Four things you need to know about Real Estate contracts

There are four requirements for a valid contract:

  1. Competent Parties
  2. Mutual Agreement
  3. Consideration
  4. Lawful Purpose

What is your house worth?

In a general sense, your property’s value

Want to see this sign in your yard?

will increase and decrease along with the overall economy and market conditions. No one has any control over that; it just depends on what the dollar is worth, on inflation, on the amount of unemployment here and in the rest of the country, etc.

Still, the specific value of your home only matters when you want to sell it or borrow against it. The rest of the time its value is just on paper, and the exact worth is anybody’s guess. In real dollars, your property is worth exactly what a buyer is willing to pay and what you are willing to accept at the time you sell it – not more and not less, not sooner and not later.

So realistically, no one can tell you, “I don’t care how much people are paying; it’s not worth that much!” If buyers ARE paying it, and lenders are supporting it, then it HAS to be worth that much. (And if they aren’t, it isn’t!) The other major factor affecting the value of a property is the reason for selling. Not a “stated” reason, mind you, but the seller’s actual reason. The stronger the reason, the more realistic the price and the more likely the sale. However, the weaker the reason, the higher the price and the less likely the sale.

What does this mean for you? Simply call or email and let me give you some realistic guidelines as they pertain to your own unique circumstances.

Why does a buyer’s agent require you to be pre-qualified before viewing homes for sale?

Begin Rant …

The other day a potential home buyer asked me to take them to view a home for sale.  Before setting the appointment I asked for a lender pre-qualification or proof of funds.  When he was offended, my red flags popped up.

When I take you into a home for sale, I’m vouching for you to both the other agent and their client the home seller that you are ready willing and able to buy this home if it suits your needs after viewing it.  How can I do that if I don’t know anything about you?

For that first step, I’m asking you to spend 10-15 minutes on the phone with a lender and produce some basic documentation including a picture ID.  If you don’t have a lender, I’ve got several that I’m happy to recommend.  Feel free to shop around several different lenders to choose the one who seems right for you.

Why is this so important?  There are obvious benefits to you that you can find articles about all over the web.  If you aren’t concerned why should I be?

Well – I’m concerned about my safety.  I’m concerned about the safety and security security of the home I’m allowing you access to you and about the safety and security of those homeowners.  I’m concerned about wasting the seller’s time, the listing agent’s time and my time.

A reputable lender will protect the privacy of your documents.  Once he reviews them I’m glad to take you out shopping for the home of your dreams.  But not until … so get qualified.

End Rant

Get Your House Ready to Show to Buyers

stagingA house that “sparkles” on the surface will sell faster than its shabby neighbor, even though both are structurally well maintained.

From experience, REALTORS® also know that a “well-polished” house appeals to more buyers and will sell faster and for a higher price. Additionally, buyers feel more comfortable purchasing a well-cared for home because if what they can see is well maintained, they assume that what they can’t see has probably also been well maintained. In readying your house for sale, consider:

  • how much should you spend to prepare your house for sale?
  • exterior and curb appeal
  • interior appeal

Before putting your house on the market, take as much time as necessary (and as little money as possible) to maximize its exterior and interior appeal.

How Much Should You Spend to Prepare Your House for Sale?

In preparing your home for the market, spend as little money as possible. Buyers will be impressed by a brand new roof, but they aren’t likely to give you enough extra money to pay for it. There is a big difference between making minor and inexpensive polishes and touch-ups to your house, such as putting new knobs on cabinets and a fresh coat of neutral paint in the living room, and doing extensive and costly renovations, like installing a new kitchen.

Your REALTOR® is familiar with buyers’ expectations in your neighborhood and can advise you specifically on what improvements need to be made and which improvements are most effective. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice.

Maximizing Exterior and Curb Appeal

When preparing to put your home up for sale, your first concern is the home’s exterior. If the outside, or “curb appeal” looks good, people will more than likely want to see what’s on the inside.

Here are some tips to enhance your home’s exterior and curb appeal to buyers:

  • Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered.
  • Regularly trim hedges and weed lawns and flowerbeds.
  • Be sure your front door area has a “Welcome” feeling.
  • Paint the front door.
  • In spring and summer, add a couple of pots of showy annuals near your front entrance.
  • In snowy areas, keep walks neatly cleared of snow and ice.
  • Check foundation, steps, walkways, walls and patios for cracks and deterioration, and fix any problem areas.
  • Remove and repaint any peeling paint on doors and windows.
  • Clean and align gutters.
  • Inspect and clean the chimney.
  • Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  • Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
  • Reseal old asphalt.
  • Keep the garage door closed.
  • Store RVs and old cars elsewhere while the house is on the market.

Maximizing Interior Appeal

You want your home to look as spacious, bright and clean as possible. Also the home should look neutral – without a lot of your personal and sentimental objects – so buyers can begin to imagine living there.

Here are some tips to enhance your home’s interior appeal to buyers:

  • Give every room in the house a thorough cleaning and remove all clutter. This alone will make your house appear bigger and brighter. Some homeowners with crowded rooms actually rent storage garages and move half their furniture out, creating a sleeker, more spacious look.
  • Use a professional cleaning service every few weeks while the house is on the market.
  • Remove the less frequently used, and even daily-used items from kitchen counters, closets, basement and attic to make these areas more inviting.
  • Make sure that table tops, dressers and closets are free of clutter.
  • Pay special attention to the kitchen and bathrooms: they should look as modern, bright and fresh as possible. It is essential for them to be clean and odor free.
  • Repair dripping faucets and showerheads.
  • Buy showy new towels for the bathroom, and put them out only for showings.
  • Spruce up a kitchen in need of more major remodeling by installing new curtains and cabinet knobs, or applying a fresh coat of neutral paint.
  • Clean walls and doors of smudges and scuff marks.
  • If necessary, repaint dingy, soiled or strongly-colored walls with a neutral shade of paint, such as off-white or beige. The same neutral scheme can be applied to carpets and linoleum.
  • Check for cracks, leaks and signs of dampness in the attic and basement, and fix any problem areas.
  • Seal basement walls if there are any signs of dampness or leakage.
  • Repair cracks, holes or damage to plaster, wallboard, wallpaper, paint and tiles.
  • Replace broken or cracked windowpanes, moldings and other woodwork.
  • Inspect and repair the plumbing, heating, cooling and alarm systems.

Should you remodel to sell?

How does your home match up with what buyers are looking for?  Most buyers like sparkling new kitchens and baths.  So you’re thinking, “A-HA!  I should put in a new kitchen — granite, travertine, stainless steel!”  If that’s what you want to live in — go ahead.  The sky’s the limit.  But if you’re planning to recoup your investment  with an improved sale price right away, you might want to think again.  Based on this information, repair or replace the roof and polish up those hardwood floors.2015_remodeling_report_crj_values

This doesn’t mean that you should put your house on the market without having done any maintenance for the last 30 years and expect an average or better price.  Leaks, dripping faucets, peeling paint and cracked windows will turn off the average buyer in a big hurry. You will get low-ball offers from vendors looking to flip the house.  They’ll offer you about 60-70% of the going rate for you home.  If that’s what you want to to accept, call me.  I’ve got several of those investors just waiting for your home to come along.

Foreclosures, REOs and ShortSales — Oh My!

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a yellow brick road to follow through this maze of investment opportunities? With foreclosures, bank-owned properties and short sales at a record high, it can be very confusing! Let me give you my perspective as your local economist and real estate expert.  
You need a guide to navigate your way to the best possible investment opportunities to achieve your financial goals. Call me today to show you how I have helped other investors like you get started.

When should you buy a home?

When should  you buy a home?  When you want one and can afford one. Interest rates are at historic lows.  While prices seem to go up and down a bit, the historic truth is that all Real Estate goes up over the long term.  The sooner you buy – the better. So called “timing the market,”  to find the absolute best time to buy really doesn’t work.  Look at some very prominent “Deal Makers” who have declared bankruptcy more than once.

couple buying home
Moving Day!

The home buying process might seem a little confusing if you haven’t gone through it before. However, it can actually be a lot easier than you think, particularly if you’re working with someone who’s got a lot of experience helping people with their real estate needs. I’ve been helping first-time home buyers realize their dreams for years. I can speed up your home search, help arrange financing, help you negotiate a good deal, and make sure everything’s signed, sealed and delivered on the closing date.

So if you’re interested in finding out more, please call or email me any time.