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Buyers pay premium for move-in ready homes

First impressions are lasting. Home buyers and real estate agents remember what they see, not what you say your home will look like after you reduce the clutter, paint, and replace outdated floor coverings and light fixtures.

Most people don’t have the ability to visualize how a home will look spruced up. If you show your home to prospective buyers or their agents before it’s ready to show, you could lose out on a possible offer because they’re turned off by the lack of appeal. It’s often difficult to get someone back for a second look after you’ve made improvements.

One couple who’d been looking for a home that was big enough for their family heard that one of the largest homes in the neighborhood was coming on the market. They contacted the sellers and asked if they could look at the house before it went on the market. If they liked it, they could save the sellers the expense of preparing the house for sale.

The sellers agreed. The prospective buyers looked at the house but turned it down. They couldn’t see past the dated décor.

The house went on the market months later. The interior was painted in decorator colors; old carpet was removed and the hardwood floors underneath were refinished; the overgrown yard was pruned and a new lawn was installed; and all the seller’s belongings were moved out and the house was staged.

The house looked fabulous. It received multiple offers and sold for well above the asking price. Ironically, the couple who had seen the house before it was fixed up and passed on the opportunity were encouraged by a friend who attended the open house to take another look.

They did and ended up making an offer in competition. Unfortunately, another buyer made a better offer. The couple who first saw it lost out on an opportunity because they couldn’t visualize the property’s potential. This worked to the sellers’ advantage because they netted much more on the sale than they would have if they’d sold it to the first buyers for the list price.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Many sellers resist the notion of fixing their house up for someone else. Although it’s not a good idea to make major renovations just before selling a home, cost-effective cosmetic improvements can make your home more salable and could increase the amount you recoup when you sell.

Most sellers find the decluttering process tedious. The bonus of weeding out what you no longer want or need is that you don’t have to pay to move these items. And, you’re making your home easier to sell.

Some agents don’t want to take time to help sellers prepare their home for a more profitable sale even though buyers pay more for a home that’s in move-in condition. Ask your real estate agent how much your home might sell for in both its “as is” condition and after making cosmetic improvements. If you decide to prepare your home for an advantageous sale, use an agent who will assist you with this by prioritizing what should be done and helping you find people to complete the work.

It’s not always possible for sellers to cosmetically update their homes before selling. The trade-off will be a lower sale price.

THE CLOSING: Make sure if you are going to spruce up your home for sale that you don’t show it before the work is done.

Dian Hymer is a real estate broker with more than 30 years’ experience, and is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author.

What’s in a mortgage payment?

What’s in a mortgage payment? This infographic breaks down a mortgage payment into P.I.T.I. – principal, interest, taxes, insurance. When you’re buying a house, keep informed about how much that home will cost you, based on how much you put down and whether or not you will need to pay mortgage insurance.

mortgage paymentsThis mortgage payment-related infographic is from mlsmaps.com.

Real estate tips to guard against losing your home

Real estate tips to guard against losing your home

Time and time again, home-buyer wannabes state that the reason they are still fence-sitting is that they don’t want to end up in the same trouble the last generation of homeowners did.

Well, there’s a very slim chance of that happening, given the changes in the market climate: Homes are at rock-bottom prices (not sky-high), and mortgage guidelines are so conservative it is nearly impossible to even find one of the zero-down, quick-to-adjust, stated-income mortgages of yesteryear.

With that said, though, there is a handful of rules today’s home buyers and homeowners can follow to dramatically minimize the chances they will ever face losing their homes:

1. Never a borrower or a lender be. OK, so maybe NEVER is strong, but you’d be surprised at how many foreclosed homeowners actually bought their homes with conservative loans and at low prices many years ago, but got into trouble taking new mortgages and pulling cash out at the top of the market (then not being able to refinance or make the adjusted payment at the bottom).

Today’s home buyers can avoid this fate by starting out their homeowning careers with some ground rules in place around borrowing against their homes.

A good (albeit conservative) place to start is this rule: Decide not to borrow against your home equity for anything but well-planned home improvements.

Here’s another one: Whatever you do, don’t borrow against your home to lend money to someone else. I’ve seen dozens of homeowners over the years borrow to make an “investment” in a friend’s business or to lend money to a child or a parent. Borrowing against your home’s equity to make an investment in a business you know nothing about is a complete gamble with your home. Don’t do it.

2. Stop financial codependency. Related to the rule of thumb about borrowing to lend is this change of the bad habit of financial codependency.

This comes up most often when homeowners borrow money against their home or tap into their emergency cash cushion (leaving themselves unable to make their mortgage payments if they lose their job, etc.) to help an adult child make their own mortgage payments or bail them out of another crisis situation.

It also comes up where one spouse supports another spouse’s habit of overspending, debting, underearning, gambling, or even substance abuse, and ends up going into a financial hole as a result. Over time, these cases can create the temptation or even desperation to further leverage your home, and can run through a savings account, leaving the homeowner exposed and vulnerable in the face of a temporary disability, job loss or recession.

There are a number of powerful books on the market about how to cease being codependent, but many people struggle to recognize they even have this issue until it’s too late. Here’s a hint: If you regularly use money to protect a loved one from the natural consequences of their behavior, you are engaging in codependent behavior.

3. Stay conscious. Going on money autopilot, without occasional check-ins, is the root of many financial woes. Many money experts recommend automating your monthly payments so that your recurring bills are paid on time, every time. And almost any homeowner will vouch that there are few bills that seem to come up as frequently as your mortgage!

The problem is that once you automate your payments, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of simply ignoring your actual statements — and they may contain information that flags issues before they snowball into serious problems.

One homeowner recently realized that through no fault of her own, and despite never having missed an auto-payment, her home was facing foreclosure — all because the bank had somehow erroneously started crediting her payments to someone else’s mortgage account!

Also, financial autopilot mode can support habits like overspending and overdebting; the minimum payments may always get made without much attention from you, but the overall balances will rear their ugly heads and possibly pose a threat to your ability to pay your mortgage, in the event you ever face a job loss, medical bills or other financial crisis.

4. Do your own math before you buy. Only you can know the full extent of your non-housing-related financial obligations and values. Things like catch-up retirement savings, tithing and charitable giving, private school tuition, medical costs and the like can take big chunks out of your monthly budget that your mortgage pro is not accounting for when he or she tells you how much of a mortgage you’re qualified to borrow.

So, before you ever speak with a mortgage broker, it’s up to you as a responsible buyer and adult to get a very clear understanding of your own personal income and expenses, assets and priorities, and to use that knowledge to decide how much you can afford to put down and to spend monthly for a home.

Fortunately, an increasing number of are buyers doing this, and actually choosing to buy a home that costs much less than they are technically qualified for.

5. Don’t buy a house to fix a family or psychological problem. Beware of “pulling a geographic” — moving to a new neighborhood or town to try to run from your problems and bad habits.

Experts caution against expecting the move to solve the problem on the grounds that, in the words of mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn, “wherever you go, there you are.” If you have bad habits in Chicago, moving to L.A. doesn’t purge the bad habits — only working on the actual dysfunction itself will do that.

There’s a real estate-specific version of pulling a geographic, which we’ll call “pulling a residential.” This is where people buy a home or buy a new home in an effort to cure a deeper family or psychological issue; sort of like that old (and equally bad) idea of having a baby to try to save your marriage.

If your children are fighting because they lack personal space, that’s one thing. But if there are deeper issues going on with your children, your family or your relationship (even your relationship with yourself), do not fantasize that owning a home or moving up is going to automatically solve them.

In fact, the opposite is often true: The larger the financial and maintenance obligations that come with a home, the more a mortgage and property taxes can add strain to already troubled relationships.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is an author and the Consumer Ambassador and Educator for real estate listings search site Trulia.com.

Proposed Bill to Speed Up Short Sale Process and Prevent Foreclosure

We all know short sales are not so “short”–but this proposed bill outlined by DSNews.com’s article may speed up the process, while also preventing foreclosure.
 
To avoid losing homes to foreclosure due to long response times for short sale transactions, three senators introduced legislation to speed up the short sale process.  
 
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Arkansas), Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) proposed the bill addressing the issue of short sales timelines on February 17. A short sale is a real estate transaction where the homeowner sells the property for less than the unpaid balance with the lender’s approval.
 
“There are neighborhoods across the country full of empty homes and underwater owners that have legitimate offers, but unresponsive banks,” said Murkowski. “What we have here is a failure to communicate. Why don’t we make it easier for Americans trying to participate in the housing market, regardless of whether the answer is ‘yes,’ ‘no’ or ‘maybe?’”
 
The legislation, also known as the Prompt Notification of Short Sale Act, will require a written response from a lender no later than 75 days after receipt of the written request from the buyer.
 
The lender’s response to the buyer must specify acceptance, rejection, a counter offer, need for extension, and an estimation for when a decision will be reached. The servicer will be limited to one extension of no more than 21 days.
 
The bill will also…
 
Read the rest of this article by DSNews.com here: “Proposed Bill to Speed Up Short Sale Process and Prevent Foreclosure“.

Cash is king in today’s housing market

In these financially uncertain times in the housing market, all-cash sales are attractive offers to homesellers, but come with a condition–they usually must settle for less. In a typical housing market, if your home receives multiple offers (from prospective cash-carrying and/or those pre-approved for a loan), you will accept the highest bid.  But in this current market, mortgages can be hard to come by, and sellers often will take less in order to have the deal go through. 

The outcome: lowering prices despite fewer listings and rising demand.  According to the Star Tribune’s article below, the increased amount of cash offers is offsetting other postive trends that, if there weren’t these cash offers, should lead to higher prices.

All-cash offers in today's real estate marketThis all-cash trend is especially prevalent in distressed sales, where investors are the main buyers, and who typically deal with cash as it is. Short sales and foreclosures accounted for 42% of active listings last month, on average in metro areas. Read more about what the Star Tribune has to say on this topic in their article below:

In today’s topsy-turvy housing market, cash rules

Financing uncertainties make those cash offers alluring, but sellers often must settle for less money to guarantee a deal.

When Chris and Diane Finney decided to buy a bank-owned condo in St. Paul, they knew there would be competition.

Their strategy? Offer less — but offer cash.

While others said they would pay more, they needed to finance the deal. The bank took less and took the cash.

“We were in the driver’s seat,” Chris Finney said.

In a normal housing market, multiple bids usually lead to higher home prices, and the highest bid wins. But when credit markets are tighter and appraisals are often lower, many sellers will take less to be sure that the deal will get done.

“If I get five offers on a property and the cash offer is darned close to being one of those top offers, I’d take the cash offer any day,” said Marshall Saunders, owner/broker at Re/Max Results.

In December, 33 percent of all U.S. home sales were cash deals — a record since the downturn started in 2006, according to Campbell Survey and Inside Mortgage Finance. As a result, home prices can’t gain much traction because many sellers won’t necessarily accept the highest offer.

For most home buyers, it’s confounding to be rejected because they are financing the deal. For the housing market, it means more downward pressure on prices despite tight supplies and rising demand.

“It’s a real sign of what’s going on,” said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. “All things being equal, cash wins.”

The volume of cash deals is offsetting other positive trends in the market that should be leading to higher prices. The number of houses on the market has fallen to an eight-year low, and sales are up double digits. At the same time, home prices continue to fall.

At least a third of all homes sales last year involved an investor, Cecala said, and they often pay cash…

Read more of this article from the Star Tribune: “In today’s topsy-turvy housing market, cash rules.”

San Diego timeshare owners beware!

Are you in the timeshare business?  There’s been an increased awareness by the San Diego division of the FBI, which sent out a warning to San Diego timeshare owners. 

bbbApparently, timeshare scammers are becoming somewhat of a problem in San Diego county, with some unsuspecting timeshare owners being conned “out of millions of dollars by unscrupulous companies” (Union Tribune San Diego).  According to the county assessor’s office, there are more than 72,000 timeshare properties–making San Diego a huge lure to these scammers.

Be aware of potential scammers–these con artists will typically approach you without solicitation, and offer to sell or rent your properties quickly.  But to do so, they require an upfront fee for services–a huge red flag.  Once they have your money in hand, they tend to disappear without providing the offered services. 

Some tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Be cautious if you’re asked for an up-front fee before they do any work
  • Read the fine print on their sales contracts and rental agreements
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the business is reputable

This information is from the Union Tribune San Diego; read the original article here: “Scammers prey on San Diego timeshare owners.”

Welcome!

Thanks for stopping by www.ExpertAgentRealEstate.com.  My goal is to provide you with local real estate information, advice, and tips on navigating the housing market.  Please go to my website at www.ShortSaleAgentExpert.com for far more information on listings in the area of San Diego.  You can also do a custom MLS map search for homes for sale in your area.

Just a bit about myself, John Silva:

John A Silva

John Silva

My Personal Mission
As your professional real estate advisor, I focus on client satisfaction. My business is about service and I am not happy until you are happy. My years in the business have provided me the experience to assist you with nearly every real estate need. Whether it’s finding you a home, finding the best loan, or helping you getting the most out of selling your home I am here to guide you. If there is anything you need, please let me know.

About My Services
I will listen to your needs and want to establish our goals and objectives. We work as a team to meet the goals and you will continually be in the loop during the entire process. In this fast paced market, I believe communication is key in meeting our goals and building our relationship.

Knowing that you are reading this right now, tells me that you are comfortable with the Internet and email and that means you will be able to take advantage of my 24 hour electronic assistant right here on my website.

Please use my website to provide you powerful features such as the access to the MLS through my MLS Wizard to help you narrow down the ideal home. Selling your home takes special care and attention in order to get the highest possible price and you can feel free to use my Value Wizard to get an instant comparable sales report. My links section is designed to point you important information on home shopping, owning and selling. And if you find what you are looking for, then contact me and I will do my best to get you an answer or point you to a resource.

Satisfied clients are the key to my success
My satisfied clients are my best resource for new business. In this very competitive business of real estate, service makes the difference. My service is second to none and has earned me a valuable source of referrals. If you are considering a real estate professional, please give me an opportunity to earn your business too. I am confident you will be very happy!

Please feel free to email or call me at (619)337-3262 if you have any questions or are interested in buying or selling.