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Monday, December 19, 2011

Happy Holidays from Frank Del Rio!



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As we approach the turn of another great year together, I wanted to wish you and your family on behalf of my team, our families and I – a wonderful holiday season.  As always, we are ever thankful for your presence in our lives and strive to continue our lasting relationship.  May you and yours enjoy good health and prosperity – now and always.  We’ll be back in 2012 with a whole new insight, plus lots of perspective and ideas on your real estate endeavors.  Happy Holidays from team Frank Del Rio!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eight AWESOME Reasons Why You Should List Your Home During the Holidays



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Traditional school of thought dictates that selling a home during the holidays is a bad idea.  People are busy celebrating with their families and will hardly go shopping for a home, right?  Not so!  There are numerous advantages to listing a home during this season and below are ten great reasons to put a home on the market now. 

More serious buyers – Less time wasted

These are people who are interested in buying so there is a far greater chance of actually selling the property.  Nothing is more promising to a seller than a motivated and qualified buyer that knows what they want and is actively seeking to get it.

Fewer Homes On the Market

The less competition there is, the higher the chance there is for homes on the market to sell. Where during the peak season sellers might be dealing with some interest from buyers on their home, nonetheless there is more selection for buyers to choose from and they can stray to another property.

In January Inventory Increases – Chances of Selling Decreases

With so many homeowners assuming the holidays is a taboo time to sell there is a plethora of new listings in January, resulting in a diminished chance of your home selling.  Also, there is a risk that the price you may receive on the home can be less.

Decked Halls Look Great!

Homes are very appealing to prospective buyers when they are decorated for the holidays.  With all the festive d├ęcor, lights, greenery and added beauty of the season – the home shows very well and attracts buyers faster than if shown during other times of the year.

Tax Advantages That Benefit the Buyer

Some buyers need to buy a property before the year ends so that they are able to claim a particular credit or exemption on their tax return.

Show The Home With Flexibility

Sellers that have their home listed prior to the holidays have the added advantage to be able to “pause” the process so they can celebrate the holidays, essentially not showing the home during a period of time during the break.  When the festivities die down, things can pick up again and the seller has not only managed to save potentially lost time but can also jump right back into the market.

Enjoy Non-Contingent Buyer Freedom

With the home sold, sellers can enjoy non-contingent buyer status during the rest of the slow season and take advantage of the market when there is a flood of new listings upon the New Year. 

Fewer Foreclosures On the Market

Many banks will suspend foreclosure listing during this time of year, especially on properties where there are still families occupying the home.  As a result of this, some of the competition that arises for sellers from low-priced foreclosures can be avoided during the holidays.
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Keep in mind that the idea of your home’s value increasing significantly over the next several months is a myth.  The truth is that housing values likely only go up when consumer income rises.  Pay rates increase at a rate of three to five percent each year and that is about the maximum yearly increase we can expect to see in a home as well.  So if you are wondering whether or not to put your home on the selling market now, or to wait – one important factor is that waiting will not provide much benefit.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What Came Down WILL Eventually Go Up – Home Values Don’t Jump Up Overnight



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Remember that infamous “Mortgage Meltdown” of early 2007?  What homeowner doesn’t remember that awful time when the mortgage industry came crashing down in what was one of the worse declines in home value that we had seen in a long time? Now, as the nation continues to reel over the effects of lenders’ leniency during the real estate bubble of the years 2001 to 2006, we are struggling to bounce back.  Things are improving but it is not an easy feat when you consider that millions of Americans are dealing with foreclosures or the risk of foreclosure given our current economy.

What Happened To Cause the Mortgage Crisis of February 2007?

It seems like it was ages ago but not that long ago lenders were widely soliciting any type of buyer and home loans were easily available to most.  Limited checks were done on the documentation provided by prospective borrowers and yet they were awarded loans liberally.  People were making bad decisions, and since they could purchase with little or no money down they were buying homes that were based on the monthly payment amount rather than gauging whether they could actually afford the home overall.

In February of 2007, everything in the industry came crashing down when lenders realized homes were way overvalued.  Equity homeowners once had in their homes plummeted and people could no longer afford to make monthly payments on their property.  The result was a wave of foreclosures and short sales – that to this day are prevalent in the market.  In fact, in some markets, distressed sales have been the primary sale type until only just recently as we begin to see a slight rebound.

How Has the Mortgage Industry Changed Today?

As a result of the sheer magnitude of mortgages that have gone underwater during the mortgage meltdown and since – lenders have now done a 180 on the entire process.  There are extremely tight regulations in place.  Now no loans are done without a full-blown documentation process.  Each minute detail is checked and verified and then re-verified with expirations on some of the requirements, ending up in the need to reassess yet again.  Where once a borrower submitting his own copies of tax returns as enough, they are now most often run through the 4506-t IRS transcript process.  A detailed Verification of Employment (VOE) form is also requested of employers.

Here's a Closer Look at These Numbers 

5%/ year on 450,000= $22500 = $472500 in 2013
5%/year on 472,500 = $23625 = $496125 in 2014
5%/year on 496,125 = $24806 = $520,093 in 2015
5%/year on 520,093 = $26046 = $546,140 in 2016
5%/ year on 546,140 = $27,307 = $573,447 in 2017
5%/ year on 573,447 = $28,672 = $602,119 in 2018

How Long Before My House Values At Mid-2000’s Level Again?

Unfortunately for most homeowners during the time prior to the mortgage crisis, it is very difficult to endure not seeing the expected value of their home. As a result, they end up making the decision to wait to sell, hoping the values will come back up in a year or so.

Since housing values are directly tied to income levels and salary increases (which are typically a 3% to 5% rise each year), the probability of a home regaining its value from the mid-2000s, over the next 12 months is next to nothing.  The only way for prices to go up is for buyers to earn more money.

When you examine the standard rate of employment increase and apply it to a home valued at $450,000 where the homeowners are seeking to recover the value of $600,000 from just a few years ago – it will take no less than six years.  The steady salary increase translates to about the same growth on housing values.  Considering this increase, by the year 2013 the home will have increased in value to $472,500.  By 2015 it will likely reach $520,093 and by 2018 the home will be valued at $600,000.  Factor in the loan payment given that only partial payment actually works toward the principal and it seems clear that waiting to sell may not be the best decision.
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To learn whether sitting on it or selling your home is the better option – visit your Realtor for a customized consultation that examines your circumstances, performance in your market area and all other relevant factors that will help you decide your next steps.

Remember – the only way for home prices to increase in the foreseeable future is for wages to go up and until they do, housing values will only creep back upward. To see the appreciation for the last 40 years click here. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Homeowners Insurance – Coverage, Costs and Changes



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One of the cornerstones of the home purchase process is the purchase of a homeowners’ insurance policy.  In fact, unless a home has a valid and active homeowners’ insurance policy already purchased prior to the close of escrow, the lender will not proceed to the final stage and allow closing on the property.

There are a few things to know and be prepared with prior to selecting a policy on your new home so it is important to research and know all the options before obtaining coverage on the home.  Here are some basic frequently asked questions to get you started in your research of the right homeowner’s insurance policy for you:

Why is having a homeowners’ insurance policy important?

Without proper coverage on your home, your investment is at risk in the event of a major catastrophe.  For this reason, lenders require the purchase of a homeowners’ policy on any home being sold. The types of events and/or calamities that cause the need for such coverage range from anything like a natural disaster such as tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards plus fire damage or total loss.

Other than major damage, what things are included on a typical homeowners’ insurance policy?
The single most important coverage outside of replacement coverage of the property is liability insurance.  Applicable to anyone other than those who reside in the home or licensed contractors on the premises to perform professional work, liability insurance protects the homeowner in case the claimant is not covered by their own policy.  Examples of such include a dog bite, visitors slipping and falling while on your premises or other incidents of accidental injury.

How much does it cost to insure a home?

Depending on what type of policy is purchased, the cost can range anywhere from $200-$300 for typical fire policies to $500-$600 for the average homeowners’ policy. Additional riders will increase the price nominally per rider but also improves coverage significantly.

What about coverage of the contents in the home?

All items in the home are covered under the homeowner’s policy with a list of a few policy exclusions that are unique to each underwriter.  There will be a specific amount covered that will be replacement of items in the home. Some specialized items like jewelry will require an additional rider beyond a certain base limit (usually $5,000).

What other benefits are there of having homeowners’ insurance?

Theft and vandalism coverage is usually standard with most homeowners’ insurance policies.  Storm damage and tree removal are standard in some cases and optional riders with other insurance carriers.  Earthquake and flood insurance is covered by some carriers as part of the homeowners’ insurance while most others have it listed as an optional rider.  Glass protection, debris removal and sewer backup coverage are also policy additions to consider.

Is the purchase amount or the loan amount being insured under a homeowners’ policy?

Though the lender will require that the loan amount be covered at the close of escrow, the actual coverage needed is the replacement value of the property.  Insurance companies have a range within which a policyholder can opt to cover.  Coverage that provides eighty percent of the replacement value can be purchased for a lower premium, for instance, but in the case of a catastrophe the homeowner would then only be eligible for that 80%.  In cases where there has been a total loss and the homeowner opted for less than one hundred percent coverage, they can choose to rebuild in a different way than the original home was built.

What changes, if any, are there in the homeowners’ insurance industry?

Most insurance carriers do not insure vacant homes and properties that are under construction.
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The homeowner should carefully review the policy before signing it to confirm whether all expected items are covered.  Also needing to be reviewed is the replacement value as well as the coverage amount on any special equipment such as additional structures (tool sheds, barn, detached portions of the home) or jewelry and high-value items like works of art or firearms.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Bird’s Eye View Comparison of Prices, Rates and Costs Clearly Shows Today’s Golden Opportunity



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Typically homeowners and potential homeowners measure the financial viability of their purchase in two ways; the price of the home and the monthly payment. Very surprisingly to most, they both do not depict the same overall picture when examined in comparison to other factors affected by the current economy at the time.

To help illustrate exactly what benefits lie in seizing the low interest rate and housing price opportunities that are out there right now, we’ve assembled a simple comparison chart (also explained on the video blog). This chart shows you exactly how much you are getting for your monthly payment. If you haven’t been convinced already, this will surely convince you that buying now is the single best thing you can do for yourself and your family.





As a Realtor, the most exciting thing to witness in terms of how much (or how little, I should say) it costs each month to be in a home these days. The reason this is especially exciting is apparent when, looking at the chart, the other things are compared.

Living Today With a House Payment From Yesterday

Take a look at what happened to the average cost of a new car between 1989 and today. It jumped up to a few hundred dollars short of double the average price! Bread rose in price almost four times as much and the same holds true for gasoline. But what is very interesting is how the numbers look for housing, mortgage and monthly payments.

What you’re seeing is mainly a demonstration of just how significant the impact of interest rates is on relative affordability for housing. Despite such huge jumps in cost for the other items on our chart, the median home price has increased 70% and interest rates are at less than half of what they were twenty-one years ago.

In fact, the most noteworthy figure that does not deviate at all from that of almost a quarter century ago is the monthly payment. A very eye-opening way to say this: you can buy a home today and pay the same monthly payment as in 1989.

Pick Your Battles When Negotiating

Considering how the market is today and the impending rise of interest rate that will occur – it is imperative that homeowners, potential buyers and investors keep their eyes on the prize when it comes to negotiating a final price. There is nothing more disappointing for me as a Realtor than to see a buyer wasting the long-term savings and investment opportunity that is gained by these low rates and prices, on a few thousands dollars or a couple percent of the total price. If you work out the numbers, there is a very good chance that the savings from today’s interest rate alone will pay you back multiple times over the years. To calculate this, use an online tool to estimate your amortization schedule. You will be surprised.

Remember, if you compare the difference between a slight decrease in the price of a home versus a slight increase in interest rates – there is a far more significant impact on the overall cost of the loan with the interest rate increase.

Things Will Not Stay This Way Forever

We have been watching the market continue to allow us fantastic rates for several years now but when you factor in the financial volatility we are experiencing lately, with the stock market as well as the overall economy – there is no telling just how soon those interest rates will creep back up. Not only that, let’s hope they don’t go back up to the astronomical rates we saw in the low to mid- 80s, reaching levels as high as 18%!


People who are in tune with the ins and outs of the real estate industry are buying and investing in homes as much as they can these days. Top Realtors, including myself, are taking advantage and getting into second homes, vacation and rental properties and anything else they can afford at the moment. At the end of the day, these properties will appreciate. The market will recover. And those people who were smart enough to get in on the action today, will end up with low, locked-in mortgage rates and monthly payments plus plenty of equity in homes worth far more than they are today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Need to Sell Your Home? Here Are Three Great Ways To Get It Sold?



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The challenged market these days makes it very difficult for homeowners to get their houses to sell.  A few years ago, it was more than enough to put up a listing and let the home sell itself.  But now, during a time when in most markets inventory levels exceed six months or more, it is no wonder that people need as many tools as possible to help the process along.


Factor in that you are competing directly with your neighbors also vying to sell their homes and you really have to get an edge somehow.  In this article, there are three smart ways to make sure your home sells and does so within a reasonable time.

Accurate Pricing Sets the Precedent for Successful Selling

It used to be that it was all about location.  You know the famous phrase: “Location, location, location!” but in today’s tip, it is not so much about location as it is about price.  Simply put, your price advertises your motivation.  If you are a homeowner who refused to budge on a selling price despite getting no offers even after the property has had over 90 Days On Market– maybe it is time to rethink your strategy.  Similarly, homeowners who price too low give off the impression that there must be something wrong with the property.

It is important to price accurately and realistically.  Study the prices of similar homes sold in the same area.  Consider a consultation with a Realtor to obtain in-depth studies and reports that demonstrate a wider scope of statistics that will help you set your price.  Examples of things that may affect your price are the amount of tax, the age of your community development, whether or not it is located near a commercial zone, etc.

Making Sure Your Home is Dressed to the Nines Attracts More Buyers

Sure in the dating scene we need to look our best if we want to “sell” our look and get people interested.  Houses are not much different.  If you dress up your home to perfection, set it up in a way that will have potential buyers “oohing” and “aahing” over features that are highlighted because of the way you have it arranged, you’re in great shape.

Many people have no idea how to stage homes, so there are professional stagers that can come out and help you set up your home and make it display ready.  Keep in mind that the standard you should maintain is similar to that of a design magazine.  Imagine that a professional crew will photograph your home, so you need to make sure there is no clutter and personal items are put away.

Being Accessible To Show Your Home Shows You Are Serious About Selling

These days buyers are much more savvy than they used to be.  They know they have the upper hand with inventory levels as much as they are nowadays and with the amount of competition some sellers have to face in today’s challenged real estate market.  So making your home available to show, as per the convenience of potential buyers, can really make a significant difference in your success rate.

There are several factors to keep in mind when your house needs to be shown.  First, declutter the space and remove all personal artifacts that might hinder potential buyers from envisioning themselves in the home.  Second, make sure there are no pets or signs of pets left behind as this can be a put off for those people who do not have pets or who might have allergies.  Third, invest some time to ensure there is sufficient curb appeal.  Buyers should begin to fall in love with the home starting from the moment they see it, throughout their time inside and on the way out.
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If you want to sell your home then you will have to consider things from both sides of the fence.  What amount is it that you need to sell the home for in order for it to make sense?  What would buyers be willing to pay based on other properties sold in the area?  How attractive is the space?  Could it become home for the people that are showing some interest?  Finally, are you around to make the home available for serious buyers who don’t have time to waste?  Are you wiling to accommodate requests to see the home at times that may not always be the most convenient for you?  Selling success, while largely depends on the market and trends dictated by other buyers, will also largely depend on how you – the seller -- set the precedent.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How To Avoid Spending More Than You Need to Prep Your House for Sale



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When it comes time to put your property on the market you want to get the best value from the sale.  The first instinct that many buyers get is to fix up their home, bring it up to code and make it as enticing as possible to lure the best offers.  Here’s the thing though: it ends up costing way less money to do this when you work with a professional who sees this on a regular basis. 

We’ve outlined some mandatory items that must be kept up prior to the sale of a home, some optional items that would certainly improve the outlook of your home sale and a few things that would only end up being wasted dollars spent.  Remember, the end goal is to get the best price on your home – so you want to accomplish this in the most efficient way possible. 

It’s Not Entirely In Your Hands

One thing to keep in mind is that home values fluctuate with a changing real estate market. What this means is that in today’s market what may be valued at around $350,000 may be a property that was valued at $380,000 just a few years ago.  While some things are in your hands, how the market impacts housing prices is something that no one can alter no matter how many improvements or adjustments are made to the home. 

It may be a good idea to call your Realtor before selling your home so they can give you an official estimate.  The figure would be determined by a number of factors including the general condition of your property, the mean price of other similar homes sold in the area and also current market conditions.  An advance appraisal may give you an edge over other competitors to accurately price your property so you don’t end up wasting dollars on unnecessary upkeep.

Bringing Things Up To Code

What you do have control over, however, is whether you fully comply with housing code and regulations, required to be fully in order prior to listing a property on the market.  Depending on the region you live in, this can mean things like making sure a set number of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers or carbon monoxide detectors are installed.  Sometimes, there are plumbing requirements that must be fulfilled, such as ensuring that low flow toilets have been utilized.  Outdoor electrical wiring must meet certain fire safety regulations and also, major appliances may be required to be strapped down in some regions (like water heaters in California due to earthquake susceptibility). 

Making It All Nice and Neat
The single most important part of a home sale is generating the interest of a buyer, of course.  If your home is set up in a way that allows potential homeowners to visualize themselves living in the space, you have a better chance of success.  Things that are optional but have a huge impact on the success of your sale include presenting a clean home with little or no signs of personalization, tidied up living and storage spaces plus no clutter to distract potential buyers.  The home’s exterior is also a good opportunity to make the home inviting and yield a better offer. 

Stop Short of Overkill

There is no end to how much you can do to improve a home before sellingit, but the key is to understand where to draw the line.  While a fresh coat of paint might be great, redoing the kitchen wallpaper is a waste of time since potential buyers may not like the new look either. 

Jumping the gun and getting things that may have come up on a building inspection may or may not backfire.  For example, if a termite inspection is called for and subsequent treatments are needed, it may serve you better to make sure where the potential buyers stand on the issue before spending any cash. 

The single best way to avoid wasting money on the preparation of a home for sale is to consult with your Realtor.  They deal with this on a daily basis and are in the best position to advise you before you end up spending too much.
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At the end of the day you want your home to sell.  By following these simple guidelines and through the expertise and knowledge of your trusted Realtor, you can and will save yourself a lot of wasted time, energy and resources. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How To Recognize Winning Real Estate Agents That Will Get Your House Sold



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Real estate agents may sound the same, say the same things and even be equally as enthusiastic – but the telling fact of whether an agent is successful or not is the number of homes sold.  There are some surefire signs of a good Realtor that if you can specifically seek when searching for an agent to hire, there is a good chance you will be successful in your home selling endeavor.

Ten Percent of All Agents are Selling Ninety Percent of the Homes while …

Ninety Percent of All Agents Are Selling Ten Percent of the Homes

Which side of the fence do YOU want to be on?

As long as you can weed out the top performers, you can bet on a home sold with less Days On Market , at a better selling price and with less hassle. 

Past Performance Is a Good Indication of Future Results

Every agent has a track record and every potential client should examine the track records of agents they are considering before deciding on which one to hire. Even though the average number of home sales is two to four per year, the question is more about how does the person or team manage the sales on their roster.  Even though often you will end up working with an organization, it is the reputation and performance of the individual Realtor you should focus on.  The key factor that will illustrate the agent’s viability is how successful they are in today’s challenging real estate market. 

A Solid Marketing Plan Is The Cornerstone Of Successful Selling

Some would say that “marketing” is a fancy word for sales – but that is hardly true. While marketing entails some sales within its realm, it covers a bigger picture that includes promotion, awareness, publicity, and of course ultimately, sales. 

In real estate especially, there are two basic brands of marketing that are used primarily – passive and active.
 

PASSIVE MARKETING

This is the traditional way that Realtors have sold properties.  They list the home in the newspaper, on the Internet and in magazines.  They utilize Multiple Listing Services and conduct traditional open houses and walk-throughs.  Essentially, though the agent lists the home in several mediums, they are waiting for the property to sell itself on its own accord.  When it comes to the selling price of a home in these instances, the highest possible price is not necessarily realized.

ACTIVE MARKETING


Professionals who utilize this extra dimension of marketing are far more apt to achieve the success they set out to achieve – as they are building complex strategies that include many angles of reach to potential buyers.  Active marketing in terms of real estate is when Realtors go out and grab potential buyers for the homes they have listed, using tools and techniques that involve venturing outside the box.  The actively seek to fill gaps and literally work on matching properties to prospective buyers by calling their agents directly.  Agents in this scenario are far more successful in getting higher selling prices on the properties they sell.

Having Viable Current Clients Vouching For An Agent Shows Credibility

It is no secret that most references provided by a real estate agent (or any professional for that matter) will be hand picked and carefully selected to put forth the best image possible.  If you think about it, that is not the most reliable source of a person’s credibility because they can easily conceal a number of bad experiences other clients may have had with them.  A better approach is to request a list of current or most recent clients with closed or pending sales in the last 30 to 60 days.  This will not only offer a glimpse into the way the agent is handling today’s issues but it will also demonstrate performance on various levels, depending on where the current stage is for each client. Questions to ask include “does the agent follow through with the promises they make?” and “does their marketing plan provide results?”
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The importance of having is a solid professional presence, with a proven track record of an agent who has worked and can demonstrate valuable marketing skills and techniques is paramount to real estate selling success.  One strategy many homeowners adopt is to carefully conduct their own “market study” to determine exactly which of their neighborhood Realtors fits the bill according to their specific needs.  The key is preparedness and knowing what to look for.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Buyers Who Wait Too Long May Live to Regret Missing Out On This Historic Opportunity!



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You simply can’t go wrong by buying a property these days if you are even remotely in the market to do so.  In fact, we are seeing an influx of existing property owners getting into second, third and rental homes to take advantage of the great savings in terms of interest rates and the awesome choice in terms of inventory.  Here are five solid reasons why you just can’t go wrong by buying now:

INTEREST RATES HAVE NEVER BEEN LOWER

We are looking at historically low interest rates and this will simply not last.  The thing about most mortgages is that they are typically 30-year or 15-year fixed rate loans.  What does this mean to the savvy buyer who opts to seize the opportunity that lies before us now?  It means that you will lock in interest rates that the industry has not seen since when your parents were in high school!

FORTUNE MAGAZINE:  “Forget stocks, don’t bet on gold – after 5 years of plunging prices, the most attractive asset class in America is housing”

INVENTORY IS SKYROCKETING

There is a plethora of homes to choose from today!  Be it because of distress situations, relocations during our ever evolving job market or simply other homeowners wanting to cash in on the fabulous chance they have at hand and buy up into a newer, bigger or better home.  You can’t go wrong when you have a huge selection to choose from and what this means to many buyers is that regardless of demographics, chances are the right home is out there.

SO LOW PRICES THAT YOU SHOULD GO FOR IT!

While this can be a bad thing for homeowners who are not savvy during this market and choose to hold on to their property as they watch it plunge in value, in this case, what goes down WILL come back up.  Housing is no exception.  Trading into a better home and leveraging the current low prices is a fantastic way to move into a home that you may not have been able to afford otherwise.  Even though we may still see a further dip of up to 10%, the post slump period will give us a stretch of stability.  Housing prices will creep back up, but ever so slowly.  Why not live better in the meantime?

IT’S NOT GOING TO GET ANY EASIER TO SECURE A LOAN

Banks are tired of the reasons that created the mess that we’re in these days to begin with, in part.  The last thing they want to do is to make hasty and ill-informed decisions about mortgage approvals.  Before the government further regulates the real estate market and before we see the belt tightening even more on lending parameters and standards, it is a good idea to borrow money now, when varying types of lenders are still in the game.  If it reaches a point, which is highly likely, that only private lending institutions are those that provide mortgage loans, then the going is going to get real tough for borrowers.

BARGAINING AND NEGOTIATIONS ARE IN FULL SWING

One thing we are currently seeing with sellers wanting to get out of their homes and buyers looking for the best deal among a sea of options to choose from is a mutually beneficial negotiation and bargaining stance taking place between both parties.  This means that there are more concessions and additional perks that sellers are throwing in to sweeten the deal so that their home sells.
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Just like sellers who have chosen to sit the market out and now regret not seizing opportunities that presented themselves in the past few years, the same thing could easily happen with potential buyers who do not jump on the bandwagon in time and grab the home of their dreams while it’s available with these great terms.  It will not last forever, but there is still definitely time to get out there and buy now.  And we’re not just saying this because we’re Realtors!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Five Valuable Steps That Will Get You Through the Short Sale Buying Process



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Most of the time short sales are a seller-centric phenomena that comes up as an option one step better than a foreclosure. But not too much attention is often paid to the other end of the transaction – the buying end. When a buyer is interested in a short sale property, there is much to be aware of a lot that they must consider, heading into it. Literally, the process of buying a short sale property can be a long, drawn out journey. By keeping in mind these five key aspects, the process will be smoother and easier throughout.


Put Your Strongest Virtue Into Play: Patience

Short sales run on anything but a short time frame. The single most valuable trait you can have as a buyer of a short sale property is patience. The level of ups and downs experienced in a typical short sale journey can be harrowing for anyone but the patience required can make all the difference. From start to finish, the entire process can take several months and sometimes even longer. Agents often expect homebuyers to commit to 120 days for the entire negotiation and deal process. The opportunity is an incredible one and if you’re one of the lucky ones, the deal you will secure will be worth all the extra time and frustration that ensues.

Expectations And Predictability; Strangers In A Short Sale

A very normal expectation would be to know each and every stage of a home buying process. To understand exactly what is going on at what time and to be able to get regular updates. With short sales, things are so unpredictable that often none of these normal expectations are fulfilled. Repeated calls to your agent will prove counterproductive and end up in frustration on all sides. Keep in mind that at any given time a loss mitigation officer or loan negotiator will have up to several hundred applications on their desk at one time. In a nutshell, things take time.

Knowledge Is More Than Power; It’s Leverage

A listing agent often represents sellers and it is essential that the agent understands the short sale process entirely. With the plethora of applications on the negotiator’s desks, the need for sellers’ listing agents to be fully aware of all that is entailed in the transaction is very important. When something is needed to be submitted, it is the listing agent’s job to make sure the sellers provide that information on time and in its entirety. Having a listing agent who does not have enough experience can be detrimental to your experience.

There Are No Guarantees, But Often Worth The Wait

Yes, short sales can be a great opportunity to pick up a property for less than the market value. But this is not a simple feat. You must remain patient and willing to accept that it is not a surefire guarantee that the price you end up getting is the best deal possible. Keep in mind that the very nature of this process is volatile. One day a price might be agreed on with the seller, but the next day you both are unable to see it through after the lender reviews it and comes back with a different answer. The way it works is that the application is made to the lender, after which they have an appraisal done and depending on what the Broker’s Price Opinion (BPO) is they come back with an answer. The frustrating part is how long this can take. It has happened that a buyer is let down at the last minute after hearing back from the lender that the price is unacceptable.


Lenders Have Their Own Way Of Thinking

In this time of many homes risking going under, and after a period of many foreclosures, banks are very cautious. Now, more than ever, they have very stringent and careful loan approval processes. The thing that remains most challenging for buyers and sellers in a short sale transaction is that lenders do not operate in a way that makes logical and practical sense to the rest of us. In looking out for their own interests, they often appear removed from the human and emotional aspects of the deal. The best way to handle this is to fulfill all requirements as quickly as possible, including lending inspections, securing funds for the deposit, etc. As soon as the lender issues an approval, they want the money fast – anywhere from two weeks to one month from the approval date.
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All in all, you stand to get a great deal! Just be sure to follow our guidelines and keep your eye on the prize. Be prepared for blips in the system and if things don’t turn out the way you’d expected them to, know in advance that there is a chance for that to happen. No one more than your trusted real estate agent knows how frustrating this process can be, that’s why it’s important to maintain a solid relationship with

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Understanding the Difference Between Online Resources and a Realtor When Pricing Your Home



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The Internet can be a great resource for a host of things centered on buying or selling your home but in some cases, the most you can expect to gain is a basic understanding of things. For something as serious and important as pricing your home to either value it or sell it, relying on the Internet can only go so far. Here we’ve outlined some key differences between the figures you will yield from online sources versus those that have been compiled by your local Realtor.


ACCURACY IS VITAL

In today’s market especially, accurately pricing your home to sell is essential. With it being a buyers’ market, you will have to gain a solid understanding of all factors that contribute toward your property’s value. There can be negative repercussions of pricing a home either too low or too high. One such scenario is if there was a seasoned buyer who had taken the time to research in advance of searching for homes. That buyer’s knowing what to expect in the local market seeing your overpriced home could result in a turn-off and you could lose the sale. By the same token, you stand to get the shorter end of the stick in case of not knowing what you could have charged. Spending a little more time and/or expense can make a huge difference in the end outcome.

ONLINE TOOLS AND CALCULATORS

There are more than several websites where anyone can log on, put in their zip code and be given an instant “analysis” of their real estate value. The figures that appear as results from searches made through online resources stem from a conglomeration of several weeks and sometimes months of data collected from a particular region.

Websites such as www.zillow.com, www.realtytrac.com orwww.trulia.com offer a great way to get a generic idea of the value that homes in your region are going for or have gone for recently. As an added resource to other services also offered on these sites, the goal is not to assist homeowners in assigning a selling price on their property based on the data, rather to offer a snapshot on sales and pricing data for the area. In fact, for many people it is the perfect tool to add an extra edge when determining the fair market value of your home, along with other factors.

PROFESSIONAL COMPARABLE MARKET ANALYSIS

While online real estate tools are a great way to get a preliminary idea, they are only going to yield a figure that will show you where to start. To get an accurate assessment, you will need to avail the professional services of a Realtor. The only way to get an accurate “reading” of what the market rates are for homes in your vicinity and your neighborhood in particular, is to have a comparative market analysis conducted by a Realtor who understands your neighborhood. There is a good chance that they have dealt with properties in the area on a first-hand basis, regularly interact with the agencies and organizations that deal with very homes in your neighborhood and are familiar with the people in various facets that you will end up needing to interact with yourself, as the seller of your home.

Realtors conduct a detailed Comparable Market Analysis (sometimes also called Competitive Market Analysis) through a series of data compilation of area homes and properties, considering factors such as amount of land, the square footage and number of bedrooms or typical amenities in the neighborhood. But homeowners can also opt to delve into accurate detail about their property’s value by relying on an independent appraiser. Also, through the use of CMA data the County Tax Assessor determines the value of your property taxes.

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When you are pricing your home to sell, it is vital that you use all available resources. At first, it makes sense to “shop around” and get to know the generalities before you head for the specifics. And as with most transactions dealing with your real estate world, it is always best to rely on your Realtor for quality, effective and accurate information that is relevant to you and YOUR market.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Clinch the Deal with Curb Appeal!



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Believe me, great curb appeal is everything when it comes to getting potential buyers into your home! Plus, outstanding curb appeal can not only make the sale but increase your profit from that sale as well!


The benefits don’t stop there. Curb appeal can actually be achieved with very little money (depending on the size and condition of the home, of course). So, don’t think of it as cash spent; it’s actually an investment in more profit!

Below, I provide you some very low-cost and sensible methods for making your home “shine!”

Clean – Then Clean Again!

I don’t know about you but when I see dirt and grime in a house, it’s a turn off because, as a buyer, I certainly don’t want to end up cleaning it all out! 

But, there’s another negative to a messy house – it tells potential buyers, “The owner doesn’t seem to care about his property, so why should I care?” Granted, this is not always a fair conclusion, but, remember, we’re dealing with the “emotional” side of the buyer. What they see is what forms their opinion of a property.

So, don’t risk the possibility of a negative opinion! From top to bottom, clean your home or have it cleaned by a professional service. Especially pay attention to getting rid of any odors!Unpleasant smells have a particularly negative impact upon potential buyers since odors create an immediate impact upon the most primitive and powerful part of the brain.

Get Out the Paint Brush…Roller…Sprayer!

The big temptation here is to go with the cheapest paint possible. Don’t give in to this urge. Go with good quality paint for both the interior and exterior! It simply looks better and emphasizes the quality of care you’ve put into your home. Buyers will notice that!

Roll Out the “Red” Carpet!

If your present carpet is at all worn or threadbare, consider replacing it with new carpet. I know, I know, it can be expensive, but new carpet can also add several thousand dollars to the final sale price! Once again, think of it as an investment, not as an expense. 

At a minimum, if your current carpet is in good shape, have it professionally cleaned to make it look even better.


Repair All the Little Things!

By themselves, a missing knob, a crooked gutter, an ill-fitting door, etc., don’t have much of a negative impact upon a buyer’s perceptions. However, when they see all these things together, they definitely get a sour attitude very quickly. So, repair all the little things to enhance exterior and interior curb appeal. Replace/repair gutters, rotted wood, broken door latches, leaky faucets, etc.

Manicure That Lawn!

A mowed and edged lawn really enhances the curb appeal of your home and shows potential buyers that you take good care of your place. To really put the “icing” on the curb appeal “cake,” add plantings like flowers, bushes, etc. They add color and delightful smells.

If you really want to make your home stand out in terms of terms of exterior and interior, consider hiring an accredited, professional “home stager” (ASP).

What’s a Home Stager?

Home stagers work with the “flow” of a home. Think of them as similar to set designers for plays and movies. They know how to “set the stage” in exactly the right way to impress any potential buyer visiting your home.

Overall, they eliminate clutter, arrange furniture, and help you enhance interior/exterior curb appeal in every way possible. Their charges may be on an hourly basis or a flat fee.


For information on home staging professionals, google “Home Staging Professionals” to see who’s available in your area. Or, check out this source on the Internet:

The Real Estate Staging Association

If you’d like more information on home staging or any other methods of increasing your home’s curb appeal, contact me today.