Often, when a seller has taken the time to properly prepare their home for sale, and they’ve hired the best Realtor who takes pride in presenting and marketing that home well a seller will receive offers right away.
The time a home is on the market to sell decreases its value. The longer it is listed the less interested buyers and Realtors are in the property. People will begin to wonder what is wrong with the property. Sellers are in the best position to get a good price for their home when it is new to the market. If the home does not sell buyers become suspect.
So that first early offer? Sellers tend to reject it because they felt it happened too quickly and they want to hold out. Days, weeks even months later, they find themselves settling for less. That first offer should always be taken seriously and it’s probably the best opportunity you’ll have to control your price and terms. It might not be what the seller was hoping for, a good Realtor will walk the seller through a counteroffer, and even the ability to negotiate for other details can work for the seller.
With a “for sale” sign in any yard too long, no matter the reason, it makes it more difficult to stir up interest. As the days go on, the home becomes less desirable. The market could change and take a downturn leaving the home that is priced on the comps when it was listed, now priced too high. An identical home could enter the market at a lower price.
The Bottom Line: The first three weeks are usually the most active that a property will have. If an offer is made during that time it’s worth working with that offer unless it’s ridiculously low.
Nothing beats the feeling of being the first person to live in a newly-built home. Everything is shiny and untouched. There are three ways to buy a spanking new home: already built on spec, semi-custom home built as part of a development where you will be able to choose from a set palette of finishes and upgrades, or a purely custom home designed and built to your specifications from start to finish. The process of buying a new construction home is a lengthy one. Here are some samples of what you should know; the pros and the cons.
Some Good News (Pros)
Personalize & Customize: For some, this is the most exciting part of new construction. You have the opportunity to choose what you want that reflects your tastes, preferences, and personality by choosing the finishes you want. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come with buying an existing home.
Energy Efficient: With modern construction and the integration of advanced technologies comes the added benefit of energy efficiency. New construction homes are built with the latest advances in construction materials and building practices, which can give new homeowners the benefit of reduced monthly utility bills
Pick Your Lot: The lot you choose for your home can impact your quality of life and the future resale value of your home. Consider the view, the location on the street, what direction the home faces at sunset & sunrise, and would future home buyers find the positioning of the home as convenient?
New Home Warranty Protection: Buying a new construction home means that everything in it often comes with a warranty. You can confidently know the builder will cover the cost of any issues during the warranty period, such as a leaky roof or broken water heater. Unlike when buying an existing home where you may not know about hidden defects or problems until after you’ve purchased the home – and you’re left with the bill.
Designed for Your Lifestyle: With several options to choose from, a new construction home lets you design a space that fits your style. The choice is yours. Pick ceramic tile, granite countertops, finished wooden cabinets, or palatable neutral wall color, your home will be finished in a way that’s tailored to your preferences.
Some Bad News (Cons)
Price: On average, it costs about 20% more to build your own home than to buy an existing one. Often, buyers walk through the builder’s model homes and want their new home to be just like that one. In reality, the model home will be much more expensive than the traditional properties in the community. It’s best to use a Realtor to help through the process.
Landscaping: When developers create new neighborhoods, they tend to tear down all of the vegetation in the area. It’s the most costly way for them to break ground and get started. Landscaping is just one part of the process of planning a custom home but is often an afterthought. The landscaping you want for your home may have an impact on the structural design of your home and where it will be situated on the property. Most new construction homes will give you a little bit of landscaping in the front to start off with but they won’t do anything in the backyard. This means that you’ll probably have to fence the backyard if that’s what you need, start from the ground up with growing trees (that take years to grow) and plants, and you may even need to lay turf or seed the lawn.
Homeowner Association Fees: Most new subdivisions and developments will have some sort of homeowner association dues that cover management and any common area maintenance. That being said, many of these new subdivisions will also have community amenities such as clubhouses, swimming pools, or playgrounds.HOA dues can range anywhere from less than $100 a year to several hundreds of dollars per month.
Commute: New construction typically happens further out from the cities. A new home usually means a longer commute to work. It also means you might have to wait for shopping, schools, libraries, firehouses and other key pieces of infrastructure to be built. Those things usually come after there are enough homes and people to support them
Noise: Unless the home that you decide to buy is the last one to be built in the neighborhood, you can count on the daily noise of the rest of the homes being built around you. This could be several months or even years depending on how long it takes to build up the community
The Bottom Line: Building a new home requires a buyer to be very involved. A custom build gives you full control, but also means managing a lot of details and making hundreds of little decisions. No matter where you decide to build a new home there will be pros and cons to new construction that must be weighed properly before making a final decision.
When you are out looking for your new home, it’s not on the top of your mind: title insurance. But, it should be. It’s one of the most important parts of the home buying process. Something that can protect owners of real property events and matters that can be brought up from the past. Imagine spending your nest egg on a down payment, closing costs, and a few years of mortgage payments. Suddenly, an heir to a former owner is suing to obtain the home, arguing that it never should have been sold to you in the first place. There is no reason to worry if you have title insurance, yet many homeowners decline it. Once they know how it is created to protect them from unknown claims against their property that can pop up years down the road they are less inclined to resist.
Title insurance is much more than a lender requirement. It’s knowing that what you are buying is free of any third party claims to ownership or use of any part of it. It assures the homeowner that they are clear of anything that would affect the ability to sell or borrow against their new property. After thousands of real estate closings here at Title First, we can give you a rundown of the most common issues we can save you from:
Mistakes on titles, especially lately, that are transferred through a sale of foreclosure without certain rulings met, thus making the transfer of the title invalid.
Mistakes within all the paperwork brought to a closing. Somewhere along the line, there may be a forged signature or recorded documents that have been signed by people without legal authority.
Mistakes made during the probate process for the previous owner that overlooked someone else’s rightful claim (undisclosed heirs) to the property of someone else’s interest in the property. Misinterpretation of wills and deeds.
Mistakes made in the description of the property.
Mistakes were made where claims, tax information, or easements had not been recorded properly in the public record.
Mistakes missed of liens on the property or judgments against the previous owner.
Mistakes in unpaid taxes or mortgages and unpaid debts.
Investors need to be alert when protecting their investments. Title insurance assures the homeowner that the title to the property purchased is free of any defects and is “clear to close”. It is a guarantee that all matters of record that could harm the title of the new property have been disclosed and resolved. Title insurance protects the homeowner against any potential claims should an undisclosed event threaten the ownership of the property. Give us a call today at Title First Agency: 1-866-320-8400
Over the past few years, smart technology has become more accessible and affordable. Not only can smart upgrades make your home more convenient and efficient, but they’ll also make it much more attractive to potential buyers in the future. In this healthy seller’s market, smart renovations will improve the value of the property of your home. Enhancements like your thermostat, lighting, keypad door locks, fire detectors, and security camera systems.
Smart Thermostat: The advantage is its ability to learn a household’s patterns and adjust heating and cooling according to when a home is occupied or is about to be occupied. This reduces the use of heating and cooling systems when nobody is home for significant periods of time. During the Summer, you can set your thermostat to a temp while you are away so you do not waste energy. You are able to program the thermostat to come on a few minutes before you get home. Many are able to be adjusted by your smartphone while on your way home. A thermostat might seem to be a basic feature of your home, but it can have a big impact on your energy bills. Almost half of the monthly energy costs are controlled by your thermostat.
Smart Lighting: To really impress potential homeowners, a good Realtor will showcase the smart lighting by demonstrating it throughout your home. Smart lighting gives flexibility because it can be controlled by timers, as well as by setting up schedules and monitoring bulb statuses remotely. Smart lighting eliminates the switch on the wall. The network does all the work for you, automatically, though you can still program the lights to respond as you wish. They can feature sensors with the ability to identify people and when they need light, as well as how much they may need. Smart lighting will save money on utility bills. They’re very energy efficient; allows for calibration of when each light should be on. When you travel, you won’t have to physically alter the settings of each smart light or check to see if it is off before you leave. Everything can be done remotely, from afar.
Smart Keypad Door Locks: Install a smart lock to keep your house secure. It’s as easy as using an app that you will program new access codes into the lock, even set schedules for when those codes can be used. You will be notified when it’s used, which gives you the ability to keep an eye on who is in your house and when.
Smart Fire Detectors: A smart fire detector is the one essential every home should have. Traditional alarms depend on you being around to hear them, a smart smoke alarm will alert you when something is wrong, no matter where you are. A smart smoke detector can warn you of a fire in its early stages, allowing you and your family enough time to get to safety. If there are any potential problems with smoke (or CO2) these can quickly alert you, no matter where you are in or out of the house, and even tell you what room it’s sensing trouble in.
Smart Security Camera Systems: The latest smart home security systems pair with your smartphone so you can view cameras, lock doors, arm or disarm security points, and receive instant notifications on alarm triggers wherever you are. Home security systems often lower your home insurance cost since they can reduce the likelihood of home invasion or theft.
The Bottom Line: Be in control. Smart technology doesn’t just stop at security. Home automation functions enable you to control various aspects of your home, too—such as adjusting your thermostat and turning on or off the lights, coffee pot, or other appliances. If you ever forget to switch your bedroom light off in the morning before heading to work, for example, you can correct your mistake, from anywhere. All you need is a smartphone, iPad, or desktop computer. Upgrading to make your home smarter by adding smart features is among the five best (and easiest) ways to increase your home’s value as well as help it to sell faster than traditional homes due to the spectrum of advantages offered.
Selling a house can be a stressful event in your life. Are you really ready to do it? Of course, you want to make as much money as you can from the sale and you might be thinking your best plan to accomplish that is selling your home yourself – FSBO – to avoid paying a real estate agent, which is understandable. But, it’s quite a big undertaking. Here are a few reasons why hiring an experienced Realtor is a better idea.
Pricing: You may think it’s as simple as pricing your home by the size and the location of it and what your neighbors are selling, or have recently sold theirs for. Add in a few amenities and boom! You have your price! No. Realtors list homes every day and watch the housing market conditions. They will be able to get all the comps for your neighborhod and find the fair market value of yours.
Marketing a home is not easy: Listing your home online doesn’t take much effort. Anyone can do that, which is why you must make your stand out and be noticed. A Realtor will create an entire marketing plan for your home and will figure out just the audience you need to have, then use many different avenues to get the word out. The Realtor’s own website, Facebook & Instagram account will attract prospects that you simply won’t have the access to.
Qualifying a buyer is not easy: There is a big difference between pre-approved for a mortgage and pre-qualified. A skilled Realtor will be able to find out whether the person that wants to see your house is qualified or just curious. Having to prepare your home to show takes a lot of work and you surely don’t want to put your life on hold while you ready your house for show – just for a curious neighbor. Realtors are trained to ask qualifying questions to determine the seriousness, qualification, and motivation of a person calling to see your home.
Staying unemotional about your home is not easy: Selling your home and preparing to move is never easy and always an emotional process. A good Realtor will be there to buffer any situations that might occur because you might be letting your emotions take over. Most buyers know that an FSBO home has been priced by the seller and is quite often overpriced because they can’t detach themselves emotionally from their home. Savvy shoppers realize that after a while, sellers who can’t sell their home will finally hire a Realtor and the home will be on the market at the right price. If they have the time to wait? They do. If not? They move on to another home.
Being home during the showing is not easy: Or smart. Nothing makes the buyers more uncomfortable than having the seller present when looking at a home. With FSBO you will have to be there touring your home with the potential buyer. More times than not, the showing will be rushed and some of your best selling points will be overlooked.
Negotiating is not easy: Especially if it’s your own home that you love and have emotional ties to. Negotiating is a complex matter and all transactions are unique. Skilled Realtors know the laws, the contracts, the comparable sales, the closed sales that the banks usually look at when they decide to lend the money for the purchase, and the appraisal. There are plenty of points to negotiate on before the actual sale takes place. Repairs to the house, lawn upkeep, and even additions can be negotiated in the contract that may ultimately affect the price but can be negotiated almost entirely outside of the price discussion. For every negotiating point, there’s a tactic to handle it best.
The bottom line: Working without an agent requires a huge investment of time, knowledge, and effort. Besides separating your emotions from the home you love and possibly raised your family in, you should know how to stage it to sell, market it, negotiate and be able to accept a negative response from potential buyers. You can try to do it alone to save money, but hiring an agent has many advantages. Interview and find the best Realtor in the area. Expect that they will be able to get the most exposure for your home, help you negotiate a better deal, and dedicate more time to your sale. The right Realtor will bring expertise to the transaction, financially and legally.with many financial and legal
Whether you’re working with an agent or selling your home on your own, how the listing is marketed is crucial. Especially now, during the COVID pandemic. MLS will get you the most exposure for your home because it reaches other websites and most people online. Ask friends and family why they know, and look online for the busy Realtors using all the social media platforms and then interview her to see how she will take advantage of all the opportunities to get your home in front of people. It is now more important than ever that the person hired to sell any home utilizes the internet and social media for promotion. Most American adults are online. More than 1 billion people in the entire world log in to Facebook on any given day. The potential to reach a huge number of people is exceptional.
Photographs: The very best Realtor should help stage and prepare the home for professional pictures. All rooms should be clear of any clutter. The pictures MLS displays are usually grainy and poor quality. Homebuyers more times than not, begin the search for their new home online. Take advantage of this. Stand in the doorway to rooms and snap the photo shooting into the room. There are never too many photos!
Facebook: Now those beautiful photos need to be posted and announced, showcased and marketed. A good Realtor might even host open houses via Facebook LIVE and interact with people that are watching. Another option is to make a targeted ad and pinpoint people by location, interests, behaviors, age and more.
Instagram: The worlds largest photo sharing platform is the perfect place to showcase the photos taken of the home. A good Realtor should know how to use hashtags because that is how Instagram helps users find relevant content. Spread the pictures throughout the day.
The Bottom Line: Everyone wants a Realtor that can be trusted and will do everything she can to get the most money for a home in the least amount of time. The Realtor is the homeowner’s advocate. The marketing of the home should be exceptional. Beyond using the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) there should be professional pictures to use on websites and every social media platform available.
If you are facing foreclosure and can no longer afford your home, you may qualify for a Short Sale—even if you don’t think you can or haven’t been able to sell your home.
What is a short sale?
A short sale, also known as a pre-foreclosure sale, is when you sell your home for less than the balance remaining on your mortgage. If your mortgage company agrees to a short sale, you can sell your home and pay off all or a portion of your mortgage balance with the money you sell it. Depending on your situation, you may be required to make a financial contribution to receive a short sale.
You are ineligible to refinance or modify your mortgage
You are facing a long-term hardship
You are behind on your mortgage payments
You owe more on your home than it’s worth
You have not been able to sell your home at a price that covers what you still owe on your mortgage
You can no longer afford your home and are ready or need to leave
When is a short sale a benefit?
Eliminate or reduce your mortgage debt
Avoid the negative impact of a foreclosure
Start repairing your credit sooner than if you went through a foreclosure
May be able to get a Fannie Mae mortgage to purchase a home sooner (in as little as 2 years) than if you went through foreclosure (up to 7 years)
What is the process for a short sale?
If you qualify for this option, the process is similar to a normal real estate sales transaction. You will work with a real estate agent to market and sell your home. However, your mortgage company will also be working with you and your real estate agent every step of the way to:
set the sale price based on the market value at the time
collect financial information and negotiate with other lien holders
review acceptable offers,
agree to the terms of the sale once a buyer is in place
A short sale may take up to 120 days, but this could be shorter or longer depending upon your specific situation. If you are unable to sell your home, you may be able to transfer the ownership of your property to the owner of your mortgage.
The Bottom Line: Your mortgage company wants to help you avoid foreclosure and, in most cases, will be willing to work with you. The biggest mistake you can make is to wait any longer to take action. Contact your mortgage company today to determine if you are eligible for a Short Sale.
If your home isn’t selling, you might be tempted to ask your Realtor if you should consider renting it out. There are a lot of factors to consider and often it is best to simply lower the price of your home:
How will you respond if your tenant says they can’t afford to pay the rent this month because of more pressing obligations?
Because of the economy, many homeowners can no longer make their mortgage payments. What percent of tenants do you think can no longer afford to pay their rent?
Have you interviewed a few experienced eviction attorneys in case a challenge does arise?
Have you talked to your insurance company about a possible increase in premiums as liability is greater in a non-owner occupied home?
Will you allow pets? Cats? Dogs? How big a dog?
How will you actually collect the rent? By mail? In-person?
Repairs are part of being a landlord. Who will take tenant calls when necessary repairs arise?
Do you have a list of craftspeople readily available to handle these repairs?
How often will you do a physical inspection of the property?
Will you alert your current neighbors that you are renting the house?
How much time do you have? When you rent out your home, you still have obligations as an owner. You need to make sure that you’re able to meet your tenants’ needs, such as repairs or emergencies while following all landlord and tenant laws. It helps to contact an experienced lawyer to learn more about these laws, too.
Are you financially prepared? Can you cover the cost of the mortgage if a tenant misses rent or if the house sits unoccupied for a few months? What about the cost of emergency repairs?
How much do you need to charge? You may want to charge enough rent to cover the cost of your mortgage, taxes, and insurance. If it’s feasible, you might want to set a rent that can partially cover repairs and earn extra income. Make sure that you’re able to ask for enough to prevent it from costing you money — and ask a real estate agent about fair market values in your area. If your rent amount is above fair market value, you may not find a tenant.
Can you afford the upkeep? Before putting your house up for rent, make all needed repairs. Take care of any other minor improvements that make the home presentable and allow you to get the rent amount you want.
The Bottom Line: There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding whether to rent or sell your house. Meet with your Realtor and evaluate your unique situation and make the choice that’s right for your needs and your financial future
Sometimes we fall in love with a home that is being sold “as-is” which benefits sellers and can either be a great deal for buyers or a complete nightmare. Legally, “as-is” means that the seller doesn’t want to make repairs, of which there can be many. The buyer then gets the home but with no guarantee that something is not minutes away from completely breaking down and needing to be replaced. What the buyer sees is what the buyer gets and sometimes more because there is no telling what you can’t see.
However, “as-is” does not always mean there are issues broken beyond repair. Often there are simply minor and even no issues. It means you are buying the home in whatever condition it is currently in. You can have an inspection done but won’t be able to negotiate to get the repairs done
While the home that is being sold “as is” is most likely priced lower than it’s neighbors it does not mean you would be getting the home for a bargain. If there are repairs to be made, there will be a cost. It would be good to get an inspection so that you know what repairs need to be made and what it will cost to get them done before you call the home a “bargain”.
Other than getting an inspection, which is definitely recommended so that you know what you are getting yourself into, an experienced Realtor should be hired. A good agent will help to appraise the home based on comps and then based on the “after repair” value. Negotiating will be much easier with the seller when you have the help of a Realtor.
The Bottom Line: There are plenty of homes on the market listed “as-is” that discourage many buyers. Of course, you should be cautious, but “as-is” does not always mean that the house is a money pit. Sometimes the seller can’t vouch for any repair work that has been done – thus an inspection can help and a decision can be made accordingly. Or, the home could have been inherited and the seller is not aware of issues and does not want the responsibility of fixing any problems. Whatever the reason, it’s in the buyer’s best interest to get all the information about the house before an offer is made.
Buying a new construction home can be quite different than buying a previously-owned home. The negotiation might be easier because you don’t have to whether emotional homeowners, but you will have to deal directly with the builder. He has built the home with the sole purpose of selling it at a profit. He will need to move the new home so he can move on to his next project. A few things you should do:
HIRE A REALTOR
Finding a top local Realtor who is experienced in negotiating with builders is going to be one of the most important things you do in the home buying process. Realtors aren’t just used for previously owned homes, they are also very helpful to buyers in new construction.
Realtors can also help the buyer handle builder contracts and in some cases make changes to it. An experienced realtor will be able to help ensure that the buyer gets exactly what they want and for an affordable price.
Many people think buying new construction will save them money from having to pay Realtor fees but builders are actually the party that pays the realtor commission fees. There is no extra cost for hiring a realtor when you purchase new construction.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT UPGRADES
There is a cost for upgrades and the options and add-ons are abundant. It’s best to only pick upgrades that will boost the home’s value.
The kitchen – make sure there are good bones. Upgrade for taller cabinets, kitchen island, and lighting.
Deeper basement – especially if you are buying it unfinished – you may want to finish it one day. Get a deeper pour.
Roughed-in plumbing for a future full or a half bath. Even if you don’t end up adding another bathroom, you will be able to offer it to a future buyer as an asset.
More lighting – you can never have too much light especially in bathrooms and the kitchen.
Energy savers – windows, appliances, etc.
Larger garage – depending on the lot size and if it can be done? Do it.
Storage options – built-in cabinets, pull out trash/recycling bins anything that can make the function of the home better.
GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING
Many conversations will be had with the builder and the onsite agent throughout the entire buying process. Make sure you get everything they’ve agreed upon in writing. Including it in the contract is always best, but even an email or letter can work in your favor if something goes wrong. After important conversations, your experienced Realtor will tell the onsite agent to send them all the details in an email, but if yours doesn’t, make sure they follow-up with an email asking for confirmation.
WALK-THROUGH SEVERAL TIMES
With a new house, you will be receiving a stack of instruction booklets all at once. Have someone show you how to operate all of the kitchen appliances, the heating and cooling systems, the water heater, and other features in the home. Learning about maintenance and upkeep responsibilities is very important. Most new homes come with a one-year warranty on workmanship and materials. However, such warranties do not cover problems that develop because of failure to perform required maintenance. Many builders provide a booklet explaining common upkeep responsibilities and how to perform them. It is important that you be very thorough and observant during the walk-through. Carefully examine all surfaces of counters, fixtures, floors, and walls for possible damage. Sometimes, disputes arise because a buyer may discover a gouge in a countertop after move-in, and there is no way to prove whether it was caused by the builder’s workers or the buyer’s movers.
The Bottom Line: If you are going to be buying a new construction home, the builder’s agent on-site will be ready to help you with the process. That agent will always have the builder’s best interest in mind. You should have your own Realtor. You are going to want someone representing your side of the deal.