Seller

The Pet Owner’s Guide To Selling A Home: 5 Things To Do To Prepare Your Property

We love our pets, there’s no doubt about it. They’re a part of our family, of our home. However, once you’ve put your house on the market, you need to understand that not all potential buyers would want to see your pets while they are touring your property. In fact, seeing your pets or any evidence of them can make them wince and possibly turn them away, even if they are pet lovers themselves.

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If you have a dog, cat, or any other pets, here are some extra steps you need to take to prepare your home for sale:

1. Give them a holiday.

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The best way to keep your home clean and get it ready for showings is to temporarily relocate your pets. If you can, arrange to let them stay with a trusted family member or friend for the meantime. This will give you the chance to meticulously clean your house and eliminate all signs of animals.

Likewise, buyers (and your realtor) will have an easier time looking at your property during showings since there won’t be any barking or purring in the background. Remember that you won’t be at home when people tour your home, so if your pets can also get out for a little while, the better.

 

2. Eliminate pet odors.

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What’s one of the biggest deal-breakers among buyers? Funky smells and pet odors, by the way, are one of the main culprits. Removing the scent your animals leave behind can be your biggest challenge when preparing your home for sale. It’s not as easy as hiding away your pet’s accessories or throwing out their litter box. You don’t want buyers to be welcomed by your living room’s magnificent carpet, only to find out that it reeks of urine. Uh-oh.

Because you’re already accustomed to the odors in your home, it might be harder to realize how your property really smells. Try using a pet odor remover or baking soda to dispel all traces of your pet’s urine. For animals like hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles, snakes, and fish, clean their cages or tanks frequently. If you need to, you can hire a professional cleaning service to clean your carpets and other hard-to-reach places. Then, bring in a friend or your realtor to do a whiff test to ensure your home smells fresh and inviting.

 

3. Get rid of pet hair and stains.

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Aside from the smell, tufts of fur can get stuck to your upholstered furniture and even on floors. This will not only make your home look messy, but it can also trigger allergies among your potential buyers. Make sure that before each showing, you’ve dusted and vacuumed your entire home to remove any signs of your furbaby’s hair.

The same goes for any stains on the carpets and rugs. Take note of any discoloration and fix them, if you can. If not, replace your rugs and deal with the tougher stains on your floors and walls using a commercial-grade cleaner and disinfectant.

 

4. Hide their stuff and accessories.

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Remember that your pet’s accessories are not part of your home staging, no matter how adorable they look (Yes, even those cute socks and holiday costumes!). Even potential buyers who are pet lovers won’t be impressed and will likely see them as clutter. So those collars, leashes, toys, food, food bowls, and pet beds need to be put away— make sure to clean them before stashing them away in a cupboard or closet.
 

5. Repair any damage caused by your pets.

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Take the time to fix any significant damage in your home that was caused by your dog or cat’s constant chewing and biting. It may cost you money, especially if the damage to your furniture, carpets, and hardwood flooring is extensive. However, remember that the amount you’ve spent paying for repairs and cleaning may be worth it once you see that many potential buyers want your home and your home eventually sells for top dollar.
 

Bottom Line

Selling a home when you have pets won’t be any harder as long as you know how to properly prepare your property to get offers from potential buyers. The best way to manage it is by informing your real estate agent about your pet situation so he or she will know how to handle every little detail to help sell your home.

Renovating Without A Permit? Here Are 7 Reasons Why It’s A Big No-No

A home renovation is a great way to add value and satisfaction to your beloved abode. After all, who doesn’t love stepping into a new room, a finished basement, or a renovated bathroom?

However, before "undertaking any of the character-building, heavy-lifting labor" there’s the time-consuming and costly process of obtaining renovation permits. How long a permit can be approved depends on the scale of the project. For smaller renovations, it may take as little as 24 hours. Expectedly, larger projects might take longer so homeowners may have a bit of a wait on their hands. So who says it isn’t tempting to save a bit of time and money skipping that step entirely and pushing ahead with your planned renovations?

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Well if you do, prepare to face some terrible consequences. Unpermitted work refers to any modifications made to the home that should have been permitted but were not.

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Aside from a sunken property value, your biggest risk may lie in the job itself. Without the proper permits, there's no guarantee that your contractors will execute a professional job. The results of this could be disastrous. For instance, if you sell, those substandard improvements might cause you trouble during a home inspection.


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It’s a nightmare to think about, but it means big trouble if your municipality or city office finds out you’re renovating sans-permits. Some cities will only inspect, but some will issue a stop-work order and may even slap a hefty fine on both the homeowner and contractor. Worse still, the city could order a teardown of the entire project with a subsequent order to redo any work done with the proper permits finally in hand.


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Another area of concern is that any unpermitted additions may not be covered, and even violate your insurance policy. It is especially concerning if an accident or disaster occurred in that part of your home. If there’s been a house fire caused by faulty wiring due to poor electrical work, or if someone fell and seriously injured themselves you could be facing a costly nightmare.

Filing an insurance claim for a scenario like this could be futile; your policy probably isn't going to cover the issue, additionally, you may be heading towards a complicated, costly lawsuit.


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As we mentioned earlier, failing to get permits could cause the value of your home to drop. Why? For starters, real estate information in your local municipality needs to be up to date to help maintain home values and stay current with taxes and insurance. Renovation permits will help ensure that your property keeps up with the latest health and safety standards.

When you sell, an appraiser will assess your home in order to gauge its objective market value. Any unpermitted work brought into concern because of safety defects could depreciate your home’s value. Even worse, you could be fined with the appraiser also demanding that the work be removed and redone—this time with proper permits secured. Likewise, any room additions not up to code will be excluded in the square footage stated in your “updated”  home listing. That means buyers will think your home is smaller than it really is.


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Notwithstanding the huge laundry list of features and amenities potential buyers look for in a new home, above all is a safe and secure place. Should they discover the house they’re looking at has undergone an unpermitted structural remodel, it can imbue them with uncertainty, causing a loss of confidence in your property, and resulting in some serious purchase reconsiderations.

The buyer might think you hired someone unqualified to do the work because you didn’t even bother getting permits. They may feel that the completed renovation is unsafe, leaving them clouded with worry about long-term problems down the line. A good buyer’s agent is going to make sure that permits were pulled on any significant additions done to the property, so there’s no escaping the consequences. However, if permits were secured for the renovations, concerns like these all go out the window, with the buyer immediately given peace of mind and assurance, enticing them to make a good and reasonable offer.


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Well, it might be overreacting, but not getting permits for a significant modification or addition can stop a home sale. Wait, what?

You heard right! Once your home has entered the market, a subsequent home inspection and appraisal will follow as is required by the selling process. The inspector will ensure that buyers know exactly what they’re getting while the appraiser will look to protect the interests of the bank or lending institution, ensuring proper standards are met before they approve the loan. Both professionals can easily request public records on your home, including the permits (or lack thereof) for any improvements made, assuring that the property is not only habitable but in good working order.

It could cost you the home sale if the bank doesn’t want to fund the loan because the appraiser’s requests were not met, or if the potential buyer backed out due to personal uncertainty with regard to property safety and structural integrity.  


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Admittedly, securing a renovation permit can be a hassle. You have to provide your local municipality with your detailed plans for the remodel, as well as additional documentation if needed. Moreover, permits come with corresponding fees.

However, proceeding to push through with a renovation without proper paperwork can lead to dire consequences, as discussed above. The commonalities shared by those risks are time wasted, money squandered and maybe a forthcoming lawsuit. Not to mention, most likely you’d also be required to undo all the work done, taking you and your home back to square one on what could have been a great addition.

 

Tips:

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  • Know what renovations require permits. Any substantial, structural, or significant remodel requires the homeowner or seller to get a permit. These major renovations could include electrical or plumbing work, basement refurbishment, or room addition. However, if you are only updating or sprucing up an existing space, then permits might not be necessary.

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  • Consult with your city building committee. However, building codes and the legal requirements to pull a permit vary with every city. With this in mind, it’s important to check with your local municipality or city building code committee to make sure there won’t be any problem before you tear down a wall or remodel anything.

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  • Hire only licensed and reputable contractors. You can rest assured that they won’t work without securing proper permits, giving you peace of mind that their work will be up to code.

Why Do Home Sales Fall Through? 5 Common Reasons Why The Seller or Buyer Walk Away

Why do home sales fall through? Why is it that sometimes, the buyer or the seller walk away from a home sale, causing it to fall apart and for the home to return to the market?

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Let’s rewind: You’ve put your home on the market and have been doing everything to prepare your home for upcoming showings. An offer (or even multiple offers) comes in and you accept it. Both parties sign a real estate purchase contract and hope everything goes as planned. You’re definitely a step closer to a closed sale.

But then, life throws a curveball — an issue comes up that turns out to be a major deal-breaker, causing the sale to fall through. Here are some examples:

 
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An inspection could reveal serious flaws affecting the home sale. If major defects, like structural issues, wet basements, leaky roofs, high radon levels, or mold were discovered in the home, it could be a major deal-breaker for the buyer.

These issues could cause the buyer to panic and open further negotiation on the price, or they could ask for a credit or relief from the seller as compensation. If the buyer included a home inspection contingency in their offer, it also allows them to renegotiate the price or walk away due to those issues.

The seller, in return, has three options: 1.) They can fix the problems by hiring contractors; 2.) They can credit  the buyer so they can make the fixes themselves; or, 3.) They can reduce the selling price of the property.

The problem comes if the seller refuses to do any of these. The buyer can then cancel the home sale and simply walk away, although they may lose the earnest deposit they made when signing the contract.

How to prevent this:

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Sellers should never underestimate the power of a home inspection. Especially for older homes, they should hire a home inspector prior to placing their house on the market. The “pre-listing inspection” will help them address any issues the house may have and give them time to fix them. Once you put your property on the market, and potential buyers order an inspection, you will know what to expect and be able to negotiate more easily.

 
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There are cases where a buyer puts in an offer with the condition that they need to sell their current home before they can purchase a new one. They may include it as a home sale contingency, which makes the contract contingent upon the success of selling their own home within a specific time frame. Not all people can afford to handle two mortgage payments at once. The contingent offer will give them a set number of days to sell their current home.

However, if for any reason, their home doesn’t sell within the timeframe, it could cause delays with your home sale or cause it to fall apart. You may be left searching for another buyer or having to proceed with a backup offer and begin a new transaction all over again.

How to prevent this:

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Home sale contingencies can be very risky for you as a seller as it can cause the home sale to fall apart. You can avoid this by prioritizing buyers who don’t need to rely on the sale of their current home to proceed with the transaction. If possible, reject an offer with a home sale contingency and choose another buyer who loves your home and doesn’t need a contingency in order to make the purchase.

 
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Your buyer has been pre-approved; you’ve agreed on a final purchase price; you’ve both signed the contract. So far, everything is going great—until the buyer just gets rejected for a mortgage.

Keep in mind that a mortgage is not guaranteed until the buyer has signed a final agreement with the lender. While waiting for the mortgage to close, buyers should avoid making significant financial changes, such as taking out a new loan for a car, changing or losing a job, etc. These changes could affect their debt-to-income ratio, which may make them ineligible for the mortgage loan for which they originally applied. Once the buyer’s financing falls through, the pending home sale will go back to active and the transaction falls out of escrow.

How to prevent this:

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To ensure that the sale won’t experience any hurdles related to the buyer’s financing, it’s best to accept offers from buyers who already have a mortgage pre-approval. If they are pre-approved, they are less likely to be rejected for a mortgage loan. This means they can get the financing they need to close on the home.

With the help of your listing agent, you can request that buyers be pre-approved and only enter into a contract with a serious and qualified buyer. The only exception is when the buyer wants to make a cash purchase. In this case, there won’t be any financing contingency to deal with.

 
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Buyers who apply for a mortgage will be asked by their lender to pay for an appraisal of the property. Unfortunately, sometimes the home appraisal comes in at less than the asking price. This can be a huge deal breaker to buyers because banks will only lend them the appraised value of the home, and not all buyers can afford to pay the difference. This situation is common in a seller’s market where there’s limited housing inventory and the rampant bidding wars cause prices to go beyond the normal home value.

If this situation occurs, the buyer and seller have a few options. The buyer can order another appraisal from a new professional. If not, they will have to pay the difference in cash. However, not all buyers have the extra amount to bring to the table. They may also ask the seller to reduce the sale price so it’s more in line with the appraisal. Sellers need to be prepared for this negotiation.  The seller can attempt to justify their own appraisal, with comparables in the area, to prove their higher asking price.

However, if both parties cannot reach an agreeable solution, the buyer can walk away, and the pending sale will most likely fall through.

How to prevent this:

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To avoid this situation, it’s best to list your home with a fair and accurate asking price. Consult with your real estate agent so you can come up with an asking price based on comparable home sales in your neighborhood.  

 
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Buyer’s remorse or “cold feet” is real. It’s when the buyer backs out of a deal at the last minute after they realize that they don’t want to buy the home. It happens to both first-time and repeat buyers. After all, buying a home is a huge financial decision and is far from simple.

Once a buyer places an offer, he or she is legally bound. However, buyers can get scared or overwhelmed with the difficulties of the process. Once they realize they don’t want to continue with their purchase, they will do anything they can to get out of it, whether it be contingencies stated in their offer or loopholes in the contract.  

When this happens, the seller is left in a bad position. This is why the earnest deposit is important. This deposit, which is typically 1 percent of the home’s final sale price, is made when the buyer signs the purchase contract. It serves as protection for the seller in case the buyer changes their mind. If the buyer chooses to walk away from the deal due to a change of heart, they will lose their deposit money to the seller.

However, it’s still a heart-breaking situation for the seller because they now need to put their home back on the market and start from scratch.

How to prevent this:

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While this issue depends entirely on the buyer and there isn’t much you can do as the seller, there are ways you can avoid it. With the help of your agent, make sure that there are no undisclosed points in the contract that a buyer can use to make their offer null and void. Also, in the case of multiple offers, favor a buyer whose offer has fewer contingencies and is confident enough to proceed with the purchase.

For buyers, especially first-time home buyers, get the help of an experienced real estate agent who can walk you through the real estate process and eliminate any misconceptions you have about buying a home. Realtors can also provide counseling if they notice any signs of cold feet from their client.

 

Of course, there are other reasons a home sale could fall through that are out of the seller’s control. Regardless, it can be very frustrating and time-consuming when you have to start from square one and put your house back on the market. Whether you are the seller or the buyer, it’s important to know and understand these deal-breakers so you can actively prepare and attempt to avoid them as much as possible.

Notice Of Intent to Foreclose: Know Your Options

As a homeowner, there’s an f-word that is avoided as much as possible. Even though we don’t want to say it we have to talk about it. Why? Because like most problems, that’s how it’s handled. So say it with us, foreclosure.

Most of the time, when people find out that their dream house is facing foreclosure, their world stops. No one buys a house and puts in all the effort into making it a home only to one day realize that it will be taken away from them. Getting a Notice of Foreclosure is something that people dread, and even ignore in the hopes that the problem will go away.

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Ignoring Your Foreclosure Notice

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What happens if you don’t respond to the notice of intent for foreclosure?

When you receive a notice of foreclosure, the best thing to do is take charge. Getting a notice of foreclosure doesn’t mean that the world has stopped because there are many options for you!

Even when you get the notice, you can still avoid having foreclosure and bankruptcy on your record. So, to answer the question, ignoring your foreclosure notice will only limit your options and ultimately lead to losing your home.

If you’re reading this, and you still haven’t received a notice of foreclosure—in which case you’re at the stage of dreading it—what can you do?

 

Foreclosure Avoidance Plan

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Banks offer Foreclosure Avoidance Plans for those who want to be extra-sure about their home loans.

Always consult with your lender about this first. It will seem like a fair deal, but don’t forget that this is actually an additional loan. So now, you’re paying for your mortgage and an additional foreclosure plan.

If this is something you can handle, then by all means, go for it!  If you’d rather work on your primary loan before adding another one into the equation, it’s also okay not to enter into a foreclosure plan.

 

Filing for Bankruptcy

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What if you just totally forget the foreclosure of your house, and file for bankruptcy instead?

The good news is, yes, you can do that. Your foreclosure will be curbed if you do this. What happens when you file for bankruptcy is that your lender will not be able to collect the debt from you. The bad news is, courts cannot discharge secured debts that include mortgage payments.

What happens here is that since you are filing for bankruptcy, you don’t have to pay for your mortgages yet.  However, as soon as your bankruptcy process is complete, your lenders will definitely be back for your debt.

In cases like this, homeowners usually struggle with paying for their mortgages after filing in the courts. The worst part is that, most times, these homeowners end up with not just a bankruptcy but also a foreclosure on their record.

 

Your Financial Status

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Let’s say you don’t go with bankruptcy and are looking at simply foreclosing your home. How does this affect your financial status?

Your foreclosure report will be on your record for seven years.  Not only that, after those seven years, you may also have to write a report to three major credit agencies to have the foreclosure removed from your record.

Although lenders have been more lenient over recent years, those who are approved for new loans, and even credit lines, have to pay higher interest rates. You can’t really blame them, though. They see those who have a record of foreclosure, with or without bankruptcy, as more of a liability than those who have a clean record.

 

You’re Not Alone

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Yes, getting a Foreclosure Notice is something you might have never thought would happen to you. It has been found that this has actually become more common recently.

A 2013 study found that over 4.1 million foreclosures were completed in the United States during September 2008-December 2012. This is quite a big number and does not even include those who avoided foreclosure through some of the methods mentioned above, those who opted to sell their homes, or those who found ways to work things out with their lenders.

7 Reasons You’ll Love Selling Your Home in the Spring

Ah, spring! When the trees blossom, the lovely tulips and daffodils bloom, and everyone’s mood brightens. But aside from our daily dose of sunshine during spring, we also see the high season for real estate. As the temperature rises, the housing market starts to heat up.  Even in areas where the weather is great all year long, spring remains the most active time for house buyers and sellers alike.

While there are plenty of reasons to consider selling in the spring, here’s a few examples as to why it’s so worthwhile:

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1. You can show a better-looking home.

Unlike selling in the colder months, which can be stressful because of the snow and harsh weather, you can go to greater lengths in spring to prepare your home for sale. If you list your home in the spring, you can take advantage of the warmer weather and elevate your home’s curb appeal.

Show your home at its best to draw the attention of potential buyers. Maximize your curb appeal by cleaning the walkways, strategically placing colorful plants and flower boxes, maintaining the lawn, and making it as green and lush as possible. Allowing the natural sunshine to stream through the windows of your home helps showcase it in its best light. Additionally, don’t forget to address parts of your home that are in need of repair or upkeep, especially if you haven’t done annual maintenance yet.

 

2. The longer days and better weather make it easier for buyers to go looking for homes.

When the clocks sprang forward in March, the days became longer. More daylight hours means more potential buyers can view your home. Likewise, the good weather gives people a boost to go outside and search for the picture-perfect home just like yours. Unlike home shopping in winter, where buyers need to drive through crappy weather in their soggy boots just to visit an open house, springtime brings in a fresh pool of potential buyers who’ve done their homework and want to use the longer days wisely. This improves your odds of landing a desirable offer for your home.

 

3. It’s a perfect time for families who want to move before the new school year.

Many home buyers with families are looking to move before the summer and the start of a new school year. This way, their children will still have a couple of months to get settled in their new neighborhood. If you put your home on the market early enough in the spring, your pool of buyers won’t have the same sense of urgency seen in summer or winter sales. Parents who buy in the spring can move during the summer, avoiding juggling their time between school pickup and packing up their stuff to get ready for their new home.

 

4. The buyer’s demand is higher and could spark bidding wars.

It’s no surprise that the months of March, April, and May are the best months for sellers to list their homes as many people are ready to enter the housing market to purchase. More buyers means more potential offers. Sellers can even expect to receive multiple offers, often sparking bidding wars. Buyers will always be competing for homes, especially if the home is in a good location and is listed at a reasonable price. If a bidding war occurs, the cost of the house is most likely to increase, putting the seller in a stronger position to receive more money for the home.

In those months, there’s also a greater chance that you’ll encounter an all-cash offer. This could speed up the entire home selling process. A cash buyer won’t have to rely on mortgage financing or on the sale of their current home, the so-called contingencies, in order to close the deal.

 

5. Higher home valuation

Since prices tend to be higher and more homes are being sold this season, the data for comparable homes that were recently sold in your neighborhood can also work in your favor. Your agent will have access to more of these comps when setting a price for your home. Likewise, when your home’s value is assessed by an appraiser, he or she will look at these comps, so your house is more likely to pass the appraisal if you’re selling it at fair market value.

 

6. You can be a bit more selective about who you sell your home to.

With more people getting into the market, you can afford to choose who you sell your home to. You don’t have to sell your house to the first buyer that gives you an offer, and you can stay firm on your price. The increase in demand affords you the opportunity to receive your asking price and close on the offer with which you are most comfortable. You can also decide whether to sell to an individual owner, joint owners, or even corporate buyers.

 

7. It’s also easier for you to move.

Even though your primary goal is to sell your home, chances are you are also planning to buy and move to a new home yourself. Since entering a real estate transaction can be stressful (not to mention chaotic), it’s another good reason why spring is the best time for you to sell. The weather is more convenient, you can take advantage of the longer days to accommodate home showings and also do your own house-hunting. There’s a greater chance you can sell your home quickly and for a higher price due to the higher demand in the spring.

How To Find The Best Agent For A Short Sale

A short sale transaction is different from the usual home buying process. It involves more waiting time, and more leg work for your agent. Due to the rise of short sale properties on the market, training companies see it as an opportunity to train agents specifically in this area, giving them certification upon completion. Although it’s a plus to have your agent be trained in short sales, it’s better that they have actual experience doing the work. Here are some pointers on short sales, and the qualities you should seek when hiring an agent for this transaction.

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What is a short sale?

If you’ve come across properties that are priced below the usual market value, those properties are most likely a short sale. A short sale is when a property is sold for less than its unsettled mortgage. The value of the properties put up for a short sale has usually dropped by 20% or more.

How does a short sale work?

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If a homeowner is in financial strife and there is not enough equity in the home to pay off the mortgage after paying for the costs of sale, they may consider a short sale. A short sale allows homeowners to avoid incurring a bad record of foreclosure on their credit rating. To do so, they must present documents that support their claim of inability to pay off their remaining mortgage balance to their lender. These documents are subject to the approval of the lender before the house can officially be put up for sale.

A prospective buyer will have to make an offer to the seller, and also to the lender, and wait for their short sale approval letter.

 

As a home buyer, what are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a short sale?

Advantages:

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  • It’s cheaper than the usual house prices in the market - The last thing that the bank/lender and the homeowner want is for the house to remain for too long on the market, so they price it low to attract buyers.

  • Less competition with fellow buyers – Most buyers are not prepared to wait, and since the process of buying a short sale can take time, this trims down the number of prospective buyers that can make an offer on the property.

 

Disadvantages:

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  • The process is long – Processing the escrow is a long haul, and the approval of your offer is passed on from the seller to the lender.

  • You may need to pay costs that are not included in the selling price – Included in these costs are the closing costs, which the lender will not agree to split. There may be additional costs as well.

  • You buy the house as is – Contrary to the norm of buying a property and asking for a decrease in price based on necessary repairs, price reductions for a short sale will usually be declined.. You can counteract this by including contingencies on home damage and repair on your purchase contract.

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  • You may need to pay part of the agent’s commission – It’s the lender who calls the shots on commissions for the agents in a short sale transaction. They typically pay more to the seller’s agent. Buyer’s agents know this is the case, and may request a higher commission be included in the buyer’s brokerage agreement.

 

What agent qualities should I look for when deciding to buy a short sale home?

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  • They’ve handled short sales before - And to be exact, an agent who’s not only handled but closed a short sale. If they’ve closed a handful, that would be even more ideal because that means they know the necessary (and tedious!) legwork short sale transactions require. They could also acquaint you with lawyers to aid you in the negotiation process.

  • Ability to explain the whole process of a short sale to you in a comprehensible manner – Have them explain to you all the legwork and necessary measures involved in a short sale transaction. That way, you are able to prepare what needs to be done, and ascertain whether they have enough knowledge to handle the transaction.

  • They have a trained eye for spotting red flags – An agent with a good amount of experience in short sales can easily detect if there are possible legal or tax consequences. Once they spot something fishy in the transaction, they can direct you to consult with your hired attorney on how to address the issue.

  • They’re knowledgeable on lenders and banks –The lengthy part of the short sale process is really at the bank, and the agent will need to call for regular updates. An agent who has closed a lot of short sales will know how the lenders/banks fare in the process. This can shorten the process significantly, as there would be no guessing game on your side of the equation. Your agent would already know how to strategize in order to expedite the process and make it as smooth as possible.

Should You Sell or Buy A Home in Winter? Here’s Why the Colder Climate Might Work in Your Favor

During the spring and summer months, bidding wars are rampant, there’s fierce competition, and a large pool of buyers are looking to move before the school year begins.

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But in winter, especially in colder climates when everything is covered in snow, sellers and buyers alike can also take advantage of the season to score a good deal on real estate. Experts say that the idea that homes are very tough to sell or buy in the winter might be a myth. When temperatures drop, the market could be full of eager sellers and serious buyers who are both looking to score a cold, sweet deal.

Advantages for Sellers

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You have less competition

Since there are fewer homes on the market, you have less competition from other sellers. The low inventory creates increased competition among buyers, which generally result in higher sale prices. This is why winter can also be an ideal time to sell your home.

You will show your home to a pool of serious buyers

When you put your home in the market during the winter months, there’s a greater chance you’ll attract a pool of real buyers looking to purchase and not those window shoppers who are just curious about the house. These serious buyers want to take advantage of the less competitive market and don’t want to wait until spring to get their hands on their ideal home.

You can highlight that your home is winter-ready

Aside from cozy fireplaces, hot tubs, and steaming mugs of hot chocolate with freshly baked cookies that await buyers when they tour your home, you can feature your house’s winter-readiness when you sell in the colder months. Show off the design and features that will make their life easier during winter, like an easy-to-shovel driveway, new roof and furnace, south-facing windows, and well-insulated pipes, among other things. These features, however simple, will show that your home can handle the harsh elements.

Many buyers are looking to relocate

People often look to relocate at the start of the year, especially those with new job opportunities, or young parents who want to start the new year somewhere in a more spacious family home. These buyers are serious about the sale and want to secure the property before Christmas or New Year. They are more likely to sign on the dotted line once they find the home they are looking for, which could potentially mean a swift sale with fewer contingencies.


Advantages for Buyers

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Take advantage of this season to score a bargain

Because more buyers are likely to house hunt during warmer weather, home prices are generally lower in the winter. You can then take advantage of this season and have more buying power since sellers are motivated to sell their home and move before the year ends.

However, don’t assume that you can automatically score a sweet deal. What you can do is use the seller’s motivation to negotiate a bargain. This is particularly in markets where there’s generally less interest and the seller already feels some pressure. They might be more willing to accept an already good offer rather than waste time waiting for a better one. Work closely with your real estate agent to give a good offer and secure a quick settlement.

You can use your end-of-year financial bonus to enter the housing market

The end of the year also means many employees or workers will get their performance reviews, which could mean receiving financial bonuses and large payouts. If you’re a first-time home buyer, you can use this opportunity to enter the housing market and invest that money in purchasing your ideal home, especially if your credit is already in good standing. Buyers can also use the incentives to upgrade their living situations.

 

Before starting your house-hunting this season, just remember to avoid too much holiday debt while shopping for gifts for your loved ones. Any new debt can change your debt-to-income ratio and affect your mortgage pre-approval. Keep in mind that buying a home can be your biggest investment, so take note of your priorities especially this holiday season.

6 Misconceptions About Selling Property That You Should Know About

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There are several misconceptions that you might fall trap to when it comes to selling property. If you’re planning to put your house in the market, make sure that you don’t make the following mistakes.

 

Misconception #1: Organizing multiple open houses will surely bring in more buyers.

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Having open houses can be laborious for you as a seller; all that prepping, moving furniture, and showing strangers around can be overwhelming and time-consuming. But that’s no reason to skip it altogether! It has been proven time and again that conducting several open houses could really draw in serious buyers. However, sellers must be wary of some “interested buyers” who go just to open houses as voyeurs: wanting to know how people live, and getting ideas for home decor. The best way to do this is to have a strategy so that your time, energy, and resources don’t go to waste.

Open houses are usually held during weekends, but you can make time for it during the weekdays, as most serious markets are inclined to peak during the week. Also, have your agent make good use of technology to put up your open house dates in apps and websites where homebuyers are set to look for listings.

 

Misconception #2: Home inspection on your end is a waste of time.

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Buyers will most likely subject the house to a home inspection once they’re serious about buying it. But just because buyers are set to do this doesn’t mean you can skip this for yourself. Having your house inspected by a professional before putting it up for listing will help you address issues in the house you might have missed. Also, presenting the home inspection report to prospective buyers will make room for transparency in the transaction -- which is always a good thing.

 

Misconception #3: It is best to decline an offer given right after putting your house on the market.

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Sellers normally get overwhelmed after getting a first offer on their home, which then leads to the decision to decline and wait for better offers to come in. However, this is not always the optimal choice in real estate selling, especially in slow markets where it could take weeks or even months to get another offer. If the first offer you get is reasonable and is not below your listing price, then it would be wise for you to consider it.

 

Misconception #4: Overpricing the home will drive up its value.

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As a seller, you want to safeguard your asking price, so it may seem logical to mark it up to make room for negotiations should the prospective buyer ask for a price reduction. Keep in mind that your goal as a seller is to not keep the house in the market for too long, and having it unreasonably priced may do just that. Buyers could be intimidated and may not look at the house in the first place. Be realistic in how you price your home -- consider the home’s location, the surrounding properties, and current market conditions.

 

Misconception #5: It is good to let the house sit in the market for a long period of time to give way for better offers.

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There are several factors that keep a property in the market for too long such as poor location or shoddy housing condition. But one common factor is related to the above number: property is not competitively priced, and the seller may be too unrealistic with the asking price that they’re unwilling to level it with market conditions. Remember that having your home sit in the market too long can depreciate it. The longer you persist in selling an overpriced home, the more you’ll encounter buyers with lowball offers.

 

Misconception #6: Lavish home improvements will increase the value of your home.

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While a home improvement can increase your home’s appeal to buyers, keep in mind that doing it does not assure a complete return on investment as you may only recoup a percentage of your expenses. Keep the home improvements practical and minimal; improving your lighting and mowing your lawn can already make a difference without to spend too much.

7 Reasons Why Buyers and Sellers Shouldn’t Ditch The Home Inspection

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The biggest mistake that both home buyers and sellers could make is skipping or waiving the home inspection due to various reasons, like during a bidding war. And while a home inspection contingency clause is almost always included in a purchase contract, some buyers agree to waive the vital inspections to win their dream home in a competitive market.

Often, sellers skip it to save time and money, not knowing it may leave them little to no time to address any important concerns before they put their home on the market. However, it’s a common ingredient for regret and unexpected costly repairs that could’ve been avoided.

Here are seven valuable reasons why both buyers and sellers shouldn’t skip the home inspection:

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Remember that there’s always more to a home than what meets the eye. It may look beautiful and something that exists in a storybook, but the truth is it’s almost impossible to know all about its details and issues. There are ugly homes with problems that are only “skin-deep,” while there are great-looking homes that have bigger problems like termite infestation and mold. These issues can be missed even after multiple showings. Even new construction homes can have issues unknown to buyers that only a home inspection can uncover.

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Even after years of living in your beloved home, a home inspection can reveal unexpected flaws that you didn’t even know existed. When did that hole in the kitchen ceiling become so big? Was my dog responsible for all those scratches on the walls? Hidden problems in the foundation, roof, or wiring you didn’t even notice as the homeowner could lead to larger issues.

 
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A home inspection ensures that there won’t be any unwanted surprises in the form of serious safety issues. Through a thorough investigation, both parties can make safety their number one priority. If serious safety issues were found, the seller can promise to make the necessary repairs to guarantee that the home is safe and habitable.

 
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The results of a home inspection can be a great tool for transparency and future planning, especially in estimating future expenses. Buyers can use the detailed findings to plan for future upgrades, calculate for repairs, and carefully prepare their budget once they become homeowners. Meanwhile, sellers can use it to plan for renovations and deal with them as soon as possible. That way, they can continue with the home sale with fewer contingencies and minimal setbacks.

 
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Having a home inspection performed can give you the power to make negotiations with the seller to offer a lower price for the home. Depending on the information gathered, you can include words in your purchase contract requesting the seller to make the repairs. Or if they are unwilling to do so, you can ask them to estimate the costs and take that amount off the final purchase price.

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You can use the home inspection report as a leverage when negotiating for a better selling price. By knowing the true condition of your property, you can deal with any problems on your own terms and fix them beforehand. You won’t have to deal with any of the buyer’s request to lower the price or arrange for repairs, which could cost you a huge amount of money or even the sale itself.

 
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While a home inspection can cost a good sum of money, it’s a significant investment that will save you from any costly repairs down the road. Things like safety hazards, pest problems, or water leakage in the basement can end up costing you a lot more money once you already own the home. And all those issues and defects could have been revealed by a home inspector if you only allowed an inspection to push through.

 
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The home inspection phase can be a huge pitfall for both parties in a real estate transaction. Sometimes a transaction doesn’t move forward because the buyer and seller couldn’t agree on the repairs requested from the inspection. A buyer may not feel entirely comfortable with the findings while the seller may refuse to accept more requests. Having a home inspection ahead of time can help expedite the process for both the buyer and seller.

Worst case scenario: a buyer can get cold feet and will not proceed anymore with the transaction if they’re not satisfied with the negotiations after the inspection.

 
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The inspection eliminates all the possible “doubts” and “what ifs” of both parties. Buyers will feel certain and satisfied with their purchase, eliminating buyer’s remorse and giving them a peace of mind. Sellers can also feel confident once the real estate transaction was completed because they can avoid the threat of any legal action due to improper disclosure. A home inspection is a great way to make both the buyer and seller feel positive that they have reached a fair deal in the transaction.

Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient With These Green Home Improvements

Whether you are a homeowner planning a major remodel or a seller preparing to put their home on the market, an important factor you have to consider is the products and materials you will use. This time, why not try to become more environmentally conscious when remodeling your home?

You can incorporate eco-friendly and energy-efficient products into your home renovation ideas, especially those green solutions that are easily available and affordable. One benefit is that there are certain tax incentives for homeowners who installed alternative energy upgrades, stated in the Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit.

According to the REALTORS® and Sustainability 2018 Report by the National Association of REALTORS® Research (NAR) Group, 71% of respondents said energy efficiency promotion in listings was very or somewhat valuable. Many MLS has green data fields that real estate agents typically use to promote green features, energy information, and green certifications. Likewise, 56% of these REALTORS® find that clients are at least somewhat interested in sustainability.

Here are the major reasons to take on eco-friendly home improvements:

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  1. Lower utility bills - In the same report, 28% of REALTORS believe a home’s utility bills and operating costs is one of the home features that are most important to their clients. Energy-efficient upgrades can help reduce your water and energy bills — a significant return on investment that any homeowner will appreciate.

  2. To reduce your carbon footprint and help the environment - Tackling these environmentally friendly projects promotes healthy living for you and your family, while helping to save the planet.

  3. Higher ROI when it’s already time to sell your home - Eco-friendly home improvements, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, add value to the home itself. They will be more prominent when it’s time to put your home on the market. Likewise, for buyers who are interested in an energy-efficient home, they can connect to a lender who provides lending products that encourage energy efficient improvements to existing homes.

Yes, there’s more you can do as a homeowner aside from using LED bulbs for your lighting fixtures. Here are some of those green home improvement projects that are relatively low-cost and easy to add or install:

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1. Using low-VOC paint for better air quality

Adding a fresh coat of paint to any room is a surefire way to transform it and make it look new. It’s also one of the minor fixes that home sellers can do before listing their home for sale. However, many paints contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC), which can cause several respiratory problems and contribute to ozone pollution.

So next time you want to apply a fresh coat of paint to renovate a room, opt for low-VOC or non-VOC paints. These are water-based paints that are generally more environment-friendly than oil-based paints with high VOC content. You will end up with a room that looks not only fresh but also has better air quality.

2. Installing water-saving fixtures and appliances

Whether you are planning a kitchen or a bathroom remodel, it’s a good idea to replace your regular fixtures and appliances with their water-saving counterparts. Installing low-flow fixtures and appliances like faucets, shower heads, dishwasher, and even high-efficiency toilets, can help lower your water consumption. It’s a great way to conserve water without compromising your daily usage and comfort. Eventually, it can offer big savings in your wallet by trimming your water bills — an advantage that you and the future owner of the home can both enjoy.

Toilets, for example, account for nearly 30 percent of an average home’s indoor consumption. Switching your older, inefficient toilet with a low-flow model can lower your water bills by about $110 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Think about it: you can save your wallet and the planet at the same time.

3. Electric Tankless Water Heater

Another great option you can add on your next bathroom remodel is a tankless water heater, which is a great way to save water, money, and energy. Tankless water heaters either use gas or electricity and are generally more cost efficient. They heat water you only need to use in just seconds and there’s no need to wait for the water to heat up while wasting more water in the process. It’s another eco-friendly bathroom improvement that can add value to your home.

4. Programmable, Smart Thermostat

Compared to manual thermostats, this smart home technology is a great investment to help make a home more eco-friendly. Smart thermostats, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, can help you save energy and lower your utility bills since you can control your heating and cooling needs.

The technology will also allow you to program your temperature preferences on the areas where you need it most. You can set up these thermostats (through their mobile apps) to turn on when you wake up and turn off when you leave the house, contributing to bigger savings.

5. Energy-efficient Windows

Energy-efficient dual pane windows made from vinyl, metal or wood offer better insulation for your home compared to older, single-pane models. They can reduce your energy usage during both hot and cold climates, helping you save money while also lowering your environmental footprint.

Double-paned windows also have great soundproofing qualities. They can significantly reduce outside noise, which can be a valuable investment if you live in the city or in a busy urban area and don’t want to wake up to the blaring car horns or sprinklers early in the morning.

6. Energy Star appliances

Replacing your dated appliances with new and high-efficiency models, especially those with an ENERGY STAR certification, will not only allow you to reap the benefits of energy savings but also help sell your home for top dollars. ENERGY STAR is an initiative of the U. S. Department of Energy that identifies energy-saving appliances and products. Its ceiling fans, for example, are 50% more efficient than conventional fans because they use less energy to operate.

Since the kitchen is a focal point in any house, home buyers will want it to look at its best. If you’re planning a major kitchen renovation, upgrading your washer, dryer, dishwasher, and refrigerator will enable your kitchen to stand out in terms of energy efficiency, design, and functionality.

On the other hand, here are some big-ticket renovation ideas if you feel you’re up for it:

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  • Eco-friendly wood flooring and using other renewable wood products - Options include bamboo flooring, marmoleum, and other eco-friendly wood flooring substitutes.

  • Solar roof panels - Homeowners who install solar panels, especially when installing a new roof, can receive rebates and credits from the solar power owner or utility company.

  • Sustainable landscaping using native plants - One eco-friendly alternative to improve your home’s curb appeal is landscaping using native species of plants. These plants are easier to maintain, and won’t be a risk to the surrounding ecosystem.

  • Improved home insulation - Homeowners can switch to alternative types of insulation that are environmentally conscious, such as insulation made of wool, cotton, or other recycled materials.


Tips on how to effectively sell your energy efficient home:

  1. Find a real estate agent with an extensive background in selling green homes or energy efficient homes. Clear communication is important for selling these upgrades to potential buyers. They have to see for themselves what they will buy and benefit with as the homeowner. This is why finding the right real estate agent who understands the benefits of your energy-efficient home is paramount. He/She should be able to advertise it appropriately, marketing it to the right buyers. The agent should also be able to explain those green upgrades to those interested buyers effectively.

  2. Documentation can help you sell faster. It’s important to not only feature the upgrades you made but to also highlight the benefits of those projects for you as a homeowner. Compare your water and energy bills before and after the remodel and emphasize how much you saved. The difference in your utility bills will be a good selling point your interested buyers will look forward to.

  3. Consider getting an appraisal from a certified appraiser who knows how to properly evaluate green properties to determine the value of your energy-efficient improvements. This is a good first step to help you decide how much you should list your property, aside from the list price you and your real estate agent will come up with.