Category: Real Estate Tips & Resources

What to Expect When Home Inspecting

What to Expect When Home Inspecting | Keeping Current Matters

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. More often than not, your agent may have made your offer contingent on a clean home inspection. This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. Realtor.com suggests that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:

  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection & if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients that you can call to ask about their experience.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Often membership in one of these organizations means that there is continued training and education provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.

Ask your inspector if it’s ok for you to tag along during the inspection. That way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed. Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof, crawling around in the attic, and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace & chimney, the foundation and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money in a home of your own. Work with a professional you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.

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Ready to Make an Offer? 4 Tips for Success

Ready to Make an Offer? 4 Tips for Success | Keeping Current Matters

So you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home’ and you finally found one! The price is right, and in such a competitive market you want to make sure you make a good offer so that you can guarantee your dream of making this house yours comes true! Freddie Mac covered 4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their latest Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 Tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ really should take place before you start your home search process. As we’ve mentioned before, getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.”

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report, the inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 4.7-month supply. This is well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream home. Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”

Consider ways of making your offer stand out! Many buyers write a personal letter to the seller letting them know how much they would love to be the new homeowners. Your agent will be able to help you figure out if there are any other ways your offer could stand above the rest.

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford. Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home. If the inspection uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can typically re-negotiate the terms or cancel the contract.”

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in their market on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Happy House Hunting!

 

Top Five Reasons You Should Not For Sale By Owner

In today’s market, with homes selling quickly and prices rising, some homeowners might consider trying to sell their home on their own, known in the industry as a For Sale by Owner (FSBO). There are several reasons this might not be a good idea for the vast majority of sellers. Here are five of those reasons

1. There Are Too Many People to Negotiate With

Here is a list of some of the people with whom you must be prepared to negotiate if you decide to For Sale By Owner:

  • The buyer who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The buyer’s attorney (in some parts of the country)
  • The home inspection companies, which work for the buyer and will almost always find some problems with the house
  • The appraiser if there is a question of value

The Top 5 Reasons You Should Not For Sale By Owner | Keeping Current Matters

2. Exposure to Prospective Purchasers

Recent studies have shown that 89% of buyers search online for a home. That is in comparison to only 20% looking at print newspaper ads. Most real estate agents have an internet strategy to promote the sale of your home. Do you?

3. Results Come from the Internet

Where do buyers find the home they actually purchased?

  • 44% on the internet
  • 33% from a Real Estate Agent
  • 9% from a yard sign
  • 1% from newspaper

The days of selling your house by just putting up a sign and putting it in the paper are long gone. Having a strong internet strategy is crucial.

4. FSBOing has Become More and More Difficult

The paperwork involved in selling and buying a home has increased dramatically as industry disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. This is one of the reasons that the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

The 8% share represents the lowest recorded figure since NAR began collecting data in 1981.

5. You Net More Money when Using an Agent

Many homeowners believe that they will save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save the commission.

Studies have shown that the typical house sold by the homeowner sells for $210,000 while the typical house sold by an agent sells for $249,000. This doesn’t mean that an agent can get $39,000 more for your home as studies have shown that people are more likely to FSBO in markets with lower price points. However, it does show that selling on your own might not make sense.

Bottom Line

Before you decide to take on the challenges of selling your house on your own, sit with a real estate professional in your marketplace and see what they have to offer.

( source )

Make Home Showings Easier By Not Doing These Things

When someone is searching for a home to buy, gut instinct and first impressions are crucial to making a positive impact. Even if your home ticks all the boxes for you, there is a chance you may be offending potential buyers without ever knowing it. Here are some things to avoid when selling your home.

1. Masking Issues

No matter what it may be, masking potential issues to gain a quick sale could be a very costly gamble. If there are serious problems hat you know about, a buyer could back out of the deal at the last minute, ask you to fix the issue or worse — involve you in a legal battle long after the deal should be done. Consider hiring a qualified home inspector to conduct a pre-sale inspection. An inspection gives you the upper hand in determining how to address the issue — and get top dollar for your home. No home is perfect. Be upfront about any problems in your home and you will light the path to a smoother sale.

2. Overpricing Your Home

Ensuring your home is appropriately priced before hitting the market is an important factor in achieving a timely sale. Working with a knowledgeable agent — and trusting their advice — is your best bet in ensuring your home sells for what it’s worth. In real estate, the price you paid for a home has no bearing or guarantee on its selling price when you go to list. The market, condition of the home, and how well recent home sales have performed all influence what your home is worth, and having your house sit on the market because it’s overpriced will deter interested buyers.

3. Not Preparing Your Home For Sale

Buyers need to picture themselves living in your home. Giving them a clean, decluttered, and neutral space is essential. An abundance of knick-knacks, or greatly loved (but really worn out) furniture can be distracting, so consider packing them up before you list. Additionally, showing your home with overly bright, dark, or otherwise overwhelming colors can be off-putting to potential buyers who only see the price tag and effort to repaint. Repainting these rooms in a neutral palette may not be your personal taste, but it will allow a blank slate for potential buyers.

4. Making Showings Difficult

While keeping your house ready for showings and open houses can be stressful, the longer your home sits on the market, the more you will have to do it. Being inflexible with requested showing times or demanding to be present during showings can actually harm the sale process rather than help it, and may top a buyers list of pet peeves. Potential buyers will be more willing to work with you on the negotiations if you have been reasonable in their showing demands, and allowing them to view your home without you present will ease any uncomfortable feelings they may have about you being present.

Via, in part, by Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Selling Your Home this Spring? Seven Tips to Help You Prepare

(via the Coldwell Banker blog)

While it still may be chilly outside, the weather isn’t the only thing that’s about to warm up. The spring selling season is right around the corner, and we’ve got seven things you can do now to prepare for selling your home once spring arrives.

The good news is, you can get a head start on preparing your home now, so it’s ready to go once the first signs of spring appear. Here are seven simple tips you can do now, to help get your home market-ready.

1. Give a Thorough Clean

Think spring cleaning territory when deciding what level of clean your home requires for sale. Everything from scrubbing baseboards to dusting fan blades and clearing cobwebs from storage areas should be covered as you scrub-down your home. If the task feels overwhelming, simply go room by room until it’s done.

If you have carpet, and it’s in reasonably good shape, a thorough cleaning with a professional carpet cleaner will improve the look and the odor in your home. If carpets are worn and threadbare, consider a reasonable replacement, such as a good quality laminate. Cracked tiles should be replaced now, if it’s in your budget, for maximum effect.

Carpet cleaner giving a deep clean to carpets

Image Source: Flickr/Laura D’Alessandro

2. Do a Minor Update

It’s no secret that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. A quick update to a kitchen can make a huge impact simply by cleaning painting or replacing tired hardware and fixtures. If your kitchen lacks a backsplash, this is the perfect time to add one for maximum appeal.

3. Clean the Windows

Even if it’s too cold to tackle the job from the outside, you can get half the job done now. Scrub the interior side of all windows and don’t forget the window sills, tracks of sliding doors, and the surrounding trim. Buyers will notice the attention to detail once your home is on the market.

4. Paint

Choose the spaces that have the boldest color and tone them down to a neutral palette. The goal should be for buyers to see your home as a blank canvas for their own belongings. Focus on high traffic areas next, and finally, repairing any flaking paint in damp areas such as basements or bathrooms is a must.

Image of a row of paint swatches in a store

Image Source: Flickr/Dean Hochman

5. Pack Early

While you don’t need to pack up everything you own, strategically boxing up personal items that will depersonalize your space is a good idea. Family mementos all serve to remind buyers that this is your space, and you want them to picture it as theirs. Storage space is another big item on a buyer’s list, so consider packing up any out of season clothing and tucking them away to make closets seem larger.

6. Purpose Every Room

Every room should have a clear purpose, so buyers can see how versatile your space is. This may mean removing furniture from a crowded space and moving it somewhere else in your home to create defined living areas. Look for opportunities to create functional spaces like an office area or reading nook, and if you have too much furniture, consider putting it in storage. Less furniture will create an open feeling throughout your home.

A cozy home reading nook, staged for real estate

Image Source: Flickr/Michael Pardo

7. Go Outside

While it is too early to landscape, paint, or deal with the exterior areas of the home, curb appeal is essential to getting buyers to even walk through the door. Assessing your home now, from the garden spaces to the roof and front entry, will let you make a list of quick and easy items you can tackle as soon as the weather warms up, which will make selling your home a breeze.

Main Image Source: Flickr/Emily May

Real Estate News, Home Tips + More – January 8, 2015

Orchid plant display

(source: Midwest Living)

How cute are these ideas for displaying plants?

Have scratches on wood floors or wood furniture? Check out these great ways to repair the nicks.

Home upgrades already trending in 2016

Coldwell Banker’s Home’s Best Friend commercial is up for the Top Spot You can vote here, , under top spot.

These are the best days to buy home goods.

A big interior design trend in Chicago.

Four Simple Winter Home Projects That Can Save You Money

Winter is the perfect time to tackle important home projects. But why stop at just improving your home? There are tons of great DIY projects out there that can improve your living situation and save you serious dough. Here are some simple winter projects to help you get started.

1. Update your insulation

Insulation helps keep the heat you generate inside your house, allowing rooms to stay warmer for longer. If you think you’re losing heat too quickly after you turn down the thermostat, you may want to inspect your insulation. Replacing old batches or adding pipe and tank insulation is a relatively easy way to help your home maintain its warmth and shorten how long you run your heater.

2. Seal pesky drafts

Another great way to keep heat inside (and energy costs down) is to eliminate any drafts you find in your home. Using a caulk gun to seal gaps in walls and windows can help minimize the amount of warm air escaping your house. You may also want to consider checking your doors’ weatherstripping for any openings. Replacing weatherstripping is a relatively simple process and shouldn’t put too much strain on your wallet.

3. Buy energy-smart lightbulbs

One of the easiest home improvement projects you can tackle this winter is to swap out your old incandescent bulbs for efficient LEDs. While the initial cost may be rather steep—LED bulbs tend to cost three times more than traditional incandescents—the lifespan of an LED is significantly longer and uses far less energy. If you’re unable to afford the initial cost of LEDs, though, you can look into compact fluorescent lights. These offer similar energy savings to LEDs, albeit without the same lifespan and high upfront cost.

4. Install a programmable thermostat

By automatically adjusting your temperature when you’re sleeping or at work, programmable thermostats can help you drastically cut down on your energy use. Models run at a variety of price points and installation should only take a couple of minutes. Some versions even allow you to adjust your thermostat from your phone, giving you extra control over when your heat or cooling kicks in.

While you might not see huge returns on your winter projects immediately, the savings you’ll make over the following years should be more than enough to make the investments worthwhile. Of course, improving your financial situation during the winter doesn’t have to stop at home improvement projects. You may also want to consider making a budget, work on creating good financial habits and improving your credit score this year. (You can see where you credit stands by viewing your free credit report card on Credit.com.) No matter what you decide, making the best of your time indoors during the winter could really pay off throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

This article was written by Scott Sheldon and originally published on Credit.com.

Seven Ways to Reduce Humidity in Your Home

The experts at Andersen Windows + Doors  stopped by the Coldwell Banker YouTube channel to provide simple, yet effective ways to reduce humidity in your home. If your windows are covered in ice, you might assume this is a window problem, but it often is a moist air management problem. This video from Andersen Windows + Doors will help you understand condensation – and what you can do to minimize condensation on your windows. By reducing humidity in your home, you can prevent condensation build-up on your windows during the colder months.