Maximizing Your Home Value

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Are you ready to list your home for sale? One of the first questions you might have is, “how can I maximize my home value?” Every seller wants to get the best possible price for their home, and fortunately, there are ways to make sure your potential buyers see the real value of your property and allow you to receive top dollar when you sell.

Clean, de-clutter, and de-personalize: The first thing every home seller needs to do is take a critical look at the home and clear out the distractions. Cleaning the house and yard is a must.  Next, remove anything that can draw a buyer’s eye away from the beauty of the home, including family photos, sports memorabilia, religious artifacts, and knick-knacks.  You want the buyer to be able to see their items in your home.

Redecorate:  Professional home stagers will often advise clients to remove and replace furnishings. Even if you love oversized furniture, it can make the room look small. Consider renting more neutral pieces during the listing.

Update carefully: It is not vital for home sellers to have the latest countertops or custom bathtub to get a good value for their home. Often the home updates and improvements sellers undergo cost more than they would lose in sales price without them. If your home is very dated, consider a seller credit instead to allow the buyer to choose their upgrades.

Homes retain value based on a few factors: the location, the condition, and the features. Before you list your house, speak with your REALTOR®, friends and family for an objective opinion about the state of your home, then make any necessary repairs and changes to ensure you get the best value for your home when you sell.

Ready to buy and/or sell a home? Call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.
Dani

Streamlining the Lending Process

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If you are starting a search for a new home, most likely you will need to get a home loan. The process might seem overwhelming if you have not obtained a loan in a long time, even more so for first time home buyers. The lending process does not need to be difficult, and by being prepared, you can streamline the process and ensure you can get the best loan for your needs.

  1. Choose a Lender: The first step is to find a lender. You might start at your bank or credit union. Another good source for referrals is your REALTOR®, family, and friends. The lender should have access to a variety of programs as well as the government options; VA and FHA programs.
  2. Be Prepared: Before you meet with the lender, gather the information you will need. Generally, you will need to provide current pay stubs, W2s, bank account statements, and the last two years of your tax returns. If you are divorced and, or, have child support obligations, bring the final court document with you as well.
  3. Understand Your Limits: Typically, you will be able to borrow up to 31% of your gross monthly income. Also, the lender will require that you have no more than total monthly debt of 36% of your gross income. Be prepared to disclose all your debt, even if it does not appear on your credit report. Your loan officer is your advocate and there to help you succeed.
  4. Please Don’t Make Any Credit Changes: Once you have started the loan process, it is critical that you make no changes to your credit. Postpone any big purchase, do not apply for new credit of any kind and do not pay off any credit cards. It’s also important not to change jobs during the approval process, even if it’s for more money. Before you do anything, talk to your lender.

Getting a home loan is not as difficult as it was a few years ago, but it is essential to plan early and do the right things. Once you decide to buy a home, speak to a lender immediately and then follow their advice, and you will find the loan process simple to manage.

Ready to buy and/or sell a home? Call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.
Dani

Items to Check before a Homebuyer Inspection

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Selling a home can be a stressful time, there is so much to think about; keeping the house clean, heading out on a moment’s notice to accommodate last minute showings, not to mention planning a move. It is natural to feel overwhelmed.

Then you get that great offer and enter escrow. You are relieved until you realize there is a home inspection coming. Even a home meticulously maintained can have hidden issues. The good news is that you can prepare for the home inspection and make sure you pass with flying colors!

Here is a list of items to check before a home inspection is performed to help eliminate the number of items on the buyer’s repair list.

  • Doors, windows, cabinets, and drawers: check that they slide smoothly.
  • Run water in sinks, tubs, and showers: snake any that drain slowly.
  • Look for evidence of water leaks: garage ceiling, house ceilings, under sinks, around the water heater, etc.
  • GFIs: check our local code and put GFI plugs where required and check installed GFI plugs to make sure they work correctly.
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: check that they are in working order by testing.
  • Gutter and roof: replace any missing roof tiles, check flashing around the roof and clean gutters.
  • HVC: consider HVAC servicing to replace filters and check for problems.
  • The water heater: is it properly strapped and vented.
  • Deferred maintenance: anything that has been neglected should be addressed before the home inspection.

The best defense is a good offense. This is true in home inspections too! The best way to ensure you have an excellent home inspection is to have a pre-listing home inspection. It could be the best couple hundred dollars you can spend. Better to uncover the issues before the buyer does.

Ready to buy and/or sell a home? Call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.
Dani

How to Lower Closing Costs when Buying a Home

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Closing costs help facilitate the sale of a home and both buyers and sellers pitch in. Some closing costs can be paid before the home is officially sold and others are paid at the end of the transaction. However, closing costs aren’t set into stone and they can be negotiable. You can ask your real estate agent or lender with help in estimating your actual closing costs.  Look over everything to make sure all the numbers are right and then you plan accordingly in how you are going to lower the costs.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Loyalty Programs – Some banks offer assistance to buyers when they use them to help pay for the purchase. It is a way for a bank to reward loyal customers.

Closing at the End of the Month – Schedule your closing at the end of the month so you don’t have to pay the per diem interest for so many days.

Get Multiple Quotes – Get estimates from different lenders because you are looking for the best package of closing costs and interest rates. There might be something better out there.

Junk Fees – There may be some fees a lender charges that may be negotiable, such as origination fee, processing fee, or application fee. Make sure to ask if what you are being quoted is the best they can offer.

Title Costs – Sometimes title insurance and settlement are bundled together. You may be able to find a title and settlement company that is less expensive.

Negotiate with the Seller – You can try to negotiate with the seller in paying for some of your closing costs. Buyers can ask for credit or to cover lender expenses during the offer and negotiation process.

Ready to buy and/or sell a home? Call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.
Dani

The Importance of a Home Warranty

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What is a Home Warranty?

A home warranty plan is a service contract made with a third party repair company.  Home warranties are designed to protect your home’s appliances and systems from breakdowns caused by normal wear and tear. For an appliance or system to be covered, it must be in working order when the contract is entered into with the warranty company. There are many options when it comes to home warranties, and your REALTOR® will guide you to make sure you get the right coverage. The purpose of the home warranty is to make sure that you are not met with unexpected repairs or system failures during the term of the policy.

A home warranty covers all the major systems of a home. They provide insurance against repairs or failures of electrical, plumbing, water heater, appliances, garbage disposal, heating, air conditioning and sometimes they include roof, pool/spa and even building code issues. The coverage depends on the policy itself, and the price corresponds with the level of coverage. Make sure you have reviewed your contract and coverage before you need to use it. You should be clear on what is covered/not covered (e.g.:- the ac condenser may not be included), any cap limits on coverage, and is there a deductible or trade call fee?

So how does a home warranty work?

If there is a problem with a covered system, you will contact the home warranty company and place a claim. They will then send a repair person to your home to assess and correct the problem. This could entail a minor repair or a complete replacement of the appliance or system.

If you are selling a home, you can purchase a home warranty that will cover your appliances and systems during the listing and up until the sale. The warranty then transfers to the buyer for a period of one year. A home warranty can help to minimize post-sale conflict should an appliance or system fail after the closing.

Most warranties are about $500-$700 per year; a small price to pay for the peace of mind that homes warranty provides.

Ready to make a move? Contact me for a no obligation consultation, and we can discuss the value of your home and marketing options.

Dani 

8 Things Buyers Notice as Soon as they Walk In

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Buyers notice everything, good and bad. From the moment they walk in the front door, they are trying to determine if this is the right home for them and their family. If you have your home listed for sale, paying attention to what the buyers’ notice can mean the difference between an offer and a missed opportunity.

Here are eight things that buyers notice as soon as they walk in a house:

  1. Light- A bright home is inviting. Make sure you fill your home with lots of natural light or a soft evening glow.
  2. Smell- Nothing is less inviting than a strong odor. Even candles and air fresheners can be overwhelming. Less is more and make sure nothing unpleasant is lingering from last nights dinner or your furry friends.
  3. Space- Remove any unneeded furniture and offer a spacious home which flows. If you need a little help, hire a local stager or interior designer for a consultation.
  4. Ceilings- Of course, you can’t make your ceilings higher, but make sure they are free from water stains and spider webs; buyers will look up.
  5. Windows- Make sure windows are clean to maximize light and be sure to wipe down window sills and touch up with fresh paint if needed.
  6. Pictures and personal items- Remove personalization as much as possible so the buyers can imagine their family in the home.
  7. Outdated furnishings and fixtures- If your home is filled with hand-me-downs, consider a professional stager. Old wallpaper or old paint colors should be replaced as well.
  8. Dirty or cluttered rooms- Most important, clean everything thoroughly and box up items you don’t use daily.

A little attention to details will help your home sell faster and for more money.

Ready to make a move? Contact me for a no obligation consultation, and we can discuss the value of your home and marketing options.

Dani 

How Home Appraisers Determine Value

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What is an Appraisal?

A home appraisal is an unbiased estimate of the true (or fair market) value of what a home is worth. Appraisals are conducted by highly-trained professionals who are licensed and/or certified to determine the value of a home fairly, objectively and without bias in the state where the property is located.

Once a buyer and seller agree on a sales price, the contract is then sent to the lender for the loan approval process. One of the first things the lender will do is to order an independent appraisal. The appraiser will use local data to determine a value for the subject property. The primary purpose is to protect the lender in the event of borrower default by ensuring that the property is actually worth what the buyer is willing to pay, but this also protects the buyer from overpaying as well.

Determining Value

The process appraisers use to determine value is relatively simple, yet not easy. They start by searching for comparable local properties which have closed recently. They choose the three or more which most closely match the subject property and use them for comparison. Since these comparable homes have closed recently, they are assumed to represent market value.

Appraisers are looking at the home’s physical characteristics such as age, square footage, the number of bedrooms and baths, lot size, location, and view, as well as the observable condition. The appraiser does not evaluate the homes décor, furnishings, or anything not affixed to the property.

Once the appraiser has the comparable properties identified, they will then compare the subject property to them. They will add or subtract value for size, location, amenities, features, upgrades and so on until they have a value for the subject property. This is then reported to the lender in the form of a final appraisal.

There are a few things a homeowner can do to assure that the appraisal represents the properties highest values.

  • Make repairs to known maintenance items such as leaky faucets, cracks in the walls or ceilings, broken windows, etc.
  • Have a professional home inspection to detect maintenance issues before selling your home. This will help not only with an appraisal but with negotiating with a buyer.
  • A clean house leaves a positive impression on anyone, including an appraiser. De-clutter, clean the kitchen and baths and make sure appliances are clean and in working order.
  • Spruce up the curb appeal of your home. Clean up overgrown landscaping, repair broken items such as a garage door, make sure gutters are clean and attached to the house.
  • Provide the appraiser with a list of updates and improvements. Include dates, brands, and cost of improvements. A new roof or insulation may be overlooked if not pointed out.
  • Note any changes in your neighborhood that may increase value such as new roads, schools, or entertainment venues.
  • The newer your home appears to be, regardless of its actual age, the better. Updated carpet, tile windows, and other permanent fixtures will increase the value of your home in the eyes of an appraiser.

Ready to make a move? Contact me for a no obligation consultation, and we can discuss the value of your home and marketing options.

Dani 

Selling Your Home “For Sale by Owner”?

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Selling your home on your own as a “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) can be tempting. With real estate commissions amounting to as much as 7% of the sales price, many owners consider selling their homes on their own to save money.  However, selling as  FSBO is more complicated than it might seem. Here are a few of the pitfalls.

  • Not pricing the home correctly: Doing market research on your own is tough. Too often a FSBO house is priced based on what the owner sees online or pricing the house based on what the seller needs to net to buy a new home. Overpricing is one of the most frequent reasons FSBO sellers fail. The housing market in your area will determine the value of your home, and even Zillow recommends homeowners get a Comparative Market Analysis from a REALTOR® or an appraisal.
  • Not marketing the property: Many FSBO will put a sign in the front yard, and post the home on Zillow and Trulia, then they wait for the buyers to find them. A good marketing plan will include notifying family, friends, and neighbors that your home is for sale, using social media platforms for marketing, and paying to have your home listed on the local Multiple Listing platforms.
  • Not offering a commission to agents: Most FSBO are trying to save money, but they are also eliminating a pool of qualified buyers by not providing a buyers agent commission. If a buyer that is working with an agent decides to buy FSBO without the buyer’s agent, they usually expect the homeowner to drop the sales price by the presumed commission saved.
  • Saying too much to the buyers: Homeowners are rightly proud of their homes, but telling buyers everything they know about the house, good or bad, can turn off a potential buyer. Buyers want to see themselves living in the home, not how you live in the home.
  • Not disclosing problems or defects: Just because the homeowner is selling the home, it does not mean they are not subject to the laws governing seller disclosures. The State of Michigan requires a seller to tell the prospective buyer certain things about the property’s physical condition. This is done by completing a written disclosure statement and giving it to the buyer.
  • Not negotiating terms: Not only the price but the terms of the sale are also negotiable. Be prepared for a buyer to ask for a percentage of closing cost to be paid, or for the seller to pay for repairs noted on a home inspection, or possibly for the seller to provide a home warranty.
  • Not having a plan for when an offer is submitted: Once an offer is presented, do you have an attorney to review the contract? Have you opened an escrow account to hold the earnest money? Do you have a title company to close the transaction and provide title insurance for the new owners?

Selling home without an agent can be successful if the homeowner is prepared to do the research, develop a marketing plan, and choose a network of real estate professionals to help with the process.  If all of this seems too time-consuming and confusing, then it is time to consider a local real estate agent.

Ready to buy and/or sell a home? Call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.
Dani

Home Buyer: The Internet Can’t Replace Your Real Estate Agent

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We live in the information age and the Internet offers advice on every topic; real estate is no exception. With more and more home buyers starting their home search online, they are bombarded with advice and information-it can be easy to think that you can learn everything you need to know just by reading articles online.

The truth is that your real estate agent does much more than answer your questions and open doors with a special key. A professional real estate agent will be there every step of the way. They have the experience necessary to navigate the complicated home buying process and solve common hiccups that present themselves in every real estate transaction.

Your real estate agent is a local professional. They know the local housing inventory, what is happening in the community that may affect home prices, and they have access to the local Multiple List Service that provides the latest homes for sale (real time), and sold homes.  They have a network of professionals who will work as a team to help you through the process. These include such professionals as lenders, title companies, transaction coordinators, home inspectors, contractors and handymen, home warranty companies and moving companies.

Most importantly, your agent is your ally in the home buying process. They negotiate on your behalf, armed with experience and understanding of customary charges, costs, and terms. They will ensure that the price you pay for the home is fair for the conditions and neighborhood. They will negotiate repairs, if needed and make sure you are protected with the proper contingencies.

The Internet offers lots of great information, but the most critical step you can take when buying a new home is hiring a local professional real estate agent. Their knowledge and expertise can’t be found by reading an article or two online.

Ready to buy and/or sell a home? Call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.
Dani

Home Buying Myths

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Buying a home can seem like a massive undertaking. You don’t need to be a first time home buyer to find the process overwhelming. There is so much information available, how can you tell what’s right and what’s a myth? Understanding the difference can help you make the best decision for you and your family goals.

Here are few home buying myths, and the truth behind them.

  • The first step is finding the Right House: Before you head out shopping, speak with a lender to understand your financial options and the monthly payment you can afford.  There is nothing more disheartening than finding the “home of your dreams,” only to find out it is out of your price range.
  • You can’t buy a home without perfect credit: The truth is there are many loans available which still offer reasonable interest rates for those without that ideal credit score.  Once again, start your home buying process by speaking with a lender.
  • You need 20% down payment: First time home buyers can use FHA financing for as low as 3.5% down. There are other programs too, such as VA and some conventional loans with less than 20% down.
  • Interest rates are going up; I can’t afford a home: Back in the 1980’s interest rates were up to 18% and people still bought and sold homes! No matter what the interest rates are, your lender will tell you what you can afford to buy considering principal, interest and tax payments.
  • You don’t need an Agent: An agent not only knows the market and can help you with value, but also customary charges, negotiations, and solutions to common hiccups. Your agent will also be your liaison with lenders, Title companies, home inspectors, Home Warranty companies and home contractors.
  • New homes don’t need a home inspection: Every home should have a home inspection by a licensed inspector to check for existing or potential problems.

Buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you are likely to make in your lifetime. Take the time you need to understand the process and learn from the professionals; don’t assume that everything you read is right.

Ready to talk with a lender? Send call, text or email me! If you are active on social media, please look me up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram using the icons on the bottom right of this page.
Dani