Saturday, December 03, 2005

Getting ready to move - Mortgages

If you are planning to move now or sometime in the near future then now would be a good time to visit the bank and mortgage broker.

Even though you will not have to fund your mortgage or refinance your mortgage for a few months yet it is good to get your self preapproved for a mortgage and get a good rate in case mortgage rates go up in the next few months.

Most banks and trust companies will lock your mortgage rate for a few months and this way as you shop for a new home you will know what the maximum will be for your mortgage payments

The other thing to do besides visiting the bank is to talk to a mortgage broker. Your mortgage broker can often get you a better rate for a mortgage because he or she goes through all the banks and trust companies to get the best rates and terms. A mortgage broker is paid a commission by the bank or trust company when you fund your mortage but don't worry you will still get a better rate then you would shopping on your own for a mortgage.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Home Seller Tip - Preparing your home to sell

Preparing your home to sell is incrediblly important. When you have a nice uncluttered, clean and fixed up home it will sell faster and for more money. Here are some tips to get your home ready to sell:

Firstly, put your home in the best condition possible. That means taking care of any major repairs that could deter a buyer (such as replacing any broken windows or replacing a leaky roof) if you can afford it.

Next, look outside the house itself. Make sure your landscape is pristine. Mow the grass, clean up any debris and weed the garden beds. Plant a few annual flowers near the entrance or in pots to be placed by the door.

Don't spend much money on fixes to your home as a renovation will not likely pay back as much as it costs but be sure to do the following:

Clean the windows and make sure the paint is not chipped or flaking if so do a little painting.

Be sure that the doorbell works if not it is usually pretty easy to fix.

Clean and freshen up rooms, furnishings, floors, walls and ceilings. Make sure that bathrooms and kitchens are spotless.

Organize closets.

Make sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Replace leaky faucets and frayed cords.
Eliminate the source of any bad smells, such as the kitty box. Use air freshener or bake a batch of cookies before your open house to ensure that the house smells inviting.

Invest in a couple of vases of fresh flowers to place around the house and next to any information about the house you have prepared for buyers.

Replace things that people would like to point out before buying leave no excuse. Replace the furnace filter, replace cracked windows, paint or stain the fence if it is time to, and adjust the gates so that they close properly.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New Home Seller tips

I thought that I would just pump out a few tips that anyone could use to get their home sold and sold fast.

Make sure you have a good reason to sell. If you want to sell your home make sure that you are selling to move away, or closer, or to have a smaller house, or have a bigger house. Never sell just because prices have gone up or down. Also if you are selling to get money out of the house make sure you do not list until the price you are listing for is realistic in the market not just a price your friends think is right.

Just to reinterate, the reason for selling is incredibally important because when an offer comes in you want to make sure that the offer is acceptable because you are moving on, the emotion is the only thing that really kills a real estate deal. When you are offended by a price or by the terms you can then go back and realise that your reasons for selling are more important than that offence and you can get the deal finished and move on.

Links to other sites:

All Buyers and Sellers Realty of Florida - Ocala Real Estate
Search all the Ocala Marion County Florida real estate MLS listings. As Florida Realtors® and buyers agents we promise to save you time and money. We ARE fla!

All the Winter Park real estate listings you need!
We love Winter Park. And we've dedicated ourselves to mastering the Winter Park real estate market so that you'll be happy for years to come.

Bellingham Real Estate with Kathy Auerbach
I will help you buy or sell your home in Bellingham, Birch Bay, Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, and other areas in Whatcom County, Washington.

Buy and Sell Charleston
Customer service is our top priority! Buying and selling Charleston Tri-County area real estate.

Caribbean Real Estate: Roatan Honduras Property
Real estate on Roatan Honduras. Come and find your tropical paradise!

Davis California Real Estate
Realtor serving the Davis and Sacramento region. Search the MLS, view homes, and take our exclusive virtual tour of Davis real estate where you can tour neighborhoods and see homes.

Eugene Oregon Real Estate - Eugene Real Estate
Eugene Oregon Real Estate - Springfield real estate. Also specializing in Cottage Grove, Junction City, Veneta, Creswell, Coburg, Oregon, and Lane County. Find buyer/seller tips, community information, free reports, and more

Fort Lauderdale Condo Company
The Condo Company is a highly specialized real estate agency that focuses on the Fort Lauderdale Condos market.

High Country Real Estate Services, Inc.
Taos, New Mexico real estate sales, management, home staging, interior design,landscape and window coverings services. Real estate remarkable.

Jonathan Dalton's Phoenix Arizona Homes
Providing full-service real estate in Glendale, Peoria, Surprise & Phoenix Arizona. Useful information on relocation, investment, schools and the community. Free MLS Search!

Lake Norman North Carolina Real Estate
Specializing in Lake Norman Real Estate, Mooresville, Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Concord & more.

Las Vegas Condos
The Condo Company is a highly specialized real estate agency that focuses on the Las Vegas condominium market.

Lisa Hall, Realtor
Serving the eastern Contra Costa region (in the San Francisco Bay Area). Working with real estate buyers and sellers in Antioch, Discovery Bay, Brentwood, and Oakley.

Memphis Real Estate - Joe Spake
Representing Buyers and Sellers of Fine Memphis Homes, specializing in Downtown, Midtown, and East Memphis - luxury homes, condos, historic properties.

Miami Condo Company
The Condo Company is a highly specialized real estate agency that focuses on the Miami condos market.

Nobody knows Ventura real estate like we do!
We provide the best real estate service in Ventura. Visit our site today!

Palm Beach Condo Company
The Condo Company is a highly specialized real estate agency that focuses on the palm beach real estate market

Seattle real estate, Everett real estate - RE/MAX
Residential and investment Seattle and Everett area real estate. King and Snohomish counties: Bellevue, Edmonds, Lynnwood, and others.

Vail Condo Company
The Condo Company is a highly specialized real estate agency that focuses on the Vail Colorado condominium market.

We Buy Houses-Sell Your
We want to buy your home. We pay Cash at closing, and can give you an offer for your home as soon as today with no hassles or headaches. With a network of homebuyers across the US and Canada, we'll have somebody in your area.

Your East Bay Real Estate Solution
Providing residential Real Estate services to the Norhtern Claifornia East Bay area. Specializing in Alameda, Oakland and San Leandro.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Going offline for a few weeks

I am going to be busy with a project during the month of November, sorry. I hope to post a few times but there are no guarantees at this point.

Go back though the archives if you need motivation. I know that I have linked to some great sites and articles in the last little while and that can keep you busy.

Have a great November!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Home Buyer Pitfalls - Watch out for these

1. SHOP FOR A HOME BEFORE YOU SHOP FOR A MORTGAGE. It's normal for prospective home buyers to get excited about buying a home. According to the National Association of Realtors, more than 70 percent of today's home buyers start their quest on the Internet, usually at

But that's the wrong place to start buying a home. The first step to a successful home purchase is for buyers to check their FICO (Fair, Isaac Corp.) credit scores to be certain a mortgage can be obtained.

The best spot I've found on the Internet to check my credit is It costs about $45 to review all three credit reports there from the three national credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. The last time I checked, to my surprise, my FICO scores varied about 40 points among each of the three credit bureaus.

By checking credit reports at all three bureaus, there is time to correct any errors (reportedly, about 33 percent of credit reports contain mistakes) before applying for a mortgage.
Although you can now obtain your free credit reports from all three major companies at, or 877-322-8228, those reports are virtually worthless because they don't include FICO scores, which all major mortgage lenders now use.

Armed with your credit reports and FICO scores (anything above 700 practically assures you will get the lowest mortgage interest rate), it's time to shop for written mortgage pre-approval.
Although mortgage brokers can arrange such pre-approvals, be sure your pre-approval letter or certificate comes from a bank or mortgage broker. Disregard any "pre-qualification letter," which is worthless because it isn't a lender's written promise to grant you a home mortgage, subject to an appraisal.

2. RUSH TO BUY A HOUSE OR CONDO WITHOUT CAREFULLY RESEARCHING THE LOCAL MARKET. After you have your written mortgage pre-approval 30-day or 60-day letter or certificate from an actual lender, it's time to get serious about researching the local home market in your price range.

Although you might buy the first home you spot on the Internet, or at a weekend open house, that rarely happens. Most home buyers take several months before their purchase offer is accepted by a seller.

3. BUY A HOME WITHOUT YOUR OWN BUYER'S AGENT. Too many home buyers purchase with only the help of the seller's listing agent (called a "dual agent" when that person also represents the home buyer).

It costs home buyers no more to have their own "buyer's agent" representing the buyer's best interests.

Buyer's agents, in addition to showing listings of other agents from the local MLS (multiple listing service), can show prospective buyers the local "for sale by owner" (FSBO) homes. Smart FSBO sellers are only too happy to pay buyer's agents half of a normal sales commission, typically around 3 percent. This is a major advantage of working with a buyer's agent.
Any licensed real estate agent can be your buyer's agent to look out for your best interests (unless that agent works for the same brokerage, which also listed the property for sale; then dual agency or designated agent rules apply).

However, most home buyers find it wise not to sign an exclusive buyer's agent contract, just in case the agent turns out to be a dunce.

4. BUY A HOME WITH AN INCURABLE DEFECT. No house or condo is perfect. Each one has some defect. Even brand-new houses have problems (hopefully not significant).

After I became friends with a local building inspector a few years ago, he revealed to me some of the defects he routinely discovered in new homes. Unless the problem was dangerous or in violation of building codes, he explained he had to ignore the defects, which he knew would result in problems several years later.

Fortunately, most houses and condos don't have defects that are not tolerable. Serious problems, called "economic obsolescence" by appraisers, might include a bad floor plan, poor location (such as near high-voltage power lines or adjacent to the city dump), heavy street traffic, and lack of convenient parking.

5. DON'T INSIST ON A COMPARATIVE MARKET ANALYSIS (CMA) BEFORE MAKING A PURCHASE OFFER. This is a major mistake too many home buyers make, often resulting in overpaying for a home.

The CMA is the same document that the listing agent should have presented to the home seller before the asking price was determined. It includes recent sales prices of similar nearby homes, asking prices of comparable neighborhood homes now listed for sale, and asking prices of similar homes that didn't sell (usually because they were overpriced).
Only after reviewing the CMA, and discussing it with the buyer's agent, can a reasonable purchase price be offered.

6. FORGET TO INCLUDE THE TWO KEY CONTINGENCY CLAUSES. Especially in very competitive local home sales markets, some home buyers let their buyer's agents talk them out of protecting themselves with the two key contingency clauses.

"All cash, no contingency" is what every home seller wants to hear. But it isn't realistic or very smart for most home buyers.

Instead, smart home buyers include contingency clauses for (a) a satisfactory professional appraisal of the home for at least the purchase price, and (b) the buyer's approval of a professional inspector's report.

Additional customary local inspection contingencies might include termite (pest control) inspection, building code compliance, energy efficiency, and radon test.

SUMMARY: These six home buyer mistakes to avoid help protect buyers from making major, costly errors. Home buyers who protect themselves can feel confident of making a sound purchase, which they will enjoy for many years.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his Real Estate Center).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

14 reasons not to sell your home yourself

Here is a list from Alan Read Chua, a Realtor in Toronto:

Occasionally, one can see "For Sale By Owner" signs, and some owners think that selling their own home will not only save them money, but believe they have an advantage over the sellers that have their home listed by a reputable Realtor©. Before you decide to take on this very important and legally complicated process…remember not even most Real Estate Lawyer’s recommend selling your own home yourself in today’s market. Here are a few of the reasons why:
1. You are limiting your exposure to potential buyers (less than 10% of what a good real estate broker will generate) which theoretically means your home will take ten to fifteen times longer to sell on the market.
2. The longer a home is on the market the lower the selling price is. Why? Because most buyers think that if the home has not sold after this long…there must be something wrong with the home.
3. The selling/buying process begins AFTER the buyer leaves your home. Most sellers think that all it takes is for someone to see their home, fall in love with the great decor… and the offer automatically will follow. Remember that the buying process begins after they leave your home. If a real estate agent does not represent the buyer, and they are looking on their own…they usually leave the home and start to talk themselves out of the buying process. If the buyer is represented by a real estate professional Realtors© are trained on how to overcome buyers remorse--a very common occurrence.
4. Because of the limited exposure you will very likely end up with a lower selling price. Remember, in order to generate the highest price possible for your home… selling means exposure. You need the maximum exposure possible, to generate the highest price possible.
5. Most buyers find it extremely awkward to negotiate or even to talk directly with sellers and therefore avoid FSBO properties.
6. Lack of negotiating experience and lack of pertinent information often will result in a lower selling price, or worse yet, a bungled contract and possible lawsuits.
7. The majority of qualified buyers are working with experienced real estate professionals.
8. Many serious buyers will pass by a FSBO home merely because they recognize that it is not in the real estate mainstream, this can some times make them wary.
9. As most local buyers now retain an experienced real estate sales person to represent them as their buyer-agency, you will probably be negotiating against an experienced professional.
10. Expected savings in broker's fees will also be greatly reduced if you offer a selling commission to entice real estate agents to bring potential buyers.
11. If you are planning to use a Lawyer to help you negotiate the offer, then your lawyer’s fees will be considerably higher.
12. Only real estate agents have access to the up-to-date market information. News reports cannot approach the timeliness or specificity available to agents. Further, real estate agents are involved in home sales much more frequently than the average homeowner is. This familiarity leads to a degree of expertise that provides an edge on negotiating and successful selling.
13. You only pay the commission to the real estate broker, if they successfully sell your home at the price you are happy with.
14. Accepting an offer is one thing, ensuring a safe and successful closing is quite another. Real estate transactions usually always have problems on closing. At times, expecting the Buyers and Sellers Lawyer’s to fight it out or resolve the problems, can sometimes mean the deal is lost.
This is the time that your experienced real estate professional, can be the most important. Your Realtor© can act as a great mediator. Lawyers MUST act only on their client’s instructions and are not paid to negotiate.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Role of Your Realtor

When you bought your home, you probably used the services of a real estate agent.

You found that agent through a referral from a friend or family member, or through some sort of advertising or marketing. The agent helped you in many ways and eventually you found the house of your dreams, made an offer, closed the deal, and moved in.

For whatever reason, now it is time to sell your home and you need a real estate agent again. You may have been happy with that first agent and will contact him or maybe you don't even know what happened to him. Many home sellers, especially those selling their first home, tend to think all agents are similar to the one that helped them buy their home. This is not at all true. And if you take a peek inside a real estate office business you can see that. Most Realtors spend time doing three things. Networking, serving new and old customers and market research.

Although real estate agents can (and do) work with both buyers and sellers, most tend to concentrate more on one than the other. They specialize. When you bought your home, you probably worked with a "selling agent" – an agent that works mostly with buyers. Because of the nature of real estate advertising and marketing, the public’s main image of the real estate profession is that of the selling agent (buyer's agent).

As a result, many homeowners expect their listing agent to do the same things that a selling agent does – find someone to buy their home. After all, they do the things you would expect if they were searching for buyers. A sign goes up in the front yard. Ads are placed in the local newspaper and real estate magazines. Your agent holds an open house on the weekend. Your house is proudly displayed on the Internet.

But this is only "surface" marketing. More important activity occurs behind the scenes. After the "for sale" sign goes up and flyers are printed, your agent’s main job is to market your home to other agents, not to homebuyers.

There are some stats that usually suprise many people:

Only 3% of house buyers buy a house from an open house.
only 5% of For Sale By Owners sell their own home.
Almost every house sale is sold by a Realtor through the MLS system even with so many homes on MLS making it to the interent, and flyers everywhere, and showhomes open 24/7

Monday, October 03, 2005

Great Tips on Agency and Dual Agency when Selling a Home

Are you confused about who represents you in a real estate deal? Who is paying the commission? What rights do you have? Here is a great article with info that may answer all of your questions and more.

There is a relatively new and not always well understood practice in Real Estate sales; it is called Buyer Agency or Buyer's Agent. Until recently Realtors and agents usually represented the seller, in opposition to the buyer, during the real estate transaction. Even the real estate agent who drove you from home to home was not truly working on your behalf. By law, the agent was required to work on the seller's side in order to get the highest price and the best terms for the seller -- Period! Some agents still work this way.

In the last few years, first the law and now the practice of representation has changed. We have an entirely different set of options and agreements when we are buying real estate. These options were previously only available and utilized by large companies or wealthy individuals. In the past, the buyer would get a buyer's representative by paying a fee up front and usually by the hour, until the transaction was complete.

Twenty five years ago, as a personal agent for wealthy clients and companies, I charged and worked an average of 20 hours a week for $30 per hour, plus expenses, plus 10% of the transaction (or when I was the buyer's agent, a $2,000 retainer fee to start with and then $30 per hour and 10% of the amount below the listed price that I was able to obtain for my buyer. If there was financing involved I also was paid to find and obtain the best financing).

That has changed dramatically. As a buyer's agent, a signature on a buyer's agent contract from my buyer begins the transaction. Usually the same original commission fee that would have been paid by the seller is split and half goes to pay the buyer's agent. In some cases the selling agent does not set up any fee to the buyers agent, or a very reduced fee, such as those agencies that advertise 2% or 3% or 4% commissions to the sellers, etc. In that case the Buyer just picks up the missing commission and at settlement another 4% or 5% comes out of the transaction and goes to us as Buyer's Agent. In other words there is a guarantee from us that we are working ONLY for you the buyer and in exchange you guarantee us a commission of 5% - which is usually already taken care of, or at least part of it, in the seller's commission.

I can draw this division of fees out for you on paper if need be when we meet the first time. Bottom line; you don't pay any more and you get the absolute best representation.

The buyer's agency arrangement begins with the initial interview, continues through an initial selection of properties to investigate and view and then to contract negotiations. This culminates with the final settlement and transfer of funds for property. The buyer may choose to have an agent specifically committed to representing his best interests.

The great part for the buyer is that he/she gets the benefit of decades of experience and professional knowledge, all of our connections and reputation with those connections, and pays nothing until final close of transaction. Where else can you get the best possible professional service and pay nothing until it's complete and satisfactory. Will your doctor, lawyer, accountant, mason or carpenter do that... NO. We do, if you contract with us first. Otherwise we represent the seller at your expense! This is true of all Realtors by law. Which would you like?

Recently real estate laws in virtually every state are being rewritten to allow and suggest that the buyer have his own specific representative. If you are the buyer and have a buyer's agent, your agent will try to get you the best deal possible, even if that is NOT in the best interest of the seller.

Legally: "Buyer's Agency" is a relationship where the real estate agent is working FOR you with fiduciary responsibility (financial and legal responsibility). The agent is then legally bound to only the buyer and owes his entire loyalty and allegiance to the buyer alone.

In the past, and even most of the time today, all real estate agents and brokers represent the seller alone; to get the highest price for the seller. In fact seller's agents MAY NOT disclose fully all that they know about a property to the buyer as they seek the highest price. The relationship of a broker and agent is established in writing with the seller when the property is listed for sale in the "Listing Agreement".

In Delaware we are required to give each person we work with; buyer or seller; a written explanation regarding agency status. We have professionally written brochures that explain the "seller's agency" and it's opposite "buyer's agency". This agency disclosure must be explained, in writing, at the first significant contact of the agent with the buyer or seller.

Agents in our office talk with a great number of long-distance buyers over the phone. We must, when we finally meet in person, disclose and determine which position we will take with the person we are speaking with. Some agents work mostly as seller's agents; some work mostly as buyer's agents and some work as a dual agent (where we act as full representative to both buyer and seller). Regardless of the role the agent takes -- it should be fully and completely known by all agents, buyers and sellers involved -- and it should be in writing.

Let us now put this forward again:

Seller's Agent: has the full and complete and sole duty to obtain the best deal for the seller. The seller's agent is ONLY allowed to give the buyer material facts about the property. It is customary for a cooperating broker and agent to be a subagent to the seller's agency established by the brokerage that has the written contract with the seller to sell the property.
Buyer's Agent: has the full, complete and sole duty to obtain the best deal for the buyer. The buyer's agent may convey any and all information obtained in any fashion, including in depth investigations about the seller or the property.

Dual Agent: has to be legally and financially loyal to both parties. Dual agency occurs when a real estate agency is contracted to sell a home. That means they have the listing, and an agent from that same brokerage, working as a buyer's representative, shows that listing. Dual Agency must be disclosed and agreed to in writing by all parties. Some people feel that Dual Agency is potentially a conflict of interests. It can be unless the agent is fully honest to all parties and they are fully aware of and in agreement with that relationship. Here, the entire purpose of the dual agent is to get the best possible deal, in all it's components, for both the buyer and the seller.
There are, in general, two major personalities of buyer's agents. First is the agent who only and always represents buyers. The other is the agent who takes each transaction and each customer into account before making that decision. An agent who usually works as a buyer's agent, for instance, may NOT want to represent a particular buyer as that buyer's agent for one reason or another. The reason is usually one of some personality difference. As I put it, when speaking with a buyer whom I wish to represent "I will be your gladiator. I will do battle on your behalf, and at the expense of and against the interests of, the seller and the seller's agent."

The buyer's agent must still be honest, but he need not be fair. For instance, if the buyer's agent is able to find out that the seller is in big financial or personal trouble and that the seller has a small mortgage on the property or that there is some impending deadline for selling the property, then the buyer's agent will tell the buyer. Together they will use that information to get a great deal for the buyer at the seller's expense... it that is possible.

If I were a buyer, I would not even consider doing a real estate transaction without a buyer's agent to act on my behalf. I suggest that you are wise to do the same. If there are detailed and extensive negotiations that need to be done; such as unique and difficult terms that must be negotiated then (being the buyer) I'd ask that the buyer and the seller agree to have me as a dual agent. Whatever your choice, it should be in writing with your agent and must be known to all parties involved.

Copyright © 2001-2004 by
Source for this article is:
Article Source:

Saturday, October 01, 2005

9 Tips to get started in the home selling process

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan
I've known sellers who signed a contract to sell their house before they knew if they were qualified to buy another. Either their financial circumstances had changed since their last purchase, and they could no longer qualify for a loan, or they weren't able to sell at a price that allowed them to buy the type of replacement house they wanted. They ended up renting or buying something that was far from ideal.

Before you decide to sell the house, get pre-approved by a lender you trust and research the housing market in the area where you wish to live so that you have a good idea how much it will take to buy a replacement.

How To Start ResearchingStart looking for two types of real estate: houses that seem to match the one you'd like to buy and houses that are similar to your current home.

Find homes in free For Sale publications, often available outside grocery and convenience stores.
Search the Internet for homes for sale in your area and read real estate ads in your local newspapers. You won't find house locations without making phone calls, but browsing the general market will get you off to a good start. And to compare for-sale homes to your own, learn how to Measure Residential Square Footage.

2. Check Your Mortgage Payoff
Call your lender to check the payoff for your current home mortgage. You'll need the figure to complete Step 6.

3. Determine How Much the House Is Worth
Determine your home's fair market value. Real estate agents will usually help you determine value as a courtesy, but you might take it a step further and order an appraisal.

4. Estimate Your Costs to Sell
Real estate commission if you use an agency to sell.
Advertising costs, signs, other fees if you plan to sell by owner. Attorney, closing agent and other professional fees.
Excise tax for the sale.
Prorated costs for your share of annual expenses, such as property taxes, home owner association fees, and fuel tank rentals. Any other fees typically paid by the seller in your area (surveys, inspections, etc.).
Real estate agents deal with transactions every day and can give you a very close estimate of seller closing costs.

5. Determine Your Costs to Acquire a New Home
Total your costs to acquire a new home: moving expenses, loan costs, downpayment, home inspections, title work and policy, paying for a new hazard insurance policy--all expenses related to buying a home. Your lender should give you a disclosure of estimated costs when you apply for pre-approval.

6. Calculate Your Estimated Proceeds
Deduct your mortgage payoff from your home's fair market value.
Deduct your costs to sell from the remainder to get an estimate of the proceeds you will be paid at closing.Will your closing proceeds cover your costs to acquire a new home? If not, do you have cash or other funding to make up the difference?

7.Make any repairsMake all needed repairs unless you want the house to be regarded as a fixer-upper. I'm not referring to cosmetic updates, but to items in need of repair. Anything that's obviously broken gives potential buyers a reason to submit a lower offer.
For a preview of several repair hot spots that worry buyers the most, read Passing Your Home Inspection.

8. Get the House Ready to Show
Most houses need at least a little spiffing up before they are shown to potential buyers. Great curb appeal, fresh paint indoors (and sometimes out), organized closets and cabinets, sparkling clean windows and appliances, and a clutter-free atmosphere are essential if you want the house to appeal to buyers.

9. Get Psyched Up to Let People In
If you're listing with a real estate agent, she'll no doubt ask you to leave when the house is shown. Why? Because lurking sellers make buyers nervous--they don't feel comfortable inspecting the house when they feel they are intruding.
Unless there's a real reason for it, don't ask your agent to be present for all showings. That's the kiss of death for showing activity. Other agents want privacy with their buyers and they don't usually have time to work around your agent's schedule.
Make the house accessible. That means it's always ready to show. Many agents won't bother showing a house that takes 24 hours to get into.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Great set of tips on what to do to get your home ready to sell

what a great bunch of info from a government site:

If you've decided to sell your home, chances are you're caught up in a host of emotions. You may be looking forward to moving up to a new dream house or facing the uncertainty of a major move across country. You may be reluctant to leave your memories behind or eager to start new adventures. Whatever turbulent feelings you're experiencing right now, there are plenty of practical matters that need your attention. Keep in mind the following considerations to help the whole process go more smoothly.

Time Becomes Money

It's a good idea to place your home on the market as far in advance as possible of purchasing a new one. If you find a new home first and then try to sell your present home, you may wind up with two mortgages. If this does happen, ask your real estate agent or banker about a bridge loan to help you make the double payments. Lenders use the same criteria for offering bridge loans as they use for mortgages. Should you qualify for a bridge loan, beware of the expense; during the term of the loan you must continue to pay both mortgages. Shop around for the best terms.

Keep in mind that when people move, sell and buy, there usually is a domino effect. Closing and moving dates have to be coordinated, and the more firmly everyone commits to a window of dates and sticks to them, the better for all involved. Put all agreements about dates in writing, and protect yourself by negotiating financial penalties for failure to comply.

Check Your Curb Appeal

A home that's visually appealing and in good condition will attract potential buyers driving down the street. Use this checklist to view your property through an outsider's eyes.

Are the lawn and shrubs well maintained?
Are there cracks in the foundation or walkways?
Does the driveway need resurfacing?
Are the gutters, chimney and walls in good condition?
Do the window casings, shutters, siding or doors need painting?
Are garbage and debris stored out of sight?
Are lawn mowers and hoses preperly stored?
Is the garage door closed?

On the Inside

Strong curb appeal will lure potential buyers inside, where you have to live up to their expectations. Fortunately, there are plenty of easy improvements you can make to your home's interior without spending a lot of money. Cleaning is No. 1. Your windows, floors and bathroom tiles should sparkle. Make sure you have clean heating and air conditioning filters. Shampoo dirty carpets, clean tubs and showers, repair dripping faucets and oil squeaky doors. Keep your home neat, clean and picked-up at all times. It may not seem fair, but a peek in the oven may be the hallmark by which a buyer judges how well you have kept up your home.

Remove unnecessary clutter from the garage, basement, attic, closets and straighten stored items. Also remove any items that might make a statement that would be offensive to others who may not share your same views, beliefs or sense of humor. If your home is crowded with too much furniture, consider putting some things into storage. If a room needs a fresh coat of paint, use a neutral off-white. Think, too, about how your home smells. You may be used to the smell of a pet or cigarettes, but such odors can be a strong turn-off to others. Be certain to remove valuables such as jewelry and other items from view. It might be wise to put these items in a safe deposit box before showing your home. Finally, set a mood for the buyer. Make your house homey with live flowers and fresh guest towels in the bathroom. Place scented potpourri around the house or, on the day you're expecting a potential buyer, pop a batch of frozen cinnamon rolls into the oven for a welcoming aroma.

Remember, cosmetic changes do not have to be expensive. In fact, costly home improvements do not necessarily offer a good return on your investment when you sell. It's attention to the basics—anything that says “this home has been carefully maintained”—that will help you get the price you want.

Go It Alone

Some homeowners decide to sell their homes themselves in order to save the commission charged by a real estate agent. The commission rate may vary, depending on where you live or what agency you choose, but it is generally upwards of 5%. However, handling your own sale means you will be responsible for placing ads, answering phones and showing your home to strangers. What's more, buyers who know you are saving on an agent's commission may offer less for your home, wiping out the financial incentive to do it all yourself.

You may decide an agent's commission is a bargain the first time that a would-be buyer shows up unannounced at dinnertime. Also, be aware that a real estate agent probably knows a lot more about the business of selling a home than you do. Here are some of the advantages professional agents offer:

They will help you establish a fair asking price for your home.
They will promote your home to other agents and list your property in multiple listing services. A multiple listing service is a book or computer database that all real estate agents who subscribe to the service can access. Your home will get exposure to all those agents, one of whom may have the perfect buyer.
They will create, pay for and place advertising for you.
They will schedule appointments to show your home to prospective buyers even when you are not there.
They can weed out buyers who will not qualify for a mortgage.
They can refer you to sources for insurance, inspections, legal counsel and financing.
They will help you negotiate with the buyer.
They can make suggestions to help make your home more attractive to a potential buyer.

If you decide to sell through an agent, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Talk to several agents before picking the one you want to work with. Taking a walk through your home with an agent should give you a feel for how that person will handle prospective buyers. Ask prospective agents how they plan to market your home. Don't sign with an agent just because he or she suggests the highest asking price. Negotiate the broker's commission prior to listing your home, and sign for a limited period of time—usually three to six months.

Setting a Fair Price

Naturally, you want to get top dollar for your home. But, at the same time, you don't want to scare off potential buyers with a price tag that's too high. Setting an artificially high price may cause your property to languish on the market for months. Reducing your asking price later on may lead buyers to wonder if there is something wrong with your home. Here are some of the factors to consider in pricing your home.

Your location
Economic conditions
Supply and demand in the local housing market
Seasonal influences
Local schools
Average home prices in the neighborhood
Your home's extras -- pool, fireplace, central air, etc.
To determine the value of your home, you probably will want the advice of a real estate agent or appraiser. Ask an agent to prepare a market analysis for you, showing the recent selling prices of three neighborhood properties comparable to your own. The agent can help you adjust for the unique features of your own property.

Qualifying a Buyer

Either you or your agent will want to quickly weed out potential buyers who cannot really afford to purchase your home. A number of factors will help determine whether or not you are wasting your time negotiating a sale.

The buyer's debt and credit history
The buyer's current income and employment
The buyer's cash position and availability of a down payment
The length of time the buyer needs before closing on your home
How interested the buyer appears to be in your home versus others
Seek Legal Representation

When selling your home—particularly if you are selling on your own—it's a good idea to be represented by an attorney. Look for an attorney with expertise in real estate transactions. When a potential buyer puts an offer in writing and you accept it, the signed acceptance becomes the sales contract. Your attorney will be present at the actual closing to protect your interests and can assist you with the following elements of a sales contract:

The sale price
What is included in the sale price -- draperies, carpeting, light fixtures, heating oil, etc.
The amount of the down payment
The date of closing and possession date
Contingencies to the sale--inspections (e.g. structural, lead-based paint, radon), required improvements, legal review of the contract by the buyer's or seller's attorney, etc.
The amount and length of the mortgage loan, interest rate and time limits to secure the loan
Determining which closing costs are to be paid by the buyer and which by the seller
Tax Implications

Selling a home can have a major impact on your federal and state tax returns. Check with your tax consultant on the factors that may affect taxes resulting from the sale of your home. For example:

Whether you purchased the home or acquired it by gift or inheritance
Whether you used your home partly for business or rental
Costs associated with selling your home
Home improvements or additions, which may help to offset capital gains
The sale of your home. In certain cases you can exclude up to $250,000 in gain ($500,000 for married couples filing a joint return) on the sale of property that was your principle residence for at least two years. Generally, you can use this exclusion every two years.


You've successfully weathered the logistics of selling your current home, and you're ready to move on to a new and exciting chapter in your life. As you prepare for the coming changes, check out the Life Advice sections Moving and Buying a Home to aid you in this transition.

Monday, September 26, 2005

20 Low-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home to sell

20 Low-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home

Make your home more appealing for yourself and for potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:
1. Trim bushes so they don’t block windows and cut down on light.
2. Buy a new doormat.
3. Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.
4. Put new doorknobs on your front door.5
. Put a fresh coating on your driveway.
6. Edge the grass around walks and trees.
7. Keep your garden tools out of site.
8. Be sure kids put away their toys.
9. Buy a new mailbox.
10. Upgrade your outside lighting.
11. Use warm, incandescent light bulbs for a homey feel.
12. Polish or replace your house numbers.
13. Clean your gutters.
14. Put out potpourri or burn scented candles.
15. Buy new pillows for the sofa.
16. Buy a flowering plant and put in a window you pass by frequently.
17. Make a centerpiece for your table with fruit or artificial flowers.
18. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light.
19. Buy new towels.
20. Put a seasonal wreath on your door.

Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Real Estate - Home Selling Articles and Advice

Here is a great site that has links to lots of information and articles to do with home selling. This page is a good start to see an overview of the home selling process.

Real Estate - Home Selling Articles and Advice

Here is a good bit of information on makeing your house "anontmous. As a Realtor I saw far to many houses with a lot of emotional, familt momentos that could harm a person seeing the house as their own:

Make Your Home "Anonymous"

If there is a new home sales tract near your home, go visit. It doesn't matter what size the homes are. What you will find are some wonderfully (but sparsely) furnished homes that anyone could live in -- with the emphasis on "anyone." They are anonymous. There may be a baseball glove in the boy's room, but no family photos on the walls.

There may be "personality" - but no person.

The reason you want to make your home "anonymous" is because you want buyers to view it as their potential home. When a potential homebuyer sees your family photos hanging on the wall, it puts your own brand on the home and momentarily shatters their illusions about living in the house themselves.

Put away family photos, sports trophies, collectible items, knick-knacks, and souvenirs. Put them in a box. Rent a storage area for a few months and put the box in the storage unit.

Do not just put the box in the attic, basement, garage or a closet. Part of preparing a house for sale is to remove "clutter," and that is the next step in preparing your house for sale.

Real Estate Internet Marketing: Homebuyers sold on technology

I have found this great info on how home owners love using technology when buying or selling a house

Real Estate Internet Marketing: Homebuyers sold on technology

Common Home Seller mistakes

Sometimes people have to be reminded that when selling their largest possesion that there are many that have gone before them on this path and there are some things that you can easily avoid. Here are the most common mistakes that home sellers make:

Basing Asking Price on needs or emotion not market value. Many sellers base their pricing on how much they paid for their home. If your home is not priced competitively, home buyers will prefer larger or better homes in the same price range, increasing your time-to-sell. When your price is later lowered, buyers may be wary because they suspect other reasons the house has remained unsold so long.

Failing to "present" the home. A property that is not clean or well maintained often suggests hidden defects that increase the total cost of ownership. Sellers should make necessary repairs, and spruce up the house inside and out, keep it clean and neat, or risk chasing away buyers brought in by realtors. Buyers will leave themselves a large margin for error for the cost of repairs, reducing their offer price.

Over-improving the home prior to selling. Sellers may spend thousands of dollars doing the wrong upgrades to their home prior selling, expecting to recoup this cost. If you are thinking of selling, ask your realtor which upgrades are cost effective.

Failure to effectively market the property. Good marketing distinguishes your home from hundreds of others on the market, selling its benefits not just its features. Open houses and print advertising (the most obvious) are only moderately effective. Only 1% of homes are sold at open houses, and just 3% of people purchased their homes after seeing a print ad! realtors use these tools to attract future prospects, not to sell your specific house. make sure realtor uses other marketing tools as well.

Choosing the wrong Realtor or choosing for the wrong reasons. Many homeowners list with the agent who tells them the highest price, and not the one who provides the best experience. More experience could mean a higher price at the negotiating table, selling in less time, and with less hassles along the way.
Failing to take the first offer seriously. Many sellers believe that the first offer received will be one of many to come, hoping to hold out for a higher price, especially if the offer comes in soon after the home is listed. Often the first offer ends up being the best buyer, and many sellers have had to accept far less money than the initial offer much later on in the selling process. Homes are most saleable early in the marketing period.

Using the "Hard Sell" during showings. Buying a home is an emotional decision, and buyers are looking to see if a house is comfortable for them. Good realtors let the buyers discover the home's features on their own, pointing out only features they are sure are important to them. Many sales are lost by overselling when buyers think they are paying for features that are not important to them.

Not knowing your rights and obligations. The contract you sign to sell your property is a complex and legally-binding document. An improperly written contract can allow the purchaser to void the sale, or cost you thousands of unnecessary dollars. Have your realtor fully explain the contract or have your lawyer review it before acceptance

Home Seller Tips

Home Seller Tips

The key to selling your home is effective presentation. Like a person, first impressions and "curb appeal" are critical.

Curb Appeal. A home should be attractive as soon as visitors drive up and walk to the front door. There are ways to enhance curb appeal: keep your lawn cut, trim the edges, plant flowers and shrubs, and keep the flower beds weed-free. To make the house itself better looking, wash the windows, paint the eaves troughs and trim, keep the yard litter and leaf-free. If you are out of town while the home is listed, hire a service to maintain the garden and plants (indoor as well as out).

Keep it uncluttered. Inside the home, there are simple things that enhance a buyer's interest. "Job One" is keeping it tidy: this makes the house look more spacious and better-maintained. Clean the carpets, and wash the light fixtures, ceilings and walls (especially if you have pets). A fresh paint job will make the house feel new, especially in a smoker's home. Store any seasonal items or extra toys to reduce clutter. If you need help with repairs or renovations, your real estate agent can recommend good but affordable professionals for the tasks.

Focus on the Bathroom and kitchen. Buyers, especially women, will take a close look at the bathroom and the kitchen. These are the two rooms where women at home spend most of the time. Fix up the grout or caulking in the bathroom beforehand. Consider painting cupboards and re-tiling floors, counters, and walls in the kitchen.

Before the visit. When someone is scheduled to visit your home, turning on all the lights. Try to keep the home reasonably vacant, so the home buyer is free to comfortably look around. Bake a loaf of bread or a cake, light candles, or dab vanilla extract on light fixtures to create a pleasant scent in your home. Most buyers only take three minutes to look at a home. If you make a good first impression, and show a neat and well-maintained home, your odds for a sale improve dramatically. While some improvements may cost money up front, they may dramatically improve your selling price. Your realtor will provide you with recommendations to help improve your net selling price.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

For Sale By Owner Horror Stories

From Jerry Fowlers Web Site


Four years ago, Henry and Mary Langley bought their first home. They loved it and planned to live there about 10 or 15 years and then move out to the lake. But nearly a year ago Henry's employer offered him a transfer to another city. Henry wasn't given much of an option. It was either transfer now or receive no advancement in his present job. Henry's company did not offer a buy-out provision, so the Langleys would be responsible for the sale of their home.

Henry and Mary asked three agents to perform a comparative market analysis on their home. The results were discouraging. Because they had been in the home such a short time, the Langleys had not realized much appreciation in their home's value, so if they sold through a Realtor they would have to pay the commission out of their own pockets. They decided to try the For-Sale-by-Owner route.

Everything proceeded smoothly at first. Several lookers stopped by, but the seventh family to see the house fell in love with it and made an offer. The offer was lower than Henry and Mary had expected, but time was running out so they decided to accept it. In writing the offer, the purchasers had used a blank form they'd found in an office supply store. The Langleys never thought to have an attorney review it. If they had, the attorney would have advised them to add a financing contingency clause, which would have let the Langleys out of the contract if the buyers couldn't get financing within a certain number of days.

The house was to close in 90 days. When weeks passed and the Langleys hadn't heard from the purchasers, they began to worry. Henry finally called his buyers, who told him they'd been turned down by the first bank. Still the buyers were optimistic they could get the loan from their credit union. Later that same day a buyer dropped by because someone in the neighborhood had told him the house was for sale. This person offered the Langleys full price in cash for their house with closing in one week. Once again, Henry called the buyers and told them he'd received another offer, but the purchasers remained adamant that they could get financing. They refused to release the Langleys from their contract. Because there was no financing contingency, the Langleys could do nothing but wait - 60 more days to be exact. Unfortunately the second buyer needed to find a home within two weeks. The Langleys called the first purchasers almost daily but they wouldn't give up on trying to get a loan. Finally the 60 days passed, but the generic contract contained an extension clause allowing the purchasers an additional 30 days if financing had not been finalized by the original close date. Another 30 days passed and finally Henry and Mary could sell their house to the cash buyer. There was just one problem. The cash buyer had already bought a house. The Langleys had wasted four months because they wanted to save that commission. It was now time for them to move, so they were forced to list the house anyway. It's now been six months - that's six months after the four wasted months - and the Langleys still don't have a contract on their home. They're renting in their new city and waiting, waiting, waiting...

Lesson Learned
What Henry and Mary should have done was to have a Realtor or attorney review that contract before signing it. Real estate professionals will keep you out of trouble. In this case a financing contingency clause would have permitted the Langley's to move forward immediately when the buyers' loan was turned down. They could then have sold their home to the cash buyer. Please ladies and gentleman, if you're selling your own home there are more than 90 things that need to be done to get your house closed, any one of which could stop your sale cold if not performed properly. Consult a Realtor or real estate attorney before playing with the largest investment you'll ever make.


John's house had been on the market for three months and he hadn't gotten a single offer to purchase. Finally, one day Henry drove up and offered John a long-term rental agreement. Henry was a traveling salesman and needed to move to this town to be centrally located within his sales area. Henry was very nicely dressed, drove a respectable car and talked very professionally. Because Henry was on the road so much of the time, he wanted to simplify the move for his family by paying John a security deposit and six months' advance rent. He also wanted to sign a three-year rental agreement. Needless to say John was excited. He didn't really want to sell and a three-year rental agreement from such a professional was a dream come true. Henry signed the agreement, advanced the money and John headed to the bank. That is when the real estate horror story began.

As soon as Henry gained control of the house, he placed a for-sale ad in the paper, advertising the home for an unbelievably low price. In fact the price was so low Henry received hundreds of calls. Henry scheduled dozens of showings. Each time, he would give the person a real sob story about how he had lost his wife and family in an accident the previous year. Henry told everyone that he was being forced to give up thousands of dollars of equity in order to pay bills resulting from the accident. He then convinced the buyer to give him a $2,000 earnest money deposit to hold the house. The buyer's greedy nature told him he would never find another deal like this and he gladly forked over the $2,000. In fact, 30 buyers put up $2,000 each. With $60,000 in cash, Henry split, leaving behind 30 contracts for sale on John's house. Can you image the horrible situation John faced when the buyers' attorneys tracked him down? What do you do? I'm sure the title companies are having fun with this one. How could you stop this from happening to you?

Lesson Learned
If someone wants to advance you a large up-front deposit and pay the rent in advance, be very suspicious. Ask for three credit references and check them. Get referrals from the renter's previous landlord and verify that he is moving in immediately. Make sure the water and utility accounts are transferred into his name. Ride by your property often and inspect it. If you see a lot of unusual activity, investigate. Just remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.


This is a true story about Mark and Rebecca. They listed their house for sale and received a contract seven weeks later. The contract specified that the buyer would take possession of the house on the day of closing. Mark and Rebecca found a new house, which they were to close on the same day as their old house. Both transactions proceeded smoothly and everything was set for closing. The first home closed without a hitch. On the new house, however, the attorney informed them when they arrived that there was a problem with the title. It seems 40 or 50 years ago a relative of a previous seller had claimed that part of the property had been stolen from her and she now wanted her property back. BIG problem! To complicate matters, the house was now being handled by a third-party relocation company. Not being able to obtain title insurance for the lender would stop this sale. The attorney called the relocation company to see if Mark and Rebecca could move into the house on a rental basis with a hold-harmless agreement. The answer was no. And thus the horror began. Mark and Rebecca were homeless. How long would it take to resolve the problem? Where would they go? What could they do? They approached the purchasers of their old home to see if they could move back in temporarily but got another no. As it turned out they kept their furniture on a truck and rented a motel room for three weeks. Luckily, they were able to resolve the title problem within that three weeks. Often, title problems will take months to solve.

Lesson Learned
What could they have done to avoid this situation? I don't understand why some attorneys wait until the last possible minute to search the title. If the attorney had done the title search as soon as the contract was signed, the horror of this story would have been greatly minimized. Before you close on your existing house, call your attorney and make sure everything is in order for your new house. Ask if he's done the title search and make sure there is nothing pending that might halt the closing.


This is a story about a man here in Columbia. We'll call him Johnson. Johnson had his house on the market for nine months at a price of $12,000 more than the market value. Why? Well Johnson said that's what he needed to be able to move to his new home. Of course his house didn't sell. Johnson then contacted another company and this time was lucky. His new agent knew the market very well. She listed his house at what it was really worth. She staged the house to get it ready to show and put it on the market.

Johnson told his Realtor there was a termite bond on the house and the termite company had just re-inspected the house and there were no problems. Three weeks later an offer can in but was $5,000 below the listed price. Johnson thought about the offer very seriously and decided to accept because he really needed to move.

The buyer was pre-approved and everything looked great. Seven days from closing Johnson's agent helped him order the termite letter. Upon inspection the termite company discovered termites. Although Johnson claimed he had a termite bond, he really didn't. The bond had expired two years ago. The termite company that had just visited his house was simply one that sprayed for bugs on a monthly basis. The termites were so bad that they were in the walls and had eaten severely on the seals below the house. In addition Johnson needed French drains to get water out from underneath the house. The entire situation cost Johnson almost $10,000.

Lesson Learned
Had Johnson known about the problem beforehand, he could have held to the full price rather than accepting the lower offer. That, of course, would have helped. He also would have had more time to shop for better prices on the repairs. The pre-inspection is absolutely necessary even if you have a bond. Then if you find problems, you'll have more time to correct them.

Monday, September 19, 2005

First Post for Home Seller Tips

I found this great article on how to choose a Realtor. I will make more posts about this very thing in the days and weeks to come.

Purchasing a property, either as an investor or as a prospective homeowner can be one of the most exhilarating and frightening experiences of your life. In both situations it is imperative that you find just the right property at the right price. With so many options to choose from it can quickly become overwhelming. Start with Credit Unions to help you make the most of this exciting purchasing process.

Searching for the right property can be exhausting. Not only do you have to keep a price range in mind but you also must search out the elements of neighborhoods that are important to you. Choosing the right realtor makes a difference between chaos and calm.

There are a few tips that you should keep in mind when choosing a realtor. Considering the fact that you are making a major investment, it’s important that you locate a realtor you will feel comfortable working with. You will need to find a realtor who is competent and professional, as well as knowledgeable and who respects your time and the fact that you are committing to a serious investment.

Although consumers are generally unaware of this fact; realtors are generally classified as either seller realtors or buyer realtors. This means that they must represent the best interests of one or the other. Far too often individuals who are searching for properties select a realtor and believe that person will just naturally take their best interests into consideration. This is not always the case because most realtors, unless they specify, are actually seller agents. This means that their primary goal is to obtain the best deal possible for the seller. If you are looking to purchase a home and want to choose a realtor who will represent your best interest you should look for a buyer agent. If the realtor does not specify, chances are they are a seller agent.

After determining whether a realtor is a buyer or a seller agent, your next step will be to check out the realtor’s background. Obviously, all realtors are governed by the regulations of their state and must meet certain licensing requirements but you will need to check on information above and beyond this. Look for someone who specializes in the type of property that interests you. If you are looking for commercial property, why work with a realtor who has no experience in commercial property? You may also consider working only with a realtor who has experience in the specific neighborhood or community that interests you.

How much experience should the ideal realtor possess? Well, it depends. Relatively new realtors are often hard hitting and will put in quite a bit of time and effort in order to make a sale. The downside to a new realtor is that they simply may not have the experience and knowledge necessary to find the right property for you. On the other hand, more experienced realtors are often quite busy and may not have the time to devote to all your needs.

Finally, look for a realtor that has good communication skills. It can be difficult to find the right property if you feel you cannot even communicate to your realtor the features you really need or want in a property. And above all; look for a realtor who has a trustworthy reputation. Integrity says far more about any professional than any other trait-even experience.

Nicole Soltau is the President and Founder of

The Leading Credit Union Directory. Search, Find, Join.

Article Source: