Tips Before You Put Your Home on the Market

You are about to make a big decision; putting your home up for sale but there are some very important things you need to do before the sign goes in the yard and you open your doors to potential buyers.

Getting these things checked off the list will help get you to a quicker and more profitable sale. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Sit down with your real estate professional. Come up with a game plan and set a realistic asking price. Make decisions about marketing and showing availability. Pre-scheduling meetings or times to catch up with your agent will help keep the lines of communication open.

2. Get your paperwork in order. Prepare a list of repairs, upgrades that have been done to your home. Assemble all maintenance records, warranty information and user guides for appliances in the home. If you do not have them many are available on the internet. It will show potential home buyers you care about your home.

3. Clean your home top to bottom. Wash the walls, shampoo the rugs, touch up the paint and get every cobweb from the corners. Remember your home will be looked at very closely and the last thing you want is a buyer to be turned off by a little dirt.

4. Organize and declutter everywhere. You have probably acquired quite a bit of stuff. Go through every closet, cabinet, and start clearing out. You may want to have a yard sale or donate unwanted items to charity. For the things that you must keep consider a storage unit.

5. Get a home inspection. Have a pre-sale inspection of your home. This will prevent any surprises and help you identify any problem areas in your home. Repairs can affect the ultimate sale price of your home. For problem areas, make repairs or get estimates. This will help you determine what the ultimate sale price or items you may need to be prepared to negotiate on.

6. Stage the home to sell. Hire a professional stager to dress your home for sale. You will want to stage the home inside and out. Research shows that staged homes typically sell for more money.

Congratulations you are well on your way to a successful sale.

 

Going from Renter to Owner

Home prices are at rock bottom and mortgage rates at all-time lows so you may be considering going from renter to homeowner. If you are planning on staying put for a while the choice makes sense. There are a few things to take into consideration before you make the leap from renter to owner.

First, you will need to determine how much you can afford. Consult with a mortgage professional to help you determine what kind of mortgage you qualify for. Just because you pay $1,000 a month in rent, doesn’t mean you can handle a $1,000 monthly mortgage payment. There are more costs to owning a home than just the mortgage payment. As a homeowner you will also be responsible for property tax, home insurance, utilities, and repairs. To prepare for those costs plan on adding about 40 percent to your base cost. So, if your mortgage is $1,000, add about $400 a month for a better estimate of costs.

Before you make a rash decision see if you really can afford the cost difference. Once you know the cost difference spend a few months depositing the difference between your rent payment and your cost estimate in the bank. In the previous example you would deposit $400 a month into savings. If you’ve been able to keep up the deposits and pay your other bills, that’s a sign you can afford to buy. Now that you have been saving more you have more money to put toward the down payment of your new home.

These are just a few tips to get you started. Once you have a better financial picture it will be time to start shopping. That is when the fun begins.

Planning a Green Home Renovation

If you are planning a home renovation you may be considering going green. By planning your design you can add sustainability features to your home, many at no extra cost. There are many benefits to a green renovation. A green renovation will make your home better for the environment, save on energy costs and boost the resale value.

When planning a green renovation you will want to find a contractor experienced in green projects. To find a green contractor choose someone who has been designated a Master Builder by the Energy and Environmental Building Association, or has been certified by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry as a Certified Remodeler.

Look for reclaimed materials like pine timbers and salvaged doors and cabinets. Reclaimed pieces are usually more affordable and they save on energy, materials, and resources. Make sure to avoid products that contain hazardous materials, such as formaldehyde or creosote from railroad ties and other wood-based goods.

It is almost impossible to avoid using new materials in your renovation. When selecting new materials look for products that are durable, easy to maintain, and if possible contain a high percentage of recycled content. Try to avoid disposable products and products that contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds).  VOCs are commonly found in paints and finishes.

Look for products that are green friendly. Watch for Grean Seal products on for paints coatings and doors. Check for Energy Star, for appliances, windows and heating and cooling products; Forest Stewardship Council, for wood-based products; and Cradle to Cradle, for carpet, sheet goods and other products.

For more information read Green Building: A Primer for Builders, Consumers, and Realtors, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Green Home Guide.

Short Sale Tips

In this market, short sales can sometimes be a good deal for a buyer but they also come with some potential pitfalls. A short sale is when a seller needs to sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage. In order to get a bargain and not a headache you will need to do your homework. Here are some tips for protecting yourself before buying a short sale.

1. Use experts

It is important that before you buy a short sale you assemble a team of experts. During the initial phase you will need help identifying which homes are being offered as short sales. The nature of short sales are different, you will also need help determining a purchase price and what to include in your offer.

A real estate attorney who is knowledgeable in short sales is also key. Navigating the process of a short sale can be tricky so you will need an experienced short sale attorney to help deal with the potential of multiple liens, mechanic’s and condominium liens, or homeowners association liens. Often homes that are in short sale have these issues and without help will be harder to purchase.

2. Prepare emotionally

If you want a good deal on a short sale you will probably have to be in it for the long haul. It is important to stay patient, and remain unemotional during what can sometimes be a lengthy and emotionally difficult process. You may even want to consider a title search upfront. This could weed out properties with multiple liens if you are under a time crunch.

3. Know the market

In order to successfully purchase a short sale you need to know the marketplace. When a lender agrees to a short sale, they are agreeing to losing money on the loan they made to purchase the home. A short sale can be a good deal but it usually not a steal. The lender also knows the fair market value of the home and wants to minimize their losses. If your offer is too low, you chance it being rejected. During the process we will determine a price range that works with your budget and is hopefully one that the lender will accept.

4. Know the Process

The short sale process is different than that of a standard sale. The agreement to sell the home for less than is owed is actually made between the seller and the lender, not the seller and the buyer. The seller must first gain approval from the lender before the sale can be finalized.

First, you would make an offer on a home and the sellers must consent to your offer to purchase. Then the sellers must submit the offer to their lender. The seller also sends along documentation to the bank as to why they need to sell the home for less than is owed. The seller should also have an attorney to help them with this process.

Lenders typically do not move quickly on this process. It can often take weeks or months to get an answer. This is why is often best to put a competitive offer first. If several lien holders are involved; each can make a counteroffer or just reject your offer.

5. Firm up your financing

Lenders don’t just look at the amount you are willing to pay for the home; they will also weigh your ability to close the transaction. If have a strong offer lenders will look more closely at your offer. You will want to make sure you are pre-approved for a mortgage for any consideration. Other factors that could influence the decision in a positive way are: having a large down payment, ability to close at any time, and flexibility. They will often not consider your offer if you have a contingency.