6 Insider Secrets for Open House Prep

The most common tips for preparing a home for an open house is the usual clean, repair, stage, spruce, and deodorize. Beyond these mimimums there are better tips that most people never consider. These tips will ensure you home is looking like the hottest house on the market. 

1. Look at other open houses in your neighborhood, city, and price range.

     Going to look at other homes gives you an idea how other homes are stacking up against your home. You will get to see how other homes are laid out in terms of viewing, cleanliness, household items, etc. Going to other open houses will let you see how a potential buyer would view your house. So take notice what other homes are doing and try to imporve yours.

2. Move.

     Pack up all your belongings (personal) and move them out of the house. None of your personal items should be visible in an open house. People in an open house do open closests, drawers, etc. so you may want to consider renting a storage unit for your time on the market.

3. Tell the neighbors to come over.

     Do you know your neighbors real well? Do they come over for dinner or parties on special occassions? Well if they don't there's a good chance they may be a bit nosy and interested in how you live. Your neighbors are probably aware of who wants to live in the neighborhood, and who they want to live there. Go ahead and invite them for the open house, it won't hurt anyone or anything.

4. Enlist the neighbors.

     Incase your neighbors are planning to move in the future, they want your home to seel for as much as possbile. If your home sells for a good price, it will increase the value of their home as well. Since you've already invited your neighors you should make sure they can help out as well. They can do helpful things like make sure cars aren't parked in the street in front of your home, and not letting...

Four Buyer Incentives that Sell Homes`

In today's market one can easily find themselves to be stuck in several ways. A family finds themselves stuck with their house on the market with no bites, and stuck in their house until they sell. There's also the feeling of stuck where you've lowered your price as far as you can without having it turn into a short sale. You've already painted the house, replaced the carpet, and lowered the price as far as possible; now this is the feeling of stuck that makes you feel the situation is out of your control and there is nothing you can do to change the outcome. But here are four buyer incentive tips to guide you away from the feeling of being stuck and getting your home sold.

1. Interest rate buy-down

     'Pay points' is a term often heard from sellers offering a percentage points of the sale price. These percentage points are paid to the buyer's lender as discount points that bring the buyer's interest rate down. This will decrease the pressure they feel of guessing and locking their interest rates. They'll also feel they will beat the market rate by buying your home. Seller-paid rate buy-downs save sellers money on the monthly payment of the entire lifetime of the loan. Also these points are tax deductable for the buyer. 

2. Closing cost credit

     Most buyers that are trying to get into the market while prices are low are already finding it very difficult to come up with the money for the down payment. Most home loans require anywhere from 3-6 percent of the loan amount in cash, and the downpayment to cover other fees like closing costs. the smart sellers and their agents include their home's listing and marketing materials the offer to pay 3-6 percent of the home's sale price at the closing to void the closing costs. A closing credit cost gives an edge to buyers and makes a home much more attractive than its competitors. Your agent should help you crunch all the numbers on how much of a credit you...

Hiring a Firm to Take Care of Your Appeal

Hiring a firm to take care of your appeal process is another option not to be overlooked. However they have to option to take your case. If they choose to do so, they will charge a flat, upfront property-analysis fee and any other fees for filing.

Once both parties agree to take on the case, they will give you a copy of all the comparable-sales data they need to make the assessment. From there the appeal process is straightforward.

Since these firms know all the ins and outs they will most likely get you a better deal saving you time and money in court. You save this time and money because the process is filled with cumbersome paperwork and it must be accurate.

It's vitally important that you know your firm that is representing you because it could all unfold to be a scam. It is recommended to find local references and their credentials before signing a contract.

Within the last three years the Better Business Bureaureceived nearly 650 complaints across the nation about property-tax consultants. over half those complaints involved advertising and refund problems.


Appealing You Assessment

The key to a successful appeal of your property value is comparable sales in your area. Most states treat the process of appeal like a less formal court hearing. Property owners come in and present their case to local officials providing evidence that their property has been incorrectly valued. the provide evidence in terms of square footage, number of rooms, amenities, and neighborhood characteristics. It is important to bring photos of your home and the legal documents required. 

There are several ways to check sales in your area, like the newspaper, local real-estate broker, or contacting your local assessor. the biggest mistake you could make when doing this is going on websites that state the numbers of homes sold and how much they went for. These websites' figures aren't official and will not stand up in court.

The best type of sale you can be involved in is an 'arm's length' sale which is one where neither party knows the other. If one party in a sale knows the other it could end up in a lower value and won't be accepted in an appeal. Check for the same last names on sales documents to find out if it is an 'arm's length' sale or not. 

The appeal board will question a house that sells too quickly in a weak market. This means the seller sold his/her property in a hurry and it would't stand next to the comparable sales. A good trick is using forclosed homes, because it still counts of they are the only homes sold in your area.

Assessors choose specific dates to come measure your home, which could possibly be several months before you receive your assessment notice.

The weak housing market makes it obvious that people are not selling their homes, making it difficult in some places to find comparable prices.

If this is your problem, you may want to hire a professional appraiser to value your home, normally ranging from $350-$600. Also appraisers charge by the hour when asked to be at an appeal hearing.

Next blog...

Checking Your Assessment

This is a follow up from the last posting about checking your assessments. Appealing your assessment could increase your property value by large amounts. Here is how to check your assessment.

Typically the period to appeal your assessment is 10-30 days. depending on your local governement. It's best to figure out the actual timeframe by calling your local assessment office. Once you have figured out the proper time frame, you need to review what is called the 'property record card' which is a summary of the characteristics of your home. Make sure each room is accounted for with no mistakes. Each extra added room drives up the value of your home. If you have recently added new additional features to your home, bec cautious of an appeal because it will drive the value up. If you feel that your property is overvalued by a few thousand dollars, then it is worth the appeal process. However, repeated flooding, leaky roof, constant breaks in floors, etc will have the effect of decreasing the value of your home, so make sure your assessor has accounted for all these. 

That's all for checking your assessment, but next time I will guide you through the actual process of appealing your assessment. Stay tuned for tomorrows new article.


How to Avoid Financial Pitfalls

How to Avoid Financial Pitfalls

Buying a house is a long-term financial obligation. Legal documents must be filled out and signed, and the responsibilites are understood so you don't become a victim of fraud.

When applying for a loan on your house the information you submit must be complete and accurate, and if it isn't, it is considered fraud.

there are individuals who will try to persuade you to lie about your qualifications so they receive income at your expense. These people look like they're trying to help and be your friend; however they are only downplaying the seriousness of complying with the law. Don't let yourself be fooled by these people because they claim they are just rules everyone ignores, but they are just cutting the edges and trying to earn a profit. Here are some tips to avoid being caught in a financial pitfall.

Be Smart- Don't sign anything unless you have read and completely understand the document. Do not sign any blank documents. It is very important to properly and honestly report your income, assets, debts, and employment. Refuse to buy property or borrow money from anyone. The disclosure of loans isn't a formality, its the law, so you have the right to know.

Be Honest- Do not change your income tax returns under any circumstances. Tell the entire truth about money gifts. Do not list fake money borrows on your loan application. It is important to be truthful about credit issues, past and present. Be honest about your intention to occupt the house. Lastly, do not provide false documentation.

Don-t be Discouraged- Obstacles may appear as you submit your loan application. Not to worry, everything will be fine and you will figure out how to resolve these problems. If your application is rejected, you need to find what the problem is and how it can be resolved. Possibly look for a less expensive house or save more money for your down payment. Also check around...

How Much of a House Can You Afford?

How Much of a House Can You Afford?

The most important element of buying a house is trying to figure out how much you can actually afford. You do this by looking at your budget, credit reports, credit reports and scores. Once this is all figured out, you need to save as much money as possible for a down payment, closing costs, home inspections, and anything else that would be an expense in the process.

Getting ready financially could take months or even years. Your credit score will tell you a lot about how long it will take. If your score is lower than preferred, you may need to take some time to build it up. If your score is below 620, lenders will see you as a risky borrower, and are less likely to loan money to you or give you a high interest rate. However, if you do qualify for a low interest rate, you will be saving a great deal of money over the life of the loan. Good luck figuring out how much of a house you can afford!


Seven Deadly Sins of Overpricing

Seven Deadly Sins of Over Pricing

Overpricing your home can have several consequencesto your potential buyers. it can limit the number of potential buyers who can't afford your home, reduce showings, and create an impression in the marketplace that homeowners aren't serious about selling their home. The last pitfall to overpricing is the beginning of homeowners reducing their price several times trying to catch up to the real market value. Let us take a look at the seven deadly sins of overpricing your home.

1. Appraisal Problems- Say you do find a buyer willing to pay the inflated price; the truth is over 90% of buyers use some type of financing to pay for their home purchase. The sale will most likely fail if the home won't appriase for the purchase price.

2. NO Showings- People looking to buy homes aren't idiots. they are familiar with the real estate market and will not even bother to look at a house much less make an offer if they know the price is too high.

3. Branding Problems- When every agent in the city finds that brand new listing to see if it is a good fit for their clients; the 'overpriced' brand takes a lot of extra effort to reignite interest in the property.

4. Selling the Competition- Low prices appear as bargains, but nothing is worse than watching your neighbor put up a 'Sold' sign right next to your 'For Sale' sign.

5. Stagnation- The longer a home sits on the market, the more it looks like it's stale. Do you ever notice a home that been for sale forever? Do you ever wonder what is wrong with that home? That house could be your house if it is overpriced.

6. Tougher Negotiations- Difficult negotiations may come about because the home has been on the market for so longand because it is overpriced compared to the competition.

7. Lost oppritunities- Being overpriced is gaurenteed to lose...

8 Signs You're Ready to Buy a House

How do you know when you’re ready to buy a home? This checklist will make the question black and white for the first-time home buyer. These eight steps must be settled before a first-time home buyer considers buying a house.


1. Establish a budget and know how to use it-This step focuses on money management skills, because when owning a new home, money management is a must. First, make yourself a budget (if you don’t already have one) and know where the money comes from and where it goes every month. Knowing this will tell you what is affordable and what isn’t.


After your financial situation is sorted, create yourself a mock budget for owning   a home.  Find out the cost of houses in the area, and the monthly mortgage rate. Next add in higher utility bills, homeowners insurance, property taxes, homeowners association fees, maintenance and repair costs. Consider adding in commuting costs if the commute to work is rather long. If this mock budget doesn’t balance, and within a few months your finances are dwindling, then it is not the time to purchase a home. Do not buy!


2. Have a sizeable down payment- Normally a 20% down payment of the house price will be enough to get started. It is possible to get around that 20%, but those options will cost greatly. In a slow housing market, the down payment will establish some equity incase an unprecedented move is in the future.


3. Have a reliable source of income- Owning a home is a long-term investment requiring a consistent flow of cash to pay for monthly payments and other expenses. If you’re in school, act as if you’re going back to school, have a family, and an unreliable job. Once a reliable job is in place, calculate if the payments could be paid in six months, or six years from now. Some couples can afford a house when they’re both working, but when a child comes and...

Four Steps to Minimize the Risk of Owning A Home

Four steps to minimize the risk of owning a home.
Years ago owning a home used to be considered a safe investment, but now it seems terrifying becuase of the damaged economy and flimsy housing market. Possible homeowners are now scared of making a commitment to such a large investment in fear of a mortgage disaster or buying a lemon. Here are four steps that will keep your confidence lifted when buying a home.
1. Stick with a fixed-rate mortgage- Even though fixed-rate mortgages are usually higher, they are gaurenteed to never change throughout the lifetime of your loan. This fixed rated eliminates the possible scary payment changes. Even though ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) are increasingly popular the interest rates are increasing. The rate was 9% in the fourth quarter of 2010, and jumped up to 12% in the first quarter of 2011. With a fixed-rate mortgage there is no fear of having your rates jump and trying to find extra money to pay your loan.  You don't have to live in an interest rate obsession for the next 15, 20, 30 years because a fixed-rate mortgage gives you the predictablility of what your monthly payment will be, and that is why it is the best plan.
2. Put - and keep - a home warranty in place- the transition from renter to homeowner is a tall order in the first time homeowners mind. There are a lot of concerns with responsiblity and appliance maintence. A home warranty plan kicks in when escrow closes, depending on your plan, and will cover your home against breakdowns of major appliances like a water heater. There are even upgradable plans for roof leaks and plumbing issues. Just call the warranty company when an item breaks down and they will...

Questions to Ask your Listing Agent Beforehand

1. Will my property be advertised on websites. Which ones?

2. Will there be a visual tour of the property? Online?

3. Do you put properties on classified websites like Craigslist etc?

4.  Does your agency provide a VoicePad or similar service for drive by lead capture information?

5. How is the property marketed to other buyer agents? How do you get feedback?

6. How will I be communicated with regarding showings, feedback and marketing?

7. What is the phone number buyers or agents call. Who answers?

8. Will the property have a website of it's own?

9. If the buyer leaves a voice mail or e mail for more info who responds and how quickly?

10. What other marketing activities will there be?

11. Does your company have a website? Will my property be feature listed?

These are extremely important questions for today's difficult housing market. If the prospective agent hesitates on these questions you may want to interview further. A good agent may not do all of these but he should do 90%.