Step By Step Guide For Buying Your First Home

One of the first things that first-time home buyers should know is that it is going to take a lot of time and effort to find and finally close on a home of their dreams.  In order to make the process as easy as possible and to help buyers make the best choices when purchasing a home.  Below is advice from real estate experts to help you throughout the buying process.

First things first, start researching as soon as you decide to buy a home.  Look through magazines, search the internet, look through trade papers, and so on to find real estate listing and industry news.  With the real estate listings that you have found, follow them through to their sale.  Analyze the time it takes for a house to hit the market through to close.  Note what the asking price was initially and what the home closed for.  These trends will allow you to see the larger picture for homes in your specific location.

The next step is to determine how much you can afford overall and monthly.  Most often lenders recommend that buyers spend no more than 3 to 5 times their annual income on a home when you are able to put down 20%.  It is also imperative to eliminate outside debts as much as possible.  It is also key to figure out the monthly costs of maintaining a home.  There are several online tools that help first time home buyers with calculating costs when purchasing a new home.

It is also important to meet with a lender or mortgage broker to get preapproved for a mortgage.  Obviously before you can buy a home you need the means to do so.  Prequalification means that you have met the requirements set forth by the lender.  Taking into consideration your income, debt, savings, and investments your lender of mortgage broker will tell you how much you qualify to borrow.

Your next step is to find a local real estate agent to work with. Hiring an agent literally costs you nothing; you have nothing to lose when you have a realtor working with you.  The seller compensates the realtor through commissions on the house when it sells. A real estate agent will provide you insight that only comes from living in an area.  They also provide invaluable skills such as negotiations. After going through the process hundreds of times they understand the process better than those of us who only go through it a few times in our lives.

When you start shopping for a home it is important to tour many of the homes in your price range even if they aren’t exactly what you have been dreaming of.  It will help you see what is available.  Take a note pad and camera with you to keep the homes you visit straight.  After time it will be difficult to keep the homes you have toured straight.  In each home you are serious about test out certain features such as the plumbing, windows, electrical, and appliances.  Take a look around the neighborhood and evaluate how well the homes on the block are maintained, the traffic volume, parking, and such.

It is important not to rush the home buying process.  You will find the right home, but it may not happen right away.  Make sure you negotiate a fair price, evaluating the cost at which other homes in the neighborhood have sold for, and reach an agreement.  When your home goes into escrow it is time to finish up the remaining steps within the buying process.  

A home inspection is a must to make sure the home is a good investment and free of costly repairs.  Home offers should be made on a contingency that the home passes inspection.  If major issues are found the seller has a chance to fix the issues or renegotiate the sale.  You as a buyer can withdraw the offer if you decide it is not in your best interest to purchase the residence after the inspection.

Working with the lender you will then select your loan and have the home appraised.  This process should be fairly simple and straightforward. As long as you are responsive in working together it will make this process painless. Once the paperwork is coordinated and you have determined the seller is the rightful owner and can legally sell the house you are buying you are good to set a closing date. 

Last but not least close on your home.  Sign all of the paperwork (there will be a lot of it) and move into your new home!

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.



6 Things Your REALTOR® Can Provide That the Internet Can’t

According to a 2018 Pew Research study, 77 percent of Americans visit the internet daily. Shopping, social media, news, banking, you name it…we can do it all online. In fact, with so much available at our fingertips, some people are even using the internet to buy and sell real estate. But, with an investment that large, can you really use the World Wide Web as a replacement for a REALTOR®? 

Here are just a few of the things you’ll miss out on if you choose the internet over professional representation.

Strategic Pricing Strategy
Several websites offer automated valuation models (AVMs), that allow you to type in an address and get a price based on an algorithm. However, these AVMs should be considered estimates only.   

REALTOR® Frank Vicenté with EXIT Realty Home Partners says these discrepancies are why algorithms can’t take the place of a local REALTOR®’s knowledge. 

“While these websites can give you a ballpark figure, they can’t effectively determine a home’s value if they’ve never set foot inside,” he said. “A website doesn’t know the condition of a home or if there have been recent updates, and these are important factors in determining an accurate price range.”

Extensive Market Knowledge
REALTORS® live and breathe real estate every day, and they know the ins and outs of every neighborhood. They can identify comparable sales and point you in the direction to find information on schools, crime, and more. 

REALTORS® also have in-depth knowledge of the local market, which is critical because market conditions dictate the selling and buying process. Data such as average sales price, average days on market, inventory levels, average price per square foot, interest rates, the current economy, the time of year, etc. all have a bearing on how you proceed with buying or selling a home. 

Of course, you can research market trends online, but it’s important to remember that real estate is very local in nature. Just because something is true on a national level or in a major metropolitan city, doesn’t mean it applies to your area. Only local REALTORS® possess the intimate knowledge that is necessary in a successful real estate transaction. 

Networking and Marketing Tools
It’s true that the Internet provides some great networking capabilities. However, posting your home on Craigslist or sharing it on Facebook doesn’t compare to the marketing tools available when you work with a professional REALTOR®. 

When partnering with an agent, not only do you get widespread exposure for your home through the multiple listing service (MLS), but your agent will also promote your listing to fellow agents and through their well-established social media presence and professional networks.

Top-Notch Negotiating Skills
Not just anyone can skillfully navigate a real estate negotiation. In a fast-paced market you can expect tough competition, multiple offers, bidding wars, and even some cutthroat tactics. Should you decide to go it alone, chances are the other side will be represented by an experienced agent, and you’ll automatically be at a disadvantage. 

And, when it comes to the complex paperwork, unless you have a background in contracts or law, it’s best to leave the paperwork to the pros. 

Industry Connections
REALTORS® know just about everyone in the industry who can possibly help in the process of buying or selling a home.

You can search online for reviews and recommendations, but agents can give you a list of references they have successfully worked with on previous transactions. Lenders, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, appraisers, contractors, interior designers, landscapers, home stagers…if you need one, your REALTOR® most likely has a few referrals. You can always turn to your REALTOR® for suggestions on home professionals, even if it has been five years since moving in. 

Experience and Education
The bottom line is you don’t need to know everything about real estate if you hire a professional who does. While this may be your first, second, or even third buying or selling experience, your REALTOR® handles hundreds of transactions during his/her career. And, because they are required to participate in continuing education, REALTORS® are always “in the know’ when it comes to the ever-changing regulations and laws. 

“Think about it this way, there is an unlimited amount of medical information available online, but if a health issue comes up, chances are you’ll head to the doctor,” said Vicenté. “The internet can be a powerful tool, but when it comes to one of the biggest investments of your life, it’s important to hire a trusted professional who will look out for your best interests.” 

Original Source: https://www.lansingstatejournal.com/story/marketplace/real-estate/2019/02/27/6-things-realtor-can-provide/3008226002/

Original Date: Feb 27 2019

Written by: Meghan Webber

Preparing to Buy A Home This Spring


Mid-Michigan homebuyers know as spring approaches they will begin to face some stiff competition for available homes for sale.  With home prices on the rise and fewer homes for sale, buyers need to make sure that they are fully prepared to purchase a home this spring season. To prepare buyers should look at becoming mentally and financially prepared. 

Clarifying Your Home Buying Budget

It is irresistible to peruse photos of homes, tour open houses and day dream about everything you want in a home however, it’s much better to be prepared for what you can realistically expect to afford.  It is crucial for home buyers to have a definitive budget in mind when looking at homes.  It is easy to be swayed into a higher price point when you aren’t prepared.  This often occurs with home buyers who may have been outbid on a home previously.  Bumping up your budget may seem like a surefire way to ensure you get the next house you bid on however be careful.  A home even a few thousand dollars over your cap can really derail your goals.

Purchasing a home is more often than not the largest investment that people will make.  It requires people to dive deep into their past, current, and present finances.  It is crucial to know how much you spend on a monthly basis on fixed and flexible expenditures and to understand how these expenses will change when you become a homeowner.  Lenders provide a preapproval that allows homeowners a maximum at which they will be able to borrow.  This is a starting point for establishing a comfortable price point on a new home and monthly mortgage payment. 

Benefit from Real Estate Professionals

When homebuyers get serious about finding and purchasing a home it is time to consult a professional realtor.  Locating a seasoned professional in real estate will help to ensure you have access to as many homes in your budget as possible, as soon as they become available on the market.  A professional realtor agent will guide you through the real estate process from start to finish.

Another professional you will want to meet with is a mortgage broker.  They will go through the process with you to get you prequalified and go through different loans and options that are available to you.  In some markets first-time homebuyers are fortunate enough to receive special financial credit offers to help make buying a home possible. 

Detail Your Needs Verse Wants

It is important for homebuyers to know what they absolutely need to have in a home verse the luxury wants.  In the fast pace real estate market, we are experiencing right now, buyers need to make sure that they are ready to make an offer when they find the right property.  In order to do this buyer, need to research their priorities and areas where they will be able to compromise.  Limiting your searches to homes that match your needs will also help save time as well as you won’t be wasting time on homes that don’t fit your need.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.



This will come to no surprise, WINTER is here!


After a mild winter here in Pinckney and throughout all of Michigan, the snow and ice has finally arrived.  It is time to break out your favorite moon boots, puffy jacket, and bib overall snow pants, the sledding hills are open.  However, if you are trying to sell your home, it can be an incredibly stressful time.  Winter house sales are notoriously low, but we are here to help; after all buyers exist year-round not just when the weather is cooperating.

Home buyers and sellers are fewer in the winter months.   If you need to buy or sell a home quickly during winter, it is imperative that you work with a professional real estate company like Century 21 Lady of the Lakes.  It won’t be a simple process, but when it comes to selling or buying a home, no matter the season, we have you covered. 

Attracting Home Buyers

Make Accessing Your Home as Easy as Possible

When visiting homes, buyers are trying to picture themselves in them.  They want to feel safe in the place that they choose to call home.  Part of this is the ability to easily move about without concern.  Make sure you clear the snow and ice from your driveways, sidewalks, backdoor entrances, and porches.  Salt and de-icer should be used in all areas that will need to be accessed, it shouldn’t be icy where buyers will be.  Clear icicles, make pathways to ease access to the backyard, generally making it easy for sellers to move about the property.

Make Your Home Welcoming

The inside of your home should make buyers feel as if they just stepped into their new home.  A few key elements can help with this.  First, turn the thermostat up!  Not too high as to roast them but the home should be comfortably warm. 

Next, it is important to take time to bring in the natural sunlight.  Open up the curtains and shades in your home to maximize the natural light.  If your home is showing during the evening hours, it is equally important to have light but obviously in a different form.  Lamp lighting and candle light can have a similar effect. 

If you are having a few showings in one day in may be a good idea to set out some waters, coffee, and fingers snacks.  After a long day of looking at homes it will be a welcome treat and a way to allow your home to stand out from the others. 

Know About the Mechanics of Your Home

Buyers will want to know all about your home because it could someday soon be theirs.  Have as much information available as possible on key elements such as the foundation, appliances, water heater, windows, HVAC, plumbing, electrical and roof.  Buyers will want to know when they were installed, last serviced, and about the maintenance that has been done.  Homeowners appreciate when sellers are good at keeping records about their home’s health and will put their minds at rest.  

Remove Clutter and Tidy Up

Your home can look a little cluttered during the winter.  Outdoor gear is big and bulky, and Christmas decorations can be overwhelming, and just general stuff seems to take over in the winter when we are too cold to put things in their proper place. 

Take time before listing your home to pack up the non-sensical things that have accumulated over the years of living within the space.  The goal is to unstuff your home so that buyers can see how ample and spacious the home is.  This is one tip not to ignore.  Rent a storage unit and simply move things that are not needed into it until you sell your home.  When all of the closets and garage aren’t bursting at the seems the home appears roomier. 

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.



That’s So 2018! Outdated Mortgage Advice You Should Ignore Right Now

mortgage-outdated
LPETTET/iStock

Buying a house is one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do in your life — and signing the mortgage for that house will probably be one of the most terrifying.

Since navigating the home loan process can be scary to do alone, many people might be tempted to seek out guidance from someone who’s been there, done that. But you should probably ignore everything your Uncle Bob says. (Sorry, Bob!) And Aunt Sue, while we’re at it. They may mean well, but let’s face it, they haven’t taken out a mortgage in 20 years. In fact, even a friend or family member who got a mortgage last year might lead you far astray (in a well-meaning way, of course), since the rules of home financing really do change on a dime.

Our two cents? For starters, beware these dusty pearls of wisdom below. They might have worked wonders back in 2018, but they don’t necessarily work for everyone right now. Here’s why, as well as some fresher, tastier alternatives.

Get a mortgage with a fixed interest rate

You’ve probably always assumed you’d get a 30-year mortgage with a fixed interest rate. Your parents had one … and isn’t that the only way to get payments you can afford? These days, you have many more choices, and reasons to try them out.

“People aren’t buying their forever home right out of the gate anymore, so the benefits of a 30-year mortgage aren’t necessarily there,” says real estate agent Heather Carbone with the Heather Carbone Team at Big River Properties in Boston. She explains that many first-time home buyers are buying starter homes, and that they plan to move on to something bigger and better after a few years. “Going with a five- or seven-year adjustable rate mortgage [ARM] could potentially save them a couple of hundred dollars off their monthly payment and ease the monthly payment burden a little bit, as they will most likely sell their home before the rates adjust,” she says. Here’s more on the pros and cons of ARMs vs. fixed-rate mortgages.

Make a 20% down payment

When you’re trying to come up with a down payment on a house, 20% sounds like a huge amount. So how do people come up with that kind of cash? Most of the time, they don’t. At least not anymore.

“I meet with lots of young buyers who have been instilled by their parents and others that the only way to buy a house is with a large, 20% down payment,” says Carbone. “In today’s market, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. Provided the buyer has a solid credit score, down payments as low as 3.5% are very much a reality today.”

Real estate agent Melissa Rubenstein, with KW Village Square Realty in Ridgewood, NJ, agrees. “While 20% has traditionally been a benchmark for what is acceptable, this no longer holds true in the market, she says. “With FHA loans requiring around 3%, and other traditional loans offering 10% down options or lower, it makes sense to explore different products with your lender. Don’t miss out on historically low interest rates while trying to stash away cash.”

Wait for interest rates to drop

It seems like interest rates could always be better, but according to Bruce Ailion, real estate agent with Re/Max Town and Country in Atlanta, that might not be true at the moment.

“For 2019, we are likely at the end of the low interest cycle, and interest rates are at their lowest,” he explains. “Today is the time to buy, if interest rates are the determining factor.”

You can always wait for them to go lower, but you might be sorry if you do.

Meet with your lender in person

In the past, the only way to talk with a lender was to walk into a bank, which often meant taking time off work and rearranging your whole day. In 2019, things are getting easier.

“Times are changing, and visiting a bank branch to meet with a lending officer is not the only route to getting a mortgage. Now, you can apply for a mortgage online,” says Kathy Cummings, senior vice president of Homeownership Solutions and Affordable Housing Programs at Bank of America in Charlotte, NC. “Research shows that 32% of Americans are comfortable applying for a mortgage digitally.”

This doesn’t mean human contact is obsolete. “When you have questions that you want to speak to an expert about—in person or by telephone—you have the option,” Cummings says. Consider it the best of both worlds.

Pay off your mortgage as fast as you can

If you have a 30-year mortgage, chances are you have a dream to pay it off in at least 20. Not only will it give you an extra 10 years without a monthly payment, but it’ll save you tons of money in interest. Right?

Not really. Jeff Chervenak, president of Guaranty Federal in Bloomfield, CT, says that’s not necessary anymore—and it probably won’t save you much money.

“Paying off your mortgage as a goal is as much emotional as financial. Because interest rates are, even now, so low, consider saving and investing with the money you would use to pay down your loan separately,” he explains. “Liquidity has a lot of value, and you could always use the lump sum accumulated to pay it down or off any time you wish.”

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, mortgages today are very different from they were just a few years ago. Do your homework before you make any decisions, and check with an expert you trust before you sign on the dotted line.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/finance/outdated-mortgage-advice-you-should-ignore/

Original Date: Feb 4 2019

Written By: Whitney Coy

First-Time Home Buyers: What You Should Consider Before Making an Offer


A lot of first-time home buyers get in over their heads.  They fall in love with a home before doing any research and end up signing on the dotted line with a home that is too expensive, needs more work than they expected, and are driving longer then they had expected to work each day.  There is a lot to think about when buying a home, three main issues being the offer price, the condition of the home, and location. 

Offer Price:

The offer of the home should be based on more than that it is comparable with other homes on the market. A home’s asking price is the price that is set before an appraisal has been done.  In reality an offer should than only be based on comparable houses in the area that have already closed and not by what others in the area are asking for their homes. 

 The Homes Condition:

When you are pricing out home repairs don’t automatically assume that they will be up into the thousands of dollars.  Also, don’t assume that you can take the cost of repairs off the offer price of a home as some sellers have already adjusted the asking price to consider these repairs. 

Location of the Home:

The area in which the home is located has a lot to do with the price at which the house will sell for.  Consider the location of the home for a number of reasons including how close it is to work and school but also be aware of the physical location.  See if there are train tracks close or it is in a high traffic area, those things will affect the resale value when go to sell.  Consider if granite counter tops and an additional bathroom are worth the inconvenience of a commuter train coming through the backyard every day.

Now-a-days with the internet there is a lot more information available in real time to both realtors and first-time home buyers.  It is important to keep in mind that not all of the information on the internet will be accurate, but it is a starting point.

Some websites offer free estimates to value your home.  They make a lot of assumptions about the value of properties in a neighborhood based on other homes that have sold but for homes that are non-conforming these can be inaccurate.  Consider these to be generalities and not substitutes for the research a realtor provider or an appraisal gives.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.



I am Ready to Buy My First Home. Where Do I Start?


The industry is saturated with information for first time home buyers.  It is often a bit overwhelming when you are trying to gather initial information on where to start, who to turn to, and what to expect.  In order to be fully prepared to find, finance, and move into a new home it is crucial to be prepared.  Planning for a major event such as buying your first home is one of the best ways to remove the stress and anxiety that usually comes with it.

The first step to buying your first home is the one you are taking right this very moment, research.  As soon as you get the inkling that you want to start looking into buying a home start reading as much reliable information as you can get your hands on.  Websites, newspapers, industry magazines, and real estate books can all provide good information.  It is also appropriate to start perusing listings to note the time that homes you are interested in are staying on the market.  For research purposes take note of changes in asking price as well, all the information gathered at this point gives you a better sense of current housing trends. 

The next step that we recommend you take is to speak with a mortgage broker to determine how much of a house you can afford.  This can be a little tricky.  It is not always wise to spend as much on a new home as you qualify for.  Most home buyers want to still be able to live comfortably while owning a home.  Trust your instincts when you are determining a housing budget. 

More often than not lenders will approve buyers for between three to five times the amount of their annual income for a threshold.  Most buyers will have a twenty percent down payment and will carry other debt.  This amount usually holds this in account.  Ex.  If you are currently making $25,000 a year and your spouse is making $55,000 a year this puts you at a total income of around $80,000 a year.  This means that lenders may feel comfortable lending you between $240,000 and $400,000 to purchase a home.  This doesn’t take into consideration your down payment however does give you some figures to start with. 

When you meet with a mortgage broker than can start the process of getting you prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage.  This will give you a definite answer to how much you are approved for and can actually spend on your new home.  In order to start this process, you will need to provide your mortgage broker with financial paperwork such as documents on income, savings, investments, and debt.  Through this process brokers will reach out to a variety of lenders to verify your financial status, credit, and figures on borrowing from them.  Each lender will have different requirements, rates, and so forth.  A mortgage broker works as a middle man between you and the lenders to find you the best rates and terms. 

Next you will want to find a local real estate agent to work with like C21, Lady of the Lakes out of Pinckney, MI.  A realtor is an important piece of the home buying (and selling) process and will be your biggest advocator throughout the process.  Agents are not only full of useful information on homes, neighborhoods, schools, and such, they are also important to you during negotiations.  Also, it is nice to note that realtors are not compensated by the buyer and instead are paid a commission from the seller of the house.  This means you pay nothing for their professional advice.

Real estate agents are important partners when you’re buying or selling a home. Real estate agents can provide you with helpful information on homes and neighborhoods that isn’t easily accessible to the public. Their knowledge of the home buying process, negotiating skills, and familiarity with the area you want to live in can be extremely valuable. And best of all, it doesn’t cost you anything to use an agent – they’re compensated from the commission paid by the seller of the house.

After you have hired an agent comes the task of finding the perfect home to call home and make an offer.  When you are touring homes it is important to bring along a camera and create a checklist.  This will help in keeping the different houses straight.  After seeing as many houses as you will see during this process it will be hard to remember the pros and cons of each.  Document as much as possible along the way. 

When you find a home, you think you could be interested in do a more thorough examination of the space.  Test the plumbing by running all the faucets at one time to get a feel for the water pressure you can expect.  This will also give you a good assessment of the hot water in the home. Next test the electrical outlets.  It is amazing how many times we go into homes where not all of the electrical switches or plugs are working properly.  This could be an electrical issue inside the home, so it will save you money to discover it before paying for a professional home inspection.  Another element to look at is the windows, doors, and attic/roof.  Check to make sure doors and windows properly shut and seal and that attics are without mold or water issues. 

If you haven’t already, take a look at the neighborhood.  Check to see how well other houses are maintained.  Evaluate the amount of traffic through the neighborhood, parking, and accessibility to shopping, schools, and more. 

Relators will help throughout this process by supplying you with data on how much comparable homes nearby have sold for.  This will help you to negotiate a fair asking price when you have decided on a home to put an offer on.  When you have reached an agreement with the seller on a fair price, the home will go into what is known as escrow.  At this point you will have a number of days to get an inspection, make changes to the offer, and complete the home purchase process.

Most banks will not lend to first time home buyers, or any home buyer for that matter, without first having their investment properly inspected.  All offers are written in a manner known as contingency.  This means that the offer is contingent on the inspection.  If the inspection goes poorly or items are found that need to be repaired, you will have time to renegotiate or withdraw your offer without penalty.

Once the inspection has been finalized and the home repairs (if needed) have occurred it is time to get your financing in order.  Your mortgage broker already has in place the preapprovals that you were given earlier in the process.  This makes the process of selecting a home loan quicker.  Lenders will give you a good faith estimate at this juncture that states what you can expect the monthly payment to be, taxes included, the time you are borrowing the money for, along with the rate at which you are borrowing funds.  It is important as well to understand the type of mortgage you are getting. There are a few options including: Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA, Adjustable, and so on.  Mortgage lenders will often send in a home appraiser to ensure that they are making a solid investment in loaning you the amount of money they are for the home. This ensures you are paying a fair price. 

At this point a lot of paperwork is shuffled between real estate agents for the buyers and sellers along with the lender, closing, and title company.  This is all necessary to make sure ownership of the home transfers properly.  Once all parties have reached an agreement a closing date will be set. 

At closing you will complete a final walk through of the property, sign closing documents, and exchange the keys.  Some sellers negotiate a time between closing and when they have to vacate.  If this is the case with the home you are purchasing, the seller will rent the home from you until the agreed upon move out date and then you will receive the keys to the home on that final date.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.



6 Presale Home Improvements Sellers Wish They’d Never Made

smart-home-reno-regrets
narvikk/iStock

Every seller wants their home to stand out from the crowd, and that often means beefing it up with shiny new improvements before putting it on the market. But sometimes owners go overboard, and the repairs become more costly and time-consuming than they’re worth.

To help you learn from others’ mistakes, we gathered real-life stories of home sellers who woefully regret the presale renovations they took on.

Regret No. 1: Going too trendy

Photo by Sweetlake Interior Design LLC

Beware of falling for decor fads when it comes time to pretty up your home.

“I had a seller whose home’s original lighting fixtures were pretty standard brushed nickel and oil-rubbed bronze, circa the 2000s,” says Monica Weddle, a real estate professional in Raleigh, NC. “They were nothing offensive, just boring.”

The seller, thinking the home needed more of a “wow” factor before she put it on the market, swapped out all of the perfectly serviceable lights for bold midcentury fixtures, to the tune of around $2,000.

“That’s great if you’re sure your buyers are going to love that style,” says Weddle. “But her eventual buyers didn’t. In fact, they made an appointment for the day after closing to replace every single one.”

Regret No. 2: Smart house, dumb decision

We live in a plugged-in era, but living in a house surrounded by technology is not everyone’s cup of tea.

“One seller of mine decided to make his home high-tech and had the lighting, window shades, and sound system all controlled from his phone,” says Steven Gottlieb of New York’s Warburg Realty. “He paid a lot of money for these expensive bells and whistles. But none of the prospective buyers who came in cared.”

Instead, buyers were all focused on the space itself—and the lack of light and poor views.

The eventual buyer turned out to be a person interested in tech and smart homes. But by the time the deal closed, he felt the apartment’s technology was outdated and therefore wasn’t interested in paying extra for the existing features.

Regret No. 3: Adding a guesthouse

Not every home shopper dreams of bringing in extra income by renting out the guesthouse. Joel Bennett of the vacation platform of Tokeet.com found this out the hard way when selling his first house in Merida, Mexico. His real estate agent convinced him finding a buyer would be tough, so a week after listing the home, he made the rash decision to renovate the detached guesthouse to function as a vacation rental property, thinking this would add value.

He spent about nine weeks—and $3,000—on the project while the property was on the market. The exterior was painted, interior floorboards were resurfaced, and the stairway was replaced.

“I did a lot of the work myself, since I had a bit of free time back then,” says Bennett, who was proud of the restored space.

“Then some eccentric character approached my real estate agent with an offer right on the nose,” says Bennett, who accepted the offer. But lo and behold, the buyer ended up demolishing the guesthouse.

To add insult to injury, Bennett says the buyer put in “a swimming pool where the guesthouse stood with a gaudy stone wall waterfall at the shallow end.”

Regret No. 4: Rehabbing the roof

At first blush, rehabbing a major system in the house—like the roof—may seem like a no-brainer way to attract a buyer. But it’s not always worth it.

“I worked with sellers who were told by numerous buying agents that if they replaced their roof, then they could sell their house quicker,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Georgia’s Breyer Home Buyers.

Without talking to their own agent, the sellers tore off the roof and installed a new one—a decision that cost $11,390. When the project was done, the house sat on the market for months, despite the brand-new shingles.

“To move the property, the sellers ultimately had to reduce the price by $17,000,” Breyer says.

Not only did the roof not make a difference in the home sale, but the decision to sink money into the repair led to a total loss of $28,390.

What the sellers should have done, according to Breyer, was to look at the recently sold houses—not just those that were listed—in their area to determine what to fix or leave alone.

Regret No. 5: DIYing to cut corners

Some home improvements are better left to the pros. It’s a lesson Debra Carpenter learned the hard way when she put her first house up for sale.

“I thought I was going to easily flip it for a giant profit,” the Idaho-based real estate agent says. “Instead, I made all kinds of unneeded improvements that didn’t increase the home’s value. They only narrowed my profit margin!”

Her biggest mistake was purchasing four “granite-look” painting kits to redo the counters in the kitchen and bathrooms on a budget.

“It turned out terribly—gray and black paint blotches that looked nothing like granite,” says Carpenter.

The counters all had to be redone, costing thousands of dollars more than she had originally budgeted.

Regret No. 6: Opening Pandora’s box

It’s common to want to complete some home improvements before putting your house on the market, but doing so might plunge you head first into a mess of expensive repairs.

“I had a seller who wanted to renovate his two-family home before putting it on the market,” says Carola Encarnacion of New York’s DJK Residential.

The seller wanted to install new insulation throughout the home, despite the contractor’s warning that gutting the walls could lead to plumbing problems.

Sure enough, the difficulties started piling up. The seller had to install a new sprinkler system throughout the entire house to meet new building codes. This ended up costing thousands of dollars, and the seller did not receive a good return on the investment.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/pre-sale-home-improvements-sellers-regret/

Original Date: Dec 3, 2018

Written By: Margaret Heidenry

The Very Best Real Estate Advice of 2018 That You’ve Just Gotta See Again

advice-2018-review

Navigating the home-buying and -selling process is kind of like diving into “Game of Thrones” for the first time: People speak in a language you don’t quite understand. There’s backstory you should research before you get started. And ideally, you’d have someone by your side who knows what’s coming and who can guide you through the experience.

Yes, buying, owning, and selling a home comes with its own share of drama and plot twists. But rest assured: We’re here to help guide you! That’s why we’ve doled out so much expert advice over the past 12 months on every possible real estate topic we could think of.

But what was most useful to you? In no particular order, here are our most-read advice pieces of 2018—the greatest hits that resonated with you the most and (hopefully!) have helped make your real estate journey a little less overwhelming. (Just click the headlines to read the full story.)

6 Home Maintenance Tasks You May Not Even Realize You Have to Do

Does anyone actually like the tedium of home maintenance tasks? We’re doubtful. (Although if you’re out there and single, call me!) But when you’re a homeowner, regular—and monotonous—maintenance comes with the territory.

And sure, you might think you know what you have to do to keep your house in order—mow the lawn, clean the gutters, sweep your chimney. But we guarantee there are some small things you’re overlooking—things that can create big problems and enormous repair bills.

Can’t-miss tip: Clean your refrigerator drip pan. Your what now? If you didn’t know your fridge has one of these, you’re not alone. It turns out, like with belly buttons, we all have one—and it can get pretty gross (and moldy) if you don’t clean it regularly.

But to clean your drip pan, first you have to find it. Just remove the kick panel at the bottom of your refrigerator, then use a flashlight to trace the defrost drain line to the pan. Pull out the pan carefully (it could be full of water), then empty and wash it with an all-purpose cleaner.

5 Mortifying Reasons Mortgage Applications End Up in the ‘Reject’ Pile

Don't let your dream home dreams die with a mortgage rejection.
Don’t let your dream home dreams die with a mortgage rejection.Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

You’ve scrimped and saved for your first home, and you’ve already mentally moved in. But then, in a cruel and humiliating twist of fate, your mortgage application is rejected. How could this happen to you, of all people?

According to a Federal Reserve study, 1 in 8 mortgage applications (12%) is rejected. And often those rejections are the result of something you could have easily avoided.

Can’t miss tip: If you’re a Venmo-only kind of gal, or you’ve avoided using credit cards (debt’s bad, right?), it’s time to rethink your fiscal approach and swipe that plastic.

Credit cards allow you to establish a credit history—proof of a strong track record of paying off past debts. (Of course, don’t forget to actually pay those bills.) Without that credit history, lenders will likely be reluctant to fork over loan money they can’t be certain they’ll get back.

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets—and What If You Don’t?

Get thee to a laundromat.
Get thee to a laundromat.iStock; realtor.com

Quick: When was the last time you changed your sheets? If you can’t remember, we won’t judge—you’re in good company (38% of Americans wash their sheets less than once a week). But after you read this, you might want to strip your bed, pronto.

This year, we launched a series where we put all aspects of home ownership under a microscope—literally. In “According to Science,” we take a look at the scientific reasons behind what’s happening in your home, the weird stuff that can be avoided, and, in this instance, what’s lurking under your covers.

“Body oils, sweat, and sloughed-off skin,” answers Bill Carroll Jr., an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University. “We live in a world of pathogens, and not all are virulent enough to take us down. But can bedclothes spread disease? Kind of.” Yuck.

Can’t miss tip: We’ll let you read up on the bacterial Armageddon that’s happening every day you don’t wash your sheets. But if you want to slow down the invasion, just make a simple adjustment to your bed-making routine: Each morning, pull all the covers down from the fitted sheet and let things air out for a few minutes. This lets the sweat and moisture evaporate from your sheets.

7 Mistakes People Make Handling Deceased Family Members’ Estates

Don't make these mistakes.
Don’t make these mistakes.Punkbarby/iStock

This one might seem macabre, but dealing with a deceased family member’s estate is, unfortunately, a part of life. And not an easy one: Figuring out what to do with your loved one’s property and possessions, all while you’re grieving, can feel like a one-two punch. So it’s understandable that mistakes happen. We ID’d the biggest ones to avoid during this turbulent time.

Can’t-miss tip: When you’re going through a loved one’s belongings, it’s easy to overvalue the sentimental stuff and undervalue the things that are unfamiliar to you. Rather than unwittingly letting go of something rare and valuable, talk to an appraiser before you get started.

How Much Below the Asking Price Should You Offer on a House? Answers Here!

“I’d love to pay more for that house than I have to!” said no one ever.

Every home buyer wants to score a deal, and the most obvious place to start is with the house’s sticker price. Offering below asking is a common tactic, but not one that always works. How low can you go before you offend the seller—and ruin your chances of landing your dream home?

Can’t miss tip: In the same way you should know how long that leftover chicken parm has been in your fridge, you should know how long any house you’re eyeing has been on the market. If you’re familiar with the property history, you can get a better idea of demand for the house—and whether the listing is getting stale.

“Two days on the market? Probably not a good idea to go in with a lowball offer $50,000 below asking price,” Jennifer Carlson of Coldwell Banker in East Greenwich, RI, told us. “A whole year on the market, with price reductions? Go ahead and roll the dice. The longer a house has been on the market, the less of an upper hand the seller has in negotiation.”

The number of days on market is public on most online listings, and if not, any good real estate agent should know.

7 Decluttering Myths That Could Derail Your Dreams of an Organized Home

Are your decluttering efforts doing more harm than good?
Are your decluttering efforts doing more harm than good?iStock

Decluttering seems like the last thing you’d be able to screw up. Isn’t it just sorting and tossing?

Well, sure, that’s a big part of it. But a good decluttering session (yes, there’s good and bad) hinges on more than just purging. And if you go into decluttering mode assuming you know how to do it right, you could end up with more stuff than you started with.

Can’t miss tip: We’ve been conditioned by organizing gurus like Marie Kondo to keep only the things that “spark joy” and to toss everything else. We don’t disagree entirely. But realistically, some exceptions should be made.

“Let’s be clear: My diaper pail does not spark joy, but it’s an essential item that is used every day in my home,” Laura Kinsella, owner of Urban OrgaNYze in New York City, told us.

Declutter with this thought in mind, she says: Is this item beautiful in my home or does it prove to be useful? If the answer is no, then it’s probably time for it to go.

The One Room That’ll Make Buyers Bail, Even If They Love the House

What dark secret is your home hiding?
What dark secret is your home hiding?iStock

You know the one. You’re touring a home, loving every aspect of it, and then bam! You turn a corner and see a space that just kills the whole home-buying mood.

Can’t miss tip: Got an empty room? You might think it’s a selling point: Look at all that space! The buyers can envision themselves in your home without your stuff in the way!

But “empty rooms can kill a home sale, especially if the other rooms are furnished,” real estate analyst Allison Bethell told us.

A room without furniture leaves the buyer wondering if it’s unnecessary space. Plus, any imperfections will stand out. If you have an empty room, stage it as an office, crafts room, or guest bedroom.

The Pros and Cons Of Buying a Home in the Winter


In order to successfully buy a home during the winter season it is important to understand the pros and cons of the situation.  When buying a home in the winter both sellers and buyers must be flexible and patient with one another when it comes to viewing properties and choosing a closing date. Never feel pressured to buy a home that isn’t exactly what you want.  If the inventory you are looking for isn’t there in December, maybe it will come available in January.

Winter can be a perfect time to buy a home even though not the traditional time to do so.  Buying a home during the winter season can prove to be cost effective for savvy, patient, buyers.  Below are some tips to making the most out of buying a home right now.

Understand the Pros

No matter what season you buy your home in there will be pros and cons, the winter season is no exception.  It’s important to view the challenges and benefits of winter home buying.  One benefit of winter house hunting is the decrease in competition.  Fewer buyers are out searching and there fore there is more room for negotiations.  During the winter there are fewer bidding wars and home prices are on closing, on average, for $3,100 or less.

Another advantage of buying a home in the winter is the speed at which you can go from finding the home of your dreams to closing on it.  Sellers are motivated to move, and buyers are ready to settle in.  With fewer homes on the market to view the decision-making process becomes a bit more limited and therefore the focus is more directed. 

Recognize the Cons

The major down fall with purchasing a home in the winter is that it is a mess.  The temperatures are not conducive to be in and out of the car and house all day.  Snow, puddles, and ice can be difficult to navigate.  The property can’t be completely viewed in all its glory when snow is covering decks, patios, and driveways.  Buyers must rely on photos or video taken when the snow was not covering the landscape.  The home inspection must also be done in the winter and thus certain aspects like the exterior of the home will not be able to be as thoroughly examined.  Make sure you hire an inspector that has experience in winter home inspections.

Be Flexible

The winter season is filled with holidays which we already know can be a stressful time of year. Even the most motivated seller can find themselves unable to drop everything to be prepared for a walk through. Be flexible in your scheduling of viewing homes, inspections, appraisals, and so forth. 

Research, Research, and More Research

It is important to ask for documentation for work that has been done around the home.  Find out when the roof was last replaced, when windows were last updates, furnace maintenance performed and so on.  This will give you an understanding on when you should expect upcoming repairs to be needed.

C21 Lady of the Lakes is a full-service realtor serving Livingston County and the surrounding areas with all their real estate needs.  More information can be found at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com/.