The RE/MAX Associates Louisville Real Estate Blog

The Right Way to Stage a Home for a Photo Shoot

First impressions last forever, and when it comes to selling your house, you only have one shot to impress the potential buyer. Their attention span only last a few seconds when scrolling through pictures, and if left unimpressed, they’ll gladly click to the next home. If you fail to stage your home properly you could lose out on a sale without ever knowing it.

Most buyers today search online first. Photos happen to be the primary factors in letting buyers decide which homes they like or dislike.  Once they see a home online they like, they’re more likely to ask to see it in person. Staging a home can be highly beneficial and can bring you a tremendous return on investment. There have been homes that look better staged than when families were living in them, which gives the home a little more value than they intended to sell it for.

Follow these home staging tips to help you in your sale.

Accessorize smartly

Accessorizing a room is quite easy, and gives it a fresh up-to-date look.  A new couch pillow, and some coffee table books or magazines can go a long way. Having tasteful art hanging above your fireplace and on your walls brings color to the rooms. For some reason, having an odd number of art pieces is better than having an even number.

Do not over-accessorize

Accessories are nice, but don’t over- do it. In this instance think, “less is more”. If you have too many books on a table, or too much art, it can really turn buyers off, making them feel cramped and cluttered. If you want to make it perfect, try organizing them by size and color. Professional home stagers will have a pile of items that they don’t want buyers to see, so take this stuff out of the home and into a storage unit or somewhere out of sight. Your home will look much more spacious without all this...

Louisville's Real Estate Outlook for 2016

The first two stages in the four stages of learning are: You don’t know you don’t know, and you know you don’t know. Knowing this, we can offer a little input to what is expected for the Louisville housing market this year.

Since inventory in Louisville isn’t available at every corner, it will probably be a sellers’ market. The absorption rate is measured by the rate at which available homes are sold in particular real estate marketing during a given period of time. You divide the total number of homes by the total number of sales for that month. The balanced market says the absorption rate is 6 months, and it doesn’t favor the buyer or the seller.

One main principle of economics is supply and demand, and in our case, if Louisville’s supply is low, the prices are higher. This does not account for homes hitting their appreciation limit. Homes are supposed to rise 3% in the next two years, but that all depends on the state of the national economy.

In December of 2015 the FED raised interest rates, which is a strong sign that the historically low interest rates are behind us. We surely don’t expect the rates to rise sky high, but most experts believe the rate will increase a quarter of a point every quarter, making it rise one point for the year.

This year’s housing market will largely depend on three groups, millennials, GenXers, and older baby boomers. The millennials make up a third of all home buyers, and they will continue to hold their place as a significant part of the conversation. The GenXers are entering the point in the lives when they are making real money, enough that they can afford big items. The older baby boomers are approaching, and some have hit, retirement. This group is looking to downsize and reduce their monthly expenditures.

We cannot separate the local housing market from the local economy holistically, because one is a significant part of the other. The positive...

7 Ways Buyers Can Compete with Investors

If you are in the market to buy a house and are worried if you can go toe-to-toe with real estate investors, worry no longer; there are multiple tools to gain to competitive edge. Investors main goal is to get a house for a great deal by offering all-cash offers, while submitting a lowball bid. If you can muster the funds to offer a realistic offer, be preapproved, and show this is your dream house, you can surely stand against them and win.

Offer strong

Buying a house more-than-not turns into a bidding war, and the simplest way to win, is to offer more money.  Cash buyers always want to offer less because they have cash. If you are competing with a cash offer, you will have to offer more than the competition, maybe even above the asking price.  

Don’t skimp on earnest money

The word “earnest” might seem a bit dated, but the concept it represents of “putting your money where your mouth is” will never grow old. This money is sent into your escrow account shortly after signing the purchase agreement, and will tell the seller you are serious. You stand apart because investors don’t often put down their earnest money, because their money is spread across multiple deals and they want to keep as much as they can on hand.  Usually this earnest money will cost you 1% of the purchase price, but it’s not uncommon for buyers to offer 3%.

Get a preapproval, or a pre-underwriting letter

Being preapproved for a loan is essential if you are competing with an all-cash buyer. Your lender will write you a preapproval letter stating you are qualified to borrow and certain amount of money. You can take it up a step by presenting a personalized letter from your mortgage adviser stating what great people you are.

To speed it up...

To Claim or Not to Claim, That is the Question

Disasters in your home happen when you are ready for them or not, but that is why you have homeowners insurance, and hopefully the premiums you pay will come in handy. What will happen when your pipes burst in your new home, or your roof falls in and destroys an entire room? You have two options, make a claim and risk having higher premiums, or tough it out and pay for it out of your pocket. How will you know which road to take? Let us help you.

Burst Pipes

This is one of the worst things that can happen to your home in the winter. The plumbing systems are exposed to the elements of outside, and with poor insulation this can do major damage to your home. Your pipes could explode leaving you with a hell of a mess. This is one example that you will have to use your insurance policy. There will be damaged wood, maybe floors, cabinets, and you will be staying in a hotel for the duration of the repair. If it’s a small PVC pip3e and a small leak, you can fix that by yourself, or have a contractor repair it.

Leaky Roof

Leaky roofs leave bold stain marks on ceilings or walls, and can be much more troublesome when ignored. Be sure to check your roof to make sure there’s not a huge hole. Most roofs are covered under your homeowners insurance, but the cause of the repair is typically out of pocket. This is one you may want to pay for yourself.

Damage from a natural disaster

Natural disasters are surely worth filing a claim. If your home is damaged by a tornado, tsunami, earthquake, forest fire, etc. assuming you have the proper coverage. If the damage is substantial then you won’t have a choice, because most people don’t have cash on hand to repair their entire home. If you have a small side of your house blown off, you can probably afford to fix it yourself....

5 Tax Deductions for Home Sellers

We all know the IRS sucks, and they’ll take however much they can get. The IRS doesn’t typically care about your home sale unless you profit drastically from it. On the other hand, the IRS will grant home sellers tax deductions. In order to receive this you must itemize your taxes, as tedious as it is, it will be worth it in the end. Here are five tax deductions you ca n take advantage of when selling your home.

  1. 1.       Selling costs

If you fail to qualify for the 121 exclusion, you will surely owe taxes on whatever profit you happen to gain. So be sure to deduct all selling costs from your gain. And you can (and should) deduct your real estate agent’s commission, legal fees, title insurance, inspection fees, advertising costs, and escrow fees.

You can also qualify for a partial exclusion if you must sell your home due to certain circumstances like divorce, health problems, change in employment, or any other drastic life changing event.

  1. 2.       Moving Deduction

Moving expenses are on the table to deduct if you have to relocate for work. This includes transportation costs, storage costs, and lodging costs.

  1. 3.       Property tax deduction

Deducting your property taxes for the year you owned the home is fair game! Deduct the taxes every day you lived there, but not of the day the home sold.

  1. Home improvement

Every home could use an improvement somewhere, unless it’s perfectly built, which is super rare. If you make an improvement that will help sell your home, like replacing the HVAC system, a new roof, or new plumbing,...

How to Buy a House with Bad Credit

Numbers can dictate the path of our lives whether they are real or superficial. The same way we need high GPA’s in high school to get into college, we need high credit scores to get a loan. It’s no secret life happens and people make mistakes with damaging effects to that score.

In today’s market, bad credit isn’t only a three digit number. It can be timing too, like overdue late charges, or a somewhat recent short sale or foreclosure. Here are a few ways to get around this life-report card in order to get a loan.

Save a large down payment

Buyers with a credit score of 580 or below will need a large down payment. IF you’ve got a score that’s a bit higher, you can use that large down payment to compensate for your score, meaning you will need a minimum of 20% down.

With a large down payment, you are telling the lender you have sizeable cash, despite what your credit history says. Your loan-to-value ratio is lowered, and you instantly have more equity than you would have with a lesser down payment. They want to see buyers with large down payments because the more they have invested in the home, the less likely they are to default, at least in theory. All this makes you less of a risk.

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5 Mortgage Misconceptions

 

At some point, we all will likely need a mortgage, but it doesn’t have to be a potential deal breaker. IF you are organized and have the right expectations, you won’t have a problem. While we are at it, let’s debunk some common mortgage myths.

Only your best credit scores are used in your loan approval

If you happen to be applying for a mortgage with a co-borrower, you would assume the lender would use the higher credit score among you both, but this is not the case. The lender uses the middle of three credit scores (from Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian), and the lowest score between both borrowers middle score. It’s not exactly leaning your way, but you shouldn’t have a problem if you’re responsible.

Your rate is connected to your credit score, so with a lower credit score comes a higher rate. There are exceptions though. Sometimes, if you have the higher credit score, and earn more money, some lenders will use your high credit score. This is usually only for gigantic loans around $415,000.

It’s always worth it to ask your lender if there are any exceptions, but just know that they are rare.

The rate you’re quoted is the rate you will receive

Rate quotes can change unless you have locked the rate in the moment it’s quoted. Rates are affected by the trading of mortgage bonds, so rates change several times a day.

If you are refinancing, you can lock the rate at which it’s quoted, but only if you’ve given the lender ample information and documentation to determine if you qualify for the quoted rate.

When a homebuyer is trying to get a quote, it happens at the beginning of your pre-approval process. The rate lock runs with a borrower and a property, so without a property to buy, you cannot be quoted. Rates will be changing while you’re...

Is It a Good Idea to Buy in a Foreclosed Neighborhood?

If you are considering real estate investments, one option is always foreclosed homes. REO homes are real estate owned homes that have been foreclosed upon and are often significantly cheaper. Here are some reasons you may (or may not) want to buy in areas with high level s of foreclosed homes.

Benefits

Affordability – when banks own these homes, they don’t want to hold on to them for as short as possible.  Every month they own it, is another month spent paying taxes, upkeep, and whatever else the home might need. They usually will offer these homes at greater discounts in order to get rid of it, often meaning smaller mortgage payments.

If the neighborhood is filled with REO’s, then the surrounding houses will be sold cheaper, even if they aren’t REO’s.

Options – REO’s come at a variety of prices, and sizes. You will be able to find almost anything in your price range when shopping through REO’s.

Value appreciation  Buying a foreclosed home that needs some work will surely benefit from the repairs and upgrades you install. As long as the repairs hold up, you can sell the home for considerably more than you bought it for.

Even buying a non-foreclosed home in a high foreclosure area has benefits. You might have to wait a while for other buyers to buy those homes in order to see price appreciation.

Giving back – it’s no secret foreclosures hurt the overall neighborhoods value, so when you put the work in your foreclosure with the aims to improve it, you are helping out the community. You are a key part in leading the recovery....

5 Steps to Avoid Buying a Money Pit

If you are buying a home, but have a bad feeling that it could be costlier than it appears, you may be right. Don’t buy a home that will turn into a money sucking black hole. A black-hole-home is a home that turns out needing what seems to be an endless amount of repairs, costing you a pretty penny frequently. Homeowners have lost their minds over these homes.

There are strategies that buyers can act to prevent their future home from becoming a bust. Here are the five steps to avoid this disaster.

Attend inspections

Be present at all the inspections; from the overall home inspection, to the pest inspection, roof, and other inspections. The inspector will physically show you what the problem is, and what needs to be done to fix it. They’ll tell you how urgent these issues are, and what they might cost. While being there you have the ability to ask them questions, which is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Read reports and disclosures

Reading what they’ve reported is crucial to knowing if you’re buying a money pit or not. You will not only want to read all the reports by inspectors, but any provided by the seller. In their reports you will want to read up on any repairs they have made, repeated repairs, water and leaky issues, or anything else that is essential to a home functioning properly.

Take note of which repairs have greater urgency and which ones will be costlier. Talk to your agent if there are any questions they can answer, and lead you in the best direction.

Get multiple repair bids

Even though the inspector gave you a “price”, it’s rarely accurate. Home buyers find themselves in the middle of the black hole once they see all the repairs stacking up. In order to get the best deal possible, it’s best to get multiple...

Is Your Real Estate Agent Sabotaging Your Home Sale?

One would expect their real estate agent to be busting their butt day and night to sell your home, but is it possible they are lounging around your swimming pool doing the bare minimum to get your home sold. They might be sabotaging your home sale right beneath your nose. It’s usually not intentional, but these are the signs to see if they are holding up the sale of your house.

Your agent is taking a low commission (or doesn’t offer a competitive commission to buyers agent)

A low commission sounds good to any seller, but on the other hand it isn’t enticing at all for the buyer’s agent. The standard 6% in most markets is usually split 50/50 between agents. If they are receiving a 5% commission, the 2.5% isn’t that enticing to buyer’s agents, meaning they will be reluctant to show your house.

Your agent is MIA

This may not happen until you’ve signed the 90-day exclusivity contract with your agent, but if they go missing in action, and don’t respond to any mode of communication you send, that is a huge red flag. Their paycheck comes with the transaction of your house, so they should be free to talk to you at any time of the day. If they aren’t returning your calls or emails promptly, they probably don’t want to be working with you in the first place. You want an agent who will return your calls ASAP, and who will be calling you all the time.

Your agent is a people pleaser

They’re a people pleaser by telling you’re your home is worth way more than it actually is. Some agents tend to lie about the real condition of the market, and a home’s value just to get the listing. Everyone wants a realistic price, but if the agent over prices your home, it may end up costing you in the long-run. If this is the case, it could prove...

Negotiating with Landlords in Winter

Winter time usually becomes a renters market. As the temperature drops, so does your competition for available units. Few people are going to leave their lease to go look for a new one during the winter months, making this a renters market.

If you are looking to rent this month, you should try to negotiate the best deal you can for yourself. Here are six strategies to improve your living situation.

Use the cold to get a good deal

Because it is a renter’s market, this means you have more leverage while bargaining with your landlord. Landlords usually lower their prices after their property has been empty for three months. Keep an eye out for the units that sit empty, and reach out to the landlord once it’s evident they’ve been empty.

Grab a temporary discount

This is a national fact: renters want to pay as little as possible, and landlords always want the highest margins they can get. Whatever you do, don’t ask them to negotiate rent, because they won’t go for it. They will see you as trying to devalue their investment. Other terms like early payments could be negotiated.

Get a longer lease period

If you know you will be in this spot for longer than the normal 12 month lease, it’s well within the possibility to lock in a payment without having to worry about if it will ever increase.

If your lease ends at the end of the year, and you know what you want to renew, ask them for a 16, or 18 month lease. The odds of this being granted to you depends if your payment is on time. This way their place becomes free again in the middle of the summer, and new tenants are likely to move in as opposed to winter.

Let your perfect record do the talking

If your renting track record is in great...

How to Detox Your Bedroom in 10 Steps

We spend an entire third of our lives asleep, most of it being it in our own bedrooms. Some people think their bedroom is their safe space where nothing can touch them, but in fact there’s plenty of stuff in there to harm you. Things like chemicals, pollutants, and even radiation from electrical devices.

Lucky for you there’s no one you can call, because clearing it out by yourself is simple. Learn how to detox your room if you are a renter, or the owner. Doing this will surely improve your well-being, health, and quality of sleep.

Diss the devices

TV’s, phones, laptops, and tablets are all distracting you from sleep. Believe it or not, these devices emit enough light to trick your brain into thinking it’s supposed to wake up. They also emit a low level of radiation. The best way to fight this is to vanquish your room of all electronics. I understand if the TV needs to stay, but you should at least unplug it and throw a towel over it.

New mattress

Inspect your mattress to see what it’s made of. Some are made of polyurethane foam, which emits VOC’s; also known as volatile organic compounds. These are the biggest source of indoor air pollution. Oddly enough these VOC’s have been linked to respiratory problems, skin irritation, and cancer.

There’s also formaldehyde, which is a sticky substance used in mattresses. This lovely stuff has been linked to allergies, lungs, asthma, nose, and throat cancers. You will want to switch to an organic cotton, or low-chemical VOC mattress. You will want to upgrade immediately if your mattress is before 2004. Another fun fact, PBDE is a chemical prominent in flame retardants. These have just as many health concerns as the VOC’s.

Go low or no VOC

VOC’s also can be in wall paint. In paints that...