The Weather Outside is Frightful, But the Market is Still Delightful: Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter

I think that at this point it is common knowledge that spring is the most common time that people decide to put their homes on winter house with logo the market.  But did you know there are also benefits to listing your home in the winter that those spring sellers are missing out on?  For example we simply have to look at the concept of supply and demand.  For those motivated buyers, those who have to move, and those who don’t mind the winter moving conditions your house will be one of the few to look at.  With fewer options means less competition and you have a better handle on the market.  Not only will you potentially get more traffic of perspective buyers but you know these buyers are motivated and can therefore negotiate better on your terms.  With that being said there are some ways to make your winter home more appealing.

* Be sure to always keep walkways and driveway cleared off when hosting open houses or having showings.  The last thing you want people to remember is trudging through the snow to make their way to your door.

* Keep the home warm.  The idea is to make the potential buyer are comfortable and cozy as possible in the winter.

* Open blinds and turn on all the lights.  You want to light up the home as much as possible on the dark and often dreary days of winter.

* Create a virtual experience of the home.  In the cold weather people are a bit pickier about which houses they want to venture out for.  Make sure yours is as appealing as possible online in order to get more potential buyers to actually come to the home.

Reasons that People Choose Not to Stage Their Home… Do These Apply to You?

I cannot stress enough the importance of staging your home to put it on the market.  While it doesn’t necessarily have to be staging wtih borderdone by a professional home stager (although it is recommended)  you can draw some tips from them to do yourself.  Despite the solid financial proof that home staging can increase the appeal, selling price, interest, and speed at which you sell your house there are still those doubters out there.  Here are a few of the reasons that many clients give for not wanting to stage their home.

* It costs too much: While there are undoubtedly costs associated with a professional home stager I have never seen the amount exceed the amount that we have had to reduce home prices due to lack of interest.  This is a prime example of having to spend money to make money.

* We can’t stage the house, we live in it: Believe it or not these are 2 things that can be done simultaneously.  In fact a professional home stager will stage your home, give you tips on keeping it show ready, and still leave all of the essentials for you to go about your everyday life.

* We want to put it on the market for awhile before we try home staging:  While in theory this sounds like a perfectly logical and conservative plan.  Unfortunately we as humans base most of our existence off of first impressions.  If a potential buyer sees your home (un-staged) and weren’t thrilled with what they saw there is not much of a chance they will even take a second look if you stage your home after a few months on the market.  In their head they have already crossed your home off the list.

* Everyone loves our house: While this may be true (or they may just be being nice) the fact of the matter is that today’s buyers are looking for specific things.  I think it is hard for sellers (myself included) to wrap their head around the fact that someone could find something wrong with this beautiful home they have poured their time, money, and effort into.  By allowing an unbiased person such as a home stager to spruce up your home you are helping to ensure that you are adhering to what home buyers are looking for.

* We can declutter and clean the home ourselves: Great… and you should! But (and this is a big but…) there is much more to home staging than simply removing things.  A professional home stager can distinguish between clutter and an asset, can find the balance between decluttered and barren, and understand the importance of highlighting desirable architectural features, lighting, and flow of furniture.

How Does a Realtor Get Paid?

This is understandably a common question that I get on a regular basis, “so how do you get paid?”.  This is especially common for first time home buyers who money bag wth logohave not gone through the process before.  And thankfully most first time home buyers are thrilled with my answer that in most U.S. states it is the home seller that covers all of the realtor fees.  While I will delve into the process a bit more extensively below, what this really means is that especially for any first time home buyer there is absolutely no reason for them to find a highly recommended, experienced realtor to guide them through the sometimes tricky home buying process.  I think often times buyers avoid contacting a realtor at the beginning of their search for fear of accruing fees.

Another interesting thing to note is that a realtor does not get paid (not a single dime) until the closing.  This is great for you as the consumer because it ensures that your realtor will stick with you and guide you through the entire process, start to finish.  If for some reason the deal falls apart before the closing then the realtor makes zero money.  To actually follow the money this is the path that it takes…. 1.) The seller pays their listing agents brokerage at closing   2.) The listing agents brokerage pays the listing agent (often times brokerages keep up to 40% of the agents commission)   3.) The listing agent pays the buyers agent brokerage (it’s also common for both agents to split the earnings)   4.) The buyers agents brokerage then pays the buyers agent

 

Not Hiring a Realtor? Are You Crazy?

Have you ever heard the saying, “you’ve got to spend money to make money?”  Well this is never more true than in the ever evolving world of real estate.  It is house money with logoeasy to succumb to the temptation of saving a few bucks and trying to sell your house on your own but at what risk?  I highly suggest talking to someone that has attempted this exact money saving situation and chances are they would never recommend going this route and here’s why….

* Real Estate Agents are Good Marketers:  Sure you can post your home on facebook for your friends and family to see, maybe even have it included in a for sale by owner website but unfortunately the exposure is just not up to par.  Experienced realtors on the other hand know how to advertise and promote the most praised features of your home and gain the most interest.  As a licensed realtor they also have access to putting your home on highly popular sites such as zillow, homefinder, and trulia to name a few.

* Real Estate Agents are Great Negotiators: Negotiations go much beyond just the financial bottom line in real estate.  There are negotiations made almost every step of the way in selling a home ranging from closing costs to necessary repairs and more.  The benefit to having an agent do these is that they are not emotionally involved in the process in the same way you would be about your beloved home.

* Real Estate Agents Have a Knack for Property Pricing: I think each and every one of us probably assume our home is worth more than it is and that every other home on the market is worth less than they are asking.  I’m sure this has to do with the fact that you spent 4 whole weekends retiling your bathroom, or watched your youngest child learn to walk in the dining room, or know the degree of dedication you have had in maintaining your home.  It is hard as home-owners to separate our nostalgia from the black and white lines of the market.  Realtors are able to help determine the best price for your home that ensures you are still happy with not only the financial end of the sale but the speed in which it is accomplished.

* Real Estate Agents Have a Passion for What They Do: It is easy to separate the successful people in life versus the less than successful and the deciding factor usually involves passion.  A realtor that has a true love of the job can make a seemingly painful task such as selling your home into a seamless and enjoyable process.  Plus with a dedication to their job they are sure to work hard as your advocate, going to bat for you whenever the going gets tough.  This will help you avoid the inevitable headaches that come along with the home buying/selling process.

* Last but Certainly Not Least, Real Estate Agents are Experts:  Not just anyone can become a real estate agent and even less can become a successful and respected one.  Realtors know how to read the market, know when to place your home for sale, what improvements are necessary, who the target audience should be, what to price your home, and how to successfully navigate the entire process of selling/buying your home.

Turn-Offs for Potential Buyers

There are a few things that you can have or do to your home that can be a turn off to potential buyers if you are looking to sell.  This is not to say that you dinosaur with logoshouldn’t do them if you and your family will get enjoyment out of it but just to make you aware of the potential negative impact it can have on resell.

* Putting carpet over hardwood floors: Most people prefer hardwood floors over nearly any other type of flooring.  Not only do they look sleeker and more modern but they help the entire house look cleaner.  If you are lucky enough to have hardwood floors throughout your home the last thing you want to do is cover them up.

* A garage turned into something else: Whether you’ve turned your garage into an extra room, a gym, or an artist studio chances are a potential buyer will not be nearly as impressed.  Having a safe and secure place to park a car is a top requirement for many home seekers and the likelihood that they are also interested in an indoor gym is slim.  The garage is also a place that people think of as storage and by eliminating its original use you force buyers to look elsewhere.

* Kids rooms that are overly decorated: Sure little Timmy loves dinosaurs but the big t-rex mural on the wall and the neon carpet may be a bit too loud for a potential home buyer to overlook.  Before putting your home on the market it may be wise to turn your dinosaur oasis into a more muted room.

* An Above ground pool: (or even an in-ground pool):  Unless the potential buyer is an avid pool lover most people see a maintenance issue or a potential liability  when they look at a pool.

* Pet supplies: While we are certainly not advocating getting rid of your four legged friends (they are family after all) when putting your home on the market you may want to keep their toys, bowls, litter boxes, etc a bit more out of site.

* Cigarette smoke: This may be the biggest turn off to date for any potential buyer.  This is because in order to fully get rid of the smell you have to replace carpet, window coverings, paint, etc. which can be an expensive and time consuming project.

Tips for Improving Your Credit Score ASAP

By now most of us are aware of how important your credit score can be when it comes to purchasing the house you’ve always dreamed of.  In fact Good Credit Scoreeven 2 points difference in your credit score can literally cost you thousands of dollars.  With that being said there are some simple tips to follow to help improve your credit score, get a better interest rate, and assist you in finding a lender to help you buy your new home!

(An excellent credit score=720 and up…. A Good credit score= 680-719… An average credit score= 620-679… A poor credit score= 580-619… A bad credit score= 500-579… A miserable credit score= Less than 500)

* While this may seem obvious, one of the best things you can do is start paying down your credit card bills.  When you have a lot of unpaid credit on your account it can make your score lower.  By just working to pay down your outstanding debt over a two month period can greatly improve your score.

* The same thing can be true for paying your bills on time.  Even if there is a “grace period” offered it is better to pay before the actual due date.  Doing this without fail for a few months can improve your score.

* Don’t close out/cancel credit cards if you are trying to improve your score.  While it may be tempting to do so it can actually decrease your score because then you would be using a higher percentage of your credit available.  If you feel that it is necessary for you to cancel some then be sure to keep your oldest card open regardless of the interest rate.  Banks will also look at length of your credit history and if all of your credit cards are newer ones than it appears you are a new borrower.

* Don’t open a lot of new cards to increase the amount of credit available.  Doing so looks suspicious to lenders.

* While it is highly suggested you work on paying down the balances you can also improve your score immediately by evening out your usage.  What I mean by this is by taking a card that is almost maxed out and putting some of the balance on another card.  Try to get the usage to about 20-30% of your allotted credit limit on each card as opposed to zero balance on a few and 90% on one.

* Another thing that you can do immediately is to go over your credit report with a fine tooth comb.  You would be amazed at how often there are mistakes on credit reports.  Ensure that the lenders have reported your credit limits accurately as well because that can greatly affect your credit ratio.

If you have any questions or want more suggestions on improving your credit score or which lenders will work with you feel free to contact us.  We look forward to hearing from you!

A Handy Checklist of Things to Look For While Walking Through a Home

It’s easy to get caught up in the ambiance of a house, the energy of an open house, or get focused on one amazing feature in a home that you start the-real-estate-pros-logoto totally ignore some of the essential things that you should be focused on.  That is why I have found that carrying a list such as this one helps you to stay on track, take important notes to hash over later, and be able to do a quick assessment of each home.  This also helps keep houses from running together in your mind.  After the 5th or 6th home you start to forget which house had which problem or which home had most of the amenities that you were looking for.  Next house you visit bring this checklist along:

* Look at the roof.  If it appears to be newer you are probably safe but if it appears to need a bit of work it may end up costing you quite a bit.  Plus if it is a newer roof your homeowners insurance may be lower.

* Open the cabinet below the sink.  This will help you see any leaks or mold issues that could also be costly to repair.

* Walk the exterior of the property.  While most people focus on the house you need to determine if the house is prone to flooding or if the fence needs extensive repairs.

* Turn on everything.  This means light switches, flush toilets, turn on sinks.  You may even want to taste the water.

* Check the hot water system.  You will want to see if it is big enough for your family.  A family will need a bigger system than a single person and so on.  If it’s a gas system check for the systems last servicing.

* Open and shut the windows.  See if they open and close easily.  Replacing windows can be a costly investment.

* Check if there are unusual shaped rooms.  Some of these may prove hard to furnish.

* Check for wall outlets.  In older homes there are sometimes only one or two in the entire room.  This will become a hindrance once you are trying to plug in your computer, tv, phone, ipad, lamp, alarm clock, printer, etc…

Things to Overlook:

* Outdated carpet.  While it makes a big impact on the room it can easily replaced at an affordable price.

* Paint: While exterior paint may be a bit more costly, you can repaint a room in your house for much less and certainly shouldn’t be a reason to not purchase a home if everything else is up to your standards.

* Outdated Kitchen cabinets: Cabinet resurfacing can be done very inexpensively.

* Old or ugly window treatments: It can certainly have an impact on a room but you can easily purchase new window treatments and give the whole room an update!

Want to Save Up for a Down-Payment? Here Are Some Easy to Tips To Do Just That

If you are in the market for a new home one way you can reduce your monthly mortgage payments is to have a substantial downpayment at the saving for home downpaymenttime of purchase. Some lenders may even require a certain percentage as a downpayment. Unfortunately, saving money is not the easiest thing for most of us to do! But here are some tips to help you save up money quickly!

*Ask…. I know it sounds simple but you wouldn’t believe the discounts I have gotten from my cell phone carrier, cable and internet provider, insurance, doctor bills, and paper delivery all by making a phone call. While in some cases you may have to give up some of your higher quality services such as lowering your internet speed a bit most of the time they will just offer you a promotion they have going on or figure out a way to save you a bit of money each month. Lets say you are able to save just $20 a month from each of these providers. Over the course of 6 months you will have saved $600, a great start to a downpayment!
*Cut coupons and shop sales for your groceries. Coupons can be really helpful but if you aren’t the couponing type then at least consider buying store brand items or discounted products. Most of the time the product is the same and you can save nearly 40% by eliminating name brand. If you usually spend $100 a week at the grocery ($400 per month) but now you start browsing the ads for sales, buying off brand, and looking for discounted products you can bring your grocery bill to $60 a week ($240 per month) a savings of a whopping $160 a month which means $960 over the course of 6 months!
*Avoiding the little expenditures is another key in saving up that much needed extra money. We all know you have to pay the basic bills and there’s not a whole lot you can do about that but the “extras” need to stop or slow down while you are saving. For example if you skipped getting your morning Starbucks for 6 months you could save $720. That’s a lot of money for a quick morning fix. Quitting smoking is not only healthy but another great way to save that extra money.
*Last but not least, in an effort to save money it seems obvious that making more money is another great way. You can do this many different ways. One of the easiest and quickest ways is to sell some of your old items you are no longer using. The popularity of Facebook rummage sites is growing and is a very effective way to sell unwanted goods. Craigslist, ebay, and Amazon are also great tools to use to make some extra money. Once you have cleared out your closets and attic you may want to explore the idea of offering your services. Instead of going out to dinner this Saturday night and spending money why not offer up some babysitting services. Some other ideas to make a few extra bucks are: dog sitting, mowing yards, organizing, donating plasma, cleaning houses, doing taxes, running errands, and the list goes on. Depending on how often you do these you could easily make an extra $300 per month or $1,500 over 6 months.

By doing these simple suggestions and watching your money more closely you should be able to save $3,780 without making too many lifestyle changes. A great down payment for some houses! If you are thinking of buying soon contact us for even more tips on preparing for home ownership.