that’s to provide education on VA benefits to those who say yes, they’ve served.

The second way to promote the use of VA benefits is to educate yourself on VA loan facts. There are a number of myths and misconceptions about the VA loan. Through research and education you can understand the many benefits of the VA loan and make a huge difference for your clients.

This goes for sellers too. If you’re a seller’s agent and receive a VA offer, don’t suggest that your client automatically dismiss it. This isn’t your grandfather’s VA loan. VA offers are worth considering. The lending process is more streamlined and efficient. VA closing times are now comparable to that of conventional loans. Plus, your buyers will be a part of making the dream of home ownership come true for someone who’s served our country.

Like working with any other buyer you should explain the need and importance of getting pre-approved through a lender who does VA loans. Working with a lender that specializes in VA loans can be very helpful as they have systems and procedures down pat. If you are working with a buyer who has served our country the Veterans loan is the perfect mortgage vehicle!

Samantha Reeves is the Senior Mortgage and Home buying writer for Veterans United Home Loans, one of the nation’s leading financial services providers for service members and their families. A former mortgage loan originator, Samantha enjoys educating others about the VA mortgage process on the Veterans United Network of blogs and social media. Follow her on Facebook, on her blog, Tweet her @Samantha_VUHL or reach out on Google+.

 

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Photography Helps Sell Real Estate

Real Estate PhotographyIf you’re like me, you probably enjoy looking at homes online. Many people browse homes on the internet for fun. My wife and I like to look online at homes for sale in Colorado Springs, deep in the quiet mountain areas where we could never live, with our current lifestyle. We like to daydream about what it would be like to wake up and sit outside with our coffee in the morning and enjoy the deafening silence of mountain seclusion.

It’s fun to daydream. But in reality, when you are seriously looking to buy a home, it can be frustrating when the images online are the only visual aid to help you determine whether or not a property is worth looking at. As a home seller, online property photos are one of your strongest assets for getting showings and eventually selling your home quickly, and for top dollar.

With photos being such a huge part of your home selling marketing leverage, it makes sense to have an extensive list of questions to ask the person taking the photos of your house when you’re ready to sell. I have been in the business for many years and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to real estate photos.

Through the years I have learned some major tricks of the trade, which I will share with you. Here are some good technical questions to ask your real estate photographer when listing your house for sale. These questions will help ensure that you get the best real estate photos possible.

What size wide angle lens do they use?

A wide angle lens captures more space and makes the room look as large as it possibly can. Most stock DSL cameras come with an 18mm wide angle zoom lens. In my experience, many real estate photographers are perfectly content with an 18mm lens, but in reality, this is not sufficient to capture the whole room, especially in smaller areas.

18mm lense vs 10mm lenseThe best size wide angle is normally a 10mm lens. An 8 mm lens will create a “fish eye” effect which distorts the image and makes it less appealing to online home buyers, while 10mm is where that threshold stops. A good professional real estate photographer will usually have an upgraded wide angle lens to capture the most amount of space possible.

Some 10mm wide angle lenses will create a slight “fish eye” effect, but image correction software, such as Adobe Lightroom, will correct and manipulate the image back to shape without losing the edges of the image.

Knowing whether your photographer uses a wide angle lens is probably the single most important piece of information that you can find out about them.

As you can see in the comparison image, the depth of the room is dramatically different with a 10mm lens as compared to a normal 18mm lens. In bedrooms and small areas, this difference can make or break an online home buyers desire to view your listing. Make sure to find out what kind of lens your real state photographer uses and don’t let them show up with a stock 18mm zoom lens.

Do they use HDR photography software?

HDR (High Dynamic Range) imaging is a process that involves taking 3 or more photos of the same image, while using different light exposures. Auto Exposure Bracketing (AEB) is a feature found on most DSLR cameras. It will automatically snap multiple images while changing the light sensitivity on each one. One image will be Overprocessed HDRdark, one will be average, and one will be very light. By adjusting the ISO and/or aperture of each image, the three images gather light from different areas of the room which could never be captured in one single shot.

HDR software will then take the three images and overlay them to grab the best parts of each one and create one final processed image. This allows the photograph to have equal amounts of light gathered from all areas of the room.

Typically a single image without HDR will have darker and lighter areas because the depth of field, and a single shot cannot fully capture all the areas of a room in one shutter click. With HDR you can really make a room light up and cause the viewer to feel as though they are standing in the room as they look at it. It’s one of the greatest photography tricks for real estate, and should be an essential part of your real estate photographers skill set.

It should be noted that simply having the software to process HDR images is not enough to make a photographer’s images flawless. It’s easy to over process an image and make it look like a computer Overprocessed HDRgenerated image. Have you ever looked at homes online and noticed pictures that looked like virtual reality?

That’s HDR over-processing. A good real estate photographer will know how to use HDR to gather the best light features of each photo, without making it obvious that they are using software to manipulate it. Each photographer will have their own artistic touch that they add to their work. It’s important to know that your real estate photographer is aware of the unnatural affects of HDR over processing.

As with most artistic processes, moderation is the key. Using HDR in moderation to gently bring out the best light features of the room has a powerful effect on home buyers as they compare your listing with other real estate listings online. A good real estate photographer will make your listing stand out above the rest.

HDR imaging requires a tripod to get the best images, since it’s gathering 3 different images in a frame burst. Any slight movement of the camera will cause the photo to be blurry when processed.

If your real estate photographer shows up without a tripod, it should be a red flag that you are not getting the best quality images possible. Tripods are a necessity for good lighting. Make sure your real estate photograph knows how to use HDR imaging and uses a tripod with a decent wide-angle lens.

What model camera do they use?

This is a very important questions. Since cameras are all digital now, new current models out perform old models by a long shot. The shutter speeds and image quality of today’s cameras are incredible. If your photographer is using a camera they bought in 2001, it’s highly likely that they are getting less quality images than a comparable new DSLR Camera. One of the main aspects to new camera technology is the frames per second. Here is a great list that shows the FPS of each popular camera on the market: http://www.hdr-photography.com/aeb.html. You’ll notice that Nikon and Canon seem to have the most powerful cameras on the market, which is why you generally see these cameras everywhere.

Take the model number of the camera your photographer uses and cross reference it with this list. This will give you a good idea of the quality of the equipment that they use. I personally wouldn’t want my photographer to use a camera that has any less than 6 fps. The images above were taken with a Canon 70D, which is a great camera for real estate photography.

Do they use a flash?

To a photographer that has been around for a while, using a flash has a bit a nostalgia. Old cameras did not have the ability to capture light at the speed of modern cameras, therefore using a flash was the best way to enhance the lighting in an image. The problem with using a standard flash for real estate photography is that it creates shadows in the image and takes away   Using flash vs natural lightingambient lighting features. If someone uses a flash for real estate photography, they are most likely not using HDR imaging, and are not as knowledgeable of new camera technology and the best ways to capture natural light.

If your real estate photographer shows up with a flash, it should be a red flag that you are not going to get the best possible pictures for your real estate listing. Unfortunately, there are many real estate agents who do not want to pay the expense of hiring a professional photographer, or learn how to take professional photos themselves. They show up with an average camera and a clunky flash, (or worse yet- use their phone) and start shooting away.

As a full-time REALTOR, I look at thousands of real estate photos every year. When I take photos for my own listings, I generally snap around 500 images and then narrow them down to the top 20 to 30 photos. If you hire a real estate agent who does not respect or understand the complexities of professional photography, it may have a great impact on your ability to attract the most amount of buyers to your listing.

Make sure that you ask the questions mentioned in this article to avoid getting stuck with some bad real estate listing photos. There are so many bad real estate photos out there that people have created websites fully devoted to mocking and displaying them.

Are you in good hands with your real estate photographer?

There are many common questions that you can ask a photographer, such as “how long have you been a photographer?” and “ how often are you hired to take photos for people?”, but in my experience, the 4 questions listed above will cut straight to the heart of the interview and will quickly let you know whether you are dealing with a pro, or a novice. If you are dealing with a novice, stand your ground and ask for a better photographer.

The images that you and your REALTOR put online are extremely valuable. Photography is one of the most important aspects of real estate marketing. You do not want to be one of the many sellers who have poor images which turn buyers away. Photography is a vital part of good real estate marketing. You want to have images that make buyers emotionally attach to your house before they ever set foot inside it.

With all the knowledge you now know after reading this article, you should be able to determine the professional ability of your real estate photographer. Just to recap, here are some of the main things you need to look for when your photographer shows up:

  • They should have a good wide angle lens, preferably a 10mm.
  • They should have a tripod.
  • They should have a newer model camera.
  • They should not use a flash.

For a humorous look at how much influence online real estate photos have on the real estate business, take a look at my article called Looking at Homes Online Versus In Person. The info-graphic in the article will give you a good idea of what buyers deal with when shopping for a home online. It can be very frustrating for a buyer to look at a home in person, only to realize that it is very different from the way it was marketed online.

If you plan on selling your house, do your own due diligence and interview the photographer with these questions. If you are not comfortable interviewing them, then ask your REALTOR to do it. If your REALTOR is your photographer, you definitely want to ask them these questions, because most REALTORS are not professional photographers. Simply having a high end camera does not equate them with being a professional.

Photography is a challenging industry that is always evolving. Having the person responsible for your valuable real estate photos be on top of their game can really swing the odds in your favor when listing your house for sale. The image above of the upside down house is one I saw just yesterday while looking at homes for a client in Colorado Springs. Yes, this really just happened. Don’t assume that your listing will look great. These kinds of mistakes are common and I hope that it never happens to you. I wish you the best of luck with your online real estate photos. With the information that you have learned from this article, you should do great!

How to get the best photos when selling your home was written by Andrew Fortune. Andrew is a Real Estate agent in the Colorado Springs area and enjoys collaborating with other real estate bloggers and social media experts to help inform consumers of the important details involved in today’s real estate market. His website, GreatColoradoHomes.com is a great resource for home buyers and sellers in the Colorado Springs area.

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Keep Emotions in Check Purchasing Real Estate

Don't Get Emotional When Buying a HomeGetting too emotional when buying a home can cost you big time! The last thing you want to do is create a lot of extra stress for yourself when buying in home. In order to make your purchase go smoothly we have consulted with Lolly Spindler of HouseHunt Inc who has come by to offer some excellent first time home buying tips. It is easy to make home buying mistakes especially when you have never done it before!

Whether buying or selling a home, emotions are always involved in the real estate process. So how do you keep your emotions from hindering your judgment when buying a home? It can be tricky, as optimism and excitement are prone to be high. However, it’s important to keep a clear and level head when it comes to making one of the biggest purchases of your life.

Tip #1: Don’t Pick a Realtor Because She/He is “Nice”

Picking a Realtor is an incredibly important part of the home buying process, so make sure you choose wisely. Don’t base your decision solely on the fact that you get along with the agent. Make sure you interview at least three agents, ensuring they have a plan in place and enough time to take you on as a client.

Tip #2: Focus on Your Bottom Line

At times there’s nothing that can keep us more grounded and realistic than the number on our bank statements. Money comes most into play during two parts of the buying process: looking at homes and writing an offer on a home, which leads us to tips three and four.

Tip #3: Don’t Look at Homes Outside of Your Price Range

Stick to the amount of money you’ve been pre-approved for, and don’t look at homes that are priced higher than what you can afford to pay. The worst thing you can do is fall in love with a home that’s too expensive just to have your heart broken once reality sets in.

Tip #4: Remember the Seller is Emotional Too

When writing an offer on a home, consider what you can afford and the fair market value of the house. Understand that the seller may have priced the home high emotionally, so if your offer is below asking price, be prepared to justify it so as not to offend him/her.

Tip #5: Prioritize What You Need, Not What You Want

Many people fantasize about their dream homes, but when it comes down to it, it’s much more important to have what you need than what you want. Once you’ve decided on a few neighborhoods and the time has come to zone in on a house, it’s important to land on a specific number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and a minimum amount of square feet. Use this checklist to prioritize what you need, would like to have, and don’t need.

Tip #6: Don’t Get Attached

Buying a home can be stressful, and you may feel all of that stress wash away once you find a home that fits your needs. However, don’t get attached. This is one of the worst things you can do during the home buying process, as many things can happen and come between you and the house you have your heart set on. Only let yourself get your hopes up once you’re closer to closing.

Tip #7: Remember You Can Always Make Changes

This may sound funny, but you may be better off deciding on a home that you aren’t 100% happy with. This is because, as most buyers tend to forget during the house hunting process, you can always make changes to the house. By looking at homes that cost less than what you’ve been approved for, you may be able to find a home that fits your needs, invest a little money into remodeling, and transform it into your dream home.

Tip #8: Keep a Cool Head When Bidding

Bidding situations can be incredibly stressful and make it hard not to get emotional. In order to help avoid them, ask your Realtor to include an escalation clause in the purchase contract. This will allow for incremental increases in the offer price based on competing offers up to a certain price point you determine. If a bidding war does come to pass, maintain your calm by being prepared: have all of your financing and documents in order and make an earnest money deposit.

Tip #9: Trust Your Realtor

Your real estate agent is there to help you remain level-headed and not overly emotional during this process. Trust them to guide you, as they have a lot of real estate experience; after all, they do this for a living. Listen to the advice they give and try to put their knowledge of the process before your emotional reactions to it.

Be prepared to experience a lot of emotional ups and downs during the buying process, but don’t let these emotions cloud your judgment. The worst thing you can do is make a rash decision that ends up costing you the home of your dreams.

By following these tips you’ll be better equipped to approach the home buying process in a rational, calculated manner. Remember, this will most likely be the biggest purchase you will make in your lifetime. Do you really want it to be hindered by a few fleeting emotions? Use this advice and you will more than likely be smiling in your new home without all the emotional heartache of being involved in a real estate transaction!

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Why Have a Buyers Agent in Real Estate

Having a Buyers Agent

Why have a buyers agentFirst things first. My name is Mark Brian and I am a REALTOR in Anderson South Carolina. Bill invited me to write a post that buyers would find informative or helpful. I was surprised that one of the most influential Realtors on the web would reach out to me.

So a BIG thank you goes to Bill!

I decided to write about why you need a buyers agent when buying a home.

Before you start thinking I am saying this for my benefit, I must tell you that I ONLY work as a listing agent. I have buyers agents in my office that work with buyers and I refer all buyers to them. The buyers agents in my office are REALLY good at what they do, so it just makes more sense for me to concentrate on what I do best.

Which is represent sellers and work to get them the best possible price and terms in the shortest amount of time. So how and why do you go about choosing a buyers agent?

The First Rumor to Dispel

There is a nasty rumor that buyers should go to the listing agent if they want to get a better deal. This is NOT true!
I don’t know why this myth still exists or how it got started.

Just hear me out on WHY it is NOT a good idea for Buyers to go to the listing agent thinking they will get a better deal:

  • The listing agent works for the seller to get the seller the best price and terms.
  • The buyers agent works for the buyer to get the buyer the best price and terms.

Do you see the difference?

If you are buying a home, you need a Buyers Agent to represent you!

Sure, the listing agent may be friendly, helpful, etc etc…

But make no mistake.

The listing agent is working for the seller.

I STRONGLY recommend ALL home buyers work with an experienced buyers agent.

Remember, I said I do NOT normally represent or work with buyers.

I only represent sellers as a listing agent and I am telling you:

Buyers always NEED a Buyers Agent!

Many buyers agents close more real estate transactions in one year than most people will in a life time. There is something to be said for the experience and knowledge that a buyers agent brings to the table.

My suggestion is to ask friends, family and coworkers for their suggestions. Interview several buyers agents and do not go with the first one. Do NOT select a buyers agent because they are your friend, family member or you went to school with them.

Find a buyers agent that you feel comfortable with and has the experience and knowledge you need.

A good buyers agent does much more than open doors or find you homes to look at. It is the stuff that comes AFTER you find the home of your dreams that makes the REAL value of a buyers agent crystal clear.

For example…

Making an Offer to Buy a Home

If you have found a home that fits your budget, in the right location and has what you need, then do not hesitate to make an offer. Because if you like this home, odds are there is another buyer right now looking for the same thing.

When you are working with a buyers agent, you can feel confident in making an offer. Remember the buyers agent is representing you and working to get you the best home at the best price and terms for you! But how much should you offer?

A Buyers Agent Will Help You Understand:

  • How long has the home been on the market
  • What’s the current market like?
  • Are home prices going up or down?
  • Are there any other offers on the property?
  • If there are other offers, how can you make your offer more attractive?
  • What does the comparable market analysis say?

Comps is short for comparable sales. Comparable sales are recently sold homes that are very similar to the home you are considering. You may also want to look again at the active listings to compare their prices to the home you are considering.

Too Little

If you make an offer that is too low, you run the risk of making the seller mad. This will only make negotiating much harder. Some sellers will not even counter an offer if it is too low.

With this in mind, your buyers agent will help you decide on a price that is realistic. Your offer should be based on what recently sold comparable homes have sold for.

Too Much

Without a buyers agent, it is also possible that you will offer too much for a property. An experienced buyers agent will know the local real estate market like the back of their hand. They can prevent you from paying too much!

Almost Right

Maybe your initial offer is close but not exactly what the seller was wanting. If the seller counters your offer, you and your buyers agent will need to negotiate the counter offer. Once again, the value of a buyers agent will become crystal clear.

But Wait There Is More…

Price is only part of your offer. You cannot forget the terms of the offer. You cannot overlook the contingencies. Exactly how this works varies from state to state and from one transaction to the next. Again, an experienced buyers agent is worth their weight in gold when it comes time to make an offer.

Your buyers agent will know how to write up the offer to include contingencies for inspections, the appraisal and financing and anything else that will protect you and help to ensure you are getting a good price and a fair deal.

In fact one of the biggest hurdles in a real estate transaction is the home home inspection. An outstanding buyer’ agent will help you negotiate any problems discovered at the inspection. Sometimes home inspection discussions can become contentious especially when the buyer and seller don’t see eye to eye on what should be fixed and what is a petty request. A good Realtor in your corner will help you sift through what requests are reasonable or not.

The Commission Is Not Reduced

No Commission SavingsSome buyers think that if they give up their right to have an experienced and knowledgeable REALTOR in their corner, that the commission will be reduced.

Actually, this is NOT true in most cases. I do not know where or why this idea came about.

The commission is set when the seller signs the listing contract. The listing company then agrees to split that commission with another broker if they bring the buyer.

Normally there is no mention of the commission being reduced if a Buyer wants to buy a home without professional representation.

Information Versus Knowledge and Experience

The changes that technology and the internet have brought to real estate have been substantial. Many thought that the same thing that happened to travel agents would happen to real estate agents. There have been many attempts to accomplish this but technology cannot match the consumer’s need for the knowledge and experience of REALTORS.

Many buyers think that since they can find listings online without an agent, they do not need a buyers agent. Adding to this problem are the websites that produce home values which cause buyers to believe they do not need a buyers agent.

Some real estate websites have another problem with accuracy:

Listings That Are NOT For Sale

OR

Home Values That are WRONG

These websites are NOT licensed real estate professionals. This means they are not accountable and can pretty much do whatever they want. Which means buyers find homes on these websites that are NOT for sale or sold many months ago.

There is no doubt that buyers can find a plethora of real estate information online. And buyers can browse thousands of listings from the comfort of their couch.

The problem is some of the information you find online is not true. Especially home values. If a website has home values that are off by 5%, that doesn’t sound too bad until you do the math.

A 5% error on the price of a $300,000 home is a $15,000 difference.

Not sure about you, but I wouldn’t mind an extra $15,000 in my pocket…

A BIGGER problem for buyers is all the information in the world means nothing if you do not have the knowledge and experience to use this information correctly. You have to know what information is true, what is helpful or accurate and what to toss out.

An experienced buyers agent will know the local real estate market like the back of their hands. One of a top agents greatest assets is being able to determine the market value of a home for you. An experienced buyers agent will have seen almost every situation imaginable. A Buyers Agent knows how to write contracts to protect the buyer. A buyers agent is an expert in negotiations.

Can you honestly say this about yourself?

So while buyers can find plenty of information online, it is NOT a substitute for the knowledge and experience of what a great agent can do for you!

The Buyer’s Agent Summary:

When you are buying a home, you are dealing with what is probably the largest financial decision of your life.

  • You need someone on your side that knows what they are doing.
  • That person is called a buyers agent.
  • Not having a buyers agent does not get a home buyer a better deal.
  • Not having a buyers agent does not mean the commission is reduced.
  • Do not select a buyers agent because they are your friend, family member or someone you went to school with.

Interview several real estate agents and find someone you are comfortable with and has in depth knowledge in the area you are interested in buying a home. They should have experience dealing with the type of home you are interested in buying also. A good real estate agent will point out mistakes you could be making and not bat an eyelash in doing so. After all the best buyer’s agents are thinking about their fiduciary responsibility to you and not when they will be cashing their commission check!

There is a difference between information and having knowledge and experience when it comes to real estate. If a listing agent is telling you to get a buyers agent to help you to buy a home, isn’t this something you should consider?

Hopefully you have figured out that it really makes sense to have a buyers agent when purchasing real estate!

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Final Real Estate Walk ThroughThe inspection and walk through are two very different AND very important things to do when buying a home. A home inspection is a limited and non-evasive examination of the condition of a home by a home inspector. A final walk through is a final inspection where the buyer makes certain that the property they’ve agreed to buy is in the condition they’ve agreed to buy it in. The final inspection is a time to make sure that any agreed-upon repairs (maybe negotiated from the home inspection) were made and nothing has gone wrong with the home since.

Many buyers find themselves pressed for time and tempted to forgo the final walk through, but this is not a good idea. Find time to do it a few days before the sale goes through.
Read more: Home Inspections on Lakefront Homes, slightly different.

Vacant Homes

Usually, sellers have moved out before closing. In these situations, it is of utmost importance that the buyers do a final walk through. Even if a home is left vacant for only a few days, problems can arise. A good example is an accidentally plugged drain with a faucet that’s been accidentally left on part way and dripping until you come in to find a flooded first floor after you’ve bought it.

Case Example

Let’s look at some clients named Chuck and Carol. They’re about to close on a charming rambler and are very excited to move in. The previous owner moved out soon after listing the home and the house has been vacant. The inspection went smoothly and there was nothing to note or cause any sort of alarm with the pending sale.

The day Chuck and Carol came for their final walk through, they were too engrossed in the excitement of where they’d place their furniture and what kind of window treatments to buy that they were neglecting the advise to walk through turning lights on and off and so on. Since they were obviously too pre occupied to get down to the business of the walk through, their agent decided to do it for them while they were in the back yard discussing lawn furniture.

What a nice agent, since this isn’t typically their responsibility! The agent flushed a toilet in the hall bathroom when they heard Carol scream in the back yard. The agent ran out back in time to witness a geyser — water gushing from the ground! And it didn’t smell pretty.

If the agent hadn’t depressed the flushing mechanism on the toilet, they would never have had subsequently discovered that the sewer line had tree roots growing in it. The following day they received an estimate of $6,000 to fix it. Since they were a few days away from closing, they had time to withhold that money from the seller’s proceeds and order the work completed.

Here is a list of items to check on a final walk-through:

• Turn on and off every light fixture
• Run water & look under sinks for leaks
• Test all appliances
• Check garage door openers
• Open and close all doors
• Flush toilets
• Inspect ceilings, wall and floors
• Run garbage disposal and exhaust fans
• Test heating and air conditioning
• Open and close windows
• Make sure all debris is removed from the home
Check for any safety concerns
• Put everything you want fixed in writing

When the Home is Occupied

It does occasionally happen that the sellers have not moved out by the time the transaction closes. If this is the case, it is recommended that the buyers do a final walk-through in the presence of the seller. The reason being is because the seller knows all the little quirks about the house and can answer any questions that the buyers may have.

Speaking of asking the seller questions, one good question is “what is the one improvement you’ve always wanted but never got around to doing?” Read more Tips for Sellers

When the Home is New Construction

This is also a very important circumstance to do a final walk through. If you do a detailed review of your newly constructed home, there’s a good chance you find problems that the builder can fix before you move in.

When a builder feels the home is finished, they call the city to do their final inspections. However, just because the city may sign off on the home, doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. It’s at this time that the builder will invite you to walk through the home with them. The city inspectors see that the home meets code. It’s now your job to look for any cosmetic flaws. The city will also not inspect for leaky faucets and the like. It’s not uncommon for a new home to have 10 to 30 things that need to be addressed or fixed by the builder before the buyers move in.

But, just because there are a few things to fix or repair you need to also think about how much you love the home. An agent once told me, “sometimes when you ask for everything you get nothing,” so be cautious and consider what items really need to be addressed.

Keep all these things in mind when you are doing your final walk through and the chances of missing an issue will go down drastically!

Tammy EmenethAbout the author: Tammy Emineth writes dozens of  monthly blogs to offer assistance to real estate websites as well as all types of personal websites. Tammy does marketing and online promotion through various social media channels for her clients.

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How to Mitigate Injuries When Moving

Preventing Injuries While Making a Move

How to Mitigate Injuries While MovingIt’s surprisingly easy to injure yourself or somebody else when moving out of one home and into another. From breaking fragile objects and cutting yourself, to throwing your back out trying to lift heavy furniture, moving can be dangerous for the inexperienced. While it might be safest for you to hire a moving company, if it’s a short move or you’re looking to save money, then following these tips can help you avoid any physical catastrophes.

The most common moving related injuries are caused by moving heavy or bulky objects that strain the lower back. The simplest way to avoid this is by using proper lifting technique by crouching down and lifting heavy objects with your legs, instead of bending at your waist to pick up a heavy box. Minor to major strains and sprains can, and likely will, occur without proper lifting technique.

Another option to further shield your back from injury is by wearing a back brace when lifting. This will help guide you toward straight posture, and help prevent serious injury like a slipped disk. Hand car dollies also serve as great options when moving large items, especially over uneven terrain. If you’re stuck moving obscenely heavy furniture that won’t fit on a dolly, look into furniture sliders to easily move the item, and protect your floors.

When moving heavy objects, broken bones can also occur, although they’re slightly less common than muscle strains. Be cautious of where your fingers are toes are as they’re easy fodder for being jammed inside door frames or squished under furniture and boxes. Invest in a pair of padded gloves or hard-toe boots to protect yourself from smashing and squishing injuries.

Limiting the weight of boxes to 50 pounds is also an option to prevent many of the aforementioned injuries. A tip by Moving Gal is one many people forget about, but if your move will include a lot of items jostling around, it’s useful to remember that “flammable items like match boxes, paint thinners, aerosol cans and other chemicals must not be loaded in the vehicle used for moving items. These items are flammable and dangerous. Professionals will not transport these items. Therefore, if you are moving yourself avoid including these items during the move.”

The weight limit also helps prevent mishaps when carrying boxes around, and it’s especially useful if you have other people helping you move. When friends or family are jumping in to help out, make sure to establish clear verbal confirmation when passing boxes among each other. It’s really easy to pass a heavy or fragile item to somebody, only to let go and discover they didn’t really have control. This is the easiest way to break toes when moving. Having an extra person walking with you to catch any mishaps is also advised.

Wearing adequate clothing is also important to prevent various injuries. Having tight-fitting clothing prevents shirts and pants from getting snagged on furniture causing you to drop it while shuffling out the door. Likewise, be sure to dress appropriately for the season, so you don’t overheat or freeze, but keep protective clothing in mind.

Checking out the new residence with moving in mind is also going to be helpful. This is a simple, but overlooked idea that can make a huge difference. Take notice of the closest, unobstructed parking spot is and see if you need to reserve it beforehand. Make sure you scout out any obstructions in sidewalks, whether it’s cracked or uneven, and highlight any steps with colorful environmental-friendly chalk.

Another thing to keep it mind is object size and if there are any trees, signs or lampposts that could get in the way and damage your possessions.

On moving day itself, it’s crucial to create a clear highway zone for highly trafficked areas. Ensure nothing gets set down here and people are not loitering. It’ll give some peace of mind while lifting heavy furniture, and streamlines the entire item-shuffling process.

About.com recommends that “if you have children, make sure they are either kept out of the way or preferably, they are off property at a babysitter’s house or neighbors. You certainly don’t want to be worrying about your children’s safety during a move. If you are making a move with pets, either keep them locked in an empty room – one where the movers don’t need to enter – or take them to a boarding facility or at a friend’s for the day. It’s much less stressful for them to be away from the noise and confusion.”

Also, don’t overlook your body’s nutritional needs either. Be sure to drink enough water and take small snack breaks. The last thing you want to do is drop an armoire on your face because you passed out from lack of sustenance.

Lastly, prepare for the worst but hope for the best, and as such, you need to have a stocked first aid kit readily available for any mishaps that might occur. If you follow our tips your chances of mitigating injuries when moving will have increased ten fold!

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How to Find a Realtor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most home sellers leave the equivalent of a nice used car behind when they sell their home. That’s right, the “several percent” that most home sellers lose during the real estate negotiation amounts to the same as leaving a nice car behind in the garage. This “throw away” money that they lose yields them nothing in return.

It’s so funny how most people are very careful how they spend their money every day, making sure they don’t get over-charged at restaurants and stores, but their ignorance in selecting the right real estate agent for the job of selling a home is the same as throwing money away. How so?

Imagine your home is on the market and you receive an offer from a buyer. The buyer’s offer is not what you had hoped to get for your home. Should you accept the offer, counter the offer, or not even respond to the buyer? If you think you’ll make the right choice without the help of somebody who knows the right answer, you’re probably wrong.

Most home sellers make a hiring choice before considering all the attributes that they will need in a listing agent, and rarely do they consider the value of somebody who is prepared to negotiate for every penny possible in the home sale. I suspect they assume that it really does not matter, and they typically just hire somebody they know and like (a recent NAR survey of home sellers reported that 64% of home sellers hired the first agent they spoke to about the job of selling their home).

It happens in every local housing market. It does not matter where you are, there exists a small group of excellent real estate agents, and then a mass of licensees who really don’t put a lot of effort into what they do. It all might seem harmless until you are faced with a tough decision and you have to rely on the person you hired.

Fortunately, I have a few tips that will help you when it comes to hiring the agent for the job of selling your home.

Finding The Listing Agent a Realtor Would Hire

If I had a home to sell in your market area, I would be able to get the best listing agent to work for me and not cost me any more money than the majority of other agents who have no business handling real estate listings. Fortunately for you, if you follow this 3-step process for selecting the real estate agents to interview, you will be confident in knowing that somebody is taking care of you. There’s no need to leave tens of thousands of dollars behind, you simply have to take these preliminary important steps.

1. Plan on interviewing at least three prospective agents – Why 3? Because you want to make sure you have left nothing to chance. If you heed my advice on the next 2 points, you will end up working with a great real estate agent who will “have your back” when that all-important negotiation begins. Plus, it is imperative that you have all three Realtors go through their full listing presentation, don’t cut the second and third agent short because you already know about something they will cover. Remember, you are interviewing them! You need to assess each one’s expertise, and you should not assume that one has all the knowledge and expertise that a previous presenter has demonstrated.

2. Choose your agents online – Word of mouth is great … until it isn’t. Don’t invite agents because you’ve met them at the PTA or youth baseball, go online and figure out who is pulling traffic to their listings. Find the agents that Google recommends and it is likely you’ll find the agent that I would recommend. How do you find them? Try searching terms like “Hopkinton MA Real Estate Market Report” or “Framingham MA housing report.” As you’ll see in the final point, this is where your best negotiators can be found. They are the ones who are staying on top of the information that they need to win negotiations for their clients.

3. Make sure all three agents publish housing reports – OK, this is the big one. Being a master negotiator is all about understanding one’s position in the deal. It is absolutely impossible to know where you stand with a buyer unless you are super confident in your understanding of your asking price.

Real estate trades on supply and demand, and having an intimate knowledge of the market is what makes the top negotiators better than their peers. If you want to know how to handle that first offer that comes in, make sure you turn to somebody who actively demonstrates a higher knowledge of your local market.

Once you have interviewed all three agents, don’t be afraid to call each back with follow-up questions that you discerned from your meetings with the other agents.

Negotiation skills are not the only factor you should consider when interviewing agents for the job of selling your home, but it is one key issue that is almost always overlooked until it is too late. Fortunately, you don’t have to make this mistake. Simply follow the three tips I included above and you’ll be confident in knowing that your listing agent got you top dollar for your home.

Finding the right Realtor is an important step when selling a home. Don’t take the selection process lightly or you will end up disappointed like a lot of other people! Choosing a great real estate agent can be the difference of thousands of dollars in your pocket.

About the author: Joe Manausa, MBA is a 22+ year veteran of real estate brokerage in the State of Florida and has owned and managed his own company since 1992. His daily blog can be seen at manausa.com and features content that focuses on real estate analytics and providing his clients with a tactical advantage in today’s challenging market.

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Treat Your Home Like an Investment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article comes all the way from Vegas. Debbie Drummond has been a full time Realtor in Las Vegas since 2003.  She specializes in the luxury home and high rise market.  Debbie’s website is The Las Vegas Luxury Home Pro where she shares all her top real estate tips! Debbie is here to explain why your home is an investment and you should treat it like one!

For most families, their single largest investment is the home they live in.  While many of us take this investment seriously when making our buying decision, it’s easy to take it for granted once we have moved in.

If you have a family member or spouse who is putting on a bit of weight, you may not notice when you see them every day.  The same is true of your home.  You may not notice the paint is getting a little dull or chipped.  It’s easy to overlook the exterior of our homes if we pull into our garage and don’t spend a lot of time outside.

Routine Maintenance Will Save Money in the Long Run

Years of neglecting home maintenance can be costly.  It will damage the resale value and can lead to expensive repairs later.  In “Smart maintenance Tips for Homeowners”, the article provides an essential checklist that works well for all climates.  In our Las Vegas climate, having your HVAC serviced before the Summer heat and again before the Winter is a good idea.

In “Home Maintenance 101”  Admiral Cove Homes also suggests having the roof inspected and refinishing the patio and decks.   This will extend the life of your decks. One of the most common issues we find during a home inspection are filters needing to be changed.  Deteriorating caulk around plumbing fixtures is another common issue.  Changing the filters will save money on your energy bills.  Having the caulk repaired will help prevent mold. Visible items like caulk that is crumbling will make potential buyers wonder what else has been neglected.

Making sure you take care of the little things before selling your home can go a long way in keeping the buyer from trying to negotiate the offer on your home downward. Buyer’s today like turn-key properties.

Has Your Home Kept Up With The Times?

On top of routine maintenance tasks, we need to invest in keeping our home updated.  One of the biggest turn offs buyers have is going into a home and seeing out-dated kitchens and bathrooms.

Buyers see shiny gold faucets and trim in the bathroom and comment “that’s so eighties”.  Then they calculate how much it will cost to switch them to chrome or brushed nickel.  Recent trends have brass making a comeback.  However, it’s “brushed” brass rather than the shiny gold throwback of the disco age.

Light fixtures are another item that is easy to update and doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  It’s OK to have an occasional light fixture that was handed down from Grandma (that you’ll be taking with you when you move).  You don’t want outdated fixtures and sconces in every room of the house.

Replace items like Corian or white tile kitchen counter tops with granite or Caesar stone.  It may seem extravagant but it can help your home sell.  We recently worked with sellers who had updated their kitchen counter tops.  They knew the kitchen was dated and wanted to prepare it to sell.   They were surprised that it didn’t actually cost that much.  She wondered why they hadn’t updated it earlier so they could enjoy it.   Instead, they put them in for the new owners to enjoy.

Bathroom fixtures are another turn off.  If you have one of the old fashioned bath tubs from the eighties (think pinkish/mauve color), you might want to change it.  Aside from being dated, potential buyers will know it’s old and wonder about how clean it can be.

As a homeowner, it’s a good idea to budget for a home improvement project each year.  On a newer home you won’t have to do this.  On an older home you should be prepared.  One year, it may be replacing the HVAC system.  The next, maybe it’s time to re-do the kitchen or the bathrooms.

Flooring is another worthwhile home improvement project.  Today’s carpets come with warranties of 5, 7 or 10 years.  If you have an active family or pets, the life of the carpet may be shortened.  We are seeing a trend towards hard surface floors.  Ceramic or Travertine tile, wood or engineered wood with carpet saved for the bedrooms if used at all.  You can improve your home’s resale value while “Making Your Home Look Larger” as Debbie Gartner explains.

What’s your home’s value?

Anyone who invests in stocks keeps an eye on the market.  Why should your home’s value be any different?  There are websites that will give you a “estimate” of your home’s value.  Most of these online tools have not proven to be accurate. Stay in contact with your Realtor who should know the accurate value with just a little bit of homework.

Most of us do a monthly newsletter that reports market trends.  Let your agent know that you would like to receive updates for your specific subdivision or neighborhood. Maybe they can send you a report every six months or year about recent sales of homes comparable to yours.
This will be valuable information to share with your insurance agent.

Your home is an investment that should be protected.  If home values have gone up, you might need to increase your coverage.  If values have gone down, you might save money on your insurance premiums.

Be Pro-Active

You should become involved in your community.  Is there a graffiti hotline to call when you see a property that’s been tagged?  Is there a proposed zoning change that might affect your home’s value?  The more you stay informed the better you can make decisions about when you should sell your home and when you should hold onto it. Keep in mind your neighborhood will play a large role in the overall value of your home.

The tender loving care you give your home is likely to make a difference when you do cash in on it.  With so much of your net worth tied up in your home, it only makes sense to protect and maintain your investment.

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Pinterest For Real Estate

How to Use Pinterest For Real Estate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have not heard of Pinterest then you have probably been on a long hibernation from the internet over the last few years. There are not many social media platforms that have stormed onto the scene with so much popularity like Pinterest has done. If you have a blog for business purposes and are also in the real estate industry then Pinterest without question should be something you are using to drive traffic back to your site.

There is no other social media site that has the shelf life for a shared piece of content. For example when you share something on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or Linkedin you may get a couple of solid days of people sharing your content and then the amount of sharing will fade over time. This is not the case with Pinterest! If you have a great article it can be pinned over and over again for many months and even years!

This happens because Pinterest works on the “I told two friends concept”. A few people can pin something you have written today and two of their friends can do the same and so on and so on! Pretty soon your article is regularly getting pinned by more and more people. If used properly Pinterest sounds pretty exciting for exposing your content doesn’t it?

Do you want to learn how you can use Pinterest for your real estate business? Using Pinterest for real estate social media exposure is a no brainer! Be prepared, as this will become a comprehensive reference for using Pinterest to enhance your real estate business.

If you are a beginner and just getting started with Pinterest I would encourage you to take a look at the beginners guide to using Pinterest for real estate. What you will find is this article on the social media hat is the basics for getting started on Pinterest including what type of boards to create, what you should be pinning to those boards and how to maximize each pin for the best possible online exposure. At the end of the article you will also find a terrific video on using Pinterest for real estate.

Some quick suggestions for the types of must have boards to create for a Realtor include local real estate community boards, top notch real estate articles for buyers and sellers, home improvement, and mortgages/financing. While all of these boards specifically pertain to real estate, you should have also have a mix of other boards that show off your other interests and personality. All work and nothing else makes for a very boring Pinterest profile. One special note – I would highly recommend creating boards other than pinned real estate listings. The natural inclination for many real estate agents on social media is to share their listings. Can you say BORING! The majority of people could care less about your listing. You want to provide exceptional content that says WOW!

Real Estate Community Boards

As far as the real estate community boards go create things that people would be interested in knowing about a particular city or town. One of the staples that can be found on my real estate website are community pages for all the towns that I do the most real estate business in. These community pages are a great way to show off your real estate expertise and community knowledge. Here is an example of my Framingham real estate page. As you can see this is filled with a ton of information not only about all the best features of Framingham Massachusetts but also some great real estate information as well. This would be the perfect kind of information to have pinned to a dedicated Framingham Pinterest board.

The beauty of Pinterest is that you are pinning pictures so for one page like this one for Framingham you could have multiple pictures pinned to a board that show off school info, lakes and parks, churches and other things like this that someone thinking about relocating to Framingham may be interested in.

Best Real Estate Articles

Providing a board for the best real estate article is a great one because it allows you to not only post your best content to one place but also to share others content as well. Never underestimate the importance of sharing others content on social media. This is the best way to gain followers. Social media is about engagement and reciprocation. Someone who only shares their own content doesn’t usually go very far in having social media success. Your supporters are your life blood in social media!

Having other boards like home improvement and financial information are great compliments to the real estate industry and are also popular pinning topics.

Once you have put some of your boards together you want to start to master the art of using descriptions, links and hash tags for your pins. Keep in mind that search engines are not only going to see and index the boards you create but also your individual pins as well. For increased exposure doing this right will make a difference.

What you need to do is make sure you are describing your content in a way that a person may search for it online. Be descriptive when creating your boards by using proper keywords especially for your local boards. Do the same when describing your pins. Lastly, make sure you use hash tags to categorize your posts.

For example if you are writing a great real estate article that would be helpful for someone getting a mortgage to buy a home, use the hashtag #mortgage. The hashtag will put your article into a category with all the other popular mortgage posts.

For more advanced users I would suggest applying to get “rich pins”. Rich pins add Schema coding from your real estate blog that really enhance the look of your pins. You can easily distinguish a rich pin because the title of the article is in bold print and there is a link to the originating site of the pin. Rich pins really stand out and increase the odds you will get pinned. If you want rich pins I would advise on using Yoast SEO or some other plugin like it that will add the schema coding for you.

While I have given you a few ideas above for some Pinterest boards you may find that you really can’t think of many others that would work all that well for real estate. You are in luck because I put together some Pinterest real estate board suggestions that you can start to use right away.

Using Pinterest Group Boards

There is nothing more powerful on Pinterest than taking the initial concept of pinning articles and creating boards where multiple people can do the same. A Pinterest group board is like having an army of potential people who can make your best articles go viral.

The concept is simple – you create a Pinterest board in which you invite others to pin to. Anyone you invite to join the board can pin their own and other peoples articles. This makes the boards content grow rapidly both in size and popularity. The more people that join the board the greater potential for content to distributed. I have put together a nice reference for using Pinterest real estate group boards. This article I am sure will answer any questions you may have about how to maximize your efforts using group boards. If you are not using group board for real estate then you are missing out on a substantial opportunity for increased traffic and followers!

If you would like to take a look at how my real estate boards are set up, how I am describing and linking my pins and well as using proper hashtags you can take a look at my Pinterest real estate profile. This should help you not only generate ideas but see how to use Pinterest the right way.

Other Helpful Real Estate Social Media Posts

Use these references to make Pinterest a dynamic place for getting more real estate social media exposure. When you use Pinterest as the pro’s do you will see a very large amount of people visiting your blog directly from the site. Believe it or not Pinterest is my number one source of traffic!

 

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Best Google Plus Real Estate Posts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the great benefits of being on Google Plus daily is you come across some really informative real estate articles. Whether you are just following a great group or Realtors from other parts of the country or participate in some of the excellent Google Plus real estate communities there is always something worthwhile to read. Real Estate is a business that is constantly changing. In addition there are always new buyers and sellers entering the market looking for guidance.

What I am going to start doing more often is sharing some of the best real estate content I find on Google Plus. These will be summaries of real estate articles that are worth taking a closer look at. The majority of these articles will be helpful advice centered around buying and selling a home. So without further ado take a look at some of the best articles found on Google Plus for the first week of May 2014.

Tips For Dealing With Low Real Estate Appraisals

Buying and selling real estate can be very stressful. There are always problems lurking around every corner. One of the major hurdles when participating in a real estate transaction is getting past the lenders appraisal of the property. There are times when a property can be put under contract for a certain amount of money and the appraiser does not agree that this is the correct value.

When this happens this causes major havoc for both the buyer and seller. Do you know what to do when a home does not appraise for the contract price? In the article Debbie Drummond does a masterful job of explaining what happens when your property does not appraise for what it should. If you are buying or selling a home and run into an appraisal problem this article is a must read!

Don’t Pick A Realtor Because They Offer Home Staging

When you are selling your home one of the most important considerations should be the Realtor you select to get the job done. There are typically thousands of real estate agents to choose from in every market. Unfortunately many homeowners make poor decisions when selecting a Realtor. Often times an agent is selected based solely on some silly reason that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

When selling a home your property should look fantastic when it hits the market. It should have no repair issues, it should be clean and tidy, not too cluttered and no off the wall paint colors. In essence a buyer should be able to easily picture themselves in the property. One of the ways to ensure this happens is to hire a professional home stager who can give you guidance. For those that need it this is never a bad idea. Staging can be a powerful weapon in separating your home from the competition.

One thing you should never do however is pick a Realtor because they offer to stage your home. There are many real estate agents that offer staging as a value added service. That does not mean they should be chosen to represent your interests because they are providing a service like this. Over the years I have seen countless people make a mistake like this.

A top Realtor should have a great track record of success. This includes statistics that go along with their success. What kind of statistics? Look for an agent who prices a home properly. Their list price to sale price ratio should be exceptional. Another important stat is how long it takes them to sell their properties. Are they better than the market averages? Make sure you get a handle on their communication skills. Selling a lot of homes is great but you also want someone who provides excellent service as well. Staging is important but that is not a good reason to hire a Realtor. All the staging in the world will not sell a poorly priced and marketed home!

Multiple Real Estate Offers: How to Be The Winning Bid

When you set out to sell your home most people would love to see their home sell for the absolute most money. It is a very good feeling when you put your home up for sale and sell your home for more than you expected. One of the ways this is sure to happen is when you are fortunate enough to get multiple bids of your home.

From a buyer’s stand point this is an absolute nightmare. You have found your dream home and all of a sudden you find out there is another buyer who thinks exactly the way you do! In real estate multiple offers become far more common when it is a sellers market. With low inventory of homes for sale it becomes far more common for multiple offers on properties to occur. As a buyer there are things you can do to help increase the odds you are the winning bid. Kyle Hiscock does an exceptional job of explaining how you can be the winning bidder in a multiple offer transaction. At the top of most sellers wishes will be the highest bid of course but there are other things that a buyer can do to sweeten their offer. Kyle offers some terrific suggestions to increase the odds you have a good shot at getting the home you really want.

These are some of the best real estate posts found on Google Plus for the beginning of May. Using these tips should help your ability to reach your real estate goals. Best of luck!

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How Real Estate Agents Can Market Themselves

Real Estate Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Jenson, a real estate agent in Cleveland, came to me with a request: “I want a book to promote my business. But not a book about real estate – a book about me!”

It was a strange approach, but not ineffective.

It was strange, because the normal approach we take with real estate agents is to write a book that gives lots of tips on how to buy and sell your home. That makes the book useful to readers, and helps them understand that the agent really knows his stuff. Amidst the standard advice, one inserts some anecdotes from the agent’s past experience, to show how he has come to the rescue, achieved a higher sales price for the seller on one occasion and bargained the seller down for the buyer on another.

Here are some of the points that would typically be included:

• How to work with an agent
• Determining your asking price
How to apply for a mortgage
• What forms you will need to complete
• How to prepare your house to fetch the highest value
• How to host an open house
• How to buy a house for less
• How to make sure you don’t buy problems
• How to determine what you can afford
• How to narrow down the choices
• Home inspections

Mark Jenson wanted none of that. He wanted something focusing strictly on himself. He wanted to build a relationship with potential clients. Sure, the anecdotes in the book were all real estate related, so they clearly demonstrated his expertise. But would the unorthodox approach work?

In a word, yes.

Let’s not forget that it really takes only one or two extra sales for a book to hit positive ROI. While direct cause and effect cannot always be drawn from a marketing tool to a listing, it does appear that Mark has already broken even and made some money from the book. But why did his approach work? And did it work any better than the more orthodox approach.

First and foremost, it worked because a real estate agent can always distinguish himself or herself in the market as an authority by becoming a “published author”. As long as the book is about real estate, an agent’s face and name on the cover simply says “expert” and “authority” and “trust me” with a credibility that no business card will ever convey.

The business card says: I am a real estate agent.

The book says: I am THE real estate agent.

In that respect, the approach made no difference.

Second, Mark has been in real estate for over a decade, so he has some stories to tell. Stories always make for a better read than how-to tips,. On the other hand, how-to tips are more useful, especially if someone is about to buy or sell something as important as a home. I don’t think we’ll ever know which got read more, nor am I convinced that matters.

Mark’s strategy was simple. When a new owner takes possession of a home, he leaves a bouquet of flowers and three copies of his book, autographed, in with the new owners. The new owners move in, meet the neighbors, show their friends and family around, talk about the agent (“An amazing agent. Have you seen his book?”) And the word spreads.

This strategy varies from the typical agent’s book marketing strategy, where an agent might hand a book out to everyone who walks into his office.

Another standard tactic is to send a copy of the book to the local media, along with a note: “If ever you need someone to comment on real estate in this town, I am sure I can help you.” I have no idea if Mark did this. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The weekly real estate section in most big city newspapers needs content – interesting articles to offset the pages and pages of listings. They aren’t fooling anyone; the section is an advertising tool, not a part of the “newspaper”. But they like to put content, and a review of a new and local real estate book can be a refreshing change. More importantly, if they need comments on house prices or mortgage rates, they now have another source that they might turn to for a quote.

Not every agent is well-placed to follow Mark’s strategy. Not every agent has a dozen years under his belt. A newer agent who wants to distinguish himself with a book, is probably better placed to go the conventional route, dispensing solid advice and showing that he knows what he is talking about..

At this point, you might be wondering whether book marketing should replace billboards and benches and other signage. The short answer is, no.

Billboards and similar advertising have one goal and one goal only – to keep an agent top of mind, so that when the time comes to sell, people will pick that agent. It’s all about name recognition.

So where does a book come in? The answer: anywhere there is a heated battle for name recognition, and several names are recognized. In those communities, having name recognition and being seen as authority on real estate gives an agent the edge.

So which works better, Mark’s approach or a more conventional how-to real estate book? I have no idea, and I am sure I will never know. But you probably do know, because you know your market and you know how you relate to people. That is likely the secret to success, and what Mark Jenson intuitively understood. If you want to distinguish yourself with a book, just make sure it will fit your personality and your marketing style, and I don’t think you can lose.

David Leonhardt runs a global team of writers through The Happy Guy Marketing. His team helps entrepreneurs, including real estate agents and mortgage brokers, write their business books. They help other people write their biographies and novels and screenplays.

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9 Signs That You Need New Windows

Do You Need New Windows?

When Should I Replace My WindowsThere is a lot more to windows than many homeowners realize. No wonder, then, so many procrastinate in replacing their windows, preferring to believe new windows aren’t necessary, when, in reality, old windows present many hidden costs, not the least of which is astronomical heating and cooling bills.

The main reason to invest in new windows lies within the hidden dangers of old windows; many older windows were produced prior to the advent of shatter proofing, and the glass in their panes has usually drifted downward over time, making higher portions more fragile.

Consequently, even with the application of shatter-proofing films, older windows break from far lighter impacts than newer windows. What’s more, sometimes their panes are so thin they shatter on their own because of no more than sudden, slight changes in air temperature or pressure. Not only does this create a large, open gap in a home’s exterior, but the shattered window glass can cause major harm to people and property. If you are selling a home one of the more common home inspection issues found will be some kind of trouble with a window system.

Rather than putting off window replacement, it is far better to update your windows if, indeed, an update is necessary. However, window replacement isn’t always absolutely imperative. In fact, to determine whether you should replace your home’s windows, all you have to do is go through the following checklist of signs that your windows have outlived their use.

Window Replacement Checklist: 9 Ways To Tell If You Need New Windows

Are your windows crank-opened?

Many older windows use crank-and-gear opening mechanisms that break down over time. If turning a window’s crank requires a lot of force, the mechanism is likely failing, and, as a result, the entire installation will need replacing.

Are your windows painted shut?

Not only does an inability to open a window in warm weather decrease a home’s airflow and make a room less comfortable, but a painted-shut window can cause equally hazardous issues. Often, painting a window shut was a fast, inexpensive means of insulating the window in an era when lead paints were prevalent. Troubling, as well, is the fire hazard painted-shut windows present: Any window for which egress is difficult or impossible can trap fire victims, turning a financial tragedy into a personal calamity.

Are your windows impossible to close without “Jerry rigging” them?

Windows that won’t shut without, say, leaning a chair against them or taping them with duct tape present the same fire hazard as painted-shut windows. After all, you might not have the time or ability to remove your makeshift jamb during a house fire. But windows that won’t shut properly also present the risk of unwanted entry into your home. In today’s world, you certainly cannot risk someone simply moving a chair and entering uninvited.

Do you insulate your windows with plastic?

The annual plastic-insulation project temporarily creates the same fire hazards in winter months – when Christmas tree and fireplace fires are common – as painted-shut and Jerry-rigged windows. Newer windows require no such insulation, being, as they are, far more sealed than their forerunners. Nor is window plastic a particularly satisfactory form of insulation because the plastic’s seal fails, undermining the entire system.

Can you feel a draft when you’re near your windows?

It wasn’t long ago when gasoline and fuel oil cost 10 cents a gallon; in fact, in 1997 a gallon of refined petroleum cost 99 cents everywhere in the country. It’s obvious, then, why many older homes still have fuel-oil furnaces and poorly insulated windows: We used to have plenty of cheap petroleum to burn.

Today, however, the same heating system and windows installed as recently as 15 years ago can cost a homeowner thousands per year in heating costs. Installing new windows can often reduce these costs exponentially, while also offering a major federal tax deduction for home insulation. Such savings add up and can go toward purchasing the natural-gas heating system that completes the savings picture.

Do your windows frost?

Idyllic as it might look, frosted windows is an indicator of structurally compromised window panes. Newer windows are often comprised of two panes with a small gap between them that helps moderate the glass’s temperature, while older windows are usually no more than one sheet of glass wedged within a sill. Already fragile from many years of temperature changes, as well as from gravity pulling their glass downward, such older windows can shatter from no more than a sudden cold snap.

Do your windows have lead weights?

Window weights – which counterbalance some older windows’ hinge-opening sashes – run between the side jamb and the wall in an outdated design that provides poor insulation. Yet the major problem with such windows is their weights are often lead, which was plentiful and cheap in a bygone area but, as we now know, is also highly toxic.

Since, unless you are a metallurgist, you will have no clue whether the window’s weights are lead or steel – even if you do find the weights’ access panel – assume they are lead in any window whose sash connects to its jamb via a rope; avoid touching them and have the window replaced immediately.

Are outside sounds voluble inside?

Sound and heat energy waves both travel easily over the air. So the fact that the barking of your neighbor’s dog sounds like it’s in your living room isn’t only a nuisance; it is a sign that warm air within your home can escape through your windows easily in winter months, to be displaced by – you guessed it – cold air. Adding insult to injury, poorly insulated, older windows can help that infernal hound’s howling keep you awake at night, in addition to driving up your energy bills.

Do your window jambs, sill and frames show signs of wear?

You would naturally replace a window if a baseball went through its pane, but the pane itself is only one part of a window’s overall structure. Everything surrounding it – including the sill, jambs and frames – can also deteriorate, creating air gaps in a window. Wooden window hardware is especially notorious for this, as wood rots and warps over time. Even if such damage isn’t obvious on the hardware’s exterior, it can still be an internal problem, so if your window hardware is wooden, assume the window needs replacing.

These are all signs that your windows could need replacement in the near future!

Paul KazlovTo learn more about whether your old windows need replacing, or for a quote on a window-replacement project in the Feasterville, Penn., and Morristown, N.J., areas, visit Global Home Improvement Inc.’s website or call us at 877-711-9850. Paul Kazlov is a “green” home remodeling enthusiast and an industry pioneer for innovation in home renovation.  Paul writes for the Global Home Improvement Blog and strives to educate people about lifetime remodeling solutions such as metal roofing. Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.

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How to Baby Proof Your Home

Moving With Young Kids

Child Proof A Home

When moving into a new place it’s easy to forget how different the world looks from the perspective of a baby, but this perspective is important to keep in mind as families prepare to introduce their latest family addition to their new home.  In order to make your house child-friendly, you must first access your house and consider whether or not your house is safe in general.

Baby-proofing your home means you have taken into account the dangerous objects that might be easily accessible to your baby, and you have secured anything that they may try to open, pull, play with, or even put in their mouth that could possibly hurt them.  Before bringing your new bundle of joy home, use these helpful tips to provide a better and safer environment for your home, to ensure that you’ve covered all of the basics of baby safety.

Recognize Hazards

As adults, we possess the ability to balance our curiosity with caution, keeping us safe in most cases.  This differs for babies; however, it is important to remember that babies don’t see the world as adults do. As babies continue to grow, their curiosity grows within their surroundings. Curiosity is what compels them to explore.

As a parent, it is critical that your first step in baby-proofing your home is to see the world as our little one sees it.  Recognize things that could be harmful and removing those objects so that there is no chance of your little one coming into contact with any harmful objects.

Chemicals

Household ChemicalsBe mindful of where you store chemicals in your new home, such as cleaning supplies, detergents and etc.  You should remember not to put chemicals in lower cabinets. If you have done so remove them from that area and place them in a new location outside of your baby’s reach.

Be sure that paint and other hazardous substances are stored in airtight containers on high shelves.

Simply moving chemicals to a storage room and locking the door is enough to prevent a crawling baby from harming themselves. As your child begins to get older and is able to walk on their own, you should take extra steps to certify that there is a safe barrier between your child and dangerous materials.

Small Objects

As a rule of thumb, anything that is small enough to be placed in a baby’s mouth should be moved and stored in a different location.  Magnets, pens and small tools are considered “choking hazards” and should be placed out of your child’s reach.

Place these small objects in drawers high above your baby or inside cabinets. You should secure them with latches that prevent your child from accessing them.  There are a large variety of latches and locks created for the purpose of making it difficult for your child to get near anything that could hurt them, also to limit the chance of injury.

Miscellaneous Hazards

Electrical Cord is Baby HazardThink about the times that you, as an adult, have almost injured yourself after tripping over an electrical cord. These cords can be even more dangerous for a baby. A number of accidents could occur as a result of exposed electrical cords. Do as much as you possibly can to prevent this by gathering and tying electrical cords so that they cannot be reached by your baby.

A set of stairs is something like a yellow brick road that an inquisitive little infant will feel the urge to follow. Rather than leading to an adventure, this could instead lead to disaster. Baby gates are a reliable go-to solution for this problem.

Go even further by installing two baby gates. Place one baby gate about three to four steps up. Then position the second gate near the top of the stairs. Due to the gate being positioned higher, it decreases your child’s chances of crawling over it, but in case you have a gifted climber on your hands, you will have a second gate which serves as another obstacle for them. If the baby happens to take a tumble, there is only a small amount of distance between the two gates.

Improve the Safety of Your Furniture

Falls and collisions with furniture are a couple of the most common threats to your baby’s safety. Secure furniture in place to decrease its potential of injuring your child.

·Add cushioned corner guards or edging to coffee and side tables, hearths, or any other sharp surfaces.

· Mount and secure bookshelves to walls so they don’t topple over.

· Place blockers in electrical sockets to protect your child from sticking their fingers in them.

When it comes to ensuring your child’s safety, there’s nothing that you wouldn’t do.  Although you can’t prevent certain accidents from happening, minimizing their potential of occurring is crucial to the safety of your child.  Before you bring your new baby home, make sure that your house is prepared for the amount of exploration that your infant will no doubt take part in.

Julie SmithThis article on how to baby proof your home comes to you from Julie Smith, a mother and a wife who enjoys DIY projects, blogging and simply spending time with her family. She is the writer of www.iheartthishouse.com , blogging is her new found interest and she hopes to educate and inform fellow readers of this post. Julie is a firm believer in family, friends, fun and an American Home Shield secure home.

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Title V Inspections

Title V Inspections 101

Massachusetts Title VIf you live in Massachusetts and your home has a septic system, you’ll more than likely need to have the system inspected and approved before transferring ownership or making significant modifications to your home.

What is a Title V inspection?

The set of state regulations that govern this process is called Title V. These regulations were created in 1995 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to protect waterways and the environment. Septic system inspections are a key piece of these regulations. Each city’s Board of Health administers Title V and keeps a record of a home’s as-built septic plans, as well as inspection results, which details the condition of the septic system and its capacity.

When do you need a Title V inspection?

Title V regulations require septic system inspections anytime ownership of a property is transferred. This includes selling the home to new owners or inheriting the property. There are, however, some transfers in which homeowners are exempt from a Title V inspection. According to the city of Yarmouth, MA’s website, these include:

  • Transferring ownership of a home between current spouses.
  • Transferring between parents and their children.
  • Transferring between full siblings.
  • When the property is held in a trust where at least one beneficiary is a first-degree relationship.

In addition to transfers of ownership, an inspection is typically required when the use of the property changes, such as converting a home into a commercial office space. A Title V inspection is also required when properties are combined or divided.

You may also need a Title V inspection if you make additions or improvements to your home. Although not all types of home additions dictate a septic system inspection under Title V regulations, adding bathrooms, showers, or bedrooms warrant an inspection.

Who performs a Title V inspection?

A Title V inspection should be done by a certified septic pumping professional, licensed in the state of Massachusetts. These professionals can also perform any necessary repairs, upgrades, or replacements necessary for compliance with the regulations.

In Massachusetts, the state does allow for a Confidential Voluntary Assessment, which means a homeowner can have their septic system inspected without having to submit their finding to the Board of Health. This could give the homeowner a heads-up to any problems or repairs needed before the official Title V inspection.

Here are a few septic professionals who perform Title V inspections throughout Massachusetts:

What does a Title V inspection entail?

Massachusetts Title V SepticWhen inspection time comes, the inspector will look at all parts of your septic system, including the cesspool, leach field, distribution box and septic tank. The inspector will also check for hydraulic failure and check the high groundwater elevation. According to the MassDEP, the septic tank, distribution box and the cesspool can be inspected at the absolute minimum.

The inspector will provide information on water usage for the last two years, as well as make sure that the number of bedrooms the septic system is rated for is the number of bedrooms in the house. Ensuring accuracy on this point can save homeowners a lot of headache if you ever want to sell your house.

Under Massachusetts’ regulations, the number of bedrooms a house can claim to have is dictated by the capacity of the septic system. For example, a home could have four rooms that are suitable for bedrooms, but if the Title V inspection determines that the septic system has only enough capacity for three bedrooms, then the home must be listed as a three-bedroom home.

This can come as quite a shock to homeowners, and it can obviously have a negative effect on the property’s value. Worse yet, ignoring this aspect of a Title V inspection can mean you’re essentially misleading prospective homebuyers, which can trigger expensive litigation. For this reason it’s important for homeowners to get their Title V inspection completed well before putting their home on the market. Under Title V regulations, the property owner has two years to fix problems found in an inspection.

It’s a good idea to obtain the original septic system plans from your local Board of Health and have them on-hand during inspection, as well as records of maintenance and pumping that’s been done on the system.

Once inspection is completed, the inspector will submit his findings to the Board of Health and they will give a conditional, pass or fail on the septic system. The Board of Health will keep a record of the results, which for any home buyer, is great because they can obtain the information before deciding to buy. However, home buyers should note that Title V inspections only assess the septic system’s current functioning – the report isn’t considered an indication of future performance or the expected longevity of the system.

Also keep in mind that when you receive a Title V report from your inspector and it says “pass” that does not mean that you have completely cleared the hurdle of what is necessary in Massachusetts. Local board of healths have broad power over septic systems and could potentially deny the approval for some reason. This really becomes important because there is the potential that you could be heading to closing on your home thinking you have a passing Title V when in fact you do not! See Massachusetts Title V approval for a complete run down.

What if your Title V doesn’t pass?

The first order of business is to call the local Board of Health and a local engineer. The latter will help to assess the situation and determine the best course of action. One thing the engineer can do is see if there is a reserve area in the original design of your septic system, meaning it has the capability to add more leach trenches. Another option is to come up with a design in the event that the entire system needs to be relocated.

Relocating or replacing a septic system can be costly and it’s a good idea to bid the project to several septic installers once the design is completed. This will help you find the best price within your budget. If money is tight, there are a few programs available to alleviate the financial burden of having to replace your septic system – tax credit and low-cost financing through the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MHFA), the Farmers Home Administration (FHA) and the USDA Rural Development Program.

Megan McClure is a freelance writer based outside Philadelphia. Find her on Google+.

 

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Semantic Search Explained

Semantic SearchWhen I was growing up, last century, buying or renting a house in the laid-back city of Brisbane was a relatively straightforward, low-key affair. You asked your pals who was the Realtor in their community and you visited their office sometime in the week.

There were two implicit statements in this approach that, with time, have been completely lost. First that the Realtor was the most trustworthy person to do business with in the community when it came to buying or renting property, they were the ones with all the knowledge, expertise and vested interest.

They knew the community inside out, knew their business and worked to build up their reputation. Second that the Realtor’s interests and yours were roughly aligned. Yes, they wanted to make money, but they were not out to rip you off and as long as you understood that then the entire relational exchange was a little like two friends agreeing on a deal.

In retrospect it all sounds naively rustic, counter-intuitive to how we expect the world to run today when every deal needs to be inspected from every side and even then there is a good chance that something had been missed. Trust and alignment of interests seem to be notions that belong to a bygone century, not our fast-paced, digitally-enabled world.

Yet that’s where we’re headed towards in the 3.0 phase of the web that’s presided over by Google’s semantic search. As search gradually transits from an engine that provides probably answers to a search query that we then have to go through individually, ourselves, to one that provides answers, trust becomes a key component.

To work semantic search needs trust. It needs our trust in the veracity of the results it gives us and it needs, itself, to be able to work out the trustworthiness of the answers it provides. So a search, for instance, using Google Voice on mobile for “the best Realtor in Hopkinton” should produce a handful of choices that don’t just happen to be Realtors but are actually “the best”.

The way Google’s semantic search does that requires activities on its part that entail such complicated concepts as “entity extraction”, “relational identification”,  specific “data types”, “strings”, “alphabet sets”, and “arrays”. The end result however is that when it provides an answer that answer is trustworthy and for the Realtor using search to get prospects that’s pure gold.

Disregarding all the technicalities of this new search the question from a Realtor’s point of view is what does one have to do to make the “trustworthy” list? The answer to that is much easier to get a fix on than the mathematics of semantic search:

Semantic Search For Real Estate

Real Estate Semantic Search1. Establish Yourself. Not all Realtors are equal. Some specialize in rentals and others in high-end properties. Some will only deal with residential properties and others will focus on business properties. Your digital presence, anywhere, has to make this crystal clear.

2. Tell Google where you are. If you post content about Houston and happen to be active in Philadelphia you’re not really helping Google understand where you are no matter what you say. There are a number of ways to establish location including using Google Local for Business, your Google+ profile, your Google+ Page, your LinkedIn profile, your website, your blog and every digital presence you have which permits you to establish your location.

 A good example of what a Realtor can do to establish trust within their community and surrounding area is to create a community page that establishes their expertise. Check out this community page that covers Shrewsbury Massachusetts Real Estate, schools, demographics and other town data that a perspective buyer or seller may be interested in. Would you not agree that a page like this builds trust and expertise surrounding the town of Shrewsbury MA? If you are a Realtor this is one example of how you can build your credibility.

3. Tell Google what you do. If you’re buying and selling golf courses but only blog about the daily life of a Realtor you’re making it really hard for Google to establish your expertise. By all means write about your daily woes but also write about why not every golf course is a sound investment, for instance. How one goes about getting the finance necessary for buying a golf course and what are the signs that a golf course is a good investment.

4. Tell the world what you do. Don’t just write. In the age of connectivity time is critical and no one has a lot of it to spend on reading all the time. Videos, Gifs, pictures and Tweets, all form a rich tapestry of content that helps create a more granular picture of who you are and what you do.

5. Connect the dots. The semantic web is social. The sharing of your content across social networks, the connectivity you make between the people you meet and the content you share, all form part of a complex matrix where what you share, who you are and you do become part of a very detailed picture.

All of this of course presupposes two things (again). First that you have a very carefully worked out content creation strategy that allows you to slice-and-dice your ‘message’ and inject it into the content you create. Secondly that Google’s semantic search is good enough to piece it back altogether.

Google is getting there with the second. To win in the semantic web you’d better make sure you’re there with the first. Keep in mind while the example of semanti search here is a real estate agent, this works the same whether you are a lawyer, plumber, or other industry.

David AmerlandThe real estate article above was written by David Amerland who is one of the foremost experts on the subject of search engine optimization (SEO). David Amerland is the author of ‘The Social Media Mind’ and the best-selling ‘SEO Help’, ‘Online Marketing Help’ and ‘Brilliant SEO’.

His books on online marketing, SEO and the social media revolution have helped thousands of entrepreneurs build successful online businesses. When he is not busy writing he advises companies and start ups on social media strategy and gives talks about the social media revolution on the web.

He maintains his own blog at http://helpmyseo.com where you can find practical SEO and social media advice and spends more time online than is probably healthy.

You can follow both David Amerland on Google Plus  and Bill Gassett on Google Plus where you will find both using this great social media tool to create relationship with others and share content worth reading. We both hope to see you there!

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How To Achieve Short Sale Success

Closing A Short Sale

Short sales can easily take two to three times longer to complete than a traditional real estate transaction. Keeping this in mind it makes sense to be well prepared if you need to short sale a Massachusetts home. Follow the outline below and you will be well on your way to increasing your chances that you will end up at a closing table.

Hire A Realtor Who Closes Short Sales

Massachusetts Short Sale RealtorChoosing a Realtor who understands the short sale process is a critical one. On of the biggest stumbling blocks to short sale success is hiring any ole real estate agent to represent your interests in a short sale. Trust me there are Realtors taking short sale business who are absolutely clueless. Even though it is against the code of ethics for a Realtor who has no knowledge of short sales to list them, it happens all the time. In other words don’t choose the short sale Realtor pictured to the right!

Some of the first steps of a Realtor representing a short sale candidate include:

  • Conducting a thorough interview of the short seller
  • Establishing whether there is a valid hardship
  • Determining lender/lenders
  • Figuring out approximate remaining mortgage balance
  • Determine what type of loan i.e FHA, Conventional or Fannie Mae
  • Finding out if the seller is in default
  • If so finding out how long in default
  • Figure out if the seller is motivated and cooperative

If the short sale agent you are interviewing is not asking these questions then this could be the first clue this Realtor is not the right agent for the job! Once an agent has done their home work on the seller and has gone ahead with listing the home for sale, they then have to perform the function of finding the right short sale buyer. Finding the appropriate buyer in a short sale is a lot different than a standard real estate sale. You MUST have a buyer that understands the short sale process and is completely invested in the home.

What does invested mean? You want a buyer that is willing to wait the time it takes to complete a short sale and also go ahead with completing their responsibilities just like any other real estate transaction. Responsibilities include getting a home inspection done, signing a purchase and sale, and procuring financing. All of these things should be done prior to short sale approval NOT after. One of the biggest reasons short sales do not close is because of the Realtor not understanding how to properly represent a seller.

Work With An Attorney Who Closes Short Sales

Massachusetts Short Sale AttorneyThe attorney you use in your short sale can have a huge impact on whether or not you get to the closing and also get your desired terms. Just as a real estate agent should have experience in closing short sales so should the attorney if you have one. By the way in my opinion it is vital to have an attorney representing your interests in a short sale!

A real estate agent should not be practicing law which is exactly what happens when you have a Realtor who negotiates a short sale contract and approval letter. Luckily for me I have one of the best short sale attorneys in Massachusetts representing all of my clients! Here are some of the things a good Massachusetts short sale attorney will be doing to get short sale approval:

  • Understand and maintain lender guidelines
  • Secure forms for each lender and/or servicer
  • Run a title exam on the seller’s property
  • Identify any liens and/or encumbrances
  • Identify all individuals on deeds and mortgages

Complete Short Sale Package

Short Sale PackageOnce these things are done the short sale attorney will assist in sending a complete “short sale package” to the lender. The short sale package that is submitted to the lender will include the following items:

  • A short sale “hardship letter” which will explain to the lender why the seller needs to complete a short sale
  • The seller’s tax returns from the prior two years
  • The seller’s current pay stubs
  • An authorization letter from the seller stating the attorney will be communicating and receiving lender docs on their behalf
  • The listing agents contract and purchase and sale if available

The completeness of the short sale package is vital in a short sale and often times can hold things up if the lender does not have all the documentation when they ask for it. A good attorney confirm the lender has everything they need when asked for it. Often times negotiators will claim they never received documentation that was already sent. The attorney will also keep all seller financial information updated and forwarded to the lender every 30 days or as they require.

One of the biggest roles the attorney has is maintaining a constant line of communication with the lenders negotiator. When a negotiator asks for a document the attorney needs to jump on it right away.

Short Sale Negotiation

Successful Short Sale NegotiationFrom a seller’s point of view there is nothing more important than short sale debt removal. Whoever is negotiating the short sale for the seller plays the biggest role in a seller’s financial future. Again I would never recommend using a real estate agent to negotiate a short sale.  The attorney I use negotiates on my seller’s behalf and looks to get the best deal possible from the lender/investor.

For example lets assume for a moment that a seller is $75,000 short at closing. The role of the attorney would be to try to get the $75,000 short sale deficiency eliminated! Today it is a lot harder to get a short sale debt completely removed but that is the goal. In many cases the lender will not agree to a complete debt removal but will accept either a cash contribution at closing or ask the owner to sign a promissory note. In short sales the amount that a lender typically tries to collect is pennies on the dollar.

While every short sale is different, using the example above a lender could ask an owner to bring $5000 to closing and agree to waive the remaining $70,000 balance. Often times in a short sale an owner has absolutely no cash and it would be impossible for them to contribute anything at closing. In this case the lender may ask for a $15,000 note be signed at favorable terms. Again these figures are just examples but show the type of monetary contributions lenders ask for. Keep in mind lenders will check your finances and know when they can’t get blood out of a stone. One the flip side if they see you have money to contribute, the likelihood is strong they will ask for something.

Aside from the negotiation of the dollar amounts the short sale attorney should also be looking to eliminate the possibility the lender can come back after you in the future for any remaining mortgage balance. This should be completely spelled out in the short sale approval letter.

Short Sale Obstacles

Short Sale ObstaclesBefore you ever get to the negotiating table with a lender there can be obstacles that pop up along the way. One of the most common short sale problems is disputes over value with lenders. This is one of the more common issues and can easily derail the short sale if you are not familiar with how to tackle the problem.

In every short sale the lender will send out a representative who will evaluate the current market value. This is either done by an appraiser or another real estate agent. They will do an analysis of value and report their findings back to the lender. The lender unfortunately can treat this value as “gospel”.  You are at the mercy of whatever the agent or appraiser has to say as far as value goes.

Here is where the biggest problem occurs. Most of the time it is not an appraiser that will do the evaluation but a real estate agent that the lender chooses. Here is the rub. The agent who does this work for the lender generally gets paid $40-80 dollars to do hours worth or work evaluating the properties value. Can you guess what type of agent has the time or inclination to work hours and only get paid $40-80 dollars. If you guessed bottom of the barrel then you are right on the money. Sometimes the agent isn’t even from the area and knows nothing about local value and differences between neighborhoods. Pardon the French but it can be a real shit show.

When a lender is given an evaluation that does not make sense they will counter offer at some ridiculous value that makes absolutely no sense. This is where a skilled short sale agent comes in that knows how to dispute a foolish evaluation given by some nit wit who is practicing real estate part time on the side. I kid you not this happens far too often!

Picking the right short sale Realtor and attorney is a vital part of short sale success!

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on how to achieve short sale success was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 26+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Ashland, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southboro, Sutton, Wayland, Westboro, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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Using Google+ As a Real Estate Agent

 

David AmerlandThe following article is written by David Amerland who is one of the foremost experts on the subject of search engine optimization (SEO). David Amerland is the author of ‘The Social Media Mind’ and the best-selling ‘SEO Help’, ‘Online Marketing Help’ and ‘Brilliant SEO’. His books on online marketing, SEO and the social media revolution have helped thousands of entrepreneurs build successful online businesses. When he is not busy writing he advises companies and start ups on social media strategy and gives talks about the social media revolution on the web. He maintains his own blog at http://helpmyseo.com where you can find practical SEO and social media advice and spends more time online than is probably healthy. You can follow him on Google+ or Twitter @davidamerland.

There are few industries in the world that quite share as many challenges when it comes to online promotion as the Real Estate one. The busy realtor who struggles to carve up enough time to spend with potential buyers and sellers and still run his business, also has to contend with the demands made by the transition of marketing from traditional to digital.

Google Plus Real Estate SearchThere is a paradox here that must be addressed. While for most industries the transition from offline to online means greater opportunities and an increase in ROI due to the efficiencies achieved through the web, for the real estate industry as a whole it presents a real challenge. Real Estate, a proposition that is hyper-local, has to, somehow, also work on a global scale. Homes being sold in Texas may find buyers in Idaho. Villas in Florida can be bought by holiday home seekers in Britain.

Those looking to relocate from one State to another, or even one country to another, have to be able to find what they want outside their own search bubble. The realtor is expected to have a powerful presence in local search, achieve high rankings in global search and still run a business that has no regular hours and is plagued by a volatile target audience.

For realtors the only answer to the challenge represented by ‘online’ was to either specialize and hyper-localize in terms of both sellers and buyers in which case the issues raised by the complexity of being found through search became somewhat easier, or to put enough time and money into the digital part of the real estate business and hope the ROI worked. Either way the solution required curtailing the ability to work properly by either committing to a smaller, deeper part of the market or a greater expenditure of money. Both choices come with inherent risks.

Now however, there is another way.

The power that lies in “connecting the dots”

Real Estate Google Plus ConnectionsGoogle+ is frequently called in the media “Google’s Social Network” but it is a lot more than that. It is a set of powerful socialization tools that allow the creation of social signals right across the web. In order to quantify this a little let’s look at what is also frequently mentioned in the media as the “competing social network” to Google+ – Facebook.

The listing of a villa for sale in Florida posted on Facebook may get a little bit of interaction with some of those who see it, it may get re-shared a few times, particularly if it is a spectacularly appointed or expensively priced villa, but its finding a buyer has about the same chances that traditional, one-off print advertising offers or worse as at least the latter can lie around for a while the former will get buried in the stream within a couple of hours or so.

The chances then of the right person seeing it, at the right time, with the right mindset, are so slim that they hardly do justice to the effort involved in posting it. Now look at that same listing posted on Google+. The data is indexed by Google. The search engine notes that the listing is for a villa in Florida. It sees that those who interacted most with the listing come from Britain. It notes that the person who posted it frequently blogs about villas, engages in posts about real estate in Florida and interacts with realtors and clients who are based in the State.

The next thing you know a potential buyer doing a search on Google for moving services to Florida sees, in the suggested results on Google search, the name of the realtor who sells villas there. A different person using Google’s UK index to look for “luxury homes in the US” also sees the name of the realtor selling villas in Florida. And, if the realtor has done his homework and linked his G+ account with his website, they also see, each time, a thumbnail of his picture next to the suggested content that appears on Google search.

What has happened here is that by creating a breadcrumb trail of activity the clever realtor has engaged Google search to act as his personal real estate billboard, complete with publicity picture, when it’s relevant to the search query.

No more time wasters

Google Plus SEOThe key here is relevance. Search only works when it creates what is increasingly called, contextual value. There is little point in having your real estate listings show up on a search for Florida someone is carrying out as a school project, for instance. Here Google+ and Google become almost synonymous in purpose and the bridging link is data. But the gift is not just granted, you need to work for it.

The data you input in your Google+ profile, the connections you make, the interactions you have and the posts you place there are all part of an increasingly visible digital footprint that begins to define ‘you’ as an entity in Google’s search. That means that what you do and how, locally and globally begins to now make sense the way humans would understand it and machine search, in the past, didn’t. Which also means that you are then more likely to have a targeted audience in Google search than ever before.

If all this sounds like you can finally begin to achieve more in the digital world, in real estate, with less it’s because that’s exactly what it is. The caveat is that you will need to invest time in a content creation plan that will, in its totality, help create as complete a picture of you and your business as possible, link your website to your Google+ profile and behave online with the authority and expertise and generosity of advice and engagement that you do offline.

Do all this and suddenly the job of being a realtor will begin to sound a lot less demanding than it currently is. The time for using Google Plus For Real Estate is here! If you are a Real Estate agent reading this article don’t get lost in the shuffle! Google Plus can be a Realtors best friend if you know how to use it properly!

If you are in the Real Estate industry whether is be a Realtor, mortgage broker, or home stager make sure you join the Google Plus Real Estate Community. There are great discussion daily on a wide variety of topics related to Real Estate and how you can grow your business!

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Educating A Buyer Looking To Purchase A Short Sale

Buyer’s Agent Representation For Short Sales

 

Massachusetts Short SalesIn every real estate transaction I am a firm believer of a buyer having representation. It makes perfect sense for a home buyer to have someone in their corner giving them guidance. Unfortunately when it comes to short sales I have found that so many buyer’s agents are not properly educated enough to do a proper job.

Short sales are not ordinary real estate transactions and as such an agent who has no knowledge should no even consider getting involved with one unless they have another agent who does mentoring them. While representing home owners who have needed to short sale their property over the last seven years I have noticed time and again real estate agents who don’t even understand the basics of short sales. If you are a buyer and are considering purchasing a short sale I am going to go over some of the basics below on what you need to understand before entering into one of these transactions.

Short Sales Take Time

Short Sale Closing TimeIf you are considering buying a short sale the first thing you need to understand is that they take far longer to purchase than a non-short sale. On average it takes around 90-120 days to get short sale approval. In some cases it can be a lot longer! For example if there is more than one loan on the property and both are “short” then you will need to get approval from both lenders. This will add time to the overall process of getting to the closing table.

It is also possible that the original  mortgage the owner had on their home was an FHA loan. If that is the case than you can prepare yourself for an even longer journey. As crazy as it sounds, it is quite possible it could take 6-9 months or longer to get to the closing table with an FHA loan. This is obviously a question your buyer agent should be asking right up front. Guess how many buyer’s agents have asked me this question over the last seven years? If you said zero you would be correct!

On some short sales Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac is the investor holding the note. There are many buyer’s and agents who will ask the question who is the lender? Lets assume for a minute the lender is Bank of America (BOA). That does not mean that Bank of America is necessarily the decision maker. They may not actually own the note and are just the “servicer”  for the investor.

There could be 20-30 investors that own notes that BOA services. This is one reason why one BOA short sale could be a nightmare and the next smooth sailing.  This is true of most lenders not just BOA. On some loans there could also be mortgage insurance in which case the insurer also has to approve the short sale. Are you starting to get the picture here? Short sales are one big bureaucratic mess. If you were thinking that short sale approval was as simple as  some dude was sitting behind a desk making decisions then you are wrong!

The long and short of all this is that a buyer’s agent should not get a buyer involved with a short sale transaction unless they have the time to see it through until the end. Keep in mind that a seller going through a short sale is in a tough financial position. The last thing they can afford is an uneducated buyer thinking it is fine to bail on them after a month because they are tired of waiting for a short sale approval to be issued.

Be Prepared To Spend Money

Short Sale InvestmentIn every real estate transaction there is risk. When you purchase a home some of the typical expenses a buyer should be prepared for are home inspections, hiring a lawyer for contract review, and applying for a mortgage. In many short sales I see buyer’s agent’s trying to structure the contract such that the buyer does not have to spend money on any of these things until there is short sale approval.

Sure it would be nice to go around in life to never have any risk in anything you do but that is not how it works when purchasing a short sale. Well actually let me rephrase that. This is not how it works in any short sale where I will be representing the seller! The goal in any short sale is to actually get to a closing. When you try to change the rules of real estate you increase the likelihood you will not be closing. There are reasons why a buyer should get their home inspection done, why they sign a binding contract and why they procure their financing prior to short sale approval. For a complete explanation of why a buyer should complete these tasks up front see reasons to reject short sale offers.  Being educated on the entire short sale process is vital.

Interview The Listing Agent

Massachusetts Short Sale RealtorsWhy on earth would you want to interview the listing agent you may be thinking? The answer is real simple….you want to be able to find out what the chances are that you will actually close on the home you are interested in purchasing. Closing short sale transactions are far more complex that a regular sale. The listing agent in a short sale should have experience closing them! This can not be emphasized enough. There is nothing more important in a short sale than the listing agent having a track record of success.

For example if the listing agent allows you to do a home inspection after short sale approval do you really think they have any clue what they are doing? Would they be representing their clients interest to allow this? Do you think there would be plenty of short sales that bit the dust right before closing if this was allowed?

Here is a detailed list of short sale questions for a listing agent. These questions should be able to help you get a better grip on whether or not the Realtor knows what they are doing. You should at the very minimum be finding out how many short sales they have listed and how many of those have closed. You should also be making sure that if your offer gets accepted the seller signs it and the home is taken off the market. Remember without a signed contract, the seller can accept a better offer from someone else.

Short Sale Low Ball Offers

Massachusetts Short Sale GambleIf you think short sales are an open invitation for you to offer some ridiculous price then you are wrong. The chances of a lender accepting something significantly under value is slim to none. What buyer’s agent and buyer’s need to understand is that the lender is going to verify that the offer the seller has accepted makes fiscal sense. The lender will either send out an appraiser or another real estate agent who will do an analysis of value on the home and send that back to the lender. The lender will use this information to form the basis of their decision on whether to accept, reject or counter offer.

It makes no sense for an owner to accept a low ball short sale offer. When a seller does this they have taken their home off the market for months and are almost assured that they lender will say NO! For a seller to accept a low ball offer would essentially be gambling away any chance they have for short sale success.

A short sale should be a decent value and more often than not slightly under market for what a similar property should sell for. Don’t expect the world though. Lenders are much tougher today with value and getting the most they can.

Short Sales Are “As Is”

Short sales are generally as is transactions. Don’t expect a seller to go out and make repairs after doing a home inspection. The whole reason they are doing a short sale to begin with is because they don’t have the financial means to keep the home. If you happen to do a home inspection and there is a major defect that you were not expecting what you should try to do is negotiate a lower sale price.

The listing agent will want to document the defect to the lender. They will do this by providing the inspection report to the appraiser or real estate agent who does the evaluation on their behalf. Do not expect to negotiate a bunch of silly “punch list” type of items from a home inspection. Go into the sale with an open mind knowing you will need to do some work.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on educating a buyer looking to purchase a short sale was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 26+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Ashland, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southboro, Sutton, Wayland, Westboro, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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A Look Ahead to The 2013 Real Estate Market

Underwater Nation: A Look at the New Year

 

Jared DiamondThe following article is a guest post from Jared Diamond who writes on a multitude of personal finance and economic topics. He enjoys sharing insights with broad audiences. Jared serves in a consultancy role with a dynamic set of personal finance companies. The views expressed in this article are those of Jared Diamond and do not necessarily reflect the views of Massachusetts Real Estate News.

According to a recent report from Zillow, more than 30% of the U.S. home-owning population is underwater on their mortgages. This is a grim outlook for the real estate market despite increasing property values, which we can attribute only to the shortage of homes built within the last 12 months. As 2013 looms, will these upside-down homeowners weather the rough economic storm or will they list their properties and try to move on?

The fed is desperately trying to come up with a solution to rescue those individuals who are drowning in negative equity in hopes to free up some of their finances. The logic is that those individuals will then turn to the marketplace with their newly freed funds and bolster the sluggish economy with it. But the fed may be in no position to bail anyone else out with the looming fiscal cliff.

Real Estate 2013It’s great that home prices are rising, but it will provide little relief to the still-crippled real estate market as we move into 2013. Although some markets are seeing sales gains, the current environment may not have enough of an effect on potential buyers as they weigh the pros and cons of investing in a home. Primarily, will the property’s value increase enough to outweigh any potential for negative equity?

But as property values go up, even slightly, so do the ambitions of property owners who may feel they can capitalize by asking for higher selling prices or increasing monthly rents. As such, commercial and residential renters should look to lock in low monthly payments by securing long-term occupancy contracts before prices go any higher in the upcoming year.

“That might be problematic for some rent-to-own properties,” says Brian McNerma, credit consultant with rent to own property listing service, HomeStarSearch. “Sellers will try to make up for their financial losses by passing the negative equity on to potential homeowners.” But not all property owners are underwater on their mortgages, he insists, and he urges those interested in lease-option to research the contract and the seller carefully.

Renters unable to escape higher monthly rents, however, just might consider making the long-awaited home purchase.Record-low interest rates and affordable prices are definitely enticing to new home buyers, but they do little to help those currently upside-down on their mortgages. Therefore, the number of home sales in 2013 – while trending upward slowly but surely – will be greatly limited by those who can’t afford and cleanly walk away from negative equity and start anew.

Bad Mortgage DecisionIn fact, those affected most by negative equity are young owners who purchased homes with low down payments and didn’t have a chance to see equity improve before the housing bubble burst. Now they’re left with financial security enough to maintain the mortgage, but not enough to get out from underneath it.

Despite rising property values, the market is far from healthy. Even with seeming upward trends in major markets, it’s important to look at the other factors that influence those trends prior to making the assumption that things are going well.

The slow growth however, is good long-term as it allows potential buyers to establish down payments, build credit, and take advantage of various financing options without housing becoming too unaffordable. The market depends on this type of behavior, which is much more stable than the easy credit days prior to the recession.

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Buying A Condominium Using FHA Financing

Why Is FHA Financing So Popular?

 

Mike DunskyI am excited to have Michael Dunsky from Guaranteed Rate Mortgage who will be covering some of the terrific benefits to FHA financing when you are purchasing a condominium. Michael has been one of my preferred loan officers for years and always does an exceptional job with his clients. Check out Mike’s terrific article on why you may want to consider buying a condominium using FHA financing.

Let’s say that you want to buy a home but are not looking forward to shoveling snow or taking care of the yard. Or, perhaps you are looking to buy in an area where single family homes are too high for your budget. A great alternative is a condominium. Condominiums typically sell for less than single family homes and offer home ownership opportunities without having to worry about general maintenance and upkeep.

FHA Financing buying a condoThere are plenty of home loan options available to those purchasing a condominium but one particular type of home loan, FHA (Federal Housing Administration), offers the least restrictive qualifying criteria. FHA loans are government insured loans designed to help more people qualify and achieve the American Dream of owning their own home.

FHA allows for low to moderate income buyers to buy a property who may not meet conventional loan guidelines or may have been denied for conventional financing. In recent years FHA loans have become very popular given the absence of those more “flexible” loan options that have gone by the wayside in the mortgage meltdown a few years ago. FHA financing basically opens doors to folks who might not otherwise qualify for financing.

Many condominiums buyers are first time buyers and most first time buyers share similar characteristics that FHA appeals to. Usually, first time buyers don’t have a sizable down payment, there is often higher debt for student loans and simply not having much time in the workforce to save much, as well, their credit scores may not be that high due to length of time having active credit. FHA loans seem to have modeled their guidelines to these specific traits.

Qualifying for FHA Financing

Qualify for FHA LoanFHA allows for the following:

• Only 3.5% down payment instead of the traditional 5% down payment required on conventional loans

• 100% of the down payment can be a gift, compared to a conventional mortgage that requires borrowers to verify they have at least 5% of the purchase price from their own funds

• Lower minimum credit score than conventional loans. Most lenders allow for a minimum score of 640 for a FHA loan while conventional loans can require significantly higher scores depending on the amount of down payment. Some lenders will allow for scores lower than 640 under certain circumstances

• More flexible with the amount of debt a person is carrying compared to that of a conventional loan.

The other aspect of buying a condominium with FHA financing is making sure that the condominium project meets FHA’s requirements. This would be one of the questions to ask before buying a condo. There are specific guidelines in place to ensure that the condominium meets FHA’s criteria for a project to ensure it’s long-term viability. In keeping up with the times, FHA recently updated their criteria for certifying a condominium project as there were certain guidelines in place that were outdated for our current economic climate.

Why use FHA FinancingFor instance, if you are looking at purchasing a condominium unit in a city then it would not be uncommon for the building to have some commercial space (retail stores or possibly professional offices). It was not that long ago that FHA only allowed for 25% of the condominium project to be allocated for commercial space. The revised criteria now allows for exceptions up to 35% commercial space which will free up more projects to become FHA certified and, therefore, open the door for more home buyers.

Another guideline FHA addresses, and has recently amended, is to allow for greater flexibility for one or more investors who can now own up to 50% of the entire project. Previously, this was limited to just 10%.

The owner occupancy ratio should always be looked at when contemplating buying a condominium. The owner occupancy ratio is a simple formula, the number of units lived in by their owners divided by the total number of units in the project. FHA will certify a project as long as the percentage of owners renting their individual units does not exceed 50% of the entire project.

A condominium project is run just like any household or business. There are costs associated with running the project and there are fees that the unit owners pay in order to cover these expenses (commonly referred to as condominium dues or homeowner association fees- HOA fees).

One area that is closely evaluated is the condominium project’s budget. In order to add further protection to a condominium project and to ensure that there are sufficient funds available for general maintenance and upkeep of the building, grounds, and common areas, FHA requires that each condominium project have a line item for reserves in their budget of no less than 10% for additional maintenance and repairs.

Condominium BudgetOne aspect of managing the finances of a condominium project is to ensure that no one runs away with the money. What’s to stop a trustee, the homeowner’s association, or independent management company responsible for all of the condominium project’s finances from mishandling or stealing the money from the budget?

FHA directly addresses this by requiring Fidelity Bond Insurance, also known as “Employee Dishonesty” or a “Crime Policy” is put in place for all condominium projects with 20 units or more. This is yet another protection for the unit owners to help sustain the viability of a project. The last thing you want as a unit owner or potential buyer of a condominium is to find out is that there are insufficient funds in the budget to keep the property looking fresh and clean along with upkeep and general maintenance.

In hard economic times some unit owners may fall behind on their HOA dues/fees and if a significant numbers of owners fall behind paying their HOA dues then this can materially impact the finances and viability of the entire condominium project (not to mention all of the unit owners that may, in fact, have to cover those costs at some point).

Part of FHA’s criteria for certifying a project requires that no more than 15% of all unit owners can be over 60 days delinquent on their condominium dues. This is one area that should be looked at closely prior to any purchase of a condominium. There are many more guidelines that FHA has in place for the sole purpose of good lending practices but these are the most pertinent in today’s lending environment.

Although the process for FHA certification of a project can seem a little excessive, I fully believe that any soon-to-be buyer of a condominium will appreciate that FHA has their best interest at heart. In fact there are many communities that are not approved for FHA financing. You may want to think twice about whether it makes sense to purchase in an area where a significant amount of buyers are not going to be able to purchase. Having an FHA approved condominium is certainly very important!

If you are considering buying a condo and want to work with someone that is very knowledgeable about mortgage financing, has great service skills and competitive rates, I would give Mike a call!

Additional Resources For FHA Condominium Financing:

Buying a condominium using FHA financing is very common place. Let Michael Dunsky be the one to help you with your financing. Michael can be reached at Guaranteed Rate, Inc which is located at 38 Pond Street, Suite 208  Franklin, MA 02038

Phone 508.528.1800

Michael.dunsky@guaranteedrate.com

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Maximum Real Estate Exposure

Maximum Real Estate Exposure in Massachusetts

 

As a top Massachusetts Realtor, one of the things I am constantly keeping aware of is how to make sure my clients properties and my business itself are marketed to the fullest. There are so many Realtors that don’t pay any attention to SEO or Social media. Anyone who uses social media and has an understanding of SEO knows that it takes a lot of time and effort.

There are many so many Real Estate agents that just don’t want to bother with it. Their mantra when marketing a home for a client is I will put it in the multiple listing service (MLS) and hopefully it will sell. Not this guy! In order to be the best in your field you have to stay two steps ahead of the competition. My repertoire consists of using multiple blogs and websites to draw traffic to my clients homes.

Real Estate SEOMaximum Real Estate Exposure is a combination blog/website that I designed with the intent to provide my clients with online Real Estate exposure they could not find anywhere else. In the Real Estate industry the internet has become a dominant search tool for those who are looking to purchase a home. Survey after survey says that over 90 percent of all buyer’s find their next home by doing some kind of online search.

Real Estate Exposure Via Google Searches

As a Realtor who always tries to stay up to speed with the latest innovations and technology, I recognized this trend years ago when search engines started to become a popular vehicle for folks to find a home. As a casual observer one of the clear signals of how the Real Estate business started to evolve was the move away from print media. If you looked at a newspaper five years ago on a weekend it would be filled with Real Estate advertisements. If you look at that same newspaper today there is barely anything there.

Clearly print media is not the place people go when they are searching for a home. The internet changed all of that! A buyer looking to purchase Real Estate today will more than likely do one of two things when they are first starting to look for a home. Most buyer’s will either go to one of the popular Real Estate search portals they have heard about like Realtor.com, Zillow.com, Trulia.com or will do a Google search and punch in something like the town, state and the word Real Estate or homes for sale.  A buyer may also find the address of a property they are interested in and just punch that address into Google.

Search engines have revolutionized the Real Estate industry because consumers are now empowered with most of the information they need at their finger tips. Years ago when I got into business this was not the case. Back in the 1980’s Realtors were the gatekeepers of info. When a buyer started their home search they typically would give their search criteria to their Real Estate agent and based on those needs and wants the Realtor would suggest the properties they should look at.

Today on most occasions they exact opposite occurs. Buyer’s today will more often than not tell the Realtor they are working with what properties they would like to visit. The Internet changed how the Real Estate industry works and how a Realtor conducts their business.

As a home seller this makes it vital that your home looks it’s absolute best online.  There are vast differences in what Realtors do to market properties. Unfortunately many seller’s find out the hard way that all Realtors are not created equal. If you want to maximize your chances of selling your home for the most money in the least amount of time, you are going to want to make sure you have hired the very best to represent you. Just like any other industry there are some very good agents and some you may find do not live up to anywhere near your expectations.

As a home seller one of the most important things a Realtor should focus on is the presentation of the property. You should expect that the photography the Realtor provides is outstanding. There should not only be an abundance of pictures taken of both inside and out but the quality should be exceptional as well. This is an area you do not want to skimp on.

You have one chance to make a great first impression online. You should also expect that the description of your home is well written and depicts accurately all the best features you would like to emphasize to a buyer. Lastly buyer’s today love video as a medium for looking at homes. You should make sure the Realtor you choose has some kind of video presentation.  In a sea of competition you want to make sure your home stands out from the crowd.

Exposing Real Estate Through Social Media

Using Social Media For Real EstateOnce the photography is done and the ink is dry on the descriptions of your home a web savvy Realtors job has just begun. While search engine exposure is vitally important, the next area you can’t discount is all the social media tools that are at a Real Estate agents disposal. Without a doubt the number one tool in for creating maximum online exposure is a well indexed Real Estate blog.

A blog forms the back bone of all of my social media efforts. A good way to describe a blog is a mini website for a property. With a blog you can do almost anything you can think of. What I like to do is create a place where buyer’s can visit and find out just about anything they would want to know about a property I am marketing. You will see exceptional descriptions, photography, a link back to my website, a video tour and an embedded Google map showing the exact location of the home. See Walden Woods Milford Massachusetts for an example of the type of marketing I am referring to.

Once you have the content in put together you then start work on your social media campaign. Some of the places you will find my clients properties exposed besides my own websites and blogs include:  Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Active Rain, Daily Motion, and Pinterest.

The combination of search engine optimization (SEO) and social media are very important part of any Realtor who expects to be at the pinnacle of their industry.  Without a doubt having well optimized websites and blogs have been one of the biggest factors in my success as a Real Estate agent.

If you are thinking of selling your home or condominium we represent sellers in the following communities scattered in and around the Metrowest area including Ashland, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northboro, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge.

Whether you are selling a condominium under a 100,000 or a million dollar plus home we treat everyone the same. We expect that our marketing is going to be top notch.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Maximum Real Estate Exposure was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at bill@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out ofmany Metrowest towns for the last 27+ Years.

You can see my Google+ Business page for Maximum Real Estate Exposure here.

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Home Warranties vs Home Insurance

Home Warranties vs Home Insurance: What you need to know.

 

Kaitlin ZiesslerThe following article is a guest post from Kaitlin Ziessler who is a blogger for American Home Shield. Her goal is to inform readers about the differences between home warranty and insurance plans. Other topics she blogs about include appliance repair tips and home care advice for homeowners and new home buyers.

 

Protection, security, a good night’s sleep — home warranties and home insurance provide them all. Though it might be tempting to skip the fine print of coverage in favor of a general sense of reassurance, it pays to know the particulars of these two products.

Home Insurance vs Home WarrantyTo get the right combination of coverage, home buyers need to understand the possible benefits each offers and also what sets warranties and insurance apart. Such information can prove to be a blessing for consumers needing to make use of the safety net warranties and insurance provide.

Meant to prevent or ease a financial hit if something goes wrong, warranties and insurance operate in different circumstances. Warranties prevent home buyers from having to shoulder the cost of something wrong with the home or its components.

Insurance protects against outside forces that wreak havoc on a property. Another difference lies in coverage time: insurance provides ongoing protection, while warranties expire after a certain specified period.

Homeowners often come by warranties and insurance through different means. While home buyers purchase their own insurance, warranties are often supplied by someone such as a builder. Builder warranties give peace of mind to buyers of newly constructed homes. After all, no one wants to have bought a home riddled with defects. Sellers of existing homes may include a warranty with the sale to nudge a would-be buyer into a purchase. Indeed, if a buyer has a warranty on a house, it can be an advantage in selling a home since the warranty is transferable.

Even when a home buyer isn’t the one providing the warranty, researching warranty companies is a good idea. When the time comes to purchase, the home buyer can then request that the seller goes with a warranty company of the buyer’s choosing. The new homeowner will then already know the specifics of the warranty coverage, how to make a claim, and how claims will be handled.

Home warranties aren’t a blanket promise to resolve problems that arise. Instead, they provide limited coverage on the workmanship or materials of certain elements of a home, including windows, plumbing, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning. How long these items are covered differs from element to element. Components such as plumbing, electrical systems, and HVAC are often covered for two years, according to the Federal Trade Commission. For newly built homes, meanwhile, elements such as drywall, siding, trim, doors, and paint are usually covered for one year. For new construction, this provides owners a sort of break-in — or, perhaps more aptly, break-down — period that ensures buyers purchased the quality home they expected to get.

Owners purchasing or receiving a warranty for an older home might receive coverage on appliances, which builder’s warranties don’t typically include. Knowing the extent of the coverage helps owners not only choose the right warranty, it also lets them plan ahead for future breakdowns and problems a warranty won’t cover.

To choose the right warranty or get to know the one supplied by a builder or seller, buyers should look into the following:

  •   What items the warranty covers and for how long
  •   What kind of damage is covered — wear and tear, defect, breakdown or age
  •   Whether or not pre-existing problems are covered
  • Service fees and deductibles
  • How repairs will be made and who will handle them
  • Caps on what will be paid
  •   Claims procedures
  • Whether you can purchase a replacement item with help from the warranty company instead of having it repaired
  • How complaints will be resolved if whomever handles the repair does a poor job

Home WarrantyAs they would for warranty coverage, homeowners should also shop around for home insurance, not only to get the right blend of coverage, but to save money. Costs vary according to company and by things such as the home’s age, location, construction, and proximity to fire stations.

Consumer guides, state insurance departments, and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners can provide direction to those shopping. These sources can also alert consumers to complaints against an insurer and sometimes have information on rates.

Once a homeowner has a short list of insurance companies, the next step is to call around for quotes. According to USA.gov, discounts may be available for those over 55, long-term customers, and safety features in the home. Safety features include items such as dead bolts, storm shutters, and alarm systems.

When buying insurance, keep in mind that the policy doesn’t need to cover the value of the home including the land — the land won’t be lost in, say, the case of a fire. The value of items within the home, however, ought to be covered, allowing a homeowner to replace them as well as a house.

An insurance policy doesn’t typically cover the loss of a house due to floods or earthquakes. To get the benefit of that coverage, separate insurance must be purchased. For those in flood-prone areas, the National Flood Insurance Program provides protection.

What homeowners insurance does typically cover is property: the home, items inside the home, and detached structures such as tool sheds or garages. If the worst happens and a home is lost, a policy can provide “loss of use” coverage, which helps to defray living expenses while rebuilding. Insurance policies also cover liability if a non-resident sustains an injury on the property and the homeowner is responsible.

Besides standard coverage, consumers can buy extra insurance to extend coverage. For instance, homeowners may need to add coverage for belongings since there are limits on how much a standard policy pays out for those.

Home insurance is a more complicated affair than warranty coverage, but in both cases, taking the time to become an expert in a particular homeowner’s needs and what coverage is available to fulfill those needs is a must. The time to do this is in advance of purchase or at least before a homeowner needs to make a claim.

The extent of the benefits gained from coverage depends on smart consumer decisions. Becoming an expert allows consumers to get the maximum benefit with the least amount of trouble should the need to use a home warranty or insurance arise. It also lets homeowners sleep better at night.

Other Real Estate articles worth a look:

 

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Short Sale Negotiations|Seller Cash Contribution

Negotiation With Short Sale Lenders

Short sale negotiationsIn working in the short sale arena for the last five plus years, I have seen lenders do just about everything when it comes to negotiating short sales with home owners. There really is no “standard” in short sales. The way one short sale file at one particular lender is handled can be totally different on the next.

One of the biggest reasons for this is that every lender has different investors that actually own the loans. There could be more than twenty five different investors that have interests in loans at one lending institution. So for example just because Bank of America may have done something for a home owner in one circumstance does not mean they would do the same thing for another home owner in the exact same circumstance.

More often than not this is because one investor may not have the same needs or requirements as another investor.

There are basically three scenarios for a seller when completing a short sale. They are a:

  • Cash contribution to the lender at closing.
  • Signing a promissory note to pay back some portion of the short sale debt.
  • A combination of these two things.
  • A complete debt removal.

The biggest consideration for most home owners completing a short sale is debt removal. My goal of course in any short sale is to get the most favorable terms and conditions for the seller which is a complete debt removal. Going back five years ago getting complete short sale debt removal was a lot easier than it is today. Many lenders today want sellers to have some kind of  “skin in the game” if they are going to grant a short sale.

In my experience the terms that most home owners get from short sale lenders is very favorable. Home owners are typically asked to bring a cash contribution or sign a note that basically amounts to pennies on the dollar compared to what they owe.

A typical scenario could be a home owner being substantially under water…..for argument sake let’s say $100,000. It would not be unusual for a lender to ask the seller to bring $5000 to the closing and letting the short sale take place. Another possibility if the seller does not have $5000 is to work out a promissory note. Maybe the lender asks for a$15,000 note to be paid back over the next five years at an attractive interest rate. As mentioned previously it could be a combination of these two options. These are just quick examples to give you an understanding of what happens in the short sale world on a daily basis.

There can be circumstances although not real often, where the lender will only accept a cash contribution in order to close. The short sale lender may have this requirement for one of the following reasons:

  • The seller has money in liquid accounts.
  • The seller has not been late with any mortgage payments.
  • The cash contribution is a requirement of waiving the deficiency (debt removal).
  • The seller has a good credit score and are current with other debt.
  • The residence is an investment property.

One of the most difficult parts of going through a short sale as a seller is the long wait involved from the time you get an offer from a buyer until the time you actually begin negotiations with the lender. Sometimes there can be months in between the two. As a seller it is easy to feel in the dark and helpless. There can be times where you will be in this waiting game wondering what the lender is going to require of you and then their request finally comes. They ask you for a cash contribution that you just don’t have.

I have an outstanding short sale attorney that works on behalf of the seller with all of my short sale transactions. In a circumstance where the lender asks for a cash contribution that the seller just can’t come up with the first course of action will be to try to work out an amicable compromise with the lender/investor. This would typically be one of the following:

  • Negotiate to get the cash contribution lowered to something the seller was able to bring to closing.
  • See if the seller can get the funds from a family member or borrow from them.
  • Try to get the lender to accept a promissory note instead.
  • Ask the buyer to pay the cash contribution if lender allowed this to occur.

Short sale cash contributionIn the vast majority of the short sales I have been involved in we have been able to work it out so a compromise was reached and everyone got what they wanted. Should sale negotiations can be difficult at times but if you know what your doing common ground can often be reached.

What would you need to do in the rare instance where a large cash contribution was required that the owner just did not have and the lender would not budge? If all else fails what you would need to do in the scenario above is to put the home back on the market and build in a cash contribution to the lender right into the transaction.

So for example you would add a cash contribution for the lender on behalf of the seller on line 104 of the buyer’s side of the HUD settlement statement. You would also place the same contribution on line 404 of the seller’s side of the HUD as a “Cash Contribution To The Lender”. The  payoff amount would then go to the lender.

This is how short sale negotiations work with lenders. If you know what you are doing you can usually find common ground. Of course there are numerous things to look for in a short sale contract which I have covered in a number of articles I have written.

Other short sales articles worth a look:

If you are need to short sale your home or condominium in Ashland, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southboro, Sutton, Wayland, Westboro, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

I am successfully completing short sales through out the Metrowest Massachusetts and Worcester County areas. So far, knock on wood, I have a 100% success rate for short sale approval! Short sales are specialized transactions that are critical to have the right Realtor representing you. Do not make the mistake of picking an agent that does not understand how to get to the closing table on a short sale. Nationally less than 30% of all short sales close!

If you are outside of the Metrowest Massachusetts area and need to do a short sale please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to refer you to a Realtor in your location that handles short sales and knows what they are doing! I have referred short sales to other Realtors all around the country.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Short sale negotiations – seller cash contributions was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Ashland, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southboro, Sutton, Wayland, Westboro, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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What is Real Estate Title Insurance

Real Estate Title Insurance Explained

Real Estate Title InsuranceWhen purchasing a home one of the things that buyer’s will be asked is whether or not they want Real Estate title insurance. Often times I find that home buyer’s lament over this decision because of the expense involved. Real Estate title insurance is certainly not cheap!

While title insurance is a one time expense, it can be disturbing for a buyer tight on cash to have to come up with such a large unexpected expenditure. Real Estate title insurance can easily run into thousands of dollars in a home purchase. Unlike other insurance policies there is no monthly premiums with title insurance. It is a one time expense covering the owner until the property is sold.

One of the questions I get asked a lot by my clients is “should I purchase title insurance’?

Let me first explain what title insurance is and what it covers. Real Estate title insurance is a type of insurance that covers financial loss from defects in title to real property and from the invalidity of mortgage liens.

A title policy is put in place to protect an owner’s or lender’s financial interest in a property against loss due to title defects, liens or other matters. The insurance will defend against a lawsuit attacking the title as it is insured, or reimburse the insured for the monetary loss incurred, up to the dollar amount of insurance provided for in the policy.

In my experience all major lenders require title insurance to protect their interest in the mortgage secured by real estate. This is called a lenders insurance policy.  An owner’s insurance policy is not required but in my opinion is a highly valuable insurance that is risky not to have.

There is an opportunity for a buyer to get a substantial discount when they purchases both a lenders and owner’s policy at the same time. This is called a simultaneous issuance. For an enhanced policy, it runs about $4.00 per thousand based on purchase price + $175.00 in Massachusetts. This is a one time premium paid at closing which lasts the lifetime of the property ownership.

The Real Estate Title Search

Prior to a buyer taking title to a property or completing the “closing”, the lender through which the borrower is getting the mortgage will have a title search done on the Real Estate.

The purpose of the title search is to find any defects in the title. There could be any number of defects including liens, unpaid Real Estate taxes, judgments, unpaid condo fees, or others.

If title defects are found the buyer’s or lender’s lawyer will inform the buyer of such defects and then work towards getting them removed so that a clean and marketable title is given to the buyer.

Title insurance becomes of great value when something is discovered in the future that was not found when the initial title search was done.

A Title search starts with the most recent deed searching the grantees name (the person who holds title) back in time until the deed from which the grantee acquired the property is found.

That grantors name is then searched back in time in the grantees book to find when the grantor acquired the title as grantee. The typical title examination goes back fifty years but title insurance would cover beyond the fifty year search.

Anyone who has not purchased title insurance could surely tell you what a nightmare it can become without it!

Common Reason For Title Insurance Claims

Example of some of the more common reasons for claims against a Real Estate title insurance policy are as follows:                                                                   Real Estate Fraud

  • False impersonation of the true owner of the property
  • Forgery of the deed, releases, or wills
  • Real Estate fraud
  • Missing or undisclosed heirs to the property
  • Any Instruments executed under invalid or expired power of attorney
  • Mistakes in recording legal documents
  • Deeds by someone of unsound mind
  • Deeds by a minor
  • Misinterpretations of wills
  • Deeds with misrepresentation of marital status
  • Liens for unpaid estate, income, inheritance,  or gift taxes

For an astute buyer who really thinks about the expense of title insurance the follow up question I get is why do I need it if the lender is going to have a policy anyways?

The easiest way to answer this question would be to ask is what would you do if one of the above title defects were discovered and the attorney who did the title search was no longer in business? While you could certainly sue the attorney for negligence if he was still around practicing; what if he was not? You would have a very large issue on your hands! To be clear an attorney would only be responsible for negligence not the issues outlined above. This is why it is important to have title insurance!

One other important note about Real Estate title insurance:

A federal law called the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) allows the individual homeowner to choose a title insurance company when buying or refinancing residential property. Most of the time, homeowners do not make title insurance decisions for themselves.

They are typically handled by their lender’s or attorney’s choice; however, the homeowner does retain the right. RESPA makes it unlawful for any lender, attorney, or Real Estate agent to mandate that a certain title insurance company be used. Doing so is a violation of federal law and any person or business doing so can be heavily fined or lose their license.

Section 9 of RESPA denies a seller from mandating a home buyer to use a specific title insurance company, as a condition of the sale. Buyers may sue a seller who violates this provision for an amount equal to three times the cost of all charges related to the title insurance.

Some of the most prevalent title insurance companies are Fidelity National Financial, First American, Land America, Stewart and Old Republic.

In my mind having an owners insurance title policy is a no brainer and is certainly something you should consider unless you absolutely can not afford it! A title policy can be purchased in the future should you not have the funds available at closing time.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Real Estate title insurance was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Millbury, Worcester, Sutton and Douglas.

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Short sale or foreclosure?It is probably safe to assume that most consumers like to work with folks they know can be trusted. In Real Estate, like some other businesses there are those that can always be counted on for delivering great advice and others that only care about their own pocket book.

I always tell people some of the best Real Estate agents are those that don’t NEED to make a sale! It makes perfect sense because an agent that NEEDS business is far more likely to tell a buyer or seller something they want to hear rather than the truth.

Short sales unfortunately are a specialized Real Estate transaction where information is often times bandied about with no basis of fact. Many Realtors blindly go around telling people in financial distress that a short sale is better for their financial future because their credit score will not be impacted like going through a foreclosure.

Folks this could not be further from the truth! While there are certainly advantages of pursuing a short sale vs foreclosure, credit scoring is NOT one of them. There will be plenty of Realtors that will read this and argue with me telling me I am wrong.

As a Realtor who is tech savvy and social media connected you will see many of my articles in places such as Linkedin, Twitter and other Real Estate forums.

They will see some of my short sale articles and flat out tell me that I have incorrect information. When I mention the credit scoring impact of a short sale compared to a foreclosure is just about the same they scowl in disbelief. They will tell me I don’t know what I am talking about because they just learned differently at some short sale course their local Real Estate board was putting on. At this point I will be laughing because the people that teach these courses are usually Realtors that couldn’t make it in the business. They teach this nonsense because it is propaganda that helps get Realtors more business.

By now you are probably thinking how do I know the credit scoring impact is similar in these two financially stressful events. You have every right to be wondering! I know because I go right to the source. My FICO is the governing body for credit scoring including what happens in both a short sale and foreclosure.

Short sale vs foreclosure credit scoring impacts

Since I am often getting challenged on the credit scoring impacts by other Realtors and get asked all the time by my clients, I am going to share a very interesting study that was conducted by Fair Issac corporation.

The FICO study took various types of mortgage delinquencies on three credit bureau profiles of consumers that had scores of 680, 720 and 780, respectively. The study focused on consumers whose credit characteristics (e.g., utilization, delinquency history, age of file) were typical of the three score points considered. All of the consumers had an active currently-paid-as-agreed mortgage on file.

Results of this credit scoring study are shown below. The first chart shows the impact on the credit score for each stage of delinquency and the second shows how long it takes the score to fully “recover” after the fact including a short sale or foreclosure.

Credit Scoring Short Sale vs ForeclosureWhat you can easily see by this  study is that there is a negligible difference in credit scoring when comparing a foreclosure or short sale. While it seems unfair, those that had a higher credit score to start will see a greater scoring drop. In addition, the higher starting score, the longer it takes for the score to fully recover.

While there is a minimal difference in scoring impact between moderate and severe delinquencies, there may be a significant difference in time required for the score to recover completely.

These statistics are right from the guys that make credit scoring. They are not opinions. This is actual data that was put together and sourced by FICO themselves.

Benefits of a short sale vs foreclosure

So what are the benefits of going through a short sale rather than letting a lender foreclose on your property? The biggest advantage is that you will be able to buy another home in the future a lot quicker than you would with a foreclosure. Generally speaking the turnaround time for getting another loan after completing a short sale is two to three years. In a foreclosure it is typically five to seven years. There are a number of circumstances that can affect the time frame including whether the loan is FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. For a complete financing guide see buying a home after short sale or foreclosure.

One of the other big factors you need to consider is your employment status. There are a number of large companies that will not hire a new employee that has a foreclosure on their resume. While this may not seem fair with all the financial turmoil that has taken place over the last five years, employers look at a foreclosure as a black mark on your record. In other words when you short sale a property you are owing up to a financial commitment. In a foreclosure you are walking away and taking no responsibility for your debt.

The last reason why more and more will choose a short sale over a foreclosure is just the sheer embarrassment of going through a foreclosure proceeding. In some states an auction is held right on the front lawn of the property. Who wants to lose their home and then have salt rubbed in the wound by watching a bunch of buyers compete over it. This is an unsettling experience for most.

The goal of almost anyone that goes through a short sale or foreclosure will be to improve their financial stability moving forward. Of course improving the impact a short sale or foreclosure had on their credit scores will typically be one of the first areas that people look at once they are back on their feet. There are certain things you can do to help fix your finances after a short sale or foreclosure that are covered in this helpful article.

Unfortunately, sometimes people just don’t realize they have options and just lose their home to foreclosure. Many have never taken the time to do any research and just assume there are no alternatives. A short sale can be a great alternative for some home owners – best of luck if you are one of them!

If you are need to short sale your home or condo in Ashland, Bellingham, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holden, Holliston, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Medway, Mendon, Millbury, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Whitinsville, Upton, Uxbridge, Shrewsbury, Sutton, or Worcester get in touch! I would love to interview for the chance to represent your short sale transaction.

I am successfully completing short sales through out the Metrowest Massachusetts and Worcester County areas. So far, knock on wood, I have a 100% success rate for short sale approval! Short sales are difficult transactions that are critical to have the right Realtor representing you. Do not make the mistake of picking a Real Estate agent that does not have experience closing short sale transactions.

If you are outside of the Metrowest/Worcester Massachusetts area and need to do a short sale please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to refer you to a Realtor in your location that handles short sales and knows what they are doing! I have referred short sales to other Realtors all around the country.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Credit scoring impacts of short sale vs foreclosure was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Ashland, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southboro, Sutton, Wayland, Westboro, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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A Guide To Mortgage Equity Loan Options

Mortgage Equity Loan OptionsWhen looking to take money out of an existing home or other Real Estate borrowers often have a decision to make on what is the best method to do so.

There are basically three financing options that are available to home owners. These include a cash out re-finance, home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Determining which of these type of loan options will work best basically comes down to what purpose the money is going to be used for.

Unfortunately being in the Real Estate field, I often come across folks who have over extended themselves and find that they have created undue hardships. Going back ten years ago this was not so much of a problem as Real Estate markets around the country were booming and a home was an investment windfall.  Every few months the value of homes would continue to rise and did so for over a decade. Of course all good things must come to an end eventually and now we are left with property values decreasing in most areas.

When the economy and Real Estate values are soaring it is hard not to look at a home as a giant piggy bank from which you can tap at a moments notice. When times are tough however, you may regret taking your equity for granted by pulling it out of the home.

Below is a guide to help you determine whether borrowing against the equity in your home via a home equity line of credit (HELOC), home equity loan or a cash out refinance makes the most sense.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Home equity lines of credit work much like credit cards do. As a borrower you are given a credit limit up to which you are allowed borrow. Also similar to credit cards is the fact that the loan is open ended and carries an adjustable interest rate. Home equity lines of credit are tied to the prime rate as a basis to lend money.

Typically borrows can expect to pay the prime rate plus 2% as an example. Like credit cards HELOC’S can be closed by lenders at any point in time. Like any other loan it is prudent to shop around to get the lowest interest rate and terms. Make sure you only borrow what you can afford as this loan is directly tied to your home and if you can not afford to make payments you could potentially lose your home to foreclosure.

The biggest advantage to a home equity line of credit is you can borrower whatever you need, up to whatever amount the lender has set, whenever you need it. The big draw back however is the lender can shut off the line of credit if the value of your home falls, your credit takes a hit or if the lender just decides they don’t want to offer you credit anymore.

Home Equity Loan

Home Equity Line of CreditA home equity loan is a form of a second mortgage against your home. The terms of which can vary greatly from a first mortgage. With a home equity loan you borrow a set sum of money at one time and it is paid back over a certain amount of years and interest rate that can vary greatly.

Often times a home equity loan has a fixed interest rate but also could be variable as well. Like either of the other financing options if you don’t pay it back the lender would have the option to foreclose!

Most of the time a home equity loan option is used for a specific purpose where the cost is known ahead of time. For example paying for the kids college education or buying a new car. What you need to decide is whether you would get more favorable loan terms by going this route or by getting an unsecured loan somewhere else such as at credit union or local lender. Sometimes this decision boils down to how conservative you want to be. You may get a better interest rate by getting a home equity loan but is it worth the risk of having it secured against your home?

Some borrowers would say no. If you happen to lose your job and have an equity loan against the family home for $150,000 this may not put you in a comfortable position. You should also check to see if there are any penalties for paying off the loan balance early. A number of lenders will charge a pre-payment penalty fee if you sell the home.

Cash Out Re-finance

A cash out re-finance is when you pay off your existing loan and get a new loan for the old mortgage balance plus whatever additional amount you need to borrow plus any closing costs. If the cash out refinance interest rate is lower than the existing mortgage rate, this option is probably going to be the best route to take. Most of the time you are going to be able to get a better interest rate with a 1st mortgage than going to the 2nd mortgage option. It is likely cheaper to borrow this way than having the combination of two mortgages. This is especially true when fixed rate mortgages are very low.

Nowadays when getting any type of mortgage it really makes sense to look over your ability to pay it back. The last thing you want to do is find yourself in an uncomfortable financial situation. Carefully studying the above home equity mortgage scenarios to determine which fits your situation best is a good business decision!

Other Mortgage articles worth a look:

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on A guide to mortgage equity loan options was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 28+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Sutton, Worcester, Natick, and Douglas.

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Getting a mortgage after foreclosure

There are not many things that can negatively impact your credit score more than a foreclosure or short sale. In fact one of the more common untruths you will hear from many Realtors is that short sales don’t impact your credit scores like foreclosures do. This is absolutely WRONG!

If you fail to pay your mortgage during a short sale the credit score impact will be nearly identical to a foreclosure according to My FICO the governing body for credit scoring.

Being a Realtor myself for the last twenty five years it does not surprise me when I hear this misinformation being spewed in person or around the internet.  Some Real Estate agents will paint a short sale as your ticket to the promised land and a foreclosure as a ticket to financial misery for the rest of your life.

They do this of course because they want you to list the property with them as a short sale. A true Real Estate professional should be going over all possible financial options with you and not just looking to put money in their wallet.

There are of course advantages to doing a short sale but a better credit score is not one of them unless you are able to complete a short sale without missing mortgage payments. The sad truth is that most but not all of the time a lender is not going to grant short sale approval unless you are behind in your mortgage payments. From a lender’s perspective if you are able to continue paying your mortgage why should they grant you a short sale?

The advantages of a short sale vs a foreclosure center around the time you will be able to purchase a home again in the future. You will be able to buy a home after completing a short sale much quicker than a foreclosure.

For a complete breakdown of how quickly you can get financing after both of these events see getting a mortgage after short sale or foreclosure. If you can show extenuating circumstances of why you had to do a short sale or lost your home to foreclosure you may be able to get a loan sooner. Some of the acceptable hardships that could factor into a lenders decision are divorce, loss of a job and unexpected medical expenses.

Another advantage of a short sale is how future employers, as well as other types of creditors look at you in the future. Having a foreclosure on your resume is not something an employer is going to look at favorably. In a short sale you have at least attempted to live up to your debt and not just walk away.

Owning a home again after a foreclosure/short sale

Work on increasing your credit score

Fixing bad credit

One of the most important steps you can take to getting back into the home ownership arena after a foreclosure is to work on increasing your credit scores. This article provides some excellent tips on building back your credit score as quickly as possible. There is no doubt that building your credit score after a foreclosure or short sale is a difficult task. On average you can expect your score to drop between 150-200 points so you will have a lot of work to do!

Two or the most important things you can do to raise your score is to pay your bills on time and keep your credit card bills below the maximum levels.

Keep your employment stable

One of the things lenders look for with borrowers especially after a short sale or foreclosure is employment stability. Unless you have the opportunity to move into a position that offers a much higher pay you will be better off sticking with the job you have. The lender is going to want to see you are grounded with work and not changing jobs.

Rebuild your savings after foreclosure

Lenders are also going to want to see that you have squirreled away some money. Working on saving any extra money so that your nest egg is built back up becomes important. A six month reserve is a safe bet to show lenders that you have a fall back plan should you happen to become unemployed.

Owning a home again after short sale or foreclosure is certainly achievable is you work diligently towards getting your financial house in order!

Other Short sale articles worth a look:

If you are need to short sale your home or condominium in Ashland, Bellingham, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holden, Holliston, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Medway, Mendon, Millbury, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Whitinsville, Upton, Uxbridge, Shrewsbury, Sutton or Worcester get in touch! I would love to interview for the chance to represent your best interests.

I am successfully completing short sales through out the Metrowest Massachusetts and Worcester County areas. So far, knock on wood, I have a 100% success rate for short sale approval! Short sales are specialized transactions that are critical to have the right Realtor representing you. Do not make the mistake of picking an agent that does not understand how to get to the closing table on a short sale.

If you are outside of the Metrowest Massachusetts area and need to do a short sale please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to refer you to a Realtor in your location that handles short sales and knows what they are doing! I have referred short sales to other Realtors all around the country.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Fixing your finances after foreclosure or short sale was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Ashland, Bellingham, Blackstone, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Natick, Northboro, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southboro, Sutton, Wayland, Westboro, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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Massachusetts Home Owners Insurance

Homeowners insurance is not optional if you have a mortgage and is a very important decision you must make in order to protect what will most likely be one of your largest investments.

To get the right amount of coverage at the most affordable rate for your home, condo or rental property, you should plan on getting homeowners insurance quotes from multiple companies and choose the quote that is best fit for your particular situation.

There can be a fine line between having too much or too little insurance coverage. Nobody wants to pay for more insurance than they need but having too little coverage can be disastrous financially.

Knock on wood but if you suffer from a devastating loss from a fire, flood, theft or other calamity and you are under insured you are not going to be a happy camper! Of course if you over insure your property you will be throwing money out the window every year.

Types of insurance policies/coverage

Understanding the type of insurance coverage you need plays a large part in determining the policy that is best for your situation.

Cash value insurance

Actual cash value insurance only reimburses you for the value of your home in it’s current condition. So if your home is twenty years old there will be depreciation taken on all the components such as the heating system, windows, appliances, etc. If an event occurred where you needed to make an insurance claim you would be given far less money than if you had replacement cost coverage.

Replacement cost insurance

Having replacement cost coverage is the preferred method of insuring most homes today. With replacement cost insurance you would be reimbursed for the amount it would take to re-build your home new with the same existing quality of materials. Replacement cost insurance does not have  a depreciation component.

Figuring out what the cost will be to re-build a home is where many home owners make the wrong insurance coverage choices. You MUST remember you are not insuring the market value of the property! Many home owners mistakenly do not take into consideration that you do not need to insure the land but just the buildings such as the home, garage, shed, etc.

When calculating the cost to rebuild your home you will want to look at your square footage, materials used, type of construction and any special features you might have.

Local builders or even some Realtors could be helpful information sources to guide you on what the going cost per square foot to build a new home are estimated at. If you own a 3000 square foot home and construction costs are running $150 per square foot you would be purchasing $450,000 in coverage.

One of the things you need to be cognoscente of is making sure you adjust your insurance policy when you make a large improvement such as a bath or kitchen remodel.

The Right Insurance CoverageContent insurance

Last but not least don’t forget to insure the contents of your property. Most home owners insurance policies only cover your possessions for their cash value and not the replacement cost. In order to get replacement cost coverage you will need to purchase what is called an “endorsement”.

Checking your policy for exactly what is covered is important because valuables  such as jewelery, silverware, furs, etc may not be covered. In that case you will want to add them to an insurance rider.

Liability insurance

Someone falling on your property and suing you would not be fun. Often times folks are under insured in this department because they spend so much time figuring out the rest of their policy they neglect the liability coverage. Increasing liability insurance coverage is usually relatively cheap and well worth it in the event someone does happen to injure themselves at your home.

Obviously getting the right amount of insurance coverage for your home is critical if you actually have to make a claim! Secondarily nobody wants to throw money out the window especially with insurance coverage. See this article on home owners insurance savings tips for additional ways to save a few bucks.

Other Real Estate articles worth a look:

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Getting the right homeowners insurance coverage was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at billgassett@remaxexec.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 25+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Hopedale, Mendon, Upton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, Sutton, Worcester and Douglas.

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