Our Real Estate Blog
Putting your home on the market is not for the faint-hearted! As many people discover along the way, the road to selling a home can be rather bumpy -- especially if you attempt to sell it on your own.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do, right away, to make the journey shorter, smoother, and more rewarding. Here are three strategies that will greatly increase your chances of success.
Find a seasoned real estate agent. An experienced real estate agent will not only help you navigate state and federal regulations, negotiate with buyers, and get a handle on paperwork, but they'll also schedule showings of your home and provide continuous marketing help.
Enhance your curb appeal: When it comes to finding prospective buyers and setting up appointments, your real estate agent will do the lion's share of the work. However, it's mostly up to you to make sure your house looks its best and that the appearance of your property catches the eye of house hunters.
Once your home is listed online and a "for sale" sign is planted in your front yard, potential buyers are going to immediately take notice of how your house looks from the outside. Sometimes people browse listed houses from their cars, so it can really pay to make a great first impression from the street.
Some of the things that matter the most are a meticulous-looking yard, a clutter-free property, and a house that looks like it's well maintained. Adding a fresh coat of paint, displaying some colorful potted flowers, and taking care of unsightly weeds and overgrown bushes are a few things you can do to make your property look a lot more inviting.
Stage your home's interior: Once you've cleared the first big hurdle (curb appeal), your next priority -- or perhaps a simultaneous priority -- is to make the interior of your home look inviting and appealing. As is the case with boosting curb appeal, your real estate agent can provide you with cost-effective advice on how to get the most mileage from your efforts.
Some of the tried-and-proven methods of staging a home include reducing clutter, arranging living room furniture in "conversational groups" to depict a cozy, intimate environment, and letting plenty of natural light stream in to make your home appear as cheerful and bright as possible.
Fresh coats of neutral-colored paint should be applied to walls and ceilings on an as-needed basis, and all floors, tables, and counter tops should be kept immaculate. Home staging consultants often recommend removing (or toning down) certain decorating themes -- such as sports, religion, or even too many family photographs -- which may alienate some potential buyers.
The overall objective is to make it easy for house hunters to imagine themselves owning and living in your home. If there's anything about the appearance, decor, or smell of your home that makes people feel in any way uncomfortable, that could make it more difficult to find a committed buyer -- which, of course, is your ultimate goal!
When pests come into your home, there’s no creepier feeling that you may have as a homeowner. You may turn to your house insurance for assistance if the problem gets really bad. Let’s say that termites have taken over your home and gotten into your walls or foundation. Maybe mice have gotten into the walls of your home, or a squirrel has caused some major issues in the attic. Whatever the problem is, you want to remedy it quickly. It might be an expensive fix no matter what, but it has to be remedied for you to continue to live comfortably in your home.
The Truth About Homeowners Insurance
Unfortunately, homeowners insurance doesn't cover pest infestations. It doesn’t matter if the termites have literally eaten you out of house and home, the insurance companies consider pests to be an avoidable problem. Even though you may wonder how bugs can be considered “avoidable,” it’s simple. The insurance company believes that regular maintenance and checking of your property can help to prevent bug infestations. This is why it’s so important to take care of your property and not neglect it.
There are a few exceptions to the rule. If your ceiling caves in and it was caused by some of the pest damage, your insurance may cover the cost of the repairs to the ceiling. They may not cover the materials that are needed to repair the ceiling itself. Insurance claims can be tricky, so you’ll need to ask a lot of questions if these problems do occur for you.
What Homeowners Insurance Covers
There’s nothing more frustrating than paying an insurance premium to find out that it doesn’t actually cover anything that you need at a certain point and time. As a general rule, homeowners insurance policies cover things that are considered accidental. This would include natural disasters like hurricanes, hailstorms, or high winds. If a tree falls on your home due to a windstorm, there was really no way of preventing that from happening. Your insurance would cover this. Damage that happens over an extended period, like that of a pest infestation or an aging home generally is not covered by house insurance.
Some insurance companies do offer separate policies to cover damage from certain types of pests like termites. There are several varieties of insects that cause damage to wood structures, so these policies may be more general stating that they provide “wood destroying insect” coverage. If you live in an area that’s prone to termites, there’s a few options available to you including something called “termite bonds.”
Your best course of action as a homeowner is prevention. Keep up with regular maintenance around your home and inspect your home regularly for any problems that you may find.
A home appraisal is paramount for a house seller. If a seller enters the real estate market with an appraisal report in hand, he or she can use the report's property valuation to determine the optimal price for a residence. Then, this individual can set an aggressive price for his or her house from day one of the home selling journey.
Ultimately, not all home appraisers are equal. Some of the key factors to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of hiring a home appraiser include:
1. Industry Experience
Hire a home appraiser who knows the ins and outs of the real estate industry – you will be happy you did. If you have a real estate expert at your side, you can receive a data-driven appraisal of your house.
Oftentimes, it helps to perform lots of research before you hire a house appraiser. If you reach out to an appraiser directly, you can learn about his or her industry expertise. Plus, you can use this opportunity to receive immediate responses to any home appraisal questions.
2. Client Referrals
Although it may be tough to determine exactly how an appraiser will analyze a house, it generally is a good idea to explore how past clients feel about this professional. If you request client referrals, you can get in touch with an appraiser's past clients. You then can receive firsthand insights about what it is like to work with this appraiser.
Typically, a home appraiser can provide client referrals upon request. If you allocate time and resources to request client referrals and connect with an appraiser's past clients, you could increase your chances of hiring a top-notch appraiser to assess your residence.
3. Your Home Selling Timeline
There is no guarantee that a home appraiser will be available on short notice. If you are operating on a tight home selling timeline, you may want to reach out to multiple home appraisers in your city or town. That way, you can find a first-rate home appraiser who can review your residence right away.
As you get set to add your house to the real estate market, you may want to hire a real estate agent, too. This housing market professional can put you in touch with the top home appraisers in your area. Also, he or she is happy to lend a helping hand at each stage of the property selling journey.
Let's not forget about the assistance that a real estate agent will provide after you list your house, either. At this point, a real estate agent will promote your residence to potential buyers. And if you receive an offer to purchase your house, a real estate agent will help you make an informed decision about whether to accept, reject or counter this proposal.
Ready to add your house to the real estate market? Hire a home appraiser, and you can receive a property valuation that you can use to price your residence competitively from day one of the house selling journey.
Photo by Gino Crescoli via
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) may be a common term in home buying, but not every home buyer understands exactly what it will mean for their finances. This short guide will give you the basics, so there are fewer surprises down the line.
What Is PMI?
PMI is a type of insurance that lenders purchase in case the homeowner defaults on their loan. While the lender will take possession of the home if the owner can't pay their mortgage, they still have to cover the costs of a home sale (e.g., hiring a real estate agent, paying closing costs) as well as possible depreciation. It's the lender who takes out the PMI policy, but it's the homeowner who pays for it.
Who Needs PMI?
Lenders typically require homeowners to pay PMI if they're unable to put down at least 20% of the home's purchase price. So if the home is $100,000 and the buyer can only put down $10,000, they would need to pay for PMI. Because very few owners are able to come up with such large sums, PMI is a common part of home buying.
How Much Is PMI?
Like most insurance policies, PMI can range in terms of total costs. The standard amount is .3 to 1.5% the total cost of the home per year. Homeowners aren't expected to pay the insurance company directly. Instead, PMI payments are rolled into the house payments, and the lender uses the designated amount for PMI to pay the insurance company.
How Long Will a Homeowner Pay PMI?
Homeowners will continue paying PMI until they reach 20% equity in their home. This is just one of the many reasons why homeowners are encouraged to put as much money as possible into their initial payments. The sooner they start tackling the principal of the loan, the less they'll pay in interest and PMI. That per-year percentage can really add up over time — especially if your interest rates are on the higher side.
Why Is PMI Necessary?
PMI was designed as a way to prevent lenders from having to raise interest rates. If lenders had to absorb the losses from every default buyer without the help of PMI, they would have to spread the costs out to everyone. PMI is based on the premise that homeowners with less equity in their home (i.e., under 20%) are more likely to default. This way, not everyone has to shoulder the costs with higher rates spread out across the board.
If you want to know more about what PMI will mean for your finances and how you can mitigate its effects, contact me today to learn more about what you can do.
When you have a million-dollar home to sell, don’t just get any real estate agent. The same goes if you are buying a million-dollar home. It would be best if you had a real estate agent that does more than think like a millionaire. When you choose a real estate agent who has never sold a high-end home, your listing could end up sitting on the MLS for too long.
Because those who can afford your home are probably limited in your hometown, you need a real estate agent who is able to list your property in several states. The agent should be able to list your home on some of the larger cities’ MLS listings, including New York City, Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston and other large cities. The agent should also know which counties in different states tend to have a higher number of rich people and post the listing on the MLS for those areas.
Your real estate agent should have a list of brokers that represent buyers and sellers of million-dollar+ properties. As soon as they get your listing, they should be on the phone with these brokers to let them know they have a high-end listing. When the agent contacts these brokers, they should be asking about buyers in the market for high-end homes.
Buying a Million-Dollar Home
Chances are, you are not interested in looking at pictures and driving by homes with signs out front. Your real estate agent should be emailing you with listings that they think you might be interested in, even if those listings are in another state – unless you specify that you want a specific area only.
If you are in City A, you might find a few high-end homes, but they may not meet your specifications. If you are ready to move, the agent might find a home in another nearby city – but that agent must look in other cities. It is the same as with states. If you are the type who wants the house you want, no matter where it is, your agent should be in contact with brokers in areas that sell high-end real estate.
Keeping It Simple
Whether you are buying or selling a million-dollar+ home, a real estate with contacts makes all the difference in the amount of time it takes to sell or find the perfect home. In the right market, you could sell your high-end home much faster than average if your agent has a list of brokers with high-end buyers.They’ll reach more buyers at one time by knowing how to play the game.
Likewise, for buying – instead of looking at 10 homes that are not even close to what you are looking for, an agent with contacts will be able to find your home faster.