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How to increase your home’s appeal when selling

Increasing your home’s appeal

Remember the 60-second rule: That’s all the time you have to create a winning first impression. Here are some simple to significant ways to maximize your home’s appeal.

Exterior

* Keep the grass cut and remove all yard clutter.
* Weed and apply fresh mulch to flower beds.
* Apply fresh paint to wooden fences.
* Tighten and clean all door handles.
* Clean windows inside and out.
* Powerwash home’s exterior.
* Ensure all gutters and downspouts are firmly attached and functioning.
* Paint the front door.
* Buy a new welcome mat.
* Place potted flowers near the front door.

Interior

* Evaluate the furniture in each room and remove anything that interrupts “the flow” or makes the room appear smaller. Consider renting a storage unit to move items off-site.
* Clean and organize cabinets, closets and bookshelves.
* Clean all light fixtures and ceiling fans.
* Shampoo carpets.
* Remove excessive wall hangings and knick-knacks.
* Repair all plumbing leaks, including faucets and drain traps.
* Make minor repairs (torn screens, sticking doors, cracked caulking).
* Clean or paint walls and ceilings.
* Replace worn cabinet and door knobs.
* Fix or replace discolored grout.
* Replace broken tiles.
* Replace worn countertops.

Special details for showings

* Turn on all the lights.
* Open all drapes and shutters in the daytime.
* Keep pets secured outdoors.
* Buy new towels for bathrooms.
* Buy new bedding for bedrooms.
* Replace old lamps or lampshades.
* Play quiet background music.
* Light the fireplace or clean out the ashes and light a candelabrum.
* Infuse home with a comforting scent, such as apple spice or vanilla.
* Set the dining room table for a fancy dinner party.
* Vacate the property while it is being shown.

Eight steps to selling your home

Eight steps to selling your home

  1. Define your needs. Write down all the reasons for selling your home. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to sell and what do I expect to accomplish with the sale?” For example, a growing family may prompt your need for a larger home, or a job opportunity in another city may necessitate a move. For your goals, write down if you’d like to sell your house within a certain time frame or make a particular profit margin. Work with your real estate agent to map out the best path to achieve your objectives and set a realistic time frame for the sale.
  2. Name your price. Your next objective should be to determine the best possible selling price for your house. Setting a fair asking price from the outset will generate the most activity from other real estate agents and buyers. You will need to take into account the condition of your home, what comparable homes in your neighborhood are selling for, and state of the overall market in your area. It’s often difficult to remain unbiased when putting a price on your home, so your real estate agent’s expertise is invaluable at this step. Your agent will know what comparable homes are selling for in your neighborhood and the average time those homes are sitting on the market. If you want a truly objective opinion about the price of your home, you could have an appraisal done. This typically costs a few hundred dollars. Remember: You’re always better off setting a fair market value price than setting your price too high. Studies show that homes priced higher than 3 percent of their market value take longer to sell. If your home sits on the market for too long, potential buyers may think there is something wrong with the property. Often, when this happens, the seller has to drop the price below market value to compete with newer, reasonably priced listings.
  3. Prepare your home. Most of us don’t keep our homes in “showroom” condition. We tend to overlook piles of boxes in the garage, broken porch lights, and doors or windows that stick. It’s time to break out of that owner’s mindset and get your house in tip-top shape. The condition of your home will affect how quickly it sells and the price the buyer is willing to offer. First impressions are the most important. Your real estate agent can help you take a fresh look at your home and suggest ways to stage it and make it more appealing to buyers. * A home with too much “personality” is harder to sell. Removing family photos, mementos and personalized d?cor will help buyers visualize the home as theirs. * Make minor repairs and replacements. Small defects, such as a leaky faucet, a torn screen or a worn doormat, can ruin the buyer’s first impression. * Clutter is a big no-no when showing your home to potential buyers. Make sure you have removed all knick-knacks from your shelves and cleared all your bathroom and kitchen counters to make every area seem as spacious as possible.
  4. Get the word out. Now that you’re ready to sell, your real estate agent will set up a marketing strategy specifically for your home. There are many ways to get the word out, including: * The Internet * Yard signs * Open houses * Media advertising * Agent-to-agent referrals * Direct mail marketing campaigns In addition to listing your home on the MLS, your agent will use a combination of these tactics to bring the most qualified buyers to your home. Your agent should structure the marketing plan so that the first three to six weeks are the busiest.
  5. Receive an offer. When you receive a written offer from a potential buyer, your real estate agent will first find out whether or not the individual is prequalified or preapproved to buy your home. If so, then you and your agent will review the proposed contract, taking care to understand what is required of both parties to execute the transaction. The contract, though not limited to this list, should include the following: * Legal description of the property * Offer price * Down payment * Financing arrangements * List of fees and who will pay them * Deposit amount * Inspection rights and possible repair allowances * Method of conveying the title and who will handle the closing * Appliances and furnishings that will stay with the home * Settlement date * Contingencies At this point, you have three options: accept the contract as is, accept it with changes (a counteroffer), or reject it. Remember: Once both parties have signed a written offer, the document becomes legally binding. If you have any questions or concerns, be certain to address them with your real estate agent right away.
  6. Negotiate to sell. Most offers to purchase your home will require some negotiating to come to a win-win agreement. Your real estate agent is well versed on the intricacies of the contracts used in your area and will protect your best interest throughout the bargaining. Your agent also knows what each contract clause means, what you will net from the sale and what areas are easiest to negotiate. Some negotiable items: * Price * Financing * Closing costs * Repairs * Appliances and fixtures * Landscaping * Painting * Move-in date Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the sale, your agent will prepare a contract.
  7. Prepare to close. Once you accept an offer to sell your house, you will need to make a list of all the things you and your buyer must do before closing. The property may need to be formally appraised, surveyed, inspected or repaired. Your real estate agent can spearhead the effort and serve as your advocate when dealing with the buyer’s agent and service providers. Depending on the written contract, you may pay for all, some or none of these items. If each procedure returns acceptable results as defined by the contract, then the sale may continue. If there are problems with the home, the terms set forth in the contract will dictate your next step. You or the buyer may decide to walk away, open a new round of negotiations or proceed to closing. Important reminder: A few days before the closing, you will want to contact the entity that is closing the transaction and make sure the necessary documents will be ready to sign on the appropriate date. Also, begin to make arrangements for your upcoming move if you have not done so.
  8. Close the deal. “Closing” refers to the meeting where ownership of the property is legally transferred to the buyer. Your agent will be present during the closing to guide you through the process and make sure everything goes as planned. By being present during the closing, he or she can mediate any last-minute issues that may arise. In some states, an attorney is required and you may wish to have one present. After the closing, you should make a “to do” list for turning the property over to the new owners. Here is a checklist to get you started. * Cancel electricity, gas, lawn care, cable and other routine services. * If the new owner is retaining any of the services, change the name on the account. * Gather owner’s manuals and warranties for all conveying appliances.

THE KELLER WILLIAMS BELIEF SYSTEM

THE KELLER WILLIAMS BELIEF SYSTEM

At the core of Keller Williams Realty is a conviction that who you are in business with matters. We believe that the company we keep can contribute to our lives in untold ways. To help cement this understanding, we’ve formalized a belief system called the WI4C2TS that guides how we treat each other and how we do business.

Win-Win:  or no deal
Integrity:  do the right thing
Customers:  always come first
Commitment:  in all things
Communication:  seek first to understand
Creativity:  ideas before results
Teamwork:  together everyone achieves more
Trust:  starts with honesty
Success:  results through people

Our Mission

To build careers worth having, businesses worth owning, and lives worth living.

Our Vision

To be the real estate company of choice.

Our Values

God, Family, then Business.

Our Perspective

A training and consulting company that also provides the franchise systems, products, and services that lead to productivity and profitability. Keller Williams thinks like a top producer, acts like a trainer- consultant, and focuses all its activities on service, productivity, and profitability.

5 Things You Probably Don’t Know About VA Loans

 

VA loans are the most misunderstood mortgage program in America. Industry professionals and consumers often receive incorrect data when they inquire about them. In fact, misconceptions about the government guaranteed home loan program are so prevalent that a recent VA survey found that approximately half of all military veterans do not understand it.

 

With this in mind, we would like to debunk the most common myths about VA Loans.

 

Myth 1: The VA loan benefit has a “one time” use.

Fact: Veterans and active duty military can use the VA loan many times. There is a limit to the borrower’s entitlement. The entitlement is the amount of loan the VA will guarantee. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may have to make a down payment. Never the less, there are no limitations on how many times a Veteran or Active Duty Service Member can get a VA loan.

 

Myth 2: VA home loan benefits expire if they are not used.

Fact: For eligible participants, VA mortgage benefits never expire. This myth stems from confusion over the veteran benefit for education. Typically, the Montgomery GI Bill benefits expire 10 years after discharge.

 

Myth 3: A borrower can only have one VA loan at a time.

Fact: You can have two (or more) VA loans out at the same time as long as you have not exceeded your maximum entitlement and eligibility. In order to have more than one VA loan, the borrower must be able to afford both payments and sufficient entitlement is required. If the borrower exceeds their entitlement, they may be required to make a down payment.

 

Myth 4: If you have a VA loan, you cannot lease the home.

Fact: By law, homeowners with VA loans may rent out their home. If the home is located in a non-rental subdivision, the VA will not guarantee the loan. If the home is located in a subdivision (such as a co-op) where the other owners can deny or approve a tenant, the VA will not approve the financing. When an individual applies for a VA loan, they certify that they intend on making the home their primary residence. Borrowers cannot use their VA benefits to buy property for rental purposes except if they are using their benefits to buy a duplex, triplex or fourplex. Under these circumstances, the borrower must certify that they will occupy one of the units.

 

Myth 5: If a borrower has a short sale or foreclosure on a VA loan, they cannot have another VA loan.

Fact: If a borrower has a claim on their entitlement, they will still be able to get another VA loan, but the maximum amount they would otherwise qualify for may be less. For example, Mr. Smith had a home with a $100,000 VA loan that foreclosed in 2012. If Mr. Smith buys a home in a low cost area, he will have enough remaining eligibility for a $317,000 purchase with $0 money down.  If he did not have the foreclosure, he would have been able to obtain another VA loan up to $417,000 with no money down payment.

 

Veterans and Active duty military deserve affordable home ownership. In recent years, the VA loan made up roughly 13% of all home purchase financing. This program remains underused largely because of misinformation. By separating facts from myth, more of America’s military would be able to realize their own American Dream.

Pay attention to the terms, not just the price

Giving and Getting: Why the Terms of a Home’s Sale Are Often More Important Than the Price Paid

 

One of the most important points that home buyers and sellers focus on when buying real estate is the negotiated sales price in the purchase and sale contract. While the sales price is undeniably important, the fact is that other terms in the sales contract may have more far-reaching and significant effects on the transaction.

With a closer look at some of the most important terms, you will see why you and your agent should actively negotiate for improved terms rather than a lower sales price.

 

Closing Costs

Some buyers and sellers will haggle over a few thousand dollars in the sales price without paying attention to the closing costs, but the fact is that the closing costs for a typical transaction may cost the buyer between two to five percent of the sales price on average. A sales contract may be negotiated so that the seller assumes some or most of the closing costs, and this can result in considerable savings the buyer. Likewise, when a contract is negotiated in the interest of the seller, the seller may save thousands of dollars at closing if the contract states that the buyer is responsible for these costs.

 

The Property Inspection

Many home buyers opt to obtain a property inspection to determine if there are hidden issues with the property structure, foundation, roof, air quality and other components. Some inspections reveal that a home is in fairly good condition, but others may reveal that a property needs thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars worth of repairs. Some sales contracts may be written so that the buyer may back out of a contract within a certain period of time after receiving the property inspection report or so that the terms of the sales contract may be re-negotiated once the property inspection report has been completed.  One of the best things that a seller can do is to get an insepction ahead of time and fix the issues that can be fixed.  This way there are no surprises and you may even save the inspection period when a buyer is more likely to back out of a contract.

 

The Appraised Value

In an ideal world, a home would appraise for the contracted sales price, but this is not always the case. A sales contract may be written with terms that allow for the sales price to be renegotiated after the appraised value is confirmed, and this may benefit both parties. Some sales contracts, however, state that the negotiated sales price is final regardless of the appraised value. If the buyer is seeking a loan most banks will not allow the sale to go through and most buyers will not pay more than a house is worth.

Special Contingencies

A real estate transaction may extend for several weeks or even months while the buyer contracts with a lender, an appraiser, a property inspector and other third parties. During this period of time, many events can occur that may adjust the interest level or even the ability of the buyer and seller to fulfill the contract. Some sales contracts are written so that the buyer may opt out of the contract within a certain period of time with minimal expense and regardless of other factors related to the appraisal and inspection.

Generally, there are standard terms found in many real estate sales contracts, but these terms can be adjusted by either party to benefit buyers or sellers. If you are buying or selling a home be sure to take into account the terms of the contract.

 

Get a Discount on Your Mortgage

Get a Discount on Your Mortgage

Lending giants Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup reportedly will offer mortgages at discounted rates to stir more lending among low-income borrowers and those with subprime credit histories. The loans will be originated through a program by the Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, a national nonprofit group that primarily assists low- to moderate-income borrowers.

Credit Standards Easing

Under the new program, the discounts, which will be offered on fixed-rate mortgages, will be greater than what banks usually reserve for borrowers with high credit scores, significant assets, and large down payments. To get the discount in the new loan program, the borrowers will have to pay mortgage points, which are upfront fees that lower the interest rate on a mortgage.

For example, if borrowers pay a mortgage point — which is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount taken — they typically receive a discount of 0.25 percent on the mortgage interest rate. However, under the new loan assistance program, the banks will offer a 0.5 percent discount for a single mortgage point.

NACA, the originator of loans under the program, doesn’t require borrowers to have down payments or to pay closing costs. It also approves borrowers for mortgages as soon as 12 months after a default on a loan. NACA conducts in-depth reviews of applicants’ payment histories and requires income and asset documentation, according to CEO Bruce Marks.

The banks’ move to work with NACA follows on the heels of a $16.65 billion settlement reached by Bank of America with government regulators in August, as well as a $7 billion settlement Citigroup reached in July. The settlements were reached following accusations that the banks sold risky mortgage securities during the run-up to the housing crisis. Neither bank admits to wrongdoing. But the settlements do require that the banks assist struggling home owners, such as lending to low-income borrowers.

The banks, however, say that their decision to issue NACA loans isn’t related to the settlements.

Source: “Citigroup and Bank of America Offer Mortgages with Discounted Rates,” The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 16, 2014)

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