Saturday, January 14, 2006

Getting PreQualified for your mortgage

It is important that you understand the basic difference between being "pre-qualified" or "pre-approved" by a mortgage lender as you are looking for a home to purchase. A pre-qualification is not the same as pre-approval. The buyer, seller, and agents involved in the transaction need have the same agreement regarding the buyer's ability to close the purchase.

Your realtor will want you to talk with a mortgage company as soon as possible. The reason is that the realtor needs to know the top price range you can afford and housing expense you are comfortable with. It also helps your realtor when presenting an offer to the seller's agent to show that you have taken steps to approval. It may very well help persuade the seller to accept your offer. In many housing markets the pre-qualification or pre-approval letter is accepted as part of the purchase presentation to the seller's agent.

When you are speaking with a loan officer to be pre-qualified you are giving information about your financial condition. The loan officer will also ask questions regarding your credit. There may even be a credit bureau drawn to see where you stand. Then the loan officer will give you an opinion of how much you can afford based on the information you have told that person. This is not a commitment to make the loan! You should be given a letter that states the pre-qualified mortgage amount and type of loan. It should state further that loan approval could be issued after the information you gave is verified & formally underwritten.

When you receive a pre-approval it has more weight than a pre-qualification. The pre-approval letter will give the maximum loan amount with the specific details of the total mortgage. It should have only conditions such as clear title report, underwritten appraisal, general closing conditions and no negative change in your status as a buyer.

If you are serious about buying a home, and you are satisfied with the mortgage company, you should get as solid a pre-approval as you can. You don't want any surprises along the way.

About the Author

Bill Wehr has been in home loan origination for over 25 years. He is the owner of Great Pacific Northwest Mortgage , a residential mortgage company serving Oregon and Washington.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Interviewing Realtors

When it is time to pick a Realtor then it is also time to interview. The best way to choose a Realtor is to have a few com in and tell you what your house is worth and what they will do for you. Here is a good start.

When you are ready to select a REALTOR®, here are a few questions you can ask.

Make sure the REALTOR® presents a "listing presentation" to you. This presentation should answer many of these questions. If you will need a buyer's agent, also make sure everything is explained up front.

  • How long have you been a REALTOR®? Full or part time?

  • What professional organizations do you belong to?

  • Do you have a valid Department of Real Estate License?

  • What is your responsibility to me as your client?

  • Do you represent both buyers and sellers at the same time? If so, Who's best interest are you looking out for?

  • How will you keep me informed of new listings that I may be interested in?

  • What does the listing agreement entail, what are the beginning and expiration dates, and what are the fee amounts I will be paying?

  • Is there a charge or contract when working with buyers? (Some brokers/agents DO have contracts and fees)

  • What is your marketing philosophy? Ask for their complete marketing plan A-Z.

  • What can the Realtor's company do for you? What is their company's share of the local market? Are they part of a large or world wide referral network?

  • What types of things separate you from your competition and will you give me some feedback? How effectively will they advertise? Do they have 24-hour advertising capability?

  • What disclosure laws apply to me and what do I need to be aware of?

  • How does the Realtor market to other Realtors?

  • Are they a Realtor or a Real Estate agent? (There is a difference)

  • Does the Realtor have a strong internet presence? If not, why? Will your home have enough exposure for all potential buyers to view? (85% of buyers go to the internet first)

Cecilia Sherrard is a full time dedicated Realtor in Northeast Ohio. With years of experience and knowledge, she has maintained a multi-million dollar producer status.

Servicing areas such as: Westlake, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Rocky River, Cleveland, Brook Park, Parma, etc. Visit her website at

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

How to sell as a FSBO

This article is written by a Realtor knowing full well that most people that try to sell on their own end up using a Realtor if they have to sell. great tips for the do it your selfer.

Do you know that homeowners across the country sell their own homes every day? It is true that 80% of Fsbo’s’ end up listing with a real estate agent. But with these 7 easy steps you can save thousands of dollars for you and your family.

1.Determine Your Market Value: Some of leading edge real estate brokers offer a free over-the-net home evaluation. Online; city and county tax records,, bank on line home evaluation tools. Local legal business newspapers.

2.Preparing Your Home To Sell: The idea is to have the best home on the market in your price range. Hire a home inspector; get all repairs complete, spruce up landscape add fresh mulch, flowers. Clean windows, touch up painting. Move to storage all extra furniture clothes garage/basement stored items.

3.Make The Most Of Low Cost Real Estate Brokers: Discount or minimum service real estate brokers (some are internet based) offer a low cost option to place your home in the MLS at $200 to $500 it’s a steal. Pay the extra charges for additional photos and virtual tours these will place your home higher on the web page searches.

4.FSBO Marketing & Advertising: Get an 800# call capture system a pre recorded message to capture buyer information, use it on all signs and ads. Advertise in newspapers only on the major real estate ad day. Open houses piggyback on area realtor open houses.

5.FSBO Paperwork: Hire a real estate attorney. Mortgage brokers will qualify your buyers. The State Real Estate Commission has all the required forms. Title companies/closing attorneys handle all the closing paperwork.

6.Working With Real Estate Agents: Buyers Agent, the fastest way to sell is to co-operate with real estate buyers agents. Offer to co-broke, co-operate or broker protect for a quicker sale. Cost is normally 2 ½% to 3% of sale price sometimes you can get as low as 1 ½ % to 2% if the agent sees a quick easy deal. You can save this money by selling yourself, weigh the cost benefits of a quicker sale versus 2 to 3 months more on the market.

7.Close And Move On: Buyer selects closing attorney, Title Company, Mortgage Company, Survey engineer and pest control inspector. Your job is to have a marketable title be legally able to transfer the property, complete all agreed on repairs, move out (leave a clean home), sign all necessary paperwork, grab your check and move on.

There are costs to sell your home properly and quickly. In the end a savings of 3% on a $275,000.00 home is $8,250.00 in your pocket a nice prize for not a lot of effort. It’s a good start toward your daughter or sons college tuition next year.

Bill Carey with over 30 years in real estate sales, investments, and home building offers a unique perspective to the buying and selling process of residential real estate for F*R*E*E consumer information and reports log on to and see "Insider Real Estate Secrets Revealed" ...a must-read for Home-Owners and Renters! It's a F*R*E*E 12-lesson e-course covering more than 20 topics exposing the realities behind buying and selling a home. It Could Make(or Save) You Thousands of Dollars

See and sign up for our monthly e-newsletter with tips for buyers, sellers, home owners and soon to be home owners.

(Your Comments are Welcome)
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Should you use a Realtor

This is the first article on choosing a Realtor. The first question you should ask yourself is whether you should choose a Realtor or sell yourself as a for sale by owner. Although I was once a Realtor I want to make sure I give balanced information. This article is why you should choose a Realtor. The next article will be why you should sell yourself.

When it comes time to sell your home, should you try to sell it on your own, or should you list it with a licensed Realtor? Consider the following factors to help you decide:

Realtors, or real estate agents, are part of an office of agents, and each of them knows of buyers that are currently in the market for a home. Their buyers are pre-qualified, that is, they have already seen a lender and have qualified for a loan so the buyer knows exactly how much they can afford, and the Realtor does too. In many areas, a realtor won’t even show homes to a buyer until they pre-qualify. The process saves a lot of wasted time on everybody’s part.

Contrast this with the prospect of you putting up a “For Sale” sign in your front yard, and having to deal with people that will be calling you to talk about your house and want to walk through it, even though they don’t have the resources to actually buy it. In the end, they are just wasting your time.

Realtors also have contact with many people from out of town who are relocating to your area. Each realtor in town gets contacted frequently through their website, by people that are looking for a home by long-distance. They may be coming to town soon to look at available homes for a few days. The Realtor lines up a number of homes for them to tour that fit their criteria. One of them could be yours. But, if you FSBO, that potential buyer won’t know your house is on the market until they get to town, if then.

A real estate agent will be able to assist in setting the right price to list your home, according to the current market conditions.

A real estate agent is a trained professional who will spend the necessary amount of time it may take to get your home SOLD.

The agent understands and will take care of all the necessary paperwork to complete the buying process. The agent will also act as a liaison between you and the inspectors, the buyer’s agent, and between attorneys, if they are involved.

Most buyers prefer to deal with a real estate agent because the agent will give them the unbiased professional opinion on a house, and how it stacks up against other houses on the market.

Agents understand all the different types of loans and financing options. They can provide information to buyers about local lending institutions to fit their needs.

Realtors have many ways to advertise your home, not just a newspaper ad and a “For Sale” sign in the yard. They also utilize the following ways to advertise a home:
The Multiple Listing Service Open Houses Web sites like and Yahoo Real Estate Direct mail Newspaper inserts Regional Real Estate Magazines Cable TV Word of mouth through Realtor “Caravans” where 30 or more Realtors will tour your home and then match it to their prospective buyers.

How much of this marketing muscle will you be able to flex if you FSBO?

Agents have expertise to help you get your home in top shape before your prospective buyers arrive. They can help you “stage” your home to look more like a model home that would appeal to a larger group of buyers. They know how to emphasize and focus on your homes good points.
If you FSBO you will be learning the process as you go, a costly education when you are trying to sell your own home.

With all the time, knowledge, effort, and paperwork it takes to sell a home, you should partner with a Realtor and save yourself the headaches and frustration. Hire a Professional!

Vicki Walker is a Realtor serving clients in the Northern California towns of Davis and Woodland. You can find more great information by visiting her two websites Selling a Home in Davis or Woodland California Real Estate.
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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Showcasing your home to sell

OK, I know we have almost kicked this one to death but I found one last article on how to get your home ready to sell. It is a short one but is a good final walk through before you choose your Realtor...or not? I will get to picking Realtors next.

by: W. Troy Swezey

One of the great challenges to selling a home can be showing all of its space, decor and natural light potential. For example, every home has crowded closets and dead space. Sellers should be aware that areas such as these are easy to spruce-up with a little elbow grease and old-fashioned innovation.

Begin by evaluating your closet/storage space, determine which areas can cut-down in clutter. Go through old clothes, shoes, etc., and get rid of anything that will not be used and in turn create more space. Consider organizing shelves and other areas to make better use of your storage space, including your garage and basement. Also, try to throw out or give away any old furniture that is no longer of use. All of the discarded items can be given to Good Will, Salvation Army or even sold at a yard sale.

Although most sellers keep their homes clean and well-decorated, it can be difficult to convince a buyer of a home's potential when clutter is noticeable. As brokers, it's our responsibility to offer any tips that will expedite the sale and make the experience more enjoyable for the seller.
Once you've eliminated the unwanted items and furniture, begin the 'renovation' process. For non-storage spaces that could use a little more decor, consider adding a small bookshelf complemented with a cozy reading chair. Always be sure you're filtering as much light into your property as possible. Open or replace curtains. For example, light from a window overlooking the backyard offers a room more color, a great view and the illusion of more space.

Always maximize the potential of existing decor; wash old curtains, re-stain old wood casings, anything that refreshes and emphasizes all the potential of the space and decor of the home.
Prospective buyers are often more drawn to homes with features that they don't have, those with clutter-free closets, open sunny rooms, and cozy little corners. To ensure you've realized all of the above characteristics the last step should be to bring in a friend and observe their reaction. Make sure it's an honest friend, who will offer suggestions as well as notice the improvements. Seeing your own home through someone else's eyes is a great way to make a home optimally attractive and more sellable to prospective buyers.

Be diligent in your efforts and be sure the renovations improve the aesthetic appeal of the home. All the hard work will be worth the reward of a successful sale.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

How to get a 30 year old home sold

Here are some great tips on what to do with a 30 year old home to get it to sell for top dollar.

Your home is not in great shape, 30 years old and it looks every day of it. There are some things you must do just to get rid of it, why not do a little more and make some money on the deal. 7 fix ups to help you sell fast and get top dollar.

1)Flooring – Ceramic tile if in good condition consider cleaning and staining the grout for a new fresh look. Replace carpet and padding use good quality not high end. Vinyl flooring if not newer replace. Hardwood floors scratched dull no shine refinish.

2)Curb Appeal – Dress up the landscape add mulch at all planting areas shape into curved borders, use to cover around all trees spread wide and cover bare areas. The mulch will help define the landscape, add flowers and shrubs, cut and edge lawn. Keep trim and turn mulch for fresh appearance.

3)Appliances and Mechanical Systems – If your appliances are more than 10 years old replace them they don’t work efficiently and are way out of style. No need to buy high end but they must be high style. Match all kitchen appliances pick a contemporary look. No doubt the mechanical systems are big ticket items a 30 year old a/c unit must go, air handler unit compare cost of refurbish versus replacement. Water heater should have been replaced 10 years earlier if not replace.

4)Exterior Problems – Roof is way past its life span (the buyers home inspector or Bank appraiser will require it to be replaced, so why not do it before at a cost you can negotiate) replace roof use Architectural grade shingles costs more in material but the labor is the same. Replace any damaged or rotted wood including decks and porches. Repaint exterior siding, trim, windows and shutters.

5)Doors and Windows – Make sure every one is operating properly it is well worth the cost to have a contractor come in and make everything work. New window balances, locks, replace broken and fogged glass, adjust all doors, thresholds, and locksets. Patio sliders always are misaligned replace rollers for better operation, install new screen.

6)Kitchens and Baths – Your counter tops are beat up replace or refinish. Wood cabinets can be repainted or refinished, change out hardware new door handles and drawer pulls. Replace faucets with new contemporary look. Check light fixtures there are great low cost designer fixtures at the big box stores.

7)Walls and Ceilings - Repaint every room paint walls and trim in complementary neutral 2-color. Paint ceilings white. Paint all doors both sides same as trim. Make house as fresh and new as possible.

Every item on this list will affect your listing agent their market analysis and suggested list price of your home. They each will affect the buyer and the buyer’s agent in what the offer price will be. Even if they over look some items when the home inspector comes in they will nail every one of these repairs with an estimated cost of two to three times the actual cost you can negotiate.

This home in 30 year old condition will sell at 20% below the market with these fix ups as a top condition home with warranties you can get 10% to 15% above the market. A 35% difference and a great part of that stays in your pocket.

Bill Carey offers insights to the buying and selling process of residential real estate for F*R*E*E information and reports see"Insider Real Estate Secrets Revealed" ...a must-read for Home-Owners and Renters!It's a FREE 12-lesson e-course covering more than 20 topics exposing the realities behind buying and selling a home.It Could Make(or Save) You Thousands of Dollars