Renovations to Skip if You Plan to Move

1. Swimming Pools
Swimming pools are one of those things that may be nice to enjoy at your friend’s or neighbor’s house, but that can be a hassle to have at your own home. Many potential homebuyers view swimming pools as dangerous, expensive to maintain and a lawsuit waiting to happen. Families with young children, in particular, may turn down an otherwise perfect house because of the pool (and the fear of a child going in the pool unsupervised).

2. Out-Building the Neighborhood
Often homeowners try to increase the value of their home so they make improvements to the property that unintentionally make the home fall outside of the norm for the neighborhood. While a large, expensive remodel, such as adding a second story with two bedrooms and a full bath, might make the home more appealing, it will not add significantly to the resale value if the house is in the midst of a neighborhood of small, one-story homes.

3. Extensive Landscaping
Homebuyers may appreciate well-maintained or mature landscaping, but don’t expect the home’s value to increase because of it. A beautiful yard may encourage potential buyers to take a closer look at the property, but will probably not add to the selling price. If a buyer is unable or unwilling to put in the effort to maintain a garden, it will quickly become an eyesore, or the new homeowner might need to pay a qualified gardener to take charge. Either way, many buyers view elaborate landscaping as a burden, though attractive and, as a result, are not likely to consider it when placing value on the home.

4. High-End Upgrades
Putting stainless steel appliances in your kitchen or imported tiles in your entryway may do little to increase the value of your home if the bathrooms are still vinyl-floored and the shag carpeting in the bedrooms is leftover from the ’60s. Upgrades should be consistent to maintain a similar style and quality throughout the home. A home that has a beautifully remodeled and modern kitchen can be viewed as a work in process if the bathrooms remain old. Thus, a kitchen upgrade might not get as high a return if the rest of the house needs work. High-quality upgrades generally increase the value of high-end homes, but not necessarily mid-range houses where the upgrade may be inconsistent with the rest of the home.

5. Carpeting
While real estate listings may still boast “new carpeting throughout” as a selling point, potential homebuyers today may cringe at the idea of having wall-to-wall carpeting. Carpeting is expensive to purchase and install. In addition, there is growing concern over the healthfulness of carpeting due to the amount of chemicals used in its processing and the potential for allergens (a serious concern for families with children). Add to that the probability that the carpet style and color that you thought was absolutely perfect might not be what someone else had in mind.

Because of these hurdles, wall-to-wall carpet is something on which it’s difficult to recoup the costs. Removing carpeting and restoring wood floors is usually a more profitable investment.

6. Invisible Improvements
Invisible improvements are those costly projects that you know make your house a better place to live in, but that nobody else would notice – or likely care about. A new plumbing system or HVAC unit (heating, venting, and air conditioning) might be necessary, but don’t expect it to recover these costs when it comes time to sell. Many home buyers simply expect these systems to be in good working order and will not pay extra just because you recently installed a new heater. It may be better to think of these improvements in terms of regular maintenance, and not an investment in your home’s value.

The Bottom Line
It is difficult to imagine spending thousands of dollars on a home-improvement project that will not be reflected in the home’s value when it comes time to sell. There is no simple equation for determining which projects will garner the highest return or the most bang for your buck. Some of this depends on the local market and even the age and style of the house. Homeowners frequently must choose between an improvement that they would really love to have (the in-ground swimming pool) and one that would prove to be a better investment. A bit of research, or the advice of a qualified real estate professional, can help homeowners avoid costly projects that don’t really add value to a home.

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HTTPS vs. HTTP Tips from ALTA


Many companies still use what’s commonly known as HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) to communicate between different systems and allow for the transfer of data from a web server to a browser, allowing users to view web pages.

Prior to 2014, only companies with e-commerce pages bothered using HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Then Google recommended websites switch to HTTPS. As an incentive, Google said it would give websites with HTTPS a bump in rankings, effectively punishing sites that did not make the switch.

The most important difference between the two protocols is the SSL certificate. HTTPS is basically an HTTP protocol with additional security. This additional security can be extremely important, especially for websites that take sensitive data from its users, such as credit card information and passwords.

When someone connects to a website with regular HTTP, the browser looks up the IP address that corresponds to the website, connects to that IP address and assumes it’s connected to the correct web server. Data is sent over the connection in clear text. An eavesdropper on a Wi-Fi network, your internet service provider or government intelligence agencies like the NSA can see the web pages that are being visited and the data that’s being transferred.

With HTTPS, the SSL certificate encrypts the information that users supply to the site, which basically translates the data into a code. If someone manages to steal the data being communicated between the sender and the recipient, they would not be able to understand it due to this encryption. In addition to adding that extra layer of security, HTTPS is also secured via Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. TLS helps provide data integrity, which helps prevent the transfer of data from being modified or corrupted, and authentication.

While HTTPS is commonly used for secure communication of information over the Internet, it does not mean the information and any NPI within the information is secure. If the NPI itself isn’t secured (encrypted, password protected, etc.), then it doesn’t matter if it’s transmitted via HTTPS or HTTP.  A company should make sure NPI is protected for any forms of transmission, transfer or storage.

The third pillar recommends companies adopt and maintain a written privacy and information security program to protect non-public personal information (NPI) as required by local, state and federal law.

Specifically, the procedures for network security of NPI suggest companies:

  • Maintain and secure access to company information technology
  • Develop guidelines for the appropriate use of company information technology.
  • Ensure secure collection and transmission of NPI.

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Should You Use a Realtor or Not When Selling Your Home

Obviously, when you put your home on the market to sell, you want to make the most money you can. The thought may run through your mind that you can sell it on your own, without a Realtor and that is understandable and can be the truth. But, there are some cons to trying to sell your home on your own. Know the obstacles as well as the benefits to the for sale by owner process before you make the decision.

PRO: You may make more money from the sale. Selling your home on your own, you might make more money than with a Realtor. You won’t have to pay the percentage fee based on the sale price. The biggest reason people try to sell their homes on their own is to save the commission.

CON: The financial benefit might not be as much as you think. A Realtor is experienced with correctly pricing the home – one of the hardest parts of selling. Without the guidance of a Realtor, sellers often rely on websites that incorrectly evaluate homes. They use algorithms that are too broad in scope and not specific to your home’s exact locale. They even admit to this in the fine print. Many FSBO homes are incorrectly priced. Nationwide statistics show that the average home sold by a Realtor sells for 13% more than the same type of home, same neighborhood as an FSBO. Overpricing a home is the top reason a home does not sell.

PRO: You have control over the sale of your home. Selling your home on your own means you have complete control of the entire process. No opinions from outsiders. You can price it, market it, negotiate all on your own.

CON: Your home will be a target for buyers looking for a bargain. Often buyers think they are going to get the best deal with an FSBO. They assume the seller is willing to sell for less because they do not have to pay a real estate agent, so be ready for such buyers.

PRO: You can devote all your attention to your home. Hiring a Realtor means that they probably have other clients selling homes. He or she won’t have all their time focused on your home.

CON: You will have to market your home without a network. FSBO home’s exposure to potential buyers is limited. Your choices for advertising are confined to yard signs, newspaper ads, FSBO classifieds, websites, open houses and word of mouth. This is often not enough to find the buyers. Most buyers choose Realtors to help them find their next home and if your home isn’t on the MLS, a Realtor won’t know to bring the buyer by.

CON: Time Consuming. You will have to devote a considerable amount of time to the sale. Your home needs to be inspected, repaired as necessary, photographed, filmed, listed, shown and more. If there are interested buyers, you will need to be available to answer their phone calls, to show the home when they are available and you will need to negotiate a good price. Plenty of people sell their own homes. Few of them do it well, so you need to be prepared to put in the work.

The Bottom Line: As much as you think you will have the time and energy to sell your own home, you won’t be able to do many of the things that an experienced Realtor can do. They are well trained in the laws pertaining to the sale of a property. They will be able to qualify a buyer. They will be able to take care of the pages and pages of paperwork. They will market and present your home with photos, and more for the most and best exposure. And, your home will be on the MLS, which is responsible for over 70% of home sales. You will need the exposure.

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You Can Sell Your Home in the Dark and Cold Month of January

Putting your home on the market to sell during an off-peak season is not the most optimal but if you hire a Realtor that knows your market well, even in January, you still can sell your home at a competitive price. If you are living in the Northeast, Midwest or other cold areas, the following are some ways that can help to sell your home faster and at a fair price during the darker months of January.

There are fewer homes being sold in January (and all Winter), which makes people nervous about putting their homes on the market. More home buyers are house-hunting in the Spring months when the weather is warmer, and the days are longer. But, you might be surprised to find out that Winter could actually be a great time to put your home on the market. The new year is a time when most people are back at work after the holidays and will often search the web for their next big move. If you are serious about selling your home, it should be online and marketed early to ensure they don’t miss this audience.

In most markets, because January isn’t a high selling month, you will need a very experienced Realtor to help price your home as it can be complex. You don’t want to scare off buyers by pricing too high or even too low, causing buyers to wonder what’s wrong with your house. When your home is put on the market in the winter, buyers often assume you are desperate to sell your home and may lowball you thinking you’ll sell for any price. Buyers house hunting during the traditional off-season of January, usually means they are eager to buy and more willing to negotiate the price.

One way you can spur some interest during cold January is to price your home slightly under comparable homes in order to draw in multiple offers. More offers tend to drive up the value of your home prompting more competitive bids from buyers who often will end up paying more than the initial asking price.

The real challenge might be to help dress up your home in dreary January weather. To help make your home feel more welcoming, shovel the walks, add outdoor illumination along paths, light candles indoors, add cozy throw blankets, have holiday-type smells such as cinnamon or cookies, but take down any holiday decorations.

Furthermore, during the cold, any problems you may have in your home can become more prominent including drafts and leaks. To help lessen these potential problems, crank up the heat so buyers feel toasty warm and will be less likely to notice any issues.

While it may be difficult to sell your home in January, it’s not impossible especially if you hire an experienced Realtor who knows your neighborhood well and can guide you to list your home at the best possible price. Sometimes, waiting to list your home during the beautiful Spring months when the sun is out and the trees are blooming and flowering can mean that you could miss out on potential buyers. Many Realtors will tell you, some of their best sales happened in the new year.

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Buyers and Sellers

Buying a home is an exciting and emotional time for many people. To help you buy your home with more confidence, make sure you get owner’s title insurance. Here’s why it’s so important for you.

Protects Your Largest Investment: A home is probably the single largest investment you’ll make in your life. You insure everything else that’s valuable to you – your life, car, personal property, healthy, pets, jewelry, etc. – so why not your largest investment? For a one-time fee, owner’s title insurance protects your property rights for as long as you or your heirs own the home.

Reduces Your Risk: If you’re buying a home, there are many many hidden issues that may pop up after purchasing it. Getting an owner’s title insurance policy protects you from legal title discrepancies. Don’t think it will happen to you? Think again. Here are just some of the many situations that you’ll be protected from if you have owner’s title insurance.

Unforeseeable title claims, such as:

  • Forgery: making a false document. For example, the seller misrepresents the identity of the person selling the property.
  • Fraud: deception to achieve unfair gain. For example, someone steals your identity and either sells your house without your knowledge or consent or takes out a second mortgage on the property and walks away with the money.
  • Clerical error: inconsistent paperwork and historical records. For example, an unforeseeable discrepancy in the property or fence line causes confusion in ownership rights.

Unexpected title claims, such as:

  • Outstanding mortgages and judgments, or liens against the property because the seller didn’t pay required taxes.
  • Pending legal action against the property that could affect your ownership.
  • An unknown heir of a previous owner who is claiming ownership of property.

You Can’t Beat the Value: Owner’s title insurance is a one-time fee that’s very low relative to the value it provides. It typically costs around 0.5% of a home’s purchase price.

Covers Your Heirs: As long as your or your heirs own your home, owner’s title insurance protects your property rights.

Nothing Compares: Home insurance and warranties protect only the inside of the home. Getting owner’s title insurance ensures your family’s property rights stay protected.

8 in 10 Homebuyers Agree: Each year, more than 80% of America’s homebuyers choose to get owner’s title insurance.

Peace of Mind: If you’re buying a home, owner’s title insurance lets you rest assured, with the knowledge that you won’t be stuck with certain existing debts or legal problems once you’ve closed on your new home.

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The Importance of a Realtor When Buying a Home

Be sure to vet and find the best Real estate Agent before you set out to look for your next home. They will play a huge role in one of the most important financial decisions of our lives. When it comes to buying, selling, leasing, or renting, they will lead us through a sometimes bumpy and overwhelming process.

Websites can help you find the area you want to live in, even some of the houses that you want to see. But, an experienced Realtor can offer a level of expertise in the market that you won’t be able to get without her.

1. Advice. Expect your Realtor to provide advice relating to homes even before you tour them. A good agent will have already learned from you about what you want & need, what your preferences are and what your budget is. She will be able to help you narrow your search and identify your priorities.

2. Educate. Your Realtor will be able to provide data on the local home market and comparable sales. The home-buying process can be complicated. A good agent will explain the steps involved and make sure that you understand them and provide counsel to you.

3. Network. An agent who is familiar with the neighborhoods that you are interested in and will often know about pocket listings. Experienced agents tend to know other agents in the area and have good working relationships with them; this can lead to smooth transactions. Your agent may also be able to refer you to trusted professionals including lenders, home inspectors and contractors.

4. Advocate. When you work with a buyer’s agent, their fiduciary responsibility is to you. That means you have an expert who is looking out for your best financial interests, an expert who’s contractually bound to do everything in their power to protect you.

5. Negotiate. Your agent will handle the details of the negotiation process, including the preparation of all necessary offer and counteroffer forms. Once your inspection is done, the agent can also help you negotiate for repairs. Let the agent do the “dirty work” and ask for things to be fixed. They know how to negotiate from experience and what will and will not work.

6. Paperwork. A real estate transaction can be exhaustive, not to mention all the federal, state and local documents required. If you forget to initial a clause or check a box, all those documents will need to be resubmitted. A good real estate agent understands the associated deadlines and details and can help you navigate these complex documents.

7. Knowledge. Plenty of issues can kill a deal right before the closing; perhaps the title of the house isn’t clear, the lender hasn’t met the financing deadline or the seller has failed to disclose a plumbing problem. An experienced real estate agent knows to watch for trouble before it’s too late, and can skillfully deal with challenges as they arise.

The Bottom Line: You can buy a home without a Realtor. People do it all the time. But, going at it alone can be a risky bet. There can be a lot of legal loopholes that can be overwhelming and confusing for someone not experienced in the real estate business. Buying a home is a long and often very emotional process. The Realtor will handle all the stress for you that goes with finding financing, negotiation, and closing.

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New Strategies for Courting Customers in the Digital Age


Technology has completely transformed the global marketplace in the past two decades. It has created new expectations for the way companies operate and engage consumers, and it has given customers more options when it comes to providers. Lenders hoping to win the loyalty of their customers can learn valuable strategies from market researchers who study the customer experience and companies that are known for being customer centric. According to “the relationship experts,” the new recipe for success is equal parts digital and human, and all about putting customers’ needs first.

1. Use data to make a good first impression.

Knowledge is power and, thanks to technology, there is more data being collected and analyzed than ever before. Smart companies use consumer data to better understand their customers, anticipate their needs and tailor their approach to create the best first impression possible.

2. Engage customers where they are comfortable.

Whether pursuing a personal or business relationship, it’s important to know where to engage the type of individual you hope to attract. Most millennials are online and older generations are moving there, too, so it may come as a surprise that most bank customers still want access to a branch office.

According to a 2018 survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), 65 percent of recent and prospective home buyers feel it’s important for banks to maintain a local branch. Twenty-five percent said they would not open an account with a bank that does not have a local presence. The reason is simple: People prefer the convenience of initiating the lending process online but want to end it with a professional who can assure them that their investment is safe and on track. Banks that offer a mix of modern and traditional engagement channels with seamless integration between them can reach more customers where they feel comfortable doing business.

3. Make their lives easier.

One of the biggest benefits of being in a relationship is knowing your partner has your back when things get hard. Most consumer preferences are more than arbitrary demands; they reflect the challenges of living in one of the most overworked societies in the world. Banks that offer digital solutions help weary consumers save time, simplify tasks and protect their assets, so they can find more balance. Understanding the needs behind customer preferences also gives lenders the opportunity to show empathy and recommend solutions that position them as trusted advisors.

4. Show care and respect.

According to Kantar Media, an international consulting firm that studies the customer experience, customers want to be “known, heard and valued.” That takes time and effort. It means getting to know your customers, honoring their preferences and delivering on promises. It also requires that providers show they care. For example, customers don’t just appreciate check-in calls, they expect them. According to PwC, 52 percent of home buyers who received a call after closing said they would be likely to use the same lender again for their next loan, compared to just 23 percent of those who didn’t get a call.

Like any relationship, individuals who feel taken for granted are more likely to walk away. Customers who are acknowledged and appreciated have more incentive to reuse and recommend a provider.

5. Add real value.

No one wants a partner who does the bare minimum to get by. Customers aren’t just looking for any bank to give them a loan, they prefer one that can satisfy as many of their financial needs as possible – and they’re willing to pay more for it (PwC). That creates new business opportunities for those willing to think outside the box and go the extra mile for their customers. 

For example, instead of ending relationships with consumers who do not qualify for a loan, banks could offer tools and services designed to help them save money, pay off debt or improve their credit score. New homeowners may also appreciate budgeting tools, a reminder to file for a homestead exemption, or help planning a future remodel or refinance. Banks that look out for their customers and help them achieve their financial goals are more likely to be rewarded with their loyalty.

Relationships are tough. Making them last is even tougher. If we want a customer for life, we must be willing to demonstrate what makes us a worthy partner. Embracing modern tools and strategies helps us better understand consumers and their preferences, so we can evolve to meet more of their needs and delight them in unexpected ways.

These are the opinions of Eric Lapin and not necessarily reflective of Title First Agency.

Eric has 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry, which includes origination through servicing, technology, innovation, data and analytics. He is a member of the MISMO Community of Practice for Blockchain Education Committee and a frequent speaker at industry events.

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Are iBuyers Worth the Cost?

What’s the latest technology trend to sweep the real estate industry? iBuyers.

iBuyers, or “instant” buyers, are online real estate investors who use digital tools to make instant cash offers on homes and resell them online. They handle the repairs, staging and home showings, allowing sellers to avoid the time and energy often associated with the traditional selling process. But that convenience often comes at a cost.

If you want to learn more about iBuyers in general, click here. If you’re trying to decide between selling your home to an iBuyer or listing it on the open market, here are some things to consider.

  1. iBuyers don’t buy every home. iBuyers can be mistaken for house flippers, but iBuyers are more risk-averse and don’t exist in every market. Since 2014, iBuyers have expanded into 22 markets across the country and show no signs of slowing. Unlike flippers, iBuyers purchase moderately priced homes (the largest company buys homes between $100K and $500K) and avoid properties that could take too long or cost too much to improve. For example: short sales and foreclosures; homes built before 1960 or located in flood zones; and properties that require major renovations. It’s always best to check an iBuyer’s eligibility criteria upfront.
  2. With an iBuyer, you get less than Fair Market Value (FMV) for your home. iBuyers need to purchase properties slightly below FMV to make a profit. Real estate agents list properties at or above FMV, and they have the financial incentive to get sellers the highest price possible. If your goal is to get as much money for your home as you can, it may be best to work with a real estate agent.
  3. With an iBuyer, sellers are required to pay for repair costs they may not agree with. An iBuyer’s instant offer is a base price that gets lower after the home inspection. Sellers know they must pay for repairs their iBuyer will make to their property, but many are surprised by the cost of improvements they would not have made on their own. As those costs get higher, the iBuyer’s offer price gets lower, sometimes requiring frustrated sellers to pay thousands of dollars in seemingly petty repairs, out-of-pocket costs or both. Sellers who want more control over what they spend on repairs may want to think twice before selling to an iBuyer.
  4. Not all iBuyers offer the same services. All iBuyers offer an expedited sale and give sellers more control over the moving process, but not all companies take the same approach. Some iBuyers advance cash to sellers who need quick access to the equity they’ve earned in their home to move. Others integrate mortgage financing into the purchase process and offer more flexible loan terms than banks, helping borrowers enjoy a simpler end-to-end process that gets them into homes sooner.  
  5. You pay NOT to play on the open market. The average real estate agent commission is about 6 percent of a home’s sale price, while iBuyer service fees vary by company and market. According to an analysis of transaction data for the largest iBuyer, the average service fee falls somewhere between eight and nine percent, but it can get up to 12 percent in riskier markets. iBuyer service fees generally earn investors a small profit of 5.5 percent, but it may still cost sellers more than working with a real estate agent.

    It’s worth noting that many iBuyers rely on local agents to support their online listing service. They compensate agents for seller referrals and pay full commissions to buyer agents. Working directly with an agent instead of going through an iBuyer can save sellers money, but it costs them more time. We’ll explore how much in the cost breakdown and time table below.  

iBuyer vs. Real Estate Agent

The example below is for illustrative purposes only. It allows sellers to compare how much they could make and spend working with an iBuyer versus a real estate agent to sell a home valued at $300K. 

Remember, iBuyers purchase homes below FMV and realtors list homes at or above FMV, so that is where the comparison begins. The cost of repairs and holding property (mortgage, taxes, insurance, homeowners association fees and utilities) varies widely from one property to the next, and are the responsibility of whoever owns the property, so those variables were not assigned a specific value in the example below. All other values are calculated using industry averages that express a percentage of the home’s sale price.


 iBuyerReal Estate Agent
Home Sale Price$270K
(FMV -10%)
$300K (FMV)FMV is $300K and the iBuyer offers to purchase at a 10% discount.
Loan Balance-$100K-$100KThe loan payoff amount is the same, regardless of who buys.
Repair CostsiBuyer decidesSeller decidesVaries by property
Holding CostsiBuyer assumes after a quick closingSeller carries until home is soldVaries by property
Professional Fee-$24.3K (9%)-$18K (6%)Based on an average iBuyer service fee of 9% and a real estate agent commission of 6%.
Closing Costs-$8.1K (3%)-$9K (3%)Based on average seller closing costs, which range between 1% and 3%.  
Net Profit$137.6K$173KCost difference: $35.4K

In this scenario, the seller walks away with $35.4K less – that’s 13.1 percent of the sale price – by selling their home to an iBuyer. According to a new study by Collaterial Analytics, iBuyers can cost sellers up to 15 percent of their home’s sale price.


 iBuyerReal Estate Agent
Days on Market (DOM)0Av. 58 days*
Days to CloseLess than 14 days****Av. 47 days**
Number of home showings04 / month***
Flexible closing dateYesDepends on buyer
Flexible moving dateYesDepends on buyer

*National average based on April 2019 data from
**National average based on February 2019 data from mortgage software company Ellie Mae
***Average number of home showings for Portland, OR, based on 2017-2018 RMLS data.
**** No industry average available; based on various iBuyer claims.

While it is possible to sell quickly using a real estate agent, the traditional closing process usually takes well over a month. Selling to an iBuyer involves a faster transaction with minimal effort from sellers. It can also benefit sellers with busy schedules and time constraints, such as those who need to relocate for work or get cash fast.

So, that brings us back to the million-dollar question: Is selling your home to an iBuyer worth the cost? It depends on who you ask. Everyone wants to sell their property for as much as possible, but in real estate and real life, time is money. The answer comes down to each seller’s situation and what they value more: cash or convenience.

These are the opinions of Eric Lapin and not necessarily reflective of Title First.

Eric has 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry, which includes origination through servicing, technology, innovation, data and analytics. He is a member of the MISMO Community of Practice for Blockchain Education Committee and a frequent speaker at industry events.

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Serious Problems in Overpricing Your Home

Putting your home on the market and want to get the most you can out of the sale? Of course, you do. We all do. However, there are issues associated with listing your home too high. After you review the comps from your neighborhood, you come to your own conclusion that your home is worth more. You can even find Realtors who will agree with you but know that the very best Realtors will tell you that overpricing a home can lead to serious problems.

Problem #1: Listings get the most showings in the first 30 days of being on the market. If a home is priced too high, buyers may choose to ignore it or put it in a “wait and see category.” The longer the home sits unsold, though, the more negatively it is viewed. Buyers will think it must be overpriced or there is something wrong with the home. If you wait too long to do drop the price, most of those “wait and see” buyers will have already moved on and there will be a smaller pool of buyers interested in your listing as the days on the market increase.

If the home is on the market too long, potential buyers will think they are in a better negotiating position and you may end receiving a low ball offer, which can be frustrating. Even if you can negotiate up, it will be for far less than your original asking price. If you want to attract as many potential buyers as possible, it’s important that the home is priced correctly from the onset of it going on the market. 

Problem #2: An overpriced home helps your competitors. When a buyer looks at your home and then visits another that is priced the same but comes with more features, your competitor’s home will look like a much better deal.

Problem #3: If your home sits on the market for too long, neighbors and potential buyers will assume that there is a problem with it. The home will be stigmatized, and buyers will either be too turned off or too afraid to check it out.

No one wants to buy a house that nobody else seems to want. A house that sticks on the market for months often generate suspicions that some undisclosed feature or element is making it unsalable.

Problem #4: A buyer is interested in your house and willing to pay the price you are asking. But they need to get money from the bank to pay for it. All banks demand an appraisal of any property they loan out money for, and yours will not be the exception. The market runs the appraiser and they will appraise your property in accordance with it. When the appraiser comes back with a noticeably lower market value than the price the buyer is offering the bank will likely refuse to give the buyer a mortgage. This can lead you from a safe selling to an unsuccessful mortgage application leaving you with no option than seeking more buyers.

The Bottom Line: Find an experienced Real Estate Agent and listen to their advice for pricing your home, stay realistic in your pricing and accomplish your ultimate goal of selling your home. Know that 75% of real estate marketing is the price you set for your home. All of the marketing and advertising in the world will not sell an overpriced home.

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Securing Your Smartphone

woman checking smart watch

As technology advances, so does the use of smartphones. How cool is it to be able to do just about anything online, while on the go? These devices are becoming more commonplace, and the number of mobile phone users around the globe is expected to exceed the 5 billion mark in 2019. Most people don’t leave home or work without having their phone in tow.

Whether it’s calling your coworker, checking your bank account or sending a quick email, smartphones have become the one-stop-shop for conducting business. Now, more than ever, smartphones are being targeted by cybercriminals due to their part in multifactor authentication to access computers, mobile banking and shopping accounts. These accounts often hold sensitive data, credit card information (PCI) and personally identifiable information (PII). As we move into a digital era for the home closing process, smartphones have become another place to review sensitive documents ahead of signing. With such important information being viewed and sometimes stored on your phone, it has become even more vital that you keep your phone secure.

It may be surprising, but the largest risk to your phone security isn’t hackers, it’s you. Forgetting your phone at the table when you leave a restaurant, losing it at the airport or having it plucked from your purse are far more likely scenarios than getting hacked. However, hacking devices is on the rise too, and your phone security strategy should take that into account. Activating the lock screen feature on all your devices is a good place to start. The screen automatically locks when the device is not in use, and it requires a passcode, fingerprint or facial recognition to unlock it. This step helps to ensure that no one can access your device if it is lost or stolen.

Here are some other great tips to help secure your mobile device:

  • Ensure your phone is always running the latest version of its operating system and apps by enabling automatic updates. These updates often are meant to fix security weaknesses in the software to reduce its chance of being hacked.
  • When downloading apps to your phone, only use trusted sources such as the Apple App Store, Google Play or the Amazon Appstore. Don’t trust every app on these stores, either. Many apps ask for overly broad permissions, are brand new and not fully tested, or are no longer updated, which could expose you to security vulnerabilities. Be sure to check reviews and for active updating before downloading an app.
  • Download a credible antivirus app recommended by a trusted source. Your device should be treated just like a computer and protected that way as well.
  • Many phones today come with software you can enable to remotely track your device if it’s lost or stolen. Even if your phone doesn’t come with this feature, or you would like expanded security options, there are many anti-theft apps available. These apps range from simply pinging your phone’s location to being able to remotely lock and wipe all content from it.
  • Regularly backing up your data is a great strategy to retain your information. Many phones allow you to set up an automatic backup to store photos, messages, apps and more. Knowing this information is backed up will make it easier to choose to remotely wipe your phone, if needed.

Overall, mobile devices add productivity and flexibility by providing access to resources at any time, from anywhere. Smartphones are becoming our constant companions, so we need to stay vigilant when it comes to mobile security.

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