Category Archives: In The News

Hardball Fouls: 6 Home-Selling Negotiation Strategies That Can Backfire

When you’re selling your home, you might imagine you hold all the cards. And you do—sort of. But it’s easy to become overconfident in a seller’s market. If  you don’t do a reality check, pronto, you could end up sabotaging your sale. So much for that straight flush!

Here are six common home seller negotiation tactics that can totally backfire if you don’t approach them carefully.

1. Starting a bidding war

Bidding wars are the stuff of home sellers’ dreams. And there’s nothing wrong with fueling a little competition among buyers in order to get the best deal for you. But this tactic can easily backfire if you bungle it.

“If mishandled, people may assume the worst, and the best offer may walk away,” says Sep Niakan, owner/broker at Miami-based HB Roswell Realty.

Common bidding war bungles include the following:

  • Not clearly explaining upfront how you intend to handle multiple offers.
  • Giving an offer deadline that is too many days away. Some buyers might not want to wait for you to make a decision, especially if other homes are in contention.
  • Already having a strong offer on the table, but then insisting that all potential buyers come back with their highest and best bid. There’s no guarantee buyers will play ball and, if that strong offer walks, you’re stuck with lower offers to choose from.

Bottom line: Proceed with caution before turning up the heat on the competition, lest you risk losing out on a dream deal.

2. Haggling over repairs

What if the buyer completes an inspection and comes back with a long list of requested repairs? If sellers get too tough here, they might send a buyer walking.

The sellers should consider how good the overall package is for them before refusing to do repairs, says Lucas Machado, president of House Heroes in Miami. “When the buyer’s offer is high, and the seller tries to negotiate away from legitimate repairs, the buyer may feel the seller is taking advantage of them.”

3. Threatening to put your home back on the market

If negotiations aren’t quite going your way, you might be tempted to call the buyer’s bluff. Hey, if they don’t want to ante up, you can always put your home back on the market and find another eager buyer to squeeze. Right?

Yes, you might find another taker quickly. But beware of this move—it might not go according to plan.

That’s because there’s often a stigma associated with putting a home back on the market, and it might be harder to get buyers to take a second look, says Realtor® Michael Hottman, associate broker at Keller Williams Richmond West in Richmond, VA.

“Exercise caution with this tactic, because real estate markets can change quickly from hot to cold, leaving you without all those buyers you were expecting,” Hottman says. “And the ones who you had initially thought were legitimate prospects may have moved on to other homes in the time between your property originally going under contract and now coming back on the market.”

4. Being stubborn on the closing date

You’ve decided you’re not going to allow the new people to move in until (insert future date) because that’s when the closing date is on your new home. Or, they can’t possibly take possession this spring because your kids are still finishing school.

Guess what? Your buyers have scheduling issues of their own, says John Powell, chief development officer at Help-U-Sell Real Estate in Tucson, AZ.

“Sellers need to understand that they may have to move twice, since buyer and seller schedules seldom work out perfectly.”

5. Getting greedy over what comes with the house

Planning to take your beautiful custom light fixtures with you? Not so fast, Hottman warns. Often, he finds that sellers have expensive fixtures in place to show the home, but plan on taking them when they move. And that can cause trouble at the negotiating table.

The buyer “might have decided to buy the ceiling fan, and the house happens to come with it, or they get so upset that a fixture they fell in love with is now missing that they won’t buy the home,” Hottman says.

Avoid this confusion by replacing anything that won’t be staying with the house before you show it. If that’s not possible, be prepared to leave the prized fixture behind, or negotiate a comparable replacement.

6. Refusing to pay closing costs

So, you’re coming down the home stretch and this deal is almost done. Congratulations! But the buyer asked you to cover their closing costs.

Before you say “no way,” consider it this way: Buyers sometimes roll the amount of those closing costs into their offer. For instance, let’s say your home is listed for $200,000. A buyer might then submit an offer for $204,000, but ask you to cover the $4,000 in closing costs.

“Some sellers will hold firm at the $204,000 offer and refuse to pay the closing costs because they want this higher price the buyer offered,” Hottman says. “Some sellers can’t see the net is nearly identical between a $200,000 offer with no closing costs and $204,000 with $4,000 in seller-paid closing costs, and they miss out.”

A good deal comes down to doing the math, keeping your ego in check, and putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes. After all, when you sell your house, you’ll probably be buying one, too.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/selling-negotiation-tactics-that-backfire/

Original Date: Nov 1 2017

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7 Tips on How to Find a Good Real Estate Agent

Whether you’re buying or selling a house, understanding how to find a good real estate agent is essential. Your agent will help you through all steps of the process and answer the myriad technical, tactical, and financial questions that arise, so you don’t have to waste hours Googling into the abyss. A good real estate agent will also have a clear handle on the ins and outs of the housing market in your area. Below are some of the best places to turn to find someone you know you can trust.

1. Find the agent with the most listings

One simple, somewhat passive way to find the best real estate agent is to identify which agents have the most listings in your area. Experience with many clients indicates a certain amount of ambition and hustle. Be warned, however.

“If they have the bulk of the listing in your community, what priority do you think they will assign your home and yet another listing?” asks Jason Opland, a Realtor® with Better Homes and Gardens Realty in Columbus, OH.

2. Get referrals from family and friends

Another common strategy for finding an agent is through word of mouth. Ask your family, friends, and neighbors whom they recommend.

“If people close to you have used an agent they liked, then you’ll probably like them as well,” says agent Amy McDonald of Triplemint in New York City.

Be sure to explicitly ask “Would you use the person again?” says Denise Shur, a Realtor with 1:1 Realty in San Jose, CA. Shur also thinks hiring a friend or family member as an agent could work “if you reasonably believe they will look out for your interest like nobody else will.”

3. Get a referral from your previous agent

If you’re moving to a new area, you could reach out to your previous agent for a referral.

My brokerage “has a network of agents we use across the country, and we can refer you to someone who would likely be a good fit,” says McDonald.

4. Ask a relocation specialist

A cross-state or cross-country move can be daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with any real estate agents in the area.

“Your best option is to contact an agent who specializes in relocation and works with agents from across the country and has access to agent performance and production reports,” says Opland. He says a relocation specialist can collect information on the type of property you’re looking for and use that to match you with a top professional in your area.

5. Look for community leadership

Here’s an outside-the-box approach: Look beyond the performance numbers and find agents who have actually invested in the area.

“Work with someone who believes in your community and does more than sell homes—someone who participates in local schools, developing businesses, or charities,” says Realtor Rodney Camren of Keller Williams Realty Intown in Atlanta. “Someone who is really invested will sell more than your home—they’ll sell your entire community when the potential buyer presents themselves.”

6. Evaluate what ‘good’ means to you

Your idea of a good real estate agent is probably different from someone else’s, so it’s important to make a list of qualities you most desire in the person you hire to sell or find you a home.

“’Best’ is a very subjective term,” says Alex Cortez, a Realtor with Island Sotheby’s International Realty, in Makawao, HI.

Does “good” mean they’re the most ethical, have the highest sale volume, or have the greatest experience? Do you want an agent who takes charge, or one who focuses more on making you feel heard? Is customer service the highest priority?

“Keep in mind, you will be communicating with your agent for (potentially) several months as you search for a home, submit an offer, and go through the escrow process,” says Cortez. “It would be in your best interest to find an agent with whom you have a natural rapport.”

7. Make sure the agent’s license is up to date

Before you sign with an agent, there’s one more thing you should check: the agent’s license. To check that the license is current, go to your state’s real estate department website and look up the agent’s name. You will also be able to see if the agent has faced any disciplinary action.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/how-do-i-find-the-three-best-realtors-in-my-area/

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What to Expect From a Listing Agent

Before you start making lofty demands of your listing agent, it’s important to understand what the agent is actually responsible for. We’re not saying you’re high-maintenance; you just need to know what you can and can’t ask the agent to do.

By setting realistic expectations, you’re likely to leave the home-selling process feeling like your agent really did all she could to get you the best deal—even if you didn’t see or hear about every little thing she did to market your home. In the interest of transparency, let’s dive into the things a listing agent is responsible for once you sign a contract.

What role does a listing agent play?

A listing agent’s job is “to help direct the seller in preparing the house for sale, market the property to buyer’s agents, and handle the offer and transaction process to get the sale to completion,” says Teri Andrews Murch, a Realtor® with Lyon Real Estate in Auburn, CA.

So when you think about your expectations for your agent, make sure they fit within that scope.

However, the specific responsibilities can vary from agent to agent. A good listing agent will help you price your home, attend pitch sessions, recommend a photographer and stager to make your home look its best, and put your home on the multiple listing service.

Some agents might be unwilling to fulfill every one of your requests if they don’t think they will help your home sell. For example, you might want to advertise your house in the local paper, but “depending on the area you are in, print advertising may not be used much at all,” says Murch.

Set expectations from the start

To make sure you’re both on the same page, you should discuss your expectations from the get-go with any real estate agent you plan on hiring. Find out how often you’ll communicate, and by what means.

“Usually I try to touch base with my sellers when I have feedback from showings or agent tours, and at least once every seven to 10 days by phone,” Murch says.

“Don’t be afraid to be upfront and to the point with your real estate agent,” she adds. “We want to know when our clients aren’t happy.”

Once you’re in agreement, put it in writing in the form of a listing agreement.

“A listing agreement should be a partnership,” says real estate consultant Cathy Baumbusch of Alexandria, VA. “Both parties should outline their expectations in the beginning, in detail, and in writing. That is the only way you can do business.”

You won’t see all the agent’s work

Just because things seem quiet doesn’t mean the agent isn’t working on your behalf.

“A lot of the work we do—such as networking with other agents, maintaining the listing, answering calls or inquiries, and sending out information—tends to be invisible to the sellers unless we communicate that,” says Murch.

However, if more regular updates will make you happy, speak up.

When things go wrong

Sometimes, even after you’ve agreed on everything with your agent in writing, your expectations aren’t met. What then?

Before you send that angry email, be honest with yourself and see if you’re holding anything up.

“I would look at the home’s condition—how does it show?” says Murch. “Are there too many restrictions on how or when the property can be shown?”

If you truly believe that your home looks show-ready and that you’ve made it available, Murch says you might need to revisit the pricing. That could be why you haven’t attracted interest yet.

Other ways to troubleshoot your stalled sale?

“Ask your agent to provide you with the list of all marketing avenues, and then see how it looks in comparison with other properties that are active or sold in your area,” says Janice Caputo, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Pittsburgh.

Definitely have a conversation with your agent if you’re unsatisfied, and try to be receptive to the agent’s feedback. If you believe that your agent isn’t taking your concerns seriously, your next course of action is speaking with the agent’s agency.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/what-should-i-expect-from-my-realtor/

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Original Date: Oct 4 2017

‘It’s Been Months and My Home Won’t Sell’—How to Revive a Stale Listing

A house that’s seen minimal movement on the market for months is frustrating. In fact, frustrating might be an understatement. For some, a home that won’t sell can be a desperate situation—especially if selling it was a last-ditch effort to avoid foreclosure. That’s why, if you have yet to find a buyer, it’s important to take a step back and assess exactly why your house isn’t selling. So let’s dive in and discuss some of the main factors that hinder house sales and how you can maneuver your way around them so you can offload your home—hopefully sooner than later.

Ask your real estate agent these questions

If your house has been on the market for months with no offers, the first factor you want to consider is the market. Does the current market favor buyers or sellers? Talk to your real estate agent about the median days on the market in your area for comparable homes. Perhaps things just aren’t moving quickly in the current market. Sometimes, real estate is hot, and other times it’s not.

You can also discuss any showings by your agent or other agents and the feedback given by other agents and potential buyers. Their feedback could help you rethink how you and your agent are marketing the house.

Some other questions to ask your agent include:

  • Is your home listed on your local multiple listing service?
  • Has every inquiry turned into a showing appointment? If not, why?
  • How does your listing look compared with the homes priced similarly?
  • Since the day you listed, what properties have accepted offers, how many days did it take, and what price were they asking?

Reassess your expectations

While you might think your house is a steal of a deal, make sure you’re able to objectively look at the situation, says Beverley Hourlier, a Realtor® with Hilltop Chateau in San Diego.

“The buyer has to perceive the value to be there. If not, no offers. How do you stand up to the comparables in the neighborhood? Be honest in your assessment, because vanity or pride could be costing you money,” she says

Is the price right?

Beyond the temperature of the market and your marketing efforts, the most likely factor when it comes to a lack of offers on a home is price.

“Properties sell when they are priced correctly,” says Tracey Martin, a Realtor with Realty World Premier Associates in Salinas, CA. “The value of your home is determined by what a buyer is willing to pay for it. If it is too high, you won’t get any offers.”

Marketing makes a big difference, too, says Robin Lemmons, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker King in Gahanna, OH.

“If you have had a lot of showings with no offers, it is a pricing issue. If you are having very little activity, it can be a pricing or marketing issue. Is your house being marketed on all the major websites? How is the quality and quantity of the photos?” she says.

How low can you go?

If you determine your home was overpriced out of the gate, then lowering it might help. However, you need to be strategic in terms of just how much you drop the price. You can slash your price by $50,000, but if it’s still above your competition or there are major repairs or updates that need to be done, your chances of selling remain low.

Of course, you never want to lower the price below the amount owed on your loan. Instead of doing that, you should either stay in the property until the value goes up, consider a short sale, or pay the difference between what you owe and what you can get for your home.

Consider new representation

If your agent isn’t responsive or doesn’t have a good explanation for why your property isn’t selling, then you might want to consider a new agent, says Teresa Stephenson, vice president of residential brokerage for Platinum Properties in New York. Just don’t expect a new agent to have the magic solution.

“If you speak with another agent, keep in mind that they are motivated to tell you what you want to hear,” Stephenson says. “If they are telling you that they can get you the price you want, ask them for data to justify their claims. With the transparency and accessibility provided by the internet today, it is a rare circumstance when a real estate agent has exclusive access to any buyers. Buyers know what is out there,” she says.

While it might not always happen as quickly as you like, your home will eventually sell. You just need a strong strategy, a healthy dose of patience, and, let’s face it, a bit of good luck.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/why-wont-my-house-sell-after-months-on-the-market/

Original Date: Sept 14 2017

Original Author: Julie Ryan Evans

What Are Real Estate Agents’ Hours Like?

When you have a home to sell or want to buy a home, you’re probably going to start wondering about real estate agents’ hours. If you’re like most of us and have an even mildly insane schedule—work, kids, you name it—meeting with anyone during normal business hours can be a serious challenge. So how hard is it to find someone who can work around your hours? And what type of hours does a real estate agent keep, anyhow?

Real estate agents’ hours vary

So what hours do they work? The simple answer: Everything depends on the agent. If you’ve looked for houses before, you know that most open houses happen on weekends around brunch time or into the early afternoon. That’s a time frame that most real estate agents expect to dedicate to their clients. Saturday at 8 p.m.? Not so likely.

Still, if your schedule allows you to view houses only on weeknight evenings, there is probably an agent out there who can accommodate you. You just have to look.

The 80-20 rule often applies when it comes to real estate agents, says Lee Dworshak, a real estate agent with Keller Williams LA Harbor Realty in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

“Twenty percent of the licensed agents out there are handling 80% of the sales,” she says.

What about the other 80%? They are agents most likely working part time, possibly around their kids’ schedules or a primary career. That means their hours are more limited, although they could coincide with the hours when you are available. Just ask.

Real estate agent Ashlie Roberson of Triplemint tells clients her office hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“That said, a great broker understands that this is an industry where we work around our client’s schedule, and we do what we need to do to provide the best service possible, regardless of what time it is,” Roberson says.

Communication is key

If you know your schedule is hectic, be sure to mention this to your agent before you start working together. Have a frank conversation about how well your times will sync up before you sign an agreement. This will ensure you’re not signing up for months of mutual frustration.

Roberson makes herself available for emergencies occurring beyond her office hours. But she says planning is crucial. So if you need to schedule an early-morning or late-night showing, be sure to bring it up well ahead of time. There’s no guarantee that your agent will be able to accommodate you, but providing notice makes it more likely.

The home you’re interested in buying might be occupied while it’s on the market, Roberson adds. “This just means there’s another party’s schedule you need to take into consideration. So there are a lot of factors that contribute to your schedule.”

To make the process work for everyone, you will need to be flexible, too. Keep in mind that this inconvenience is temporary. A little sacrifice of time now will pay off later. But the good news is, whatever your hours, there’s probably a Realtor who can work with you.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/what-are-a-realtors-hours-like/

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Original Date: Sept 1 2017

FSBO Risks: 4 Scary Scenarios ‘For Sale by Owner’ Home Sellers Face

Going the “For Sale by Owner” route is a tempting alternative to hiring a real estate agent to sell your home. After all, listing agents charge a commission for their work that can eat into your own profits. So why not try to save money by selling your home yourself?

Here’s why: There are some major risks with going FSBO, from a lower sales price to landing in legal hot water. So before you pursue this DIY route, here’s a warning of some of the bad things you might encounter when you attempt a FSBO arrangement.

 1. Your listing won’t be seen by many buyers

One key thing a real estate agent will do for you is create an eye-catching ad for your home, with attractive photos and a winning description that will reel in buyers (by, say, playing up those hardwood floors and granite countertops). Sure, you can probably cobble together your own ad, but there’s one thing you absolutely can’t do if you go FSBO: Post that ad on the multiple listing service.

Real estate agents pay to put their listings on the MLS, which is then distributed far and wide, including to sites such as realtor.com®. Which is great, since that way you know your home can be seen by thousands of potential buyers and their agents. With FSBO, however, your home won’t go on the MLS; instead, it’ll go on sites that cater to FSBO listings, which get far less traffic.

“There are thousands of agents trying to sell your house when it’s on the MLS, but when you do it alone, only one person is trying to sell your house—you,” notes Realtor® Denise Briez with Pro100 in Neosho, MO.

2. Your home could sell for a much lower price

Pricing a home can be far more challenging than most newbies assume. The majority of sellers price their home based on emotions, or what they hope it should sell for in some dreamy best-case scenario.

“Often the seller is too personally invested in the situation and too close to be objective,” says John Powell, chief development officer at Help-U-Sell Real Estate in Tucson, AZ.

But buyers want a bargain, and they know when a place is overpriced. As such, listings with bloated prices tend to sit—and sit—on the market. Even if you eventually lower the price, buyers are likely to wonder at that point if there’s something wrong with your house since it’s languished on the market so long.

A real estate agent, by contrast, will provide an accurate home value based on a solid market analysis, plus serve as a buffer between you and buyers to facilitate successful negotiations and a resolution both parties can live with. This, in turn, means you can earn top dollar for your home—which means your agent will likely earn every penny he’s paid.

3. You could run into legal trouble

Selling a home is fraught with legal pitfalls that only a real estate agent will know. As such, when you choose the FSBO route, you could do something that skirts the law but not even know it.

“There are a lot of potential legal problems that can arise during home selling,” says David Welch, a Realtor with Re/Max 200 Realty in Winter Park, FL. “I would say disclosure requirements may be your most likely issue. Most states, maybe all of them, have requirements involving seller’s disclosure of defects in the property.”

Disclosure requirements vary by state, but might include information on lead-based paint, nearby environmental hazards or sex offenders, and even whether someone died in the house. If you know of such info but keep mum, you could be committing a prosecutable offense and have one highly irate buyer on your hands to boot.

4. You might end up with a buyer who doesn’t pan out

Even if your FSBO listing gets an offer that you accept, you’re not out of the woods quite yet. For one, buyers fall through or back out for all sorts of reasons. For instance, you might inadvertently choose a buyer who can’t get a loan, which means you’ll have to start back at square one.

A real estate agent will be your ally in confirming a buyer is pre-approved for the correct loan amount, and then will ensure there is an airtight contract in place so the entire process will proceed smoothly.

Due to the risks of FSBO homes, many sellers eventually realize they can’t afford to not hire a real estate agent. So make sure to weigh the FSBO trade-offs against your money, time, and peace of mind.

Original Source: http://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/four-risks-fsbo-homes/

Original Date: Aug 16 2017

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7 Questions to Ask a Home Inspector Before Your Home Inspection Even Begins

What are some questions to ask a home inspector? Given this professional is charged with checking out a home for any flaws before you buy it, he’s an important safeguard who could protect you from purchasing a lemon—and squandering tons of cash in repairs.

Questions to ask a home inspector

So, how do you separate a great home contractor from a merely good one? It boils down to interviewing home inspectors to gauge how thorough a job they’ll do. To help, here are some of the best questions to ask. Bonus: This’ll also help you know what to expect! Knowledge is power, my friends.

1. “What do you check?”

“A lot of people don’t know exactly what a home inspector is going to do,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

It’s a lot! A home inspector scrutinizes a long list of more than 1,600 features on a home.

“We inspect everything from the roof to the foundation and everything in between,” Lesh says.

Going into the inspection with a clear understanding of what the inspector can and can’t do will ensure that you walk away from the inspection happy.

2. “What don’t you check?”

There are limits. For instance, “we’re restricted to a visual inspection,” says Lesh. “We can’t cut a hole in somebody’s wall.”

As a result, an inspector will often flag potential problems in the report and you will have to get another expert—a roofer, HVAC person, builder, electrician, or plumber—to come back and do a more detailed examination.

“Understand that we’re looking at what exists in the house today,” says home inspector Randy Sipe of Spring Hill, KS. “I can’t see into the future any more than anybody else.”

3. “What do you charge for an inspection?”

Home inspections usually cost between $300 and $600, though it will depend on the market, the size of house, and the actual inspector. Generally you’ll pay the inspector the day of the inspection, so you’ll want to know in advance how much and what forms of payment are accepted.

Lesh cautions against going with an inspector who quotes you a very low price. “That’s often a sign they’re having trouble getting customers,” he says.

Spending on a good inspector will more than pay for itself in the long run.

4. “How long have you been doing this?”

Or perhaps more important: How many inspections have you done? A newer inspector doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality, but experience can mean a lot—especially if you’re considering an older home or something with unusual features.

5. “Can I come along during the inspection?”

The answer to this should be a resounding yes! Any good inspector will want prospective owners to be present at the inspection. Seeing somebody explain your house’s systems and how they work will always be more valuable than reading a report, and it gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get clarifications in the moment. If an inspector requests that you not join him, definitely walk away. Run!

6. “How long will the inspection take?”

Inspections often take place during the work week, when the seller is less likely to be around. Knowing how much time you’ll need to block out will keep you from having to rush through the inspection to get back to the office. You’ll get only a ballpark figure, because much will depend on the condition of the house. But if you are quoted something that seems way off—such as a half-day for a two-bedroom apartment, or just an hour for a large, historic house—that could be a red flag that the inspector doesn’t know what he’s doing, says Lesh.

7. “Can I see a sample report?”

If you’re buying your first home, it can be helpful to see someone else’s report before you see your own. Every house has problems, usually lots of them, though most generally aren’t that big of a deal. A sample report will keep you from panicking when you see your own report, and it will give you a sense of how your inspector communicates. It’s another opportunity to ensure that you and your inspector are on the same page.

Original Source: http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/questions-to-ask-a-home-inspector/

Original Date: Aug 1 2017

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8 Dumb Reasons People Can’t Buy a Home

Buying a home—especially if it’s your first—can be a lot like losing weight in the sense that people end up doing, well, some pretty dumb stuff in the process. But while desperate dieters might waste money on “magical” weight-loss pills or silly exercise equipment (remember the shake weight?), misguided home buyers could be doing far more serious damage—like undermining their ability to purchase a house at all. Don’t be one of them! We asked real estate agents to shed light on some of the dumbest reasons people can’t buy a home. The good news? These flubs are easily avoidable. Read on and beware.

Dumb reason No. 1: Waiting to line up financing

Your first step in the home-buying process should be to meet with a mortgage lender to discuss your financing options, says Benny Kang, a real estate agent in Irvine, CA.

“You don’t truly know what you can afford until you meet with a lender,” says Kang. In other words, just because you think you can buy a $1 million house doesn’t mean you can actually get a loan to purchase a home that nice.

Dumb reason No. 2: Using a fly-by-night mortgage lender

The mortgage industry is rife with scams—including a slew of fake or unreliable lenders. Placing your trust in a bad lender can cause a deal to fall through. That explains why “sometimes sellers reject offers because of the buyer’s lender,” says Philadelphia real estate agent Kathy Conway. To make sure your financing is rock-solid, ask your real estate agent for lender recommendations instead of, say, just Googling it. And read up to know your mortgage basics.

Dumb reason No. 3: Getting pre-qualified rather than pre-approved

Pre-qualification and pre-approval might sound similar, but they’re not. Essentially, anyone can get pre-qualified for a loan, because it only involves having a conversation with a lender about the state of your finances (no documents are exchanged). Getting pre-approved, meanwhile, involves the lender gathering all necessary documentation—your tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, and more—packaging the loan, and submitting the file to an underwriter for review. If everything checks out, the lender will issue you a written commitment for financing up to a certain loan amount that’s good for up to 90 or 120 days.

When you submit an offer on a home, you’ll need to include a pre-approval letter from your lender, says Conway.

“Educated sellers won’t even entertain an offer unless the buyer has a letter of pre-approval” from a reliable lender, Conway says.

Dumb reason No. 4: Shopping outside your price range

“It sounds obvious, but some home buyers just have trouble sticking to a budget,” says Kang. Therefore, resist the temptation to shop online for homes that are simply outside your price range (i.e., how much you’ve been pre-approved for).

Dumb reason No. 5: Making lowball offers in a seller’s market

You need to rely on your real estate agent to determine whether a house that you’re interested in has a fair listing price. (Your agent will do this by performing a comparative market analysis, which entails looking at recently sold properties that are comparable to the house that’s up for sale.) If a home is priced well, it might make sense to offer full price, says Kang. Moreover, “if you’re in a seller’s market, making a crazy lowball offer can piss off the seller” and kill your offer, says Kang.

Dumb reason No. 6: Writing a bad personal letter to the seller

If you’re competing against other buyers, writing the seller a personal letter can help strengthen your offer. But Julie McDonough, a real estate agent in Southern California, says some home buyers are inclined to overshare, in which case a letter can actually hurt your offer.

“Stick to the fact that you love the house and the neighborhood,” says McDonough. “Don’t get into personal details” such as the fact that you’ve lost out on other homes or want to remodel the dated kitchen.

Dumb reason No. 7: Making a big purchase while in escrow

Some home buyers make the mistake of opening new credit accounts while they’re in the process of buying a house. But purchasing a big-ticket item like a car or a boat while you’re buying a house can jeopardize your financing. Why? Because your mortgage lender’s underwriter is going to re-evaluate your finances and recheck your credit report shortly before closing in order to determine that you’re still able to qualify for the loan.

“Even buying a fridge can throw off your credit or debt-to-income ratio,” says Conway. Translation: Don’t make any big purchases until after you close on the house.

Dumb reason No. 8: Not budgeting for closing costs

If you don’t have enough cash to cover closing costs, you won’t make it to settlement; and if that’s the case, you could lose your earnest money deposit. Thus, make sure to get an estimate from your mortgage lender of what your closing costs will be before making an offer on a property (currently, this is legally required—just make sure to read it).

Closing costs vary widely by location, but they typically total 2% to 7% of the home’s purchase price. So on a $250,000 home, your closing costs could come to $5,000 to $17,500. Both buyers and sellers usually pitch in on closing costs, but buyers shoulder the lion’s share of the load (3% to 4% of the home’s price) compared with sellers (1% to 3%), so you need to make sure you have enough cash on hand to pay your portion.

Original Source: http://www.realtor.com/advice/buy/dumb-reasons-people-cant-buy-a-home/

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Original Date: Jul 11, 2017

Outlook For Spring 2017 Real Estate Market

The 2016 real estate market was quiet a success.  Interest rates were lower than they had been since the 50’s.  Home values exceeded expectations and an end was in site to the housing recession.  With the federal housing administration offering grants and low interest rate loans there was a monumental increase in first time homebuyers.  With this in mind there are some Real Estate trends to consider as we enter the spring real estate season.

Increased Home Prices

As with 2016, home prices will continue to rise however it will happen at a more gradual pace.  With the buying demand already starting 2017 at a rate that is above 2016 it isn’t a surprise that there will be an increase in the median home price.  Many industry experts expect the increase in home prices to be upwards of five percent.

Increase in Inventory

Interest rates are currently low.  In order to take advantage of these lower interest rates more and more renters are looking into purchasing homes right now.   The same is true of many current homeowners looking to upgrade.  The one disadvantage to this for first time home buyers is that the inventory of homes within the low to average price range is low and moving quickly when it does hit the market. The inventory of homes is expected to increase in 2017 but is still at a historical low.

Volatile Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates remain low even with the slight increase that occurred following the 2016 election.  This was only the second time that we have seen a rate increase in housing interest rates in a decade.  It is important to note that the Federal Reserve, who controls the rise and decline of interest rates, has stated that they expect interest rates to increase at least three more times this year.  Realize however that these rates even with a few small increases will still be less than we have previously seen.

Availability to Credit Will Improve

With a new president in office there is talk of rolling back many of the financial regulations that were put into place post-crisis in the Dodd-Frank Act.  This means that the regulations on lending the banks are currently under would be removed and less strict rules would take their place.  It is also speculated that the new president would make moves to return mortgage companies that are government-controlled to the private sector.

The spring real estate season is getting started in just a few weeks.  If you are thinking of buying a home or selling your home now is the time to contact a local real estate agent for assistance.

Lady of the Lakes Real Estate is Livingston County’s premiere realtor; out of Pinckney, Michigan helping buyers buy and sellers sell homes that provide a recreational lifestyle including golf courses, lakes and the Huron river chain of lakes, throughout Brighton, Howell, Pinckney and the surrounding area. Find out more at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com.

Attracting Home Buyers During The Hot Fall Real Estate Season

Autumn is literally right around the corner.  The kids are back in school, the weather is becoming a bit more bearable and there is downtime between summer vacations and the holidays.  There is no doubt why fall is the second best season in real estate especially when it comes to selling your home.  Not only do the colors start to explode amongst the trees, for sale signs also start to reappear.  Below you will find some of our top tips to help sellers attract autumn home buyers.

Shape Up the Landscape

In order to attract buyers a home must appear well maintained inside and out.  Make sure to take time to rake up fallen leaves and clean debris before it settles.  Overgrown vegetation should be trimmed including small bushes and large trees around the home.  Dead flowers should be cut down and prepared for next spring and vine growth should be eliminated to enhance the exterior of your home.

Create an Autumn Atmosphere

Curb appeal is everything when it comes to selling your home for top dollar.  One way to enhance the feeling of warmth and fall is add a little bit of it to your home.  Take advantage of the beauty that comes from all things fall like corn stalks, pumpkins and mums.  Accent walkways and entrances to add to the fall appeal.

Window Washing

Everyone considers spring cleaning however the momentum often dies going into the fall season.  When looking to sell your home during the fall real estate season it is beneficial to thoroughly was dusty, streaked windows.   Clean off pet prints and wipe down window ledges.  The little details may not get noticed when they are on point but if they are left uncared for you can guarantee that buyers will take note.

HVAC Maintenance

Just as homeowners take time to have central air conditioning system evaluated at the beginning of the spring season, heating systems should be checked as well at the beginning of fall.  You will want your home to smell clean and dust free.  A dirty heating system says a lot about your home that you don’t want it to.  Replace furnace filters, have vents cleaned and do the yearly maintenance that needs to be done to ensure your system is running efficiently and clean.

Prepare Fall Edibles

The scent of fall is quiet attractive and should be used to your advantage during open houses and home visits.  Fresh apple cider smells, pumpkin spice cupcakes or leaf cut out cookies left out on the counter are all ways to welcome guests into your home.  People looking to purchase a home want it to be warm, cozy and inviting.  Make sure that appeal is what they feel when they first arrive.

Lady of the Lakes Real Estate is Livingston County’s premiere realtor; out of Pinckney, Michigan helping buyers buy and sellers sell homes that provide a recreational lifestyle including golf courses, lakes and the Huron river chain of lakes, throughout Brighton, Howell, Pinckney and the surrounding area. Find out more at http://www.ladyofthelakes.com.