Thursday, January 30, 2014

Investors Beware: Don’t Fall for These Real Estate Blunders

At times, the real estate market appears truly hot and moves up really fast. Many people think it’s similar to a stock market, but the reality is different. For a successful real estate investment, a long-term approach is required.

Here’s a list of some common, but costly mistakes to avoid in the real estate field:
Selecting a house on the basis of current d├ęcor
Keep in mind that when you buy a home – the house is more important than the things within it. Look beyond decorative items and try to see how strong the bones are. Pay attention to things like the square footage and floor plan to figure out whether your belongings will fit appropriately.
Buying without research
Researching the neighborhood is of utmost importance before you select a property. You’re buying more than simply a house – you’re buying a piece of real estate with land around it. Find out details of the area and amenities. Also study the school system to ensure your address is in line with the appropriate school district. Try attending a community meeting if you can.
Buying without an expert inspection
Home inspection professionals can reveal many things about a property that might not be visible to you. Make sure you hire an expert with a good referral and sound experience in the field. Insist on a written report which includes photos. Photographs will help you see the condition of areas you might miss out in the normal course.
Not considering hidden costs
There’s more cost involved in buying a home than what you pay upfront. There’s a lot of spending beyond that. Find out the details regarding property taxes, water bills, and electricity bills.  You also need to consider investing in required furnishings before you move in.
Incorrect bidding at an auction

Though a starting bid for a property on auction might sound like a great deal; you can’t be sure that the same will hold true for the final price. Plan a strict budget in advance and make sure you don’t exceed this in the excitement resulting from a bidding war.
Also keep in mind that with an auctioned property, you will not get any warrantees and guarantees. You’ll not be able to get the home inspected too. Find out all associated liabilities like liens and taxes payable which might convert a good looking deal to a really bad one.
Not marketing your home correctly
When it comes to selling your home, you need to market it in different ways. Simply putting up a "for sale" board isn’t enough- you need to deploy other marketing tools too. Discuss marketing options with a real estate agent and what he can contribute.
Putting up photographs and having virtual tours online is a good idea. Include floor plans as well. These enable buyers to see the complete layout of a home and decide if it’s suitable for them.
Not getting an agent
It's important to have an expert at your side who understands all complexities. You cannot get included in the multiple listing service (MLS) without hiring an agent. Because of this, other agents will not know that you’ve put your property up for sale. Also, when prospective buyers come, you’ll have to show them around yourself.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Pros and Cons of Being a Homeowner

We’ve seen that most people regard a home as the most important investment of a lifetime. In contrast, there are others who feel that buying a property is not really an investment, but something that’s required for a stress free existence.

Whatever the case, home purchase does involve spending a substantial amount of money that could be used elsewhere for possible better purposes. But yes, there are certainly some intangible benefits associated with buying a home. And you cannot easily set a price for these. We’ve listed some advantages for you:
There most likely won’t be a reason for you to get kicked out of your home
Even if you’re comfortably settled in a rented house and are utterly blissful, who knows how long it’ll last. All said and done, you’re not the owner of the house. Your landlord has the liberty to unceremoniously give you a notice of 30 days and there your blissful world comes crashing down.
You have to frantically search for another suitable rental and a moving company. Maybe you’ll never get the same lovely neighborhood again, the same conveniences and goodbye to many other things!
If you have your own home which has been properly selected to include everything you ever wanted, you’re in an eternal blissful state. No one tells you to move out and you can live there as long as you wish.
You can customize your home
When you’re staying in a rental, there’s almost zero desire to improve it. Why bother? You’ll spend money and maybe your landlord will have objections. You might even lose your deposit if you try.
In a place you own, you can make little customizations to make life cozier. For example, you could make your home more energy efficient, which would save money and benefit planet earth too. You could do things like splitting a room into a couple of smaller ones, plan a garden and do other interesting things.
Though it’s hard to measure, some improvements really improve happiness levels. On the flip side, homeownership has its own disadvantages.
What if the new neighbors are a nuisance?
Your lovely neighbors moved away and now you’re stuck with noisy, troublesome ones. They hate your dogs. Worse, they’re considering getting a vicious pitbull. Annoying neighbors can make life truly difficult.
Resolving the issue by selling your house is an expensive affair- definitely more expensive than changing a rental, even if it involves breaking a lease.
What if there’s a rotten homeowners association at your condo?
We’ve heard horror stories related to egoistical HOA presidents who have their own highly priced pet projects. Also expensive assessments that you’re forced to accept. Suffer in silence – it’s a way of life, no choice.
Homeownership costs money
While some people regard mortgage payments as a type of forced savings, isn’t living on rent forced frugality? Almost all renters are free of hassles related to weekly trips to the Home Depot. They don’t have to worry about what type of kitchen tiles to get when some break. Simply calling the landlord resolves most issues.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Successful Staging for Fast Home Selling

The key to selling your home fast and at a good price is correct staging. We’ve compiled some staging tips for upgrading and styling your home to help you get the best results.

Enhance curb appeal. Often people considering having a look at your home will first do a quick drive-by. To ensure onlookers are not turned away, washing walkways and planting blooming flowers is a great idea. Cleaning front windows and repainting the porch floor can also add to curb appeal.
Make the porch appear inviting. Even if your porch is small, try to make it appear welcoming with blooming potted plants and a clean doormat. If there’s space, keep a couple of pieces of porch furniture. For the benefit of potential buyers driving by, keep the porch lights on after sunset.
Clean to a sparkle. Shining floors and gleaming windows can create a great impression. This is an easy way to help your home look its best. It’s a good idea to get pros in to do the job. The results will be well worth the expense.
Clear all clutter. It’s imperative for all clutter to go. This might involve temporarily utilizing offsite storage space but it’s worth the trouble. Potential buyers view clear surfaces, cupboards, and floors as more space, so get rid of anything unsightly or unnecessary.
Take a look at the floors. Clean the floors thoroughly and get the carpets steam cleaned. If wood floors are in poor shape, consider getting them refinished. If refinishing is beyond your budget, placing rugs strategically can save the day.
Rearrange furniture. Symmetrical arrangements usually look nice in living rooms. Move furniture away from the walls and make use of pairs of chairs, sofas, and lamps to build inviting conversation areas.
Select neutral colors. Avoid experimenting with "fun"-looking colors like lime green when you’re planning to sell. This doesn't mean an all-white appearance. Rich neutral colors like mocha create sophisticated backdrops which make everything look more integrated.
Keep the master bedroom gender-neutral. Try to create a general appeal with a neat master bedroom that’s free of clutter and personal items. With tasteful artwork, crisp, clean linens, and a neatly folded blanket on the bed, you’ll never go wrong.
Make closets appear spacious. Buyers are quite likely to peek into your closets. Often, closet space proves to be a make-or-break point for buyers, so make sure yours appear spacious by getting rid of excess stuff. Aim to have 20-30% open space within each closet.
Keep toys neatly. Even though people looking at your home might have their own kids, having toys strewn all over is not likely to sell them on the house. People who are house hunting are generally looking forward to a fresh start. Try showing them that in your house, having a well-organized kids' room is possible, and they’ll possibly be swayed.
Use "extra" rooms judiciously. It’s time to change things if you’ve been using a spare room as a dumping space. Each room must have its own clearly defined purpose. Consider what potential buyers might like to have – a study or a guest room? Converting a junk room into a real room is sure to result in a big payoff.
Remember, you can always rely on a free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ to help you in the selling process. Also, the Home Loan Advisor can analyze your property, current market conditions, local market comps, and other variables in our proprietary algorithm, and match you with potential lenders.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Home Makeover Tips to Make Your Home Look Awesome

So you have got your home listed and firmly implanted that “For Sale” sign in the front yard. But is your home ready to be toured by would-be buyers? Ask any real estate expert and they will all tell you why it is important to give your home a nice makeover before showing it to potential buyers. First impression really matters.

Even if you are in a market where houses sell quickly, first impression is very important. So it’s a good idea to spruce up your house – it would convince the would-be buyer that it is well worth every penny you are asking. You can give your home a great makeover without having to spend a fortune.

If just a few homes are available on the market, you will probably not feel the need to spend loads of money on aesthetic improvements. Still, there are several relatively inexpensive things that you can and should do to attract buyers.

Here are a few things you should do to improve your home's external appearance:

·         Make sure that your lawn is well-maintained; don't forget to tidy up your landscaping.

·         Place a nice potted plant close to the front door. It will make your door area more attractive.

·         Make the doors look new by applying a fresh coat of paint.

·         Clean the windows to a sparkle.

·         Install a new doorknob. It will create a sense of greater security.

·         Your street numerals should be in place. Make sure that they are polished. You can also invest in a brand new set of numerals. 

·         Hang a seasonal wreath on the door.

·         If there are any loose shingles get them fixed before showing the house to potential buyers.

·         Repair your gutters and paint them.

The interior is as important as the exterior. When potential buyers enter the house, you should still be able to leave a positive impact on them. Here are a few things you need to do: 

·         Remove clutter. Clutter kills positive energy. It also makes your home look cramped and unattractive. Keep the toys well organized in closets or shelves. Leave the countertops in your bathrooms and kitchen empty. If that is not possible, remove as many items as you can.

·         If you have a lot of family photos, you need to remove them as well.

·         Hang fresh towels in the bathroom.

·         If the walls have rough spots, touch them up with paint.

·         Get your carpets cleaned before potential buyers walk in. You should vacuum clean the floor each morning.

·         If the faucets in your bathrooms or kitchen are leaky, get them fixed. You should also replace all non-functioning bulbs.

·         Open all curtains and blinds to let light in. Don't forget to turn the lights on before each showing.

·         If you have a lot of furniture, remove some of it.

·         Place some flowers and nice plants in attractive containers.

·         Clean your fireplace.

Of course, each one of us has our own sense of style. By doing these things you are not trying to fool potential buyers into believing that your home is the best. Instead, you are trying to show a simple and clean house with great potential.

Selling your home means that you should know the true value of the property. You can obtain a free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ to find out how much a home is worth. Also, the Home Loan Advisor can analyze your property, current market conditions, local market comps, and other variables in our proprietary algorithm, and match you with potential lenders.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

5 Options to Consider if You Can’t Find a Buyer

Selling a house can be difficult if there are too many houses in the market. If you have a home for sale, you probably already know how difficult it is to find a serious buyer in the existing real estate market scenario. Now, in case your search for a buyer is taking longer than you expected, here are a few options you can consider:

Rent the house 

Renting allows you to generate some income from a property that has been in the market for a while. Of course, you can't make a lot of money by renting, but this is definitely an option you can consider if you feel that finding a home buyer is taking longer than usual. What's more, if you place it on rent for long enough, the market conditions in your locality may improve. People who hold on to their property during a slump will be able to sell it for a higher price when the economy recovers.

Not every seller will want to rent his house. They suspect that the renter will not take proper care of the property. What's more, renting your house to the wrong person can invite a lot of trouble. Evicting a problem renter may take many months and cost a few thousand dollars.

Lease the house

Leasing your home is another option you can consider. When you lease your house, you will receive an extra fee besides the standard monthly rent. Of course you will have to sell the house to the renter at a later time in the future for a pre-determined price. Now, in case the renter decides not to buy the house later, you can keep both the rent and the extra fee.

Rent the house for short periods
If your house is in the vicinity of a tourist spot, you can consider renting it for short periods. Some companies also rent homes to provide accommodation to their non-permanent employees. In popular tourist areas, you can find brokers specializing in short-term rentals.

Sell the house to a realtor 

Some big realtors buy homes and later sell them for a profit. Since they have huge cash reserves, they will have no trouble holding on to the property until they find a good buyer. However, you can't expect these buyers to offer a good price. You may consider this option only if you are desperate to sell or are willing to accept a lower price.

Short sale

This is the least attractive of the five options we discussed here. Lenders want to avoid foreclosures at any cost. So if you are unable to pay off your home loan, the lender might even consider selling your home for a price less than the actual value of your loan. This allows the bank to get a bad loan off their books. They also save the expenses involved in the foreclosure process.

The bottom line

Depending on the market conditions, finding the right buyer may take a year or more. None of the options discussed in this article are ideal; nonetheless they allow you to generate some income while you are still holding on to your property.

Remember, you can always rely on a free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ to help you in the selling process. Also, the Home Loan Advisor can analyze your property, current market conditions, local market comps, and other variables in our proprietary algorithm, and match you with potential lenders.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What You Should Know about Homeowners Associations

When you buy a property in a planned development such as a condo, townhome, or subdivision, you are obligated to join the homeowners association, or HOA, of the community. This usually involves paying fees every month, quarter, or year for the maintenance and upkeep of the building and commons areas in it.

Homeowners associations also involve rules and regulations that you and other owners and tenants in the building must abide by. If you are planning on buying a leased land property or a home in a gated community, there are some things that you should be aware of before you sign on the dotted line.

What do HOAs involve?
Homeowners associations involve regulations regarding the property that are set by a board of directors or committee. These rules are then enforced by a management company or even a group of volunteers. The key is to find an HOA with regulations that fit your lifestyle and your own personal requirements. You can even become involved with the homeowners association to let your voice be heard.

While some people are fine with the rules set forth by the HOA, some buyers simply do like the fact that there are regulations that they must follow. They do not care for anyone telling them where they can park on their property or what color they can paint their home. If you are one of these people, you are probably not a good candidate to buy this type of home. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting the freedom to make your own choices regarding your house! For others, living in an HOA community is something that they prefer. Below you’ll find some of the benefits of an HOA property.
Pros of homeowners associations

There are many reasons that homeowners prefer living in an HOA community. Here are a few:
  • Maintenance is low. Tasks such as trash removal and the maintenance of your lawn and common areas are completed by the HOA. This means less work for you as a homeowner.
  • Management can handle issues. Problems such as loud music and barking dogs can be handled by the management of the HOA. This means that you avoid getting involved in a shouting match with your neighbor.
  • Community appearance is set to high standards. The association must make sure the property and development are maintained and looking fresh. Homeowners will probably not see houses with peeling paint or unmaintained lawns.
  • You can enjoy many recreational amenities. Many HOAs have a pool, tennis courts, walking trails, and playing fields that are specifically for residents only.
Cons of homeowners associations

As stated before, living in an HOA community is not for everyone. Here are some reasons why:
  • You have to pay HOA fees. These fees can be up to $400 every month depending on how upscale the property is. Some amenities such as the gym could save you money in the long run, but you must determine this before you buy.
  • You must follow the HOA rules and regulations. If you don’t like anyone telling you that you can’t paint your house purple, you probably should not live in this type of home.
  • The fees could have an impact on your finances. A condo with high HOA fees might end up costing you as much as the house you don't think you can afford.
So if you’re considering buying property that is managed by an HOA, remember to evaluate your temperament, preferences, and lifestyle. Be sure to learn the rules of the HOA before you buy!

Whether you purchase a condo or subdivision, it is a good idea to know the property’s value. Remember, you can always rely on a free home valuation report from Neighborhood IQ to help you in the buying process. Also, the Home Loan Advisor can analyze your property, current market conditions, local market comps, and other variables in our proprietary algorithm, and match you with potential lenders.