6 Keys to Selling your House

Every homeowner’s dream is to sell their property quickly and for the best possible price. The more time a house sits on the market, the more likely it is that the price may have to be lowered in order to attract interested buyers. So your job is to make your home as appealing as possible. It might take a little bit of elbow grease, but it will be worth it when your house sells faster than the ones already on the market.

Here are some areas to focus on so you don’t lengthen your sale by overlooking the basics.

1. Clean. Every corner of your house needs to sparkle. The appearance of a dirty home will turn off most buyers. Hiring a cleaning service to scrub kitchen and bathroom floors, dust and polish all woodwork, and clean carpets is well worth the cost.

2. Odors. You have to eliminate bad smells, not just mask them. Remove the source of the odor if possible (carpets, trash, litter boxes), and use enzyme cleaning products. Pet smells are so pervasive, some sellers even board their pets while their house is for sale.

3. Light. People like light and spacious, not dark and cave-like. Clean your windows and keep them clear of trees or shrubbery. Remove blinds and drapes to clean them thoroughly. Increase bulb wattage in areas where you need more light.

4. Repairs. Prospective buyers like to make sure everything in the house works. They will turn on lights, open drawers and test faucets. Fix or replace broken or missing hardware, grease hinges and joints, repair cracked caulk, and make sure your outlets work.

5. Clutter. Potential buyers don’t want to see your stuff. They want to envision their belongings in your house. Make your decor as impersonal as you can. Bonus: minimal furnishings can make your home appear bigger.

6. Curb Appeal. If you don’t have it, buyers will drive right on by. The National Association of REALTORS® estimates that adding curb appeal can boost your sale price by up to 4 or 5 percent. Keep the lawn and garden neat, add some potted plants, repair cracks in the driveway, use a power washer or even repaint your exterior.

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Protect Your Possessions with a Home Inventory

We pay for home insurance to protect our homes and possessions in case of burglary, damage or fire. But if calamity were to strike and you should need to recount what was lost, would you be able to remember everything? To save yourself the worry and the trouble, take time now to create a home inventory. This can help you keep track of everything you own, and it speeds up the insurance claims process.

The best way to create a thorough inventory is to physically walk around your house from room to room and build your list. Take pictures of everything, including serial numbers and receipts where you can. For each item, try to include a description, when it was purchased and an estimated value.

There are a variety of tools available to help you. You can simply write everything down in a notebook, create a spreadsheet (Microsoft Office has templates online), or use one of the new inventory apps on your computer or smartphone. The Insurance Information Institute and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners offer free apps with secure online storage. Many insurance companies have their own apps, as well. The best tool is the one that you will actually use.

Creating an inventory now isn’t difficult, though it can be a little time-consuming. But it is well worth the effort, and if disaster strikes, you’ll be thanking yourself later.

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Risks When Buying a Short-Sale Home

If you are looking to buy a home at a significant reduction in price, you might have heard about pursuing a short sale. A short sale can occur when a homeowner can no longer pay the mortgage and wants to sell the property for less than the amount currently owed on the loan. This tactic has the potential to save you money, but it also has its risks. Here are few you should look out for:

Time — The short-sale process generally takes longer than the regular closing process. The seller’s mortgage lender needs to approve the sale, which typically takes about two months. If there are other liens on the house (such as a second mortgage or home-equity line of credit), those lenders must approve it as well. Sometimes final approval can take six months or more.

Deal falls through — Sometimes the lender’s approval might come with conditions that the seller is unable or unwilling to meet, and they will back out of the deal, even after months of time already invested.

Extra costs — Lenders rarely agree to pay for extras that a seller would typically take care of (such as inspections and repairs), so your closing costs could be higher.

Deferred maintenance — Cash-strapped sellers may have let maintenance and repairs go by the wayside, resulting in a lot of fixing-up that the buyer would be responsible for.

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Equity Position Improvements


Another sign of an improving economy — an improvement in the equity position of U.S. households. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors recently released data showing that homeowners are continuing to regain the equity in their homes they lost during the housing crisis that began in 2007.

In its analysis of the data, CoreLogic found that at the end of the first quarter of 2014, 12.7 percent (6.3 million) of homes with a mortgage were in negative equity, meaning the homeowners owed more on the mortgage than the property was worth. This is a significant decrease from the year prior, when 20.2 percent of homeowners were “underwater.”

“Prices continue to rise across most of the country and significantly fewer borrowers are underwater today compared to last year, “ said CoreLogic president and CEO Anand Nallathambi. “An additional rise in home prices of 5 percent, which we are projecting will occur over the next 12 months, will lift another 1.2 million properties out of the negative equity trap.”

States with the highest share of negative-equity properties include Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Mississippi. Those with the lowest share are Texas, Montana and North Dakota.

The current level has not been seen since 2007 and bodes well for the real estate market, as fewer underwater borrowers help unlock housing supply and demand.

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Speculation Abounds on Mortgage Applications


The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Purchase Index keeps tabs on the rate that people are applying for mortgages, and that number can give economists some insight into what’s going on within the market.

The first half of 2014 saw the numbers falling, corresponding with a slower-than-expected recovery in home sales during first quarter.

But then over the course of one week in early summer, the index rose by 10 percent. Such a jump is leading real estate professionals and mortgage lenders to speculate about the future. Some believe it is just a blip, a repeat of a similar temporary increase that occurred in 2013. But others are more hopeful.

National Association of Mortgage Brokers vice president Rocke Andrews said he saw the jump as a good sign. “This is a response to an increase in consumer confidence and feeling good about the economy, along with a short-term dip in interest rates,” he said. “The economy is getting better and people are feeling better about their jobs. If interest rates stay stable, we will see a pretty good rebound.”

Lender loanDepot conducted a survey and reported that half of the potential home buyers surveyed indicated that they had not pursued financing for a home purchase because they were afraid they wouldn’t qualify.

President and COO of loanDepot Dave Norris said too many people are sitting on the fence. “Potential buyers are forfeiting their dreams of homeownership before they find out what financing options are available to them. It’s never been easier than it is today to go online and research your options.”

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Easy Ways to Increase Home Value


Whether you are planning to put your house on the market or you just want to grow your investment in your home, there are a number of simple ways you can increase your home’s value without tackling a large remodeling project.

Inspect Your Home
Typically buyers will request an inspection of your home. Beat them to it by regularly inspecting it yourself and taking care of any problems you find along the way.

Paint Kitchen Cabinets
You don’t have to replace all your cabinetry to give your kitchen a new look. Just give cupboards a fresh coat of paint and maybe some new hardware to spruce them up.

Replace Light Fixtures
Light fixtures tend to be put up and be forgotten, so replacing old lighting with new fixtures can give rooms a more modern feel.

Add Seating
Anyplace you have open space, think about putting in a table and some chairs. This showcases the potential of the space, which can translate into a perceived higher value.

Declutter
The simplest way to make a room appear bigger is to remove the photos, knick-knacks and other clutter that accumulate over time.

Highlight Storage
Creating or showing off the storage capabilities of your house lets potential buyers see that their stuff will fit there too. Even a wire rack closet system presents the appearance of organization.

Before investing a lot of time or money into a home-improvement project, give me a call. As your real estate professional, I can let you know what buyers in your area are looking for and save you money by preventing unnecessary upgrades!

 

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Leading Markets Continue to Improve


Although it’s been slow, the economy does continue to improve, and along with it the housing market. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and First American Title Insurance Co. produce a “Leading Markets Index” (LMI), which uses single-family housing permits, house prices and employment levels in various metro markets to measure how close to normal the markets are functioning.

 The LMI indicates that, nationally, we are running at 88 percent of normal economic and housing activity. Scores for metro areas varied, but 59 of the 351 measured are at or exceed 100 percent of normal activity, and 85 percent improved over the last year.

 “Things are getting slowly better overall,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. “The nation’s economy is headed in the right direction.”

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